Jon's Weekly Update 1-10-18

posted Jan 10, 2018, 10:28 AM by Cynthia Friedman
IMPORTANT DATES: 
Friday, 1/12                               Grandparents’ Day
Friday, 1/12                               Talent Show 6-8pm
Monday, 1/15                             NO SCHOOL – MLK Day
Friday, 1/19, 8:45am                 6-8 Grade Assembly “Above Between Below
Fri, January 19, 5:30-7pm       TRUE Performance: Home and Garden Show   
Friday, 1/26                                Middle School Winter Formal 5:30-8:30pm
Monday, 1/29                              NO SCHOOL – Grading Day      
Sun, Feb. 18, 11:15am-12pm     TRUE Performance: Asian Celebration
Thur, March 1, 7pm                   TRUE Performance: Opening for Blind Pilot and the Oregon Symphony

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Dear Middle School Family,

Happy New Year!  This is quite honestly my favorite time of the school year: coming back from Winter Break. Fall term is stressful as we all get to know each other and settle into routines. We come back in January well-rested and, well, happy to see each other.  Middle school at Ridgeline is a lot of work, it's true, but it's also a lot of silly fun. Come January, we're all a lot more relaxed and able to appreciate the 'fun' part.

There's lots of fun to come. (Lots of good, important learning-work, too.)

Before I get started in on what we're up to, I want to point out that there are links in the calendars above to more information about the venues and activities. Oregon Children's Theater is coming in next Friday to do a performance for the 6-8 graders. You can find out more about the content of the assembly by going to their website. We're super excited to host them!

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Last week, we started on a journey that I am passionate about: Global Citizenship. The concept is simple, yet complex. We are all members of the human race. The human struggle belongs to all of us, and "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice anywhere," as Dr. King said. Our explorations of the impact of our local actions on the climate of the entire planet set the stage for a deeper discussion. How do our everyday economic choices impact other humans on the planet?

Our students are very aware of the big Global Challenges: Poverty, Hunger, Access to Education, Access to Clean Water and Sanitation, Slavery (yes, slavery), War, Racism, Gender Equality, Access to Healthcare, and Access to Shelter were the BIG problems the students identified in our class discussions last week. These also happen to echo the Global Challenges that Nobel Peace Laureates have collectively declared we need to overcome to achieve World Peace.

That's right: our students are as thoughtful and compassionate as other normal human beings who happened to earn the Nobel Peace Prize.

We have a long road to travel to the Nobel Prize.

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We're going to start by Engaging in the World. We're going to put on Live "TV" News shows, sharing deeply researched current events.

We broke the World into six regions: North America, South and Central America, Asia and Australia, Europe and Russia, the Middle East, and Africa. We split the entire middle school into regional "News Teams" of 8 or 9 students. 

Every two weeks, your student is responsible for finding and researching an important current event in their region. They will look for multiple perspectives of the story. They will research the historical, cultural, and geographical context for the story. And they will put together a 1-2 minute TV News Feature as part of their News Team's 15-20 minute Regions of the World News Show.

There are three teams in each block. All three teams will present to the class on January 19. We will record video of the Live performance. On January 22, they will start working on their new Live show content. OnJanuary 26, they will watch the videos of the other Block's News Shows.

I've broken the Production process into a very manageable, step-by step series of assignments. We'll revise these steps as the process of research and putting their stories together becomes habit, and the students' depth of knowledge about their Regions increases. I've attached a flowchart for the process to this e-mail to help you better understand the steps, and how the assignments fit together. 

Eventually, we'll start publishing the students' News Shows in a format that will shake up folks' assumptions about "apathetic teenagers." (They're also looking for an opportunity for an authentically helpful service project as they learn more about their Region of the World.

This is the Goods. This is also their (haha) only work in my class right now. (Other than reading on their own, for pleasure.)

Welcome back!
Jon and Maizzy
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