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 December.
6th grade: How do artists record what they see with accuracy? Students are using viewfinders as a tool for observational drawing. When looking through a viewfinder, students can isolate one area of a still life to capture a dynamic composition. They can also use the viewfinder as a measuring tool to translate the information they see with accuracy. The viewfinders also are helpful in identifying true color, so students can see the actual color in isolation, not how it appears in relation to other colors. This gives color theory relevance and will help students with color mixing in their pastel drawing.
6th plus: Students are working on a long-term mural project. They have prepared for the process by completing some painting and color mixing exercises. Now, they are working in groups to plan their mural designs. How can artists communicate the values of the Blake community in a mural? They are busy -- brainstorming ideas, examining the purpose of murals, and will work collaboratively to design and create by consensus.
7th grade: How is process important to an artist? Students looked at the works of Chuck Close to understand this artist’s process and how it creates meaning in his artwork. Here is a link to the video, where Close writes a note to his 14 year old self: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=milXH-433vs Continuing their work with portraits, students will create self-portraits using a mark-making process and a grid structure. Ms. Delaney’s 7th grade class is continuing their work on the sculptural self-portraits with expression.
8th grade: How can we show implied movement in our work? Students are finishing up their human figure studies, using the wooden models, skeletons, and each other as models. They now understand proportion and how to interpret gesture. Now, they will start working in color, depicting a figure moving through space. They will use a variety of technique to create energy and dynamic movement in a full color piece.
Grade 6: After some important lessons about ways to make words package important memories, Grade 6 students will get a chance to “package” a memory they wish to preserve by trying their hand at narrative writing. This important skill teaches many lifelong lessons about good writing and about recognizing the “forever” imprint memories have on what we value and who we become. Grade 6 MARS classes will use Gary Paulsen’s short stories to grow important reading skills.
Grade 7: After completing all five staves of Charles Dickens’ Christmas Carol, Grade 7 students will get the chance to see the ghosts from Christmas past come alive to help the crotchety Ebenezer Scrooge learn how giving to others is the real gift. All students will travel to the North Shore Music Theater for this annual and much-anticipated performance. Soon after, students will begin a unit on persuasive writing, using the lessons they learn to craft a rhetorical essay on the benefits of technology or the potential for danger it might pose.
Grade 8: Grade 8 students will put the finishing touches on their Crucible essays, using the assignment to showcase their growing skills in using an author’s text to support their conclusions. Using these sophisticated analytical skills, students will begin reading and digging deep into the themes of Ray Bradbury’s classic novel, Fahrenheit 451. In addition, students are hard at work creating their short story in Writing Lab. This project helps students understand how to move from idea to completed story using the key components of good storytelling and creative writing.
The Guidance Counselors have identified grade level benchmarks of social emotional development that are necessary for individual students to achieve each year. In eighth grade, students are working on: 1. Self-exploration, 2. Respect, and 3. Reflection. In Ms. Allen’s Group Guidance class, students are continuing to work on their career exploration unit. The students are starting to identify interests, skills,and goals. Students will continue with a career cluster inventory and end the rotation by making a mini-commercial about one of the careers they are interested in. For the seventh grade students, the three characteristics that will help students be more successful are: 1. Resilience, 2. Self-Advocacy, and 3. Autonomy. During Mr. Marenghi’s Group Guidance class, students have discussed the value in making mistakes by highlighting a quick case study of Abraham Lincoln, taken a Self-Advocacy self-assessment, and have gone over factors that contribute to intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. In sixth grade, Mrs. Dondero is working with students on: 1. Making successful transitions, 2. Social Skills, and 3. Empathy and Sympathy. The sixth grade students are discussing the difference between a friend and acquaintance, joking vs. teasing, and mean behavior vs. bullying. The class will then move into apologies, the power of a sincere apology, the importance of apologies in friendships, and taking responsibility.
Additionally,, the Guidance Department has put together an updated mental health resources list for students and families. Please find updated resources on the Guidance website at http://blakeguidancepage.weebly.com/index.html. If you have any questions or concerns regarding mental health resources, please contact your child’s Guidance Counselor.
Library Media Center
Blake has run a Sustained Silent Reading (SSR) program for the past dozen years or so. SSR is a free reading time for students – they are not tested on nor do they have to discuss anything they read. It’s purely for pleasure. It takes place two times per week for twenty minutes periods during Advisory (homeroom) time. One goal of the program is to increase student reading enjoyment, which we hope will encourage more reading. Numerous studies have also shown increased student literacy and academic achievement for students who attend schools with SSR programs. Which brings us to iPads and multitasking. In order to benefit from free reading, one must read books in a non-distracted manner. While iPads are wonderful devices that can provide many educational benefits, they can also be very tempting distraction-wise. Technological advancement has given humans the ability to perform several tasks simultaneously. Unfortunately, the human mind is still only capable of performing one creative task well at a time. Switching back and forth leads to doing several things in a mediocre manner and actually taking a longer amount of time to do them. Many Blake students are capable of pleasure reading on their iPads without switching back and forth to check sports scores, respond to a message, or to play a quick video game. Others, however, are not. If you feel your child has a hard time resisting the multitasking urge while reading, please suggest they stop by the Blake library where we will be able to connect them with a real, old-school physical book that’s actually printed on pages! Distraction is much easier to resist with this older technology. If you have any questions or would like our library staff have your son or daughter pay us a visit, please let me know – Jon Haycock (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Coming to you live from our studios in the 6th grade math wing at Blake Middle School: Number Line Live! Creating a living number line has allowed our 6th grade mathematicians to improve their understanding of rational numbers. Students are asked to place fractions and decimals on the number line...but watch out! Each new placement can trigger a chain reaction that causes students to re-think their placement. #linesarefun
Licorice root is 50 times sweeter than sugar and equally as sweet at helping students learn math. Students in 7th grade math at Blake are busy using licorice to study lines and angles and how their measurements impact triangle creation. Can you make a triangle with licorice segments measuring 3 inches, 4 inches and 5 inches? How about 3 inches, 4 inches and 20 inches? To find out, just talk to any 7th grader at Blake and they’ll be very sweet when answering you!
8th grade students will soon take their first math midyear examination. This purpose of this exam is to ask students to review all the material they have learned in Algebra to date. Our hope is that students will be able to cement key foundational skills needed for future success in math. Teachers have a highly supported and structured in-class and out-of-class review that is meant to teach students key study skills for taking a traditional exam. The exam will count no more than a regular test grade. Please reach out to your teacher with any concerns or questions.
8th Grade Algebra Midyear Exam Dates:
January 8-9, 2015 for Algebra Part I and Algebra Regular
January 22-23, 2015 for Algebra Accelerated
The Blake Middle School Orchestra's had a very successful concert on December 2nd with the highlight being a special reading and musical accompaniment of the classic poem, "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" narrated by very own Principal Nat Vaughn.
The Blake Choruses gave wonderful performances this month both last night and earlier in December! Congratulations to all of the singers, soloists, and instrumentalists who shared their talents. We look forward to a great rest of the year.
Ms. Nothnagel's General Music classes this month have been learning about some of the Great Classical composers: listening to their music and creating an explain everything about their life. We hope to understand the foundations that these composers created in order to better understand today's music.
In December, the 6th grade finished up and presented their Experiment At Home projects, demonstrating their mastery of the Scientific Method and Lab Report writing. Students presented using a variety of media and modalities: oral presentations, using posters, creating videos and power points, and even using various apps. We also began our Matter unit in December. Students are continuing the application of their lab report skills within a unit on Properties of Matter. They will experiment in the lab with the concepts of mass, weight, volume and density.
At the beginning of December seventh grade science students finished studying the Chemistry of Life. It is now on to our next unit, Movement across the Membrane. There will be three labs to help students understand how molecules move across the cell membrane. The Egg Lab will provide students the opportunity to collect data and organize it into a graph. At the end of the month students will be using a variety of software to complete a project that will bring these concepts to life through animation. In Science Exploration students are preparing the tanks for the arrival of the trout eggs on January 8th.
December is an exciting month in Grade 8 science classes. Students will be beginning their studies of chemistry during our unit on physical and chemical properties of matter, and chemical reactions. Students will participate in many challenging and complex labs, in which they will prepare chemical solutions, mix them, and attempt to capture the gases that are produced. Students (under CLOSE supervision!) will then flame test the gas to determine its identity, and thereby discovering whether or not a chemical reaction was produced by the mixing of their solutions. Pretty heady stuff!
Grade 6: Sixth grade worked diligently on their mountain project, presenting their research and giving persuasive speeches. Now, students have begun making memory maps of the world while gaining knowledge of the countries of Central and South America along with Northern and Southern Europe. After the Ne Year, students will explore various rivers from around the world creating a story with the river as the central character. We are excited to begin this next phase of the school year. Pictures from these projects available here: http://mrgow.weebly.com/photo-gallery.html
Grade 7: Students in grade 7 have been studying the Hebrews and Phoenicians as part of their Ancient Civilizations curriculum. As part of their study of the Hebrews, students created "the Plagues of Blake" in order to convince their teachers to never ever again give homework assignments. This week students are assuming the roles of traders/sailors along the Mediterranean in an attempt to emulate the Phoenicians and gain wealth in the ancient world.
Grade 8: 8th graders in World History I have shifted from their studies of Eastern Europe and the rise of Islam to the foundations of early medieval Western Europe. They have been hard at work practicing their analytical essay writing and getting ready for the annual Geography Bee in which champions will be crowned at the class, grade and all-school level. This will take place in early January. See how much you know at http://www.nationalgeographic.com/geobee/sample-questions/
The PE staff and students are looking forward to our upcoming Volleyball Unit that begins after the December break. 6th, 7th and 8th graders will be assigned to a grade-level team where they will work together for the entirety of the volleyball unit. The instruction and practice games will culminate with our annual Student vs Staff Volleyball Tournament in February, which is always an exciting school-wide event at Blake! The PE Staff wishes you happy holidays and a happy new year!
Grade 8 has started a new unit on "Social Issues that Affect Today's Teens" which includes the topics of Ethics, Respect and Harassment. Grade 7 continues their unit on "Social Skills" and how to effectively communicate and work through problems. Lastly, Grade 6 is wrapping up their unit on Self-Esteem and beginning a new unit on Decision-Making after December break. We hope you all have a relaxing and enjoyable vacation!
Wonderful aromas are making their way through the halls of Blake, now that the second rotation of students are preparing more advanced recipes. The 6th graders have recently learned to safely operate the oven and the stovetop during December, successfully preparing English muffin pizzas and quesadillas! 7th graders learned how to safely slice and chop using a chef’s knife, as they prepared flatbread vegetable pizza! All students included at least three vegetables on their slice of pizza, meeting one of the objectives of the course: to expand the variety of vegetables 7th graders will eat and can enjoy! 8th graders also created veggie pizza masterpieces, having learned last year that fresh vegetables really are great on pizza. It’s always fun to see how liberally 8th graders load up the veggies, because they know they’re going to love it! Another recipe the 8th graders have made which pushes the vegetable envelope are panini. The students learned that having a panini press makes life easier, but one is not necessary to enjoy a nicely grilled sandwich on ciabatta bread! These panini included mozzarella cheese, green pepper, onion, roasted red pepper, baby spinach, and hot banana peppers, olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette dressing. Please encourage your children to cook and clean up at home during the vacation. Wishing you all a very happy new year!
French: In sixth grade French, students just finished learning how to talk about their likes and dislikes. Check out the sixth grade area of school to view collage projects about their interests. We have starting a unit on telling time, and are discussing the differences between our twelve hour clocks and l'heure officielle. Students explored the information web page of the Louvre museum to practice reading the times in a 24 hour clock. Seventh grade French students are talking about what’s in their backpacks: school supplies, colors and what they bring to school. In eighth grade French Students are working on a Market Skit. In class, we utilized Apple TV to project open air markets in France for backdrop.
Spanish: Sixth grade students are now fully capable of speaking and writing about their likes and dislikes - they loved talking about their favorite foods and sports! Seventh grade Spanish students wrapped up a unit on their wants and needs with a speaking test in the new language lab. It is exciting to see that their ability to speak Spanish and extend their answers in meaningful ways is exploding as we hit this part of the year. In eighth grade Spanish, students are working on a restaurant skit by the end of this week. Some of the classes also utilized the apple TV to simulate the inside of a Spanish restaurant. Some of the students will be creating their skits via i-movie as well.
Mandarin: Students in sixth grade are learning how to write numbers 1-10 in characters and how to express measurements. The seventh and eighth grade students are telling time, the date and measurements.