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Notes from the Middle School
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,
Growth through change is both impactful and challengingPosted by Greg Chalfin on 11/8/2018
As we wind down the first trimester, I am struck by the positive, productive, and thoughtful beginning to the year we have had. There are a myriad of reasons this has occurred, from the wonderful faculty who have engaged with your children to the positive tone that has been set by students across all grade levels to the incredibly supportive families of our middle school community students. In this new role, I am grateful to have felt a partnership with faculty and parents alike in supporting the most important constituent of our school, the students themselves.
In coming into this role, one of the ways I am learning and thinking about Stanley and its evolution is through the lens of one of my favorite educational philosophers, former Stanford University graduate school of education professor Elliot Eisner. Before his passing in 2014, Eisner wrote widely on a myriad of educational topics. From the value of arts education to curriculum studies to educational reform, one way that Eisner thought about schools was as an ecosystem. In my own professional work as an educator, this was a transformative lens through which to see schools and the way they function.
As in an ecosystem in nature, the addition or subtraction of one organism or plant does not have influence in a vacuum. It influences everything else with which it interacts, and the same is true of schools. Eisner delineated five buckets that interact with one another: the intentions of the school, the structures it has in place (time and space), the curriculum it covers, the instructional methods it employs, and the evaluation tools it uses and values. Change one of these elements, and you change them all. For example, one might casually think that a minor change to the curriculum would not impact the success of a certain evaluation method. In schools, as in ecosystems, all is interconnected, and that makes change in schools both impactful and challenging. It’s why I am so enjoying the work that I am doing.
Last month, I asked the middle school faculty to engage with an exercise with this notion of schools as ecosystems, using a design thinking methodology from one of the faculty summer reads, “Creative Confidence” by Tom and David Kelley, founders of the d.school at Stanford. Through this, the middle school faculty brainstormed questions about all of the different elements of our school, forming “How might we…” questions to think about places they hope Stanley can grow as the school evolves and continues to improve. The commitment to improvement and to joyful, lifelong learning came through in spades with the faculty, and I could not be more excited about the ideas that we are playing with in thinking about how to best support students and align our practice with the wonderful mission of our school. Growth through changes has already taken place with our schedule, curriculum, and teaching methods this year, and it is a true joy to be able to be in classrooms and to help teachers grow in their practice. I am so excited about the direction we are heading.
It may go without saying, but this is an immensely busy time of the year at Stanley. With conferences completed and reports due for middle school faculty at the end of first trimester next week, everyone is hard at work to support and communicate with you about our students. Thank you for your support at home in processing these comments and conversations with your children.
Finally, I wanted to alert you to a potential upcoming conversation for middle school families. As you well know, technology surrounds us all. You are receiving this very letter by email and are reading it on some sort of device. For adolescents, navigating the pressures of technology is an important element of growing up. At a recent 7th grade parent coffee, this was an important topic of conversation, and from that, there was momentum toward a middle school-wide conversation around how we can best support our children in this challenging facet of adolescence. There are two takeaways from this conversation to consider and then some possible next steps you may want to take.
First, Stanley and your families already have some wonderful measures in place around technology use. As I recently discussed with the 8th graders during Grade Level time, I fully support Stanley’s measure to not allow students to have their cell phones during the school day. Among a myriad of reasons, it allows your children to be more present in interactions with their peers when they are here. As you may have read, the entire nation of France’s policies aligned with Stanley recently.
Additionally, I talked with the 8th graders about this past summer’s movie “Eighth Grade.” In watching a clip of the film, students said that if they acted in the manner in which the protagonist had toward their parents, their parents would have immediately taken their technology away and would not have accepted such disrespect. Keeping phones away at dinner, limiting screen time, and monitoring technological use appears to be happening in Stanley households, and I am so encouraged to hear that. Thank you for all you are doing at home.
If you are interested in some more resources and next steps, you may want to watch this clip from CBS Sunday Morning about the film “Eighth Grade” and read the book iGen: Why Today’s Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy – And Completely Unprepared For Adulthood. That very book will also be the topic of conversation for a Middle School parent discussion on the evening of Sunday, December 2nd for middle school parents. If you are interested in being part of that conversation, pick up a copy and come discuss the thoughts and ideas of author Dr. Jean Twenge as it relates to your child’s experience. I look forward to helping and supporting you in with this topic, and please RSVP to me by next Thursday, Nov. 15 if you are interested in attending, so we can coordinate logistics of the evening. More to come on that soon.
Thank you again for all your support, and 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!
Sports, Skills and Grade-level UpdatesPosted by Greg Chalfin on 10/31/2018
Happy Halloween! This morning, I experienced my first Stanley Halloween Parade, and I was so impressed by our 8th graders who led it and by the wonderful array of costumes that I saw. A few snapshots of this morning’s parade and of the wonderful costumes seen about campus can be found here at our blog alongside other updates from last week’s amazing 8th grade Arts showcase and other happenings in recent classes.
As you know, this week marks Student/Parent/Teacher conferences, and it is an important time in your child’s year for them to reflect on the positive strides they have made and to showcase the work in their portfolio. In addition, as the trimester winds to a close in a couple of weeks, it is a great opportunity to praise and affirm your child and to also challenge them to build off their own self-assessment and off the feedback from their teachers. These goals may be large or small, but I encourage you to use this important, supportive, and vulnerable moment for parents, teachers, and students alike to be accessed as an opportunity to grow. One of the summer reads for Stanley’s faculty this year was Sara Lawrence Lightfoot’s book, The Essential Conversation: What Parents and Teachers Can Learn From Each Other. I enjoy Lightfoot’s work immensely, and I highlight this quote as a reminder as you enter conferences in the coming days: “To parents, their child is the most important in their lives, the one who arouses their deepest passions and greatest vulnerabilities, the one who inspires their fiercest advocacy and protection. And it is teachers – society’s professional adults – who are the primary people with whom the parents must seek alliance and support in the crucial work of child rearing. They must quickly learn to release their child and trust that he or she will be well cared for by a perfect stranger whose roles as teacher gives her access to the most intimate territory, the deepest emotional places. Their productive engagement with the teacher is essential for the child’s learning and growth, and for the parents’ peace of mind.” Please use this valuable time as an important check-in and know that your child’s teachers care deeply about them and know them well. I look forward to a great set of conferences.
A couple of reminders for you for the coming weeks. Tomorrow, November 1st, is a half day for students, so please plan to pick up your student at 12:15 pm before conferences begin. Friday and Monday are also dedicated to conferences.
With the change in season, as evidenced by this week’s wet, wintery weather, we are beginning a new sports season on Monday, November 12th. As in the fall, if your son or daughter is not playing sports this winter but would like to be part of Homework Club, please email Taryn Steil at email@example.com to sign your child up to be part of the Homework Club. They can sign up to be part of the Homework Club as many days as they would like from Monday to Thursday from 3 until 4:30 pm. Ted has done a fantastic job with that group this fall, and with his coaching basketball this winter, Anna, Grace, and Kelly will be taking over the Homework Club this winter and will be great supports for your children. If you are interested, please sign-up with Taryn by email by this coming Tuesday, November 6th.
Additionally, a new trimester begins directly after Winter Break, which means a new set of Skills Class offerings for your children. While some students are signed up for Skills Classes that require a multi-trimester commitment (e.g: Constitutional Law, Science Fair), others will have the opportunity to switch. Below, you’ll find all of the descriptions for the offerings. Teachers will speak about these at an assembly next Wednesday, but you may want to preview these with your child before that day. We’ll ask students to sign up next week.
Progress Monitoring (6th/7th/8th) - This is a class for students who need to update their DPS IEP. We will need a minimum of 6 weeks for PM data to provide before the IEP can be updated. There is a group and individual aspect to this class.
Spanish: Superstitions and Stories (6th/7th/8th) - Expand your Spanish skills through the study of superstitions and stories. Learn about culture and different beliefs around the world.
Cave of Creative Writing: (6th,7th,8th) - Each week we will be presented with an interesting, alluring, intriguing or eerie writing prompt and seeing where our creativity and imagination take us. Some of the prompts will be images; some will be words and riddles, but your challenge will be to turn your inspirations into entertaining, well-written stories to enthrall us! Join this class if you enjoy writing or would like to expand your creative writing skills. This class will also help to develop your self-confidence as a writer because you will be reading your creations aloud to the class.
Science Fair (6th/7th/8th) - You will engage in research and application of the scientific method through the completion of a formal science fair project in an area of your choice. This is two-trimester skills class commitment (fall and winter) with the intention of competing in the Denver Metro Science Fair in February.
Mindful Minutes (6th/7th/8th) - This skills class will provide an introduction to meditation and yoga. Namaste!
The Joy of Literature: (6th/7th/8th) - We will read and discuss classic short stories and poetry, and will also learn about famous authors and historical time periods that are tied to the literature we read.
Student Council (6th/7th/8th) - Develop your leadership by organizing and carrying out school-wide activities and service projects. You will have the chance to help organize school spirit weeks, dances, concessions stands, service projects and more.
Spelling Bee (6th/7th/8th) – Are you interested in competing in the Stanley Spelling and earning an opportunity to compete in the Colorado State Spelling Bee next spring and potentially the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington D.C. broadcast on national television. If so, this is the Skills Class for you. We’ll be practicing for the Bee through a variety of word games and spelling strategies.
Advanced Geometry Track Prep (6th) - This is an advanced Algebra skill building class for 6th graders who would like to be doing the Advanced Geometry Track starting in the spring. Advanced Geometry is for students wishing to complete the high school level Geometry course by the end of 8th grade.
7th grade math support (7th) - 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 Math-Geometry - (7th) - 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.
8th Grade Challenge Math (8th) - This offering is for 8th grade students that would like to explore more challenging/abstract algebraic concepts.
Spanish acting (6th/7th/8th) - If you’d like to improve your improv skills while practicing Spanish, this is the skills class for you!
Costume Skills for The Little Mermaid (6th/7th/8th) - This is an offering for students who would like to help create and/or put together costumes for the 8th grade musical.
Word Games, Puzzles and Mysteries (6th/7th/8th) - Join this skills class if you enjoy tackling brain teasers, riddles, crossword puzzles and other games that are not only fun, but also help to develop a love and appreciation of language and, of course, higher-level problem-solving skills. You will work in teams to solve word and logic challenges, covering all matter of mystery and mayhem.
Wait, what! (6th/7th/8th) - In this skills class we will explore different science questions, read scientific articles from magazines, and have conversations about why things are the way they are. Some examples might be:
- Can we smell shapes?
- Everything is 99.99% empty space
- What does infinity even mean?
- Are dreams real?
- How does artificial intelligence work? (Will robots be smarter than me?)
Speech and Debate (6th/7th/8th) - Work on speech and debate skills through fun activities and formal presentations. We will prepare for a variety of speeches and will also complete a formal debate.
Cubes in Space (6th/7th/8th) - This skills class will prepare kids for a “global competition...for students 11-18 years of age to design and propose experiments to launch into space or a near space environment on a NASA sounding rocket and zero-pressure scientific balloon.”
Comic and Graphic Novel Making (6th/7th/8th) Spend a trimester working to create your own comic book or graphic novel story using a combination of traditional and digital tools.
Decimal Skills Class (6th) - Students who are chosen to do this Skills class will receive extra math support.
Forge book club (6th) - This skills class will read Forge, the sequel to 6th grade humanities novel, Chains.
7th grade math extensions (7th) - This is an offering for students who would like to dig into some challenging math concepts that will push your thinking and go beyond our 7th grade math curriculum
7th Grade Chat Room (7th) - This skills class is for students who are interested in learning skills for handling sticky situations and other issues and ideas students bring to class.
Constitutional Law 101 (7th) - 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. Support may also be provided for the paper due after Thanksgiving. This is required if you have are interested in being a member of the travel team in 8th grade.
Constitutional Law Travel Team (8th) - Constitutional Law Students who participated in the 7th grade skills class last year will begin an intensive study building of that knowledge in preparation for the National Competition in Washington, DC.
8th Grade Math Support (8th) - This offering is for 8th grade students that would like extra support in learning the 8th grade curriculum and for students needing support in their independent Aleks learning.
Finally, as we head toward conferences, I wanted to provide an update of the wonderful things that have been happening in classes in recent weeks.
In 6th grade, students are winding down their first trimester of middle school. Julie’s Humanities students have recently finished reading Chains and will begin their final project for the trimester, a simulation debate of patriots and loyalists. In science, students too are finishing up their modeling round for seasons, and next week, they will be constructing 3-d models for eclipses, seasons, and lunar phases. In math, students are concluding an algebra unit with an open-ended assessment that will help them demonstrate what they know and check their understanding against their learning goals. In Spanish, students are continuing to work with the verbs tener, ser, querer, haber, estar, and poder, and they recently discussed a silent film. In the Learning Center, students are working on their organization and study skills and working on how they explain their thinking. Finally, Laura’s drama students are preparing for the upcoming Shakespeare shows on November 14th, and they are working on flow, pacing, and timing. I can’t wait to watch them in action!
Seventh graders are making great progress as well. In Language Arts, students are teaching each other the parts of speech and will be reading a wonderful short story today, The Monkey’s Paw, that is apt for Halloween. They will also begin diving into their book club essays soon. Science students have begun their study of chemistry and are talking about what atoms are made up of through station work. They’ll be introduced to the Periodic Table upcoming. In Social Studies, students are beginning to look at the Syrian refugee crisis and are building background knowledge for an upcoming paper about the United States and refugees. Math students are wrapping up a song lyric investigation, and in Spanish, students are reading and learning about the Day of the Dead. Drumming students with Koffi are doing final work with more complex beats, and it’s impressive how far they’ve come. Finally, in the Learning Center, students have working on previewing upcoming science vocabulary and are working on making the connection between their math understandings of integers and of the science work of electrons and protons.
Our 8th graders are in the midst of a busy time of year as well. With shadow days and the Arts festival, there’s been a lot on the plate of our school’s student leaders, but they continue to set a great tone for our middle school. After the Arts festival, students have moved on to auditioning for the winter musical, and some are jumping into creating two-minute documentaries. In Language Arts, students are wrapping up The Power of One with David, and they will soon be engaging with a final essay that challenges them to synthesize and analyze the text in a meaningful way. Ted’s math students have recently visited a number of local businesses in relation to their own math business project, and after conferences, they’ll be working on functions and graphing. In Social Studies, Mike’s students are learning about Weimar Germany and are preparing to write a speech to campaign for the presidency in 1932. In Spanish, the Day of the Dead is a central topic of discussion, and students are creating a building model of a traditional altar as part of their work. Additionally, students in the Learning Center have been previewing and reviewing important concepts and vocabulary in math, science, and language arts. They are also making connections with this vocabulary and are discussing ways to incorporate it into their work.
Across all grade levels, Donna has the students engaging with yoga and will soon be jumping into teaching the game of vortex and then a basketball unit in P.E. Speaking of basketball and multi-sport, winter sports start on Monday, November 12th, and details about practice and game schedules will be coming soon. Congratulations to all the fall Bulldog sports teams! It has been an amazing season for our student-athletes.
Most of all, thank you to all of you for your continued support. I am continually grateful to be part of this community and thank you for your partnership in supporting your children. Best wishes for a Happy Halloween and a great conference, and I look forward to crossing paths with all of you soon!
Halloween and Conferences AheadPosted by Greg Chalfin on 10/25/2018
Hope you’re having a good week, and all is well! Halloween is upon us, and I’m excited to experience my first Halloween Parade at Stanley next week. I’ve heard amazing things about what is in store and look forward to seeing all the wonderful costumes from Kindergarten through 8th grade on Wednesday!
A couple of reminders for you where you can be of help with as we head toward Halloween. As your children choose costumes, please be sure that they choose costumes that are inclusive to others and are not group costumes that are exclusive to certain groups. Please also be sure your children are not wearing costumes that could be considered cultural appropriation. It goes without saying that the reason your child is dressing up as someone from another culture should not be “because it is funny” to do so. Additionally, it is helpful to remind your children that their costumes need to be sensitive to the fact that we have younger students on campus who can be easily scared. Homeroom teachers have been speaking about this with your children in homeroom during this week, and thank you for your help and support in helping us have a fun Halloween here at Stanley!
We are looking forward to Conferences next week as well, and Taryn will be sending out your conference time to you by email tomorrow morning. I’ll say more about conferences next week in a longer update, but I look forward to seeing your children lead these conferences. I know students and faculty alike are working hard to prepare for this important part of our program.
Finally, for 7th grade parents, please join me and Art from 8:15-9:15 am on Tuesday, Oct. 30 in Taryn’s office for a 7th grade parent coffee. We look forward to this informal gathering and to chatting with you about your children and the wonderfully messy experience of parenting a 7th grader.
As always, thank you for all your support, and best wishes for a great weekend and Happy Halloween! Look forward to seeing you all soon!
All the best,
Observations on Stanley's Educational Environment (and Updates)Posted by Greg Chalfin on 10/17/2018
Happy Fall, and hope you’re having a great week! Fall is certainly upon us now after our first snow last weekend, and students are working hard as we’re in the midst of the core academic stretch of the first trimester. As I’ve observed classes, I’ve seen wonderful engagement with a wide range of labs, discussions, and activities, and I’m reminded of one of my favorite quotations in education. In The Students are Watching: Schools and the Moral Contract by Theodore R. Sizer and Nancy Faust Sizer, the authors write, “To find the core of a school, don’t look at its rulebook or even its mission statement. Look at the way the people in it spend their time – how they relate to each other, how they tangle with ideas. Look for the contradictions between words and practice, with the fewer the better.”
I was drawn to Stanley by the warmth of the people, the educational philosophy it ascribes to, and the school it is and wishes to become. What I have found in my first two months here is an educational environment that is living out its mission and is open to growth. Like your children, the faculty have modeled and embodied a growth mindset, a belief that their practice and this place can continually improve. It speaks to a wonderfully healthy school, and I am grateful to be working with such a talented faculty. Your children should be too.
If you haven’t had the chance, please do keep up to date on all that’s happening in middle school through our Stanley middle school blog, “Learn, Do, Become.” You can find it linked here. From our first middle school dance last Friday to service learning trips to classroom work, there are great pictures that will help you keep a pulse of all the amazing things happening for your children here.
Additionally, below, you’ll find an update about what’s happening across respective grade levels in the middle school. It’s hard to believe that Halloween is in just two short weeks, and fall conferences will begin directly after that on the afternoon of Thursday, November 1 and all day on Friday, November 2 and Monday, November 5. For your reference, Taryn will be sending out the conference schedule at the start of that week on October 29th.
In 8th grade, students have been thinking about their transition to high school, while also staying present and making the most of their 8th grade year. Much of the 8th grade work has been building on previous units and lessons. In Spanish, students will be beginning a project about cities in Spain, building on their vocabulary study from the previous unit. In Language Arts, students have continued reading and discussing the Power of One and are focusing on appreciating the power of nature and the theme of coming of age in developing one’s sense of self. They’ll also be moving into discussing clausal structures, focusing on independent and dependent clauses. Social Studies, too, has built on previous work and is starting a museum panel project for World War I, in which students focus on any aspect of the war that they have not yet studied as part of an independent research project. Ted’s math students are finishing up a business project that relates to the previously discussed topics of percent and ratio, and I look forward to hearing more about what businesses the students have decided to start. And in science, students are continuing to work with the concepts of diffusion and osmosis through inquiry and exploration. A lab that uses my favorite candy, gummy bears, has been the vehicle through which students have engaged this work. Finally, 8th grade arts students with Laura, Jill, Jairo, and Angie are preparing for the 8th grade arts showcase next Thursday night and Friday morning. I hope to see you all there. I know it will be a great event!
In 7th grade, major projects and discussions are in full swing. Spanish students are presenting their cultural identity projects this week and will begin reading Tumba toward exploring aspects of Mexican culture. In math, Art is wrapping up a unit on adding and subtracting integers, and students will begin a project next week in which they examine the rate at which lyrics are delivered in songs. In Language Arts, students are continuing their book club discussions and are writing and editing their character sketches. They’ll begin diving into learning more about sentence structure through understanding parts of speech. In science, students are looking into issues related to water and water usage and will be making infographics to relay their understanding. Koffi’s drumming students are building on prior knowledge toward a polyrhythmic beat of great complexity. Finally, in Social Studies, students are preparing for a roundtable discussion about Arizona’s SB-1070 law regarding undocumented immigrants in concert with their study of immigration.
In 6th grade, students have made an incredibly smooth transition into middle school as a class. Math students have used Nat’s videos at home toward building skills that work on modeling relationships with equations and move into the process of solving equations with opposite operations. Kelly’s science students have begun to learn about eclipses and will soon be doing a simulation that explores seasons. In humanities, Julie’s class has continued its work with the novel Chains, and they are focusing on literary devices like inference, metaphor, and symbolism in their work. In Chat Room, students are sharing the letters they wrote to express gratitude and appreciation for someone whose character has positively impacted their lives. From this, students will be transitioning into a unit about communication styles. In Drama, students have their lines memorized and are breaking down scenes in-depth as they prepare for the Shakespeare shows in a few short weeks. Finally, in Spanish, Molly’s students are creating stories using the “Super 7” verbs, and it’s led to quite a creative array of stories. One involves a dinosaur giving a hamburger to an alebrije. Another has an alebrije falling in love, and a third involves a quest to find a home. Ask your child to re-tell the story in Spanish!
In the learning center, 8th grade students have been working on breaking up longer projects into more manageable chunks while 7th grade students have been working on supplementing their work in math, in addition to working on discussion and research protocols. Finally, 6th grade students have been engaging with improving their reading comprehension with Chains and reviewing both their equations in math and their vocabulary about eclipses in science. And across grade levels, Donna has students wrapping up volleyball and will be starting units on four square and fencing soon. The fall volleyball, soccer, and cross country seasons for Bulldog athletics are also winding down, and there’s been great progress and development for all the teams. I’ve been excited by the healthy sense of competition and sportsmanship our student-athletes have demonstrated in playing other schools.
Most of all, I want to reiterate how impressed I have been with our middle schoolers as the oldest student leaders in the community. We had our first family groups this week, and it was a wonderful opportunity to see our students help their younger peers and get to know them. They are continuing to set a wonderfully positive tone for our school. As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out if I can be of any help or guidance, and thank you for all you’re doing to partner with us here at school. Look forward to crossing paths with all of you soon, and have a great week!
Middle School Dance Ahead!Posted by Greg Chalfin on 10/11/2018
Hope you’re well and had a relaxing, rejuvenating Fall Break! Coming back to school yesterday, I saw students picking up right where they left off in their energy, enthusiasm, and care for one another. I’m so grateful to be at a place with such genuine intellectual curiosity and engagement.
As you know, this week is a short one with Fall Break and tomorrow’s half day Friday. As was the case two weeks ago, students are dismissed at 12:15 pm with a modified academic schedule in the morning. Please plan to pick up your child then from Rampart Way, and please remind them that if they are planning to go to the Lowry Town Center with their friends, they should bring their backpacks with them and get picked up from there. As I told your children at assembly yesterday, their behavior at the Town Center was so good two weeks ago that I actually had store managers tell me and some faculty who stopped in the Town Center how great your children were. When I walked through, I saw just that, and I’m proud of the way your children represented themselves and our school. Please reiterate this message to them, and remind them to do the same tomorrow.
Tomorrow also marks our first middle school dance, which runs from 7-9 pm in the ballroom. Please be sure that you have arrangements to pick up your child from the dance then. I’m excited to see the students celebrate a great start to the year, and I’ve heard great conversations in homeroom of 7th and 8th graders supporting 6thgraders in preparing for their first dance and to make the event a fun, inclusive one for all. I hope your children attend and look forward to seeing them there. Your children may want to bring a couple of dollars to purchase snacks that are being sold by our Student Council.
Finally, I wanted to send a reminder of a few items for your calendar between now and Thanksgiving Break. The first of those is a Parent Coffee for 8th grade parents with me this coming Monday, October 15th from 8:15-9:15 am in Taryn’s office. Other events upcoming -- including the 8th-grade arts showcase, conferences, and Shakespeare Performances -- can be found on the Stanley calendars at www.stanleybps.org/calendar and on the Stanley British Primary mobile app...
October UpdatePosted by Greg Chalfin on 10/3/2018
Happy Wednesday, and hope you’re having a wonderful week! As I’ve had the chance to pop into classes over the past couple weeks, it’s been inspiring to see the active, engaging learning taking place. There’s a true sense of wonder and imagination in your children, and the positive energy, respectful exchange of ideas, and intellectual curiosity has been wonderful to see. What a positive, respectful, and productive start it has continued to be.
A well-deserved Fall Break awaits students and faculty alike, and I hope you and your families enjoy the four day weekend upcoming. When we return, much awaits your children, as we’ll continue our first ever Spirit Week, organized by our student council with Molly and Angelina’s guidance. This week, we’ve kicked off yesterday with a dress in the colors of the rainbow day in support of our newly formed Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA). Today is “Dress Like a Teacher Day”, and I saw more plaid shirts around campus than you might have ever imagined! Tomorrow is our day for sports attire and jerseys, as we are excited for “Rocktober” after the Rockies dramatic win last night. We’ll end the week on Friday with Pajama Day, and after Fall Break, students are invited to have a “Crazy Hair Day” on Wednesday and wear their Stanley gear next Thursday. I look forward to seeing your children show off their spirit, and you can find pictures of it all on the middle school blog here.
All of this comes before next Friday’s first middle school dance from 7-9 pm in the ballroom. In preparation for the dance, I wanted to send a couple of quick parenting tips and to ask for your support. Foremost, the middle school dance is a time where students may want to be exclusive and to socially divide. As we approach the dance, and Halloween at the end of the month, I appreciate your help in supporting your children to be inclusive and caring to all of their classmates. I’ll ask for your support in helping coach your child to not hold parties or events that exclude others. As I told your children at assembly this past week, Spirit Week and the dance are a time for our community to come together and to celebrate all of the amazing members of our school. Thank you for your help in conveying this message. It supports our themes of Respect, Inclusivity, Safety, and Kindness and the acronym RISK that Tim, the faculty, and I have been speaking about with students across the school all year.
As mentioned, classes are in full swing, and I love the learning and engagement your children have shown. In 6th grade, students have started to read the novel Chains, and it has allowed students to connect their study to work they’ve been doing about events that led up the American Revolutionary war. In this class and others, there’s been a number of “ah, ha” moments that have come from these curricular connections. Nat continues to help students in math represent rules and patterns algebraically, as they practice problem solving, and in science, Kelly is working with students to study moon phases, looking at exemplars of models in their study. In Spanish, Molly has students creating alebrijes (Mexican folk art structures) and writing paragraphs about their alebrijes’ personality toward an art walk exhibit upcoming. In Drama, Laura’s students are memorizing their lines, and they’ve begun to rehearse different scenes in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Finally, in Chat Room, students have been continuing to reflect on the character strengths and areas for growth, and they are doing so in thinking about how they express gratitude. Next week, they’ll also get some guidance in Chat Room from 8th graders in preparation for the dance.
In 7th grade, students continue to build on their previous work too. With Koffi in drumming, that means taking the rhythm “Agbaedza” and increasing the complexity of the beat, with different students taking on different parts of the work. In Spanish, Molly and Anna’s students are wrapping up a cultural identity project and will be taking a test to conclude their first unit soon. Kathy’s Language Arts students have been practicing annotating through an excerpt of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle and are also working on a creative character sketches. They will begin book clubs this Friday. Grace and Kelly’s science classes have continued with a chemistry unit and are talking about mixtures through various labs and activities. Moving forward, they’ll begin a discussion about water and access to it and will be tracking their own water usage. Mike’s Social Studies classes have been completing posters about immigration myths, and they will begin looking at undocumented immigrants in the news. Finally, Art’s math students have been working on adding and subtracting integers and the application of those skills toward word problems.
In 8th grade, students are working through a variety of different topics. In math, Ted and his students have continued their work with ratios and percents toward solving problems. In science, Grace’s students have started to wrap up their introduction to cells, and they’ll be building on their knowledge with a discussion of cell membranes and how substances travel. Social Studies has Mike wrapping up a discussion of the four tensions that led to World War 1. Students are currently working on an essay and are delving into the aftermath of the “Great War.” In Language Arts, David and his crew have reached the midpoint of the Power of One and are focusing on reflecting on negative experiences that shape our identity, in addition to discussions of stereotypes. In Spanish, Anna’s students wrapped up a unit about their dream houses, and they are beginning to talk about Latino communities within Denver, using vocabulary about cities to do so. Finally, in 8th grade arts, students working with Jairo, Jill, Angie and Laura continue to prepare for the Arts Showcase, which is just three weeks away. If you haven’t already, please mark your calendars for the evening of Thursday, October 25th from 6:30-8:30 pm and the morning of Friday, October 26th from 8:30-10 am in the ballroom to see the showcase of amazing arts work done by our 8th graders thus far this year.
In the Learning Center, students are working on annotating and reading strategies. In 6th grade, that has meant extensive work with Chains, the novel from Humanities. In 7th grade, students have begun work with Mic Note, an online annotation application. Eighth graders are working on developing organized writing and making sure they have a clear thesis tied to arguments.
Across the grade levels, Donna has students beginning a volleyball unit in P.E., and after school, Bulldog athletics teams continue to show great sportsmanship, teamwork, and resilience across volleyball, soccer, and cross country. It’s been fun to watch your children compete and improve, and thank you so much for all of your support at our home games in the gym and on the field. Any help you can provide to help us keep the spaces look clean and well-kept with picking up bottles and trash in the stands and on the sidelines is greatly appreciated. Thanks so much, and go Bulldogs!
Finally, I wanted to send one final reminder to sign-up for conferences by Tuesday, October 9th. You can sign up at the link here, and conference times are assigned in the order preferences are received. If you haven’t already, sign up as soon as you can, and if you have any questions about the process, please reach out to Taryn Steil, middle school coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you again for all of your support. I look forward to crossing paths with each of you soon and wish you and your families a relaxing, enjoyable fall break. Best wishes, and see you soon!
High Schools & TranscriptsPosted by Greg Chalfin on 10/2/2018
Hope you're having a great day and are excited for a wonderful upcoming Fall Break! I look forward to seeing all of you on Thursday night in the ballroom for our high school fair. It begins at 6:30 pm and runs until 8 pm, and we have more than 20 schools planning to attend. It's a great chance to see a lot of wonderful options for your children as they think about the next step in their educational journey.
Additionally, if you need to request a transcript for any schools your child may be applying to or for any reason, please contact Barb Lesnoski email@example.com, and she would be happy to help you.
6th-grade Winter TripPosted by Greg Chalfin on 10/2/2018
Hope you're having a great week and are looking forward to a wonderful Fall Break! I wanted to just a quick note for your calendars. For the 6th grade trip this year, we are excited to be heading to Snow Mountain Ranch in Granby, Colorado for a winter excursion from Thursday, February 7 through Friday, February 8. There will be more details to come as we get closer, but I wanted to let you know of this date. I know it will be a lot of fun and a great experiential learning opportunity for your children.
Dates for the 6th grade trip were previously scheduled for late November. If you have already ordered lunches for your child in Boonli for November, you may have had the dates of November 29-30, the previous dates for the 6th grade trip, blocked off from ordering. If so, you may want to go back in to order lunch for your child on those days. My apologies for any inconvenience with that process. The dates should be open on Boonli for you now.
Additionally, I wanted to pass along appreciation from the 6th grade team. They are so enjoying working with your children and had a wonderful time at last Friday’s field trip to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. You can see great pictures on our blog here.
Your children continue to be a joy to work with. Any support you can provide at home in helping them remember to have their iPad charged and ready for the day and to organize any class materials they might need (pens, pencils, calculator) would be greatly appreciated. We are already seeing growth in their executive functioning skills and are so grateful for your support.
Finally, thanks to those of you who were able to make it to this morning's 6th grade coffee. It was great to see all of you, and if you couldn't make it, no worries at all. I look forward to catching up with all of you soon, and don't hesitate to reach out if there's anything we can do to support your children moving forward. Have a great rest of the week, and best wishes for a restful Fall Break!
8th-grade Musical AuditionsPosted by Laura Gibson on 9/28/2018
Hi 8th Graders & Families!
Hope your year is going splendidly. We can't believe it's almost October...which means that Musical auditions for The Little Mermaid are not that far away.
We wanted to share the following dates with you to get on your calendars. If you can avoid scheduling High School shadow dates during this week that would be great.
- Monday October 29: normal Arts class time (11:40-12:35). We will introduce what the audition process looks like.
- Tuesday October 30: normal Arts class time (11:40-12:35). We will start more general auditions for all kids who are in the Musical.
- Thursday November 1: 12:15-2:30pm - Optional Extra Audition Time. For any kids who are interested in a medium/large role. This is a half-day because of conferences. Any interested 8th graders should bring a sack lunch to the ballroom. Also, please don't schedule your conference during this time.
Also, just to have in the back of your mind and on your calendar, the dress rehearsal/ performance dates are:
- February 21, 22: Dress Rehearsals from 12:15-3pm
- Sunday February 24: Hang the Set Day!
- Feb 27, 28 & March 4: Final Run-Throughs w/ Tech & Band.
- Tuesday March 5th: MORNING & EVENING SHOW
- Thursday March 7th: MORNING & EVENING SHOW
There are a large variety of parts in this show from eels, to seagulls, to crabs, to many many mermaids, to sailors, to French chefs galore. Lots of comedy, lots of singing, lots of variety. We are so excited for the process to begin!!!
Please reach out if you have any questions at all!
Laura, Jill, Angie, and Aya