21 Oct

Grade Level Updates

In Studio Art 6 the young artists are putting finishing touches on the Texture Animal Project. This year we are asking students to write a short anecdote about their animal to help tell the public why it is a special creature.

Studio Art 7 students are finishing the Shoe Drawing Project. They will be documenting it in the Seesaw App soon. Also, they will begin working on this year’s new PBL “Art and Healing Coloring Book Page.”  Our 7th grade Drama students are working on 1 minute original plays together with partners and in small groups. In Drama 8, students are reviewing basic presentation skills, introductions/1st impressions (eg: how does body language & tone of voice affect others’ impression of you).   In Chorus 6, our young singers are eagerly preparing for the upcoming Winter Arts Festival by learning their songs and also by creating unique train costumes for Starlight Express!

In the World Language classes, our 6th graders are learning about how to greet each other in in the target language by using the verb “Ser.” Our 7th graders started to learn how to use different verb and noun agreement. This past week, some of our 8th graders learned the appropriate use of the verbs to-be “ser” and “estar.”  Other classes continued learning about food and healthy eating habits, and the great contribution of the Aztecs, Mayans and Incas to our current diet. Students went to the D-E garden with Mrs. Urbanowski and Mr. Bautista to harvest what they planted this past spring and early summer, such as tomatoes, corn and potatoes. As a final step, they cooked their potatoes in class. It was not only fun, but a really hands-on experience.



21 Oct

A Message from the Deans

Supporting Students: Homework Completion and the “Missing Homework” E-mail

By this point in the year, many parents may have received a short e-mail from their child saying something like, “Dear Mom and Dad, I did not complete my reading assignment because I thought it was due next week…”  While some middle schoolers already have excellent work habits and are masterful time managers, even more are still learning how to manage the demands of multiple assignments from different teachers, various kinds of assignments, and the increased complexity of after school activities and more independence.

Our own D-E MS teachers employ many strategies to support students in learning this important skill.  One example is the direct instruction in recording assignments that teachers give every day in each class, as they ask students to write down their assignments, and when they require that students save work begun in class in specific google folders or other precise locations.  Another example is the time management that teachers model for students when they give interim deadlines for long-term projects – showing students how to break down an assignment and to predict how long certain tasks will take.  The “missing homework” e-mail that all students are asked to write when they do not turn in an assignment on time is another such strategy.

When a student does not turn in an assignment on time, he or she writes a note to his/her parent, teacher, HB advisor and dean.  The purpose of this is not to scold the student but to help him to reflect on what led to the lapse so that he or she can problem–solve and learn more about his or her own process.  Most students can recognize a glitch in their own systems if they take a moment to write it down, and one or two missing assignments are generally not a cause for concern.  However, if a student seems to be having repeated trouble keeping track of assignments or finishing work, s/he may need help figuring out how to solve a problem.

At school, HomeBase advisors and class deans look at missing homework e-mails to see if it is time to step in and offer assistance to a specific student.  Parents are included on the e-mail so that you may do the same and so that you may reach out to your child’s teachers or dean if you have any concerns.  In this way, we all stay “in the know” and can work together in a timely way to help students move toward skillful task management.  No one wants to wait until report-card time to discover a time management problem that wasn’t apparent in just one class but that can been seen when you compare the student’s homework record across the subjects – and that can be solved with some timely aid.

If your child has been concerned about writing homework e-mails, please help him or her to understand that this is a tool for self-knowledge and a way for all the caring adults around him or her to have the information we need to help when help is needed.  And then help him or her to problem-solve about how to avoid missing assignments!  Your child’s HomeBase teacher or class dean would be happy to hear from you if you are having this conversation with your child – and you can expect a call from us if we are stepping in to help coach your child on his assignment management.

Over the course of their middle school experience, and with teacher and parental guidance, students learn what systems work well for them – pack up the backpack at night or in the morning? Start homework right after school or take a break? etc. – and gain the sort of self-knowledge about their own habits and energy levels that allow them to make smart choices about where, when and how to complete and keep track of all their assignments.  We look forward to each student being entirely independent in managing his or her homework time by the end of middle school – and then no more homework e-mails!

21 Oct

Health and Wellness

The Middle School Health and Wellness Department has had a smooth start of the 2016-2017 school year.  Our students have enjoyed current class activities such as Tennis, Badminton, Football, Soccer, Lacrosse, Field Hockey, Frisbee, Fitness and Health. The young Bulldogs are presently preparing for the FitnessGram which will take place during the next marking period. The Great Pumpkin (aka Coach Muller) made his first ever appearance in a recent middle school meeting and challenged everyone to guess the weight of the giant pumpkin in the cafeteria. Coach Wood and Coach Carsten shared interesting, fun-filled, and educational facts about some of the foods of the Autumn season such as apples, squash, and of course…pumpkins!

pumpkin_table1 pumpkin_teacher1

21 Oct

As a Community…

“We’ve got Spirit, Yes we do. We’ve got spirit. How ‘bout you?”

Next week is Spirit Week at D-E and we are ready to have some fun! Our Pep Rally Committee has done an outstanding job of planning the week, complete with daily themes and a rousing Pep Rally on Thursday. You may want to help your child pick out their wardrobe for the week based on this information.

  • Monday, Oct. 24: No School
  • Tuesday, Oct. 25: Pajama Day
  • Wednesday, Oct. 26: Pink Day–Breast Cancer Awareness
  • Thursday, Oct. 27: HB colors-Blue, White, Gold
  • Friday, Oct. 28: Halloween Costume-Dress up
    (Please note: on Monday, Oct. 31, Middle School students should come in normal school wear.)


These past two weeks are good examples of ways that we bring our School Mission to life with our students in intentional, relevant ways.  On October 13, we hosted Spoken Word Artists Carlos Andrés Gómez & Caroline Rothstein. Carlos is the award-winning author of Man Up and seeks to help us reconsider not just what it means to be a man, but what it means to be a good man. Caroline is a New York city-based award-winning writer and performer. In sharing her personal story unashamed, Caroline’s motto is ‘From Adversity comes Triumph’, empowering individuals to embrace self-confidence and authenticity. In Morning Meeting, we set the context when I shared a personal story about my daughter and opened up a discussion on gender expectations. HomeBase continued the discussion on Tuesday, focusing in on the question, “Can it be limiting for a man/woman to be expected to behave in certain ways? Following Thursday’s assembly, Friday’s HomeBase groups reflected on the messages of Carlos and Caroline and shared thoughts with this in mind: The roles of men and women are changing in our society. It has slowly become less difficult to step outside the box. What would make it easier for men and women to live outside the box?

This past week, we focused on how we treat each other and used the lens of Kindness to do so. At Morning Meeting, we viewed two short videos and Ms. Garcia led us in a discussion. Then, in HomeBase meetings through the week, each group participated in activities and conversations designed to help our students gain an understanding of how their actions both positively and negatively impact others and how the smallest AOK can make a big difference.

07 Oct

As a community…

Morning Meeting is a once-a-week time when our entire Middle School community comes together. Although the time is short, it is so very valuable in helping to define our culture, our Mission, and ways we want to live together. Take our Core Values and our Student As Learner (SaL) traits, for example. How can we educators make these values come alive for your children within the context of school? How can we emphasize the beauty of the goal of holding laudable values such as courage, judgment, collaboration, perseverance and the rest of our Core Values and Sal Traits? I have found that there are no simple answers; rather the greatest success derives from providing a rich, varied tapestry of diverse individual school experiences.  So, during community times like Morning Meeting, Assembly, Grade-level meetings, and the like, we work to weave our Mission, core values and SaL traits into the fabric of our school life. By doing so, we help young adolescents hold up a mirror for decision-making and provide to them a guide and reason for actions and behaviors.

Our recent Morning Meetings have included a discussion and presentation about our Core Values and our Honor Code, finishing up with an open invitation to sign our Honor Code book. We had several young men volunteer to participate in an exercise about listening—while quite humorous, it served to highlight the value of listening. During the week, every HomeBase group conducted activities and conversations aimed to help increase the ability to listen to another person’s point of view.


Yesterday’s assembly featured a performance artist named Intikana who shared his poetry and music with us while also helping us celebrate Hispanic Heritage month. I think he really grabbed everyone’s interest when he stated that, after 16 years of schooling here in the U.S., he realized he had not had even one hour of teaching/learning about Puerto Rico, his family’s country of origin. His message about respect and understanding fits nicely with us.  To learn more about Intikana click here.

07 Oct

Grade Level Updates

water-treatmentThe sixth grade has been hard at work in the first month of school. The students are quickly adjusting to the expectations of Middle School.  In science, students are watching the “Inner Fish” and making connections to the program with the Theory and Ideas of Evolution. Students will be doing a research project, called “Evolution Revolution.” In social studies, students are exploring the origin of humans by studying early hominids while also developing note-taking and writing skills. Following the Hominid Projects and the Evolution unit in science, the sixth grade will head to the American Museum of Natural History as a culminating experience on October 14. In math, students have completed an introduction to ratios, and they will start studying ratio and proportion soon. Additionally, they are looking at algebra puzzles to help students understand the big ideas of algebra: representation, proportional reasoning, balance, variable, function, and inductive/deductive reasoning. In math 6 advanced and hyper math, students are working through problem sets. The students discuss and present problems to their classmates. In English, the students have been reading a collection of short stories in the Great Books Roundtable, and they have been using these stories to learn discussion strategies and as a foundation for developing their analytical writing. They have been practicing, finding and using textual evidence to support their arguments about the stories. Then, the sixth grade wrapped up a wonderful first month of school last week during our overnight at the SONO Field House and the Maritime Aquarium. Highlights included rock climbing, a behind-the-scenes tour of the fish tanks, and a seal feeding.

On September 26th, the 7th graders participated in the Forced From Home exhibition being conducted in Battery Park by Doctors Without Borders. In this exhibition, students were led on a tour through multiple stations depicting the trials and tribulations the millions of the world’s displaced people currently face. Stations included such themes as the medical treatment of people at DWB facilities, the daily life in a refugee camp, and the perilous journey in search of safety; all of these tours were led by a member of DWB who has participated in real fieldwork across the globe. On September 27th, the 7th grade traveled to the Suez Water Treatment Plant in Haworth, New Jersey.  The water treatment plant is the largest ozone filtration plant in the United States and last year delivered about 40.76 billion gallons of water to the local area.  On the trip, the students learned about the steps involved in treating the water, visited the lab where water quality tests are conducted, and viewed the control room and filtering site for the plant.  Students will be using the information from this trip in an upcoming water quality project that they will be completing in class. Both of these trips highlight how the issues we are learning about in class are making an impact on the world around us.

ofmiceandmenThe 8th grade began the year with an important question: How can we face the challenges of a changing world?  Faculty in each of the key disciplines set out to frame this question in their own way.  Math teachers challenged their students to solve equations as well as learn how to graph them. English class pushed students to think about courage and write an essay on John Steinbeck’s classic, Of Mice and Men. In Science, students explored how atoms are the building blocks of our universe, while in history class students discovered the impact of the Printing Press on the Reformation and the Scientific Revolution.  In the near future, the 8t th graders will take their annual trip to the Freedom Tower and 9/11 museum as well as complete a historical walking tour of lower downtown Manhattan.

Our DIG students are working hard in our two D-E gardens. Recently, they looked at plant lifecycles and learned how to interrupt them — harvesting beans before maturity to keep the plants alive, saving seeds before they self-sow, pulling out dying plants before they decompose, taking pictures of plants at various stages, etc. The best part is the cooking portion. Wonderful aromas drifted through our halls as they cooked eggplant with homemade pesto and tomatoes. Yummy!

07 Oct

Upcoming Field Trips

On Monday, October 10, our seventh graders spend the day at Alpine Boat Basin.

On Friday, October 14, the sixth graders will visit the American Museum of Natural History to both lend a hands-on component to their study of human origins in social studies, and to find animals to sketch for their study of animals in art. We will participate in a lab featuring hominid skulls and then travel to the Hall of Biodiversity to find interesting animals to sketch.

On Wednesday, October 19, our eighth graders head over to New York City for a walking tour of historic lower downtown Manhattan.

On Wednesday, October 26, our sixth graders travel to Pittstown, NJ to a farm run by the non-profit organization, America’s Grow a Row.


07 Oct

A Message from the Deans: Working Together to Manage Absences

After the early days of school and overnight trips in two grades, classes are really up and running in the middle school.  We hope that your children are enjoying their program –and we don’t want them to miss out on a moment of it!  Regular attendance is crucially important to education, and engagement in shared experiences such as assemblies helps to build and maintain community at school.  We at school, do recognize however, that some absences are unavoidable.

The process of planning, managing and catching up after unavoidable absences is more smoothly accomplished when we all work together effectively.  Our first objective in creating attendance records and procedures is to ensure students’ safety by keeping track of your children when they are on campus.  Our second objective is to try to reduce the burden that playing catch-up after planned absences places on both students and teachers.  In middle school we also want to help students learn how to take increasingly independent responsibility for effectively managing their learning and catch-up workload in the case of absence.

Procedures we hope parents will follow to help us help meet these objectives are detailed on pages 14-18 of the Middle School Handbook.  In a nutshell, the procedures are:

  1. Please call or e-mail MS attendance by 9 AM on the day of an unanticipated absence or tardiness to let us know your child will be absent for the day, arriving late, or leaving early.
  2. Students need to physically sign in and out at the attendance desk when arriving after 8:25 or when leaving early (before 3:20.)
  3. Please notify your class dean AND MS Attendance of any planned, full-day absence a week in advance so that we can work together to help your child manage.  It is also helpful to call ahead about planned part-day absences, although in such cases we generally expect students to discover and catch up on any missed work that same day by using the various forms of electronic communication with teachers.
  4. We discourage absences that extend vacations and long weekends because these are often wrap-up or kick-off days that are hard to make up, and students often miss culminating experiences that cannot be recreated.  Such absences are “absences without extensions” and require some special planning.

Please call your dean with any questions about the attendance policy or a planned absence.  Thank you for your help!