16 Dec

Arts and Language Department Update

Here’s a snippet of what’s been happening in our Visual/Performing Arts and World Language classes:

Drama:
8th grade Coffee House was held earlier this week. It is amazing to hear the level of quality in the students’ spoken word pieces. In 7th grade, the students finished their Mindfulness Unit this week. Teaching children strategies to be in the moment can help children monitor and adjust their stress levels.

Chorus:
All grades are winding down and brainstorming artwork and music for the next semester.

Studio Art:
6th grade is beginning to study portraiture and will be creating self-portraits as part of the broader theme of Identity in the sixth grade curriculum. The 7th grade is almost done with a semester of hard, creative work. They are studying Linear Perspective and Color Theory and will be applying the concepts and skills to their final project, a watercolor landscape painting. And meanwhile our 8th graders are eagerly working on the Skateboard Deck Design, an exciting mixed-media piece.

World Languages:
In the World Language classes, our 6th graders learned the appropriate use of the comparative and superlative when writing sentences in Spanish.  They are also finishing writing their pen pal exchange letter with students who attend a school in Spain. Our 7th graders, besides learning the comparative and superlative sentences, are also learning how to use the demonstrative adjective and pronouns. They are also very excited finishing with their pen pal letter. Some of our 8th graders finished studying and reviewing the present tense and now moved to the past tense. They are also learning how to replace the direct noun by using the direct and indirect object pronouns.

Other World Language classes culminated their project on food and healthy eating habits and the great contribution of the Aztec to our current diet. After harvesting their corn in the D-E garden late October, last week they had the opportunity to experiment with the process of making “Tortillas” and “Salsa” from scratch. This hands-on experience increases our students’ awareness of how long it takes to prepare a meal and now they appreciate this effort more.  In our Latin classes, students prepared an authentic Roman brunch, and moving from declension 1st to the 2nd and 3rd.

16 Dec

Health and Wellness Department Update

The Middle School Health and Wellness Department has been busy this past month, involving our students in a variety of fun and healthy activities and assessments.

Our students finished the physical assessment program, the FitnessGram, in which individuals were tested for their core strength, cardiovascular endurance, flexibility, and muscular endurance. The results of these measurements, will be shared with each student and their parents in the near future.

Students have also been involved with some other class activity courses such as Cooperative Games. Cooperative games are a way to practice the skills of relationships—skills such as communication, trust, problem solving, empathy, and cooperation—in a way that is fun, engaging, and real.

Our fitness classes have also been a focus with some classes. Fitness classes explore various ways of exercising.  Students spend some time learning about circuit training, interval training and experiment with different types of cardiovascular exercises and also got to try out the fitness battle ropes! While learning about muscular anatomy, the students participate in some light weight training using dumbbells and kettlebells.  The unit ends with yoga lessons, where the students practice “sun salutations” learned meditation, breathing techniques, and partner yoga poses with their classmates.

16 Dec

Community Time

The Middle School LAG (Lead Advisory Group) Committee worked throughout the summer on our HomeBase Curriculum.  In order to face a changing world, students need to develop empathy – the tool to engage with diverse ideas and turn conflict into understanding.  We created eight different lesson units to be utilized throughout the course of the year.  Thus far, we have explored Listening to Understand and Kindness.  The ripple effects of these units have been felt throughout the Middle School as our students are employing different strategies and behaviors both in and out of the classroom.  Along with other activities such as Door Decorating, the Thanksgiving Food Drive and Comment Reflection, HomeBase is a hub for our community to come together, make a difference, and have meaningful and contemplative conversations in safe space.

The MS Arts Council hosted the Second Annual Activities Period Art reception.  Student members served as guides and answered questions about artwork. One highlight was the 7th Grade coloring pages for viewers to work on there or take with them. To view some of these beautiful coloring pages click here.

13 Dec

Message from Kathy Christoph

Folks,

It was wonderful seeing so many parents and guardians here last week for Parent-Teacher Conferences. I hope your conversations with the teachers gave you a better picture of your child as learner, with a sense of their emerging strengths and passions, challenges that they might be facing, and a few strategies to continue on their successful ways.  Talking about conferences, there is a growing body of evidence that suggests that family engagement makes a difference for student success. Research shows that family engagement improves school readiness, student achievement, and social skills. Your participation in our Conferences demonstrates the importance of partnering with the school in the learning process. Thank you!

I’m glad so many parents and students came to the showing of the film, Screenagers. Last Thursday, we showed it to many of our 7th and 8th grade students and followed up with directed, focused discussions. Delaney Ruston’s film SCREENAGERS informs us about the role of screen time in the lives of children and adults, both at home and at school. She urges parents and school personnel to help children and teenagers to develop habits of self-awareness, self-control to create a healthy balance among screen, active, learning, resting, reflecting, family, social, and creativity time. For more information about this, see the Dean’s Message.

Music, music, music. The 8th grade African Drumming ensemble did a “command performance” in Graham House for the administrative staff who work on behalf of the students all year but rarely get to interact with them.  These folks were incredibly appreciative of our students musicians’ visit to joyfully break up their routine for 15 minutes.  Not to be outdone, the 7th grade African Drumming group performed in the Imperatore Library as well.

Personnel Changes: We say a bittersweet goodbye to Dr. Bill Stegmayer who filled in admirably for Mrs. Giselle Winters during her maternity break. Dr. Stegmayer is a rare gem whose many skills continue to impress us as he works with students. So, we are sad to see him go yet also happy to greet Mrs. Winters upon her return.

We believe coding is an essential skill that everyone should have the opportunity to learn. In celebration of Computer Science Education Week, we will engage in the Hour of Code challenge, right in the Swift Playgrounds app for iPad. The challenge, which only takes an hour to complete, lets students use real Swift code to guide a character through a dynamic 3D world. Students will learn how to give simple commands, write functions, and run loops. The Hour of Code Challenge in Swift Playgrounds is a great way to start exploring teaching, writing and learning code.

Hug your child, and Go Bulldogs!

Kathy Christoph

13 Dec

Grade Level Updates

giver_cover6th GRADE: The sixth grade is working diligently to prepare for one of our annual capstone experiences: Egypt Day. In social studies, the students are rehearsing and planning for their performances on December 15 (Parents are invited to see performances from 1:00 – 2:00 pm that day). Last week they were happy to have Glenn Stott, a professional actor, come in to help polish the delivery of the scripts. In science, the students are finishing up a chemistry unit with two pH labs. Students will also be discussing the process of mummification in preparation for Egypt Day.

In English, the students are reading Lois Lowry’s The Giver. This is their first book they are reading on the iPad app AR360, and they are using this app to track the theme of individuality. The annotations they find help to support their current analytical writing piece.

In Math 6, the students continue to work on percentages with these objectives in mind: expressing part of a whole as a fraction or as a percentage, relating percentage to fractions and to decimals, expressing one quantity as a percentage of another, finding the whole or a percentage part when given the value of a percentage part, and solving word problems which involve percentage. In advanced 6 math, the students took a re-do of the first practice test and everyone improved significantly. They are now balancing their time between solving problem sets and exploring math puzzles.

Lastly, in Hyper Math, in addition to working their way through problem sets, students solved the problem of finding the steepest set of stairs on the D-E campus. After much data gathering, students are preparing to present their findings.

7th  GRADE: In English, students completed reading their dystopian novels where they annotated for story elements and discussed themes including identity, beauty, and betrayal and the novel’s connections and commentary on our world. Students are also in the process of writing their own dystopian short stories.

The 7th graders are working on an exciting conflict project in social studies. Students were  given the opportunity to choose from a variety of project options, where they will have to use what they have learned about feudal Japan and the Samurai to create a project that teaches why people fight. Project options include a comic book, museum exhibit, soundtrack, video game proposal, newspaper, and character art book.

The Math 7 class is finishing up work on integers (Adding subtracting multiplying and dividing both negative and positive numbers.) In Advanced Mathematics, the students have been working on simplifying algebraic expressions. In Hyper Math, we have been working on matrix operations and solving systems of equations using matrices.

8th GRADE: First of all, the 8th grade would like to thank all of the parents and visitors who came to the Living Wax Museum before the Thanksgiving holiday.  The students were especially excited to share their knowledge with our school community. The header ‘slider’ above shows just a few photos of the famous individuals represented.

When we returned from break, the 8th grade traveled down to Philadelphia to see Independence Hall and the Constitution Center.  We used this experience to usher in our exploration of our country’s founding documents: The Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.

Currently in science class, students are discovering weather systems and patterns and in math class they are continuing to work on graphing and understanding slope.

Finally, in English we are wrapping up our reading of Ray Bradbury’s classic, Fahrenheit 451.

 

13 Dec

Community Times and Student Leadership

When you were here for Conferences, you probably spotted the table that was selling bracelets and raffle tickets. One of our HomeBase groups wanted to support their fellow classmate, Charlie, and decided to raise money in honor of him and donate it to Strike Out Leukemia.  They planned out and ran a fabulous bake sale during the week and have been selling the bracelets and raffle tickets.  They have an admirable monetary goal; however, even more importantly, they are learning about empathy and about giving to others.

leukimia-1

Writing is an important communication skill and is highly valued here at D-E. One way we showcase our students’ works is our Write Night…an afternoon of students sharing their written work by reading it to an audience. If you’d like to read more about the event or see some photos, click http://deblimp.blogspot.com/2016/11/write-night-fall-2016.html

Our Field Day Committee is up and running, and busy planning our annual Field Day in June. This group plans out the activities, rides, events and friendly competitions that celebrate and bring closure to the school year.

13 Dec

Middle School Club Activities & Special Events: Highlights

In the garden, Middle School students in the “Eat Local: Winter Gardening” Club learned today that eating seasonal vegetables that are grown close to home helps protect our planet and reduce our carbon footprint because local, seasonal food has fewer “food miles.”  Just as exciting for some, however, was the surprising realization that dark green vegetables can be yummy — in spite of the fact they are so good for us.  Today’s garden treat: Swiss chard harvested from the school vegetable garden and stir fried with onions, currants, and a broth made from our own root vegetables.

Electric Origami! This past Monday, many of our students gathered in the Imperatore Library after school for a chance to create paper creatures and bring them to life with electronic circuits and LED lights. No experience was necessary and all skill levels were welcomed. And the resulting figures were quite unique!

13 Dec

A Message from the Deans

ScreenAgers at School

We hope you had the opportunity to enjoy the recent screening of “ScreenAgers : Growing Up in the Digital Age” organized by the D-E Parents Association.  At school, some students (those with room in their schedules) were able to view the entire film on the morning of December 1st  and participated in a discussion with their deans about what they notice about their own technology use and what they found interesting about the film.  During the week of December 5th, the whole Middle School had an assembly about screen-use habits and internet safety lead by expert, Mr. James (Skeeter) Lee.

screenager2

At school, we are finding the conversations about screen use, both with students and among educators here and in the nation in general, very interesting because we feel it is important for young adults, especially, to be critical consumers of material available on the internet and to develop the self control to use technology productively and selectively, rather than allowing it to take over their attention in ways they did not plan.  As one student comically put it, “Sometimes I go on the internet to get the definition of a word quickly, and an hour later I find I am learning how to talk to a giraffe.” In our post-screening discussions with students, the deans were struck by how aware our students are of both the tremendous benefits of using technology and of the dangers of getting “sucked in and off task.”  We heard some students share how they have internalized the messages teachers at school (and the acceptable use contracts all students sign)  deliver about using technology wisely as a “tool for school” and enjoyed them sharing the many ways they have designed to limit their own screen time and help themselves to stay on task.

Most students (as indicated by a show of hands during our discussions) appreciate the limits we have in place at school and those they have at home.  They many not LIKE it, but they know they need help keeping screentime and technology use in its proper place in their lives.  Limits set at home and at school model good screen/tech use for students and help them to develop good habits.  As educators and parents, we know that youngsters at this age are still developing the ability to control their attention and to use good judgment consistently.  As the movie put it, their brains seek stimulation, and the discipline of controlling attention works against that natural impulse.  The practice screen limits gives students in controlling their attention, and the prompting (and sometimes stronger responses such as removing a device for a time or sending a student to talk to his or her dean) teachers give help students to develop a larger sense of when they are off task and can open discussion about strategies for controlling their own choices about technology use.  

Limits we have at school , such as our “no cell phones during the school day,’ “no unauthorized apps,” “the cafeteria is a tech-free zone,” and “no internet use without teacher permission in class” policies (see your child’s acceptable use contract for a more complete list) also help students to “compartmentalize” their screen use and to recognize the difference between using technology to advance their work in school and recreational use.  Keeping devices out of the cafeteria, or limiting the use students make of their devices at school also helps preserve time and practice with face-to-face interactions that are so important for developing the collaborative skills we value. Over time, with consistent reinforcement, that teacher or parent voice that says “come back to task” or “ that’s enough rec use” should become internalized and help our children to be increasingly controlled, deliberate and critical users of technology as they design full, rich lives for themselves that include a wide range of wholesome activities.