Humanities with Mr. Conrad
Our 7th and 8th grade Humanities mock trials were both a wonderful success. The prosecution and defense teams in both classes presented their cases like an episode of Law and Order – “bong-booong.” Using critical thinking skills and collaborative teamwork the classes prepared for trial by writing opening statements to introduce their team perspective to the jury, created detailed questions to promote evidence to support their case using their own witnesses, determined what questions could be asked on cross-examination to attempt to trip up the opposing team, and plead their case using facts and emotion to assert their team perspective of guilty or innocent. Each and every student played their role perfectly presenting the jury with a tough decision. The trial centered around the charges that “JC Roberts” possessed, and possessed with the intent to sell, anabolic steroids. In 7th grade, the defendant was found guilty on one count and not guilty on the other. In 8th grade, the defendant was found not guilty on both counts. The trial was very professional and I loved Geoff Chackel’s comment that our students literally out-performed actual attorneys he’s seen in court. I see some future attorneys in our classes.
I appreciate the large gallery of parents and relatives who came to view the trials. That support truly helps students understand your interest and encouragement in their studies. I also thank all volunteers who helped prepare students and those who sat on the jury, we couldn’t do it without you. Thank you.
“W🍀W. So well organized. Love how the students take it so serious. I can tell they are growing up. Thanks for being such positive role models. I can see the respect”.
❌⭕️💜🍀 — Quote from Nancy Hoffman
Humanities with Mr. Conrad
Our students are engrossed in preparing for our mock trials on December 21st. Both 7th and 8th grades are currently working to go to trial on a case involving suspicions, uncertainties, possible lies, and the illegal use of anabolic steroids to improve the performance of a high school track student. Students have written opening statements, are currently writing questions for witnesses, and will compose closing arguments all in prep for the trial. These are all complex and challenging ideas that require teamwork and critical thinking.
In preparation, our students visited the Deschutes County Courthouse last Tuesday and Wednesday and were able to view video arraignments and speak to Deschutes County presiding judge, Alta Brady. This, in my humble yet correct opinion (yes, that’s supposed to make you laugh) was a fabulous extension of the real world into the classroom. Students were able to ask Judge Brady questions and learned that the process we are going through is very connected to actual criminal trials. It was also the opportunity to ask questions about possible careers in law and to see the complexities of court. I feel an impactful experience for our students was how many young people were in jail awaiting trial, many commented on how young the defendants were.
Speaking of defendants, our 7th grade student on trial is Jack Duettra and our 8th grade student on trial is Jaxon Giordano. Come watch the trials and consider volunteering to be on the jury to decide their fate. A reminder email and request for jurors will be sent next week, I hope many will be able to attend the trial.
Music with Mrs. Miller
Our Holiday Sing-A-Long is right around the corner! We are so excited to show our parents all the hard work we’ve done in preparing for this fun evening. Please have your student to the music classroom at 5:30pm on Thursday, December 21st in festive Christmas attire. Our show will begin promptly at 6:00pm and following the conclusion, we invite you to join us to walking or driving to our neighbors at TouchMark and blessing them with a few Christmas carols. We will sing 3 songs as a school community at the end of our show – and you’ll have the lyrics on your programs to take with you to TouchMark. The residents are very much looking forward to seeing us and we are excited to have this Community Partnership in giving to others. Thanks for all your support!
Humanities with Mrs. Foote
Over the past few weeks, the 7th graders have inspired me with their thoughtful engagement as we study the seminal coming-of-age novel, The Outsiders. S.E. Hinton’s timeless exploration of identity development amid the forces of peer pressure has resonated with many students as they, too, attempt to “stay gold.” In preparation for their first I.B. assessment, students have been crafting personal narratives about a pivotal moment in their life that has shaped their identity. This topic has been challenging for many students, due to its intimate nature. However, I am happy to report that I have been blown away by each student’s ability to craft a powerful, personal story.
Science with Erica Brannon
We are now fully immersed in our Chemistry unit! So far we’ve covered the basics of atomic structure and types of chemical bonds, providing us with the foundation to start the fun part of this unit next week: chemical reactions! As an extension of our chemical bonding activity, students learned how difficult it is to break the covalent bonds that hold water molecules together. We succeeded when we tried using electricity through the process of electrolysis – the bubbles in the attached picture means the water molecules were being broken down into Hydrogen and Oxygen gas! Students have been hard at work using various models of atoms at at each stage of our discovery process. Models of our scientific topics are extremely useful when the real thing is either too big or too small to actually use in class, and we’ll continue to use these throughout the year.
Science with Ms. Brannon
Hi 7th grade families! I am so happy to have finally started a science rotation! I’ve loved getting to know each and every one of your children over the past week, and I’m looking forward to continuing to get to know them better as we learn about some exciting science topics. We are currently almost finished with our introductory science unit covering the scientific method to prepare us to think like scientists and to be able to excel during the next two years in the IB program. After this unit concludes, we’ll dive into Chemistry where we study atomic structure, chemical reactions, and applications of chemistry.
Language Arts with Mrs. Foote
Grammar, usage, and mechanics – words that typically inspire shuddering and groans from students. Last week, students were introduced to my Harry Potter-themed “Grammar House Cup.” I am thrilled to report that I have seen tons of enthusiasm from students about this addition to Language Arts. Starting next Friday, each student will work on completing an individualized “game board” focusing on a grammatical skill set. The game board will lead students through a variety of self-paced activities to strengthen and improve their writing. In addition, students can earn points for their “house” by catching grammar and spelling mistakes in the real world.
In the coming weeks, we will continue our novel study of The Outsiders, which is part of our larger unit on identity. Over the course of this unit, students will develop their craft as narrative writers and improve their ability to read classic fiction. My hope is that each student will complete the unit knowing and understanding that our identities are a product of our experiences, relationships and the choices we make.
Math with Mrs. Hovey-Vicknair
We are settling into our new math schedules this week and charging forward into more complex representations of linear relationships. I can already tell with the smaller class sizes that we are capable of deeper understanding and more “aha” moments. This week we are solidifying conceptual understanding and procedural fluency working with single variable linear equations and entering the realm of the “multi-variables”. Our initial work with manipulatives and multiple representations of data should lend nicely to grasping the idea of multi-variable linear equations. We also are continuing to make connections to linear relationship found in the real world.
Art with Mrs. Macauley
The 7th graders have had a busy couple months in the art room. So far this year, we have been reviewing the elements of art through the creation of each student’s name designed on their art portfolio. Grades for this assignment, as well as comments, can be found on Canvas! Currently, we are wrapping up a collage unit that will become your students customized sketchbook cover and beginning to plan for the quickly approaching Empty Bowls unit. Empty Bowls is a local fundraiser to raise money for the local organization, Neighbor Impact, to help the less fortunate in our immediate community. There is a Canvas announcement posted on the art page with all the details if you would like to attend the event! Please feel free to come by and visit the art room anytime!
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.