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MS Science update for January, 2012

Weather or not, here it comes!

The middle school science classrooms are investigating the weather we are experiencing in Michigan now, as well as what happens when different fronts move by our region. In understanding the science behind it, students will become proficient weather forecasters. Soon you might see these students on a weather report for HCCS Channel 2 news!

MS Social Studies update for January, 2012

In Social Studies we have finished up our very thorough unit on Cambodia and will be putting on a simulation at the upcoming Curriculum Celebration. All are welcome to join us.

Our next project is a bit of a transitional project, which requires students to build either a rural or urban Cambodian dwelling. This fits with our theme this year, Homes and Habitats, but it also connects two units: Cambodia and Homelessness. The latter will begin in the middle of January and will involve another simulation sometime in February.

MS Math update for December, 2011

I just love this time of year… Algebra is kicking into full gear and they have become such motivated, independent learners. Not that I don’t hear the moans about homework, but I can tell they love the challenge. We are currently finishing work on solving and graphing inequalities and compound inequalities. Next, we will explore Functions.

Course 3 is finishing up a project with scale factors where they chose an object or living being to dilate; either enlarging it or reducing it. Next, we will be working with graphing, interpreting graphs and tables, and taking a look at sequences, especially arithmetic sequences.

In Course 2 we are completing a unit covering rational numbers… you know decimals and fractions (but not positive and negative numbers yet). We have covered all four operations involving decimals and fractions.

Course 1 is laying the foundation for working with fractions, understanding divisibility rules, prime factors, and greatest common factors, so that we can move into understanding fractions and eventually operations with fractions.

MS Language Arts update for December, 2011

After weeks of revising and refining, everyone was able to post their final copies of their poems to their electronic portfolio sites, hosted by google sites, through their school google accounts. Now that we have finished our genre study on poetry, we will start writing memoir and reading books written about Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge. Once again, the support of the community has made it possible for us to purchase new books to read, saving us hundreds of dollars, as well as supporting Nicola’s Bookstore.

Thanks to all of the parents who offered to buy their children a copy of the book to read, and a special thanks to parents who purchased extra copies to donate to the school! The topics that we study and literature that we read are limitless thanks to your support.

MS Science update for December, 2011

“That’s Life” Ecosystem projects are well under way and students are using their knowledge of ecosystems and are creating a “world of their own”. These projects will wrap up mid- December and we’ll move quickly to our next unit, “Channel 2 Weather”. Look for the ecosystem projects at curriculum celebration in January!

MS Social Studies update for December, 2011

In Social Studies we are in the heart of the Cambodia unit, studying life under the Khmer Rouge. Students are learning about five aspects of daily life: evacuation of Phnom Penh, work, food/sickness, propaganda and terror. Each class has aspects of both political and social history and is filled with stories from firsthand accounts, cartoons, songs and activities. Students are being asked on a daily basis to simulate the experience of the average Cambodian under the regime by making decisions about work, food, resistance and survival. If they do well, they will see rewards for our next project called “Building a Dwelling,” which will be introduced at the end of December. The Life Under the Khmer Rouge project is due December 16th. Some of the best work I’ve ever seen has come from this project, so I’m looking forward to seeing what the kids produce.

Also in the middle of December, I hope to get some guest speakers in from U of M to discuss modern Cambodia and the citizens’ struggle to deal with its violent past. In an ideal world, we’ll get a Khmer Rouge survivor to come in and speak, but I have not had much luck connecting with her this year.

Finally, parents, you are more than welcome to join us at the Curriculum Celebration where the Middle School will be putting on a Khmer Rouge simulation. Afterwards, we’ll have a question and answer session so that you can truly gauge their level of understanding of this country’s history.

Math Update for November, 2011

Having made our way through MEAPs we are back into full swing in math classes these days.

In Course 1 we took our first test over place value, order of operations, and an introduction to patterns. Since, we’ve been working on decimals, and decimal operations.

Course 2 completed a review of exponents, order of operations, mathematical properties, prime factorization, GCF, and LCM. Soon we will be completing a unit covering integers, integer operations, equivalent fractions, mixed numbers and decimals. This will lead us into reviewing and expanding fraction operations.

After a nice review of integers and other rational numbers, and simple equations and inequalities Course 3 has come upon the middle school milestone skill: proportions. We will be challenging ourselves with a dilation project.

The students in the Algebra class have really been proving themselves this year. They began with the Local Expert project which they all became an expert in one middle school math skill and help their peers review that skill. We have completed the first unit in class and are moving onto loads of fun with solving equations!

Language Arts update for November, 2011

As we make our way in to November, we will begin to wrap up our genre study of poetry, and start our first book club study of the year. We have read many different poems, both written by middle school students, as well as the pros, and have examined features such as “the power of I,” using line breaks and stanzas, as well as “beginning inside.” While identifying these characteristics in good poetry, students are trying them out in their own writing.

Our first book club of the year will involve two different books relating to Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge. This book club will be running the same time as students start to study Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge in Social Studies. It is so exciting when there are connections between classes, and I am again looking forward to seeing the ways the study of history can inform our reading of literature.

We have continued to use moodle this year, and students have been participating in weekly posts regarding their independent reading. Starting this week, we will also start using Google Sites for electronic portfolios. Not only are we using less paper, but we are better utilizing technology to communicate.

Social Studies Update for November, 2011

In Social Studies, we are deeply entrenched in the Cambodia unit. We’ve spent the last couple of week’s covering the country’s ancient history and are just finishing up on the Angkor Empire. We will be picking up with colonialism, independence and the Vietnam War next.

All of this leads us to the civil war and Khmer Rouge years in the 1970s, where we will spend most of our time. If you have a student in the middle school, please ask him/her about what’s being taught. Hopefully, some of these lessons spark some interesting discussions at home.
Khmer’s history is both rich and tragic and many lessons about power, expansion, ideology, human suffering and human endurance can be learned. We are still planning on a simulation at the curriculum celebration in January.

Science Update for November, 2011

Biomes, Ecosystems, and Food Chains… Oh my!

In the classroom, students are exploring what makes up an ecosystem and how organisms interact with one another in them. With these building blocks, students will start a project where they will use their knowledge and create an ecosystem of their own. We also are planning to take a field trip on Monday, Nov 14th to the University of Michigan’s Natural History Museum to understand the way scientists are interacting with the Michigan ecosystem.

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