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.
6th Grade: Students are learning how to organize visual elements in order to create a dynamic composition. They are creating movie poster designs based on The Wizard of OZ. Art Plus students are working collaboratively on a large scale drawing, using the grid method to observe accurate proportion. One goal for this year’s sixth grade Art Plus is to bring art into the community and we are starting to brainstorm mural ideas. 7th Grade: Students are exploring symbolism and how it can be used to communicate our ideas. Using the Presidential Medal of Freedom as an exemplar, students discussed and dissected the different symbols used to convey virtue and character. Students then worked on their own designs that acknowledge and honor the compassion, intelligence, and bravery of people they know and admire. 8th Grade: How do artists create the illusion of spatial depth in a drawing? Eighth grade students are using formal and atmospheric perspective techniques to recreate a scene from The Wizard of OZ. Using Frank Baum’s detailed descriptions of different scenes, students are using layered imagery and mixed media to create a sense of space and place. 8th Grade Art Plus students are expanding on this idea, creating 3-D shadow boxes to explore set design from the Summer reading.
Sixth grade English classes recently wrapped up the introduction to nouns, and English teachers will be working with conflict, similes and metaphors. Everyone is looking forward to beginning the novel Harris and Me very soon! Seventh grade English students are currently reviewing nouns and pronouns. Grade 7 English teachers are also laying the foundation for all Grade 7 writing by introducing the IDEA graphic organizer as well as writing and editing some open response paragraphs. Grade 8 English students are now in the process of beginning Arthur Miller’s drama, The Crucible. Class time and research time has been spent investigating what really happened in 1692 Salem and also how the author’s background and McCarthyism impacts this play.
Library Media Center
Any decent middle school social studies teacher (especially at Blake) will tell you that geography affects culture. The “geography” of the Blake Library Media Center is undergoing a big change, which we feel will greatly enhance our school’s culture of learning. The bookshelves have been rearranged, leaving us with a more open and flowing room. The open spaces have been filled with newly purchased chairs, tables and desks that are easily arranged for various educational purposes. Desks on wheels will allow classes to move into small groups for the first part of a period then into an open circle for a full class discussion. Upholstered comfortable chairs, clustered nook-like around small tables, will also encourage creative collaboration. Most of the new furniture also features USB ports for iPad charging as well. Thanks to Nat Vaughn for the project’s vision and follow through on organizing the funding. Thanks also to the MCPE and CSA for their strong support.
We’ve had some LMC staffing changes. Medfield residents Katie Adams and Michelle Stephenson, who shared the Assistant Librarian position, have both resigned. Katie is still with us at Blake working as a secretary in the main office and Michelle has started her own organizing company for homes and offices called Pare Down (paredown.net). Thanks to both for their wonderful years of service. Katie and Michelle have been replaced by another Medfield resident, Donna Knott, who’s been the part-time Library Assistant at Memorial for the past 5 ½ years. Welcome aboard Donna.
The 2014-2015 school year is off to a great start. The halls of the Blake Math Department are abuzz with activity. The school year always begins with a solid review of last year's work while layering over new concepts, skills and problem solving techniques. In sixth grade, students are busy enhancing their number skills with a formal study of data and statistics...whiskers aren't just for cats anymore. Just ask our students! Seventh grade students are immersed in a discussion of signed numbers and how to use all arithmetic operations with them. Don't look to your remote control for arewind...visit the beginning of a seventh grade class! Eighth grade students are all beginning their formal study of Algebra. Evaluating expressions and solving equations will be the cornerstone of their work for years to come. Careful, parents, they may just use algebra to convince you to raise their allowance!
Music classes and rehearsals are back in full swing at Blake this September! The 6th, 7th, and 8th grade Choruses have begun singing their repertoire and have already have some solo auditions and chosen choice songs. General Music classes are researching famous musicians in an Explain Everything project and learning about the instruments in the orchestra. Parents are reminded that opportunities such as private music lessons and after school ensembles are available to all students. Please contact Ms. Nothnagel, Mr. Dexter, Ms. Hayden, or Mrs. Stover for more information and have a great year!
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 are actively practicing observation, inference, and prediction skills and learning new ways to organize and reflect upon their notes through the use of Google Drive and Notability. It has been very busy in the seventh grade science classrooms. The year began with establishing what all living things have in common. Lab safety was covered before the students got their hands on the microscopes. Two labs have been completed, giving students the experience necessary to use the microscopes as a tool for investigating cells. The seventh grade science teachers have also been very busy preparing for the trip to Nature's Classroom. The four day trip provides students the opportunity to unplug and spend some time learning in nature. This hand on, minds open, experience is an amazing opportunity for our students. We are lucky to be able to go! 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 allowed them to put to use their abilities to hypothesize and analyze data, while the newly incorporated “metrics olympics” activity allowed the students the opportunity to engage in some fun and light competition while sharpening their metric measurement skills. Of course, the Charles River canoe field trip cannot be overlooked. So far, all trips (with the exception of one rainy day postponement) have featured plenty of sunshine, good times, and data gathering as well, as students are required to test the water quality of the Charles at specific points on their journey, and analyze the data back at the “Blake Labs”.
6th graders have begun the year learning about the Five Themes of Geography. Students have created greeting cards/postcards sharing their travels and relating experiences to the 5 themes. Next they’ll venture into the geography and culture of South America. Students in 7th grade are studying Early Man in the Old and New Stone Ages. They are reviewing economic terms and will next venture into Mesopotamia, the “Cradle of Civilization.” Students have also completed reports sharing their adventures of experiencing history during the summer vacation. World History I students have begun the year with a fascinating exploration of the Byzantine and Russian Empires. One highlight of the current unit is a visit to the Museum of Russian Icons in Clinton where students will explore early Russian culture while also utilizing their iPads to create an interactive student project.
Currently, students in grades 6 and 7 are learning a number of track and field skills. They are practicing a variety of throwing and running events, which will lead up to an in-class track and field meet! Some of the events include a 4x100 relay race, the 50 yard dash, the long jump, the javelin throw, 200m and 400m races, and the 1 mile race. 8th graders are currently learning to play golf and ultimate frisbee. We are taking advantage of this beautiful weather and getting outside as much as possible. Looking forward to another great year!
All students participated in a special Wonderful Wizard of Oz class, involving activities that incorporated teamwork, problem solving, and strengths within a group. 8th graders are discovering how they learn, and how to apply that information to make themselves better learners. They will uncover their learning style, their brain dominance, as well as their multiple intelligences. 7th graders are discussing rules, and the importance of them everywhere in society. Teenage independence and expectations are also included. 6th graders are discovering the components of self-esteem, and how these components relate to their lives.
Students in the first rotation of Consumer Science have been practicing accurate measuring using the proper utensils, as well as electrical appliance and stove safety. 6th graders have made strawberry smoothies, pancakes and scrambled eggs. 7th graders have prepared strawberry banana shakes, French toast, and breakfast burritos. 8th graders have learned about wild blueberries from Down East Maine as they prepared blueberry smoothies, learned the intricacies of effectively using a waffle iron, and the challenges creating an omelet presents. We're living our motto, "Nutritious and Delicious!"
The World Language departments at both Blake and the high school participated in our first training for our newly renovated language labs. We are energized and excited to begin using the labs on a regular basis to supplement our proficiency based curricula. Already our teachers at Blake are creating new ways every day to optimize their class time with your children. We have found their ipads to be a great way to facilitate recorded projects, shared creations, homework assignments, and assessments. The new lab software will provide a unique opportunity for teachers to purposefully manipulate students’ situations for speaking and listening practice. The software allows the teacher to direct the instruction to endless configurations or groups, the whole group or partners. Our comprehensive day of training with the creators of the DiLL software on September 16 taught us an overview of the software capabilities, how to control the students, introduced us to some of the various possibilities for using the software with authentic sources in our curricula, and some ways to combine the software with other platforms such as Google. We are looking forward to practicing these new tasks with our students in the near future! Thank you to MCPE and Blake CSA for their support of this project.