Students have embarked into our next unit of study – the Civil Rights movement. In this unit students have selected and will be researching one specific character from the era. The project will culminate with a video created by each individual student. We have begun research and more directions and details will be presented as we move forward. This is always a great unit to teach and relates in many ways to their lives and futures. Beyond the history of the era, I stress the importance of tolerance and acceptance in their own lives of others’ differences.
I have asked students to watch and read current media to be on the lookout for current events relating to our studies. I’d like them to bring in the article or information as an extension to our historical lessons; these current events help bring the importance and continued push for equality to their lives.
The holidays are nearly here, I will stress in class the importance of staying on task and completing work with the anticipation of heading off on break. Please support this importance at home so we all have a great final week before vacation time.
Have a great winter break, looking forward to this week as well as our return to class after the new year.
The 8th graders have been reading and analyzing The Rock and The River, a realistic fiction novel set in 1968 Chicago, the content of which connects directly to their Civil Rights study in Humanities. Obviously, the book is a vehicle for discussing the issues faced by Americans in the 1960s, but it has also resonated with this class on a personal level, and the students have been sharing, with surprising candor, their viewpoints and opinions on a host of issues faced by teenagers today.
Early on in the book, a metaphor of the Civil Rights movement caught our attention: “Father would say, you get enough people to lean, and the wall will move.” A few days ago, I came another wall metaphor in an article on parenting and I immediately thought of our recent 8th grade discussions. From the article:
Kids need us to be a wall. A wall of support that doesn’t withdraw or abandon them. Even when the pressure of…sports, new classes, and changing friendships cause our kids withdraw from us—often hurting us in the process—they need us to be the adult who stays steady…Help teenagers have multiple walls—not just you. As a parent, you can’t be the only wall for your child. Our research continues to showcase the importance of young people having a team of adults who combine to form a fortress of support.
With a middle schooler of my own this year, I know that they don’t always share, that they aren’t always pleasant, that they push us away at the very moments they need us the most, that while we love them unconditionally, they aren’t always at their most lovable. So I just wanted to you to know that we teachers see them, we hear them, and we are part of your team.
To read the full article, “What Teenagers Need From Us More Than (Almost) Anything Else,” click here.
8th graders are continuing our unit on forces and motion during our 3 week period between Thanksgiving and Winter Break. We’ve started off our unit learning about the concept of density, and began with a fun density challenge lab to create your own density column using 7 liquids. The picture shows our most successful density column – nice job Ryan, Laken, and Ashlyn! After learning what density is and how to calculate it, we explored Archimedes’ principle and are now immersed in our IB Criterion B and C Assessment based around it. Students are challenged to design their own experiment based on Archimedes’ discovery that determines the exact density of an object. This assessment provides students an opportunity to practice an independent inquiry lab, and prepares them for the more intense lab requirements of the AP programs at Summit and Mountain View, or the IB program at Bend High.
December is one of my favorite months of the year. I love the snow, the lights, seeing the kids so excited about the holidays, winter break, snowboarding, but as a teacher I’m always looking forward to December because that’s when my 8th grader students learn about the quadratic formula. It doesn’t sound that fun does it? However, to help the students remember the formula we will be singing math carols throughout the school next week. One of the carols we sing is the Quadratic Formula Song, which we sing to the tune of Jingle Bells. Most students enjoy the day off of doing math, not realizing that they are actually learning something in the process. Of all the lessons I’ve taught over the past 16 years, the most memorable concept for my former students is the quadratic formula. When I run into former students whom I haven’t seen in years they are always excited to tell me they still know the quadratic formula and break out in song. So if you are in need of some holiday music this break, just find a group of 8th graders and have them sing some math carols for you. You won’t be disappointed! (Sorry no pictures or video yet)