Friday, April 5, 2013

In addition to our renewed focus on Capstone and Milestone work, we have now kicked off both of the two final integrated studies units for the year, focusing on Sustainability and Afghanistan.

Breakwater Las Meninas  on view in the Brick Building

Eighth grade families: We've scheduled the Capstone presentations for Tuesday and Wednesday May 28 and 29.  Please let me know right away if you have a conflict with either of these days, or if you prefer for your young person to present on one or the other. Thanks!

Here are some details of how we spent the week
  • Sustainability: Some of the rich learning that happened on our academic adventure last Friday was put to use in our discussions and our writing this week.  Mr. Sullivan joined us to explore how money, economics, and sustainability are related.  Ask your young person whether a diamond or a shotgun shell is more valuable.  Ask also if a dusty Cadillac is worth the same as a human life!  To help bring this home, we also made some time to work on our outdoor classroom.  
  • Our 7th and 8th graders are representing Maine as part of our Afghanistan studies, using a curriculum adapted from the Children's Culture Connection.  One school from each of at least 30 states will be participating in these studies, which will include cultural studies, multimedia resources, reading and writing and a collaborative online forum.  I was sold by these prominent words: "It’s not enough to just want to save the world – we teach kids to actually do it."  To build some background knowledge, we watched video of everyday life in Afghanistan, studied some interviews with Afghani kids between the ages of 8 and 16, and looked at a broad history of the country.  Ask what similarities and differences there are between life in the United States and in Afghanistan, and ask if they found out anything surprising about life in Afghanistan.  Here is a link to some of the web-based materials we will be studying (Use: Name: ccc Password JingleBellRocks).  Students have read Journal Entry number one, and are expected to read Journal Entry number two for Monday.
  • Science: The students spent our science time this week preparing for the unit test that is scheduled for next Tuesday. Please remind your child to study the two page review that they filled out  to prepare for the multiple choice test.  The assignment on opposing views on wind power has been postponed so that they can put all of their homework time into Chemistry review.
  • Tinkering: This week, the 7th/8th graders had a guest teacher, Frank Donovan, and they undertook the Marshmallow Challenge []. Every grade from 1 to 8 has now completed this group challenge at Breakwater. Each building group was given 20 pieces of dry spaghetti, one foot of string, a roll of tape, and one marshmallow and then given the task of using a 20 minute time block to build a free standing tower that can support the one marshmallow. During the building time, the different groups employed different techniques and strategies to build their towers. We had several groups, who after several attempts of building more grandiose structures, opted to build shorter towers, but free standing towers. A couple of groups struggled with teamwork, communication, and perseverance in the face of adversity, but everyone completed the challenge. We interviewed the groups to find out how the process went for each of them and what were the keys to success or struggle, and then the groups filled out the written reflection sheets about the activity. We all talked about the importance of a PROTOTYPE in the design process. Ask your child about why a prototype is important. Also, ask how their group did in the challenge. Was there anything
    they'd do differently?
  • PE was all about frisbee challenges this week.  Ask where the name Frisbee comes from anyway.  (Hint - it's sort of like kleenex!)
  • Art/Spanish: Have you taken your family and friends to the main lobby to see the display of the Breakwater Las Meninas?  Ask your student to view the Las Meninas exhibit with you and discuss the project. (front bulletin board of the brick building)
  • Nat's Math class has been busy with geometric constructions, using paper and pencil, as well as GeoGebra.  Ask how to define the center of a triangle (they should know at least four ways), and ask if the center can ever be outside of the triangle! We also took advantage of the beautiful weather to do some "human graphing" outside.  Students took on the role of the x-coordinate, and acted out linear and non-linear functions.  Ask how they knew when someone was not acting out the solution to a function (they were the only one not in line with everyone else.)
  • Yolofiction: Leah joined us for the sharing of our finished short fiction pieces.  Students sat in the "author's chair" to present their work.  It was wonderful to witness both their creativity and their wonderful support for one another.  Ask whether it was difficult or easy to write a whole story in less than 400 words.  Ask as well about our class Twitter account, which I'll be setting up to tweet out some of our stories.

  • Upcoming Science: Coming up after vacation: Wind and solar energy studies. Please ask your child to search the internet for the most unusual energy source currently being explored. The most outlandish renewable sources are encouraged. Hydro power and other common renewables will be explored so are not to be included in their individual research. All they need to do is bring in the information on the energy source they have found and be ready to share what they know about it with the group
  • Next week is Spring Break, and don't forget that 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)
  • Great for the little ones.... Alice In Wonderland: One more chance, this Sunday April 7 at 2:00pm in the Jessie Auditorium.  FREE; Running time: 45 min.
  • In collaboration with STAGES, Inc.. Gilbert and Sullivan's Pirates of Penzance: Tuesday April 9 at 7:00pm and Thursday April 11 at 4:00pm and 7:00pm in the Jessie Auditorium.  FREE