In our continued efforts to keep families informed and updated about the curriculum at Blake, each month we will be 'highlighting' updates from the different departments. We hope this will help facilitate conversations at home and maintain a bridge between home and school. Below please find the updates for the month of October, 2015.
Sixth grade artists are working on architectural design plans. They are using basic linear perspective techniques to design ‘houses with attitude’. Their houses have to project some sort of personality, communicated through design motifs. They are creating these houses with pen and ink techniques to add texture, visual interest, and value. The drawings will be finished with watercolor washes of color to enhance the personality and mood of their design.
Seventh graders are beginning the self portrait assignment. They will be drawing from a selfie they took with their IPad. Students will be utilizing a gridding technique to proportionally scale up from the original and isolate shapes and tones for accuracy. This process helps students break down a complex image for the purpose of interpreting it realistically.
Eighth grade artists are working in the genre of landscape. They are combining several materials-- watercolor, collage, oil pastel and paint together to create a rich surface to work on. This technique of layering materials adds depth and texture to a landscape. painting.
Using the first Grade 6 novel, Gary Paulsen’s Harris and Me, Grade 6 teachers designed critical thinking discussions and class activities to introduce and practice the elements of fiction and figurative language. Lessons in grammar awareness and application included personal pronouns and point of view.
Grade 7 students are at the midpoint of their short story unit, focusing on characterization, suspense, foreshadowing, and irony. As students’ understanding about how these literary devices shape theme within literature, they will be able to recycle this important information with other literature. Short story titles include, “Thank You Ma’am” by Langston Hughes, “Geraldine More the Poet” by Toni Cade Bambara, and “The Landlady”by Ronald Dahl.
With the annual Grade 8 field trip to Salem scheduled for this month. Grade 8 teachers created critical thinking workshops and class discussion to help students understand the historical, political, and literary connections in Arthur Miller’s drama The Crucible. Teachers also launched the year-long study of ways to identify and analyze quotations that support a specific theme.
The students in the 8th Grade Group Guidance class are going over how to become a more independent learner. In 7th Grade Group Guidance, the students are discussing gossip and how gossip impacts all those who participate in gossip. The activities in the 7th Grade Group Guidance have fostered great conversations about gossip in middle school. The students taking Embracing Diversity have examined the allegory “the hangman” by Maurice Ogden.
We would also like to introduce the Medfield Public Schools Guidance Counselor Blog!
The purpose of this blog is to increase awareness and raise professional knowledge of the role of the School Counselor. With technology firmly embedded into our school community, the Medfield Public Schools Guidance Counselors have created a blog to promote our department, to stay active and knowledgeable in our field, and stay connected with our school community. Please check it out! You can follow our blog by entering your email address to receive notification when the blog is updated.
The first round of the 8-week related rotation classes will be ending the week of November 9. Sixth graders have been working on a two-page research paper on a South American country of their choosing. In developing their projects, students first learned important facts from a reliable source – Encyclopedia Britannica Online - to create an outline. The information gleaned from Britannica also helped them in evaluating the quality of websites, which they also used for note taking. Students are currently writing rough drafts from their notes. They’ll also learn proper bibliographic format as they round out their final versions.
Our very first 6th grade coding rotation class is also nearing completion. Participants, through a program designed by Code.org, have been building their communication skills by developing computer codes designed to perform simple tasks. They’re also learning, when all doesn’t go as well as it could with their programs, how to debug and fine tune.
Seventh graders in the Inv/Tech class have been discovering the pros and cons of computer technology – both in society at large and within their own lives. They started the course by keeping a log of all of the time they spend in front of a screen for one week. They then multiplied the hours out over 80 years to see how many years of their lives they (at that weekly rate) would be spending in front of screens as opposed to living life in three dimensions. Class members are now completing a final slide presentation with ideas on how to maximize the benefits, both academically and socially, of screen technology while minimizing the down sides.
Students in 6th grade math classes have just added the MARS rotation to their schedule. This is a wonderful opportunity for students to gain additional time on math with students from clusters other than their own. This class is designed to be supportive in nature. The pace should feel appropriate and provide opportunities for reflection and exploration. If you have any questions about this course, please reach out to your child’s 6th grade math teacher.
7th grade students are beginning the study of ratios and proportions. Gone are the days of “cross multiplying” without understanding why. Students will closely examine ratios and what happens when we increase or decrease one component. Have a recipe with a 2:3 ratio of flour to water...what happens if you only want to cook half of the recipe? Saving money for an iPhone and for college with a 40/60 split...how much do you need to contribute to the college fund if you gave $20 to the iPhone fund? Building a rectangular garden with a width to length ratio of 2:5...how wide should the garden be if the length needs to be 30 feet? Seek out a 7th grader and let them show you how to answer these questions.
In 8th grade, we have officially begun our work in solving equations in all classes. Students will stay with solving linear equations for the majority of the year. That is representative of how important this skill is. Last month, we examined the following algebraic expressions: “take twice as much money to the mall”, and “the price of ski tickets are 25% off during weekdays.” Now students are using their solving skills to determine how much money they should take to the mall or the effects of changes in the price of ski tickets. Great work, 8th graders!
Students in Ms. Nothnagel's general music classes this month are busy learning about Rock and Roll, Classical composers, Broadway musicals, and honing their listening skills. Ms. Nothnagel and Mrs. Oxholm are teaming up at Blake to co-teach the Choruses this year. The 6th Grade Chorus is excited about their concert in January, and the 7th and 8th Grade Choruses will come together to sing and perform on December 10th at 7pm. The concert will feature several soloists, and the groups will perform together as one large Choir. All singers are encouraged to come on Monday afternoons to the HS Chorus room for Blake Jazz Choir rehearsal! See you then.
Sixth Grade Band
The Sixth Grade Band is currently preparing two pieces for the BMS Bands Winter Concert on December 7. Soldier's Procession and Sword Dance is an arrangement of Renaissance dances composed by Tielman Susato and published in 1551. Mister Joe is a march composed by Henry Fillmore under the pseudonym Harold Bennett. The band is learning about march style, form and basic syncopation. Students have begun using the SmartMusic practice tool app on their iPads and home PC's. Our first assignments include a one octave chromatic scale and a concert Ab major scale. Last week, we made a recording of the first movement of Solider's Procession and Sword Dance. After listening to our performance, we discussed various elements that we need to continue to work on as a group including tempo, balance, blend, articulation and dynamics.
Seventh and Eighth Grade Band
The Seventh and Eighth Grade Band is preparing three pieces for the Winter Concert on December 7. The Gold Medallion is a concert march written by John Edmondson. A Childhood Hymn is an expressive piece that challenges the group to control dynamics, phrasing, and intonation with strong breath support throughout. Our third piece, John Williams: Movie Adventures, features music from Star Wars, Jurassic Park and E.T. This is a technically demanding piece for the band as we work through numerous tempo, key and meter changes. We've recently begun using Google Classroom with the Eighth Grade Band. Students have started keeping a weekly practice log to help track practice habits, set goals and reflect on progress.
The BMS Jazz Ensemble is learning swing feel, syncopated rhythm and jazz style. We're learning about jazz improvisation and basic understanding of the 12-bar blues chord structure. Students are playing simple bass lines and outlining chord tones. Students are learning simple blues language through call and response. We've begun to explore rhythmic improvisation which will develop into melodic improvisation as our chord knowledge and technique improves. In addition, the band has started work on three pieces. Students are learning to play in a Samba style on Caribbean Dance. The group is also learning to play in a Funk style on a jazz funk version on the Prince song Thieves in the Temple. Herbie Hancock recorded the song in 1996 with jazz greats Michael Brecker, John Scofield, Dave Holland and Jack DeJohnette. The jazz ensemble will soon begin work on the jazz standard Struttin' with Some Barbecue by the great Louis Armstrong.
Brass, Woodwind and Percussion Sectionals
Grade 6-8 band students have begun meeting before and after school by instrument group. This time gives us the opportunity to practice instrumental techniques that students can also apply to their personal practice at home. In addition, the groups are working on a small ensemble and chamber music curriculum which is separate from the band curriculum. The brass section is learning an arrangement of Handels' Music from the Royal Fireworks from the Canadian Brass book of beginning quintets for two trumpets, horn, trombone and tuba. The percussion section is learning a fun piece by Lalo Davila called Marisa's Merengue.
The sixth grade has been exploring the scientific method throughout the month of October. Within this unit, we learn the steps to conducting a scientific experiment and begin to develop scientific ways of thinking. Students explored the value of observations and inferences within the scientific process. They have refined their ability to identify the groups in a controlled experiment. Students conducted a paper airplane experiment to practice formulating measurable questions. The highlight of the unit so far may have been the bubble gum lab, in which students practiced developing hypotheses, utilizing research to educate their statements. We have also begun a long term experiment in which students will work in lab groups to apply what they've learned about Questions and Hypotheses.
The seventh grade students began the month of October at Nature’s Classroom where themes of ecology were investigated while in the field. At mealtimes, lessons about the importance of conservation were reinforced as students measured their food waste after each meal.The early civilization themes from social studies were also experienced as students participated in an afternoon of “Back to Basics”. At one station students were observed hunting for mastodons!
Back in the classroom learning how to use microscopes properly were at the center of their lab activities. Time was also spent learning about early microscopes and the scientists who used them. At the end of the month, students will begin using this tool to learn about the structure and function of the cell parts. Science Exploration students are learning about conditions trout need to survive to prepare for the arrival of the trout eggs at the beginning of January
It has been an action packed month in seventh grade science!
October saw the completion of the grade 8 Charles River canoe trips. The students had an excellent time, and were able to collect data and report on the health of our local stretch of the Charles as shown by several different chemical indicators.
Inside the grade 8 science classroom, students have begun to investigate properties of matter, specifically mass and volume. This unit of study includes both traditional hands-on labs and iPad activities that are challenging and engaging, and the students have been enjoying them and producing impressive work thus far.
Students in Sixth Grade World Geography are in the midst of making their very own world map by hand. Students are drawing continents while placing countries carefully in their correct locations. With several weeks of work remaining, students are hard at work completing their maps. During the second half of the school year, students will use their maps to explore various themes of geography.
The 7th grade Ancient Civilizations team has just completed a unit on Mesopotamia and is jumping headlong into Ancient Egypt . In this unit, students will examine the Egyptians' polytheistic religion and their ongoing quest to enter the afterlife. They will study the absolute power of the pharaoh and will examine how the geography of the Nile River Valley provided everything they needed to be a well protected, self sufficient society. During the unit, an Egyptologist will visit to talk with the students, answer their questions, and share some of her artifacts from Egypt. Students will be introduced to the library databases for research on a different pharaohs and will continue to learn to answer essential questions using primary source documents.
This month World History I classes are moving east towards the Islamic Empires. The lessons and essential questions studied during this unit will not only educate students about a major section of the Eastern world, but will also help students to better understand current events in the Middle East. 8th graders will be studying for an exam later this month. The primary goal of this exam is to teach students how to prepare for a test which contains material from several units.
6th graders are starting our Accessing Information Unit, which will focus on fitness and nutrition. Students will be researching MyPlate and will also be researching appropriate fitness programs for Middle School Students. Using this research, students will be doing a group assignment to create a video project on proper nutrition and fitness for Middle School Students. Our objectives for this unit are for students to learn how to find Accurate, Credible, Easy to Use and Supported information, as well as learn about proper fitness and nutrition for children their age.
7th graders are currently starting a project called, "Preventing Injury and Illness." They will be researching topics online and creating presentations using technology to enhance the content. Project topics include first aid, common illness prevention, sun protection and Lyme disease prevention.
The 8th Graders finished up their unit on goal-setting and are applying their steps and strategies to achieve their goals for the year. In a few weeks, students will reflect on their progress and make any adjustments as they see fit. This week, students will be starting a new unit called Accessing Information. In this unit, students will learn how to navigate the vast world of online sources and be able to evaluate whether or not a source is a valid and credible source. The topics students will be learning about are mental illnesses and eating disorders.
The 6th and 7th Grade PE classes are wrapping up their track and field units with a cluster vs cluster track meet. Students signed up for individual and team events of their choice and are competing for points for their cluster. Events for grade 6 include: 4 x 100 relay, 50 yard dash, 200 meter dash, and the mile. Events for grade 7 include: 4 x 400 relay, long jump, javelin throw, shot put and the mile. The meet is off to a great start and students are excited to compete!
8th graders are finishing up our golf and ultimate Frisbee unit. Students have been learning proper swing mechanics for golf. We have seen some great improvement and hope that some of our students have found a sport that they may want to practice and play throughout their lives. Students have also enjoyed Ultimate Frisbee. We have had some great games and students have shown a lot of energy and enthusiasm while getting a great workout and benefitting from the clear, crisp air! Next, we will be teaching football to the 8th graders, in preparation for the Turkey Bowl, our annual 8th grade four on four football tournament on Tuesday before Thanksgiving.
We are wrapping up the first rotation of the year, and students are demonstrating so much growth and independence in the kitchens! 8th graders are chopping vegetables with ease, recently preparing a chicken and vegetable stir fry wrap you definitely want them to make for you at home! 7th graders have been learning to safely cook bacon on an electric griddle avoiding the splatter of hot oil, and to boil water safely on the stovetop in order to cook pasta. Ask them about their BLTs and pasta salad. 6th graders have now mastered the routines of the consumer science classroom, and feel at home asking one another for help, and discussing their food preferences with one another as it relates to the daily recipe. 6th graders have learned to safely use the toasters, ovens, electric skillets, electric griddles and the stovetop. Ask them to show you the recipe for quesadillas. They will be very excited to make them for you! Feel free to add chicken or other ingredients to our basic recipe.
The sixth grade Mandarin students finished learning common greetings and will move to the next lesson which is polite expressions. The seventh grade Mandarin students finished learning about how to talk about their American families and have moved to new lesson which is talking about Chinese families. The eighth grade Mandarin students finished learning how to talk about an American breakfast and will move to the next lesson which is Chinese breakfast.
The sixth graders have worked hard to prepare for their first written assessment of the year! Next week begins their first full conversation - we are excited to hear what they will produce! 7th grade Spanish students wowed their teachers at least twice this week, but probably even more! Their first speaking quizzes were a great success as students were able to show that they can communicate effectively on a variety of new topics! Also, all 7th graders attended a wonderful performance of traditional song and dance by a group of traveling students from Mexico. Afterwards, many of our Blakers got to speak with the students at lunch, during Advisory and in a few classes - real life use of their developing language skills - we were so proud of our 7th graders! 8th grade students are excited to be learning how to speak on the immediate future with a new verb expression "ir + a + infinitive" we are diving deeper into our unit about making plans with friends and how to politely decline an invitation if we are already busy. Eighth grade Spanish students have been also practicing phone conversations.
The grade 6 French classes are planning to sample French cuisine. Raclette will be among the dishes on the menu! Bon appétit! The 7th grade French students are learning to talk about their school schedules, including the day and time, teacher, and their opinion of each subject. They are also preparing posters to display throughout the school in celebration of National French Week. The grade 8 French class is creating children's Halloween books featuring their imaginary families! What will you be?