New trimester, New tricks

Posted 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,