22 Jan

Grade-Level Happenings

In 6th grade, students are learning about themselves through many different lenses during the Identity unit. In Science, they are learning about their genetics and the traits that make them who they are. In English, students are creating a “Where I’m From?” poem using iMovie. In Social Studies, the students are reporting about a current event concerning the region of the world from which their family comes. They will use the app Explain Everything to make a video reporting on this story. The culminating event is the Identity Assembly next Thursday, February 4, when the grade showcases their learning and some of their projects to the other Middle School students. To have a look at those projects, and others that might not have fit into the assembly time, ask your child about accessing the class wiki where they are posting “Where I Am From” poems, country current events projects, and other artifacts created over the course of the unit. Parents who are available are welcome to attend the assembly at 8:10.  Parking along Woodland Avenue will be permitted on the morning of the 4th.

After the assembly, 6th graders will gather in the cafeteria for our celebratory “International Food Festival” at about 9:15- 10:20. Many thanks to our PA representatives for arranging this culminating event and to all the parents for making it happen through your generous contribution of samples of foods important to your family or cultural heritage.  All are invited to the food festival to mingle with students in an air of celebration as they sample the multi-cultural buffet.  Again, parking is available along Woodland Avenue. Please contact Rabia Ozden at rgozden@yahoo.com with any logistical questions about the feast or dropping off contributions.

On the 4th of February for part of the afternoon, we are also revisiting our service learning theme of helping address hunger in NJ.  In a presentation on campus by staff from the non-profit “America’s Grow a Row” and in a series of workshops, students will learn more about factors that contribute to hunger in some NJ communities and understand better why some communities and families struggle to eat healthfully and include fresh produce in their meals. And of course, we will talk about how we can help.  We plan a spring trip back to the farm to plant crops that can be harvested by other volunteers next summer.

Please visit the AGAR website http://www.americasgrowarow.org/ for more information about this organization and to check out opportunities for volunteering during the summer.  If you sign up on the AGAR website, they will send you announcements about harvest days on which your family might enjoy helping out by picking corn, cabbage or apples.  It’s a fun and rewarding way to extend the volunteerism that 6th graders begin this year.

Since returning from winter break, the 7th graders have been hard at work preparing for the end of the first semester.  In History and Math, the students completed their articles on China, including graphs that were created in math class.  The connection between the two areas of study peaked the interest of many of our students.  Graphs and articles were focused on an issue affecting China today. These articles are being collected and published to a private magazine on the Flipboard app. Our upcoming trip to Chinatown will be a culminating event for the study of China and the Chinese culture.  In English, the students began their study of poetry with a visit from the poet Joshua Bennett.  Listening to his insightful spoken word poetry was an inspiring jumping off point for the poetry writing unit.  The students will use iMovie to record their own spoken word poems in the upcoming weeks.  Science has been looking into cells over the past few weeks.  Earlier in the month, the students used microscopes to see plant cells.  Each group of students prepared a glass slide using onion tissue and iodine.  The iodine was used to help make several organelles visible to the eye under a microscope.  The classes enjoyed seeing rigid cell walls and the darker nucleus.

Our 8th grade students completed the first semester by putting the finishing touches on several projects in several classes.  As they inch closer to Upper School, we are mindful about transition points and have designed some experiences that will provide low-risk exposure and practice. One such experience is that of exams. The students just took a comprehensive exam in History that emphasized the synthesizing of first-semester information. While it may have seemed a bit stressful to the students, we provided support and ‘safety nets’ to help them be successful. In English, the students are engaged in learning an approach to poetry, choosing their own poem and studying it in depth. The driving question for this unit is: How do you communicate the meaning of a poem simply by reading it aloud? Science and math classes have been working on volume through hands-on experiences involving water and 3-D shapes.

This issue of MS Messages also includes just a few photos from the Grade 8 students’ class trip to Washington, D.C. this past week.