Students Love New Skills Classes

Posted by Greg Chalfin on 2/14/2019

Happy Valentine’s Day! Hope you’re well and are having a wonderful week before our upcoming Winter Weekend. I hope you and your families are able to enjoy some relaxing time together.


It’s been a wonderfully busy and fun stretch here in Stanley’s middle school. Yesterday's 7th grade drama showcase was a hilarious and amazing event, and I know our 8th graders are looking forward to tomorrow’s 8th grade vs. faculty basketball game. Last week’s snow day disrupted the departure for our 6th grade trip to Snow Mountain Ranch, but I know the students and faculty alike are excited to head there in a few short weeks.


Below, you’ll find a list of Skills Class offerings for the Spring Trimester, which begins on Monday, March 4th. Students will be selecting their Skills Classes for the spring during homeroom on Wednesday, February 20th, so please review these offerings with your students before then, so they can make their selections in homeroom next week.


Additionally, before the list of Skills Class offerings, I wanted to provide some curriculum updates about the amazing learning and incredible support your students are receiving from faculty. I’ve been in and out of classrooms, and it’s been a joy to see the engagement in classes. I’m very proud of your children for the way they continue to engage and bring our community together.


In 6th grade, Nat’s math students have been working on a family budgeting project, incorporating skills related to work with percentages and proportions. Molly’s Spanish students are finishing up the reading of the book Escape Cubano and will be diving into a comic strip project soon. Julie’s


Humanities students are starting an essay project due next week that will have students examine the features of a verse novel. In science, Kelly’s students are working on drafts of a research project about various tectonic events, including earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanoes. Jairo’s visual art students are continuing their work on their animal outline contrast project, learning about the different densities of different mediums, such as water colors and acrylic paints. In the Learning Center, Angelina has been helping students review writing strategies for their work in Humanities and providing support with math. Finally, in Chat Room, Stephanie has the 6th graders continuing to role play self-advocacy situations and begin to talk about behavior and comments that end in the comment, “I’m just kidding.” It’s been a wonderful stretch of work for the 6th grade, and the faculty and I see such great strides being made. 


In 7th grade, Art’s math students are working on a stock market report and will soon transition into a geometry unit. Molly and Anna’s Spanish students recently finished acting out another story, and they are discussing “la orchestra de basura,” a program in Paraguay that creates instruments out of recycled materials and garbage. In science, Grace and Kelly’s students are digging into Newton’s three laws as they engage with the study of physics. Mike’s Social Studies students are finishing investigations of life under Jim Crow and will do a small writing project in the coming days. In Language Arts, Kathy’s students are talking about the universe of obligation and unwritten rules in society, thinking about how they play out in their own personal lives and those of the characters of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. They will do a bit of ERB test prep over the next few days as well. In the Learning Center, Susan’s students have been working on both comprehension and the examination of symbolism in To Kill a Mockingbird and have started work on self-evaluations. Finally, Laura’s Drama students have been busily working toward last night’s awesome showcase and look forward to wrapping up the trimester strong.


Finally, in 8th grade, Ted’s math students are working on systems of equations using the elimination method, which is a precursor to solving these types of equations with real-world problems. In Spanish, Anna’s students have had an introduction to learning the past tense through fairy tales, including a class version of “The 3 Little Pigs.” In Science, Grace’s students took a test earlier this week and will begin study of the nervous system and the brain, looking at development at different stages as well as the effects of drugs and alcohol on the brain. In the Learning Center, Brittany’s students have been creating a visual representation for systems of equations and have also been breaking up critical thinking strategies for a recent science assessment. Mike’s Social Studies students have finished their study of the Holocaust and are looking at justice after the Holocaust. In Language Arts, David’s students have been working on a book club discussion that has been student-driven, and they are also in the final stages of their creative writing project. Students will be sharing their recent projects on Night at upcoming conferences. Finally, the musical is coming along swimmingly (pun intended with the Little Mermaid!), and we look forward to the show in early March.


The winter sports season has concluded, and Spring Sports begin on Monday, February 25th. Also in the athletics arena, Donna’s P.E. students continue to be active and have a ton of fun playing floor hockey. They will start a badminton unit soon. Additionally, nearly every 8th grader has taught a lesson in P.E., helping them develop their voices and teaching skills.


All of this great academic work is in addition to a host of wonderful activities in homeroom, Grade Level, and Skills Classes. As mentioned, those Skills Class offerings will be changing soon, and below, you’ll find a list of the Tuesday and Thursday offerings. Please review these with your child before next Wednesday, so they can select then.



Ashes book club (6th grade): Read, discuss, and participate in activities for the third and final book in the Chains series.

Advanced Geometry Track Prep (6th grade): This is an advanced Algebra skill building class for 6th graders who took the skills class in the winter and want to continue.  Advanced Geometry is for students wishing to complete the high school level Geometry course by the end of 8th grade.

Advanced Math-Geometry skills class. (7th grade): This offering is for 7th grade students who would like to continue their study of geometry that was initiated in their sixth grade year. Participants will receive homework and assessments that will mirror those of a regular math class.

7th grade math support (7th grade): Receive an extra day of math support that will help with the 7th grade content. We will preview upcoming material as well as look back and review parts of the curriculum that have been challenging.

Advanced Spanish Conversation: Telenovelas (7th and 8th grade): Students will hone their Spanish skills through learning from Spanish soap operas.

8th grade challenge math (8th grade): The third trimester will explore graphing non-linear equations with a particular emphasis on parabolas.

Infographics (all grades): This skills class is a deep dive into the analysis and creation of data-based infographics.

Current Events (all grades): Every week we will read or view a current events article or video. We will then discuss and write responses to the topic and sometimes have a debate too, if it’s a topic with many perspectives. Topics of focus will range from the serious, to the exciting, to the future… all scopes of investigation. This skills class is intended to be challenging and dynamic. If you enjoy challenging yourself to reading, writing and discussing exciting events in your world, we look forward to seeing you in the class!

Project Runway: Sustainability Challenge (all grades):  Students will learn about sustainability and then participate in a fashion design challenge using recycled materials only.

Student Council (all grades): Students will help organize school wide events (Cave Shows, Arts Fest, Dances, etc.) and develop their leadership skills.

Stop and Smell the Flowers (all grades): Each day we will go for a walk around the Stanley neighborhood and complete an activity (poetry, drawing, photography, reading, painting)

Model UN (all grades): Students will get an introductory taste of what it’s like to participate in a Model United Nations conference. Students will have the opportunity represent a wide variety of countries to solve world problems.

Organization and Planning Skills Bootcamp (all grades): If you feel like you need some support in breaking down assignments, avoiding procrastination, or time to regularly clean out your backpack and stay organized, this is for you. This is not a study hall, but a focus on developing more efficient systems to get things done.



3d printing (6th grade): This course will allow for an exploration into the world of 3-D printing through various projects and activities.

Go Set a Watchman Book Club (7th and 8th only): Read and discuss the controversial publication of Harper Lee’s 2nd book. Compare and contrast it to her loved 1st novel (To Kill a Mockingbird).

8th grade math support (8th grade): Utilize extra time during the week to correct quizzes, get help on assignments and Aleks.

KIVA (all grades): Learn about poverty and microlending while developing your own fundraising project to fund a loan to a small business owner in a developing country

Book Club in the Library (all grades): Come participate in a book club in the library about books of your choosing.

Ukulele (all grades): Come learn 4-5 songs during the trimester as well about basic chords/music theory.

The Secret Files of Professor L. Otto Funn (all grades): Come learn through a book of different science activities. Students will choose which activities they want to complete from the book, and we will do a different one each week.

Sports Analytics (all grades): How do we know which player is more impactful to their team? How can we learn about the best strategies for teams through a mathematical lens? Learn about the basic of sports analytics and how sports teams are using math and statistics to make better decisions for their teams.

Extra time in the LC (all grades): Students who need extra time/support on assignments but do not utilize the Learning Center can work in a small group environment for the skills they need.

Economics through Settlers of Catan (all grades): Learn about some of the basic principles of economics and see how they apply to the board game Settlers of Catan.

Compass Creations (all grades): Come explore the mathematical art world of “Compass Creations”. See how this mathematical tool, typically used for creating circles, has an incredibly cool artistic design side to it. No math skills are necessary but patience and creativity will be helpful traits.

The Chess and Checkers skills club (all grades): If you enjoy the joy and challenge of chess and checkers, come and join us for an afternoon of good old board battle. The tone? Competitive, yet in a kind and friendly environment! Please be sure you know the BASICS of the games of chess and checkers if you are interested in joining. We are looking for players of ALL skill levels - absolute beginners, intermediate or advanced - all welcome!

Constitutional Law: Those students who are traveling to Washington D.C. in May should plan to continue into the Spring.


Finally, a couple of notes for your calendar. Conferences are next Thursday and Friday afternoon and all day on Friday, March 1st. If you haven’t already, you should receive an email from Taryn by the end of the day tomorrow with your conference time. Additionally, please mark your calendar for our next Learning Resource affinity group meeting from 8:30-9:30 am on Thursday, March 14th. The group will be watching Debbie Reber’s TEDx talk “Why the future will be differently wired…” and discussing. If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Anne Schreiber or Julie Dani.


Thank you for all of your support! Stanley’s community continues to amaze me every day, and I am grateful to be working with you and your children. Have a great long weekend, and I look forward to crossing paths soon!