This week we have begun our new unit on quadratics and parabolic motion. The unit begins with a video clip of someone shooting a basketball, but the video stops halfway through the shot, which poses the question, “Will he make the shot?”. The students can only guess and won’t be able to answer the question until the end of the unit. When the unit is complete the students will have all the skills they need in order they to write a quadratic equation to model the flight of the ball which will help them answer the question, “Will he make the shot?”.
This is one of my favorite units because the students can apply the math to so many real life situations. Not only will the students be able to write and graph equations to model the flight of a basketball, they will also be launching marshmallows from catapults, recording data, and then writing equations to model the flight of their marshmallow so they can predict where it will land if they adjust the height of their catapult.
There are so many cool activities that we will be working on during this unit, so make sure to ask your child, “What did you do in math today?”.
Our HU class has finished the civil rights unit and has just begun our next unit on the Cold War. If your student has not offered to show you the video they created for the civil rights character they researched and presented please ask them to. I am in the middle of grading so have only seen a few so far – they look wonderful.
Our Cold War unit revolves around the mistrust between the US and Russia over a period of close to 50 years. As students explore, discuss, and learn facts from this era they will take those ideas and create a website. We will use the site Weebly and if there are any “webmasters” who would like to volunteer some time to aid both me and students with this web service I’d be happy to hear from you. We will begin working on the sites within the next couple weeks.
Thanks also to Principal Martin and the board for allowing me and other teachers to participate in an online IB course. The course is keeping me busy during the month of February. I am doing my best to balance this with grading, please be patient if my grading is a bit slow.
Your 8th grade students have thoroughly impressed me with their work ethic and problem solving skills over the course of their Rube Goldberg Projects! As a result of their hard work, their projects turned out great and many were 100% successful! Thanks to all the parents that were able to attend the presentation day – we had a great time showing off what we’ve been working on. We will be wrapping up this unit this week, and beginning a study of electricity and magnetism. During this unit, students learn what electricity is and how it is transferred from place to place. We build circuits and electromagnets, and will be trying out a new project with wind turbines while we study how electrical energy production can affect the environment.
In Language Arts, we’ve begun a study Alas, Babylon, the 1959 Pat Frank classic that was one of the first apocalyptic novels of the nuclear age and remains consistently high on must-read science fiction lists. It’s a fascinating read, and I encourage parents to join the 8th graders and read along with us. Of course, we’ll be connecting to Mr. Conrad’s Cold War study as we’re reading. It’s terrifyingly fascinating how this novel presents a picture of what might have been had tensions between the Soviet Union and the US in the 1950s escalated beyond the point of no return.
Alas, Babylon can be a challenging read, especially in its opening chapters, so we’re taking it slowly, hosting a lot of inquiry-based discussions, and employing more reading strategies than we typically need to use–it’s great practice for the 8th graders in preparation for high school.
Below are a few of the strategies we’re using in class that you can help support at home. Thanks for all you do to encourage the kids’ reading, writing, and critical thinking!
- Re-read difficult passages.
- After reading a chapter you don’t understand, consult SparkNotes or other similar sites for summaries and analysis.
- Look up unfamiliar terms or military acronyms (SAC, NAACP).
- Flag confusing areas with Post-Its for follow-up with your teacher, a parent, or a peer.
- Listen to the audio as you read the book. Alas, Babylon is available for download via amazon, audible.com, and Barnes & Noble.
The past two months middle school students have been learning about the olympic sport team handball and the newly popular sport pickleball. Both of these sports require hand eye coordination, teamwork, and strategy. Along with our sports units student have been learning new exercises and the muscles they use while working out.