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Middle School Language Arts News: November 2013

As the MEAP concluded and we got things back to normal, we also wrapped up our unit on vignette writing and The House on Mango Street.  We’ve already started our next unit of study, historical fiction, led by Laura, our student teacher.  Students are in book groups with novels about the Revolutionary War, and they are having daily discussions about their reading and the genre.  They are also starting the planning process of writing historical fiction, based on a historical event of their choosing.  Thanks again to all of the families who offered to purchase their child’s book for this unit.  It was a great help in saving the school money!

Middle School Math News: November 2013

October found us busy working around MEAP testing for a couple of weeks, but we were able to still get a fair amount of math in.  In Course 1 we completed our unit on Factors and Multiples with lots of practice in GCF (greatest common factors) and LCM (least common multiples) and their uses.  We also took our first test!  In November we will continue with Number & Patterns as our overarching idea, but focus in on Integers and Coordinates.

In Course 2 we completed our first unit on 2-Dimensional Geometry and had our first test.  For all of the classes, test corrections are part of the assessment process.  To learn more about test corrections please refer to the HC Middle School website (http://honeycreekschool.org/ms/about/mathematics/).  Each student can earn as much as half of the points taken off after following a few very specific steps, and convince me that they DO know the material.  In November, we will be continuing with Integer Operations and then move on to Proportional Reasoning.

In Course 3 we completed our first unit on Understanding Number Systems and Operations.  We spent some time review operations with fractions, decimals, and integers and taking them to the next level by combining them together.  Unit two will cover Proportional Thinking, and we will begin working on one of our bigger projects… you’ll see at curriculum celebration 🙂

Algebra has be plugging along… completing their second unit of study of the school year.  The first was reviewing the foundations of Algebra. The second was on solving Equations and Inequalities.  In November, we will move on to Function Relations; what’s a functions, what type of functions are there, etc.

One more note about middle school math test – hopefully you have all figured this out since all classes/students have taken a test.  A few years back a parent asked if I could communicate the test scores to the parents.  As we are trying to increase the independence of our students, I decided it would be better for the students to communicate their scores to their parents.  To help with this process, I do require that the students get a parent’s signature on the test before I record the grade – with the exception of Algebra students.  I hope this helps with prompt communication.

Thanks for supporting your child and me in this learning process.

Middle School Science News: November 2013

As November rolls around, the middle school science classrooms will be buzzing with construction noise.  Our students will be spending the next month planning, building, testing, retesting, and problem-solving a simple issue, how do we move “it”?  Using common engineering/physics skills and examples of simple machines (inclined plane, wheel and axle, levers…etc) , we are challenging groups of middle school students to build the most efficient and also creative designs.

Middle School Language Arts News: October 2013

Middle schoolers have been busy writing vignettes in classroom M3.  While reading the novel, The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros, students are examining what makes Esperanza who she is while also taking a close look at who they are.  We’ve had some really great discussions, and I am looking forward to seeing our own collections of vignettes come to life.  It’s been a great start to the school year.

Middle School Math News: October 2013

Welcome back to Honey Creek! or for the new families in middle school, Welcome to Honey Creek.  There is a lot planned for your students this year, especially in math (says the math teacher).  Your students have been placed in their math class and classes began once we returned from Camp Tamarack.  There were a number of considerations used to help place your child in the appropriate level of math.  One was a pre-assessment that they took the first week of school, to find out what they remember from their previous experiences.  Another was the recommendation from their previous teacher (which is me, except for the 6th graders). Lastly, I looked at results of two standardized test; MEAP and Terra Nova.  There are four different levels of math in the middle school: Course 1, Course 2, Course 3, and Algebra.
To find out what your child will be covering in math this year please take a moment to look around the Middle School Mathematics website, honeycreekschool.org/ms/mathematics.  You will find the classroom expectations, as well as each course’s outline.  You will also find the homework posted on your specific course site each day we have class.  Throughout the year I hope you and your child will find the online textbook site helpful as well, my.hrw.com.  To get on the textbook website you will need a user name (ahully) and password (s8v2).  This is not posted on the middle school website since it is a public site, but your child should have it written in at least three different places – their planner, math folder, and math composition notebook.
If you have any questions please feel free to contact me at cwauer@hc.wash.k12.mi.us.  Looking forward to a great year with lots of learning going on!

Middle School Social Studies News: June 2013

Middle School Social Studies
We’re making a final push in social studies with a video project called Democracy and the NRA.  It’s a hefty task for the end of the year but I’m optimistic we can pull it off.  The idea is for each student to contribute to one part of the film, using facts, images and his/her voice.  The point is not to make a statement about guns or gun owners, rather the corruption and hypocrisy of our democratic system when shaped by special interest groups like the NRA.  Look for a link to the film sometime before (or even after) school gets out.

Middle School Language Arts News: June 2013

Middle School Language Arts
As we wrap up the year in middle school Language Arts, we will be experimenting with poetry in different forms.  The first week of June brings a middle school-wide poetry slam, and then, while the 8th graders are away at camp, the 6th and 7th graders will be experimenting with poetry and visual arts.  Truly exciting stuff.
As you know, summer lag can be a major issue for readers of all abilities.  Don’t let your child lose the progress they made in reading during the school year over the summer.  It takes the average reader 4-6 weeks to regain the skills they lost through “the summer slide.”  The good news is that ANY reading counts toward keeping those reading skills fresh.  Encourage your child to share books with friends, or enroll in your local library’s summer reading programs.  Let them choose books, even if they seem like “beach reads.”  Even adults need those now and then.  Are you looking for ways to get your kid to write over the summer?  Check out the summer program that Johnny and I are running, “Creative Explosion.”  It is open to grades 5-9, and kids from other schools are welcome, too!  Ask Johnny or me for details.

Middle School Math News: June 2013

Middle School Math
Wow, the end of the year is here and everyone is preparing for a BIG math test!  All math classes have been preparing to take a cumulative final scheduled for this week, except for Algebra. They began their final on Friday of last week (5/31).  We have discussed the best way to prepare for the final during class and the students will have this week’s class time to review and ask questions.  As we have discussed, the best way to study for the final is to take out all of their old tests from this year (about 8 per class), and redo all of the problems, working toward understanding, and check notecards, be sure they are thorough and accurate.  We’ve discussed options in case they don’t have all of their old tests as well.
It’s always exciting to review the extensive material we have been able to cover this year.  I look forward to the students “showing me what they know” on the final!
Have a great summer… keep those numbers in mind.

Middle School Science News: June 2013

Middle School Science
Students finished up this past month (May) with unique unit on the genetics of dragons, and learned how meiosis helps them to understand how genes get passed down to their children.  For the last unit, we will encounter our final frontier with our short unit on space.  We are looking at common misconceptions that people have about outer space and finding the correct information that allows us to understand why people think like that and why it is incorrect.

Middle School Math News: May 2013

The end of the year is coming quickly in Middle School Math.  All of the regular classes are working on geometry in one way or another – from the basics of what is a point to what is the volume and surface area of a pyramid.  Course 1 is currently finishing up their geometry unit with an exploration of three-dimensional shapes, wrapping up with a couple of reports on normal household 3-D items we use everyday.  Course 2 is taking geometry into right triangles and how the Pythagorean Theorem relates to them.  Course 3 is looking at transformational geometry – translations, reflections, rotations, and dilations.

In Algebra we are experimenting with the flipped learning style – this is where the students listen to videos and take notes at home and work in groups or with me on various problems in class.  This has allowed us to work a little more with the TI – Nspire, graphing our quadratic functions.  Quadratic functions and their graphs, parabolas, are the topic of discussion and exploration these days.

As the end of the year approaches we will all be preparing for a cumulative final.  Each class will be reviewing their old test and making notecards.  It’s a lot of material, but it’s good experience to prepare for high school.  Happy studying…

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