One of my favorite units of the year is our unit on quadratics, which we are currently wrapping up in Advanced Algebra. As a fun way to end this unit I split the class into groups and each group launches marshmallows, gummy bears, and balls of clay from mini catapults. The students record the time the object is in the air and the distance the object traveled. With this data the students can create an equation that models the flight of their object. We then move the catapult up 150 cm off the ground and the students adjust their equation to match the new launch position of their catapult. With this new equation they are able to predict where their object will land. A target is placed at that location and they fire away. Each group gets four shots to score as many points as possible (the closer to the bullseye the more points earned) and the group with the most points is the new champion and their names are placed on the coveted Catapult Contest Trophy.
As the year draws to a close (where did the time go!?), we are wrapping up our WWII unit. Special thanks to Mr. Conrad for his collaboration on this and in fact most of our units this year. One of the best parts of teaching at SPS is knowing that our students are viewing key world events through the multiple lenses of our two classes–I feel that it brings history alive in ways that make a huge impact on learning.
During these final days, we’ll be shifting gears from spoken word to some on-demand writing assignments, which are not only a great brain-building activity but also preparation for the types of writing students will be doing in high school and beyond.
Thanks for all your support this year!
Our class is moving through the war and have begun creating individual scrapbooks. The next big step is for students to create their final journal entry of the war. This will be a reflective piece on how their character survived the war and what the future holds. Be sure to check in with your student and ask questions about their character and the war.
Your continued support in your student’s education is greatly appreciated as we approach the end of the year!
Our last unit in 7th grade, Geology, creates a strong foundation for the experiential learning that occurs on our upcoming Mt. St. Helens trip. We study Earth’s processes, then take a deeper look into volcanology and the events leading up to the 1980 eruption. Not only is this trip an incredible opportunity for students to connect with each other and their teachers, but provides a time to put their learning into action in real-world scenarios.
Next week we will be wrapping up our unit on systems of equations. The unit has provided the 7th grade class with many opportunities to persevere through some challenging concepts. One of the most difficult concepts…word problems. Reading a problem and translating it into a mathematical equation can be very difficult at times. In order to bring these problems to life, students were given a bag of candy (gummy bears mixed with Mike and Ike’s), and told how many pieces of candy were in the bag. Then using that information, the total weight of the candy in the bag, the weight of a single Mike and Ike, and the weight of a single gummy bear, the students were able to create a system of equations and calculate the number of gummy bears and Mike and Ike’s in the bag. The reward for being accurate and precise…they got to eat the candy in the bag.
“Hearing the spoken words of classic and contemporary poets we learn that we are not alone, that men and women always have felt as we feel, that the human spirit has been the one constant in the history of our kind. In this way the recitation of poetry brings history to life; in this way it creates community.” –Poetry Out Loud (National Endowment for the Arts & Poetry Foundation)
As you know, Mr. Conrad and I are collaborating as 7th graders study WWII in Humanities: in Language Arts, they have just finished reading and discussing Hitler Youth, a powerful nonfiction book about the German teens and pre-teens who Hitler recruited to fight (and die) for his cause.
As the culmination of the unit in Language Arts, students will research, practice, and deliver a spoken word performance—an oral interpretation of a poem or fiction/nonfiction excerpt—that ties in to the character whose scrapbook they are creating in Mr. Conrad’s class. Student objectives are to communicate their own interpretation of the text, to find greater meaning in the text, and to understand that these pieces of text are so much more than words, but lasting reminders of our history.
Stay tuned for details on date/time of the spoken word project and volunteer opportunities leading up to it. Thanks!
Our classes are well immersed into our studies of WWII at this time. Students have chosen to follow the path of a historical character during the war years. Each is viewing the war through the perspective of their character such as a Holocaust survivor or soldier at war; there are many different characters. Be sure to ask your student “who” they are.
Thursday, the students had a guest speaker via Skype; Keanu’s grandmother’s friend who experienced being transported from her home in Holland to a concentration camp in Germany. Her story was rich with information to help students understand the complexities of the war. Thank you Katie Hayden-Lewis for providing the connection to Marion for the students to interact with. I recorded the session on Quicktime with the hope of uploading to Canvas for all to have access to.
Students will next begin using the design cycle to create a WWII scrapbook to express the history of the war and their character’s experience. Students are also choosing a poem to represent their character in Language Arts with Mrs. Holdredge for an upcoming spoken word presentation.
This is a great time to check in with your student and remind them to hang on till the end of the school year. At this time many fall into bad habits of not paying attention in class and completing work resulting in grades that do not reflect their ability. Any reminders and support at home is greatly appreciated 🙂
7th graders finished up their study of Genetics and Natural Selection this week, and are beginning our final unit of the year, Geology, on Monday. This unit has special importance because it creates a foundation of knowledge for our end of the year field trip to Mt. St Helens. During the next three weeks we will study Earth’s geologic history and the various types of rocks. We’ll then take a deeper look at plate movement and the volcanoes near us, and end with a study of Mt. St Helens and its eruption. When we visit Mt. St. Helens the next week, students will be able to make countless connections between what they learned in class and the experiences they have on the trip!
As a side note, I sent out an email on Thursday with the packing list and itinerary for the trip, and also a request for chaperones! We owe much of the success of this trip to our chaperones, so please check your schedules and let me know if you are able to come along! It’s a fun trip for everyone!
7th grade students are busy with final preparations for their play Snow White and the Seven Dudes that they’ll be performing for our Spring Show on Thursday, May 25th at 2:00pm. Students have been instructed to bring in specific props for their character, along with their costume. Please check with your student and ask them if their costume is in the music room; if not, lovingly nudge them to get that taken care of ASAP! Also, working on lines is still a good thing to do, all the way up to the show date, in order to solidify their confidence. I appreciate all the help you’ve provided in assisting them with learning their part. We cannot wait to have you see this special and HILARIOUS performance! Please also check your Canvas email for an important MS update.
Math & Science
If you attended the annual Earth Day Fair in downtown Bend last weekend, you probably noticed how wonderful the Environmental Center looked with it’s newly planted bee garden, trash-free sidewalks, and freshly spread mulch! This is largely due to the hard work our 7th graders put in last Friday for our annual Earth Day project. For nearly 3 hours last week, students worked tirelessly to make a difference in our community, and learn positive habits to help us preserve our planet. This is the second year we’ve partnered with the Environmental Center for our Earth Day volunteer mission, and we’re looking forward to continuing this partnership in the coming years. As an added bonus, students were also able to count their volunteer hours as money raised for our Sparrow, Hudson.
Students have been learning about the fantasy genre by reading the novel A Wrinkle in Time as a class. This has been a very fun and challenging unit for all students. Students are using what they have learned to write a short story in the fantasy genre. Like with any genre, a good story contains strong elements of character, setting, plot, and explores a theme that goes beyond the story itself. Last week students used pre-writing techniques to brainstorm possible stories. After writing a rough draft, students have been working hard to edit and add to their stories, which are due on Friday.
Additionally, students have been participating in a literature circle in a group of 3-6 students. They are reading a book of their choice and each week students take on roles such as Discussion Director, Summarizer, and Illustrator. As they read, they are looking for specific ways that the author has crafted the story. Groups will meet weekly for the next few weeks to discuss their thoughts and share their ideas. These discussions will help students as they ultimately write a comparative essay between A Wrinkle in Time and their literature circle novel.
Our next humanities unit will begin next week and we will be studying the European Renaissance.
Our 7th grade classes have completed our unit on linear equations. Throughout the unit the students were asked to graph ordered pairs and equations, determine if two lines were parallel, or perpendicular, and write equations for lines given specific characteristics. The culminating activity was the summative assessment, where students had to record the drop height and bounce height of a bouncy ball. With this data they were able to create a scatterplot and write an equation that could model their data. Then they were able to use their equation to predict the bounce height of a ball dropped from 200 cm. I really enjoyed seeing their faces when we actually dropped the ball from 200 cm and they realized how close their prediction was to the actual bounce height. It was a very fun way to assess the students understanding and a great way for the students connect the math to a real life problem.
After Spring Break, 7th grade students began a unit on Genetics. So far, we’ve studied the cell processes of Mitosis and Meiosis to give the students a strong foundation in the structure of DNA and chromosomes, and the role they play in making us who we are. One of my favorite ways to help students understand structure is to build models. Sometimes we use pipe-cleaners or clay, but this time we used a middle school favorite – candy! Students built 3D models of DNA using Twizzlers and colored marshmallows. This not only helps students understand the physical structure of DNA itself, but grasp the concept of complementary base pairing with the use of different colored marshmallows coding for each of the four nucleotide bases in our DNA. After successful verbal explanation of the structure and function of DNA with me individually, students were rewarded with being able to consume their DNA model. All in a day’s work (and fun) in science!
Language Arts & Humanities
The culmination of the Roaring Twenties and Great Depression unit of study for both Humanities and Language Arts went very successfully last Tuesday. The students presented their character skits to great approval and laughter from the audience of students, parents, and teachers. The goal, to teach the audience about historical characters and their connection to our studies, was easily achieved. The skits were informative, creative, and highly entertaining. Great work everyone!
In our next unit of study, students will be “drafted” into World War II for both HU and LA. This is a great unit with students learning the facts through the perspective of characters who would have lived and been involved in the war. More fun facts to come.
7th graders are finishing up My Future My Choice. The program went wonderfully this year, and I’m so impressed with the way students showed maturity during all the lessons. I encourage you to talk to your child about what they’ve learned during the 10 lesson series. When we return from Spring Break, we will be delving into an exploration of DNA and genetics. Students will participate in a research project about some simple dominant/recessive traits, and learn how traits are passed on from generation to generation. This is one of my favorite topics within science and I’m looking forward to sharing it with students! Have a great Spring Break!
The seventh grade students are continuing to work on their historical character. The research they have conducted is being used to create a “character brochure” to express the interesting information of their character, focusing on a connection to the era. Students recently worked to write a brief connection to the era that was then placed on their brochure. This information is connected to Language Arts and Mrs. Holdredge’s classes. Students will be using the researched information to write a personal narrative based on their character. The personal narrative will be used in turn to create a skit connected to the Roaring Twenties and the Great Depression.
We are just now beginning learning about the Great Depression. There are many connections to current times we will be exploring especially how President Franklin Roosevelt led our country in a new direction. There are many current news articles about President Trump and his new directions that I will work to bring into discussion.
Parents, this is a great time to remind students of continuing their work ethic and best efforts in class until the end of the year. Please help support their education at home by checking in with them, keeping up with completed assignments, and being prepared for class. Thank you.
Al Capone. Coco Chanel. Babe Ruth. Mary Pickford. Who needs dry, dusty textbooks when we can bring the 1920s and ‘30s to life through engaging, inquiry-based, student-led activities? The kids are making great progress on their personal narratives, told from the point of view of the historical figure they’ve been researching in Humanities. This is such a fabulous project, in which the students not only show off their research-based knowledge but also see these famous men and women as real people and serve as a conduit for the voices of the past. Stay tuned after Spring Break for an invitation to the culminating skits the students will perform for your entertainment!
Parents, Mr. Conrad and I have conferenced with most of you but would love to see you one more time this spring. Our office hours are every Tuesday from 8:30-10:00, but we are flexible! Just let us know if you need a different time/day. Please click here to schedule a meeting: http://signup.com/go/b3j6Xe.
Our annual Pi Day celebration was a huge success. This year the 7th grade students discovered how the number 3.1415926… is derived (the circumference of a circle divided by the diameter), some interesting facts about circles (why are manhole covers round), and some students participated in a contest to memorize the most digits of pi. Oh and did I forget to mention the students also got to eat a few slices of pie. Thank you to all those who helped make our celebration a success.
7th grade is busy working on a variety of performance pieces in order to get ready for our Spring Show on Thursday, May 25th at 2:00pm. Mark your calendars and plan to join us for this fun and informational performance. This year, we’re adding bucket drumming – which has been a great way to learn rhythms and teamwork.
Students also recently completed their Composer research projects, where they put together Google slideshows sharing history, facts and famous works by their composers. We learned a lot and it’s a great exercise in assisting students with developing their academic writing skills as we study plagiarism, citing our works and how to utilize academic integrity in their writing.
Seventh grade families, your students are proud to present their original free verse* poetry, inspired by our study of the Dust Bowl era lyrical narrative novel Out of the Dust. Students were challenged to create their own free verse works about a memory or experience significant to their own lives, just as the work we read together was significant to the protagonist’s life. The results range from whimsical to profound, from humorous to heart-wrenching. We hope you enjoy our work!
Enjoy our digital anthology.
*poetry that does not rhyme or have a regular meter
One of the biggest holidays in the world of mathematics takes place this week. March 14, also know as Pi Day (3/14 or 3.14) to those in the math community is a day to celebrate any and all things round. This Tuesday the students will discover how the number Pi (3.1415926…) is derived, use Pi to calculate the area and circumference of a variety of round objects, sing Pi Day carols, compete to see who can memorize and recite the most digits of pi (I have had students recite over 100 digits) and the activity that the students like best of all is eating round pie, even if r2.
Our classes are moving forward with our studies of the Roaring Twenties and the Great Depression. Students have learned some facts of American and world events that shaped the twenties that connect to today. One idea we explored in class is how there was racism and discrimination with a resurgence of the KKK in the early twenties and how our country is experiencing challenges with discrimination today. We also looked at the challenges of immigration then, many feared the influx of eastern Europeans and the possibility of a communist overthrow of our government, and now, many fear middle easterners and the possibility of terrorist activities.
Tuesday, the students had a one-class debate on reasons for and against Prohibition. The students really enjoy arguing and may not even realize they are honing critical thinking and speaking skills. After, we connected Prohibition to the current debate on the legalization of marijuana with really interesting insight and perspective from the students.
We are now beginning the next step of looking at the characters of the era with students choosing a historical person to research, to create an informational brochure on, and to create a skit around their connection to our studies. These skits are supported in Mrs. Holdredge’s class and will be presented one morning in the commons with an invite going out to families. That info will be coming in about 2-3 weeks.
Seventh graders are currently participating in My Future My Choice during science classes – a comprehensive healthy decision making curriculum that covers peer pressure, healthy decision making, and sexual health. I’ve covered this in my past few highlights so I won’t bore you with it yet again, but as always, if you have any questions or concerns please reach out via email, phone, or just stop by!
The days that we don’t have MFMC provide an awesome opportunity to complete some fun science labs and activities that don’t necessarily fit in with the rest of the curriculum, but are no less exciting and important! We started with a Design Challenge that put students in the role of designing the physical space of our new Design Innovation lab and also the curriculum! Students did a wonderful job thinking critically about spacial and financial requirements, as well as providing us with valuable information about what they want to learn about in this exciting new space. I’ve had a great time looking through their ideas, and look forward to passing them along to administration as we begin construction and curriculum planning! As a side note, thank you to everyone who came to the auction, supported this space through the paddle raiser, or simply encourages and supports this type of hands-on discovery that this space will provide. I believe this is going to be an incredible addition to our school and I’m so excited to see what your kids will create next year! Other than this design challenge, we also completed a DNA extraction lab and some fun, community building activities. Next, we will explore DNA structure by building models out of candy, and discover some “magic” chemical reactions! After Spring Break, we will dive into possibly my favorite science topic, Genetics!
In the art room 7th grade has just finished up their figure drawing unit as well as their wire figure sculpture. Please stop by the middle school wing and look in the display cases by the art room to see your students creative work! We have since then launched into a copper relief project where students are pressing into a thin sheet of copper. Look for these finished pieces in the quickly approaching Annual Art Show!
This was an exciting week in science – we completed our first major dissection! Students did wonderfully and had a great time. These types of activities are the ones that students remember for years to come, which spark a love and curiosity for science, and inspire students to continue their scientific discoveries into their future academic careers. It’s so fun for me to see students loving science!
This activity was a perfect way to wrap up our comparative reproduction unit. Our next unit will begin after Spring Break where we’ll study one of my favorite topics within science, Genetics. Between now and spring break students will be actively participating in My Future My Choice, a healthy decision making curriculum that covers topics like peer pressure, healthy relationships, growth and development, and sexual health. This curriculum is state-adopted and has been taught around the state and at Seven Peaks for many years. If you have any questions about the curriculum, please feel free to email me or stop by my classroom. I have the full curriculum and a parent informational brochure available for viewing.
- “When she says _______, does she mean…?”
- “If I were Billie Jo, I would feel…”
- “I hear what you’re saying, but I disagree. I think…”
- “That totally connects back to…!”
If you could peek into our Language Arts classroom as we wrap up our reading of the Dust Bowl-era historical fiction novel Out of the Dust, you’d hear students engaging in higher level discussions like the snippets listed above. What’s even more exciting is that very rarely now are these discussions prompted by me. We read a section together, and then spontaneously, the questions and insights flow out of the kids. They’re making personal connections to the characters, asking great questions, and demonstrating sensitivity toward those who lived through the economic and ecological hardships of the Great Depression and Dust Bowl. Their knowledge and curiosity will serve them well as they continue their study of the time period in Mr. Conrad’s upcoming 20s/30s unit.
If you haven’t conferenced with us lately, we’d love to see you! Mr. Conrad and I host conference hours every Tuesday morning from 8:30-10:00, but we’re flexible if you can’t make that time. We have students’ IB report cards for the first semester and would love to discuss your child’s progress with you.
Our classes are wrapping up the unit on World War I this week and looking forward to beginning our unit on the Roaring 20’s and Great Depression. The last work completed by the students was attempting to write a peace treaty to end the war. This provides students with the challenge of how to approach such a daunting task. They grappled with ideas such as is one country to receive and accept the blame for all to move on? If so, does that country have to pay to rebuild the devastation caused in Western Europe? They were also attempting to provide direction for the future with addressing the new technologies studied. Should chemical warfare continue to be allowed, should it be controlled, or should it be prohibited for example? These ideas really push students to think of real world scenarios.
Speaking of real world scenarios, our upcoming studies of the 20’s and Great Depression have many connections to our current times. For example, the start of the 20’s dealt with how to deal with immigration and racism from groups such as the Ku Klux Klan. There was new leadership in 1932 when Franklin Roosevelt was elected and he took our country in a new direction – sound familiar? These ideas and many more will be explored with the intent of leading students to the discovery that history truly does repeat.
Be aware of an interesting show on NBC currently – Timeless. This science fiction show brings in great American and world history in an interesting and unique format; time travel. Each week they travel back to attempt to make changes to a group that may be controlling the direction of America. This part is a bit tough to follow but the times they travel to are often connected to history we have or will study. Just last night, they traveled to the 1950’s and interacted with Joseph McCarthy. I suggest you view the show and determine if it is appropriate for your student, some themes are adult in nature and there is violence. The premise of the show gets you thinking, connecting history, and considering may “what if?” moments.
The Seven Peaks Math Team took first place this past weekend in the annual Mathcounts competition held at Crook County Middle School in Prineville. SPS sent one team of four students and one individual to compete in the competition. The members of the SPS math team were Stefanie Bartels, Kira Gilbert, Cameron Zipper, and Jimmy Plumleigh, and our lone individual competitor was Myles Sanchez. These students did a fantastic job working diligently through three rounds of math covering concepts from probability and statistics to geometry. This is the 6th title Seven Peaks has won in the competition and the second title in two years. The team will travel to Wilsonville in March to compete in the state competition. Great job Mathletes!
This week, the 7th grade students in our one year algebra course are wrapping up our unit on systems of equations. We have spent the week solving a variety of real life problems. Our most recent problem required the students to calculate the number of Mike & Ike’s and gummy bears in a bag based on four pieces of information: the weight of the candy in the bag, the amount of candy in the bag, the weight of 50 Mike & Ike’s, and the weight of 50 gummy bears. The students were able to use this information to write two different equations and then solve the system to determine the number of Mike & Ike’s and gummy bears in the bag. The students really enjoy this activity because they get to use their algebra skills to solve a real problem instead of answering a set of questions from a textbook. This is definitely an activity I’m looking forward to doing again with the rest of the 7th grade students in the spring…that is, if spring ever arrives.
It was great to see many of you at Tuesday’s re-enrollment night! If you couldn’t make it but have any questions about 8th grade, our team would love to meet with you during our office hours or whenever it’s convenient for you.
This week in Language Arts, we’ve begun reading Out of the Dust, soon to be in conjunction with the Humanities 1920s/30s study. Our IB unit focus is that what we say matters, but how we say it is just as important. The 7th graders got a big laugh when, as an analogy, I asked them how many times their parents had told them they needed to “watch their tone.” Out of the Dust is a lyrical narrative (told in verse prose, akin to poetry, rather than traditional prose) and is relatively short and accessible to readers of all levels, but it is rich with figurative language, and we will be using close reading strategies to delve deeper into not only the craftsmanship but the content.
On Thursday, Friday, and this Monday, I’ll press “pause” on our reading of the novel to provide a little extra support as the students craft their research papers for Mr. Conrad’s class. It’s become a tradition that the students definitely appreciate, and an extra opportunity for me to present some mini-lessons that will help strengthen their information writing.
Our 7th grade students are working on their WWI research and interpretive essay. They have completed researching using a source and note card system and are now in the process of taking that info and creating a 5-paragraph essay. After completing an outline using their materials they have begun composing. This essay format has been taught in Mrs. Holdredge’s class and now they have an opportunity to put those skills to use. Mrs. Holdredge is supporting their writing in her class with instruction and assistance – thank you Mrs. Holdredge.
The students also presented their WWI trench warfare skits last Friday. War planes, machine guns, gas canisters and trench foot, what could be more fun and educational? This project is a great way for students to put their energies and excitement into a lesson that focuses on the historical significance of trench warfare. I appreciate all the parents who were able to attend.
7th graders are hard at work finishing up our Comparative Reproduction unit with a research project on an organism within Kingdom Animalia. Research projects can be a fun, interesting way to learn new information, and also help students develop the crucial literacy skills that will benefit them throughout the remainder of their academic and professional lives! So far we’ve focused on how to tell the difference between reliable and unreliable sources, how to cite sources, and how to gather and organize information from multiple sources. During our Wednesday professional development days, we have been discussing the value of teaching literacy across all subject areas, and I’m looking forward to continuing to help your students develop these skills in science! After we finish the research project, we will be completing a deeper study into amphibians before we complete a frog dissection. I would love a few extra hands and eyes in the room during this activity, so please send me an email if you’d like to volunteer on this fun day!
The past two months middle school students have been learning about the olympic sport team handball and the newly popular sport pickleball. Both of these sports require hand eye coordination, teamwork, and strategy. Along with our sports units student have been learning new exercises and the muscles they use while working out.