Monthly Class Updates

6th Grade

March 2019

Beginning Instrumental Music 6:  The 6th beginning ensemble will continue our work on reading notes on the grand staff and learning new key signatures and scales. As we develop a foundation of music theory, we will use these new skills to increase our tone and intonation, and continue to work together to achieve the goals we have set as an ensemble.

Advanced Instrumental Music 6:  The 6th advanced ensemble will continue our work on reading notes on the grand staff and learning new key signatures and scales. As we develop a foundation of music theory, we will use these new skills to increase our tone and intonation, and continue to work together to achieve the goals we have set as an ensemble.

Acting 6:  The sixth grade acting students have started working with more sustained storytelling. The prompts for these longer forms comes from young reader picture books. Many of these books are familiar to the students. It always makes me smile when I watch them excitedly grab books that they are familiar with from their kindergarten days and begin to prepare them for a stage performance. We will go through this process a couple of times over the next month expanding the students understanding of stage picture and visual storytelling.

Vocal Music 6:  After our March 4 concert, we will complete a unit on evaluating musical performances. We will also be diving back into music theory and sight reading skills and start work on modern pop/broadway style singing and music.

Art 6:  In 6th grade art we are just beginning our exploration into the Book of Kells. We learned about the history of this amazing illuminated manuscript by watching the wonderful animated film, The Secret of Kells, then spent some time studying and discussing images from the actual book. The students will draw inspiration from this, as well as the “doodle-notes” they took while watching this film, to create their own illuminated page. We will use India ink and watercolor to make our Celtic-inspired designs come alive.

PE 6: The 6th graders will begin the month of March playing badminton in PE. You will not want to challenge them at the BBQ’s this summer after they learn the different shots, rules and strategies of the sport. We will also start our unit on Fencing. The students will learn about the history, basic techniques and strategies of the sport.

Health and Wellness 6:  We have been delving into the world of technology and social media, particularly studying what kind of presence we want to have on social media, the role of social affirmation, the positives and the negatives of social media. Our class discussions have focused on the decisions we must make regarding our digital lives, critically considering the positive and negative effects of various technology platforms.

Science 6:  We are diving into science inquiry! Students are forming ideas and will be placed into groups based on their interests, early this month. From there, they will fine tune their research or engineering plans and complete background research. Students will plan their projects, gather materials and learn skills. Data collection and the building phase will occur following spring break.

French 6:  The first week of March brings Mardi Gras! Sixth graders will take the celebration down to the LS to teach about this exciting international holiday. Students will edit and rewrite their first in-class composition and wrap up Unité 2. Afterward, we will build a study guide together and they will have a major assessment of a unit test on all lessons A, B & C (3/14). Also this month, we will watch an annual favorite, Howl’s Moving Castle, in French. We start Unit 3 this month. Students will review and learn more vocabulary for classroom items and take a deep dive into how articles work, and how to choose the right one. We continue to enjoy Tintin on Fridays, learn new songs in French, and play many speaking games in class to deepen their understanding and skills.

Chinese 6:  6th graders had a good time celebrating the Chinese New Year with a cook and share class. They helped to decorate the classroom and each got a red bag from China. They also brought amazing Chinese dishes to share, including very authentic and delicious bamboo steamed dumplings. What a treat! In March we will be focused on food, both American and Chinese. Students will learn how to order food and drinks in Chinese. This is a good time to take them for a treat in a Chinese restaurant, and encourage them to order their favorite items, to greet and thank the waiters in Chinese!

Spanish 6:  This March we are working on Unit 5:  Shopping! In addition to a lot of clothing related shopping vocabulary, we are introducing another important irregular verb; IR = to go. Students will learn to use IR to also talk about what they are going to do in the near future. Culturally we will look at some differences in shopping and we will learn a bit about some types of currencies. One of our songs this unit is “Vivir mi vida which helps reinforce the grammar component of IR + a + (verb). This shopping unit will also include two days of role-playing buying and selling items in a “market”.

Technology 6:  Students continue practicing their touch-typing skills, measuring gains from the beginning of the year and setting speed and accuracy goals for the end of 6th grade. We are also designing with Blocks Cad for the 3D printer. As we gain more experience, we are exploring complex loops and coding elements to produce mathematical designs on three axes. We are also exploring our digital footprint and beginning research for our group projects on this topic.

Pre-Algebra Prep 6:  Welcome to solving algebraic functions! This month the pre-algebra students will use their skills of operations with integers and rational numbers, as well as their understanding of the mathematical properties and learn how to add and subtract linear expressions and to use inverse operations to one and two solve equations.

Pre-Algebra 6:  We will continue our work with the basic idea of ratio, use ratio tables to solve real life related problems, explore the difference between rate and ratio problems and look at percent as a ratio. We end the unit with a mini-project where students will need to use their ratio knowledge to solve a fictitious situation and figure out who is siphoning gas from “local” gas pumps.

Humanities 6: We’re looking forward to taking a dive into Greek mythology between now and Spring Break. Students will begin by exploring the Ancient Greeks’ gods, goddesses, and demigods. Bernard Evslin’s Heroes, Gods and Monsters of the Greek Myths will be a main resource. On Monday, March 11, we’ll begin Odysseus, retold by Geraldine McCaughrean. Please see recent emails about locating a copy if your student still needs one.

Library Skills 6: We will continue to look at developing ways for analyzing and critically thinking about information found online. We will also look at note-taking tools to help track questions, keywords and content that is found in order. We will also look at the question of copyright and fair use as it applies to images, sound recordings and written works. Finally, we will look at media bias and the publishing cycle and how that determines what sort of information a student might need for a research project.

7th Grade

March 2019

Instrumental Music 7:  The seventh grade ensembles will continue our work on reading notes on the grand staff and learning new key signatures and scales. As we strengthen the foundation of our knowledge of music theory, we will use these new skills to increase our tone and intonation, and continue to work together to achieve the goals we have set as an ensemble.

Acting 7:  The seventh grade acting students have been continuing to work on more complex and advanced improvisational exercises. At this point the exercises are designed to encourage the students to process their character and scene work in more complex ways. Not only do they have to generate improvisational content, but also they have to deal with the more complex constraints of the various exercises. For example, in one of the exercises “A,B,C,” students create character and scene as usual but they have to begin each of their sentences with a specific letter from the alphabet which changes each time they have to speak. It's very entertaining as well as challenging. Ask your students to explain it to you.

Vocal Music 7: After our March 4 concert, we will complete a unit on evaluating musical performances. We will also be diving back into music theory, sight reading skills, and aural skills focusing on hearing and identifying intervals. We will also start work on modern pop/broadway style singing and music.

Art 7: 7th grade artists are neck deep in one of the most challenging skill- and technique-building lessons that we do all year. With our recent color wheel project to guide us, we are trying our hand at classical painting. The students have completed several pencil studies of their chosen still-life objects and are moving into using traditional techniques to create a realistic painting. For most students, it is the first time using some of these methods so they are struggling mightily but are determined. I suspect that, behind the good-natured complaints, they are really enjoying the challenge.

History 7: After many good discussions about different aspects of revolution, such as uprisings and coup d’états, students are wrapping up their research on a revolution from history. To demonstrate their understanding, students will create an infographic to communicate the who, when, why, and aftermath of their chosen revolution. Later in the month, we will launch Unit 6: Government. We will learn about the US governmental structure, examine the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights, learn how a bill becomes a law, and more. The unit will culminate in inquiry-based research and an informational speech on a topic of their choosing related to the U.S. government. Bi-weekly current events discussions will also continue.

PE 7: We will start our whiffle ball unit this month. Wiffle ball is our version on softball that can be played indoors. Some of the students will also teach their lesson for their first teaching assignment. Also, as soon the weather allows us to run outside, we will do the second timed mile of the year. Lastly, we will continue to use our polar heart rate system to help students make connections between heart rate output and effort in class.

Boys' Health and Wellness 7: In Health and Wellness, the boys are finishing up their presentation on a topic as it relates to “Being Healthy.” I will introduce some more progressive relaxation sessions as well as a yoga session. The class will also start looking into the evolution of action toys and video games and how it possibly could influence their perspectives. We will also start looking at leadership as it pertains to different cultures and gender.

Girls' Health and Wellness 7:  In Health and Wellness the girls are starting to look at the idea of identity and what makes up their own identities. We’ll then move onto assessing what are values, and most importantly what values do I hold dearest to me and how do I express them. We’ll continue to practice mindfulness with Ms. McEnroe, incorporating our lessons into our mindfulness time.

Science 7:  We are about to embark on an exciting time in science, we are starting science research! We are concluding our Climate Change unit and we’ll begin to ideate research questions or design challenges. Once a final idea is determined, teams will develop a research plan and begin background research. Students will learn necessary skills, gather materials, design experiments or engineering plans, and get started with the experimentation or design.

French 7: Students are working hard on their “Famous Family Tree” descriptions and layouts. We will finish this project the first week of March and also celebrate Mardi Gras. We will have a Parade of Trees in class so students can share their wacky picks for famous family members. This month we continue to study vocabulary related to professions, francophone countries of Africa, and will tackle the irregular verb, venir. Students will also learn a highly nuanced grammar point—when to use either c’est or il est/elle est when introducing and describing people. This month we watch the French classic film, Jean de Florette, which is full of intrigue, villainous treachery, and many opportunities to explore the question, “What does it means to be the ‘other.’”

Chinese 7: Seventh graders celebrated the Chinese New Year with a red bag of Swiss dark chocolate and a sample of Chinese currency from China. They have also learned to make phone calls in Chinese. I have encouraged them to speak Chinese with their classmates by trying to call each other on their phones. They are also on a lesson project to make call calls in Chinese with one another. Parent can help a lot by making sure that they complete that task at home. In March we will focus on helping them to describe their feelings of different school subjects. This will help them gain skills and confidence in talking about their school life. The project is to have them report on what they are doing in math, science, English, humanity, music and PE classes and how they feel about these classes.

Spanish 7: We have been working on direct object pronouns (DOPs) for a few weeks now. Once mastered, they make speaking so much easier! Instead of saying, “I made the cake yesterday and brought the cake to the market to give the cake to Susie” you will be able to replace “cake” with “it”. Very handy indeed! Of course we will be doing lots of practice with DOPs—from singing an adorable children’s song, playing Go Fish!, and reading Green Eggs and Ham to an activity involving a Spanish shopping mall and a mini project creating a Craigslist ad. We’ve also been comparing and contrasting cities in Spanish-speaking countries, which is always fascinating!

Pre Algebra 7: The pre-algebra students are now ALGEBRA students. They have access to their new online Algebra 1 text so the transition should be seamless. They will remain in Algebra 1 throughout 8th grade. This month they will revisit using inverse operations to solve equations with the added dimension of solving multi-step equations, as well as equations with variables on both sides of the equation. They will also use inverse operations to rewrite formulas to isolate a different variable. The students will need graph paper for the chapter after spring break as we launch into graphing linear functions.

Algebra 7: This month, we will continue our exploration of exponential functions, including real-life applications of exponential growth and decay. We will expand on this knowledge with another group project looking at data collection involving coin flips as well as declining population numbers of African black rhinos. We will wrap up our unit on simplifying radicals, exponent properties, and exponential functions. We then will jump into our next unit on polynomials!

English 7: In March, English 7 will finish reading Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass and each student will produce a formal piece of writing based on the book. The class also will begin a poetry unit which will culminate with each student learning a poem by heart* and reciting it for the class (probably in the first week of May).

*These two quotes sum up the rationale behind learning poetry by heart:
Ted Hughes wrote in a 1988 letter to the British Secretary of State for Education on the special place of poetry in the education of children: 
“What kids need is a headfull [sic] of songs that are not songs but blocks of refined and achieved and exemplary language.”[When that happens, children have]“the guardian angel installed behind the tongue.” (Taken from an article in The Economist, November 24, 2007)

Robert Frost:

“People keep saying it’s not good

To learn things by heart.

But pretty things well said—

It’s nice to have them in your head.”

Technology 7: The 7th grade technology students are now looking at various options for creating their own projects. These projects will use Micro: bits as the core piece of technology for their own individual projects. Some of the projects I’ve seen in the past range from creating small wearables and playing music that they've coded onto their chips, to using the macro bits to track scores in a basketball game that they've constructed. All of these projects are driven by the students’ interests as well as their curiosity.

Religion 7:  In March, our seventh grade religion class will continue focusing on important characters and plot lines that appear in early stories within the Jewish, Islamic, and Christian faiths and their parallels in pop culture, specifically focusing on movies, literature, and music. We will also begin exploring key figures within religious stories that are commonly forgotten because of their gender, class, or ethnicity. After learning about key characters, forgotten characters, and common plot lines within these sacred stories, students will create and perform their own version of an ancient story.

8th Grade

March 2019

Eighth Grade Inquiry Project ‘Project X:’ The eighth graders are about to dive deep into Phase III of ‘Project X’ - Create Meaning! During the two weeks before spring break (March 11–March 22), the 8th graders will not have their regularly scheduled classes, but will rather use that time to continue researching their final guiding question, complete interviews with their Project X-pert, plan their Mt. Hood Climb Day service learning projects with peers, and craft their Project X artifacts. Ask your child about their Project X-pert, and how their research is coming along as we prepare for these exciting two weeks!

Instrumental Music 8:  The 8th grade ensembles will continue our work on reading notes on the grand staff and learning new key signatures and scales. As we strengthen the foundation of our knowledge of music theory, we will use these new skills to increase our tone and intonation, and continue to work together to achieve the goals we have set as an ensemble.

Acting 8: The 8th grade acting students are now using improvisation to explore the various lessons or questions that appeared during their most recent performance. The improvisation that they are working on are long, character-driven forms that will encourage them to think about the whole character and story arc as they are working. I'm also planning on introducing work driven exclusively by text. This could include oral interpretation of literature as well as standard theatrical text.

Vocal Music 8:  After the concert on March 4, we’ll turn our focus to music from around the world. We’ll be singing in several different languages, including French, Swahili, Latin, and hopefully Persian. We will also continue our work with sight-reading, now adding pitches. We will practice nearly every day in preparation for the quiz near the end of the year.

Art 8:  Eighth grade art students are continuing their deep dive into independent work. We began February with a written project proposal to help them track the scope of their creative process as it plays out over the course of the month. We will spend this week working toward a stopping point, then writing a closing reflection exploring some of the successes and challenges we encountered in our creative journey and deciding where to go from here.

History 8:  Students have been working on understanding many ideas from World War II. We’ve discussed the different ideologies that emerged post World War I as well as the way those ideologies were expressed. We also looked at the reality of refugees today as we explored the Jewish refugee experience. Our final project on this unit will involve team debates that wrestle with various complex issues from World War II. Then we’ll move directly into the Cold War. For this unit, we’ll be creating an iBook about various topics linked to the Cold War.

PE 8: Students will learn the history and technique of fencing.

Boys' Health and Wellness 8: Continuing our explorations of social norms, our nervous system responses, and categorical thinking, we’ll dive into stereotyping, stereotype threat and related cultural competency work. Our mindfulness work will continue with varied practices and research.

Girls' Health and Wellness 8:  This month we will continue our practice of mindfulness as well as exploring physical and self-defense tactics that will build throughout the rest of the semester. Finally, we will examine stereotypes, stereotype threat, and explore these questions: Who am I? What is my culture? What cultural lenses do I have? and examine social identifiers and how these affect us in our daily interactions.

Science 8: So far we've learned about how society makes and uses food and energy, and some of the challenges we face related to both, and now it's time to focus on building solutions. And most recently we learned what electricity is and what it can do. So will all our challenges be solved by some new electric technology? No, but people using technology in meaningful and intelligent ways can make a big difference. So our 8th graders are going to work to help solve challenges that we, and people like us, face. Thank you, Mrs. Futrell, for helping design and run this technology unit!

French 8: The first week of March brings Mardi Gras and the 8th graders will take the celebration down to the LS to teach about this exciting international holiday! In class, the 8th graders have been doing an awesome job developing their ideas in the past tense on their French postcard composition. Prior to writing, we introduced the imparfait mode of past tense so that students could better describe how things were during their imagined “vacation”. For the week that we have together in March, they will finish up that composition, have an exam on Unit 8, and then take a breather to start an adorable, cross-generational French film, Le papillon.

Chinese 8: 8th graders enjoyed their trip to the Lansu Chinese Garden, even though it was a very cold day and as a result many volunteers did not show for their advertised activities. Students, however, were in good mood to experience and learn. They did have a chance to practice their brush pen writing. They also took pictures which they are making into a slide report on their trip, as the beginning of their research project on one chosen aspect of Chinese culture. They may need some help from parents in selecting topics and locating resources for this project. The theme for March will be hobbies. Students will learn to use Chinese to describe their interests, passions, past times and life dreams.

Spanish 8: We are finishing our reflexives unit which, once again, lacks an English equivalent. However, what’s really nice about this unit is that it’s not a new tense! Reflexives are simply a different type of verb, so we get the opportunity to practice all the tenses while using them. We’ve been using a lot of children’s books for reading and listening comprehension, as well as great vocabulary and grammar practice.. We read Froggy Se Viste (Froggy gets dressed) and watched the Mexican version of Sesame Street’s “Rubber Ducky” song that Ernie sings, which was great fun! We’ve also been comparing and contrasting daily routines in various countries, particularly noting the start/end time of school and the practice of siesta.

Geometry 8: We have just started our unit on circles and will explore the many cool relationships found with segments when they pass through circles. This goes beyond radius and diameter, but also introduces tangents, and the angles that are formed when these segments meet each other. Students will just dip their toes into this new material before starting in on their Project X deep dive days, so it will continue in April.

Algebra 8: We only have a short time with the 8th graders before the Project X Deep Dive. We will wrap up our work with simplifying radicals, exponent properties, and exponential growth and decay functions, take a unit test, and then review the graded tests to learn from our mistakes. As always, we will continue to promote having a growth mindset.

English 8: In English 8 we have transitioned into reading MAUS and exploring comics as a means of storytelling. Students have chosen a separate book from a list we have provided that is connected to the same historical era. These will all be tied together in the writing assignments for this unit. Additionally, we have moved further into our Project X interview preparation, practicing both question generation, interview, and drafting skills that will help to guide the upcoming expert interviews.

Physical Computing and Coding 8: The 8th grade Tech class the students are in the midst of constructing their final projects. We have pulled together the supplies that they need and looked at the various projects in terms of goals and expectations. Now everybody is jumping into the pool of fabrication and construction. There are a lot of very interesting projects driven by the student’s individual interests. Our goal as a class is to be finished by the end of this quarter which is coming up In about 4 weeks.

Religion 8: During March, our 8th Grade Religion class will continue to design and lead our weekly chapels, with a particular emphasis on the Christian season of Lent, which begins on March 6th (Ash Wednesday). Students will also explore the meaning of Ash Wednesday and how different understandings of this day can resonate and be relevant in our community. As we approach our second day of Service Learning in the Middle School on March 12, we’ll also dive into the idea of service and how it is expressed and valued in various faith traditions. Lastly, as students gain experience and confidence in leading our weekly chapels, we will reflect on how the first half of the quarter has gone, if and how we’ve met our initial goals, and how to continue to improve our chapel services.