Students are currently in the middle of our Comparative Reproduction unit and are becoming experts on classifying organisms from their distinguishing characteristics. After learning about the characteristics of life and the ways scientists have grouped organisms, we started a journey through the 6 kingdoms. So far, students have studied Archaebacteria, Eubacteria, Protists, and Fungi. During our study of fungi, we took a closer look at a few well-known members of the kingdom during two hands-on activities. First was a mushroom dissection, where students observed the anatomy of different mushrooms and studied how mushrooms reproduce using spores. We then looked at yeast cells reproducing under a microscope. We will continue into our last two kingdoms, Plantae and Animalia, where students will complete a few more dissections and a research project on an organism of their choosing. This unit provides ample opportunities to see science in action and connect the knowledge they gain to a concrete example they can hold in their hands. Our final dissection will happen in mid-February, and a few extra sets of hands and eyes during this activity would be wonderful. If you’d like to volunteer please send me an email and I’ll give you more details!
Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes…and the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility.” The concept of choice has been the cornerstone of our study of the WWI-era novel Private Peaceful, from Michael Morpurgo’s choices as an author to how each character’s choices shape the plot of the book. In the summative take-home exam, we shift gears and put the emphasis on the students’ choices. In the exam, they become “the author” and create chapter titles for the book, as well as examine one character through the lens of choice.
I feel that this particular IB focus is so relevant for our middle schoolers today. When I look back on my own middle school experience in rural East Texas, before the dawn of cell phones or social media, I know without a doubt that today’s students face much more difficult choices than I did. It is my hope that through our study of one fictional character’s decision to do the right thing, even under the most painful of circumstances, our students will consider their own choices and be empowered to work for positive change in their lives.
Our 7th grade classes are fully involved with two projects in class. First, we are continuing to research background info to create a meaningful essay on World War I. In particular, making a connection of new technologies of the era such as airplanes and tanks, and presenting facts and opinion on the impact on the war. Students are learning and using a source and note card system. Along with the essay students will be creating a visual to present expressing their chosen research topic. They can paint a picture, build a model (not a purchased model), or make a poster or diorama. These are due next Friday, February 3. Second, students are working on trench warfare skits. The skits are designed for students to have some physical fun while presenting certain historical facts about the defining factor of the war – trench warfare.
I can’t believe we are already at the end of the first semester. We have just finished our current units and are beginning to review for the semester final. As the students are preparing for their semester final exam I thought it might be helpful to provide you with a brief tutorial on how to check your student’s grades on Canvas. Below is a link to a video tutorial explaining how you can check all of your child’s grades on one page, and why there is “no grade” in math. So grab some popcorn, something to drink, sit back and enjoy the video. 🙂 Checking grades in Canvas: https://vimeo.com/201158837