Students continue to move forward with their studies and research of the civil rights movement. Currently students are continuing to take background notes to learn some of the main people and events of the movement. They are also beginning to focus their chosen character research to writing an essay/script for their video project. Recently, students were provided a handout to focus their work to three main events of their choice to express the importance of their character’s involvement in civil rights. The form also provided a place to interpret their character’s most important contribution to civil rights. Students received a handout to create an outline for their essay. This essay will be used as a script for their character video. A great way to stay involved with your student is to ask them about their character and what they perceive about themselves. The students have discussed connections of the facts we are learning to the “Statement of Inquiry” and “Inquiry Questions” to further their IB work. Ask and see what they can share.
8th graders are proceeding with their personal narrative, a piece about a person who’s made a difference in their lives. This is a highly personal subject, and as such, can present special challenges. It requires students to take risks and be vulnerable, which I know is hard at any age, let alone 8th grade. Please know that I will work with students so that they are comfortable with not only their choice of subject but also their method of sharing. If you have questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I promise that any struggles during this writing process will yield a huge payoff. These are without a doubt my favorite essays of 7th and 8th grade — they reveal more about the writer than his or her subject–and I can’t wait for you to read them!
We are continuing our study on factoring. In this chapter there are many different types of questions and students need to be able to recognize a problem and understand the possible ways to factor a polynomial or solve an equation. To help them with this process, we have constructed a “factoring foldable”. The foldable provides the students with the questions they should be asking themselves and the steps they need to take in order to complete any problem in this unit. If your child is having difficulty with this unit, it might be helpful for them to explain it to you using the foldable. It’s amazing how a student’s understanding of a concept/process improves when students have to think about what they are doing and explain it to someone else.
Keep in mind that we are quickly approaching the end of the first semester. I always like to spend some time reviewing the major concepts taught during the semester and have the students take a semester final exam. This exam will be given during the last week of January, so you should expect your child to be studying for this exam in the next few weeks.
Also, don’t forget that all teachers at Seven Peaks have office hours. Please use these office hours as a time to meet with us if you would like to check in and see how things are going. To sign up for office hours go to www.sevenpeaksschool.org, click on the volunteer tab at the top of the page, and scroll down to Middle School Opportunities. There you will find the links to our office hours.
After returning from winter break, we began a unit on Simple and Compound Machines. In this unit, we learn about the 6 simple machines that humans use to make work easier. Challenge: can you name all 6 without looking them up? This unit is awesome for students who love to problem solve and create, as we end with an exciting project where students build their own Rube Goldberg machine. A Rube Goldberg machine is a complex, multi-step, chain-reaction based machine that accomplishes a simple task. Students work in groups and use recycled materials to create this machine during class. For two weeks, our classroom looks like a mad science laboratory with marble towers taped to the walls, intricate domino fall-lines all over the counters, and pulleys hanging off most cabinets. We will be holding an open house for students to show off their projects to friends and family members once projects are completed – date coming soon! I encourage all parents to come if they can – students work extremely hard on these projects to make them run smoothly, and it’s pretty amazing what they come up with!
Answer to Challenge Question: Lever, Screw, Wedge, Pulley, Wheel and Axle, Inclined Plane
As a class we are now working on a self-portraits unit. We began the unit with students independently journaling in their process journals answering questions to help them distinguish what kind of self-portrait they would take. We took pictures during December and the students took those portraits into a photoshop program to work with the values and shading on their faces. From there, they have been working with a printed out a copy of their portrait, collaging over their face values with recycled magazine paper and whatever else they find to express themselves. We have been spending time on valuing yourself and self-awareness throughout this lesson as well as developing a deeper understanding of color theory and collage techniques.