Jon's Weekly Update 1-17-14

posted Jan 21, 2014, 8:53 AM by Cynthia Friedman



Monday, January 20: NO SCHOOL-- Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Tuesday, January 21, 3:15-4:30pm: Uke Performance Group Rehearsal, MS Classroom

Friday, January 24, 6-8pm: Middle School Dance

Tuesday, January 28, 3:15-4:30pm: Uke Performance Group Rehearsal, MS Classroom

Friday, January 31, 6-7:30pm: Talent Show!

Thursday, February 6, 6-7:30pm: All School Meeting (With Montessori Workshops for Parents)

Friday, February 7: NO SCHOOL--Grading Day

Monday, February 17: NO SCHOOL--President's Day

Wednesday, April 30- Thurs, May 1: Canopy Connections Overnight Field Trip

Monday, June 9-Thurs., June 12: MS Adventure Trip to Honeyman Park


Dear Middle School Family,


Ukulele News:

The Cozmic Concert with North Eugene High School's Ukulele Orchestra was a terrific success.  The kids sounded terrific!  Thanks to all of you who turned out, and all of you who participated.  We raised $85 for each of our schools' ukulele programs.  More importantly, we had a great time.  Every performance opportunity is a growth opportunity.  So proud of these ukesters!


Rehearsals for the Ukulele Performance Group will start in force next Tuesday, January 21, after school from 3:15-4:15pm.  We'll hold rehearsals most every Tuesday for the rest of the year.  We have at least two more performances coming up later this year.  Participation in the after school rehearsals is required to participate in the performances.  Rehearsals will be a serious affair.  We'll focus on developing new material, including writing some original songs.  We'll also work on mastering our "setlist" for performance.


Math and Homework:

Some students are still struggling with the due dates for math.  The date in Jupiter Grades is the day the math assignment is DUE, not when they should DO it.  Students are expected to come to class with their math work already finished on the due date.  They have PLENTY of time in school to get their work done at school.  If they don't manage to get their work done at school, they need to get it done at home.  If Thursday rolls around and they don't have their assignment done for Friday, for instance, it is homework for Thursday night.  


We have math lessons on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  Please check in with your student about their math the night before lessons.  Trying to get the math assignment done before math lessons on the day causes an unnecessary amount of stress, and is an incredibly bad habit.  Part of our goal, here, is to prepare your student for success in high school. 


Slavery in U.S. History:

We've been covering some heavy content in our Humanities studies these last two weeks.  It's pretty sobering to examine just how foundational slavery was in establishing these United States.  We watched the first two full episodes of 'Roots,' to create some context for the African experience of the slave trade from Africa to America, and the students created timelines mapping out roughly 350 years of the slave trade.


The students have been deeply and respectfully engaged in this important study of our nation's history.  Next week, we're going to start watching the PBS documentary, "Slavery and the Making of America."  It's on YouTube, if you want to check it out.  The first time I watched it, I thought it was pretty dry, but after watching Roots again...  Wow.  It does a great job of creating context for Kunta Kinte's story in Roots.


We're working to establish a story for the students to "hang questions" on.  The first question that arises with each 'unbelievable' story we encounter is, "really?"  "Did this really happen?"  I don't expect the students to remember "important" dates and people.  Facts are furniture in the living room of learning.  I'm leading them through a process of making meaning, personal meaning, out of too much information.  


In essence, my challenge to them is this: "Here's one particular timeline of US HIstory.  It's not complete, by any means, but it's factual.  Given this part of the story, what are you driven to learn more about?  What storyline engages your investigative curiosity?"


Starting the week after next, the students will begin to engage in individual (inquiry-driven) projects to deeply explore specific events, places, and people in US history up through the Civil War, and share them with the rest of us.  


Carrie and I learn and grow right along with these impressive young men and women.  Every day.  Indeed, it's true...


Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

It was never my intention that this unit of study would coincide with Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, but if there was ever a cause for celebration and reflection, this is it.  We've come so far.  We still have so far to go.  I've attached a flier of events around town this week, in case your family would like to participate.



Jon and Carrie