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!