06 Nov

Kathy’s Message


Today as I write this, your children are home (off from a typical day of classes), and my teachers are immersed in composing and writing their Fall Interim Comments for each student. The comments are written to help students see more clearly their own approach to their work and to allow students an opportunity to step back from the daily details and reflect on the bigger picture. Teacher comments are released to students next Thursday, November 9, during an Extended HomeBase, and the HomeBase advisors guide the students in reading and analyzing the comments. Comments are released to you on Friday, November 10, beginning at 12 noon. For more details on this process please see the Dean’s Message section.

Catching Kids Doing the Right Thing: At a recent Middle School Cross Country Meet, after both races, the boys and girls were eating the snacks a parent had so generously sent along with us.  A boy from the Elizabeth Morrow team (we bus with them to and from meets) exclaimed in envy, “lucky!” when he saw the popcorn and granola bars we had been supplied with.  Our D-E coach asked if everyone had gotten one, preparing to tell our runners to share their extra snacks, when multiple runners–before the coach could say anything–held out our bins of popcorn and boxes of granola bars to the other team.  The other team APPLAUDED us on the way off the bus and one student said, “can’t wait to see you guys next week!”

Using Math: As part of our fall and Halloween celebrations, we ran a “Guess the Candy Corn” contest. Every child was invited to submit three guesses, and it was wonderful seeing the children try to measure the circumference, estimate the depth and try to figure out mathematically the number of candy corns inside the glass pumpkin. Our winner, Serena D., came within 1 of the correct number of 741!


06 Nov

Grade Level Happenings

Grade 6: October was a wonderful month for our sixth graders. Classes were able to gain traction, and the students have been working diligently across the curriculum.

In English, students wrapped up the short stories unit. They wrote two analytical paragraphs about these stories, which allowed them to practice the TEA and ICE structure in their writing. This past week they kicked off a PBL focused on identifying and writing about significant moments in their lives. They are working on a draft of this piece now. In a few weeks, they will share their work with their classmates and in a blog.

After a trip to the American Museum of Natural History and a successful Hominid Lab experience, social studies classes are wrapping up their study of hominids. They have been working on their hominid projects this week, and next week they will present their work to their peers. These projects allowed the students voice and choice, as they proposed their individual project plans to Mr. Fleisher. At the conclusion of these projects, Mr. Fleisher will also conference with the students about their work.

In science, students are wrapping up their evolution units. They completed Evolution Revolution presentations with a classmate, focusing on how animals have evolved over time. They also completed two labs (a thumb lab and an evolutionary bean lab), which allowed them to connect their learning with hands-on experience. During the labs, students learned how to display and analyze their data using both line and bar graphs.

In Math 6, students just wrapped up their ratio and proportions unit. They have been focused on trying to solve proportions with bar model or common factors and looking at relationship between two parts.

In Advanced Math, students just finished a unit on changing ratios. They are now studying solid figures and nets. They are also exploring the nets of cubes. This unit culminates in a study of tetrahedra, where the students are asked how many different tetrahedra they can create using Polydron (plastic shapes which click together) from the following triangles: small equilateral, isosceles, right angled isosceles, and large equilateral. The students are working in groups of 3 or 4 and will present their findings to the class in the coming days. In Hyper Math, students are writing numbers in bases other than 10 by expanding using place value notation. They are counting using binary (base 2) numbers. They are also using the distributive property to write products as sums, and to “factor out” and write sums with common factors as products. In all of the math classes, students continue to share and present their methods with their classmates.

Grade 7: As we close out October, the 7th grade year is in full swing.  Earlier this month, HomeBase participated in a kindness day where they were introduced to their “Human of D-E”.  The students will continue to meet with their “Human of D-E” throughout the year in order to learn their stories.  In English classes, students have started reading their dystopian novels for homework and are also beginning to brainstorm ideas and plan for their dystopian short stories.  In social studies, students continue to examine the question of “why do we fight?” by playing the feudal Japan simulation game. In this game, students take on the role of either a daimyo or shogun battling for land, wealth, and power in feudal Japan. Students will then write a reflection on this game as they have and will do for all classroom simulations/games.  Advanced math has begun their journey into algebra.  Students have been working on order of operations, combining like terms, exponents, and square roots.  Soon they will move onto simplifying expressions and solving equations.  In Math 7, students are converting decimals and fractions, adding and subtracting decimals, and multiplying and dividing fractions.  Lastly, in science class students are working on their water quality PBL.  Students have tested various water sites in the area and have chosen a water quality issue to focus on and try to solve within their projects.  Students are preparing presentations on their water quality issues in class to share with an expert panel in November.

Grade 8: The current course work in for eighth graders ranges from solving equations to understanding the historical impact of Columbus’s voyage to the New World. In science class, students have begun their study of chemistry. Specifically, they have discussed how energy plays a role in phase changes. In support of this understanding the Math curriculum is aimed at understanding the real-world relationship between two variables like time and temperature. Students are beginning to write their own vignettes in English class, as well as gearing up for the Living Wax Museum. Finally, in history class students are learning about how the Three Worlds of European Explorers, West Africans, and Native Americans will collide to form the early American Colonies.

06 Nov

Our D-E Community

In the Garden: It’s seed-saving time!  7th grade DIG students practiced wet and dry
seed saving techniques and begin their study of seed types and the anatomy of a seed. Parent volunteers enjoy fried green tomatoes prepared by the students.

MS Student-Leaders: It is that time of year again . . .  the D-E Lower, Middle and Upper Schools are running a food drive to help local families have food for the Thanksgiving holiday. In the Middle School, the drive is being organized by students who are interested and want an opportunity to take a leadership role. This year, we have a committee of seven young adolescents who will organize, publicize and lead this worthwhile event. Look forward to more details about the School’s annual Thanksgiving Food Drive, in the near future.

Upcoming Events:

In addition to the Parent Forums for the Middle School take place starting Tuesday, November 7 (for Grade 6)  in Hulst House at 8:30 AM, other upcoming events include special events for D-E parents/ guardians only as well as the entire family.  For details on these and other D-E School upcoming events visit www.d-e.org/calendar or go to http://pa.d-e.org/category/ms/

Enjoy! On Tuesday, November 7, all D-E parents/guardians are invited to the Parents’ Association (PA) and Affinity Groups evening event, “Food, Music, Community” at 7:00 pm in Hajjar Auditorium.  Enjoy global flavors and live music performances. For details and to RSVP please click here.

Friday, November 10 – Saturday, November 11 Upper School Performing Arts Department presents Shakespeare’s  Romeo & Juliet in Hajjar STEM Center. Go to www.d-e.org/arts for details. Tickets are $15 each (general admission) and are now on sale in the School Store.

Save the Date:

On Thursday, November 30, please join us for our annual MS Winter Arts Festival at 7:00 pm. Our students ensembles have been working hard in their instrumental and other musical ensembles to prepare for this event. Show Choir is planning to present their interpretation of the Broadway hit musical “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” which tells an ancient story with a timely message about a country in crisis and the power of forgiveness.


06 Nov

Deans’ Message: Not Your Parents’ “Report Cards”

In Mid-November, the first written report cards summarizing student progress become available.  But the reports you will receive are not just the old-fashioned list of grades our own parents may have received – and which may still feel familiar to many parents today. Instead, in keeping with our mission to help our students become lifelong learners who take ownership of their learning, D-E “comments” at the midterm of each semester are designed to be an opportunity for students to explore their own process critically, to recognize and cultivate the Student-as-Learner (SaL) traits that we know are critical to lifelong success, and to learn to advocate for themselves with the support of invested and insightful teachers.

Teachers write comments in November to their students to help those students more clearly see their own approach to their work, and to allow students an opportunity to step back from the daily details and take stock.  As they write, teachers have in mind these SaL characteristics that we strive to cultivate, such as creativity, engagement, and daily preparation, in addition to their specific subject content.  Teachers’ comments are released to students during an extended HomeBase (HB) period. HB advisors guide the students in reading and analyzing the comments, with an eye to helping students recognize and celebrate their own successful learning habits as well as set goals for further progress.  Students write reflections about their report cards, discuss their thoughts with their HB teachers, and make notes with questions for their subject-area teachers.  The next day, the comments are released to your parent account. (Please note, to view Comments, you will need to LogIn into MyD-E and click “Report Cards” under your child’s picture on her profile page.)  This is a wonderful opportunity for you to sit down with your child and encourage him to share his thoughts and goals and to support his successful approach to learning and to addressing any challenges.  Written comments are followed by the release of letter grades about a week later (with the exception of 6th grade), and, in all three MS grades, by a parent-teacher conference in December. (You will receive an Email from Mrs. Christoph soon, about how to sign up for conferences using the automated PickATime online system.).

Of course, the written summary comments at the November midterm are not the only feedback students receive. You have likely already seen several pieces of work — sent home for a signature – from your child’s teachers.  These papers, quizzes and projects can give you an idea of your child’s progress and also a sense of the material being addressed in each subject.   This work is also a window into the feedback that teachers give on a regular basis and the coaching your child receives all along the way both in mastering content and in developing strong student skills and effective work habits.  The pieces on which teachers ask for signature are a sampling of work and a way for teachers to encourage students to discuss their progress and approach to work with you throughout the year, not just at report card time.  We hope you enjoy these conversations with your child and feel free to reach out to teachers — or encourage your child to do so – with any questions.

Questions? Please contact us or your child’s HB advisor.

  •  Grade 6 Dean Tasha Urbanowski: urbant@d-e.org
  • Grade 7 Dean Liz Traub: traube@d-e.org
  • Grade 8 Dean James Aitken: aitkej@d-e.org

The first semester’s midterm comments in 2017 will be released for student perusal during HomeBase on Thursday, November 9 and to parents on Friday, November 10.

Grades for 7th and 8th graders become available to students on Wednesday, November 15 and to parents/guardians on the Thursday, November 16.