Our students are fully immersed in preparation for our mock trial. The trial centers around the defendant, JC Roberts, and the charges brought against him of possessing and selling anabolic steroids to a minor. Students have written their opening statements and are currently working on composing a line of questioning for both the defense and prosecution witnesses. The next step is to compose closing statements and begin practicing and completing the final preparation for trial. Much of the work students complete is based in persuasive writing with the intent of swaying the jury to agree with the team they represent; prosecution or defense. Students will soon be choosing a role to portray in the trial. They will be one of the attorneys presenting the opening or closing statement, questioning the witnesses, or portraying a witness answering questions on the stand. This is great practice and experience with public speaking skills. The trials are scheduled for Friday, October 21. Sixth period will begin their trial at 8:00 and seventh period will begin their trial at 9:50. I have sent out a request for parent jurors, check your inbox. If you can volunteer, you will be placed on the jury opposite of the class your student is in to prevent bias. This also allows you to view and enjoy the trial your student is a part of. Here is the link for quick access to register on Signup.com to be a juror. As of today I still need jurors in both classes. http://signup.com/go/dLhk5P
Is your 8th grader argumentative? Wait. I think I already know the answer to that. As one Psychology Today article notes, “Argument and adolescence go hand in hand. And adolescents usually have far more energy for arguments with parents than parents have with them.” But there is a bright and shining silver lining in the midst of the dark clouds of debate: argument requires assertiveness, independence, and self-assurance, skills we WANT our teenagers to have in abundance as they face the pressures of adolescence. In other good news, through the mock trial in Humanities and the opinion paper they’re preparing for in Language Arts (examining the ethical questions presented in “Flowers for Algernon”), our 8th graders are learning and applying positive persuasion strategies. One key approach we’re evaluating this week in Language Arts is framing goals in a way that identifies common ground with one’s audience (Harvard Business Review). So the next time your teen argues with you, take a breath, remember that this is normal, and consider pointing them in the direction of their Language Arts binder for the strategies whose goal is to bridge rather than to divide.
This week we are wrapping up our unit on the Nervous System and Drug Education, and I wanted to start out by saying how impressed I was with the projects and presentations! Each and every student did an amazing job conducting research, creating a presentation, and raising awareness about the dangers of drugs. During their presentations, students handled themselves with maturity and respect as they tackled issues of drug abuse in teens and adults alike. We are ending the unit with our first IB Criterion D assessment, where students will be creating a short research-based opinion paper on their beliefs regarding marijuana legalization in Oregon. I think it is important for science to be applicable in the lives of students outside of school, and I am excited to help educate them on controversial social and economic issues like this one since in a few years your 8th graders will be voters themselves! Please feel free to email me with any questions about this unit or the assignment, and again, I encourage you to talk to your student about what they are learning in science class!
Math Humor. Have you ever told a joke that was funny to you, but no one else “got” your joke? Welcome to the world of math humor. When 7th grade students are waiting outside of my classroom they often stare at a sign I have posted just outside my door. Most students stare, scratch their heads, and walk away puzzled. They don’t “get” it…yet.
As 8th graders, the students begin learning about products of powers, binomials, and negative exponents (our current unit of study). All of a sudden those math signs that were so puzzling become humorous and students begin chuckling and commenting on the signs as they walk through my door. They now “get” it. They are learning the inside humor of mathematicians, or as one student put it, they are becoming Mathmedians (mathematicians/comedians).