“Writing is the most powerful tool available to human beings for examining, reflecting on, and finding meaning in their own history and experience.” This week, the 8th graders have truly embraced the writing process in the narrative they’re drafting about a personal hero in their lives. It’s rewarding to see them struggle as writers and overcome obstacles; to take ownership of their craft; and to demonstrate the confidence and tenacity that will help them be successful in high school.
On this particular essay, I take a bit of a backseat–they are the experts on this subject, and they decide the best way to present their ideas and emotions. It’s a different relationship for us than the traditional teacher/student model, but from my experience with this project, this autonomy is the key to powerful, authentic writing.
*Source: “Why Writing Matters” at http://www.californiawritingproject.org/why-writing-matters.html
I must say, our students have thoroughly impressed me with their creative and innovative designs for their Rube Goldberg machines! While their designs are still mostly in the planning stages, it’s amazing to see the ideas they come up with as they work together to brainstorm ways to complete their chosen task. I’m looking forward to seeing their ideas come to life over the course of the next week! We are tentatively planning on holding a presentation day for students to show off their hard work and creativity sometime between February 2nd and 7th, depending on when the majority of the class will be done. I’ll be sending out an official invitation through Canvas with a set date sometime in the next week. I’d love to see as many parents there as possible!
Our 8th grade classes are wrapping up the unit on civil rights. This is always a great unit with many connections to current times. Students are currently creating a video (outside of class) presenting historical facts and student opinion on important characters from the era. The video, along with their essay/script and investigative materials are due this Wednesday, February 1. We have had discussions and time to share ideas and I have offered my time to listen to anyone who needs help.
Last Wednesday the students participated in a one-class debate on “Who should African-American college students follow? Martin Luther King, Jr. or Malcolm X. The method is brief note-taking, meeting with like-minded students for the defense of King or X, presenting their side, meeting again to prepare to rebut, then a time for rebuttal. Since time allowed, they also had a “lightning round” to go back and forth. The students recognized how this helped them understand both sides, especially if they randomly had to defend the person opposite of their personal belief. I feel this was a success and plan to do more in the future as time and subjects allow. This was one of the ideas I brought back from the Columbia Social Studies Institute I attended – thank you again Mrs. Martin and board members.
Our upcoming unit is on the Cold War. During this unit the project will be student created websites – more fun to come.
It was great to see more parents at our conference time. If you would like to meet with me and Amanda please choose a slot at signup.com – here’s a link for quick access. //sevenpeaksschool.org/volunteer/ If you need a different time, please email either of us and we can choose a mutual time.
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
Students are busy creating IB presentations on a specific Decade of Music. Working in small groups, they researched the most popular musical groups and soloists of decades between the 1950’s and the 2000’s. They will present information about their artists’ awards, musical influences, top hits, number of records/CD’s made as well as show video clips of the artists. After the IB presentations, we will delve into a study of the Grammy Awards.