This Fall! 8th grade trip to Washington DC
What better way is there to learn and retain valuable information about the birth of our Nation? After careful consideration and review by SPS Administration 8th Grade Teachers and parents, we are excited to announce that our 8th grade students will be traveling to Washington DC for an educational experience of a lifetime. With the assistance of Educational Travel Services, Inc. (ETSI) our tour is designed for Upper School aged students and will provide a close look at our Nation’s history and heritage.
Tentative Travel Dates: Monday, 10/9 – Friday, 10/13/17
Cost per Student: For the exceptionally low cost of $2,170 per student, minus your deposit of $500.00 which will be covered by SPS activity fees, brings per student cost for trip to $1,670.00.
Four day / two night trip includes the following:
- Round-trip Airfare from Portland
- Quality Lodging (quad occupancy)
- All Meals
- Evening Activities
- All Admission Fees
- Nighttime Security
- On-site Escort
- Tour Guides & Drivers
- Additional baggage fees my apply
- Sample Itinerary
All 8th grade students planning on taking this trip must register at www.etsi.ws. Our trip number is: 2J90.
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.
Our annual Pi Day celebration was a huge success. This year the 8th grade students learned some interesting facts about circles (why are manhole covers round), some students participated in a contest to memorize the most digits of pi, and we sung Pi Day carols to the elementary school, middle school, and our wonderful office staff and administration. 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.
The 8th grade students continue their work on the Cold War and building their website. If you haven’t already, be sure to have your son or daughter show you the site they are building with their teammate(s).
We recently had some fun composing a defense for false accusations. This is leading students to a summative writing where they must defend themselves before Joseph McCarthy. Students are also writing summaries of the different sections of our studies with a focus each time on the section and a relation to the statement of inquiry. This a great time for them to put into use the writing skills learned in Language Arts and supported here in Humanities. These types of writing assignments really put the skills learned in place and lead students to strengthen their critical thinking skills.
We will work to wrap up the facts and complete building the websites after Spring Break. We’ll next move into the Vietnam War that will take us to the end of the year.
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.
Last week, we wrapped up our on-demand writing series. The 8th graders should feel very good about the work they’ve done in these demanding writing tasks. We’ve had some great discussions about high school (and the SAT) and engaged in hands-on activities to practice strategies for success in timed writing and working under pressure.
Speaking of stepping up to the next level, Mrs. Mulvihill shared a great resource with me that I wanted to pass along to you (see link below). Students are always asking me what book they should read next, and this page gives suggestions by genre that grow with the students’ reading level. Please note the asterisks denoting mature content on some of the higher-level selections.
8th graders have finished up an exciting study of Electricity and Magnetism with a mini-research project on renewable and nonrenewable energy sources. During this project, students researched the pros and cons of one for the 7 main energy sources, then created a short Google Slides presentation to share with the class. This promotes collaborative learning – students learning from each other and being able to share in the learning experience. I was also impressed with students’ ability to speak in front of a group and present their ideas clearly. Each student then formed an evidence-based argument on the “best” source of energy, and shared them with a small group. After we return from Spring Break we will start a unit on Light and Sound Waves!
Our 8th grade Spanish students invited Mrs. Cauble’s Kindergarten class for their unique rendition of Los Tres Osos ( Goldilocks and The Three Bears). These upper class men and women showed leadership and creativity by putting on this fun play and entertaining our Kindergartners in Spanish! Lots of smiles and giggles were expressed by all.
One of the biggest holidays in the world of mathematics takes place this week. March 14, also known 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.
What an incredible couple of weeks we’ve had in Language Arts! As the 8th graders get closer to spreading their wings and flying off to high school, we’ve been working on the skills and strategies that will help them be successful, most notably on-demand writing. While the students have been exposed to on-demand writing in the past at Seven Peaks, this month we’re narrowing our focus to the types of on-demand writing the kids can expect not just in their high school courses (where the turn-around time for assignments will be much more limited) but also on the PSAT, SAT, and ACT exams, about which they have a TON of questions.
My overarching goal is three-fold:
- To ease stress and anxiety about timed-writing situations
- To increase comfort and familiarity with the forms of writing they’ll encounter in testing
To boost confidence and scores on standardized writing testsTo that end, we’re working specifically on unpacking writing prompts; demystifying the test environment (I’ve discovered this is a big one for the class); examining scorers’ expectations; analyzing scored samples for comparison; and planning and prioritizing our time during a timed-writing task. When we’re finished, the kids will have written on-demand pieces in several genres: narrative, opinion, and literary response (including our summative Alas, Babylon piece).
It’s been a great, collegiate experience for us–a really great vibe in the classroom with a focus on empowering the 8th graders as thinkers and writers.
The students are continuing to work on our Cold War project and realizing/making connections to our world today. Interestingly, the evening after discussing some research the students completed on McCarthyism and other topics, the nightly news had the story about President Trump tweeting about McCarthyism – what a great connection, so timely. We continue to explore current events including North Korea, the CIA and FBI, as well as wiki-leaks. I have asked students to look for and bring in any news articles they find on these subjects. Help steer them to them if you can.
Along with the facts on McCarthyism the students are writing arguments to prove their innocence against false accusations. This will lead them to a summative writing exercise of how they would defend themselves if called to testify before Joseph McCarthy based on false accusations of their involvement with communism.
The students are working in groups of two and three on their Cold War websites and they are coming along great. Take the time to ask them to pull up the site, show you what they are including and learning, and ask them questions to explain.
Thursday and Friday the students looked at actual declassified documents from the Cuban Missile Crisis. They were source analysts helping make decisions on how to approach the intelligence gathered regarding Soviet missiles being placed in Cuba. This look at primary documents was a great way to involve students in the history we are studying.
8th graders are currently in the middle of our Electricity and Magnetism unit – a unit I really enjoy teaching because of all the real-world applications it provides! After building many types of circuits and exploring interactions between magnetic fields, we moved on to our first of two applications of these topics – electric motors. Students were challenged to use their knowledge of electricity and motors to deconstruct and rewire the circuitry of an electric toothbrush to create a moving robot. While I was there to help groups with problems and challenges, it was a 100% student driven activity. Every “robot” ended up looking different, working differently, and moving at different speeds and directions! While this activity largely focuses on electricity and magnetism, it also encourages students to use their prior learning from our Forces and Motion unit to create a design that minimized friction and air resistance. We ended the activity with a friendly class competition to see which robot moved the furthest in 30 seconds, and I must say, I was very impressed with their designs and success during this challenge!
We are now transitioning into a second application of electricity and magnetism, generators. We will spend the next few days exploring electromagnets, where we will have our second Criterion B and C assessment of the year. I’m looking forward to seeing how much students have grown in these two areas on this next assessment. The unit will end with a project about the benefits and consequences of electrical power generation in different areas of the world.
In the art room the 8th grade class has been busy finishing their self portraits! They did an amazing job and I am anxiously awaiting wall space to display them in the middle school wing. We have since launched into a drawing unit on perspective. We are studying and practicing different aspects of perspective, learning the rules to drawing in 1 pt, 2 pt, and 3 pt perspective then getting creative with ways to break the rules of perspective and create something original to each student for their summative final! Perspective is all around us all the time and their are so many ways to express and show it in art. Look forward to seeing how these 8th grade students explore their options with this final project!
8th graders have spent the last two weeks learning about electricity! We’ve explored electron configurations, built simple circuits, and tested various objects and liquids for conductivity. After taking a quiz on Friday, we will dive into magnetism and explore the connections between it and electricity. Students will then learn about how generators and renewable energy, and place themselves in a role of an electrical energy supervisor for an underdeveloped country. Students will explore the economic and environmental benefits and risks of energy production while they design an electrical energy plan for their country.
Our classes have really begun to dive into the history of the Cold War. This is a great opportunity for students to make connections to history that is pretty close to their lives. This is also an opportunity to make connections of the events of the 1950’s and 1960’s with today. As we look at the fear caused by the Red Scare with dictators such as Stalin and Khrushchev and the idea many believed that communism may infiltrate or take over our country. We can make comparisons to the current uncertainties of Russia and Vladimir Putin that are making many Americans uneasy. Unfortunately, there are also comparisons to the fears of nuclear weapons. This time, instead of the dictatorships of Russia there are fears of the totalitarian state of North Korea and their leader Kim Jong-un testing nuclear capable missiles.
The students are exploring these ideas and looking at the broad history of this era and creating websites to present their information. We have just begun the construction of the sites but they are looking great already and students are having fun learning how to create websites and how best to present information to their audience. Be sure to ask your student to show their site to you along the way.
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.
So I had a whole other (or as we say in my hometown, “whole nother”) highlight planned for this week, but I just finished scoring the 8th graders’ personal narratives and literally cannot do anything but brag on the kids. The focus of the essays was to write about a person who’s made a difference in their lives, but in doing so, the students revealed so very much about themselves. While reading them, I alternated between laughing and getting all weepy because they were just so beautiful and authentic and well-crafted. I thank students and parents for their patience as I scored them: I think this is the longest I’ve ever taken to return papers, but I just couldn’t rush through these–they were too special. Please see the Canvas gradebook for scores and “big picture” comments, but also check the students’ actual Google Docs for more specific feedback.
Congratulations to the Seven Peaks Math Team for taking 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!