Jon's Weekly Update 1-31-18

posted Feb 1, 2018, 9:11 AM by Cynthia Friedman
IMPORTANT DATES:               
Fri, Feb 9                                     Re-enrollment Deadline!
Sat, Feb 10, 10am                       Middle School Pre-Lottery Info Session
Sun, Feb. 18, 11:15am-12pm     TRUE Performance: Asian Celebration
Mon, Feb 19                                NO SCHOOL: Presidents' Day
Fri, Feb 23                                   Pasta Dinner
Thur, March 1, 7pm                   TRUE Performance: Opening for Blind Pilot and the Oregon Symphony

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Dear Middle School Family,

We're edging up to the middle of the school year. Progress reports are coming home next Friday for Lower and Upper Elementary. In the Middle School, we have the year divided up into 6 terms, and 3 Trimesters. We do this for a very important reason: we're teaching the students how the "grades game" works.

Jupiter Ed is Your Friend
Each of the 6 terms is roughly 22 academic school days long. At the end of each term, we completely reset the grades. No make-up work allowed. We're starting over. In Jupiter Ed, you can see a very clear map of the work your child is responsible for completing at school, and track their progress. Instructions for the assignments, links to forms, websites, and other relevant materials are all accessible on Jupiter Ed.

We have sent a login link to every parent twice this year. I'm going to send you another one shortly after you receive this e-mail. You won't even have to remember a password! Just click the link to see what your student is up to.

Do the Work
Grades are mainly tied to doing the work. We grade everything in Humanities and Communications on a 5 point scale. The students receive a 5, 4, or 3 for every assignment they complete. Plus, Check, Minus. 100%, 80%, or 60%. Many of the assignments are of the "showed up" variety. If your student does all of the assignments, they will certainly earn a passing grade, even if they minimally showed up.

Success in high school (and work) starts with completing the work you're responsible for. This is the bare minimum. Show up and do something. Most of us would agree that true success is a lot more than simply showing up and doing something, though.

Planned Process for Success
We're striving to build solid, conscientious, working habits in our students. We're focusing on carefully planned, step-by-step strategies to help the students accomplish big, complex tasks, and do them well. We want the students to be proud of the work they're crafting. 

It's a delicate dance. On the one hand, we're asking them to get the small tasks done. Now. Walk through the process. On the other hand, we're asking them to recognize the value of the process and to strive for excellence. To grow through the process. To see how the small tasks fit together into a better final product.

Progress, NOT just Process
That's where the "Progress" comes into play. These TV News shows we're producing engage every skill we're working to build in your students: critical reading, effective writing, engaging speaking, active listening, confidence, composure, compassion, worldliness... We are crafting Global Citizens, young adults who are aware of the workings of the World, and who are eager to make a difference. And capable of taking Action.

Our first run of the News Shows were really rough. We've analyzed the presentations and come up with strategies to improve them on every level: from the research to the writing to the personal presentations to the overall group organization and production. This week's News shows are going to be more practiced and polished than their first go. They'll improve with every show.

Jupiter Ed is POWERFUL
Jupiter Ed is a powerful communication tool between you, your student, and their teachers. Log in and you can quickly see, A: whether your student is doing their school work; B: how much effort they're putting into critical assignments; and C: the story of what they're learning and, more importantly, what they're DOING with what they're learning.

I guarantee you will never experience a more transparent system of education than what we are providing for you and your student. We're working hard to make sure that the work your student is doing at school is valuable, and that the instructions for completing and turning in work are clear.

Grades are a Game
We're not hung up on grades. We're super flexible. The ONE RULE of the Grades Game is simple: do your school work. What's awesome about the Game, here in Ridgeline's Middle School, is we're totally here for the kids and want them to win this Game. 

The superpower we want them to develop more than anything is self-advocacy when they need help.

You know what? Their high school teachers will also totally be on their side, if your student asks for help. So will their college instructors. Sincere desire to understand is the sugar teachers hunger for.

Printed Progress Reports
We're going to send home Printed Progress Reports next week, Friday, with the rest of the school. Don't freak out. Follow the link I sent you to Jupiter Ed and engage in what your child is up to. Talk with them about how it's going. Send me or Carrie and e-mail to schedule a meeting to check in about how things are going...

We're in this together,
Jon and Maizzy
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