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 March, 2015.
Grade 6: Students are exploring the interdisciplinary connections between art and music in collage works. Rhythm, arrangement, pattern, composition, movement, and emotion are all elements that both music and art share. Students have looked at the Harlem Renaissance artist Romare Bearden as an exemplar to create their own visual interpretation of a piece of music of their own choosing.
Grade 6 Plus: The two sections of Grade 6 Plus are busy putting the finishing touches on their painted murals. Come and check out their progress in the main office. The ceramic tile mural, which will grace the Art hallway is well underway. Students have each created their own tiles, each square contributing to the whole image which will be added to and grow each year.
Grade 7: Students have just finished their tessellation designs and are now exploring structured patterns in a different way using a needle tool and scratchboard. This meditative process of controlled doodling is sometimes referred to as zentangle. This activity increases a student’s focus and will as a creative brainstorm for their next assignment, metal embossing.
Grade 8: Eighth grade artists are working on acrylic paintings. They have set up their own still life compositions and are studying how to create light and shadow in their pieces. They are given a limited palette from which to mix their colors, which will keep their paintings visually unified.
Grade 8 Plus: Students are working on large acrylic paintings in a surreal style. They have worked on still life from observation, but are combining unexpected subject matter to reveal a dream-like narrative in their painting.
Grade 6: Students in Grade 6 are using their understanding of the forms of poetry and poetic devices to create their Poetry Showpiece. The grammar skills of prepositions and adverbs, integral to good poetry and good essays is also part of student learning. On the reading front, students will soon launch their study of Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer, giving students an up-close-and-entertaining look at how adventure can shape wisdom.
Grade 7: With MCAS preparation and testing tucked away, Grade 7 students are anxious to begin the coming-of-age short story unit that will carry through to April vacation. AFter April vacation, students will begin reading and writing about Johnny Tremain. Writing Lab has students busy writing their own creative stories that will be read to elementary students at the end of the year.
Grade 8: Fahrenheit 451 testing and writing is nearly complete, and then students in Grade 8 will launch their short story unit, performing their own dramatic interpretations prior to April vacation. In Writing Lab, students are beginning their study of the Holocaust and the activities surrounding this unit. Grade 8 students will take MCAS ELA next week, and time will be spent reviewing expectations for this test and having some in-class practice time.
We just completed another successful 8th Grade Career Day. After an amazing keynote speech from Medfield's own food blogger and future TV personality Andie Mitchell talking about her career path as well as her road to self-acceptance, members of the Medfield community came in to share their employment experience and wisdom with the students. In guidance classes we will continue to have students explore their own strengths and interests as they look ahead to HS.
The seventh grade group guidance class recently on and discussed being half-way through the seventh grade school year, and further examined how that also indicated they were half-way through middle school. The class also discussed the topic of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.
The sixth graders worked on defining joking/teasing/ mean behavior/ bullying and from there we worked on how to identify them and how they are not interchangeable words. We also worked on what the components for a true sincere apology are and watched clips of celebrity apologies to determine whether or not the apologies were sincere.
Library Media Center
Sitting at my desk, writing this monthly Library/Media curriculum update, looking at a sixth grade Mandarin class spread across the LMC. A fluorescent-orange-sock- wearing-boy is supine upon a new padded bench seat, his ear-bud-anchored-iPad suspended overhead while absorbing a video on Chinese food. Three pony-tailed girls sit upright in comfy chairs working on a food vocabulary sheet based on the video. Three boys in Medfield blue, crew-neck sweatshirts are doing the same across the way. Similar scenarios, featuring different academic content and furniture arrangements, are occurring daily during other instructional periods and after school as well. The new Blake Library layout is working. We now offer traditional tables and chairs, small tables on wheels with chargers, an upholstered movable group of chairs, benches and tables with enough room for a full class of 24, a comfortable chair quiet corner as well as a set of 24 desktop computers. Believe it or not, we still have actual books as well which many students are enjoying as a less distraction-tempting respite from iPad reading. Speaking of books, we’re currently updating our summer reading lists while also honing in on our new all-school summer read. The new lists will be released in early May. Special thanks to the MCPE and the CSA for their ongoing support – Jon Haycock
Solving first degree algebraic equations is a hallmark of middle school math curriculum. Students in grades 6, 7 and 8 are, at this very moment, honing their skills at a variety of levels.
In 6th grade, students are learning about the language of algebraic equations. They are discussing questions like What is an equation? What must an equation have? What are the different parts of an equation? How are equations and inequalities the same/different? Additionally, students will translate verbal sentences to the language of math using numbers, letters and symbols. Wonder if there is a Google translator for that?
7th grade math students are perfecting their implementation of rules of solving equations. Walking through the 7th grade halls you will hear phrases such as Whatever you do to one side, you must do to the other...Circle your solution...Does you answer make sense?… and, the ever popular Show your work! They have just moved to variables on both sides of the equations so keeping track of work is essential. Students are working hard and it is paying off!
8th grade Blake mathematicians have already moved into the second dimension when examining linear equations. So 7 = 2x + 3 can become y = 2x - 4. They then graph these linear equations and are able to interpret characteristics such as slope and y-intercept. Give real-life meaning to x and y and all of a sudden you have applied math! Does y represent the total sales and x represents number of ice cream cones sold? Does y represent distance and x represent time? Does y represent heart rate and x represent number of jumping jacks? The applications are endless and 8th graders are exploring many of them.
The 8th Grade Chorus is eagerly preparing for our Step-Up Concert with the High School Concert Choir tomorrow night,March 27th at 7pm in the High School Auditorium. The evening will feature soloists, student accompanists, and a variety of styles will be presented.
8th Grade General Music classes have been learning about the history of musical theater. We have explored shows such as "Showboat," "Oklahoma," and "West Side Story" and are looking forward to writing our own musical. 6th Graders have been learning about Classical music that tells a story and focusing on Grieg's musical drama "Peer Gynt."
All of the Blake Choruses will perform at a final concert on June 2 at 7pm in the High School Auditorium. See you there.
Grade 6 General Music: As part of their study of Jazz, students are demonstrating their understanding of the blues by composing an original blues song (a no-loops-allowed project!). To date students have created blues lyrics, recorded a 12 bar blues shuffle rhythm on the drumpad in GarageBand, recorded a harmonic progression for a 12 bar blues using keyboard or guitar and will soon add a bass line and create a blues melody.
Grade 7 General Music: Students are finishing work on their final projects in the Evolution of Rock and Roll unit. Students will present their research in class the week of April 6th.
Grade 8 General Music: Students are using ideas generated throughout the unit on the American Musical to outline a proposal for an original musical that may be based on a book or a contemporary social theme.
The Blake Jazz Ensemble and Blake Jazz Lab gave outstanding performances at the Blake Jazz Recital last Monday night. The concert featured the two jazz groups which both meet weekly after school. A septet made up of students from MHS and King Philip Regional High School and director of music, Doug Olsen, also performed. The middle school groups are now preparing for Medfield Jazz Night coming up on May 1. The Blake Jazz Ensemble will also be performing at the MAJE Junior Jazz Festival on May 7.
Sixth grade science has just recently wrapped up our phases of matter unit. Students explored the different phases of matter in regards to shape, volume, and particle density & energy using music, movement, and technology to capture their understanding. We are currently learning about atoms and atomic structure.
The seventh grade science teachers are so proud of how well their students did during the worm dissection. They handled themselves beautifully during the lab and have conquered the important skill of dissection.
The water, carbon and nitrogen cycle will begin our study of cycles in nature. One day students will experience the nitrogen cycle first hand by “becoming” a nitrogen molecule traveling through the nitrogen cycle. A stamped passport will document their journey. Ecological succession will also be studied as students observe ecosystem change. Next up is the cell cycle where students will learn to identify the phases of mitosis.
Grade 8 science is currently bringing to close a unit on Chemistry. In this unit, students investigated the molecular structure of matter. Students analyzed molecular models, and used their knowledge of molecules to describe and approximate the molecular composition of everyday materials and substances such as brass, salt water, and chex mix, among others. In doing so, they gained an understanding that different materials possess different properties and characteristics because of differences in their molecular compositions. As a culminating activity, students created 'stop motion' movies on their iPads, which featured the building of varieties of molecules, the molecules being represented by legos. Many movies were impressive in both the mastery of the content they exhibited as well as their creativity, and the students really enjoyed making them
World Geography 6th graders continue to work on their memory maps. They have now shifted to working on the Eastern Hemisphere as they have already mastered the West. In addition, students are learning about de-forestation. They are identifying the reasons for deforestation and the positive and negative impact upon the environment.
Seventh graders are continuing their study of Ancient Greece as part of their Ancient Civilizations curriculum. They discussed the role of Greek citizens to their polis, or city-state, and more recently learned about some famous Greek philosophers including Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. These philosophers were well-known for asking 'big questions' and questioning assumptions--something 7th graders are encouraged to do as a means of sharpening their critical thinking skills. Students have been assigned their city-state for Greek Week, which is a week of fun, competition, and learning beginning April 8th.
In 8th grade World History I, students are wrapping up a unit on the European Middle Ages and will next learn about the Renaissance. Students will investigate Humanism and understand how it transformed Western European society. Artists and writers including DaVinci, Michelangelo and Shakespeare will be studied. Students will also complete a number of project based assessments which will help to further engage them with the material.
Grade 6 students are starting their unit on Cyberbullying. The major topics will include: Respect and Responsibility, What is Cyberbullying?, Understanding the Role of Bystanders and Cyberbullying Groups, and Standing up for Others.
Grade 7 students have also started their unit on Cyberbullying. The major topics to be covered are: Cyberbullying Impacts and Consequences, What to do if You are Cyberbullied, and Serious about getting help.
Grade 8 students are studying about Body Image. Lessons include: Body Image and the Media, Facts about Body Image, and Eating Disorders.
In physical education classes, all three grades are presenting their final Ballroom Dance routines. After learning the basic steps for their grade-level dance, students worked in groups of 6-11 to create choreography that includes the skills they learned in class. Grade 6 will be performing the Fox Trot, Grade 7 the Salsa and Grade 8 the Swing. Their classroom teachers have acted as judges for their final project in a "Dancing with the Stars" style event. Ask them to teach you what they have learned!
In Spanish, students are learning to describe their school day, the classes they have & what they need for those classes. Students also did some small exploring of the island of Puerto Rico and the city of San Juan using google earth. They talked a bit about colonial times vs. modern day.
In French, students studied Mardi Gras this month. They read articles about the parades, float, foods and history of this great cultural event in New Orleans, Louisiana.
In Mandarin, students are still learning and reviewing how to introduce their family members.
In French, the students are working on the café unit. They are learning food and beverage vocabulary and have each created a menu which will be used in their café skits. Students will soon act out being in the authentic setting of a café including asking for the menu, placing an order, talking about the food, and lastly asking for and paying the check. They will be ready to do this in any French-speaking destination!
In Spanish, students are having very meaningful conversations about the Spanish use of the "Formal You" and are working on conjugating regular AR verbs and finally being able to talk about activities that they do with their friends and things that others do during a regular day. Students are also going to explore Mexico for a bit and make connections to their own daily lives.
In Mandarin, students learned to introduce family members, talk about their pets , zodiac animals, birthday information.
In French, Grade 8 students put on a "Show What You Know" skit in the guise of a Fashion Show. Students used adjective agreement to describe an ensemble that they were wearing. Some students used iMovie to perform a What not to Wear skit, while others used the Explain Everything appt to describe an outfit. Still others chose to strut down the runway in class with a live performance. C'est amusant et très à la mode!
In Spanish, 8th grade students finish up the Celebrations unit with exciting projects! Many will be utilizing the new Adobe Voice app to record a brief history of themselves in the past tense. Additionally students are researching various celebrations in the Spanish-speaking world and presenting what they've learned to classes.
In Mandarin, students learned to introduce family members, talk about their pets , zodiac animals, birthday information.