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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…

Middle School Social Studies News: May 2013

To wrap up our unit on Guatemala, students participated in a very intriguing debate, analyzing the United States’ decision to overthrow Jacobo Arbenz in 1954.  Some dressed like landless Mayan peasants, United Fruit executives, American citizens, CIA operatives and Arbenz himself.  We even had a student dress like a banana in first hour.
We are currently transitioning between units focusing on the role of government.  Students already analyzed the decisions in Guatemala; soon they will begin theorizing what a responsible government should do and whether or not our current government is meeting citizens’ expectations.  We will look at various types of governments, the uniqueness of the American democracy, and finally how special interests play a part in the decision-making process.  This is a completely new unit for me, but one that seems very relevant.

Middle School Language Arts News: May 2013

April was Poetry Month, right?  And we kicked it off properly with studying both classic and contemporary poems, and even worked to imitate some of the masters.  What’s coming up?  Come to the cafeteria during curriculum celebration to see student productions of Romeo and Juliet (condensed), and look for a link in your email in late May to purchase your own copy of the middle school poetry anthology.  Spring is in the air, indeed!

Middle School Science News: May 2013

The middle school science class is documenting growth as we “journey” through the life cycle of plants and cells.  We are combing through the forest at Honey Creek, as well as starting our own experiments on what variables will impact how fast plants’ growth happens.  The month of May will truly bring flowers to the classroom as we will also participate in some plant maturation.   Hopefully our thumbs will stay green so that we can see how plants grows.

Middle School Language Arts News: April 2013

As we head in to April, we are wrapping up the reading of “Romeo and Juliet” and and are moving on to projects and performances.  Each student is working on their own independent project demonstrating their knowledge of Shakespeare and his famous play, and each class is re-writing the script to make their own condensed version.  These will be performed at curriculum celebration, so stay tuned.

Now, we are slowly moving in to our study of poetry.  We will examine a variety of poets and their work, mainly free verse poetry. Students will work to imitate the styles of others as they develop their own poetic voice.  Poetry is exciting for some, but daunting for others. I hope that everyone can reach a new level of confidence through this unit of study.

Middle School Social Studies News: April 2013

Our current unit on Guatemala is as much about psychology as it is about history and culture.  I am interested in seeing how students respond to limited information.  My intention is for them to begin to understand that historical – and current – events are often multifaceted and that it’s essential that we, as good citizens, seek out information from a variety of sources in order to understand the event.  To do so, I presented them with a very biased slideshow explaining the United States’ involvement in a coup in Guatemala in 1954.  They had to respond by writing a persuasive essay explaining whether or not they felt the overthrow was justified.  Then they were presented with the other side of the story and had to an opportunity to adjust their opinions.  In addition to getting them thinking about biases, they were required to support their arguments with evidence.  These activities will lead to a debate in the middle of the month – one in which students will take on a role and argue from that perspective.  Look for the essays and videos of the debates at the Curriculum Celebration.

Middle School Science News: April 2013

We are wrapping up the human body project and have successfully performed surgery on broken parts of each section.  We will be wrapping up the final part of the unit understanding cellular biology and how the simplest unit of life often shows us how complex life actually is.

We will transition quickly to the cells of the plant, as we prepare for spring bloom with plant life. We will look at how plants grow and what factors can affect their timeline.  We plan to make a photographic project out of this and hopefully identify the wonderful plant life in our own backyard here at school.

Middle School Math News: March 2013

This year is flying by, already the March Newsletter…

Proportional Thinking and Percents seem to be the theme throughout the Middle School Math Classes this past month.  All classes working at their own level, Course 1 followed up a unit covering decimal operations with percent problems.  Course 2 is working on a dilation project after learning about proportions and scale factors.  You may have seen my email about collecting cardboard for our project.  Our finished product will be displayed at the May Curriculum Celebration.  Course 3 is also completing a quick review and extension of their knowledge, and ability to work with percents.  Next, we will be explore the wonderful world of statistics…

The Algebra class continues to show great discipline and motivation.  For example, I can give them an assignment of the Study Guide Review (1 – 116), and they will do the problems that best prepare them for the test.  Occasionally, during class, as we are learning about Polynomials – what they are, how to add/subtract them, how to multiply them – I will hear “this is fun!” or “this is cool!” – which is exactly what I was thinking 🙂

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