Monthly Class Updates

6th Grade

January 2019

Beginning Instrumental Music 6: The 6th grade beginning instrumental ensemble will be working on some new music for the St. Nick’s Chapel. We will be playing with the advanced ensemble, which will require some flexibility as the students learn how to play in a larger group. We will spend some time talking about rehearsal norms and how to be successful with other musicians that we don’t normally work with. A goal for this time will be to have all the music practiced and prepared at home so we can work on playing together in class, instead of learning parts in class.

Advanced Instrumental Music 6: The 6th grade advanced instrumental ensemble will be working on some new music for the St. Nick’s Chapel. We will be playing with the beginning ensemble, which will require some flexibility as the students learn how to play in a larger group. We will spend some time talking about rehearsal norms and how to be successful with other musicians that we don’t normally work with. A goal for this time will be to have all the music practiced and prepared at home so we can work on playing together in class, instead of learning parts in class.

Acting 6: The 6th grade acting students are starting out the month looking at how individual character choices impact the story, exploring that concept via improvisation and the construction of very short stories. We will also be in contact with the LS to see what books the K-2nd grade students are looking at so that we can use that material as we start to formulate those stories to be presented towards the end of January.

Vocal Music 6: After learning/reviewing solfege and rhythm separately, students will be combining skills to begin sight singing. We are learning a trio of Christmas songs in French to perform for the whole school at St. Nick’s chapel, in addition to enjoying singing holiday favorites in class.

Art 6: We are just finishing our Egyptian Hieroglyph alphabet and cartoons and will be moving onto studying the Nok Terracotta sculptures. We will be sculpting small faces will imaginative characteristics out of clay.

PE 6: We are wrapping up our unit on the fast pace game of Speedminton. The students have improved greatly and the matches have been very intense. We are also in the middle of our unit of Physical Fitness. The students are learning about the different components of fitness, taking their heart rate, the importance of knowing your target heart rate zone, and many more fitness concepts. This is the unit where they will actually have some homework and will take a written test on the knowledge that they learn. Volleyball is the next unit that we will begin after speedminton.

Health and Wellness 6: We have been focusing on ways to overcome stress. Our next unit is on nutrition. We will have Kelly Cowing, the Director of our Dining Hall, speak with students. Students will then do research with a partner on an aspect of diet and nutrition. Of course, part of our curriculum is mindfulness.

Science 6: This month we will be extending our explorations of watersheds by delving into river systems. Students will design and complete a lab, using a stream table to investigate how river system works. We will also visit Fanno Creek on campus to look for and identify river system features. Our unit will culminate with a test. To prepare for this we will continue to build upon the study and test taking skills students have been developing this year.

French 6: Students will learn to express how much they like and don’t like different activities. They will consider the questions, “Do people in the francophone world do the same activities we do?” and “What sports are popular in the francophone world? Are they different from popular sports in the U.S.?” They will learn about the French origins of the Olympic Games and about the importance of hockey in Quebec. We will study subject pronouns and will head into the exciting world of verb conjugation, starting with -er verbs, which is a key foundational concept this year. One structural goal will be to understand the difference between an infinitive and a conjugated verb, and when to use them correctly. We will continue to watch different episodes of the Belgian cartoon series Tintin through the spring (subtitled).

Chinese 6: This is a great class to teach with a lot of learning happening. Students remain very enthused and really enjoyed learning to type in Chinese, and we are looking for opportunities to use brush pens now. They also enjoyed going carolling last year in different classes and want to do this again this year. So we will learn a few Christmas songs and take them to other classes, especially the Lower School, as they want to see their former teachers and friends again. In terms of language development, December will be a time to learn how to talk about time and place in Chinese. Students will begin to make their e-portfolio with information on their family, school, and birthday. They will also interview their friends to solicit basic bio information. They will also make a greeting card in Chinese for their pen pals in China.

Spanish 6: This December we are continuing to work with the tricky verbs SER and ESTAR. We now have the basics of our grammar foundation on which to build. December will have us more extensively creating our own questions in Spanish. Our focus for vocabulary and cultural learning is the family. We will discuss how different cultures view and interact with family. Also, we will make our own family tree, real or imagined, and then present them in class!  Supporting all this will be a new song, “Hoy es domingo.

Technology 6: We begin our second rotation in technology this month. In addition to keyboarding with Ed Club and coding with Swift, students will explore computer-aided design for the 3D printer. We will also investigate Khan Academy’s Java scripting lessons as well as their Growth Mindset curriculum and continue working on our technology portfolios.

Pre-Algebra Prep 6: In Math we will continue our review of fractions and fraction operations focusing both on the computation involved and the why behind the computation. Then we will look at the reasoning behind decimal operations and work towards greater accuracy. We will also be doing a multi-day application problem involving estimating the population in a park from a limited amount of information.

Pre-Algebra 6: We’re delving into algebra as we explore how to include variables in mathematical expressions. The understanding of why and how terms can be manipulated in math comes to light as the students learn about a variety of mathematical properties and their uses. They are learning how to simplify algebraic expressions given a variety of mathematical properties. Then the class will dig into ratios, rates, and proportions.

Humanities 6: Humanities 6 students will be taking the next steps in their study of India after Thanksgiving. The first week back will focus on early civilizations, geography, and the Hindu gods and goddesses. Students will begin reading Homeless Bird by Gloria Whelan the week of December 3rd, with a focus on cultural clues and elements of literature. Students will also write their own Indian-style folktale after reading and discussing a number of examples. Character, structure, style, and dialogue will be emphasized. Finally, we’re in the process of planning our next Sacred Spaces field trip, this time to BAPS Hindu temple in Tigard. Stay tuned for confirmation of the date and details of the trip!

Library Skills 6: We will be moving into the beginning stages of research skills: How does one take a big research question and break it down into chunks? We will work on creating search terms and combining them together and looking at how to search for information using databases and the Internet.

7th Grade

January 2019

Instrumental Music 7: We will continue in the method book as we work on reading music together as an ensemble. We will record ourselves and listen/analyze together as an ensemble how the decisions we make in the music affect the overall performance so that we can continue to grow together as an ensemble. Our new ensemble objective builds on the previous one, focusing on the importance of rhythmic accuracy.

Acting 7: The seventh grade acting students are preparing for their improvisational performance which will take place in early February. We are narrowing down the exercises that we will be sharing, creating the performance teams, and practicing at performance-level energy and focus. We are also working to master “Best Practices” for rehearsal and performance environments.

Vocal Music 7: Students will review all music theory concepts learned so far this year (sight reading skills, time signatures, key signatures and aurally identifying intervals) and be assessed in mid-January. We will also start a new set of challenging festival music.

Art 7:  Students are currently collaborating on posters showing basic color theory. The groups are redesigning how to share the color wheel, as well as concepts like monochromatic and tints. They can create an educational poster in any style they like as long as a viewer can understand the basic concepts of color theory. Following the color wheel poster we will begin realistic classical acrylic painting.

History 7: The students will begin 2019 by recording the podcasts they wrote/researched in December related to the Age of Exploration. They will be using Garage Band, which they had some time to experiment with before the break. After the podcasts are completed we will begin Unit 4—English colonialism in the New World. We will explore the question, “How do societies transform over time?” Students will examine the Puritans, the Mayflower, and the first English settlements in America as they work to understand how internal and external forces can cause change.

PE 7: The class will start the New Year with the basketball unit. We also will be in the middle of the first semester project. This is where the students will pair up and teach the class a lesson of their choice. Lastly, we will also begin the second round of fitness testing.

Health and Wellness 7: As we return for the New Year, the boys will be delving into the brain unit. They will research different parts of the brain and then present their findings to the class. We will also research different topics as they pertain to the brain and its development. After the brain, we will end the semester with the reproductive unit.

For the start of our new year, the girls in Health and Wellness will be looking at body development, physically and emotionally. We’ll take a look at the work we’ve done on our values, and we’ll try to navigate the changes the girls are going through with the values they’ve identified as important to them.

Science 7: In January we will continue to focus on the atmosphere. This month we will begin our investigation into climate change. Students will identify problems or areas of interest regarding long term changes to earth's climate. They will then work to create solutions and deepen their understanding of climate and its impact on a global scale.

French 7: We will start January by making New Year’s cards and writing a few resolutions in French. We will finish the film students chose before the break, “La Cité des enfants perdus,” and also go over highlights and what to review from the Unit 4 assessments. How are French families similar and different to American families? This month, students will learn to describe their family members and discuss who they resemble. They will learn about the metric system, possessive adjectives (my, your, his, our...), and will talk about different aspects of life in Martinique. Each lesson will appear in the students’ interactive journal in the form of vocabulary lists, drawings, reflections, and notes from dialogue and cultural videos.

Chinese 7: This will be a new unit focused on actions and verbs. Students will learn how to describe their daily routines and schedules. They will also use different verbs to identify people in pictures and describe what they are doing. Finally, students will learn how to talk about their bedrooms and what they like to do in their rooms. The project will include finding pictures with ten people in it and describe who they are and what they are doing, making a cartoon comix of their bedrooms to identify what they like and dislike about their bedrooms, or of ten people each doing different things.

Spanish 7: We ended our gerundios unit looking at some famous artwork from the hispanohablante world; students used hay (“there is/are”) and a gerund to explain to the class what people were doing in the painting. We reinforced the seasonal activity vocabulary through an activity involving partners in which one partner had to tell the other what to draw without showing them the completed picture. It was a lot of fun and forced students to look at how to communicate effectively in Spanish. We begin January with our “irregular ‘yo’ form” unit. This marks the beginning of the end of learning all the various conjugations (including irregulars!) of the present tense! We will be focusing on all the verbs that irregular ‘yo’ (“I”) form endings through books and games and lots of fun activities!

Pre-Algebra 7: The pre-algebra students will review ratios and rates and then learn methods of solving proportions using cross products and inverse operations. They will spend time learning about slope and direct variation as they explore solving equations in two variables.

In mid-February, the class will begin Algebra 1, with a new textbook, which they will continue through 8th grade. More information will be available soon if you wish to purchase the Algebra 1 textbook. Otherwise, they will have access to the online textbook at no additional charge.

Stay tuned.

Algebra 7: We will begin January with a series of Math Modeling challenges presenting students with the problem of optimizing profit at a bakery given a variety of constraints on the business. Students will be working together to stretch their recently acquired skills with linear inequalities to come up with the best solutions to these more complex scenarios. Next, we will spend a few days reviewing first-semester concepts to prepare for the midterm. At the end of the month, we will begin learning the language and concepts of functions including function notation, domain and range, discrete vs. continuous domains, and piecewise functions.

English 7: In January, seventh grade English classes continue reading and discussing The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros, and they will complete it by the end of the month. For this unit, students produce a series of “mini-projects”—visual art, creative writing, found poetry, and more—in their copies of the textbook to create an “artifact” of their learning. By the end of the unit, they also compose two formal writing pieces reflecting on their work. Another focus of the unit is learning a list of literary terms used to describe and analyze literature, culminating in a vocabulary quiz on those terms. In grammar the focus continues to be on analyzing sentences and sentence patterns with an eye toward punctuation rules.

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, to playing music that they have 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 January, our 7th grade religion class will begin 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 explore 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

January 2019

Eighth Grade Inquiry Project/Project X: The eighth graders have worked hard over the past few months to refine and discover their final guiding question - of which they will explore and dive deep into for the rest of the year. Hopefully you received an email update from your child telling you more about their process and what they will be exploring this year, so please check-in and talk with your child about their Project X work. As we move into January, we begin Phase II: Connect Ideas. This is the second part of Project X and serves as the primary research phase for this year long program. Throughout January, students will be learning how to do high quality research, documentation, and citations. They will keep track of their research using a digital platform that can be shared with their advisors, families, and other faculty. Students will also be working to reach out to an expert to learn more about their Project X topic. This interview will be used in English 8 as students refine their journalistic/profile writing skills. Be on the lookout for more information from Anna Rozzi and Mel Robinson about the next steps of Project X.

Instrumental Music 8: We will begin to go deeper in music theory to see how key signatures and instrument pitch are related, to solidify our understanding of the nine basic rhythms, and to work on chromatic scales. We will record ourselves and listen/analyze together as an ensemble how the decisions we make in the music affect the overall performance so that we can continue to grow together as an ensemble. Our new ensemble objective builds on the previous one, focusing on the importance of rhythmic accuracy.

Acting 8: The 8th grade acting students are getting to work on their performance pieces that will be shared with an audience in early February. Scenes have been selected and actors have been cast. Over the next four weeks we will be blocking scenes,  working on characterization and the interrelationship of characters, talking about comic timing, and putting all the pieces together for “Workshop” style performance. Workshopping means we will be using very limited set pieces and no costumes to speak of, just props to support the work that we are doing on stage. We are focusing almost exclusively on the art of acting as it relates to the process of performance.

Vocal Music 8: We will continue to hone our sight-reading skills, with a little competition between the two halves of the 8th grade choir. The quiz will take place at the end of January. We also will re-visit our American music set for performance at our winter concert, including working on writing backup parts for a jazz standard, “It Don’t Mean a Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing.”

Art 8: Students are currently working in groups designing printmaking stamps inspired by their own heritage patterns. Once finished with their stamp designs, the groups have each chosen a “Superhero” whose costume they will redesign reflecting their research of heritage patterns. Once students have finished their costumes they will move on to the ceramics unit and independent projects.

History 8: As we begin the new year, students will be finishing up their projects to show the change that China and Japan went through as part of the Westernization of Asian countries. Then we’ll begin looking at World War I. We begin with the causes and changes brought about by technology. Then we’ll explore how soldiers experience war, including looking into PTSD and modern day challenges of our troops.

PE 8: Students will start a basketball unit, and will review rules and skills.

Health and Wellness 8: This month we will explore how one’s cultural identities overtly and covertly affect interactions on a daily basis and examine surface culture as well as deep culture. We’ll also continue to explore the links between mindfulness practiced and wellness, by exploring our own nervous systems. Girls will begin to explore physical and self defense tactics that will build throughout the rest of the semester, while boys deepen the physical practices of mindfulness through Tai Chi.

Science 8: Feeling energetic? So are we. In January our 8th grade science classes will end our living systems unit of analyzing how food and medicine impact modern society, and we’ll shift to our energy unit, which focuses on learning about and making decisions about the impact of energy on our world. We can't do anything without energy, so let's make sure we know what it is, what it does, what we can do with it, how it changes from one form into another.

French 8: We will start January by making New Year’s cards and writing a few resolutions in French. What do monuments and sites tell us about a city? Students will continue a thorough review of Paris monuments and points of interest. They will draw diagrams of these monuments on special maps (Paris l’escargot), and will present different cultural points to the class. We will also look at how to talk about weather, and students will gather information then report on weather in different francophone regions of the world. Students will continue to learn different contexts and expressions for using the very important verbs faire and avoir. Throughout January, and into the following months, the passé composé tense will be the focal point of our work with grammar and communication as students learn to talk about events that happened in the past.

Chinese 8: School and sports return to be the main theme in the first of the month. Students will work in groups of five to make a five-minute promotion video to introduce OES campus, its students, teachers, and the sports programs to potential students in China. This project will include interviewing two Chinese students from the Upper School, and asking them questions about their life and study in America and at OES. They will also talk with a Chinese teacher to find out how they like living in Portland and America and working at OES.

Spanish 8: January begins our work comparing the two past tenses—el imperfecto and el pretérito. Arguably, this is the most difficult grammar concept in the entirety of Spanish grammar acquisition. We will read stories such as El Tesoro by Uri Shulevitz and Los tres osos which encourage students to hone their listening skills. In pairs, students will working on creating a shared fairytale starring an animal and create a TripAdvisor review for a horrific hotel experience! It’s a difficult unit that will continue into February, but it provides a lot of opportunity for fun and creativity!

Geometry 8: We will start off the month looking at transformations such as reflections and translations. Then using Geogebra as a tool, students will explore medians, altitudes and perpendicular bisectors. From there we will move onto similar figures which gives rise to a quick review of ratio and proportions, as well as continuing to develop their proof skills.

Algebra 8: We wrap up our project on the Pit and the Pendulum, including a demonstration on the big pendulum in the Upper School to check our predictions. Next, we will spend a few days reviewing first-semester concepts to prepare for the midterm. Lastly, we will jump into non-linear algebra with our next unit, which includes square roots, integer exponents, and properties of exponents.

English 8: English 8 will continue our detailed look at symbolism in Julie Otsuka’s When the Emperor was Divine, culminating in their next analytical piece. Building on Otsuka’s writing style, we will move into another creative writing opportunity tied to a meaningful person or object. Students took their first comma quiz and have a chance for a re-quiz if needed. Once that is complete, we will move further into reviewing proper punctuation of introductory elements.

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 January, our 8th Grade Religion class will continue to design and lead our weekly chapels, with a particular emphasis on the Christian season of Epiphany and the message and teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. We will also explore how justice and equality are expressed in various faith traditions, what different faith traditions can teach us about justice and equality, and then share our learnings during chapel. 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.