Conferences and Grade-level Updates

Posted by Greg Chalfin on 1/30/2019

Hope you’re having a great week, and all is well! With our heavy snow earlier this week, our campus has been transformed into a winter wonderland, and it is a beautiful, special place to be. It’s been a busy January here in Stanley’s middle school, and please check out updates at our blog here.


February, too, will be a whirlwind month with the end of winter sports, the beginning of spring sports, our upcoming 6th grade trip next week, ERB testing, winter conferences, and the end of the second trimester all happening in the next four weeks! I’ve been in and out of classrooms, and I am ecstatic about the wonderful learning happening and the amazing ways in which our community has come together this year. Our Student Council has even organized a dance contest between faculty and students for our assembly next week. I can’t wait to see what everyone has in store!


I wanted to provide a couple of notes for you as we move into February. First, you should have recently received an email from Taryn asking you to sign-up for conferences. If you have not yet done so, please do so through this link as soon as possible. Thank you in advance, and you should receive your conference assignment by Friday, Feb. 15th. 


Additionally, I wanted to provide some information regarding the ERB testing that will take place on the mornings of February 21st and 22nd. While Stanley does not emphasize standardized testing, we take the ERB tests starting in middle school because we believe it is valuable for students to have the experience of sitting and taking longer standardized tests to help prepare for testing experiences they may see in the future. It is important to note that ERB tests are not the focus of our curriculum or our work with students; however, the information provides a snapshot of an individual’s progress over time. Given that, it’s important to neither overreact or undervalue the scores that your child receives, and as with all aspects of their schooling, please encourage your children to do their best on these standardized assessments, getting a good night’s sleep before the tests and eating a healthy breakfast. Additionally, the ERB test provides us data about how Stanley students compare with those students at other independent schools. Stanley seeks to admit all types of learners to reflect the world around us. We expect that our students evenly distribute through the independent school bell curve, and in years past, the data shows that has occurred.


Finally, I wanted to provide you with some curriculum updates as we head into the final four weeks of the trimester. In 6th grade, students are excited for their trip to Snow Mountain Ranch next week. Before departing, students are diving deep into their studies. In Kelly's science class, that has meant discussions of volcanoes and tsunamis before students make their own documentaries about a natural disaster. In Humanities, students are fully engaged with their work with the verse novel Loving vs. Virginia, and they are examining the features of this genre while analyzing the text. I have seen some incredibly powerful discussions and text-to-text, text-to-self, and text-to-world connections occurring. In math, Nat's students are wrapping up their decimal computation lessons, and they are starting to apply that work to the concepts of budgeting for families, learning about income, expenses and taxes. In Chat Room, Stephanie's students are role playing how to advocate for themselves with their friends. In Visual Arts, Jairo’s students are wrapping up portraits of people chosen by students, including celebrities, YouTubers, athletes, and their own friends. Upcoming, they’ll be working on a contrast project in which they create scenery of habitats inside the outline of an animal. In Spanish, Molly's students wrapped up a unit on Cuba recently and continue to work on reading comprehension and practice with writing. Finally, in the Learning Center, students continue to work on time management, in addition to receiving support with upcoming assessments in science and with character analysis in Loving vs. Virginia, their novel for humanities.


In 7th grade, Mike’s social studies students are working with the end of the Reconstruction period and examining the growth of hate groups during that period. In the Learning Center, students have been making connections between that work and the discussion of the setting of To Kill a Mockingbird, the current novel in Language Arts. In that class, students are also exploring the concept of identity and thinking about how society affects our identities. Additionally, students have been practicing their annotation skills through the main character, Scout. In Drama, students are incorporating tech elements, including costumes and props, as they tighten up their shows upcoming on Wednesday, February 13th. We look forward to the shows! In math, Art’s students are concluding an algebra unit with an assessment at the end of this week and will be transitioning into a Geometry unit. They will also continue their tracking of the stock market in working on a report next week. In Spanish, students continue to enhance their vocabulary through a movie talk about the film “A Mouse for Sale” and by learning new verbs. Finally, in science, students are wrapping up projects and presentations about sound and light before moving into physics soon.


In 8th grade, Mike’s social studies class will be studying the various stages of the Holocaust. This is heavy content, so you may want or need to help your students process this work. Similarly, in Language Arts, David’s students have reached the final week of Elie Wiesel’s Night, and they are working on choosing from seven activities to represent their learning, including options for creating a graphic novel or representing their learning through poetry. Students have been planning for this assignment in the Learning Center and are also doing a good bit of review of math concepts there. Upcoming, in Language Arts, students will be delving into book clubs, reading a second choice book in small groups about the Holocaust. In the 8th grade musical, students are continuing with scene work to practice for the show, and sets are coming together. Anna’s Spanish students have also been practicing their acting and are writing a story as a class called “A Camping Adventure.” In math, Ted’s students have been applying point-slope formula to word problems and studying the relationship between parallel and perpendicular lines. Finally, Grace’s science students recently completed a project about the journey of a red blood cell, and they will be engaging with a dissection tomorrow before an upcoming assessment about the circulatory system.


In the athletics arena, Donna’s 8th graders are continuing their student teaching unit while 6th and 7th grade P.E. has been playing wall ball and floor hockey. Winter sports wrap-up next week as well, and Bulldog basketball teams have had amazing seasons. I’m so proud of our teams for the sportsmanship and team play they have shown. We’re looking forward to a great spring sports season, which begins on Monday, February 25.


Thank you for a wonderful start back to the school year and to 2019, and all of us in the middle school look forward to an amazing February! Have a great day, and look forward to crossing paths with all of you soon!