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