Carrie's Weekly Update 9-22-16

posted Sep 22, 2016, 12:10 PM by Cynthia Friedman


Friday September 23

Vision Screening

Thu Sep 29, 2016

6pm - 7pm Middle School Meeting

  • Math and Science Block 2 from 6:00 -6:30 pm

  • Math and Science Block 1 from 6:30 -7:00 pm


Math -

Our schedule is full, full, full this year. Students will have little time in class to do homework.Generally, there will be math homework four days a week.  Right now when we’re reviewing, they are getting it done in class, but soon it will be coming home regularly. It is often a challenge for 7th graders to adjust to the homework load. Overall, it is still lighter than it would be in classic, but significant enough to build independent work habits and time management skills. It takes 7th graders a while to get the hang of managing their homework in their personal time.  By the end of 8th grade, they will be juggling responsibilities that seemed impossible just two years ago.  

I know many students have extra-curricular activities.  If a student waits till 9 pm to start their math, there will be overwhelm, stress, and often tears.  Please support your emerging adults in doing their homework early in the afternoon, when their brain still works.  One way to avoid this pitfall is to think ahead.

There is no math homework due Friday.  Math assignments are in Jupiter Grades by Monday morning for the following Wednesday through the next Tuesday.  Students have Thursday, Friday and the weekend to do the following Monday’s and Tuesday’s assignments.  Encourage students to look ahead to the upcoming week, see when they will have less time, and plan accordingly. This is a great life skill.  I wish I had support in practicing it when I was  in middle school.  

Science - Last week I introduced the focus of our end of term Global Warming summit.  Students will take a stance on climate change.  Does accelerated climate change even exists? If so, what are the causes, effects, and what can I do about it?  This issue is an ongoing public debate. The goal is for students to become educated and shrewd consumers of information on this issue.  As voters, they will have to form an opinion many public issues.  Hopefully we can give them some of the tools to analyze a problem scientifically.

Our earth science learning for the first half of the year will focus on geologic processes and weather.  It’s all about catastrophic events, basically.  We will focus on life science for the second half of the year.

At the end of last week, we began our Earth Science unit. Our big question for this unit is,  “What processes within earth cause geologic activity?” Our class will use a Project Board to keep track of our learning.  As student scientists, we began with a brainstorm, “What do we think we know about this question?”  They start off discussing what they think they know with their table groups, just to get the juices flowing.  Otherwise, I just get blank stares. One group comes up with an assertion about magma and volcanoes, or about tectonic plates and earthquakes. Then nothing.  After some prompting, students say, “So and so already said what I was going to say.”  I insist on inclusion of repeats or even something you thought you heard somewhere.  We aren’t expected to know everything already, we are brainstorming for ideas on what to investigate...what to learn more about.  Everything goes up on the board.

Then they start talking.  I hear something about magma being released through the earth’s crust via volcanoes, and the conversation begins to flow. The pressure is off. We don’t have to know we are correct, we just have to start where we’re at.  That’s where scientists begin their investigations.  

We ended last week the next step on the project board. We used inconsistencies in what we know, to come up with questions on which we will build our investigations.  Here are a few questions your students came up with.

Why do tectonic plates move?

Why do volcanoes only appear in certain places?

There’s a fault line in California, why aren’t there volcanoes there?

Do tectonic plates create mountains when pushed together?

How do tectonic plates form? What is a tectonic plate?

Does anything besides earthquakes cause tsunamis?

How is magma formed?

How do the formation of volcanoes relate to fault lines and tectonic plates?

What are earthquake waves? What are the different types?

We will refer back to these questions as we read and conduct our investigations.  

This week we improved our map knowledge and skills.  Using a topographical map with elevations delineated by color, we located landforms of different elevations above and below sea level, recorded their longitude and latitude, found the nearest city on a political map, and shared our information with the class.  I forgot how difficult wrapping your head around longitude and latitude can be. Using vertical lines to describe distances east and west, and horizontal lines to describe distances north and south is not necessarily intuitive.  The far majority of the students were completely engaged with this activity.  It is a great foundation activity to hang graphing and geometry work on as well.  Moo, ha, ha.


Running - Rain or shine, we will get out on the Amazon trail and get moving.  Walk, run, speed walk, whatever, but  personal goal setting and improvement are involved.  Start where you’re at and improve from there.  We meet up with our water bottles and spend the first five minutes stretching.  Our warm up walk is between ridgeline and the intersection of West Amazon and Fox Hollow. From there, we run laps on the Amazon trail between Fox Hollow and Snell, then cool down by walking back to Ridgeline where we stretch again and drink lots of water.  Bring your running shoes, a water bottle, and a can do attitude. Students are strongly encouraged to wear flexible clothing, sneakers, and bring a water bottle for this elective.  

Fiber Arts- Last week we made paper from scratch, I mean wood fiber pulp.  It is an involved messy process.  We had a great time.  This week we are working on negative space cutouts.  They are a great tool for including negative space awareness in our design choices.  It also happens to be a convenient reference for the mathematical concept of flipping shapes over a line of symmetry.  Shh, don’t tell those artist types.

Next week we will practice some specific drawing skills such as: Framing, Proportion, Perspective, Contour Lines, Techniques for Creating Depth of Form, and Basic Design Principles (rule of thirds).

This will set us up for success later when we create designs for our print blocks.  

Note: This class is pass/no pass.  Students are to produce art projects according to specific assignment criteria, participate productively in group discussions, and maintain on task behavior.  

Best Regards,

Carrie and Taylor