Over the past week, students have gotten several opportunities to show what they learned during our short story mini-unit. We kicked the week off with student presentations and finished with a unit assessment. For the presentations, each group taught their class about a classic short story and shared their thoughts and opinions on the story, as well. The unit test assessed each student’s ability to comprehend both literal and complex texts, annotate difficult text and justify their growth over the course of our first unit together. I’ve been so impressed with each student’s ability to be reflective about what they are learning and how it is impacting their growth as readers.
The past two days of class were spent focusing on the fall NWEA “MAP” Growth test. All students took both the reading and language portions of the test during their Language Arts class period. The MAP Growth test “measures what students know and informs what they’re ready to learn next [and] creates a personalized assessment experience that accurately measures performance” (NWEA.org). I am looking forward to sharing the test results with students in the coming weeks and setting goals for growth over the course of the school year!
This week our classes wrapped up our first unit on Equality, Freedom, and Tolerance. Last week students researched and created images and text to represent a person or event connected to human rights. This project was worked on with Mr. Lenz and Mr. Seehausen in the design lab. Students are creating what I call the “memorial cube.” I hope to have the finished product by Friday so students can bring the cubes home. We are ending this unit with a Google slides presentation by groups of 2 and 3 highlighting some important people and events of the US civil rights movement. Students are working to identify main ideas and to express those through their own interpretation of importance AND are attempting to connect these events of the past to current examples of discrimination. The final goal is to interpret the connections of past and present to make sense of the advances made and current challenges to maintaining those advancements. We will wrap up the week with an in-class debate regarding whose protest method is better; MLK and non-violence or Malcolm X and militant actions. These in-class debates help students with communication and argumentative skills while having a bunch of fun trying to prove their side is the best. For added fun, the students are randomly selected to defend one side. This means they must look at both sides first before learning who they will argue for. This is a great challenge, especially when a student has to defend the side opposite of their personal belief. Fridays are currently devoted to current events with the goal of helping students know what is going on in our world helping make those connections of history to present times. Be sure and ask them what they’ve seen or read about and share your insight into the world around us to help build their curiosity and knowledge. I’ll be back with the beginning of our next unit right after the Thanksgiving break. Happy Holidays.
Our 7th/8th grade music students were able to spend four days last week in the Design Lab building their unique instruments. I was super impressed with their creativity and diligence in the Lab. A special shout-out goes to Mr. Lenz and Mr. Seehausen for all of their expertise in assisting us. Students are now researching the question “Does Music Increase IQ?” Many students, in their individual research, have been learning about “the Mozart effect.” Ask your son or daughter what they’ve learned!
Language Arts with Elsa Foote
It’s hard to believe that September has already come and gone. Our first month in Language Arts has flown by, and the progress students are making already is inspiring! For the past week, students have been learning how to annotate and identify literary devices in a text, while exploring classic short fiction such as “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allen Poe and “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson. Annotation will continue to be a skill focus throughout our year together in Language Arts. The benefits of learning this vital skill include better retention, an improved ability to write about/discuss a text, a focus on active, alert reading and increased stamina.
Next week in Language Arts students will present their assigned short story to the class, developing their skills as professional, public speakers – a major component of the Common Core State Standards. Upon completion of our short story unit, students will take a brief intermission to complete the NWEA test before beginning our first class novel of the year, The Outsiders.
October marks the first month for our “Book of the Month” program. In case your child hasn’t shared information with you about this component of 7th grade Language Arts, here is what you need to know:
- Your child should be reading daily at home. There is no time requirement, but 30 minutes or more is optimal.
- Each month students are required to read a minimum of one book outside of class.
- The book students select should also be brought to Language Arts daily.
- Students will select a genre for each month from the list of required genres (see the Canvas modules for this list).
- Selecting three books per month allows students to have a backup option, if their first selection ends up not being a good fit.
An essential part of this program is student choice: whatever your child chooses to read, make sure they are truly interested in their selection.
Design with Mr. Lenz & Mr. Seehausen
Our upper school students are lucky in that they get to come to the lab 3 days a week. We dove straight into teaching the upper school students the proper workflow in order to use our laser cutter. This involves learning Adobe Illustrator, a powerful and equally complex design program that is used to create projects the laser cutter can understand. Our 7th grade students tackled Illustrator and learned the basics by designing personal bookmarks as well as class norms posters to hang in their classroom. Each student got to have their bookmark design “printed” on the laser cutter, and the top 4 class norms posters were voted on and “printed” as well. With this basic Illustrator skill-set, students have a great foundation for digitally designing their future projects and are ready to acquaint themselves with the other tools in the lab.
Language Arts, Elsa Foote and Math, Makalani Hovey
Our first full week in Language Arts and Math has been all about continuing to establish a strong sense of belonging and community as a class. As the two new staff members on the 7th & 8th-grade team, our goal has been to get to know our students, while also sharing aspects of our teaching philosophies with them. A central belief we both hold is that students do best in school when they have a “growth mindset.” Dr. Carol Dweck, a professor known for her research on the mindset psychological trait, shared her research findings which revealed that, “students’ mindsets—how they perceive their abilities—played a key role in their motivation and achievement, and we found that if we changed students’ mindsets, we could boost their achievement.” To work towards establishing a growth mindset, students attempted a seemingly impossible “Paper Challenge” in Language Arts as a means of understanding the value of struggling and persevering through difficult tasks.
In mathematics, students actively participated in numerous challenges that required perseverance, collaboration, and open minds while they explored different paths to problem solving. Within this week of inspirational maths (yes, the “s” is deliberate), students explored what qualities and behaviors contribute to successful collaboration and teamwork. We will continue to work towards successful group practices where EVERYONE experiences productivity and a sense of belonging. We look forward to continuing to build each students’ capacity to change the way they think about learning and their abilities.
Next week in Language Arts students will refresh their memory on literary elements with a short story mini-unit, before we dive into our first novel: The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. It will also be a big week for our mathematicians because we begin to dive into the curriculum and continue to stretch our minds and explore concepts in a deeper and more meaningful manner.
Humanities with Greg Conrad
The students took on a design challenge to build a better classroom Monday with the aid and direction of Deb Asato. The intent is for students to take ownership in their learning by working to transform our classroom space into an environment that supports student needs AND fits within the restraints of space and budget. This is a work in progress that will hopefully lead to different seating and desks in our classroom.
Our class is beginning to settle in and we have begun our first unit of study – “Freedom, Equality, and Tolerance.” The idea behind this unit is investigating human rights both past and present and will provide many options and choices for students to take their own direction.
We will be using facinghistory.org for our unit, providing lesson plans to explore past and present events in human rights. At this time I am looking to create a project that is student-centered with an end product of a video. I plan to use the design lab and the expertise of both Mr. Lenz and Mr. Seehausen, both of whom have provided ideas and support.
Starting Friday, students will investigate current events on a weekly basis during our Friday class period. We’ll start with the basics and move toward more specific investigations as we progress with fluid discussions and debates that students have specific interest in.
With the new direction in Humanities connecting to and utilizing design thinking and the design lab, I will be “looping” the 7th and 8th grade classes. This simply means both 7th and 8th grade students will be exploring the same units at their grade level.
My first teaching period extends from Monday, September 11 through Friday, October 13.
SEL with Amy Parks
Upper School started their Social Emotional Learning (SEL) lessons on Fridays. SEL is the process of developing the fundamental life skills needed to effectively and ethically handle ourselves, our relationships, and our work, in other words, developing the whole child. Our first lessons focused on the science behind SEL and the connection between our breath and our brains. We watched Dr. Dan Seigel show us his hand model representation of our brain/body connection and the need to be able to calm ourselves. You can see it here: Dan Seigel Hand
Students practiced communication, trust, and patience with many movement activities such as untangling themselves from a group knot, supporting each other in partner activities and learning to power through a challenging activity as they drew a star while looking at it only through a mirror. The focus is caring for ourselves and caring for others.
Benefits mentioned by students at the end of class were feeling more calm and connected! We will continue to build community, compassion for ourselves and others, and learn ways to stay focused as emotional or difficult things come up in their lives.
Welcome back from what I hope was an eventful summer full of fun and, of course, reading! My name is Mrs. Foote and this marks my first year teaching at Seven Peaks. I moved to Bend this summer with my husband, Collin, and our French Bulldog, Wellington. I am looking forward to learning with you as your Language Arts teacher for the year. As a student in my classroom, I am confident you are going to accomplish a lot, while also growing as a reader, writer, and empathetic citizen. Since I am new to Seven Peaks, we will begin our year by getting to know each other and building a classroom culture that makes each of you feel welcomed, seen and valued. I can’t wait to meet you all next week!
As we begin the 2017-18 year there are so many new faces and new directions I’m excited to see and be part of. Many of our students attend Upper School Orientation last Thursday and for the new students it was a great way to meet fellow students, the teachers and become comfortable with the campus. I want to restate my offer, if any of you need help please ask me, I’m happy to answer all questions and provide assistance. For those returning, it was great to see many of you as well. I love seeing the smiles and hearing fun memories of last year. It does my heart good to have students laugh as they share what was most entertaining and why. Our school has many new teaching faces; all of whom bring great talents and expertise to our school. Many teachers, including myself, have moved to different classrooms creating a little shake up – kinda like when you go to the grocery store to find they moved everything so you can’t find it – a treasure hunt no doubt. One of the most exciting addition is the new Design Lab. Ryan Lenz, the new Design Tech teacher and others have transformed the old library into an incredible space to invent and create – yup, it’s gonna be a blast. Last, I will be sharing teaching duties throughout the year with Ms. Brannon. I will be teaching 7th and 8th graders Humanities “half” the year and Ms. Brannon will be teaching Science the other half of the year. Can’t wait to see everyone, parents, be sure to stop and say hi and share your summer stories with me. See y’all Wednesday! — Mr. Conrad
I hope you all had a wonderful and refreshing summer. I spent most of mine outside backpacking, paddle boarding, and camping with my dog and occasionally other human companions. While summer was incredible, I am very much looking forward to seeing all of the SPS students and starting off another fun year in Science! We have many new and exciting changes this year, including a state-of-the-art Design Lab that I can’t wait to use during class. Science and Humanities have a bit of a difference schedule this year, which I’m excited about because this new schedule allows us to engage in more in-depth labs and investigations without feeling constrained by short, 50 minute class periods! Feel free to stop by my room with any questions you may have or just to say hello – my door is always open! — Ms. Brannon
Welcome back to a new year here at Seven Peaks, and I’d like to send a special “welcome” to our new 7th grade student, Joe Woll, joining us from Colorado Springs! I hope everyone is excited to be back to school as we anticipate a very exciting year full of new challenges and opportunities. There have been quite a few changes since last year; the addition of myself, Mrs. Vicknair, as your 7th grade math teacher being one of them. The math team will be introducing new and innovative curriculum that will have you on your feet (literally) so I hope you are ready for some fun and challenging thinking! Welcome back and I look forward to learning and growing with you all.
Bienvenidos! I am looking forward to seeing you all following a super busy and fun-filled summer. I’m excited to start off this year with you and look forward to sharing our new Spanish classroom, which I designed with each one of you in mind! We have a great year planned with a lot of new vocabulary to learn, conversations to share and cultures to experience! Hasta luego, amigos! See you next week. — Sra. Jylan Maloy
The Design Lab is welcoming all upper school students starting on day one. Their classroom teacher will join the students in a lab tour and some get-to-know Mr. Lenz and Mr. Seehausen activities. We will model design thinking as we discuss ways to make sure that the design lab is a safe, comfortable and inspiring place for them. A common question regarding design thinking is about curriculum: It is important to emphasize that design thinking is intentionally not a stand-alone curriculum. The goal is to integrate these concepts and skills into existing units of study. My role as lead design thinking teacher is to help classroom teachers find meaningful and relevant ways to incorporate design. Upper school students will be in the design lab three times per week during the afternoon, with additional time available in the morning if the lower school is not using the lab.
Welcome back to school, 7th grade students and families! I am Mrs. Sara Miller and I am so thrilled to be your music teacher this year. This year in music, we will be exploring some new options in music that are more “project” focused – lots of fun for you to use your own creativity – all while having tons of fun in our well-appointed music room. I teach Pre-K through 8th grade music at Seven Peaks as well as enjoy cooking, reading and walking in my spare time. I have a fun family of 7 that also keeps me hopping, with kids ages 16-14-10-8-5. I look forward to getting to know each one of your families – feel free to stop by the music room any time and introduce yourself!
Welcome back to art. Looking forward to a year full of fun and creativity. I am so excited to have the 5th grade as part of our upper school this year! My name is Hope Macauley, and for those of you who have had me in the past, my new last name will take some getting use to for all of us, me included! This year in art we will be creating with a wide range of materials and will be working through a number of art movements, looking at the masters within each. We have lots of new and exciting things going on this year from exploring and learning about our new glass kiln to utilizing the design lab as an extension of the art room! See you soon.
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.