October has been a busy month and lots of exciting learning is happening throughout the curriculum. In English, the students are hard at work on their Moment PBL project. After brainstorming and interviewing friends and family, students are working on writing about an important moment in their life. They will share these moments with their class and on a class blog. A special highlight included a visit from professional writer, Roberta Israeloff. She talked about her writing process and workshopped the pieces with the students. In social studies, the students are completing their hominid projects — the culminating activity in the Early Human Evolution unit. As soon as these projects are done, the students will be moving on to study ancient Egypt and their work turns to developing Egypt Day presentations. They will be developing research questions and getting to the library to practice research skills. In science, students are finishing up the Evolution unit with the “Bean” Lab, which simulates natural selection in a given environment. They will begin a Chemistry Unit next week, concentrating on learning about the periodic table. In math 6, students are learning about solid figures. After a review of two and three-dimensional shapes, students will be learning how to identify nets of cubes, cuboids, pyramids, and prisms. They will finish up the short unit with the students learning how to determine whether a figure can be a net of a given solid or a solid can be formed from a given net. In Hyper math, students are working through problems sets. They have learned how to make scatter plots on their TI-Nspire calculator. Finally, they are gathering data to decide which is the steepest set of stairs on the D-E campus. They measure tread length, riser height, and (if possible) the angle of the staircase. This data-gathering phase is about at an end, and they will move into the analysis phase this week.
In social studies students are inquiring into the question “why do we fight?” by reading a biography of 12th century Japanese hero Yoshitsune Minamoto entitled Samurai Rising, analyzing primary and secondary source documents, and participating in a Japanese feudalism simulation. In the process, students are learning to annotate texts, identify main ideas and supporting details, and take notes. Ultimately, students will synthesize their learning into projects that will teach others about why people fight. Projects options include designing a video game, creating a museum exhibit, writing and performing songs, and writing a script among others. Students in English just completed the writing process where they examined the question, “Is murder ever justified”. After reading, S.E. Hinton’s classic novel The Outsiders, students were faced with determining the fate of young Johnny Cade. They grappled with choice of justifying the murder that Johnny committed or proving Johnny should bear some responsibility for his actions. In the process, students developed their ability to construct an argument and support it with evidence. The painstakingly revised their essay and conferenced with teachers to best articulate their thoughts. Next, students will explore the dystopian genre.
In English class, students have just completed their reading of The House on Mango Street which a collection of vignettes from Sandra Cisneros. For the culminating activity for this unit, the students wrote their own personal vignettes. During Science class, the students had the opportunity to explore the night sky with StarLab, which is an inflatable planetarium. 8th graders continue to work on equation solving in Math class. In addition a focus on scientific notation helped students understand the vastness of the universe they were looking at through StarLab. Finally, in history class 8th graders are exploring the colonial world. By using historical perspective students are able to better understand the meeting of three worlds: The Europeans, Native Americans, and Africans.