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Notes from Greg
Students Love New Skills ClassesPosted by Greg Chalfin on 2/14/2019
Happy Valentine’s Day! Hope you’re well and are having a wonderful week before our upcoming Winter Weekend. I hope you and your families are able to enjoy some relaxing time together.
It’s been a wonderfully busy and fun stretch here in Stanley’s middle school. Yesterday's 7th grade drama showcase was a hilarious and amazing event, and I know our 8th graders are looking forward to tomorrow’s 8th grade vs. faculty basketball game. Last week’s snow day disrupted the departure for our 6th grade trip to Snow Mountain Ranch, but I know the students and faculty alike are excited to head there in a few short weeks.
Below, you’ll find a list of Skills Class offerings for the Spring Trimester, which begins on Monday, March 4th. Students will be selecting their Skills Classes for the spring during homeroom on Wednesday, February 20th, so please review these offerings with your students before then, so they can make their selections in homeroom next week.
Additionally, before the list of Skills Class offerings, I wanted to provide some curriculum updates about the amazing learning and incredible support your students are receiving from faculty. I’ve been in and out of classrooms, and it’s been a joy to see the engagement in classes. I’m very proud of your children for the way they continue to engage and bring our community together.
In 6th grade, Nat’s math students have been working on a family budgeting project, incorporating skills related to work with percentages and proportions. Molly’s Spanish students are finishing up the reading of the book Escape Cubano and will be diving into a comic strip project soon. Julie’s
Humanities students are starting an essay project due next week that will have students examine the features of a verse novel. In science, Kelly’s students are working on drafts of a research project about various tectonic events, including earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanoes. Jairo’s visual art students are continuing their work on their animal outline contrast project, learning about the different densities of different mediums, such as water colors and acrylic paints. In the Learning Center, Angelina has been helping students review writing strategies for their work in Humanities and providing support with math. Finally, in Chat Room, Stephanie has the 6th graders continuing to role play self-advocacy situations and begin to talk about behavior and comments that end in the comment, “I’m just kidding.” It’s been a wonderful stretch of work for the 6th grade, and the faculty and I see such great strides being made.
In 7th grade, Art’s math students are working on a stock market report and will soon transition into a geometry unit. Molly and Anna’s Spanish students recently finished acting out another story, and they are discussing “la orchestra de basura,” a program in Paraguay that creates instruments out of recycled materials and garbage. In science, Grace and Kelly’s students are digging into Newton’s three laws as they engage with the study of physics. Mike’s Social Studies students are finishing investigations of life under Jim Crow and will do a small writing project in the coming days. In Language Arts, Kathy’s students are talking about the universe of obligation and unwritten rules in society, thinking about how they play out in their own personal lives and those of the characters of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. They will do a bit of ERB test prep over the next few days as well. In the Learning Center, Susan’s students have been working on both comprehension and the examination of symbolism in To Kill a Mockingbird and have started work on self-evaluations. Finally, Laura’s Drama students have been busily working toward last night’s awesome showcase and look forward to wrapping up the trimester strong.
Finally, in 8th grade, Ted’s math students are working on systems of equations using the elimination method, which is a precursor to solving these types of equations with real-world problems. In Spanish, Anna’s students have had an introduction to learning the past tense through fairy tales, including a class version of “The 3 Little Pigs.” In Science, Grace’s students took a test earlier this week and will begin study of the nervous system and the brain, looking at development at different stages as well as the effects of drugs and alcohol on the brain. In the Learning Center, Brittany’s students have been creating a visual representation for systems of equations and have also been breaking up critical thinking strategies for a recent science assessment. Mike’s Social Studies students have finished their study of the Holocaust and are looking at justice after the Holocaust. In Language Arts, David’s students have been working on a book club discussion that has been student-driven, and they are also in the final stages of their creative writing project. Students will be sharing their recent projects on Night at upcoming conferences. Finally, the musical is coming along swimmingly (pun intended with the Little Mermaid!), and we look forward to the show in early March.
The winter sports season has concluded, and Spring Sports begin on Monday, February 25th. Also in the athletics arena, Donna’s P.E. students continue to be active and have a ton of fun playing floor hockey. They will start a badminton unit soon. Additionally, nearly every 8th grader has taught a lesson in P.E., helping them develop their voices and teaching skills.
All of this great academic work is in addition to a host of wonderful activities in homeroom, Grade Level, and Skills Classes. As mentioned, those Skills Class offerings will be changing soon, and below, you’ll find a list of the Tuesday and Thursday offerings. Please review these with your child before next Wednesday, so they can select then.
Ashes book club (6th grade): Read, discuss, and participate in activities for the third and final book in the Chains series.
Advanced Geometry Track Prep (6th grade): This is an advanced Algebra skill building class for 6th graders who took the skills class in the winter and want to continue. Advanced Geometry is for students wishing to complete the high school level Geometry course by the end of 8th grade.
Advanced Math-Geometry skills class. (7th grade): This offering is for 7th grade students who would like to continue their study of geometry that was initiated in their sixth grade year. Participants will receive homework and assessments that will mirror those of a regular math class.
7th grade math support (7th grade): Receive an extra day of math support that will help with the 7th grade content. We will preview upcoming material as well as look back and review parts of the curriculum that have been challenging.
Advanced Spanish Conversation: Telenovelas (7th and 8th grade): Students will hone their Spanish skills through learning from Spanish soap operas.
8th grade challenge math (8th grade): The third trimester will explore graphing non-linear equations with a particular emphasis on parabolas.
Infographics (all grades): This skills class is a deep dive into the analysis and creation of data-based infographics.
Current Events (all grades): Every week we will read or view a current events article or video. We will then discuss and write responses to the topic and sometimes have a debate too, if it’s a topic with many perspectives. Topics of focus will range from the serious, to the exciting, to the future… all scopes of investigation. This skills class is intended to be challenging and dynamic. If you enjoy challenging yourself to reading, writing and discussing exciting events in your world, we look forward to seeing you in the class!
Project Runway: Sustainability Challenge (all grades): Students will learn about sustainability and then participate in a fashion design challenge using recycled materials only.
Student Council (all grades): Students will help organize school wide events (Cave Shows, Arts Fest, Dances, etc.) and develop their leadership skills.
Stop and Smell the Flowers (all grades): Each day we will go for a walk around the Stanley neighborhood and complete an activity (poetry, drawing, photography, reading, painting)
Model UN (all grades): Students will get an introductory taste of what it’s like to participate in a Model United Nations conference. Students will have the opportunity represent a wide variety of countries to solve world problems.
Organization and Planning Skills Bootcamp (all grades): If you feel like you need some support in breaking down assignments, avoiding procrastination, or time to regularly clean out your backpack and stay organized, this is for you. This is not a study hall, but a focus on developing more efficient systems to get things done.
3d printing (6th grade): This course will allow for an exploration into the world of 3-D printing through various projects and activities.
Go Set a Watchman Book Club (7th and 8th only): Read and discuss the controversial publication of Harper Lee’s 2nd book. Compare and contrast it to her loved 1st novel (To Kill a Mockingbird).
8th grade math support (8th grade): Utilize extra time during the week to correct quizzes, get help on assignments and Aleks.
KIVA (all grades): Learn about poverty and microlending while developing your own fundraising project to fund a loan to a small business owner in a developing country
Book Club in the Library (all grades): Come participate in a book club in the library about books of your choosing.
Ukulele (all grades): Come learn 4-5 songs during the trimester as well about basic chords/music theory.
The Secret Files of Professor L. Otto Funn (all grades): Come learn through a book of different science activities. Students will choose which activities they want to complete from the book, and we will do a different one each week.
Sports Analytics (all grades): How do we know which player is more impactful to their team? How can we learn about the best strategies for teams through a mathematical lens? Learn about the basic of sports analytics and how sports teams are using math and statistics to make better decisions for their teams.
Extra time in the LC (all grades): Students who need extra time/support on assignments but do not utilize the Learning Center can work in a small group environment for the skills they need.
Economics through Settlers of Catan (all grades): Learn about some of the basic principles of economics and see how they apply to the board game Settlers of Catan.
Compass Creations (all grades): Come explore the mathematical art world of “Compass Creations”. See how this mathematical tool, typically used for creating circles, has an incredibly cool artistic design side to it. No math skills are necessary but patience and creativity will be helpful traits.
The Chess and Checkers skills club (all grades): If you enjoy the joy and challenge of chess and checkers, come and join us for an afternoon of good old board battle. The tone? Competitive, yet in a kind and friendly environment! Please be sure you know the BASICS of the games of chess and checkers if you are interested in joining. We are looking for players of ALL skill levels - absolute beginners, intermediate or advanced - all welcome!
Constitutional Law: Those students who are traveling to Washington D.C. in May should plan to continue into the Spring.
Finally, a couple of notes for your calendar. Conferences are next Thursday and Friday afternoon and all day on Friday, March 1st. If you haven’t already, you should receive an email from Taryn by the end of the day tomorrow with your conference time. Additionally, please mark your calendar for our next Learning Resource affinity group meeting from 8:30-9:30 am on Thursday, March 14th. The group will be watching Debbie Reber’s TEDx talk “Why the future will be differently wired…” and discussing. If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Anne Schreiber or Julie Dani.
Thank you for all of your support! Stanley’s community continues to amaze me every day, and I am grateful to be working with you and your children. Have a great long weekend, and I look forward to crossing paths soon!
6th-grade Trip Packing ListPosted by Greg Chalfin on 2/3/2019
Dear 6th grade Families,
Hope you’re well and are having a great weekend! The 6th grade team and I are looking forward to our class trip to Snow Mountain Ranch this Thursday and Friday. I know it will be a fun, educational winter excursion for our students and a great opportunity for this amazing group to come together as a class.
The 6th grade team reviewed trip details and the packing list below with students on Friday, and I wanted you to have a copy as well. The temperature is forecast to be cold in Granby during the time we’re there with temperatures projected in the 20s. Please be sure your child has enough warm and dry clothing with them, as we will be outside for much of Thursday afternoon and Friday morning.
1 winter jacket
1 pair of boots or shoes appropriate to being in snow
1 pair snow pants
1 winter hat
1 pair waterproof gloves
1-2 pair polypropylene long underwear (top & bottom)
1 sweater (wool) or fleece – please no cotton hoodies!
2-3 pairs wool socks (or polypropolene)
2 pairs underwear
1 pair indoor shoes
1 long sleeve shirt
1 sun screen
1 toothbrush and toothpaste
2 water bottles
1 sack lunch for first day
School appropriate pajamas
iPod, cell phone, and other electronics
Food (besides packed lunch for Thursday)
Additionally, I will be out at an accreditation visit for another school on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week and may not be able to respond to inquiries quickly on those days. If questions arise about the trip or your child can no longer go, please be sure you reach out to Julie Daughtry, 6th grade Grade Level head, or any member of the 6th grade team, and they will be able to help you out.
Students should plan for a normal arrival to school on Thursday. After some final trip preparations with the 6th grade team, students will depart for Snow Mountain Ranch at 9:30 am. They should be sure to pack a lunch with them for that day. We will return between 2:30 and 3 pm on Friday.
Enjoy the rest of your weekend, and looking forward to the trip!
Conferences and Grade-level UpdatesPosted by Greg Chalfin on 1/30/2019
Hope you’re having a great week, and all is well! With our heavy snow earlier this week, our campus has been transformed into a winter wonderland, and it is a beautiful, special place to be. It’s been a busy January here in Stanley’s middle school, and please check out updates at our blog here.
February, too, will be a whirlwind month with the end of winter sports, the beginning of spring sports, our upcoming 6th grade trip next week, ERB testing, winter conferences, and the end of the second trimester all happening in the next four weeks! I’ve been in and out of classrooms, and I am ecstatic about the wonderful learning happening and the amazing ways in which our community has come together this year. Our Student Council has even organized a dance contest between faculty and students for our assembly next week. I can’t wait to see what everyone has in store!
I wanted to provide a couple of notes for you as we move into February. First, you should have recently received an email from Taryn asking you to sign-up for conferences. If you have not yet done so, please do so through this link as soon as possible. Thank you in advance, and you should receive your conference assignment by Friday, Feb. 15th.
Additionally, I wanted to provide some information regarding the ERB testing that will take place on the mornings of February 21st and 22nd. While Stanley does not emphasize standardized testing, we take the ERB tests starting in middle school because we believe it is valuable for students to have the experience of sitting and taking longer standardized tests to help prepare for testing experiences they may see in the future. It is important to note that ERB tests are not the focus of our curriculum or our work with students; however, the information provides a snapshot of an individual’s progress over time. Given that, it’s important to neither overreact or undervalue the scores that your child receives, and as with all aspects of their schooling, please encourage your children to do their best on these standardized assessments, getting a good night’s sleep before the tests and eating a healthy breakfast. Additionally, the ERB test provides us data about how Stanley students compare with those students at other independent schools. Stanley seeks to admit all types of learners to reflect the world around us. We expect that our students evenly distribute through the independent school bell curve, and in years past, the data shows that has occurred.
Finally, I wanted to provide you with some curriculum updates as we head into the final four weeks of the trimester. In 6th grade, students are excited for their trip to Snow Mountain Ranch next week. Before departing, students are diving deep into their studies. In Kelly's science class, that has meant discussions of volcanoes and tsunamis before students make their own documentaries about a natural disaster. In Humanities, students are fully engaged with their work with the verse novel Loving vs. Virginia, and they are examining the features of this genre while analyzing the text. I have seen some incredibly powerful discussions and text-to-text, text-to-self, and text-to-world connections occurring. In math, Nat's students are wrapping up their decimal computation lessons, and they are starting to apply that work to the concepts of budgeting for families, learning about income, expenses and taxes. In Chat Room, Stephanie's students are role playing how to advocate for themselves with their friends. In Visual Arts, Jairo’s students are wrapping up portraits of people chosen by students, including celebrities, YouTubers, athletes, and their own friends. Upcoming, they’ll be working on a contrast project in which they create scenery of habitats inside the outline of an animal. In Spanish, Molly's students wrapped up a unit on Cuba recently and continue to work on reading comprehension and practice with writing. Finally, in the Learning Center, students continue to work on time management, in addition to receiving support with upcoming assessments in science and with character analysis in Loving vs. Virginia, their novel for humanities.
In 7th grade, Mike’s social studies students are working with the end of the Reconstruction period and examining the growth of hate groups during that period. In the Learning Center, students have been making connections between that work and the discussion of the setting of To Kill a Mockingbird, the current novel in Language Arts. In that class, students are also exploring the concept of identity and thinking about how society affects our identities. Additionally, students have been practicing their annotation skills through the main character, Scout. In Drama, students are incorporating tech elements, including costumes and props, as they tighten up their shows upcoming on Wednesday, February 13th. We look forward to the shows! In math, Art’s students are concluding an algebra unit with an assessment at the end of this week and will be transitioning into a Geometry unit. They will also continue their tracking of the stock market in working on a report next week. In Spanish, students continue to enhance their vocabulary through a movie talk about the film “A Mouse for Sale” and by learning new verbs. Finally, in science, students are wrapping up projects and presentations about sound and light before moving into physics soon.
In 8th grade, Mike’s social studies class will be studying the various stages of the Holocaust. This is heavy content, so you may want or need to help your students process this work. Similarly, in Language Arts, David’s students have reached the final week of Elie Wiesel’s Night, and they are working on choosing from seven activities to represent their learning, including options for creating a graphic novel or representing their learning through poetry. Students have been planning for this assignment in the Learning Center and are also doing a good bit of review of math concepts there. Upcoming, in Language Arts, students will be delving into book clubs, reading a second choice book in small groups about the Holocaust. In the 8th grade musical, students are continuing with scene work to practice for the show, and sets are coming together. Anna’s Spanish students have also been practicing their acting and are writing a story as a class called “A Camping Adventure.” In math, Ted’s students have been applying point-slope formula to word problems and studying the relationship between parallel and perpendicular lines. Finally, Grace’s science students recently completed a project about the journey of a red blood cell, and they will be engaging with a dissection tomorrow before an upcoming assessment about the circulatory system.
In the athletics arena, Donna’s 8th graders are continuing their student teaching unit while 6th and 7th grade P.E. has been playing wall ball and floor hockey. Winter sports wrap-up next week as well, and Bulldog basketball teams have had amazing seasons. I’m so proud of our teams for the sportsmanship and team play they have shown. We’re looking forward to a great spring sports season, which begins on Monday, February 25.
Thank you for a wonderful start back to the school year and to 2019, and all of us in the middle school look forward to an amazing February! Have a great day, and look forward to crossing paths with all of you soon!
Mid-January Check-inPosted by Greg Chalfin on 1/16/2019
Dear Middle School Families,
Happy Tuesday! I hope you’re all having a great week, and all is well!
We’re off to a flying start back here in the middle school, and you can check out some of the highlights and snapshots through our blog linked here. Please do check it out, as there’s so many great things happening here at Stanley!
This week is another busy one. A reminder that your students are working with a facilitator, Ian, from Freedom From Chemical Dependency (FCD) this week. Students received a preview and some preparation for some of the content this week during assembly and Grade Level class last week, and the conversations have already been productive and worthwhile. If you have time this evening, a reminder of our FCD parent evening from 7-8 pm in the Pub. We look forward to seeing you there!
Relatedly, a huge thank you to Stephanie Bender for securing Dr. Mark Ebadi as a speaker for our 7th and 8th grade students on Wednesday, Jan. 30 at 2 pm. Dr. Ebadi will be speaking with our students about the epidemic of vaping occurring in schools, an important topic and one that will build on the work done in FCD and in Grace’s science class in their recent study of the respiratory system. If you’re interested in learning more about this topic, please see a link here to a report from the National Institute on Drug Abuse about this alarming trend and this news report from NBC Nightly News.
I also wanted to provide you just a couple other reminders of events upcoming this month to have on your calendar. First, this Friday is a halfday, so please remember that your children are dismissed at 12:15 pm. They are welcome to be picked up on Rampart Way then, but if they are being picked up later, they should take their belongings with them to be picked up in the Lowry Town Center. I hope you all enjoy a wonderful three-day weekend!
On Friday, we also have our annual Martin Luther King Jr. assembly from 8:30-9:40 am, and we look forward to welcoming back Jeremy Vasquez, an activist, artist and educator from California here to speak with and work with the students.
Next week, please also note two events for Wednesday, Jan. 23rd. From 8:15-9:15, we will have a middle school parent coffee in Taryn’s office. This is an informal opportunity to mingle with other parents and chat with me, and I look forward to crossing paths with you soon. Later that afternoon, at 1:15 pm, we’ll have our next Cave Show, a wonderful celebration of the immense talent in Stanley’s middle school.
It’s a busy month, and in the classroom, students and teachers alike have hit the ground running. In 6th grade, students will embark on a field trip this Friday to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science for an exhibit and IMAX film on Cuba, related to Molly’s work in Spanish class. They have been discussing Cuba’s political history and religion in preparation for the visit. Nat’s math students have been working intently with decimal and place value skills, developing their number sense skills. Kelly’s science students have been working on types of fault lines and types of stress that lead to earthquakes. In the Learning Center, Angelina has been working on long-term planning to help students with their time management outside of school. In Humanities, students have been doing a Landmark Supreme Court Case research project that will culminate in an iMovie. In addition, upcoming, Julie’s students will begin reading the novel Loving vs. Virginia. This is an important text, one that will have immense impact for your children. You should know, however, that the book does contain minor references to sex and pregnancy. Should you have concerns or want to know more, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Julie or to me. You can also learn more at this link from Common Sense media. Finally, in Chat Room, students have identified their three own personal friendship rights, comparing this idea to that of a right as presented in humanities in their study of America’s Bill of Rights.
In 7th grade, Art’s math students have been working on a stock market game, opening the second half of the year by researching various stocks and learning about shares, assets, earnings, and the art of investing. This is alongside work on two-step algebraic equations. Mike’s Social Studies students have been prepping for a roundtable discussion on the 14thamendment, working toward understanding the importance of citizenship in the United States, and Kathy’s language arts students are working on previewing characters in their new novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. They are working on questions in electronic journals in talking about empathy and identity. This works in concert with work being done in the Learning Center around character previewing, in addition to support happening there for science. Kelly and Grace’s science students have started a mini-unit on energy, engaging with lab stations and discussing different forms of energy. Additionally, Molly and Anna’s Spanish students have presented their Mad Libs scripts, and they are moving into another storytelling unit about a giraffe looking for medicine. Finally, Laura’s drama students are preparing for next month’s showcase. Having memorized their lines, they are trying on different characters to see what works in their scenes.
In 8th grade, Mike’s social studies students returned from break to wrap up their work on their novel study of Parallel Journeys. In concert with David’s Language Arts class, they will be moving into looking at the Nazis in power, moving toward study of the Holocaust. Along the same lines, David’s language arts students have begun reading Elie Wiesel’s Night, and they too have launched their unit on literature about the Holocaust. They will be starting book clubs soon and will continue to work on grammar, parts of speech, and an ongoing creative writing project. In the Learning Center, students have been planning an organizing their in-class essays for Social Studies, and upcoming, they will be working on annotation and vocabulary development for their Holocaust study in Language Arts and Social Studies. In math, Ted’s students started the new year with a car buying project, examining the price of ownership for various vehicles in applying the concepts of slope and y-intercept. In Spanish, Anna’s students have started learning about Mayan weaving traditions and will be creating art to represent these ideas. In the Musical, students have been diligently preparing for their show in March, working on their lines and songs, and they will be doing more intensive set design upcoming. Finally, in Science, students are learning about the circulatory system and have a sheep heart dissection to look forward to in a couple of weeks.
In the athletics arena, Donna’s 8th grade P.E. students continue to teach their peers as part of the 8th grade teaching unit, while 6th and 7th graders have come back from break to play dodgeball games. Upcoming, they’ll be playing floor hockey. Additionally, Bulldog basketball teams continue to have an amazing season with lots of teamwork, camaraderie, and dramatic finishes.
We’re off to a great start this second semester, and we look forward to a continued great year. Thanks for all your support, and don’t hesitate to reach out if we can be of help. Best wishes for a great rest of the week!
All the best,
Happy New Year!Posted by Greg Chalfin on 1/8/2019
Happy New Year! I hope you all had a relaxing, rejuvenating winter break, and 2019 is off to an amazing start! The middle school faculty and I are so excited to be back working with your children and look forward to an incredible second half of the school year! Faculty returned to Stanley yesterday for a professional development day, working with each other to prepare for amazing classes with your children.
I’m writing to let you know of a couple of opportunities that will be coming up for your children in the coming weeks. We’re hitting the ground running here in the middle school and look forward to diving right back into a slew of wonderful learning opportunities both in and out of the classroom for your children.
First, as discussed before Winter Break, your children will be working with a facilitator from Freedom from Chemical Dependency (FCD) beginning next week. Students will learn more about this organization and their work in assembly tomorrow, and please reference Stephanie Bender’s letter for more specific information about the curriculum itself. Eighth grade students will work with a facilitator each day during one of their classes from Monday, January 14th through Thursday, January 17th. Sixth and seventh grade students will meet with facilitators once or twice, respectively, in their class during the course of the week. Additionally, please mark your calendar for our Parent Evening with FCD from 7-8 pm on Tuesday, January 15th in the Pub.
Additionally, next week will be a busy one with FCD on campus and with our annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day assembly on Friday, January 18th. The assembly will be running from 8:30-9:40 am in the gym, and we will be having Jeremy Vasquez, an activist, artist and educator from California here to speak with and work with the students. Jeremy visited our middle school community right after Thanksgiving Break during an assembly, and he shared some of his powerful poetry and personal journey with our students. The kids loved learning from him, and we look forward to having him return.
In conjunction with Jeremy’s visit and the upcoming honoring of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday and legacy, the middle school will be beginning an affinity group for students who self-identify as students of color next week. P.E. teacher Donna Meallet will be facilitating this group monthly at lunch, and students will learn more from Donna about SOCA, the Students of Color affinity group, during an assembly on Monday, January 14th. For students who do not self-identify as Students of Color who wish to participate in learning about being an ally in diversity work, they will have an opportunity to do so with Stephanie Bender. Neither opportunity is required for any student, but these spaces are important places for students who seek to have a place to explore their own identity.
I am grateful and excited that Stanley’s mission supports this work in valuing diversity and individuality. As Stanley’s mission writes, “We develop in children an understanding of similarities and differences in people and the ability to make socially responsible decisions.” In alignment with the Gender and Sexuality Alliance started by Grace Reilly and Angelina Nicol in the first semester, affinity groups offer an opportunity for students to learn, grow, affirm their own identity, and feel empowered both individually and as a group for who they are and what they believe. Through this open dialogue and meaningful conversations, we believe that this will help fulfill Stanley’s mission for students “to know themselves – their strengths, challenges, learning style, culture and interests.” I am excited for the wonderful growth happening within our community for our students and our staff.
On another note, if you haven’t already, please do mark your calendars for the afternoon of Wednesday, January 23rd, which is our next Middle School Cave Show. The show will begin right after lunch at 1:15, and students will begin signing up in the coming days. I look forward to seeing everyone showcase their talents in just a couple of weeks! Additionally, another note for your calendar is our next middle school dance on Friday, January 25th at 7 pm.
Finally, a quick reminder about Spring Sports sign-ups for those of you who have not yet done so. While Spring Sports do not begin until Monday, February 25th, we need each family to fill out this Google Form as soon as possible. This form was sent before break as well, and if you haven’t yet done so, please do so as soon as possible.
One important note, even if your child is not participating in a Spring Sport, please fill out the Google Form, so we can be sure to have accurate numbers for each of our middle school teams. As a reminder, the Middle School sports policy requires that all of our students need to participate in at least one season of athletics. If your child has yet to play a sport this year, they are required to do so this spring.
Thank you for all of your support, and best wishes for a great start to 2019! Please don’t hesitate to reach out if there’s anything with which I can help, and I look forward to crossing paths soon. Have a great week!
All the best,
Sign up for Spring Sports by Friday!Posted by Greg Chalfin on 12/17/2018
Happy Holidays, and hope you’re having a great week! Art and I are writing to ask for your help in signing your children up for Spring sports for the coming season. While Spring sports do not begin until Monday, February 25th, we would love to have data about the sign-up numbers for our Spring sports program as we prepare for that season. Please fill out this Google Form by this Friday, December 21st.
One important note, even if your child is not participating in a Spring sport, please fill out the Google Form linked above, so we can be sure to have accurate numbers for each of our middle school teams. As a reminder, the middle school sports policy requires that all of our students participate in at least one season of athletics. If your child has yet to play a sport this year, they are required to do so this spring.
Thank you so much for taking the time to complete the Google form linked above and allowing our sports program to move along in the process of hiring coaches, creating game schedules, and purchasing sports equipment for the teams. Sports teams can only run if we have enough players to field a team.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to either of us, and we’d be happy to help. Thanks for all your support, and best wishes to you and your families for a wonderful winter break!
Grade-level updates before we break for breakPosted by Greg Chalfin on 12/14/2018
As we head into the last weekend before Winter Break, I want to thank each of you for what has been an amazing first semester to the 2018-2019 school year. Heading into the last few days, I also wanted to pass along a couple of reminders for you and wish each of you a relaxing, restful holiday break!
First, a reminder that our Holiday Program begins at 8:40 am in the gym on Friday, December 21st, and I look forward to seeing our middle schoolers in action. The program should be over at approximately 10-10:15 am, and you are welcome to take your child after the program. If you can’t pick them up, we will have a movie for students to watch until dismissal at 12:15 pm. At that point, students will need to leave campus to be picked up in the Lowry Town Center.
Winter Break will be a wonderful, rejuvenating two weeks away, and we’ll jump right back into great classes and impactful programs as soon as we return on Tuesday, January 8th. On the following day, Wednesday, January 9th, students will learn in assembly about our visit from Freedom from Chemical Dependency (FCD), an organization that comes each year to work with our students for conversations around topics of substance abuse prevention and making healthy choices. Stephanie Bender will be sending out more information with details about the program and its content shortly, but I know FCD and their facilitators to be incredibly thoughtful and impactful educators. I am confident it will be a wonderful opportunity for our students. Eighth graders will be working with FCD each day from Monday, January 14th through Thursday, January 17th, and 6th and 7th graders will have one or two sessions, respectively, with the facilitator. If you have any questions about this program or we can be of support, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me or to Stephanie. You can also mark your calendar to attend the Parent Evening with FCD on Tuesday, January 15th from 7-8 pm.
Finally, I wanted to provide some curriculum updates in these final days before break. In the 6th grade, science students have been working with plate boundaries and plate tectonics through a lab and quiz, and they will build on this work through the exploration of volcanoes and earthquakes after break. Humanities students have continued their work with the Constitution, examining the three branches of government and also focusing on test-taking strategies to improve for future assessments. In Chat Room, students are working on being assertive in communication and the importance of self-confidence. This discussion is happening in concert with thinking about expectations to have for one’s friends, such as expecting friends to be honest with one another. In math, students had a problem-solving reflection due yesterday, and next week, they’ll be looking at and analyzing some data from Denver neighborhoods, doing the work of a statistician. In the Learning Center, the focus of support has been toward mathematics, as students have been reviewing graphing and spending time on peer editing for their recent problem-solving reflection. Jairo’s Visual Arts students are finishing up contrast pieces, creating patterns around a silhouette of a human doing a physical activity. Finally, in Spanish, Molly’s students have been engaging with holiday themed activities, including a movie with a melting snowman and learning about a tradition with presents in Spain. For some fun, Molly says to ask your children about caga tió!
In the 7th grade, Kelly and Grace’s science students have finished a lab write-up about chemical reactions and have been balancing chemical equations. 7th grade Spanish students have embraced the holiday season by learning about Catalonian Christmas traditions and are creating a story to practice their high-frequency verbs. In Drama, students have received their scripts for their One-Act plays and skits based on student interests. In the Learning Center, students have been diving into long-term study strategies to prepare for a science test, focusing on vocabulary, problem solving, and formulas. They have been using quizlet in a variety of ways based on their learning styles. In Language Arts, students have been working with Jack London’s To Build a Fire, an appropriate story for these winter months, and are brainstorming for writing their own short stories as well. After break, they’ll wrap up the loose ends of their short story unit and jump into Harper Lee’s classic To Kill a Mockingbird. In Social Studies, Mike’s students are studying the Reconstruction period of American history, and they are creating their own plans for reconstruction based on healing and justice. Finally, in math, Art’s students have concluded their study of one-step equations and will continue to build their algebra skills by diving into multi-step equations next week and after break.
In the 8th grade, students continue to make progress toward their performances and productions in the arts. Students have run through about one-third of the musical production coming in March, and two-minute documentaries students are concluding their work next week. I look forward to seeing what has been produced and to the musical in early March! In Spanish, Anna’s students have been learning vocabulary about clothing, practicing using their new terminology to talk about how to buy things. They will have a major assessment next week. In the Learning Center, students continue to preview math material and are working on comprehension support for the social studies text, Parallel Journeys. David’s students have concluded reading The Power of One and are engaging with post-reading activities through the use of the student-favorite Kahoot! They are also continuing work on their creative writing project and are beginning an introduction to their book club discussions that will occur after break. As David emailed earlier this week, students should have both Night by Elie Wiesel and The Diary of Anne Frank for the first day after break, Tuesday, January 8th. In Social Studies, Mike’s students are wrapping up their study of Parallel Journeys and will engage with a roundtable discussion in the new year. Ted’s math students continue to examine graphs and make inferences, and they are preparing for a project on car buying that will begin in January. Finally, Grace’s science students continue their study of the respiratory system and are creating booklets for Sig to use with her 3-4-5 students.
Across all grade levels, Donna’s P.E. students have been doing a fencing unit. After break, 8th graders will be engaging in a teaching unit, and 6th and 7th graders will be playing floor hockey. Multi-sport athletes and Bulldog basketball teams continue to have great success and are learning a lot and improving their fitness and skills greatly. Go Bulldogs!
The year is flying by, and so much wonderful learning is happening within the middle school. If you haven’t already, please do check out our blog at this link for weekly updates and pictures. I want to thank all of you again for your immense support. It’s an honor to be part of such a thriving, thoughtful community. Happy holidays, and I look forward to being in touch again soon!
Update on Inclusivity and Tech Talk WrapPosted by Greg Chalfin on 12/4/2018
Happy December! I hope you’re all having a great week, and the second trimester is off to a flying start. Last week, I was at the National Association of Independent School’s (NAIS) People of Color Conference in Nashville, Tenn. The conference attracted more than 6,000 educators from independent schools across the country, and it was a wonderful forum to connect with other educators and learn about initiatives to help make Stanley an even stronger, more inclusive place than it already is. Middle School P.E. teacher Donna Meallet, K-1-2 Learning Resource teacher Anna Casey, and I were in attendance, and we look forward to bringing back a variety of different resources and ideas that we gathered from the conference.
To the end of inclusivity, one quick note for you as we head into the holidays is in regard to “Secret Santa” type gift exchanges. While we love the spirit of giving that students show during this time of year, having students conduct “Secret Santa” gift exchanges at school can lead to exclusivity and hurt feelings. Homerooms may be conducting these type of gift exchanges within homeroom, setting parameters around appropriate spending and gifts to purchase. If your children would like to do these kinds of gift exchanges with small groups of friends, feel free to do so, but please have your children conduct them off-campus and not during the school day. Thank you for your consideration and attention to this matter as head into the final weeks of the year. Your students also heard this message in assembly yesterday.
In addition, on Sunday night, we had a wonderful community discussion with parents about the book iGen: Why Today’s Super Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy—and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood—and What That Means for the Rest of Us by Dr. Jean Twenge. It was great to see so many of you turn out for the discussion last night, and there were a number of wonderful takeaways from the discussion. For those of you who couldn't make it, here are some of the takeaways from the evening:
- Stanley has a wonderful foundation in place to help students work thoughtfully with technology, in part through its prohibition of cell phones during the school day.
- It’s important that we model responsible technological behavior for our students; they are always watching us and taking cues from our lead.
- Encourage your children to put the phone down and limit their screentime. There are many ways to do this, including through parental controls in the most recent iPhone update.
- Education here at school and direct conversation at home with your children about these topics can be immensely beneficial.
- When your children can have in-person interaction, as opposed to screen interaction (e.g.: FaceTime), encourage it.
- Set boundaries for your children about how much time they can use their phones and devices (e.g: not allowing for phones and devices to be in bedrooms when children are sleeping).
These topics are not easy or immediately solvable, and we are all working together to figure out answers to a changing world. With that said, one tenet that can be used to move forward can come from the comment of a parent: “If you feel bad and you have a pint of ice cream, there’s an end. There’s no end to Instagram or Facebook.” We must provide the limits for our children to help them stay healthy and be present. Thank you for your partnership in doing so.
On an entirely separate note, for 8th grade families, please submit any transcript requests that you may have for your child’s high school applications to Barb Lesnoski at firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible. It helps Barb to have these requests well in advance, so she can get the transcript requests out in a timely manner.
Finally, a reminder that this Friday is a half day. Students should plan to be picked up on Rampart Way at 12:15 pm, or if they are planning to go to the Town Center, they should be sure to take their backpacks with them and be picked up from there.
We have continued to have a wonderful year here in the middle school, and students are coming together in their new sections and are doing wonderful work as we wind down the semester in less than three weeks. Below, I’ve provided some curriculum updates about the wonderful learning and community building happening in our classrooms.
In the 6th grade, Julie’s humanities students have been learning about different types of government through a gummi bear activity. This is leading to an in-depth study of the U.S. Constitution, which has already started in earnest. In science, Kelly’s students have started their study of earth science, examining the layers of the earth and moving shortly into a study of plate tectonics. In Spanish, Molly’s students finished reading the book Capybara Con Botas, and they are moving into a new acting unit in practicing their use of verbs. Additionally, in math, Nat’s students are wrapping up a data analysis unit and will be doing a big project shortly to apply the skills of mean, median, mode, and range. Angelina’s work in the Learning Center has been instrumental in supporting students with this. In Chat Room, Stephanie’s students are examining the difference between assertive, aggressive, and passive behavior and communication styles. Students are using role play to discover the most effective form of communication and identify the pitfalls of the aggressive and passive styles. Finally, in Visual Art, Jairo has started the trimester by working with students on perspective sceneries, helping them learn how to bring depth from the page and use a focal point.
In the 7th grade, Kathy’s Language Arts students have been working on an outline for a compare and contrast essay about the book and film, The Giver. Kelly and Grace’s science classes have continued their work on chemistry and chemical reactions, working through equations and chemical reactions through interactive, hands-on experiments. In Social Studies, Mike’s students have started their exploration of the Civil Rights movement, beginning by looking at a Civil Rights timeline with a focus on Reconstruction after the Civil War in the weeks to come. In Spanish, Molly and Anna’s students have been working on creating stories in the present tense and developing their reading comprehension skills. In math, Art’s students have started the trimester with algebraic puzzles, working with “perfect riddles” to try to both solve and create them. This week, they are building on that knowledge toward work with more traditional algebraic expressions. In the Learning Center, Susan’s students have been working on getting support with essay planning and reviewing their vocabulary for science. Finally, Laura’s drama students have kicked off the new trimester by working on their improvisation skills and how to act as an ensemble, responding to each other’s actions on stage. Students will be working all trimester on their drama skills toward a One-Act festival on Wednesday, February 13th. Please mark your calendars and look forward to this great event!
In the 8th grade, David’s Language Arts students are wrapping up The Power of One, acting out scenes from the end of book to highlight themes of friendship and growing up. They are also continuing their creative writing project based on the work of Harris Burdick and are reading the wonderful short story The Gift of the Magi this week. In science, Grace’s students are beginning work on systems of the body and will be learning about the respiratory system soon. Last week, they engaged in a chicken wing dissection as part of their work around the skeletal-muscular system. Mike’s Social Studies students have started their novel study of Parallel Journeys, which will carry them through to Winter Break. Anna’s Spanish students have been working on creating stories as a class, practicing the incorporation of the present tense within their work. In math, Ted’s students are graphing linear functions toward understanding slope and intercepts and will have another quiz later this week. In the Learning Center, students have worked on application of vocabulary for Language Arts and are using organizational K-W-L charts to ensure understanding for their exploration of Parallel Journeys. They are also working on figuring out their “success strategies” to draw upon when they are struggling during the coming trimester. Finally, the 8th grade arts students are starting the second trimester well. Students in the 8th grade musical are just starting to work with their lines and are excited about their production, and a handful of students are wrapping up creating their two-minute documentaries this month.
Across all grade levels, Donna’s P.E. students have started their basketball unit and will be moving into fencing soon. Bulldog basketball teams have also started their game schedules with first games happening last week and this week for all teams. It’s been an amazing start to the season!
The year is flying by, and so much wonderful learning is happening within the middle school. If you haven't already, please do check out our blog at this link. There are many great updates about what is happening here in the middle school, including our recent assembly with Jeremy Vasquez, an activist and artist who shared some of his powerful poetry and story with our students on Monday.
I want to thank all of you for your immense support. It’s an honor to be part of such a thriving, thoughtful community. Happy holidays, and I look forward to being in touch again soon!
Tech Talk and Learning Center Coffee Coming UpPosted by Greg Chalfin on 11/26/2018
Welcome back! I hope your Thanksgiving Break was a restful and rejuvenating one, and I’m looking forward to a busy four week stretch to Winter Break. Students received their new sections and Skills classes this morning, and we are excited for a great next phase of the year.
A couple of reminders for you as we wrap up November and head toward December. First, if you are interested, a reminder that Tim and I will be hosting a discussion about technology and its role in our students’ lives through the vehicle of the book iGen: Why Today’s Super Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy—and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood—and What That Means for the Rest of Us by Dr. Jean Twenge. Whether you have the chance to read the book or not, I hope you’ll join us for a discussion at 6:30 pm on Sunday, Dec. 2 in the ballroom. We’ll have some small nibbles and drinks for everyone, and if you’re able, please bring something small for people to share. Thanks to those of you who have already RSVP’d, and if you haven’t already, please do so by emailing me directly.
Additionally, our Learning Center team will host a coffee in Taryn’s office next Monday, Dec. 3 from 8:15-9:15 am to discuss their work and the differentiation, co-teaching, and co-planning they have been engaged with. Come join Brittany McKenna, Susan Cleveland, Angelina Nicol, and Taryn Steil to discuss the role of the Learning Center team and its support of all learners.
Thank you again for all your support, and I look forward to a continued great year and a wonderful start to the winter trimester! Have a great week!
All the best,
New trimester, New tricksPosted by Greg Chalfin on 11/13/2018
Happy almost Thanksgiving Break! Hope you’re well and are enjoying this wintry weather we have been having as we head into the final days of the first trimester!
I wanted to write you to thank you again for all of your support to begin the year and to wish you and you and your families a relaxing, enjoyable week away next week. When we return, we’ll be diving into new sections and Skills class and look forward to building on the positive start that we have had. I wanted to provide you with a few brief updates as we head into the break.
First, building on conferences, faculty have been hard at work in crafting first trimester reports. Those reports will be completed this week, and they will go out to you right after Thanksgiving Break. You can expect to see them by the middle of our first week back. Please use these comments to continue the conversation from conferences and to help your children process the great progress they have made and the places where they plan to continue to improve. There will be another set of comprehensive academic comments at the end of the second trimester. At the end of the year, before students leave for summer vacation, you will receive a longer, comprehensive comment from each student’s advisor in lieu of individual subject area reports. This report will include information about each of the student’s academic courses, in addition to thoughts about the child’s growth and development over the course of the year and things to think about for the year following. For 8th graders, the advisor comment will also serve as a culminating, comprehensive summary of the student’s growth and development in middle school. This is a change from previous years when third trimester comments were sent out a couple of weeks into June. You will have these comments before the end of the school year ends, so any follow-up can occur before students and teachers alike head off for summer and before our 8th graders graduate from Stanley.
Secondly, as you may have seen in my note in last week’s “Weekly Bulldog”, there are many important conversations happening in our middle school. Among them is a conversation about the role of technology within the lives of your children. If you are interested, please join Tim and me for a conversation about the book iGen: Why Today’s Super Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy—and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood—and What That Means for the Rest of Us on the evening of Sunday, Dec. 2 at 6:30. More details to come about location shortly, but please RSVP to me by Friday, Nov. 16, so Tim and I can coordinate about the best location for the event.
Additionally, a reminder that Friday is our last day before the break, and it is an early dismissal at 11:15 am for Grandpeople’s Day. Should your child need to be picked up between 11:15 am and 12:15 pm, they can plan to come to Grace’s room for a movie and supervision. After 12:15 pm, your children will need to leave campus and be picked up in the Lowry Town Center. We wish you and your families a wonderful Thanksgiving Break!
Finally, I want to wrap-up the first trimester with a curriculum update of things winding down and coming up. In 6th grade, Laura’s drama classes are a central focus with students preparing for Wednesday night’s Shakespeare performances of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. If you are free, come check out the amazing shows for each of the 6th grade sections! In Humanities, students are continuing their Patriot and Loyalist debates and are playing the role of colonists in deciding whether they should break free from Great Britain. Science students have been building 3D models of lunar phases, eclipses, or seasons. They will present their models in small groups on Thursday. After break, they will begin learning about dynamic features of the Earth that shape our planet. In Spanish, students have been diving into the story Capybara Con Botas through various reading and acting activities. In math, students have delved into data analysis and graphing, looking at median, mode, range, and standard deviation and are learning how to pull data from graphs. In the Learning Center, students are working on review for a variety of different disciplines, including looking over new concepts in math and preparing for Wednesday’s Shakespeare performances. Finally, in Chat Room, students are finishing a unit on communication strategies and will be discussing identity in the second trimester, learning more about each other and thinking about stereotypes and societal norms.
In 7th grade, the trimester is winding down with a variety of final assessments. In math, a final quiz awaits students this week before they jump into an algebra unit next trimester. In Spanish, students have finished their recent book and are engaging with a book report project. Science has delved into chemistry and will build on their work in studying atoms to examine concepts around molecules and compounds in the second trimester. Language Arts students are finishing up their book club essays and turning in their creative independent book projects this week as well. They’ll be moving into a short story unit, examining the elements of a story after Thanksgiving. Social Studies students are working on a five-paragraph essay, examining the question, “Is the U.S. doing enough for refugees?” Next trimester begins an exploration into the Civil Rights movement. Music students are wrapping up their complex drumming beat with Koffi, and a handful of students will showcase the grade’s talent in the Grandpeople’s Day assembly on Friday. After break, they’ll begin their Arts work with Laura in Drama. Finally, in the Learning Center, there’s been great work happening to help students review their work and connect their learning styles to learning strategies.
Lastly, in 8th grade, students are finishing up what has been a very busy trimester of high school shadow days, challenging academic classes, and the continual tension between staying present in making the most of their final year and thinking about what comes next. In Language Arts, students will be finishing up the Power of One shortly, and they have begun a long-term creative writing project that expounds on the photographic work of Harris Burdick. They are also working closely with the Scholastic magazine Scope to consider narrative structure and make connections to the modern world. In math, students are beginning to look at scatter plots and learn how to graph functions using tables. In science, students are completing their study of cells through a cell analogy project, a creative endeavor that has students applying their knowledge to compare what they know about cells to another structure. So far, a Boba Tea shop, an aquarium, and various Star Wars ships are among the many wonderful creations. In Spanish, students are practicing reading strategies through the annotation of the Spanish novel Tumba. Additionally, in Social Studies, students are preparing their speeches to run for president of Germany in 1932, thinking about the essential question, “How do convince people to vote for you?”. They will give those speeches right after Thanksgiving and then move toward their study of the novel, Parallel Journeys. 8th grade arts students have started their work on the musical, The Little Mermaid, and a handful are also engaging in a two-minute documentaries class with Jairo and DJ. Finally, in the Learning Center, students are working on organizational skills in various disciplines and will soon be thinking about comprehension strategies and connecting those to an understanding of how they learn.
Across all grade levels, Donna’s P.E. class is playing the game Vortex, a modified, complex version of Capture the Flag with students enjoying the collaboration and teamwork the game requires. She and her students will be starting a basketball unit soon, and speaking of hoops, Bulldog athletics teams will begin their games after the Thanksgiving holiday as well. Multi-sport students started their winter athletics season this week too and are off to a terrific start.
In sum, there’s a lot of great learning, thinking, and playing happening here at Stanley’s middle school. Please do check out our blog at this link, and I want to thank you again for all your support. Best wishes for a happy Thanksgiving to you and your families! I am so grateful to be part of such a wonderful community, and I look forward to our paths crossing soon!
All the best,