Monthly Class Updates

6th Grade

November 2019

Instrumental Music 6 (Introductory and Advanced): The sixth grade instrumental music ensembles will be continuing to prepare for the concert coming up on November 20. We will be making recordings of the rehearsals and sharing them onto the Google classroom for the students to practice with at home. The third practice vlog will be posted right after the concert for the students to review their performance.

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 and 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:  Aside from practicing music for upcoming performances (MS Chapel on Nov. 15; Grandparents Day concert on Nov. 26; St. Nick’s Chapel on Dec. 20), sixth graders are starting to work consistently on strengthening rhythm skills. We do this by practicing, “Around the room” rhythms in which each student needs to perform a rhythm in time following the person next to them. We also are working on transcribing rhythms onto music manuscript paper. They had a good first performance of the year during gathering in mid-October!

Art 6: Sixth grade art students will start a clay sculpture project. Looking at figurative clay sculptures from China and Africa students will focus on how the characteristics of the human face can be represented differently. Experimenting with how the human face expresses emotion and character, students will draw 50 faces, each with a different personality and expression. Afterwards, they will create their favorite face in clay focusing on pinch and coil sculpting techniques.

PE 6: In sixth grade PE we will finish up our unit on Speedball. We will also dive more into our unit on the different Fitness Concepts. In this unit the students will learn about the various fitness components and how to take their heart rate. They will learn about Target HR Zone and many other physical fitness concepts. A written test will be given at the end of this unit. We will then begin our unit on Volleyball. The students will learn the rules, skills and strategy for the sport. 

Health and Wellness 6: This month we will explore how mindfulness can be used to reduce stress and to access a calm and joyful state. Ms. Hicks will come in to introduce some related brain science and various mindfulness tools. We’ll also learn about how mindfulness can apply to participating in community and communication. We’ll discuss and practice social skills related to teasing, making apologies and expressing gratitude. 

Science 6: This month students will be exploring the health of the OES wetlands. We will start by measuring the water quality in the wetlands, looking at pieces like temperature, pH, turbidity, dissolved oxygen, nitrates and phosphates. Students will learn how to use LabQuest sensors to get accurate measurements for these readings. We will then begin the process of analyzing data, drawing conclusions from data and noticing trends. Afterwards, students will be looking at various other ways we can measure the health of an ecosystem, creating food webs and energy pyramids for our local wetland populations. Lastly, students will engage in a number of citizen science opportunities. Students will be managing salmon in the classroom as part of the ODFW fish to fry program. Students will also be measuring daily precipitation for CoCoRaHS, a community supported weather monitoring group. 

French 6: This month, we will be practicing how to invite someone and accept or refuse invitations, and to give an excuse. We will discuss teens in France and texting. In continuing to address the question, “What is a francophone world,” students will read about Sub Saharan Africa and the Caribbean, and francophone influences there. Students will learn a song about a French singer’s Cameroonian heritage (Yannick Noah). We are wrapping up the final lesson in Unit 1 and their first unit test will be mid-November. It will cover all three lessons of Unit 1. They will show what they’ve learned with vocabulary, culture, and introductory grammar concepts. We switched two projects, so students memorized and performed dialogues in October, and in November they will do The Great Cognate Search. Through this project, they will approach the questions: “Do English and French share a lot of the same words? Why is that?” 

Chinese 6: This month, we will continue learning how to greet and introductions in Chinese. Students finished learning how to use the courtesy expression to ask questions and introduce yourself and others. Also, we finished their first project, which is making a Chinese teaching video. We will work on ask and answer questions pertaining to age and numbers from 0 to 100. For the grammar piece, students will learn ye to indicate sameness. For the cultural piece, students also learned about the special meaning behind each number for Chinese people. For the final project for unit 1, students will create role plays with all the sentences they have learned in the last three lessons. Students will have a unit test for the first three lessons this month and after that, then we will be moving on to unit 2. 

Spanish 6: November has us diving into significant grammar. We will be introducing and working on the verbs SER and ESTAR. This is a very tricky area because they both mean To Be but are used in specific situations. Going with this we will be using many adjectives. Also, we will learn how to form questions and answer them in complete sentences. This will lead us to interviewing each other. Later in the month we might get to working on our family tree. Supporting all of this we will be singing a couple more goofy songs; “¿Cómo es ella?” and “Hoy es domingo.”

Technology 6: Students completed an in-depth look into the hardware components of the micro: bit and shared their learning with each other. Using this knowledge, we are now designing robot pets for our class partners, practicing our coding by design, inquiry-thinking process. This month we will complete the making and coding for these pets and share them in a gallery walk. Coming up next is the “Do your Bit” challenge to address UN Sustainability goals by prototyping solutions using the micro:bits. 

Pre-Algebra Prep 6: Unit one is completed and the first binder check is coming up. We are beginning our fraction and decimal review of all operations and then will combine these concepts with order of operations and real world applications. We will be doing a two day more open ended problem in late November. If students are interested I post an optional less algorithmic problem called “Problem of the Week” about every other week on the Google Classroom. Students are welcome to try these and turn them in if they so desire. 

Pre-Algebra 6: After completing their review of all operations with fractions and decimals, the students will launch into the introduction of the variable, algebraic expressions, and math properties. Building upon what they already know about the order of operations, and learning about like terms and various mathematical properties, they will gain new insight into how to simplify algebraic expressions. They will have extra practice with games and puzzles.

Humanities 6: Ask your student to show you work from the first quarter, which will be sent home on Monday, Nov. 4. Sixth graders can look forward to their first “Sacred Spaces” field trip of the year on Thursday, Nov. 7. We’ll be visiting the Cambodian Buddhist Society of Oregon in West Linn, where students will learn more about the story of the Buddha, practice meditation, and meet one or more of the monks who live there. These opportunities provide an invaluable experience with one of the world’s oldest faith traditions. Learning about Buddhism provides a natural shift in focus toward India, where we’ll turn our attention for the next several weeks. Students will also learn about Hinduism later this month. Other endeavors will include the Caste System, India’s geography, a close reading of Gloria Whelan’s Homeless Bird, writing an Indian-style folk tale, and later, British influence on India and the life and impact of Gandhi. Lots to look forward to in November! 

7th Grade

November 2019

Instrumental Music 7: The seventh grade instrumental music ensembles will be continuing to prepare for the concert coming up on November 20. We will be making recordings of the rehearsals and sharing them onto the Google classroom for the students to practice with at home. The third practice vlog will be posted right after the concert for the students to review their performance.

Acting 7: The seventh grade acting students have been expanding their list of improvisational exercises as we begin to construct a menu of improvisation that we can share in performance. We just finished with the gibberish exercises, which help the students focus on creating clear intentional goals in their scenes without using actual language. In November we will be adding, longer more sustained group exercises. These exercises tend to be more challenging because they are incorporating individual character subtext as well as more comprehensive scene/plot goals.

Vocal Music 7: Aside from practicing music for upcoming performances (MS chapel on Nov. 15; Grandparents Day concert on Nov. 26; St. Nick’s Chapel on Dec. 20), seventh graders are starting earnest work on the concept of rhythm. We play various games and do a variety of exercises in class to sharpen this specific musical skill. They are also working on their “Song Choice” projects, where they get to work on a song of their choosing to perform in class. They did well on a performance in gathering in late October.

Art 7: Students have just started the Modern Icon watercolor painting project. Utilizing the facial proportions they learned while drawing self-portraits, students will draw a person whom they believe should be deified with a halo- like Byzantine religious icons. Putting the person in a scene, utilizing elements of perspective, they will put a human figure in visual space. Afterwards, they will learn several new watercolor techniques so they can add color to their art. 

History 7: This month students have explored the concept of civilization and the different components that are necessary for one to form, last, spread, and thrive. Through that lens, we explored the Maya civilization, which thrived from about 200-900 C.E. Students sharpened their note-taking skills and worked to organize those notes by creating a system of organization that works for them as individuals. Soon we will move on to the other great civilizations of Mesoamerica: the Aztec and the Inca. The final product for this unit will be a Travel Journal, a piece of writing that can be characterized as one part creative writing, one part historical narrative. We also launched our bi-weekly current events presentations and discussions. (Thank you, parents for your participation!) I’ve been inspired by the students’ curiosity about the world and the empathy they have shown as they try to make sense of a complicated world. 

PE 7: In PE we are finishing up the pickle ball unit. A doubles tournament will finish the unit. For E block, the students are fully engaged in to their Futsal unit. Later in November, I will introduce the first semester project, which is a teaching project. Students will be grouped into groups of two or three, and will teach their peers a sport or activity. They will also produce a small written lesson plan. To finish the month, we will also do speedball, which is an OES made-up game that combines soccer and team handball. 

Health and Wellness 7: This month we will continue to explore how mindfulness applies to communication, especially in challenging situations. Students will practice skills related to identifying and expressing their own needs and to developing empathy for others. Throughout the month students will have the opportunity to practice various mindfulness strategies and will reflect on which techniques work best for them. 

Science 7: This month we will be wrapping up our Geosphere unit. Students will demonstrate their learning of content and skills through research stations and hands on investigations set up in the science classroom. Next we will dive into the Hydrosphere (pun intended)! Students will learn about the Hydrosphere through our oceans. They will explore the science behind the oceans and the significant role oceans play in the delicate balance of Earth’s systems. We will also introduce them to Design Thinking which is a methodology for creative problem solving. They will use this new knowledge and skill set to begin the process of designing and engineering a product to solve a problem facing the world’s oceans. 

French 7: What kinds of movies are popular in France? Do they use the same titles for a movie that we do? Is there an Academy Awards in France? Students just wrapped up writing and performing their own dialogue for a scene in a café. This month, students delve into French cinema and movie culture. They will study vocabulary for different film genres, and how to express opinions about films. Students will come up with their own translations of movie titles, and will also learn a new irregular verb, voir. Toward the end of the month, they will take an exam on the three lessons of Unit 4. The big project of this month will be learning the popular poem, “Le Corbeau et le renard.”

Chinese 7: In Chinese 7 class, we are going to learn how to say terms for different school objects, inquire about and explain their own class schedule in Chinese and students can also use bijiao to express slight preference over a certain subject. Students will also learn to talk about study plans and express concerns about a particular subject. Students will work on projects to create their daily schedule in Chinese and students will also come up with solutions and suggestions regarding the problem. For the cultural piece, students will have opportunities to learn about Chinese views on education and success and Sun Yat Sen’s study abroad. And then we will be moving on to Lesson 27.

Spanish 7: Be sure to check out our finished Day of the Dead altar next week during conferences! The seventh graders created their own version of Catrina dolls and they look fantastic. We just started our new unit on shoe verbs, so called because only the forms in the verb chart that fit in the “shoe” make a funky change. As with all of our units, we'll be working on this particular grammar piece for the next couple of weeks. Great extra practice can be found on and my website, which I highly encourage. The vocabulary theme for this current unit is “sports” with the majority of words coming from the four major sports played in the Spanish speaking world (basketball, football, baseball, and tennis) with a few additions like fencing and swimming. We are reinforcing this with everyone’s favorite game of Around the World, a variety of oral partner activities, and performing a short skit in the next few weeks. Not to worry; I will upload the skits to my private YouTube channel and send you all the links!

Pre Algebra 7: Armed with a solid background of operations involving fractions and decimals, the students will explore operations with negative and positive rational numbers. Converting between fractions and decimals is also a skill they will become used to. Following this unit, they will return to solving equations using inverse operation but now including negative and positive integers, fractions, and decimals. They will also try their hand at solving multi-step equations as well as equations with variables on both sides of the equal sign. 

Algebra 7: This month, we will learn how to write, solve, and graph linear inequalities. We will then learn how to solve a system of equations using various methods, including graphing, substitution, and elimination, and apply what we’ve learned to various real-life scenarios. We will also tackle another challenging Problem of the Week.

English 7: In November, seventh grade English classes will finish reading and discussing Jamie Ford’s Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet and will begin reading The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros. For this unit, students will complete a series of “mini-projects”⁠⁠—visual art, creative writing, found poetry, and more⁠—in their copies of the text to create an “artifact” of their learning. They will also complete some reflective writing and formal analysis writing pieces. Another focus of the unit is learning a list literary terms used to describe and analyze literature. In grammar the focus will continue to be on analyzing sentences and sentence patterns with an eye toward punctuation rules.

Technology 7: Students completed an in-depth look into the hardware components of the micro: bit and shared this learning with informative presentations. Using this knowledge, we are now designing robot pets for our class partners, practicing our coding by design, inquiry-thinking process. The technology class culminates with a reflection on how design thinking and programming skills may be applied across their classes, including science research in the seventh grade. 

Religion 7: In November our seventh grade religion class will continue exploring key figures within religious stories that are commonly forgotten because of their gender, class, or ethnicity. We’ll wrap up the month and the quarter by learning about the prophets found in Jewish and Christian writings, discover what they had to say about social justice in their time, and how their ideas relate to our time. Students will then research a modern day prophet of their choice and create an icon depicting their life and their work.

8th Grade

November 2019

Eighth Grade Inquiry: Last month in eighth grade Inquiry, students practiced the techniques of crafting a question prompt, generating questions based on that prompt, and then identifying which of their questions spur the most interest. In November, students will take what they have practiced and use those same techniques to help create their own guiding question that will drive their exploration and their work in class. To support students in this process, we’ll continue exploring our identities, identify and map our interests and passions, learn to give specific and helpful feedback to each other, and continue to engage in service to broaden our perspectives and engage our minds in new ways of thinking. By the end of November, most students will have defined and refined their guiding question and will be ready to start the research phase in December.

Instrumental Music 8: The eighth grade instrumental music ensembles will be continuing to prepare for the concert coming up on November twentieth. We will be making recordings of the rehearsals and sharing them onto the Google classroom for the students to practice with at home. he third practice vlog will be posted right after the concert for the students to review their performance.

8th PE:  The eighth grade will be knee deep in a doubles pickleball tournament!

Acting 8: The eighth grade acting students are in the midst of doing their monologues. The combination of having to memorize several paragraphs of text while at the same time creating a character and presenting to their peers has created a great deal of stress. This gives us the opportunity to explore ways to reduce stress, learn techniques for memorization, as well as strategies for handling nerves during performance. We will be moving on to multi-character scenes soon and the work we do with monologues creates the foundation for that work. 

Vocal Music 8: Aside from preparing music for some upcoming performances (MS Chapels— Nov. 22 and Dec. 6, Advent Service—Dec. 4), we are starting to focus on developing rhythm concepts in preparation for the sight-reading quiz in January. We are also starting more focused work on sound quality and quantity (methods for improving singing tone and how to healthily sing at varying volume levels).

Art 8: Students are continuing their work on their independent projects. Focused on any form of drawing students are creating artwork based off of a Contemporary artist. They are focusing on the arc of the creative process, reevaluating their work as they proceed. 

History 8: The class is now moving into studying the Scientific and Industrial Revolutions. Students will be exploring the different ways that the world has changed in response to achievements in science and rapid industrialization, including the challenges to church authority and the rise of capitalism as well as imperialism. To demonstrate their understanding of the material, students will be writing an editorial that will involve continuing to develop their research and writing skills, learning how to properly use footnotes, and citing evidence from primary documents the identify from research.

Health and Wellness 8: Having explored multiple elements of identify, including cultural & environmental factors as well as biological factors linked to processes of the nervous system, we’ll begin digging more deeply into bias & the mind. We’ll explore implicit bias and the ways in which we, as humans, come by it naturally and also can learn to more consistently recognize when we’re in danger of the kind of simplistic thinking that can perpetuate unkindness and injustice.

Science 8: November is our big month for our Living Things experiment. Students drive their own learning related to growth of a living organism, either edible mushrooms or microgreens. They'll pose questions about nutrient, energy, water and genetic needs for organisms, and determine in advance what data would relate to their question. From there they'll plan an experiment that can gather that data, and assess their own hypotheses for themselves and for an audience. Feel free to ask the students how things are growing with their experiments.

French 8: This month, we are focusing on building skills for descriptive writing in French. Students are diving deep into the Dream House project. With this student-driven project, students create a design for their dream home, label key elements in French, and write a script to describe the home and what’s around it, which they present in class to their peers. Concurrently, students will learn vocabulary for technology and we will compare how teens use technology in France. Students will add the new irregular verbs, devoir, mettre, and pouvoir to their repertoire and take a unit test on the three lessons of Unit 7. 

Chinese 8: This month, students finished up their projects about introducing fun events in Portland. We continued our Media & Technology unit by exploring online shopping. Students will learn how to describe different types of price discounts and coupons and identify the pros and cons of various experiences. Students also learn to describe preference regarding different types of payment methods. For the cultural piece, students will explore how Chinese traditional market looks like and students will have a chance to create conversation to show how to bargain like a local Chinese. And then we will be moving on to the next unit.

Spanish 8: Be sure to check out our finished Day of the Dead altar next week during conferences! The 8th graders created their own version of ofrendas with poster board and they look phenomenal. The grammar topics this year are much more complex and really do not follow English grammar any longer. But, perhaps most importantly, language learning is all about "scaffolding," so if the first topic (“layer”) isn't understood well it will be very difficult to understand the subsequent topics. To really understand indirect objects, it was necessary to utilize direct objects learned at the end of last year. We just started working with the first of two past tenses in Spanish—el pretérito (the preterite). It isn't a difficult tense to understand as far as usage is concerned, but there are a ton of irregulars that don’t follow the general pattern. I do have a catchy song for memorizing some of the irregulars which we will be using in class, but it is not completely comprehensive. Since we will be spending the majority of the year talking in the past, there will be many opportunities for practice. However, it bodes very well if the conjugations are memorized quickly so that when we put the two past tenses together in January, students aren't struggling with conjugation but can devote more time to the determining which tense to use.

Geometry 8: In Geometry we are finishing up the introduction of various properties of equality and congruence and using them to fill in reasons in proofs related to both algebraic thinking and geometric situations. We are about to launch into incorporating parallel lines and the various angle relationships that occur when parallel lines are crossed by a transversal. This will open the door  to creating even more exciting proofs in which students will write both the statements and reasons from scratch.

Algebra 8: This month, we will learn how to solve a system of equations using various methods, including graphing, substitution, and elimination, and apply what we’ve learned to various real-life scenarios. We will review the unit before Thanksgiving including our first Jeopardy review. 

English 8: This month in English 8, students will complete their first writing pieces tied to Outcasts United and move into their second novel of the year, When the Emperor was Divine, by Julie Otsuka. This story offers a dramatic shift in genre and narrative style, which will broaden our sense for the art of storytelling and will build upon the student’s active reading skills.

Technology 8: November beckons, and the rotation courses shift. To wrap up this rotation course, each student and group will take their final steps towards developing their project for their user of choice and then present their work to the class. From testing RC cars safety to the carpentry of building a juice dispensary, and the fabrication of fantastic realities through Minecraft and Photoshop, we have some exciting projects in the works. Our final actions in class will be sharing out our work so that our hard work can live beyond our own uses and can benefit and inspire a larger community.

Religion 8: During November we'll learn about the tradition and meaning behind All Saints and All Souls Day through designing and leading an All Saints Day chapel service. We’ll discuss how stories can act as a way to remember and honor both people and communities. We’ll also examine the theme of gratitude and the role that it plays in our chapel services and in various faith traditions. Lastly, we’ll reflect on these first two months of chapel and offer our ideas, advice, and guidance to the group of students who will lead chapel next quarter.