Monthly Class Updates

6th Grade

November 2018
 

Beginning Instrumental Music 6: The sixth grade Beginning Instrumental Music class will continue working on developing good tone on their instruments, playing with good posture and proper technique. We have set some rehearsal norms such as keeping instruments up for four counts past the end of the song, starting and stopping together, and being intentional in playing together. We are preparing for the upcoming performance on November 14, and will continue to work towards our overarching goal of playing as an ensemble.

Advanced Instrumental Music 6: The sixth grade Advanced Instrumental Music class will continue working on developing good tone on their instruments, playing with good posture and proper technique. We have set some rehearsal norms such as keeping instruments up for four counts past the end of the song, starting and stopping together, and being intentional in playing together. This class has moved away from using the methods book for now, and is working together in sheet music as we prepare for the upcoming performance on November 14. We will continue to work towards our overarching goal of playing 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, 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: Students just completed in-class performances and introductions to the basics of reading music. November will be full of learning three different pieces and performance skills for a chapel, Grandparents and Special Friends Day, and St. Nick’s Chapel performances.

Art 6: Students are working on their own phonetic and pictographic alphabets after learning about Egyptian Hieroglyphs. Once finished, they will create a comic strip of a short story they wrote translating the story into their own written language.

PE 6: Pickleball is a hit. We are currently in the middle of our pickleball unit and the kids seem to really enjoy it. Their skills are improving quickly, which have led to some great rallies and competitive games. Speedminton and our Physical Fitness Unit will be the next two units that we cover. Speedminton is a game similar to badminton but without a net. It might be a shock to the kids, but they will have some homework and a written test during the Physical Fitness Unit.

Health and Wellness 6: We are currently wrapping up our work on inclusivity, conflict resolution, building strong friendships and carrying on a good conversation. We will then begin a mini-unit on stress that will include identifying stressors and practicing strategies for dealing with stress effectively. As always, Cindy McEnroe will join the group to lead mindfulness activities.

Science 6: In November, we will be exploring Fanno Creek, as the basis for our unit on watersheds and water quality. Students will practice science inquiry skills as they set up an experiment using stream tables, to explore factors that influence water flow. They will also design and conduct an experiment to use macroinvertebrates to monitor the water quality in the creek.

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 have begun learning a song set in Cameroon (by Yannick Noah). We are wrapping up the final lesson in Unit 1 and their first unit test will be after conferences. They will show what they have 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: Students are really excited learning how to type in Chinese and have been texting me multiple messages in Chinese. They are absolutely amazing how fast they can type in Chinese and how much Chinese they have learned since we started. Everybody did extremely well in the unit test and are quite enthused about learning. In November we will learn how to talk about our nationalities, families and schools. Students will also learn to take and collect pictures on iPad, insert photos into their presentations, and start making their e-portfolios in Chinese. You can help by making sure they read and complete the daily homework assignment on Google Classroom.

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: This month we continue the technology rotation for the second half of the sixth grade, meeting Tuesdays and Wednesdays with all 6th graders cycling through this class in October/November. We are asking the question, “How can technology help me to achieve my learning goals?” We explore iOS12 updates, and learn about the newest apps on our iPads including Ed Club, the OES touch typing app, Swift for programming, Clips for multimedia storytelling, and Digital Passport by Common Sense Media. Students will also reflect on their technology goals for the year and create a digital portfolio.

Pre-Algebra Prep 6: With unit one just about behind us, students will be organizing their notebooks and then we’ll begin our fraction and decimal review of all operations and will combine these concepts with order of operations and real world applications. We will be doing a two day more open ended problem later in the month. There will continue to be problem solving and extra credit opportunities in the back of the classroom and the first optional problem of the week was posted on Google Classroom. There will be a new one each weekend.

Pre-Algebra 6: Following their review of operations with fractions and decimals, the pre-algebra students will delve into algebraic expressions. They get to apply their order of operations skills to simplify expressions. Introduction of math properties will assist them in why and how certain operations work.

Humanities 6: Peak was a big hit with the 6th grade. We are tying up Point of View writings as well as a mini inquiry project on topics related to the book. On November 8, we’ll be visiting the Cambodian Buddhist Society of Oregon for the first of our visits to sacred spaces of worship in the Portland area. Ms. Holmberg’s F/G class is doing a great job coordinating the trip. Ask your student about what they learned on November 8th! Our next area of focus will be India, its history, culture, and geography. Homeless Bird, by Gloria Whelan, is the accompanying novel for the unit.

Library Skills 6: We are continuing to look at the basic components of research, starting with looking at the library databases: what are they, what do they contain, how are they different from Internet research? Each student is becoming an “expert” in a particular database and walking their classmates through the ins and outs of that particular example. Finally, we are also learning about citations: why we cite and when do we cite.

7th Grade

November 2018
 

Instrumental Music 7: The seventh grade Instrumental Music class will continue working on developing good tone on their instruments, playing with good posture and proper technique. We have set some rehearsal norms such as keeping instruments up for four counts past the end of the song, starting and stopping together, and being intentional in playing together. This class has moved away from using the methods book for now, and is working together in sheet music as we prepare for the upcoming performance on November 14. We will continue to work towards our overarching goal of playing as an ensemble.

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: Students just completed in-class performances and an introductory unit on aural skills—specifically identifying the intervals of a major scale by ear. November will be full of learning three different pieces and performance skills for a chapel, Grandparents and Special Friends Day, and St. Nick’s Chapel performances.

Art 7: Students are studying Da Vinci and the Renaissance. First we are working on creating Failed Flying Machines. Da Vinci was an imaginative inventor, and while his designs were elegant and looked beautiful, none of them worked. Students are emulating this process. Once finished we will learn about the proportions of the human body and the Vitruvian Man by studying principles Da Vinci created. We will then draw self portraits focusing on close-up studies.

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, who 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 their curiosity about the world and the empathy they’ve shown as they try to make sense of a complicated world.

PE 7:  This month the class will start a unit on Futsal and Speedball. I will also introduce the guidelines for the first semester project. Lastly, I have introduced the heart rate monitors for the classes. We will be doing specific classes related to heart rate output, as well as wearing them on a regular basis during most units.

Health and Wellness 7:  We just finished our presentations on various topics regarding a “healthy lifestyle.” The boys’ next unit will deal with the topic “masculinity.” While the girls just finished up some presentations about “Stress and…” in which we looked at what causes stress and what we can do to curb it. Ms. McEnroe has started the Mindfulness curriculum and yoga has been introduced by Ms. Gillen.

Science 7: It is Science Shark Tank time! It is an opportunity for students to enhance their curiosity, creativity, and passion for developing an innovation or invention. They will be using the Stanford Design Thinking Process, which is a methodology for creative problem-solving. The driving question of the unit for students will be: How can you create a product to help you prepare for or survive an earthquake? In order to create a product, students will continue their exploration of the Geosphere. They will research what earthquakes are, how they are caused, their impact on the other spheres of the earth, and ways to minimize their impact. Through this research, they will ideate (brainstorm) and then create a model that will address the driving question of the unit. The ultimate goal is for students will be to persuade a panel of sharks (OES faculty and staff) to "invest" in their product.

French 7: “What are cafés like in France?” “What attitudes toward American fast food do the French hold?”  Students are continuing to fill their interactive journals with vocabulary, inquiry questions, and related images. They are broadening their communication skills in French with the use of inversion for asking questions. This month, we will make cultural comparisons with cafés, learn to order food and drinks, and talk about fast food culture in France and famous cafés. They will learn to express that they are hungry, thirsty, and what they are having at a café. They will work with higher numbers, in the thousands, and will complete mini-projects like pretend to order lunch from a French fast-food menu, and create and design their own café menu.

Chinese 7: Students seem to be more enthused about learning this year and this has produced great result as shown in the recent unit test. In November we will talk about weather and seasons. Students will engage themselves in a group video project to make weather forecast in Chinese. This will be shared in the class before the whole class will go to the redwood tree to video a class week-long weather forecast for Portland. Then we will tackle comparison and contrast, using basic features of animals and people in a relative way. For this topic, they will each assume the role of their favorite person or animal and act out their defining features and personalities. You can help by making sure they read and complete the daily homework assignment on google classroom.

Spanish 7: Be sure to check out our finished Day of the Dead altar next week during conferences! The 7th 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 Quizlet.com and Quia.com/web, 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 and a variety of oral partner activities. Students will also be performing a short skit involving sports in the next few weeks. Not to worry! I will upload them to my private YouTube channel and send you all the links!

Pre-Algebra 7: As the pre-algebra students learn more about rational numbers they will develop skills to perform all operations with rational numbers. Following that, they will revisit solving algebraic equations, this time including rational numbers and negative integers.

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, 7th 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: 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'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: During November we'll wrap up our exploration of forgotten characters in the Jewish and Christian scriptures and begin to examine key Jewish, Christian, and Muslim prophets; figures who often spoke about the need for peace and justice. Students will explore what these prophets had to say about social justice in their time and if and how their ideas relate to our time. We’ll end the month with students researching and presenting on a modern-day prophet of their choice.

8th Grade

November 2018
 

Eighth Grade Inquiry Project/Project X: Project X: To learn more about what is happening for Project X, check out the OES Project X Blog.

Instrumental Music 8: The eighth grade Instrumental Music class will continue working on developing good tone on their instruments, playing with good posture and proper technique. We have set some rehearsal norms such as keeping instruments up for four counts past the end of the song, starting and stopping together, and being intentional in playing together. The students are encouraged to find partners across the ensemble and listen for each other as we play. This class is working together in sheet music as we prepare for the upcoming performance on November 14. We will continue to work towards our overarching goal of playing as an ensemble.

Acting 8: The 8th 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: Students continue their work in the study of American music forms. Although the study is not exhaustive, they are developing an understanding of where certain genres came from. This contextualization is helping them to be able to identify key characteristics in both modern and historical genres in order to identify them. We continue to work on elements of good singing technique, sight-reading and working as a team. We are beginning to prepare holiday music as well as a written music literacy unit in which they will be creating a cappella harmony parts to “It Don’t Mean a Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing.”

Art 8: Students are finishing up either the Handmade Book Project or the Altered Book Project and moving onto one of two options. The Wall-E Signs, Symbols & Icons project, or an Independent Proposal Project. The Wall-E project focuses on visual language and the semiotics of symbols and icons. Students alter and change the meanings of established cultural symbols and icons to create a new message using drawing or collage.

History 8: Students have just completed their group PSA videos about different forms of Modern Day Slavery. Wow! They were incredible. Next, we are diving into how the Scientific and Industrial Revolutions changed our world. We will look into expansion, imperialism, and what the legacy of that much change looks like in today’s world. Students will be writing an editorial after we look through some examples on how to formulate a point of view, gather evidence to support it, and use rhetorical devices in our writing.

PE 8: In PE class we are finishing up our pickleball tournament and starting a soccer related unit.

Health and Wellness 8: This month we will continue our practice of mindfulness and yoga. Girls will continue 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. We will have the opportunity to work with Tom Handel on team building through games and trust-building activities; and finally we will examine stereotypes, stereotype threat, 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: Most of November is going to be driven by the students as they explore their own investigations related to mushroom growth. How might we modify the nutrients that the mushrooms take in? If we double the water added, then will that double the growth or reduce the growth? How might we get the mushrooms to reach harvest faster? Students will set up their own hypotheses, procedures, and experiments, gather data and then represent it, and then share it with the class. Feel free to ask the students how things are going with their experiments!

French 8: We are focusing on building skills for descriptive writing in French. Students have begun writing their scripts for 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. The final step is an in-class oral presentation to “sell” their houses. We will compare how teens use technology in France and in our own region. They 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: We are starting Book 4 this month, so make sure students have the textbook and workbook in simplified Chinese. In this month, to prepare them for the holiday season, we will learn the most important Chinese festivals, the Spring Festival, Lantern Festival, Dragon Boat Festival and Mid-Autumn Festival. Then students will prepare a talk to introduce American festivals and holidays, such as Christmas, Thanksgiving and Halloween. They will learn how to introduce these holidays with facts from the histores and the way they are celebrated. They will also learn how to combine simple sentences to make complex structures. You can help by making sure they read and complete the daily homework assignment on google classroom.

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, then 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: Having used definitions, properties and theorems to fill in reasons in proofs related to both algebraic thinking and geometric situations, students will begin to write their own original proofs using 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 wrap up our unit on solving systems of linear equations. We will then explore systems of linear inequalities and apply what we’ve learned to various real-life scenarios. We then wrap up November with another math modeling project.

English 8: This month in English 8, students will finish reading Outcasts United and write a personal narrative piece. They will then move into their second novel of the year, When the Emperor was Divine, by Julie Otsuka. This story offers a dramatic shift in narrative style, which will broaden our sense for the art of storytelling and will build upon the student’s active reading skills. They will also continue building grammar skills through our Comma Bootcamp. Tied to their work in Project X in which students will write a journalistic profile, we will ensure that they feel prepared with effective questions and an appreciation for the need to create follow up questions during the interview they conduct with their profile subject.

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 four weeks.

Religion 8: During November, the 8th grade Religion class will explore the meaning and traditions around Diwali, the Hindu festival of light, which is celebrated this year on November 7. We’ll examine the role that light and darkness play in faith traditions and how both can be used during chapel services. Lastly, as a class we'll reflect on these first two months of chapel and offer our ideas, advice, and guidance to students who will lead chapel next quarter.