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 September, 2015.
Grade 6: Sixth grade artists are taking on the roles of product designer and marketing strategist in creating a better pair of sneakers! They are in the concept and design stage of development and thinking about grabbing the consumer’s attention with an eye-catching advertising design.
Grade 6 +: The students in Art Plus are starting a unit on stop-action animation. They are working collaboratively with creating a story, characters, set design, and stop-action video to make a short feature.
Grade 7: Students are working on a public art graphic design campaign. They are choosing a service organization that does meaningful work and creating a visual message to bring attention to a social issue.
Grade 8: Students are learning to draw the human figure. We have practiced correct proportions and gesture drawing. Next, we will be putting our figures in action, using color and visual movement to create an energized, active composition.
Grade 8+: The eighth grade artists are also working with the human figure in motion, but in the form of sculptures. They are in the process of building wire armatures to use as the foundation for a figurative sculpture.
We are pleased to offer opportunities for art making outside of the regular school day--
Ms. Deveno is once again supervising students in the theatre set design and construction. All 6th, 7th, and 8th graders are welcome to participate. See Ms. Allen or Ms. Deveno for more information.
Ms. Delaney is offering an intramural in Upcycling. Students will learn how to repurpose everyday materials into functional and decorative treasures. All grades welcome!
It’s been a busy and fun opening for the 2015 school year for Grades 6, 7, and 8 English! Students in every grade used their summer reading knowledge about Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen to sharpen their informational, analytical, and writing skills. Using lessons developed by Blake teachers, students used this novel’s story of courage and challenge to create thoughtful writing assignments and insightful discussions.
Sixth-grade teachers began the first of many lessons and practice sessions about “best practices” in writing organized and evidence-based responses in open response essays. Using the “Flying Frog” article and a past MCAS prompt, students used the ET-graphic organizer to help them sharpen their organization and content.
Using Running Dream as the platform to introduce key elements in fiction, Grade 7 students have been hard at work building on last year’s writing skills. In the week before Nature’s Classroom, students will spend time reviewing and practicing open response essays.
Running Dream’s insights have also played an important role in early Grade 8 discussion and writing. As summer reading activities wind down, students are beginning their study of Arthur Miller’s important drama, The Crucible, first learning about the author and then working through the historical connections that anchor the play’s plot to the Salem of yesterday as well as the contemporary world.
The Group Guidance classes are all in full swing! The students in 6th Grade Group Guidance have been talking about getting to know new people and adjusting to 6th grade. The 7th Grade Group Guidance classes are currently discussing failure and how to accept it and learn from mistakes. The 7th grade students are also learning ways they can advocate for themselves. The 8th Grade Group Guidance class is exploring career interest inventories. The students in Embracing Diversity are examining how “discrimination” is learned and it’s implications on learning.
The Guidance Department has a new addition to the office. Russell Becker has been hired as the Adjustment Counselor for Blake and Medfield High School. He will be sharing time between the two buildings. Russ earned his undergraduate degree from the College of Charleston, and his masters degree in social work from the University of Pennsylvania. Russ has an exuberant amount of knowledge, energy, and enthusiasm, and is a welcome addition to the department.
The Library/Media Center’s movable and comfortable furniture is not the only exciting new thing in our facility. We’ve also added a “Makerspace” area, which is located in the back, right of the room. Our Makerspace allows students to play and experiment with electronic components. We’re starting with three sets of kits – Snap Circuits, Makey Makey, and Squishy Circuits – all of which encourage students to connect various components in order to power buzzers, whirlygigs, keyboards and video game controllers. The kits offer guided activities but also encourage “off the books” trial and error experimentation as well. The activities offered in our Makespace encourage constructive collaboration, an increased ability to tolerate risk and failure, and deeper learning through the production of tangible “things”. New activities and projects will be added as the year moves along. Nat Vaughn, Diane Horvath, and Jason Heim have been the main drivers in bringing the Makerspace to fruition with lots of support from the Blake CSA and the Coalition.
We’ve also added a sixth grade coding rotation class, which is being taught by Diane Horvath. Sixth grade coders, over an eight week period, will be building their programming foundation by following an online program from an organization called Code.org. The course uses a combination of unplugged activities and online visual blocky coding challenges. The initial focus in the class is on learning how to communicate clearly through codes and symbols, and how to decompose large activities into smaller tasks and to arrange them in a logical, sequential order. If your son or daughter is currently taking the class, feel free to ask him or her to define an algorithm, a program, a pixel, a value, and looping. There are currently some coding rock stars in development with more to come!
Eighth grade science teacher Mike Gibbs took some great pictures of our summer reading assembly, featuring Boston Marathon bombing survivor, Heather Abbott. Tania Manuel put them into a nice slide show, which appears on the Blake home page: http://www.medfield.net/blake.html
The Blake Math Department welcomes all our students and their families to the 2015-2016 school! By now, students have settled into the routines and learning structures of middle school. The beginning of the year does involve a recap of last year’s material, however, teachers achieve this goal by incorporating reviewed skills into the learning of new concepts.
Like the many board games our students play, math has rules for arithmetic. We call this Order of Operations. Not sure whether the expression 3 + 2(5) evaluates to 10 or 13...ask your 6th grade mathematician. Adhering to these rules allows us all to arrive at the same answer. Whether calculating the number of miles travelled on your family vacation or balancing your budget, order of operations keep us all on the same page. 6th grade Blakers have started the year off exploring these rules with whole numbers. Perhaps you should ask them to take a look at your budget;-)
Grade 7 Math piloted an optional summer work project using technology. It was a big success as students found it very do-able and easy to fit into their busy summer schedules. Students started the year off diving into integer operations. 7th grade is the time for students to fully realize that the number line goes in both directions ad infinitum. No longer is arithmetic confined to the positive numbers. In elementary school, students were happy with the notion that you ’‘can’t take 5 from 3.” Now, not only can you take 5 from 3, but we highly encourage it!
8th grade math students are fully involved in Algebra this year. Students often find this level of abstraction to be a welcome break from the arithmetic of earlier math classes. This course if foundational as it is the basis for all course work moving forward. In addition to a quick review of integers, order of operations and the number systems. We have begun our work as “translators” taking everyday language and learning to write it using the language of algebra.
“save $10 per week” becomes 10w
“take twice as much money to the mall” becomes 2m
“ski tickets are 25% off during weekdays” becomes 0.25t
“PG-13” becomes a > 13
Soon students will learn to write full algebraic equations and use them to problem solve.
Grade 6 science has started the year working with students to realize their potential as scientists. Classes have engaged in creating their own idea of "What is a Scientist?," enhanced through the use of Explain Everything on the iPad. Students have also begun learning how to set up a controlled experiment which will ultimately give them the tools to practice skills such as observation, inference, and prediction.
We have had a great start to 7th grade life science this year! We began the school year with The Bubble Lab. This activity allowed students to review the methods used in science and practice experimental design. We introduced lab safety and located and identified safety equipment in the classroom. Students are currently researching some of the characteristics that all living things share. During our next unit, students will have the opportunity to operate compound microscopes and observe objects too small to be seen with the naked eye as we explore the microscopic world. In early October, students will travel to Nature’s Classroom where they will explore life at a macroscopic level as they are immersed in nature in the Adirondacks!
8th grade science classes have begun the year with a unit on the scientific method and the metric system. A lab on the behaviors of pendulums as done by Galileo allowed them to put to use their abilities to hypothesize, collect and analyze data and, dissect the different parts of a successful experiment. Our annual field trips down the the Charles River have provided a vehicle for students to ask the question: “Does the discharge from the sewage treatment plant into the Charles River have a negative impact on the quality of the water?” Students test the water prior to and after the discharge from the Medfield Sewage Treatment Plant. Testing of turbidity, nitrate levels, phosphate levels and pH was carried out at each of the locations. Data was organized and subsequently analyzed by student's as they generated an answer to this question.
6th grade World Geography is off to a great start! Students have begun a second year of the World Geography pilot program. They are starting to become familiar with the 5 main themes of geography as well as learning important map making skills. These skills will be revisited continuously throughout the year while students learn about mental mapping. Building this foundation will help students become comfortable creating maps, locating places and realizing connections between themselves and other parts of the world.
In Ancient Civilizations, 7th graders have completed their first unit exploring the origins of humankind and the important role that farming has played in human history. Indeed, many archaeologists agree that farming is the most important invention of all time (even more important than the iPad!). Furthermore, it is generally understood that farming was invented by women, as they were more commonly gatherers during Paleolithic times. After a discussion of economic terms that will be used throughout the course of the year, students are delving into the study of ancient Mesopotamia known as "the land between the rivers.” It was in Mesopotamia that humans first built great cities and developed significant advancements such the wheel, the sail, and writing. In studying Mesopotamia, 7th graders work together to figure out what key ingredients are needed to make a collection of humans into a true civilization. In essence, they will explore the question of "what is a civilization?" during this unit.
World History I
8th graders have begun their year by examining the Byzantine and Russian Empires. Students learn about the development and functions of autocratic governments including the combined influence of both religious and political authority in the respective positions of Byzantine Emperor and Russian Czar. As an extension of their learning in this unit, students visit the Museum of Russian Icons in Clinton. At the Museum students learn about the tradition of iconography and its historical and cultural influence on the people of Eastern Europe. Students also complete an interactive scavenger hunt activity with their iPads as part of their learning at the Museum.
Unless you’re an earthworm, September had to be the best month of weather we have ever had! Sixth graders made the most out of the perfect conditions in physical education classes by heading over to the high school turf to prepare for their upcoming grade-wide track and field meet. Students have been practicing the 50 meter dash, the 200 meter dash, the 4 x 100 meter relay, and the mile run. Each student will complete in their two favorite events in their attempt to become the winning cluster. Eighth grade students are learning the basic fundamentals of the golf swing, and secondary level ultimate frisbee skills. In Ultimate Frisbee, students are working on throwing, catching, and off the ball (frisbee) movement while participating in small sided games.
Health education at Blake has taken on a whole new look! As this is the first year of our skills-based curriculum, all three grades will be learning the basics of the skills identified in the National Health Standards. The activities in each grade are differentiated by age and developmental readiness, but the skills we want students to be able to demonstrate are the same. For example, students in all grades are now learning how to set personal goals related to one area of wellness. Students completed a self-assessment in order to identify the wellness domain which they want to improve. Students then created a “SMART” wellness goal and an action plan designed to reach their goal. The health teachers will continue to support and evaluate their students’ progress throughout the year for those with year-long goals.
In Consumer Science classes, 6th graders have learned to complete the opening of class routines independently, and have demonstrated how to use the blender, the electric griddle and the oven safely. They have demonstrated several times how to measure accurately using the correct utensils, and have enjoyed delicious smoothies, pancakes and English muffin pizza! 7th graders have reviewed all of that, and in addition have learned to safely use a chef’s knife to chop vegetables for this week’s amazing Flatbread Veggie Pizza! 7th graders will be challenged throughout the course to ‘expand their nutritional potential’ by adding more nutritious foods into their diet. Despite what one might think, the 7th graders loved the French toast they made on whole wheat bread and the multi-colored veggies were amazing on their pizza! 8th graders have proven that they are much more independent and can navigate more complex recipes and cooking skills. They added applesauce and oatmeal to their waffles, and the ones that didn’t stick to the waffle iron tasted spectacular! They did not even have to be asked to add vegetables to their pizza, they just went right at it as they remember how good this tasted last year.
Muy buenos días a todos. In addition to the exciting start to the school year (detailed below), Ms. Toubman the (World Language Content Specialist) just returned from a 6 day conference in Castilla y León in Spain. She met with many educators from the region and gained first hand knowledge of some of the programs there.
It’s never too early to think about possibilities for your child’s study abroad, specifically in Spain. There are many different and exciting programs in Castilla y León (Salamanca, Segovia, Avila, Burgos to name a few). Some of these programs accept students as young as 14 years old and can vary in length from 2 weeks to 1 year. Please e-mail Ms. Toubman (firstname.lastname@example.org), if you would like to chat further or seek more information.
Grade 6 Spanish students are focusing on pronunciation before they begin their exciting year full of Spanish! They sound great!
Grade 7 Spanish students are now fully able to meet and introduce people politely!
Grade 8 Spanish students, while not canoeing, biking or visiting a museum, have had a productive month reviewing the big topics from last year. Our students are demonstrating their creativity through booklets, acrostic name poems and Tellagami weather reports. We are looking forward to starting our new unit "Conversing on the telephone"on Monday!"
We had Chinese culture day on September 28 at Blake and High school, September 29th at Wheelock, and Oct 1st at Dale. The students enjoyed interacting with musicians, artists, and dancers who were eager to share their passions with our students.
Grade 6 Mandarin students have reviewed/learned Pinyin, Chinese character structure, and studied a brief introduction of China and Chinese history.
Grade 7 Mandarin students have reviewed/learned Pinyin, Greetings, Introductions, Nationalities, and Colors.
Grade 8 Mandarin students have reviewed/learned Pinyin, Greetings, Introductions, Nationalities, and Colors. They have also reviewed clothing, family members, occupations, pets, and hobbies.
Bienvenue! Sixth grade French class has been discovering all the places in the world French is spoken. Many countries in West Africa speak French and we have been decorating masks from these countries!
The 7th grade French class has been learning to introduce themselves, inquire about likes and dislikes, tell their age and how they are feeling. This week the class presented skits and did a great job! Today we were visited by some of the French 4 students, who came to read the stories they wrote. It was a fun time for all!
Eighth Grade French classes are talking about families and recording our conversations in the language lab!