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 November.
Grade 6: Grade 6 artists are beginning their work in clay. They are learning the basics of the medium--wedging, forming slabs, and exploring different connection techniques. They have examined structural icons and are recreating architectural forms from the clay. After building the basic form, students are adding texture, piercing openings, and adding decorative motifs.
Grade 7: Grade 7 artists are continuing their study of portraiture while working in 3-D. Building upon what they know about drawing human head proportions, they are now interpreting portraiture by working through and within the material in this very process-driven exercise. They are sculpting the human head in clay to create expressive self-portraits that show exaggerated emotion.
Grade 8: Grade 8 artists are working with classic coil constructions. Students must design a vessel with a variated silhouette, complex texture, and decorative coil structural elements. Working within these limitations pushes students to push the technical and aesthetic properties of working with clay.
Grade 6: Grade 6 students took away a lot from reading Gary Paulsen’s Harris and Me! In addition to their over-the-top enthusiasm for this delightful tale, students walked away really understanding the elements of fiction. On the horizon, all students will spend time working on adjectives…what they are…what they create….and how including them paints brighter, better pictures. To build on students’ connection with the novel, incorporate their lessons on really good fiction, and allow them to “paint” with adjectives, students are in the midst of writing their personal narratives. Stay tuned!
Grade 7: This year’s goals include an emphasis on crafting clear, memorable writing. Its success is no accident. With specific skill workshops, models, and discussions as resources, Grade 7 students are hard at work at their first multi-paragraph essay on an influential person.
Grade 8: Having completed their analytical study of Arthur Miller’s drama The Crucible and character committee projects, Grade 8 students will begin their first analytical essay of the year. Teachers created skill-specific workshops to help students understand how well-crafted thesis statements are an important first step in successful analysis. As part of this assignment’s design, students will also learn to use their understanding of quotations to support their paper’s thesis.
Library Media Center
The Blake LMC has entered the final stage of its overhaul. In addition to purchasing new movable tables and chairs (thanks again to MCPE and the Blake CSA), the library has been reconfigured to better utilize our instructional space. A big part of the reconfiguration involved thinning out many old, damaged, and out-of-date books. Since last June, we’ve deleted approximately 2,000. All unneeded books were first made available to students and staff. The remainders are being donated to a non-profit organization called More than Words (mtwyouth.org). The group operates bookstore/café’s in Waltham and Boston and also runs an online sales site. The operations are staffed by teenagers referred from foster care, homeless shelters and the courts. The teens gain valuable life skills and self-confidence through their More than Words experiences. Thanks to current and former Blake Library staff members Donna Knott, Katie Adams, Michelle Stephenson and to parents Simone Lee, Yumi Jones, Denise DePiero, Laura Zaher, Heather Reilly, and Martina Leger for their efforts.
Magazine Drive Update: Thanks for all of your Magazine Drive support. It was a record year! Twenty-five homerooms qualified (half of homerooms students selling at least one item) for the pig race, which takes place at the end of our Thanksgiving Assembly. Full coverage of the event will appear in Nat Vaughn’s next blog!
Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally (PEMDAS) has a strong meaning to math students all over the country. 6th grade Blake math students are completing their knowledge of this tried and true mnemonic by learning about Exponents in their class. So, Excuse us while we expand the expressions 43, 25 and 82 and evaluate them. It’s all part of working with Aunt Sally!
Seventh graders have begun working in their probability unit. Theoretical probability is always on the agenda, but classes most enjoy simulations of actual experiments using dice, spinners, number chips and decks of cards. No matter what topics are discussed in class, students always love an in-depth study of possible weather outcomes and the likelihood it will snow. We will be sure to keep you posted of our findings!
The study of Algebra would not be complete without a focus on geometry. 8th grade Algebra students are applying their skills of solving equations and proportional thinking to similar figures and right triangles. Wondering the distance from Mr. Hellerstein’s room to the office as the crow flies? Students will soon have the answer for you!
The middle school orchestras have been busy preparing for their first concert on Tuesday, December 2nd at 7:00 pm at the High School Auditorium. All are welcome!
6th grade students are currently learning the steps of Scientific Method. With every step learned, the students apply their new knowledge to a long-term “Experiment at Home” project. Students used their iPads to form educated hypothesizes and applied what they had learned about controlled experiments to set up their own. Students are now learning how to write specific and measurable tests that can be repeated. They have also been using Explain Everything to demonstrate their knowledge of each step at the end of the detailed mini unit. They have currently completed the first three steps; Question, Hypothesis, and Test. Next we will move on to organizing and charting results. Upon summation of this unit their knowledge will be demonstrated through completion of their very first lab report. This will lay the foundation for them to build on their knowledge in the coming years. Here is an example of the template the students will be using.
The 7th grade students recently completed The Cell Project. This project allowed students to demonstrate their comprehensive knowledge of cells while using technology to create unique media presentations. From stop motion claymation, to movies, videos, songs, and books...the 7th grade students rose to this creative challenge! Currently, students are exploring the Chemistry of Life unit. Beginning with the exploration of chemical reactions in our body to learning about the importance of essential macromolecules (e.g., carbohydrates, proteins, and lipids), where we get them (food), and why we need them...students are learning how an understanding of chemistry is important to be healthy. Next, we will be examining the movement of molecules into and out of cells.
The 8th grade students continue to expand upon their lab experiences from the unit of measurement with a deeper look at the concept of Density. During labs, students have identified unknown substances using density, graphed the relation between mass and volume, and even analyzed the slope of their graph as they begin to study linear equations in math class. Students will experience more abstract Chemistry exploring the world of physical and chemical changes as the month of November draws to a close. With the ipad enhancing the learning experience, students have enjoyed screencasting with Explain Everything, learning with nearpod and even reviewing using Kahoot an iPad quiz game.
Sixth grade World Geography students have been busy making mountains, researching various mountains and mountain ranges and preparing for their persuasive speech. This speech, along with student presentations, will help determine which mountain/range is the most important in the entire world.
Seventh grade Ancient Civilizations classes have just completed their unit on Ancient Egypt. Students are currently immersed in a mini-research project to create event cards which will be placed on the timeline in each of the classrooms. This time line helps students see the connections between the various civilizations studied over the course of the year. Students can examine a period of time and see events that are happening across the ancient world. 7th graders will next study the Phoenicians and the Hebrews, both of whom were located along the eastern Mediterranean Sea.
World History II (grade 8) students are continuing their study of the development of Islam. In the latter stages of this unit, students learn about Islam's transformation from a relatively small, nomadic religion into a faith which will come to dominate major portions of the globe. Today Islam is the second most widely practiced religion in the world-embraced more than 1 billion people worldwide.
In Grade 8, we are wrapping up units in indoor soccer and cycling. In addition, the 8th grade students are gearing up for the annual Turkey Bowl Football Tournament which will be held Tuesday, November 25th. We are still collecting non-perishable food items to donate to the Medfield Food Cupboard. The students are looking forward to this collaborative event, and can’t wait to take on the teacher team down at the high school turf!
Grade 7 students are finishing up units in lacrosse and yoga. This is their second year of yoga at Blake Middle School, and many students are beginning to develop proficiency in some of the yoga postures.
Grade 6 students have been learning to play team handball and have practiced an introduction to yoga. Ask your 6th or 7th grader to show you a restful, stress-reducing yoga pose where they can breathe deeply and calm themselves.
The 8th graders are finishing up and reflecting on the Psychology of Learning Unit. Please discuss what they have learned and encourage them to utilize their strengths as they review notes, study, and complete projects.
7th graders have been participating in activities which help them understand family dynamics, and the importance of their role in resolving family conflicts respectfully. The emphasis has been on finding ways to peacefully and effectively communicate with family members.
The 6th graders have completed and are currently presenting their Coat of Arms projects. This assignment required students to be reflective about their personal strengths and weaknesses, and provides the opportunity to share their strengths, talents, and individuality with their classmates. Through this process, students learn a lot about themselves as well as their peers. They see that while they are all unique individuals, they also share some special similarities. This is an important part of the grade 6 unit on self-esteem.
Students in the second rotation of consumer science have been learning to measure properly using appropriate utensils, and have been demonstrating this while making smoothies, pancakes, French toast and waffles. Electric appliances have been introduced, requiring students to pay particular attention to safety. If your son or daughter is currently taking consumer science, or has already taken it this year, please ask them to cook and clean up at home, so that they can apply what they are learning in school!
The Wellness staff wishes everyone a relaxing and enjoyable Thanksgiving break!
Sixth grade: Mandarin students have learned how to exchange phone numbers in the target language. Spanish students created an audio digital "dictionary" of all terms in their study of weather, and also enjoyed watching the National Spanish Weather Forecast every day en español. They felt that the weather reporters were starting to speak more slowly, but then realized that they were not! Instead, they came to realize that they were just getting better at following along in Spanish! Their confidence in their Spanish increases every day! French students have been learning colors. Their classwork has involved reading Eric Carle’s “Brown Bear, Brown Bear. They have enjoyed revisiting this childhood tale.
Seventh grade: Mandarin students are learning personal pronouns and how to use them correctly in the conversation. Spanish students completed and presented a culminating presentation of their "Greetings and Introductions" unit. They demonstrated how well their Spanish is developing as they presented themselves and a new "amigo latino" to the class. French students have been learning the names of our classes, and how to describe how we feel about them!
Eighth grade: In eighth grade Mandarin students also just finished learning personal pronouns and how to use them correctly in the conversation. In Spanish class, Ms. Manning’s classes are just finishing up their first official oral assessments and learning how to record their answers to questions about their daily routine. We are excited to begin the foods unit! The students of Mrs. Gonzalez's eighth grade Spanish classes have begun individual blogs. They are learning to introduce themselves and respond to prompts creatively as well as to comment on their classmates' posts. We hope that middle school students who are native Spanish speakers in Jamaica Plain will be joining the process soon, but in the meantime the kids are corresponding in Spanish with each other.
In French class we have been studying how to describe foods; parts of food, whole foods and quantities of food. We capped off the Chapter with a juice and cheese tasting, where we explored new treats among the many French choices available to us; a variety of cheeses, quiches, and croissants. We practiced slicing etiquette, and sampled fruit or jam with our cheese. We even had a chocolate fountain for dipping fruits, and more! Merci to all who contributed to the feast and who helped clean up at the end of class!