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Notes from Greg
Update: December 3rdPosted by Greg Chalfin on 12/3/2020
Dear Middle School Families,
Hope you and your families are staying safe and well! The winter trimester is off to a fantastic start. From introductions to online learning in the middle school for our 6th graders to new cohorts, projects, and subjects for our 7th and 8th graders, we are excited to see students continuing to make the best and most of these remaining weeks before a longer winter break. You can see snapshots at our blog linked here. Thank you for your support in continuing to help our students navigate this school year safely, strongly, and with gratitude.
As we move forward, I wanted to provide a couple of updates about some things upcoming in the winter trimester after Winter Break and ask for your feedback to help inform the decision making process about one of our typical practices here in the middle school.
Freedom from Chemical Dependency
For those of you who were in the middle school last year or have had children go through in previous years, a wonderful program for our students each year is the opportunity to work with a facilitator from Freedom from Chemical Dependency (FCD), an organization that works with students and schools around the country on the topic of substance abuse prevention and making healthy choices. During the week of January 19th, your children will be working with Ian Groves, the same facilitator that we have had here at Stanley for the past two years. Ian has come to know our community well, and we are lucky to have him working with us.
Whether we are in-person or online, Ian will be Zooming with your students. If we are in-person, he will Zoom into our classroom spaces, and if the entire middle school or certain cohorts are online, Ian will Zoom with students connecting from home. More details on a specific schedule will come to your students as we get closer, and please mark your calendars for an FCD parent evening by Zoom on Tuesday, January 19 at 6:30 pm.
ERB Testing - A request for feedback
In addition, for those of you who have been in middle school in previous years, a yearly practice for our students in mid- to late-February is that of taking the Comprehensive Testing Program (CTP5) standardized test from the Educational Records Bureau (ERB).
While Stanley does not emphasize standardized tests, all pieces of information on a child can help us glean insight into the strengths and challenges for our students. With that said, we also know many schools at the high school and college level have gone test optional in these unique times, and there will be unique challenges to offering the CTP test from ERB in this uncertain environment. Among them, we can’t know for certain whether all or some cohorts will be in-person in a given week.
To be clear, if you would like your child to take the CTP test from ERB this year, as in years past, your child will have the opportunity to do so. In addition, if you would like your child to opt out of taking the CTP test, you are welcome to have your child do that as well.
However, with uncertainty about whether we will be able to be in-person or online, and knowing that when we are able to be in-person, we seek to prioritize in-person learning that best lives British Primary philosophy, we are interested in your family’s preferences for your students to help make the most informed decision we can about the administration of ERB testing this school year. We know families may have varying opinions and will not be able to meet all families’ specific desires; however, we feel gathering data on this topic is important to helping us make an informed decision. Please fill out the short survey below in the coming days, and thank you for your feedback. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you have any questions.
Block 3 reports coming next week
We’ve had a great start to Block 4 this week, and teachers are also hard at work on reports for Block 3, the last rotation of the fall trimester. You can expect to see those in your inbox toward the middle of next week. Thank you!
Additional MS Enrichment offerings
As you may know, we have started our winter trimester after school enrichment offerings by Zoom this week, and we are excited about the fantastic offerings this trimester.
I wanted to share two additional offerings, one for all students and one for 8th graders. Both will begin after Winter Break. Please see below, and please email me if you would like to have your child sign-up. Like our other after school enrichments, there is no additional fee to join.
Dungeons and Dragons for all students with Andrew (Mondays): Dungeons and Dragons is a fantasy role playing game where you play the roles of adventurers and solve puzzles, defeat monsters, cast powerful spells and more. No experience of D&D or other role playing games is needed, rules will be explained
Math Support for 8th grade students with Ted (Tuesdays): This enrichment will provide weekly supplemental support for their math learning. The class will revisit some fundamental Algebra concepts as well as introduce and practice topics that will be covered in the second block of 8th grade math. A portion of the class time will be devoted for students to further work on their independent ALEKS studies.
Middle School winter sports cancelled
Finally, due to public health constraints, we wanted to confirm that we unfortunately will not be able to offer winter sports as part of our athletics program this year. We had previously cancelled sports through the 2020 calendar year and will have to cancel sports through our traditional winter sports season, which historically ends in mid-February. We will continue to monitor the public health situation as we move forward with respect to spring sports.
Thank you again for all of your wonderful support. We look forward to continuing to support your children and your families as we progress on this journey. Stay well, and look forward to being in touch!
All the best,
Middle School’s First Days with Bulldog BlocksPosted by Greg Chalfin on 9/3/2020
The first day of school always bring with it such a range of emotions for me. I’m elated to get to see students, to experience their energy, their joy, their unfiltered excitement about being back with their friends on our beautiful campus. Every year, I’m nervous about how students will interact with me, whether the ideas I’ve been thinking about all summer will resonate with them at all or if I’m becoming some out-of-touch guy who, like my father, says things like “Tik-Tok” in a long, accentuated manner that reveals that he has no idea what I’m talking about. Most of all, on the doorstep of a school year, I’m always anxious to see what the school year will hold.
As you might expect, those feelings didn’t go away this year. Being back at school during a pandemic, wearing a mask all day, the prospect of teaching students in unconventional classrooms and outdoor spaces, only added to the anxiety that already accompanies the start of each year.
And yet, I will add that I came back to school this year with immense confidence in our school, our teachers, and our students. Speaking to our teachers all summer about our plans, witnessing them planning together with one another during our weeks leading up to school, I couldn’t help but know that our new orientation to school in these unique times would lead to a joyful, positive experience for our kids. It already certainly has.
The Bulldog Block Model adopted in the middle school draws on the core principles of our school. Among the core values of our school are beliefs in community responsibility, discovery, and relationships. These lived at the forefront of thinking about our new plans.
When making our plans, we knew we foremost had a community responsibility to keep everyone safe. A cohort model like the one we have adopted does just that.
Prioritizing discovery and constructivist learning, our teachers have continued to embrace a British Primary approach to teaching under these unique circumstances. With just two subjects to study, our students can focus on discovering what they know and love about a topic. With more time to focus on learning deeply about a topic, instead of juggling many classes, our students have joy in their voices, feeling they can focus on doing fewer things better.
Moreover, already, I’m seeing new relationships flourish in just these first days back. Cohort identities are forming – literally and figuratively (after long deliberation, my cohort decided to call themselves the GOATS, an acronym for Greatest of All Time Students – no shortage of confidence in them!). Positive relationships between students and student and teacher will continue to hold the utmost importance for our school.
Stanley lives in a long line of progressive schools, schools that have implemented fundamental strategies that have been passed down from philosophers like John Dewey, Jean Piaget, Lev Vygotsky, and Francis Parker. One of the books I was fortunate to read recently was Loving Learning: How Progressive Education Can Save America’s Schools. In it, the authors Tom Little and Katherine Ellison speak at length about beliefs that Stanley already holds core, principles that helped guide us in these challenging times.
Whether we’re in-person or online, these are simple strategies. Set in motion, they can help guide educators and our school through this inflection point moment. These strategies include seeing the whole child, relying on students’ interests to direct learning, focusing on deeper learning instead of testing, grades, and class rank, studying topics in an interdisciplinary fashion, and perhaps most importantly, providing “support for children to develop a sense of social justice and become active participants in America’s democracy” (Little & Ellison, 2015, p. 52).
When I see our students practicing their Shakespeare lines on day 1, including new friends in creative games, greeting me at the entrance to our school to let me know they already finished “Lord of the Flies” because they “just couldn’t stop reading,” I know how lucky we are to be where we are.
The middle school faculty recently met with Traci Freeman, Executive Director for the Colket Center for Academic Excellence at Colorado College, and we had a great conversation with her about the research around block scheduling at the college level to help inform our own planning. We’re looking forward to continuing the dialogue with her over the course of the year as we navigate this new model, and what we learned from Traci is that what really matters, regardless of the model of intensive blocks or full-semester courses, is the individual faculty member and the pedagogical choices they make. As you know, our teachers are world-class, and the teaching strategies they use are aligned with our belief in British Primary learning and are incredibly impactful for your kids.
It is a challenging time to be an educator, a student and a parent. How lucky we are to be in a community where these three groups can place so much trust in one another. Thanks for all your support as we’ve started this school year, and welcome back to school!
Update: March 9Posted by Greg Chalfin on 3/9/2020
Dear Middle School Families,
Happy March! What a wonderful way to start the month last week with the 8th grade musical! We’re so proud of our 8th graders for their wonderful performance and are looking forward to a fantastic final trimester of the school year. In assembly last week, we watched a slideshow of all the wonderful happenings of the Winter Trimester, and it was fun to reflect on all the amazing memories your students have made over the course of this year. You can find many of the pictures on our blog here.
I wanted to say thank you so much for all of your participation in conferences last month. I know our faculty so enjoyed having you and your children at conferences and seeing them thrive. Faculty have been diligently working on Winter Reports, and we’re planning to have those sent to you later this week.
In addition, I wanted to let you know of a few upcoming events for your students as we approach Spring Break and provide a curriculum update about the wonderful learning happening in your child’s classes.
First, as noted in Emily’s letter last week, on Wednesday, March 18th, our students will be viewing the film “Upstanders”,the second in a series of three educational films from IndieFlix media that your students will be watching this year. Students viewed the film “Like” in December, and they will watch the film “Angst” on April 8th, the Wednesday after Spring Break. After each film, students are debriefing their learnings with their homeroom teachers and advisor. In addition, on the evening of March 18th, we would like to invite you to screen the film and take part in discussion with other parents, Emily, and me.
In addition, on March 25th, we will be welcoming facilitators from Planned Parenthood back to campus to work with our students around topics of human growth and development. These conversations will happen in mixed gender groups and will focus on healthy relationships, consent, sexting, and refusal skills. Seventh and eighth graders will work with facilitators on March 25th, and the 6th grade will have this training on Wednesday, April 29th.
Finally, I wanted to provide a curriculum update for you. In 6th grade, Humanities students have started a unit on Westward Expansion, examining Manifest Destiny and Indian Removal. This trimester begins a focus on writing using document-based question essays. In math, students recently took a percentages quiz and are starting a new unit on fractions, proportions, and probability. Ask your students about their M&M statistics activity from last week! In Science, students are diving into a research project about a tectonic event in history. Students are choosing an earthquake, tsunami, or volcano to research and will be delving into explaining its occurrence. In music, students are beginning their work with Koffi and are learning what different rhythms mean and will begin to explore call and response work. In Spanish, students are immersed in their book Escape Cubano and are doing some different competitions and games. In the Learning Center, students are getting math support with their new unit. In addition, they are diving into new research strategies, taking advantage of a variety of technological tools. Finally, in Writing class, students are starting a persuasive writing unit, learning how to thoughtfully share their opinions.
In 7th grade, Science students are learning about forces and motion and are looking at position-time graphs and velocity-time graphs to see how they relate to one another. In Spanish, students have been working on practicing using the past tense and are engaging with an activity around an interview of a detective investigating a bank robbery and what happened. In Social Studies, students are moving into an examination of race in early 20th century America. Math students are well into their Geometry investigation, working on both simple and compound area problems. They will begin their study of the Pythagorean theorem soon. In Visual Arts, students are working on line and pattern work with a shoe project that is part of their still life drawing unit. In Language Arts, students have been doing a close read of Harper Lee’s classic To Kill a Mockingbird, answering comprehension questions and discussing justice and the universe of obligation. In the Learning Center, students have continued to receive support across their classes and are working on sustained attention skills. Finally, 7th graders will be working with Emily once a week this trimester as part of her “Care” class, which is part of our social-emotional curriculum. Students began work with her last Friday and are delving into topics they are interested in, in addition to laying foundations for the course.
In 8th grade, Science students are starting a project about the systems of the body, researching a topic of their choosing. In Spanish, students are working on consolidation skills and how to talk about things they wish to do. In Social Studies, students are working on a final unit project based on justice and the Holocaust. Language Arts students are moving toward the conclusion of The Diary of Anne Frank. In addition, students will be completing a creative writing project in the coming weeks and have continued their grammar study. In math, students are preparing to explore exponents and monomial and polynomial operations. In the Learning Center, students have been getting ready for the musical, decompressing and practicing lines, and setting and working toward independent goals for assignment completion. They will be working toward prioritizing how they will spend their time in order to solidify classroom concepts, based on their learning needs and leaning on their ability to self-monitor their understanding. Lastly, 8th graders begin their last trimester of arts, choosing among great classes of drama, music, and visual arts with Laura, Koffi, and Jairo, respectively.
Across all grades, Donna’s P.E. students are diving into a soccer unit, and students participating in our tennis, lacrosse, and ultimate frisbee teams have been excited to see warmer weather. They were able to get out on the field last week and begin to prepare for first games in the coming weeks. Go Bulldogs!
Thanks for all your support, and look forward to crossing paths with each of you soon! Have a great week!
All the best,
Update, Tuesday Feb 25Posted by Greg Chalfin on 2/25/2020
Hope you’re well and are having a great week! It’s a busy time here on campus, as you know, and we are looking forward to next week’s 8th grade musical. I know the students are hard at work in preparing for the show, and it will be a wonderful celebration of this year’s fantastic 8th grade class, the Class of 2020.
I wanted to send you some information regarding our upcoming MS Ski Day, just over one month from today on Thursday, March 26th. Thank you for all of your support in helping make the day happen, and we look forward to a terrific day. I will be sending parent drivers an individual email with instructions for the day soon, including which students you will be driving. If your child has their own skis or snowboard, they will be asked to bring it on Wednesday, March 25th, so it can be loaded into faculty cars to be driven up the mountain. For parents of students who are participating in skiing or snowboarding, you can plan on having your student arrive to school at 7:30 am on Thursday, March 26th and returning to campus at approximately 4:30 pm.
For those students who are not participating in MS Ski Day, we are planning a fun Denver excursion and look forward to an enjoyable day as we wrap up the final days before Spring Break. For students on the Denver excursion, you can plan on your child arriving to school at the regular 8:15 start time and being picked up at the regular dismissal time of 3 pm.
Additionally, for 6th and 7th grade parents, I wanted to let you know about a potential opportunity for your students for next school year. The organization Pi Q math provides an extracurricular offering for students in our lower school who are excited about exploring math further. For the 2020-2021 school year, Pi Q is interested in offering a Math Team, a competition-based math program that will push students who are excited about math through a variety of different math competitions. Students will “compete” internally during the time allotted, and there is no travel or other time invested outside of the session time allotted. The team would begin next school year and would meet from 7:15-8 am on Monday mornings, and the cost is $10 per session or approximately $150-$200 per semester. Families would be asked to commit for either the fall or spring semester and to pay for a full semester at a time. If you are interested in your child doing this, please let me know, and in addition, if you have further questions about the program, you can navigate to Pi Q’s website or be in touch with Anjalika Agarwala at email@example.com. We will gauge interest to see if it is viable for this offering to run next school year.
Thanks for all of your support, and look forward to crossing paths with each of you soon. Have a great week!
Update: Tuesday Feb 11Posted by Greg Chalfin on 2/11/2020
Hope you’re well and are staying warm through this cold, snowy beginning to February.
I just wanted to send a couple of quick reminders to you and let you know of a couple of things upcoming. First, we have concluded our winter sports season, and it has been a fantastic year on the court for our basketball teams and in multi-sport. Thank you for all of your support of our coaches and players over the course of this year!
As the winter sports season has concluded, we still do have homework club this week and next week and will continue to do so during the spring sports season, which begins on Monday, February 24th. With that said, we will not have homework club on Thursday, February 13th and Wednesday, February 20th, which are the last days before Winter Weekend and next week’s ERB testing and Parent-Student-Teacher conference days, respectively. If your child cannot be picked up at 3 pm this Thursday, the 13th or next Wednesday, the 20th, please have them wait for you in the front lobby or meet you at the Lowry Town Center.
Additionally, I wanted to send one final reminder of the MS Ski Day form. Thank you to those families who have filled it out, and it is important that every family do so for each child, so we can get an accurate count of how many children are participating in our activities for the day and begin to coordinate logistics around ski tickets, parent drivers and faculty coverage. If you have not yet filled out the form, you will receive an email from Acelynn today with the linked form, and I have also provided it linked here. If you do not receive an email from Acelynn, you can assume that your form went through and your child is signed up. Please make sure to fill this out by the end of the day on Thursday, February 13th. At that point, if your child's form has not been submitted, we will assume they are not participating in the MS Ski Day.
Finally, I wanted to spend a moment to tell you a little bit about next week and the ERB testing that your students will be participating in on the mornings of Thursday, February 20th and Friday, February 21st. As I told the students on Monday in assembly, they should not worry about these tests next week. There will be some information that they have likely seen before, and other questions that might seem new. 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.
As is the case in schools in February, it is a very busy, exciting time. We had our middle school spelling bee yesterday during assembly, our students will be watching their 7th grade classmates in their Drama Showcase tomorrow, and the 8th grade vs. Faculty basketball game is on Thursday afternoon. Most of all, there’s wonderful lessons happening across your child’s classrooms. You can see updates here at our blog as well.
Thank you for all of your support, stay warm, and look forward to crossing paths with each of you soon!
Update: Tuesday, February 4Posted by Greg Chalfin on 2/4/2020
Thank you again to those of you who have filled out the linked form for our MS Ski Day on Thursday, March 26th. If you have not yet done so, please do so as soon as possible and by this Friday, February 7th at the latest.
I hope to see you all tomorrow night at our Parent Simulation from the International Dyslexia Association in the ballroom. It is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about learning differences and gain empathy for the experiences of many of our students. We will begin at 6:30 pm in the ballroom.
In addition, I wanted to use this opportunity to provide information about upcoming Skills classes for the Spring trimester. Below, you’ll see a list of the various Skills classes offered this Spring. Students will be signing up in homeroom next week, so please review these offerings with your students in the coming days, so they can list their top choices for Tuesday and Thursday offerings next week.
Before diving into the list of Skills classes, however, I also wanted to provide an update about the wonderful teaching and learning happening in your child’s classes. In 6th grade, Humanities students have been digging into the documentary novel Loving v. Virginia, engaging with reading journals and examining the bridge between literature and history. Math students have been tasked with problems about percentages with an eventual goal to learn how to properly tip in a restaurant! Spanish students have been previewing vocabulary for their next book Escape Cubano through a week of personal especial interviews. Science students have been working on a choice project and will be previewing volcanoes, tsunamis, and earthquakes while also having the option to learn about the rock cycle and natural resources. In Visual Arts, students are working on depth and perspective drawings. Writing students are crafting informational newsletters on topics of their choosing and will begin writing drafts this week. Finally, in the Learning Center, the focus has been on support for Humanities, specifically around writing strategies, in addition to help with math notes and developing planning strategies.
In 7th grade, Spanish students have delved into a book about former baseball player and Civil Rights activist Felipe Alou from the Dominican Republic. Science students are starting a renewable energy project, picking a location to buy property and examining the best renewable energy source to power their home there. Math students took a test on their equation solving unit last week and are beginning a research project into one of the companies in their stock portfolio for their stock market game. They will begin their Geometry unit upcoming as well. Language Arts students are looking at identity and how that connects to the characters in To Kill a Mockingbird and to themselves. Students will be digging deeper into the setting of the book upcoming and have been practicing their annotation skills. In the Learning Center, students have been developing flexibility skills, focusing on ways to deal with stress, frustration, and adapting to change. This coming week, they will shift their focus to reflecting on attention skills. Social Studies students are preparing for a roundtable discussion on the 14th amendment next week, and Drama students are incorporating tech pieces and touching up final preparations for next Wednesday’s 7th grade Drama showcase. We look forward to the show!
In 8th grade, Spanish students have been discussing clothing, prices and shopping and will soon dig into a unit on weaving in Guatemala, engaging with an associated art project. Language Arts students are concluding their reading of Elie Wiesel’s Night and will be moving into their study of The Diary of Anne Frank. Students will be keeping their own diaries as part of this work. In addition, students continue to work on grammar and writing through their study of “No Red Ink” and an ongoing creative writing project. Social Studies students are concluding their study of the Holocaust, delving into the question, “What does it look like after an event like this takes place?” Math students have been learning different ways to solve linear equations where students have two equations with two variables that need to be solved. Both graphing and substitution methods are being employed, and once these approaches to systems of equations problems are mastered, students will turn toward an application of these skills with word problems. In Science, students are learning about the circulatory system and the purpose of blood. They will be engaging with a sheep’s heart dissection this week. In the Musical, the team is making sure all parts of the show are getting attention before dress rehearsals begin in a few short weeks. In Care class, students debriefed their work with Ian, our facilitator from Freedom from Chemical Dependency (FCD) and will continue to talk about their upcoming high school transition. Finally, in the Learning Center, 8th graders are looking at their weekly assignments and concepts from each class and deciding together what mini lessons would be most worthwhile for their understanding, focusing their efforts toward support in math and social studies most recently.
In all grades, Donna’s P.E. students are jumping into a unit of wallball, dodgeball, and four square. In addition, we are looking forward to a wonderful conclusion to the Winter Sports season this week with final games on Thursday. It’s been a fantastic season on the court and in multi-sport. Go Bulldogs!
Finally, as mentioned, I wanted to provide a list of the upcoming Skills class offerings for the Spring trimester. Thanks for looking these over with your students, and we look forward to having them sign-up in homeroom next week.
Mindfulness (all grades) - Reduce your stress with mindfulness activities including journaling, introductory yoga, meditation, and art.
Creative Writing (all grades) - Use your imagination and expand your writing skills in this class. We will use interesting prompts, photos and topics, and will develop our creative approach to writing.
Tiny House architecture (all grades) - In this Skills class, students will plan out a tiny house budget, floorplan, and exterior. Then students will build a scale model of their tiny house!
Computer Skills (all grades) – Come improve your Skills in typing, Google Docs/Sheets/Slides, and Internet research.
Society and Statistics (all grades) – Come investigate the intersection between math and society, improving your math skills by examining the big data movement that is influencing the world of sports, politics, and more.
Student Council (all grades) - This is a year long skills class, and will require additional work outside of your normal skills class hour. If you enjoy planning, organizing and executing school wide events, while strengthening your leadership style, this is the place for you! Student Council is in charge or organizing Cave Shows, Arts Fest, Bake Sales, dances, various fundraisers, etc. This is a year long course. If you did not sign up in the Fall or Winter, you may not sign up for the Spring trimester.
Clean Comedy Improv (all grades) - Discuss and share ideas and techniques on how to make any situation fun, but most importantly appropriately funny on the spot! Time to improvise! :)
Editing and Proofreading skills and workshop (all grades): An opportunity for students to focus on current editing and revision skills, learn new strategies and have a chance to edit and peer revise actual assignments to final draft status.
Learning Center Support (all grades) - Students will learn executive functioning strategies and how to apply them to their work, learn about themselves as a learner, and receive extra support on assignments as needed in a small group environment.
6th grade Geometry (6th graders) – Come and get an introduction to challenge math through this 6th grade Skills class.
7th grade Geometry (7th graders) - This Skills class is only for 7th graders and those students who completed the 6th grade Geometry Skills class last year. Come continue your Geometry Skills!
7th grade math support (7th graders) - Receive supplemental math support that will help with the 7th grade content.
Go Set a Watchman book club (7th and 8th graders) - Students will read, analyze and discuss the controversial second book published by Harper Lee, which focuses on Scout as an adult and her father Atticus as an elderly man.
8th grade Constitutional Law – Panel 1, 3, and 5 (8th graders) – If you are a student on Panel 1, 3, or 5, please plan to do this Skills class in preparation for the the National Competition in Washington, DC.
8th grade Geometry (8th graders) - This Skills class is only for 8th graders and those students who have completed the 7th grade Geometry Skills class last year. Come continue your Geometry Skills!
Introductory French Class (all grades) - This course will cover some basic French conversation skills. Some grammar and vocabulary. :) English: My name is Koffi! / French: Mon nom est Koffi! Or, Je m’appelle Koffi!
Girl Empowerment (all grades) - This class will be a safe space for girls to talk about issues that are important and relevant to them: friendships, relationships, social media use, dealing with hurt feelings, standing up for yourself, being heard. We will read things, watch things, make things, and talk. Most importantly, we will strengthen ourselves and one another.
Puzzles! (all grades) - In this skills class, we will discuss different puzzles and the logic or problem solving needed to solve them. Students will also each get to create their own puzzle.
Card Sharks (all grades) - If you are someone who really enjoys learning new card games as well as mastering the strategies of old ones, this class is for you. Hearts, Cribbage, Spoons, Wist, and Spades, are some of the classics we will cover.
Journalism (all grades) - Come learn the craft of interviewing and reporting as we learn how to report the news and move toward publishing our stories in Stanley’s middle school newspaper.
Current Events Club (all grades) - Curious about what’s going on in the world? Looking for a place to discuss big issues in the news? Come on down!
Latin American Myths and Legends (all grades) – Come learn about various stories and folktales from Latin America with a focus on culture, geography, and some language practice.
Campus Beautification Club (all grades) - We will promote the four R’s, which are, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Repurpose all over the school. We will identify projects we can complete to brighten and improve areas, classrooms or spaces
Joy of Literature (all grades) - Read well-known short stories and learn about famous authors and their styles of writing. We’ll focus on classics and other modern literature.
6th grade math support (6th grade) - Receive supplemental math support that will help with 6th grade content.
Ashes book club (6th grade) - For 6th graders only. Read the third and final book in the Chains trilogy. Find out what happens to Isabel, Curzon, and Ruth!
7th Grade Constitutional Law (7th graders) - Students who are interested in participating in the Constitutional Law program will learn the essential elements of the content and the program through lecture style lessons.
8th grade Constitutional Law – Panel 2, 4, and 6 (8th grade) – If you are a student on Panel 2, 4, or 6, please plan to do this Skills class in preparation for the the National Competition in Washington, DC.
8th grade math support (8th graders) - Receive supplemental math support that will help with 8th grade content.
Thanks again for all your support, and stay warm! Hope you have a great week!
Update - Wednesday, January 29Posted by Greg Chalfin on 1/29/2020
Hope you’re having a great week! Thank you all for your attendance at last week’s evening with Freedom from Chemical Dependency (FCD). The students had a wonderfully positive experience with Ian Groves, our facilitator from FCD, and Emily Goldberg, MS Counselor, will be in touch with some additional resources soon. There’s lots of great learning happening in our middle school, and we enjoyed a wonderful Winter Cave Show this afternoon.
In addition, I wanted to say thank you to all of the parents who volunteered to drive for our Ski Day on Thursday, March 26th. I believe we will have enough drivers for the day to run, but we now need to gather data on student participation for the day. While this is the Thursday before Spring Break, with the Arts Festival coming on Friday, we sincerely hope all students participate in either in skiing or an experiential learning opportunity here in Denver to be determined. If you can please fill out the linked form here by next Friday, February 7th, that would be great. Please fill out the form regardless of your child’s participation, and for families with multiple children in middle school, please fill out the form once for each child. To have an accurate count to best utilize resources and to know how many parent drivers are needed, please also know that once your child commits to skiing or the day in Denver, they will not be able to switch their choice.
Finally, I hope to see you all a week from tonight, Wednesday, February 5th at 6:30 pm in the ballroom. We will have facilitators from the International Dyslexia Association to do a simulation that our faculty participated in this past October. I highly recommend the experience for all parents. If you can make it, please let me know, so I can get a rough count of how many people we may have. This simulation is also open to K-8 parents, so if you know of parents of children in other divisions of the school who might be interested, please let them know as well.
Thank you for all your support, and hope you have a great rest of the week!
Update for Tuesday, January 21Posted by Greg Chalfin on 1/21/2020
Hope you had a great long weekend, and all is well! I just wanted to send a few reminders of things upcoming this week and in the coming weeks.
First, just a quick reminder to please let me know by this Friday if you can drive for our potential middle school ski day on Thursday, March 26th. Thank you for your support!
In addition, I wanted to just send a quick note about a few awesome middle school events coming up in the coming weeks. Please see the list below:
Wednesday, January 22nd
- MS Parent Coffee – 8:30 am in the Pub
- Freedom from Chemical Dependency Parent Night – 6:30 pm in the Ballroom
Friday, January 24th
- MS Winter Dance – 7-9 pm in the Ballroom
Wednesday, January 29th
- MS Winter Cave Show – 1:15 pm in the Ballroom
Wednesday, February 5th
- Dyslexia Simulation from the International Dyslexia Association for Parents – 6:30 pm in the Ballroom
Finally, if you haven’t already, please do fill out this linked form to sign-up for Winter Conferences in February. Thank you, and we look forward to this important school event next month.
Thanks again for all your support, and hope you have a great week!
Update - Thursday, January 16Posted by Greg Chalfin on 1/16/2020
Hope you’re having a great week and are looking forward to an amazing three-day weekend upcoming! Students are off to a wonderful start in our first weeks back, and I have seen joyful learning happening across our middle school. You can find some recent updates at our blog linked here.
As you probably already know, a reminder that tomorrow is a half day with our annual Martin Luther King, Jr. assembly at 8:30 am to start the day. We look forward to this fantastic school event!
While we have just returned back to school, it is already time to start thinking about the end of this trimester and conferences. Acelynn will be sending out an email tomorrow morning with a form for conference sign-ups for the afternoons and evenings of Thursday, February 20th and Friday, February 21st and for all day on Friday, February 28th. Please fill out the form as soon as possible, so I can begin to schedule conferences for your children. I hope to have conference scheduling completed by the end of January. We look forward to seeing your students shine in sharing their progress and learning with you and their teachers.
In addition, thank you to those of you who came out to our talk with Asher Cutler about gender identity last week, and we have some other great parent education events in the coming weeks. Next week, your students will be working with a facilitator, Ian Groves, from the organization Freedom from Chemical Dependency (FCD), to talk about substance abuse prevention and making healthy choices. For parents of 7th and 8th graders, Ian worked with Stanley students last year as well, and we are excited to welcome him back to campus. In addition, Ian will be hosting a parent talk on Wednesday evening at 6:30. Hope to see you there!
That same morning, Wednesday, January 22nd, I’ll be hosting a MS parent coffee for parents of children in all grades. I look forward to connecting with each of you, and it will be great to have an informal gathering to touch base about the wonderful work of our middle schoolers.
If you haven’t already done so, please mark your calendars for the evening of Wednesday, February 5th. We will have facilitators from the International Dyslexia Association on hand to do a simulation with you at 6:30 pm in the ballroom. Faculty participated in this simulation as part of our professional development in October, and I highly recommend it.
I also unfortunately am writing with some difficult faculty news. Susan Cleveland, 7th grade Learning Specialist, will be taking a leave of absence to be more available for her family during a challenging medical situation. We are working on a plan to provide coverage for Susan and will be in touch with 7th grade families as those plans come together. Please send good vibes to Susan and her family during this difficult time, and thank you for your support.
In addition, I also am writing with a request for help. As some of you know, a Stanley tradition has been to have a Stanley Middle School ski day. In examining the day, the school has determined that the day can only occur if we are able to secure enough parent drivers. In years past, faculty were able to drive students in their personal vehicles, but due to liability, we are unable to further support this practice. If you are able to drive to and from the mountains on Thursday, March 26th, the Thursday before Spring Break, please let me know by next Friday, January 24th, so we can make a decision about whether we will be able to have the trip this year.
Finally, I wanted to provide a brief curriculum update for you about the wonderful work happening in your child’s classes. In 6th grade, Jairo’s Visual Arts students have been focusing on texture and color patterns as they work on a project of designing heads of animals. In Humanities, Julie’s students are starting a research project on Supreme Court cases dealing with the First Amendment. They have talked about website credibility and how to spot fake news, and we encourage you to check out this this family tips sheet from Common Sense Media to continue the conversation at home. In Spanish, Molly’s students are digging into the book Capybaras Con Botas, studying animals of the Amazon. In math, Andrew’s students are deep into their work with decimals and percents and will have a quiz upcoming. In science, Kelly’s students are examining continental drift and layers of the earth. In Writing class, Acelynn’s students are working on expository writing to refine their research and writing skills for work in Humanities. Finally, in the Learning Center, Rebecca’s students have been working on SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely) goals, in addition to getting support for work in Humanities and Math.
In 7th grade, Laura’s Drama students are discussing objectives for actors, working on character to development and how to represent their characters in scenes. Kathy’s Language Arts students are working on a study guide for an upcoming Story Elements test and are preparing the first draft of their own creative short story. Mike’s Social Studies students are deep into study of Reconstruction, looking at post-Civil War America and how that influenced the Civil Rights movement. In math, you should ask your child about their investments! Art’s students are engaged with a fun Stock Market game, in addition to their work on multi-step algebraic equations. In science, Kelly and Grace’s students are working on energy conversions and are building a wave machine. In Spanish, Anna and Molly’s students are working on the future tense, describing what they will do through an interview exercise. Finally, Susan’s Learning Center students have been receiving academic support with a variety of core academic subjects.
In 8th grade, the Musical team is seeing the show begin come together by working on specific songs in the show. David’s Language Arts students are halfway through Elie Wiesel’s Night, and students are completing in-depth reading responses with a focus on citations and developing the skill of supporting their opinions with examples from the text. They are also engaged in a creative writing project and grammar work. Mike’s Social Studies students are watching a documentary called Lesson Plan about “The Third Wave”, a classroom experiment at a high school that examines obedience and its effects. In math, Ted’s students have been engaged with car buying project, employing graphs about depreciation. Grace’s science students are wrapping up a mini-unit on bones and muscles before a unit on the respiratory system. In Spanish, Anna’s students are working on a unit about shopping, learning new vocabulary about clothes, money, numbers and language needed in a store. Brittany’s Learning Center students are working on a week at-a-glance for assignments that are due and thinking about the concepts of their classes and where pre-teaching and re-teaching might be needed. Finally, in Care, Emily has been talking with 8th graders about questions they have about their high school years ahead.
Across all grades, P.E. students have been engaged in a unit on fencing. And on the court, Stanley’s basketball teams are heading into their final weeks of the season and continue to have great success! Go Bulldogs!
Thank you for all your support of our students, and it is a pleasure and privilege to partner with you. We look forward to a continued great year!
Happy New Year from Middle SchoolPosted by Greg Chalfin on 1/9/2020
Happy New Year! I hope you and your families had a fantastic break, and all is well. I have a short letter in today’s Weekly Bulldog coming out later today about middle school and the coming semester, but I just wanted to send a quick reminder of tonight’s speaker, Asher Cutler, who is coming to speak with us about gender identity at 6:30 pm in the ballroom. Please see the brief description below. Hope to see you there!
Asher Cutler is a graduate of East High in Denver. At age 15, they came out as genderfluid, and began to use the pronouns they/them/theirs. Asher has spoken to a variety of groups of all ages about gender identity and the differences between gender and sexuality. Their first speaking gig was at Stanley British Primary School several years ago. Asher spoke with the 8th grade class and also at an evening event to parents with their father and Stanley librarian, Allan Cutler. Asher has also presented several times to the Jefferson County Public Health Department as well as at the LGBTQ-Inclusive Educational Practices Institute in 2018 where they spoke with educators and CPR reporter Jenny Brundin.
Additionally, I wanted to send a quick note on behalf of Molly Knutson and Rebecca Bouslog. As you may know, Molly and Rebecca have been doing fantastic work with our Student Council, and one of the ideas their students have initiated is the re-opening of Puppy Chow, our concession stand inside the gym, during basketball games. Parent volunteers are needed to help supervise the students who are running the concession stand, and if you are available, regardless of whether your child is in student council, please sign up at the link here. Thanks for your help!
Hope you have a great day, and the best wishes to you and your families for a continued amazing start to 2020!
All the best, Greg