Monthly Class Updates

6th Grade

September 2019

Instrumental Music 6 (Introductory and Advanced): I am excited to launch the 6th grade instrumental ensembles into the process of learning an instrument as well as developing the skills needed to be a successful ensemble musician. The Introductory Ensemble start the year by selecting instruments, talking about instrument care, and establishing what practice habits are needed to be successful in their new endeavor! The Advanced Ensemble will start the year by reviewing instrumentation and music reading, talking about participation in music ensembles, and establishing what practices habits are needed to be successful musicians. Technology will play a key role in class for recording/reviewing and maintaining a vlog about the progress each individual makes toward the learning goals for the class. The vlog will serve as a portfolio of evidence that the students will use to set goals and adjust their strategies for meeting those goals throughout the year.

Acting 6:  The 6th grade acting students will be focusing on learning the basic skills of collaborative and group storytelling. We will be exploring techniques that use our physical and vocal “instruments” to add emotional color and texture to our stories. Theater vocabulary, stage picture, introductory character creation, and constructive critique will all be incorporated.

Vocal Music 6: Greetings parents of 6th graders! This is Adam Steele, subbing for Ms. Phelps while she is on maternity leave. I’ll be sharing the joy of singing with your children until after Thanksgiving break. I am excited to get to know the 6th graders as they begin their MS journey. In September we will focus on music of other cultures, as well as a couple of fun pop-style songs. We will also establish some good routines around setting goals during each class, and reflecting on the learning that happened that day. We’ll start to solidify their learning and use of the solfege system, and begin to work on developing sight-reading skills. Near the end of the month we’ll start our “Song Choice” project, where students get to pick a pop song to sing either as a solo or in a small group. This is a great project for developing confidence and an awareness of how to perform.

Art 6: We will begin the year creating Portfolio Folders for our Artist Pages. Artist Pages are collaborative worksheets where students can explore their inspirations, artistic processes, and reflections about the creative process during the semester. Students will then learn about the Caves of Lascaux, as well as other ancient cave paintings throughout the world. We will finish the month drawing pastel animals while focusing on line quality, visual movement, and color tones. 

PE 6: Welcome to 6th grade PE. We will begin the year outside with units on Ultimate Frisbee and Soccer. We will begin each unit with the basic rules, skills and strategies that are needed to play the game successfully. We will also be completing our first round of Physical Fitness Testing (no need to panic about this). Two of the main goals for PE is to be active and have FUN. The plan is to have classes outside on the fields as long as the weather allows. Once the Oregon rain appears, we will make the transition inside to SPARC.

Health and Wellness 6: In September, our Rotation sessions will be devoted to establishing community across the 6th grade and preparations for our fall trip. Students will be introduced to our Community Commitments, Restorative Practices and some tools of mindfulness. We will also play games that will get students laughing and working as teams, to help them feel connected as they launch into middle school together. 

Science 6: Welcome to sixth grade science! We are going to start the year by learning about the metric system and practicing our quantitative measuring skills. We will cap this off with a Metric Olympics challenge! From there, students will learn about qualitative methods of description and eventually combine qualitative and quantitative methods of observation in an exploration of our OES campus and ecosystem.

French 6: Bienvenue! Welcome to the first year of French. Each unit will be built around questions that help us connect French to our own language and cultures. How many different ways do we use to greet each other? Is there a formal way of speaking in English? This month, we will start off with greetings and introductions in different contexts. We will also dive into numbers and common expressions for working in the classroom together. Students will practice their speaking and listening skills using a variety of scenarios, and will learn about speaking formally and informally. We will explore cognates, listen to popular songs, and examine the pitfalls of online translators.

Chinese 6: Huanyin huixia 欢迎回校! I am so excited to welcome all of you entering OES Middle School and you are so brave to take the challenge to learn the Chinese language. We will be focused on learning Chinese character pronunciation based on the pinyin (initials finals) and four tones. You will have a chance to create a pinyin song by yourself. Meanwhile, we will learn greetings in the Chinese manner and numbers. Also, we will be celebrating the traditional Chinese festival—Mid Autumn’s Festival with hands on crafts and mooncake tasting.

Spanish 6: ¡BIENVENIDO (welcome)! I am excited to meet you! We are all arriving to OES Middle School with zero or some experience in Spanish. The first chapter is the basics and brand new for some people and a great review for others! We will be starting with the alphabet and pronunciation supported by some goofy songs. Learning greetings and goodbyes are a natural place to start with some role-playing activities. Also, we will be working on numbers to 100 with games. A basic small-talk area in every language is asking and telling the date and we will practice this often. See you soon!

Technology 6: Once we return from our fall retreat, the Introduction to Computer Science class will begin. This year students will take a semester of technology. We will explore computer science through an inquiry and project-based lens with the goal of understanding computational thinking practices and perspectives such as: experimenting and iterating, testing and debugging and viewing technology as a medium of creation. Some of the technologies used in this course are the micro: bit microcontroller, 3D printer, and Scratch programming environment. 

Pre-Algebra Prep 6: We’ll be starting off the year getting organized, learning the math class routines, getting comfortable with the e-textbook and then jumping into a quick division review before embarking on powers and exponents, order of operations, divisibility tests, some non-traditional problems and introducing the “24 challenge.” As students readjust to being back and school and doing math, I encourage them to ask questions and see me as needed.

Pre-Algebra 6: Welcome to Pre-Algebra! We’ll be starting off the year getting organized, learning the math class routines, getting comfortable with the e-textbook and then we will delve into powers and exponents, order of operations, prime factorization, and problem solving. Games and puzzles are sprinkled in throughout the month. Math Club begins Thursday September 19th for all interested participants.

Humanities 6: Welcome to the wonderful world of Humanities! We are truly looking forward to getting to know you, and will spend a good amount of time during the first weeks of school doing exactly that. Students can anticipate exploring culture, developing and sharing their own stories, and taking in a big-picture view of the world in which we live. As the fall trip approaches, we’ll spend time considering the gifts that each individual brings to the class of 2026. There’s so much to look forward to, and we can’t wait to begin exploring together! 

7th Grade

September 2019

Instrumental Music 7: I am excited to begin working with this year’s 7th grade ensemble as we undergo the process of learning to be successful ensemble musicians! We will be focusing our time and energy on the individual skills and responsibilities necessary to contribute effectively to an ensemble, and talking about how those skills translate to other mediums and areas of life. The 7th Grade Ensemble will start the year by reviewing instrumentation and music reading, talking about participation in music ensembles, and establishing what practices habits are needed to be successful musicians. Technology will play a key role in class for recording/reviewing and maintaining a vlog about the progress each individual makes toward the learning goals for the class. The vlog will serve as a portfolio of evidence that the students will use to set goals and adjust their strategies for meeting those goals throughout the year.

Acting 7: In this class we will be introducing the techniques of improvisation, then use those techniques to explore character and relationship as they relate to improvisational theater. We will be focusing on the skills used by the individual actor to support and move story collaboratively, building towards performance. We will be covering improvisational terms and vocabulary, connections between improvisational theater and text work, as well as constructive critique and sketch comedy.

Vocal Music 7: Greetings parents of 7th graders! This is Adam Steele, subbing for Ms. Phelps while she is on maternity leave. I’ll be sharing the joy of singing with your children until after Thanksgiving break. I am excited to help your children continue to grow as musicians. In September we will focus on music of other cultures, as well as a couple of fun pop-style songs. We will also continue to employ good routines around setting goals during each class, and reflecting on the learning that happened that day. We’ll continue to solidify their learning and use of the solfege system, and begin to work on developing sight-reading skills, branching into 2-part reading as a choir. Near the end of the month we’ll start our “Song Choice” project, where students get to pick a pop song to sing either as a solo or in a small group. This is a great project for developing confidence and an awareness of how to perform. Your child did this project as a 6th grader last year, so they should be familiar with the expectations around this project.

Art 7: We will begin the year creating Portfolio Folders for our Artist Pages. Artist Pages are collaborative worksheets where students can explore their inspirations, artistic processes, and reflections about the creative process during the year. Students will then learn about artist self-portraits exploring artists from Modernity around the world to see ways in which people in history have expressed themselves. Students will then learn about human proportions, pencil greyscale, and how to create visual value. Finally, students will create self-portraits focused on portraying visual likeness, facial proportions, and a range of tonal value. 

History 7: Welcome to 7th grade! We begin the year by posing this question: when studying the past, how do we know what we know? We explore the importance of using evidence to inform our understandings about history. We also discuss other important vocabulary that helps the students think and behave like historians. We then begin studying when and how the first humans arrived in the Americas, exploring different theories and looking for the evidence that supports those theories. We also review the steps involved in good historical research and citing one’s sources effectively. Lastly, students will collaborate on the first unit project, as we work together to build community. 

PE 7: We will start the year with a combination of ultimate Frisbee and disc golf. Also, the students will start their first round of fitness testing which includes running the mile, push-ups and sit-ups as well as the sit and reach flexibility test. As long as the weather remains sunny, we will be outside at the field. Lastly, the students will be assigned a heart rate watch which we will use at times throughout the year. 

Health and Wellness 7: Most of our Rotation sessions in September will be devoted to preparations for our fall trip, for all 7th grade students. Students will work in groups to learn camping skills that they will use on the trip. In Health and Wellness, we will start by reflecting on expectations, concerns, goals and wonderings about the year ahead.

Science 7: We are excited to welcome you back and begin exploring the fascinating planet on which we live! Science 7 is all about the interconnectedness of Earth’s Systems and you will deepen your understanding of this through scientific investigations and engineering design challenges. This month we will dive into an overview of Earth’s systems and demonstrate our understanding by identifying interactions among the Earth’s spheres as observed on our beautiful campus. Next, we will prepare for our upcoming trip to Mount St. Helens by exploring the science, history, and real life accounts of the active volcano in our backyard known for centuries as “Fire Mountain.”

French 7: Bienvenue! Welcome to 7th grade French. Each unit will be built around questions that help us connect French to our own language and cultures. Is soccer as popular in France as it is in the Pacific Northwest? How do we suggest ideas to people around us? This month, we will use games and conversation to reconnect with key concepts from last year, and then begin Unit 4. This unit will help students build communication skills for making suggestions, discussing plans in the near future, and asking questions. Students will learn about soccer in France and francophone countries. We will also revisit their favorite French songs, build skills with dialogue videos, and reexamine the pitfalls of online translators.

Chinese 7: Huanyin huixia 欢迎回校!This month, we will be focused on reviewing Pinyin, tones, stroke orders and the characters in last 18 units that we have already learned. Meanwhile, we will start our new unit which is about transportation. We will practice it by discussing about the transportation in different countries and by working on some fun projects. Also, we will be celebrating traditional Chinese festival-Mid Autumn’s Festival with hands on crafts and mooncake tasting.

Spanish 7: ¡Bienvenidos back to school! We will spend our first two weeks reviewing last year's material and then begin our first unit – the differences between ser and estar (both which mean “to be”), comparing and contrasting, and using quantifiers to flesh out sentences. We'll be doing lots of fun games and activities to practice when to use these verbs! It can certainly be an adjustment for students moving into Spanish 7 and its all-Spanish-all-the-time policy, so the more encouragement to speak Spanish the better!

Pre-Algebra 7: Welcome to advanced pre-algebra! After a review of algebraic terms, we will launch into solving linear equations using all operations, learning to write equations with two variables, and begin learning the art of solving and graphing inequalities. Puzzles and games are sprinkled throughout the month.

Algebra 7: This month, we will start off solving simple and multi-step algebraic equations, including absolute value equations. We will also rewrite equations and formulas as we get more comfortable manipulating variable expressions. We will tackle our first Problem of the Week, a challenge problem that we will do periodically throughout the year. We wrap up the month by learning some problem-solving strategies and applying them to word problems.

English 7: The first reading selection for the seventh grade is Jamie Ford’s Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. This historical novel tells the stories of two families living in Seattle’s International District during World War II and the imprisonment of people of Japanese descent during the war years. The novel illuminates many themes: American identity, immigration, family relationships, race and ethnicity, bullying, justice, and the idea of “outsiders” in society. There will be short writing assignments based on the novel, students will study vocabulary words pulled from the book, and we will look at literary terms and examine the use of figurative language.

Technology 7: In this course we will explore hardware and software technologies using concepts and techniques driven by the Maker movement. Students will build skills with programming by reading data from sensors (input) and controlling hardware (output). After defining and clarifying basic concepts, we will use those foundational concepts as a launching point to explore our own creativity and interests using the micro: bit microcontroller.

Religion 7: In September, our 7th grade religion class begins by exploring why sacred stories play such an important role in many faith traditions. Students learn about creation myths from various faith traditions and examine the similarities and differences among them.  Our dive into creation stories will culminate with students creating their own unique myth of how the world came to be. Lastly, we’ll start to focus on important characters and plot lines that appear in early stories within the Jewish, Islamic, and Christian faiths.

8th Grade

September 2019

Eighth Grade Inquiry:  8th Grade Inquiry class, which begins October 1, is an opportunity for students to explore who they are and their place in the world by diving deeply into and asking big questions about a topic or subject that excites their mind and their heart. This is accomplished through focused and creative work to support students in developing not only their critical thinking and research skills, but also their curiosity, perseverance, wonder, and grit. Throughout the year, students will participate in service in order to build community and expand perspectives, explore personal inspirations and interests to generate a guiding question for the year, deepen understanding through research and interviews, create an artifact to represent the meaning they derived from their year of learning, and commit beyond themselves by planning and leading a service project for the community.  Starting in October, we’ll focus on exploring our identities and how our identities inform the ways in which we see and experience our lives. We’ll also discover how service to others can be a means of using one’s power for good, as well as a way to build community and a powerful lens in which to ask complex questions about our world. 

Instrumental Music 8: I am excited to begin working with this year’s 8th grade ensemble as we undergo the process of learning to be successful ensemble musicians! We will be focusing our time and energy on the individual skills and responsibilities necessary to contribute effectively to an ensemble, and talking about how those skills translate to other mediums and areas of life. The 8th Grade Ensemble will start the year by reviewing instrumentation and music reading, talking about participation in music ensembles, and establishing what practices habits are needed to be successful musicians. Technology will play a key role in class for recording/reviewing and maintaining a vlog about the progress each individual makes toward the learning goals for the class. The vlog will serve as a portfolio of evidence that the students will use to set goals and adjust their strategies for meeting those goals throughout the year.

Acting 8: In this class we will be looking at acting from a production perspective. We will be working with scripts; breaking down text, constructing character, blocking movement, and memorize lines as we move towards performance. We will cover the concepts of production norms and design for theater as it relates to costumes, sets, sound, and lights. We will also be introducing basic directorial concepts and techniques.

Vocal Music 8:  During the month of September we’ll start to evolve our methods in the classroom around reflecting on progress - taking time to reflect on progress on specific skills we’re developing: sight-reading, teamwork, technique and literacy. We’ll work on music from different cultures as well as start a music arranging project (we pick a song and the students write their own harmonies to the song). I am excited to begin the process of transforming these wonderful musicians into even more sophisticated music-makers!

Art 8: We will begin the year creating Portfolio Folders for our Artist Pages. Artist Pages are collaborative worksheets where students can explore their inspirations, artistic processes, and reflections about the creative process during the year. Students will then explore the arc of the creative process focusing on different representations of how creators/thinkers/makers create. Students will then start a drawing unit focused on different ways of seeing, moving, and interacting with materials to create a wide variety of mark-making and drawing experiences and outcomes. 

History 8: Welcome to Modern World History! We begin the school year discussing change over time and learning how to look at our world through the lens of data. We’ll use maps and graphs to practice how to ask questions about what we see, make observations, and understand the world through different perspectives. We will be engaging in some small and big group discussions as well as partner work as we explore changing demographics. Then we’ll use some of those same skills to look at the global economy from the 1300s-1800s as well as today. Students will work together to present on one commodity in our global market.

PE 8: We will start with a fitness unit and fitness testing. Classes will be in the fitness center, track, and cross-country trails. Students will learn the different components to fitness training. 

Health and Wellness 8: Early classes will focus on establishing a sense of connection as a group, such that we can create a positive, encouraging environment to carry us through a semester of exploring the big issues related to Health & Wellness. This work will include team-building initiative time with Tom Handel. September will also launch us into explorations of identity and the interplay between self and environment.

Science 8: Eighth grade science at OES is about how our world and our modern society interact. We'll start off September by noticing how science is different from other ways of approaching our world, and what this lets us do. We'll dive into examples of predictions, data, and testing things out. We'll also confront conspiracy theories and dishonest graphs, because in order to rely on science for what it can do, it's also good to know how science can be misused. We'll end the month with an experiment analyzing light sources, and what you see is not always what you get.

French 8: Bienvenue! Welcome to 8th grade French. Each unit will be built around questions that help connect French to our own language and cultures. How are French homes different from homes in the United States? What might someone from another culture be surprised to find in your home? In the first exhilarating month of the school year, we will reconnect with key concepts from last year, revisit some favorite French songs, and begin Unit 7. Real estate listings and dialogue videos will help provide context for the theme of the home. Students will develop vocabulary skills to describe a home in detail. We will explore different types of residences in francophone countries, like those in northern Africa. Students will make cultural comparisons between the francophone world and their own experiences. 

Chinese 8: Huanyin huixia 欢迎回校!For the first two weeks, we will spend some time in reviewing Pinyin, tones, radicals, stroke orders and the characters in 36 units that we have already learned. Meanwhile, we will be celebrating traditional Chinese festival-Mid Autumn’s Festival with hands on crafts and mooncake tasting. We will have opportunities for students to work on fun projects that they can reflect on what they have learnt, look for any patterns, and make conclusions.

Spanish 8: ¡Bienvenidos back to school! We will do minimal review of last year's material and dive right in with IOPs (Indirect Object Pronouns). We will be playing some fun games, learning technology and telephone conversation vocabulary, and adding IOPs to all prior grammatical concepts. After three months without class, some students may likely feel as if they’ve hit a brick wall, forgotten “everything,” and/or feel self-conscious about speaking Spanish. This is completely normal! I encourage all of my students to come find me when they’re feeling this way for a bit of encouragement, laughter, and some one-on-one time with the material.

Geometry 8: We’ll start building the discipline of Geometry starting with the three undefined terms of point, line and plane. From there we will build up to ray, bisectors, congruence, angle pair relationships, the Pythagorean Theorem and introduce the platform provided by Geogebra, a program that lets students explore geometric relationships in a more dynamic manner.

Algebra 8: This month, we will start by reviewing pre-algebra topics, including greatest common factor and operations with negatives, fractions, and decimals. We will also be reviewing simple and multi-step algebraic equations, including those with the variable on both sides of the equal sign. We will then review linear equations and graphing. At the end of the month, the students will explore online graphing tools and test their math modeling skills in the Bungee Barbie project.

English 8: English 8 students will be sharing song lyrics that have meaning to them as a beginning to our look at how language ties to identity. We initiate this work by looking at children’s books in order to practice the kind of literary analysis and writing we will engage in throughout the year. We will then build from this idea as we start our first novel of the year, Warren St. John’s Outcasts United, and move towards our first creative and analytical writing pieces connected to that source. 

Technology 8: Welcome back to the beginning of your eighth grade year, and especially to your technology class. This course is an open-ended course that will help you develop a novel technology project by the end of the quarter. Each group of students will choose a topic of their choice and then set up and test out their own project that relates to something they're currently doing in another course here at OES. Code a calculator on Scratch. Design and print a 3D replica of a Japanese temple. Program a Micro: bit to play your favorite tune. Or maybe groups will find something they are more interested in, and each of us will hone our skills along the way.


Religion 8: In September, our 8th grade religion class will begin designing and leading our weekly Middle School Chapel. To accomplish this, students will spend time reflecting on what their experience of chapel has been and what they hope to see chapel become. Students will also explore how best to incorporate music, story, and student voice into our weekly chapels, with a particular focus on creating an inclusive and welcoming space. After setting some initial goals for our services, we’ll examine how different faith traditions gather and what different worship styles may teach us about our own chapel gathering.