18 Dec

As I walk the halls

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Our Grade 6 students turned into Egyptians earlier this week as they created their vignettes about the various cultural aspects of ancient Egypt and brought the dioramas to life for audiences of parents, fellow middle school students and our lower school friends. It’s interesting to think about the skills that our young researchers employed in order to get to the final presentations. Solving research problems required them to work with the unknown.  Critical thinking, creativity, communication, organization, judgment and persistence are all skills that our students needed to use to make the leap from gaining knowledge from others to creating one’s own living diorama. These skills will serve our students well throughout their school careers and throughout their job careers; they are gaining experiences in skills that encompass every level of research in every discipline. Along the way, we want to motivate our students to solve problems and make discoveries, and the ability to conduct solid research is an important key.

December has been a busy month for the 6th grade students.  Mrs. Stott has been spending time in the classroom with Mrs. Macone and the students as she will be taking over as the 6th grade English teacher when Mrs. Macone goes on maternity leave in January.  The students have been working on their culminating projects for The Giver.  After completing the book, the entire grade watched the movie in Schenck Auditorium.  They compared the two versions and then wrote about which one they preferred, including the use of technology, the differences in community and what they thought of the adaptation.  The students were then able to choose from a variety of creative projects regarding the novel.  They did an incredible job of writing new endings to the story, drawing or creating images from the story or making iMovies of various scenes.  Students enjoyed each other’s work as they shared projects with their classmates.

In 7th grade, Mr. Akula and Mr. Schade’s historians have begun their research-based projects on China.  After deciding on a specific topic to explore, the students have begun crafting their research questions and searching for data to support their findings.  They will be working in their math classes to create graphs based on the data.  Students will be writing newspaper articles in order to share their information that will include the multiple sources they have utilized as well as the graphs that they create on their iPads.  In addition, students will share information based on surveys they created in Google Forms that relate to their research topics.

Our 8th grade students are studying the roots of the American Revolution. A recent field trip took them to the Metropolitan Museum of Art where students chose every-day artifacts. These artifacts then acted as an inspiration for a historical fiction story where students placed their character in an event of historic significance. By the end of this week, the grade will be finishing up with the Declaration of Independence and putting the finishing touches on their found poems (which words in the Declaration of Independence do you value and how can you rearrange them into a poem).

Last week was National Computer Science Education Week. Did you know…

  • Only 1 in 4 schools in the United States teach Computer Science? (By the way, D-E offers 2 Physical Computing courses in the Middle School and Programming I and II, Advanced Topics in Computer Science, AP Computer Science, Non-linear Dynamics, and an array of independent studies in our Upper School)
  • 67% of all new STEM jobs are in Computing but only 8% of STEM Graduates are in Computer Science

The folks at Code.org are out to change those statistics, and we are too! All last week in the library, we set up computer stations for the HOUR OF CODE and invited students to try one of the challenges at https://code.org/. Give it a try!

Oh my goodness, the MS Winter Arts Festival concert on Sunday hit a new high!  The many strengths and talents of our students continually amaze me, and Sunday was a glorious showcase of sound, visuals, performance, and teamwork. It began in Hajjar Auditorium with the string orchestra and the wind ensemble each playing beautifully. Then the African Drummers called and answered and danced the social dance of the Ewe people of Southeastern Ghana. They even got us up dancing! After a short break, the 6th grade choruses, the 7th & 8th grade chorus, Show Choir and all three 8th grade Handbells classes put on a unique thematic rendition of Peter Pan in Schenck.  When I read the credits, I discovered that Mr. Kacmar and Mr. Lloyd arranged all the music; what a labor of love! And finally, pieces of student artwork graced the halls of Klein.

During Tuesday’s Activity Period, we held our own Middle School Art Festival to help highlight the amazing artistic talents of our youngsters. The students in the Middle School Arts Council hosted the event and served as docents as the other MS students toured and viewed the Animal drawings, Masks and eighth grade Scratchboard and Landmark Illustration projects.  Finishing up with cookies and juice made for an enjoyable event!

Today promises to be filled with a lovely combination of academics and activities that bring closure to this first part of the school year.  Along with the usual array of classes, we’ve worked in a few special experiences for students and faculty alike. The “Jazz Rock” concert is one of our favorite assemblies of the year in that it captures the unique spirit that is D-E. In the early afternoon, our 8’s gather in Hajjar for a celebration of their Spoken Word poetry unit they completed in Drama this semester. Over the past four weeks, each student was actively engaged in the workshop approach as he/she wrote, refined, and performed his or her own Spoken Word poem. Several students will perform their poetry for their classmates; the trust and respect they show each other is quite touching.  And our last period of the day is devoted to Minute to Win It, a participatory friendly competition among the three grades. Who will win bragging rights to this year’s Golden Bulldog?!

As we head off to our Winter Break, I hope each of you has an opportunity to engage in experiences that will make for great family stories and memories.

Hug your child, and Go Bulldogs!

Kathy Christoph

17 Dec

Coming Soon

Wellness Week!   If your family is like mine, you tend to overeat and under-exercise over the Winter Break. To help re-focus us on positive healthy lifestyles, our Health & Wellness Department is organizing our first Wellness Week to be held from January 4-8.  Friendly fitness competitions such as “Who will win the Plank Contest?” will test the faculty and students each day. HomeBase activities will include setting Resolution Goals about Fitness and Wellness. Our Assembly that Thursday will feature nationally renowned Allan Lokos who will share mindfulness strategies and tips with everyone.  Even our dining hall is joining in with a day or two of super healthy menus and our library where they will highlight books about wellness and fitness.

15 Dec

A Message for 6th Grade Parents: January 2016 Identity Project

Dear Parents:

This January, the 6th grade will take part in our yearly interdisciplinary unit called “The Identity Project.” In this unit, students will begin to explore questions of identity and diversity through six subjects — math, science, social studies, English, art, and silent reading. We are excited to be “kicking off” the unit with some special shared activities on Monday, January 4th. The guiding question we will be asking the students throughout the unit is “Who Are You?” This is a big question, and each subject will look at it in a different way.

In math 6, the students will look at “mean and median” in data collection. In hyper 6, each student will be exploring his or her identity as a mathematician through a variety of activities. In science, the students will develop an understanding of genetics and track some of their own genetic traits. During social studies, students will research and report on a current event in the country or region of the world from which the student’s family comes. In English class, students will compose a “Where I’m From” poem with an accompanying video created in iMovie. During art class, students will create self portraits and collect them into a Diversity Quilt. Finally, during silent reading, the students will create their reading life “puppets:” paper cut-outs decorated to describe who they are as readers.

We cordially invite you join us on February 4th at 8:10am for our Identity Assembly, in which the 6th graders will present their work to the middle school and any parents in attendance. Afterwards, with your help, we will celebrate with an International Food Festival. This is where you come in! We would love to have you bring in a dish that celebrates your family’s cultural heritage. This can be a family recipe or sample of a cultural dish. Stay tuned for more information.

If you have any questions about the unit or insights you’d like to share about how your child may experience the topic, please feel free to contact Mr. Larrowe or Ms. Urbanowski.
Sincerely,
The 6th Grade Team

07 Dec

From Kathy Christoph

Dec. 7, 2015

Folks,

It’s been such an exciting time here in the Middle School these past several weeks. The school days have been filled with all sorts of learning activities, classroom lessons, projects, field trips, special presentations and more.  It sure looks like your children are enjoying their days; many of them come running in every morning!

One of the most important activities we’ve undertaken recently has been the Comment Reflection cycle that took place when the children received their written comments. Every student engaged in some form of self-reflection, followed by a one-on-one conversation with his/her HomeBase advisor. As children reflect on such questions as, “Why am I doing well in these classes?” and “Did any teachers refer to you as a diligent student?”, they are learning to critically review the processes of their own learning and behaviors.  By devising specific steps to improve and setting goals, they understand they have the ability to transform and own their own learning. Pretty good stuff!

Winter Clubs are up and running, and what a wonderful array of activities for our students! Students can hone their spatial skills by putting puzzles together, they can think strategically by playing chess, they can delve into personal identities through a Diversity club, they can challenge themselves physically with DE Mudders, or participate in a dozen other pursuits. A well-functioning exploratory program such as our Activity Period acknowledges young adolescents’ desire for exploration and is complementary to the academic day. In our Middle School, we deliver a robust exploratory program through our Activity Period, designed with these four objectives in mind:

  • Encourage young adolescents to discover and pursue their particular abilities, talents, interests, values and preferences.
  • Acquaint young adolescents with enriching, healthy leisure-time pursuits.
  • Provide young adolescents with opportunities for student choice, voice and decision-making.
  • Provide opportunities to work with peers both within the grade level and across the three grades.

Ice Skating at Englewood Field Club is back. What fun it is to glide around the ice-rink on skates, pirouetting, turning, and jumping, (and sometimes even falling!). Our middle school youngsters have the opportunity to go ice-skating during the winter months on special Tuesdays and Thursdays, if they so desire.  Our shuttle bus takes the skaters down to the Field Club and returns them to school at 4:25. Parents: There is no cost for this activity, but students do need to bring their own skates.

Our librarians recently offered a really neat after-school activity for our middle school youngsters. Electric Origami combined the act of creating paper creatures with adding electronic accents! If you want to see photos of some of the cool projects students made, check out The Blimp or look in the library for an upcoming display.

Students in 8th Grade DIG (Dwight Englewood in the Garden) practice collaboration and problem solving as the work to make a planting bed. Students in this class face the central design problem of creating spaces to meet the needs of a variety of middle and upper school classes who will use the garden. In these pictures they are salvaging materials from the parking lot construction project (recycling!) to create a bed for potatoes to be planted and used by the “Culture of Pre-Columbian Societies” class.

 

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The annual 8th grade Wax Museum was a huge success! This touchstone experience gives our students an opportunity to ‘walk in another person’s shoes” and gives them a sustained, meaningful experience in understanding the perspective of others and developing empathy. It was wonderful to talk with the likes of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Eleanor Roosevelt, Ben Franklin and Judy Garland. View Photos

Most of the second floor of Umpleby is being turned into Egypt as our 6’s prepare for Egypt Day.  I’m impressed by the amount of research each child does in preparation for the monologues. There will be four vignettes that will bring to life parts of the Egyptian culture.

The 7th grade matheticians are grappling with graphs and the accompanying axis labels and scales.  In science, they are putting the finishing touches on their water project presentations with extra special care; the students will be presenting their findings to a panel of adult experts. This PBL unit is a great example of students doing meaningful, relevant work with real-world application.

Remember: Next Thursday is a 1:35 dismissal for Middle and Upper School students. Buses will depart fro DE at 1:45. The library will be open until 4:00.

Hug your child, and Go Bulldogs!