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 Most Dangerous Game” by Richard Connell. 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.
This 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, How to Kill a Mockingbird.
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 8th 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 8th 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-Vicknair
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 three 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. We look forward to continuing to build each students’ capacity to change the way they think about learning and their abilities.
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: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
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.
Our 8th graders started off their last unit of the year with an insightful and inspiring presentation from Jason Dimmig, a SPS parent and local eye surgeon. Dr. Dimmig just returned from a service trip with the Himalayan Cataract Project where he restored sight to many people using a state-of-the-art cataract repair surgery. Our students were amazed when seeing and learning details about cataract surgery, how quick the procedure is performed and the sheer excitement of cataract patients seeing for the first time. We are so lucky to have such an incredible community of parents at SPS who can share their love and expertise with our students. We certainly welcome anyone to share their passion with our students. This presentation was the perfect segway from our previous unit on Light and Sound to our current unit on STEM Careers. Thanks again for your time and incredible work Dr. Dimmig!
Students are now exploring different careers within the STEM field, and taking a deeper look at careers involving solar power and bridge building. On Wednesday, students combined their knowledge of solar energy and design thinking to create a solar oven to cook s’mores in.
Whew! We wrapped up our research projects and papers last week and are heading into a brief but powerful unit that connects to the students’ work in Humanities. We’re reading Search & Destroy, a historical fiction book about an 18-year-old who, in 1969, enlists in the army and spends one year in Vietnam (meanwhile, his high school girlfriend goes to Cal Berkley while he’s at war, which makes for a very interesting juxtaposition).
In addition to looking specifically at Vietnam, we’re also examining the challenge of conflict on many different levels, be it personal or global, and in doing so will be looking at artistic responses to conflict ranging from visual art to poetry to music. Because of time constraints, we may not actually make it to our summative, but the discussions and insights happening along the way more than make up for a missed test–the kids are really making some great connections in this unit!
Our classes are continuing the studies of the Vietnam War, working to wrap up the facts and complete the news broadcasts. Instructions are being provided in class on how we will wrap up the unit in the limited time we have left. Basically, students have two main summative assessments; first, to compose an editorial choosing from one of three choices and following guidelines and second, completing their final news broadcast segment as an assessment. Dates, directions, expectations, and support are all provided in class and on Canvas.
We are currently finishing up our most “RADICAL” unit of the year (if you don’t understand the pun ask your 8th grader). During this unit students reviewed a few radical concepts from 7th grade, the theorem of Pythagoras, and they were introduced to SOH CAH TOA (Sine, Cosine, and Tangent). It’s a very fun unit to teach because with every lesson there’s a story to be told, weather it’s King M.T. Set and Sir Cumference or the infamous mathematician SOH CAH TOA. Each story provides a fun way to help reinforce the concepts taught in the unit. So when you need a little help finding the square root of 50, grab your 8th grader and have them tell you the story of King M.T. Set and his radical new jails!
This past week the 8th grade class finished their data analysis unit. During the unit we discussed different ways to collect information, from totally random samples to more biased convenient samples. We studied different ways to display data and how data can be skewed to support different arguments. The culminating activity was to create two different surveys, gather the data in two different ways (one biased and one unbiased), create charts and graphs to display the results, and calculate the most important values associated with the data (mean, median, mode, outliers, etc.). The students did an excellent job understanding the importance of collecting data and creating accurate graphs/charts to display their results.
Why write research papers? As the 8th graders move into the final stages of the complex process that has been our writing journey, it’s worth reminding ourselves why research is so important. In “Reasons Why Students Should Still Write Research Papers,” veteran high school English teacher Dorothy Mikuska notes, “The research paper is not just an assignment, but a commitment to continual dialogue between teachers and students.” I concur–the collegiate relationship we are developing now will serve students well as they enter high school next year.
Moreover, “real research deals with deeper and broader issues than finding isolated facts. Students must learn to think of research as investigating profound and complex issues.” Whether it is in the Language Arts classroom, in a design lab, or on the job, these critical thinking and inquiry skills are vitally important for success in the ever-changing landscape of today’s world.
Finally, although I always love our collaborations with Mr. Conrad, during this unit we’ve had the chance to work more closely with Mr. Kennedy, as 8th grade math students have been working on graphing data, also a key component of our primary research. It’s always good to stretch ourselves and try new things!
For more on the value of research, please read the following article:
The students are well into our studies of the Vietnam War. Our project is based around a news broadcast team circa 1975. The students are in teams of 4 and 5 with a news anchor and news reporters. As we study the war, broken into 5 main sections, students are writing news copy and presenting on camera using a green screen. Once more segments are recorded, student teams will work together to edit the recordings and add backgrounds to the green screen. The ultimate goal is to create a news broadcast that presents the facts of the war in a “Special News Report” format.
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 🙂
8th graders are almost finished with their study of Light and Sound Waves, and are wrapping up with a short choice-based research project. Throughout the course of the unit, students asked a variety of intriguing questions regarding applications of light and sound. Instead of answering these questions for them, I compiled a list of their questions (and a few of my own) and let them choose the one that interests them most for their research project! Students will present their findings to the class next week. We will then begin a unit on STEM careers, which includes many hands-on design challenges and activities as we study careers within the STEM field. If you or someone you know works in the STEM field and would like to come in to speak about your work please let me know! It’s great to have someone with personal experience speak to students about the endless career opportunities within the STEM field!
Eighth graders are finishing up our study of light waves with an in-depth look at vision and corrective vision measures. Last week we dissected a cow eye to help us grasp the anatomy of the eye, then moved on to studying various vision problems like nearsightedness, farsightedness, and cataracts. We also learned how these vision problems are now able to be corrected with cutting-edge technology using current knowledge of wave properties. On Monday, we will get a special presentation from eye surgeon and SPS parent, Jason Dimmig, who will share his recent work in Ethopia working to help people with the same vision problems we’ve been studying in class!
One of my favorite units that I teach in 8th grade is our unit on quadratics. We completed the unit just before Spring Break and as a fun way to end this unit we split into groups and launch 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 have to adjust their equation. With this new equation they are able to predict where their object will land. We place our target at that spot and fire away. Each group gets 4 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.
The 8th grade students have now wrapped up their Cold War work. I attempted to have them send a link to their website via email earlier this week. If you did not receive the link please ask them to show the site to you. When viewing the site pay attention to the details they have created and connections they made to the big idea of the fears and paranoia created by the war here in America. Each student wrote summaries of the different sections of the war with their interpretation explaining their understanding and connection to the Statement of Inquiry – “Distrust between nations can lead to mistrust and fear resulting in attempts to gain control of the other through scientific advancement.”
Tomorrow the students have the field trip to Redmond for the Junior Achievement Finance Park. This is a great connection to the world of personal finance they are headed toward. Students will be given life scenario including job, income, marital status, and children to work with. They then have to balance a budget with finding housing, buying a car and insurance, paying for food, clothing themselves and their children, etc. This is a real eye-opener for many and a great discussion point when they return home Monday evening. Please take that opportunity if possible.
Our next unit will begin soon on the Vietnam War. In studying the war students will form news broadcast teams, write news copy and present it on video they shoot and edit. This unit will take us to the end of the year.
“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”
Last week in Language Arts, we pressed pause on the 8th graders’ personal research projects to prepare for our upcoming JA Finance site visit. Topics we’ve covered include income; saving, investing, and risk management; debit and credit, and budget. Monday’s simulation will pull all these topics together in a real-world experience that is both fun and enlightening. The students have been particularly interested in the subject of compound interest, both as it relates to savings and debt, so be sure to continue those discussions at home. They have a ton of great questions.
Stay tuned for more details on the research process as we resume that next week.
After finishing our study of electricity and magnetism, 8th graders have moved into our second to last unit, Light and Sound Waves. I enjoy teaching this unit because of all the real-world applications and examples it provides every day. Students have already learned general properties of waves, and are now studying light. Next week, we’ll study vision and corrective vision measures such as contact lenses, lasik eye surgery, and glasses. We will also dissect a cow eye to give students a deeper understanding of eye anatomy and function. After finishing light, we move into sound waves and hearing where we follow a similar path of real world application-based activities. As a fun final project, students complete a short individual research project on a topic within the unit of their choosing. Some prompt possibilities include why your voice sounds different to you than someone else, how chameleons and octopus are able to change colors quickly, and why sunsets, sunrises, and rainbows are so colorful.