17 Feb

Gentle Reminders

Our school day officially begins at 8:10. That means children should be in their first period classroom/assignment with their materials at hand and ready to engage in the day’s activity. Please help your child arrive at school in a timely manner so s/he can go to their locker, socialize with friends, and take care of any tasks.

Mrs. Lauren Rosen, our Middle School Psychologist, will be on maternity leave beginning in March and continuing throughout the end of the school year. We have found a strong replacement with Ms. Gloria Ezon who will fill in until the end of the year. Ms. Rosen and Ms. Ezon are working together to create a smooth transition. If you have any concerns, please let us know.

17 Feb

Middle School Happenings

Studio art 6 students have wrapped up the art portion of the Identity Unit by piecing together their self-portraits to form the beautiful quilt on display on the second floor of Umpleby.  Currently 6th graders are exploring the potential of clay by using additive and subtractive techniques to model a self-portrait tile in relief for the first project of the 3D semester.

Studio art 7 students have completed drawing exercises such as contour, blind contour and gesture drawings to help them in their observational drawings.  Currently the students are practicing linear perspective exercises, and will be applying all of these skills in the upcoming Shoe Drawing Project.

In Art Explorations students have been “drawing nature” in an unfamiliar way.  First the young ladies coated a paper with graphite and used only an eraser to bring forth a tree based on one of the ones on campus.  Now the students are working to use that same concept of subtracting to draw to scratch away ink for the Nature Scratchboard project.

Drama 7 students completed the “Rhyme Association Poems” project, a.k.a. “R.A.P.” a project that speaks to what students love about poetry and music at this age.  The work is self-generated and recorded, and provides ample opportunity for differentiated instruction by allowing performers, writers, and artists to work together and share their talents.

Drama 8 students have completed the benchmark “Crush Project”.  Students create their own music video for a song they love, and the possibilities are endless.  Students can generate their own video footage or use (cited) or original photography as well as hand-drawn imagery.  The students’ ability to show their skills with various apps, programs and techniques with the iPad is highly impressive.

Last week in the Health and Wellness courses, the 6th and 7th graders participated in yoga and mindfulness exercises. For many students, this was a new experience! Professional yoga instructors took students through two full classes worth of breathing and relaxation techniques as well as a variety of yoga poses and stretches.  The instructors emphasized the use of yoga and breathing techniques as a way to release the stress and anxiety that can build up in a student’s everyday life.  Principal Christoph even stopped in for a class!

In the World Language classes, our 6th graders are learning about food and its cultural significance in different Hispanic countries. Our 7th graders finished their unit on the family, where they learned about the different members of the family. This week also some of our 8th graders are starting to launch their PBL unit. Students and teachers are very excited about this new way of integrating all the language classes in one project. Their PBL Unit is called “E pluribus Unum,” which translates to “Out of many, one.” Mr. Petkus and Mrs. Shaurette shared some library resources with the WL teachers, and we are encouraging our students to make good use of a number of online research tools and physical books in the library collection.

We just completed competing in the Nat Geo Bee, a national geography bee sponsored by National Geographic. Our school champion will be scored and ranked with the scores of other students in New Jersey. Although there was only one “winner”, I think every child who participated demonstrated risk-taking, knowledge, and curiosity about the global world. Good stuff!

Hunger Pains. As many of you are aware, on Thursdays our Middle School community has an early time slot for lunch. So, by Activity Period, we are all a bit hungry. To help alleviate it, we now have

Thursday snacks for everyone in the Middle School. One week it was apples, another week it was baked chips. It seems to really help; both students and adults are taking advantage of this free snack!

If your child stays after school and gets hungry, the Coop is always open. It sells “To-go” types of food after school for students (i.e. chicken salads, wraps, etc.) along with other kid-friendly types of snacks.

2.17.16MSMessagesOrigamiSwanOur 7th grade students and their SAGE leaders were busy folding tiny pieces of paper recently as they decided to help out with an origami-folding project. Two upper school students led the project and constructed beautiful origami swans that they then sold to the student body. The proceeds will be donated to a local hospital.

The 7th grade class has also completed their Power in Poetry project and is ready to share their work with you. They spent the month of January exploring the question: “How can I use poetry to bring awareness to a problem or cause that I care about?” After doing research about local and global issues, each student chose a topic to focus on and drafted a collection of poems with the goal of choosing one poem to feature in a video for our class website. All of the students’ poems are currently posted in our hallway along with QR codes that link to their videos and paragraphs explaining the inspiration for their work. You can view the videos by clicking here. Eighteen students’ videos earned special recognition and will be show cased for the 7th grade class in Schenck auditorium. On the website, you can also read the dystopian short stories that students wrote earlier in the year.

Winter Activity Period is ending and we now turn our attention to the Spring Activity Period. Some of our most exciting new ideas for clubs come from the students. So now is the time for them to exercise their creativity, build on a passion or explore something about which they are curious. Proposals for new clubs are due this week, and I’m eager to see what might transpire!

We continue to emphasize, recognize, and foster The D-E Student as Learner (SaL) traits, in ways big and small, overt and covert. Recently—and again next week—the HomeBase groups found themselves facing unique problems that required solving. Some groups built buildings out of newspaper, other groups solved a survival situation, and still others worked with marshmallows and spaghetti. While there was plenty of laughing going on, the students were also engaged in various forms of collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, risk-taking, and perseverance. Research has shown that these traits are important to life-long success. For example, students are more successful in school and in life when they know and can manage themselves, when they can persevere through tough moments, and when they can critically think about issues.


17 Feb

Grade Level Happenings

Our 6th graders greatly enjoyed a recent 'bridge building' HomeBase activity with marshmallows and spaghetti!

Our 6th graders greatly enjoyed a recent ‘bridge building’ HomeBase activity with marshmallows and spaghetti!

In 6th grade we finished up a very successful Identity Unit with an assembly on Feb. 4th. The assembly highlighted their hard work in each class from the DENN project in Social Studies to the Self-Portraits in art, to name a few. Following the assembly the students enjoyed an International Food Festival sponsored by our 6th grade parent representatives. Then on February 11th, the 6th graders went to the Englewood Field Club to celebrate their hard work during the Identity Unit with some ice-skating, bowling, socializing, and some hot chocolate.

In 7th grade this week, the students began their Conservation Conversation PBL project.  The class trip to the Bronx Zoo last week was a great start to this amazing experience. At the zoo, our 7th graders were able to immerse themselves in real life efforts to conserve the dwindling tiger populations.  During the class with zoo personnel, the children were exposed to four different discovery tables.  Each table was geared towards a different area of conservation.  Two areas of concern included illegal tiger products and habitat loss.  The 7th graders will be hosting the parents at an event in April to showcase their learning from this unit.

8th grade: Students have begun reading To Kill A Mockingbird.  In addition to practicing critical reading strategies using the AR360 iPad app, students are learning about a central theme in the text: empathy.  They are not only identifying this theme in the novel, but they are also discovering how difficult, yet crucial it is to practice empathy in their daily lives.  Finally, students are learning to unpack meaning in a quotation by pretending to be police detectives who interrogate the quote until it confesses.

In history class, the students have taken some lessons they learned from their trip to Washington D.C. and started to practically apply their rights as citizens.  The first step in this process was to research a social movement and then to write a short paper on how their movement used the First Amendment to successfully affect change.  This week they began their Project Based Learning (PBL) unit entitled “Making a Difference” or MaD.  During MaD, they will be creating websites, videos, and social media campaigns about a social issue we are all facing. This first week was dedicated to finding a research topic as well as learning how to use technology to create awareness about their issue. Students seem eager to put their First Amendment rights into practice!

In science class, our 8th grade students have been digging into the world of geology. They first were given unknown minerals and had to devise an experiment comprised of the mineral properties to help them identify the unknown minerals. As they became experts at identifying minerals, they were shown a beautiful rock found while hiking and had to identify the mineral within the rock to determine if the mineral was actually a diamond. They learned about what type of rocks diamonds are found in, and were eventually able to identify the hikers rock. Unfortunately no diamonds this time!

Finally in math our students just wrapped up learning about Pythagorean theorem and the concepts of surface area and volume. They are moving on to systems of inequalities.

17 Feb

Message from Kathy


I trust your sons and daughters enjoyed their long weekend. Yesterday, the entire Middle School faculty and I were engaged in a workshop with a presenter from the nationally-renowned Buck Institute for Education group. This was a type of ”booster-shot”, following up on our 3-day workshop last June, where we were first immersed in the workings of PBL (Project Based Learning). We have been intrigued with PBL because it fits well with our School Mission, with what we know about young adolescents, with our drive for vigorous academics and with our belief in preparing children for their future, not our past. PBL connects students with communities and the real world. Projects provide students with empowering opportunities to make a difference, by solving real problems and addressing real issues. Continual in-depth inquiry ensures that the academic and intellectual ‘sweat-equity’ will be high and will continually challenge each student. Good PBL units provide robust challenges or questions, student voice and choice, sustained inquiry, critique and revision, reflection, and authenticity. The core of every unit is built upon key knowledge, understanding and success skills, thus contributing to our strong academic program. As you read this Blog, you will learn about some of the projects your children are engaged in.

Hug your child and GO BULLDOGS!

Kathy Christoph