Friday, April 12, 2013

Here is the latest, up to the minute news from our classroom, and a taste of what's still to come.  

Highlights from the week

  • As the culmination of their second Milestone, most 7th graders delivered their State of the Classroom addresses.  They each identified an area of strength, and a place for improvement, and attempted to persuade their peers to implement their suggestions through their persuasive speaking.  Ask what they celebrate most about our community, and where they might change things for the better.
  • 7th Graders delivered our paper cranes to the Barbara Bush Children's Hospital at Maine Medical Center.  Ask how it felt to be part of this process.
    Lauren adds to the sculpture
  • In Artstudents are putting the final touches on a group installation sculpture for the Middle School art/math show. Ask your student where we have decided to install the piece and why.
  • In Science, we had our unit test this past Tuesday. Most everyone showed a good grasp of knowledge about chemical and physical changes and the states of matter. It was hard for some to visualize the bose Einstein condensate as we can only imagine a state of matter where the atoms nearly cease to vibrate because they are so cold. On the other hand, it is easy to imagine the activity inside a florescent light and its excited gas particles being plasma, but these two states of matter are at opposite ends of the temperature rage that includes the more familiar solid, liquid and gas states. A few students are opting to retake the test to get a higher grade, but everyone had fun exploring chemistry these past few months and identifying six unknown compounds through a variety of tests.  Following the test taking the students began their search for unique energy sources to report on when we continue our study of alternative energy when we get back from April Vacation.
  • In Tinkering this week, the seventh and eighth graders participated in one of the more difficult challenges of the year - making their initials out of wood. The students worked very hard with drawing and designing the best way to accomplish their task and then used various methods, materials, and tools to make their letters. The fact that they had to do all the sawing and work themselves added to the challenge. Ask your young tinkerer why they think this challenge was harder than other ones that they've undertaken this year. Why did those people with certain letters have an easier time of it than others? What would they have done differently with their design and strategies?

  • Nat's Math class practiced with linear equations, tables and graphing through study of expanding patterns, and an epic Barbie Bungee jump from the balcony in the Jessie.  Ask whether your young person's Barbie had a conservative or thrilling jump.  We also examined patterns in Sierpinski's Triangle, and the Koch Snowflake.  Ask about the paradox of an object with infinite perimeter, but finite area!?!?
  • Sra. Kristin stepped in as a full day guest teacher while Nat was at a math conference with Dan Meyer (a current hot shot in the math Twitter/Blogosphere).  In addition to her regular Spanish classes, Kristin led an experiential activity and subsequent discussion about life in contemporary Afghanistan as part of our Integrated Studies work.  Ask what the major obstacles to rebuilding Afghan society are? How do poverty, war, and illiteracy connect to the instability of a country? Nat continued this work with more reading, video study, and discussion about how charities provide assistance and aid.  Ask about examples of short-term aid that support immediate needs but are not sustainable (food distribution, medicine distribution) and in what ways this aid might become more sustainable (prevention programs like helping people grow their own food, get jobs, start businesses, education, vaccinations against disease...) 

  • Mr. J. has contributed some recent news from PE, which has been all about the "flying disk."  Students completed a series of challenges, to build technical accuracy, distance skills, and team-building with partners and the whole group.  We have been working towards playing Ultimate Frisbee, which is a team game involving moving the disc down the field with your team in order to score a goal in the end zone.  Ask your young athlete how many times in a row did they make a catch with their partner during warm-up at the beginning?  Ask if they prefer to develop their accuracy or their distance? (this could be considered a trick question...) and ask what was the most fun part and the most challenging part of PE class
  • Monday 4/22 is a professional day (no school)
  • Thursday 4/25: Breakwater School Variety Show (formerly known as the Talent Show) 3:30 pm in the Jessie Auditorium (Admission .50 students, 2.00 adults with proceeds to benefit the Breakwater Refugee Resettlement Backpack Project)
  • Friday 4/26: We are collaborating with the Friends School to put on a spring middle school dance for grades 6-8.  Our students will be helping to organize, decorate and plan the event.  The dance will take place from 6-8:30.  Admission will be $5 and will raise money for the Friends school 8th grade trip to Washington DC.