Jon's Weekly Update 11-13-15

posted Nov 17, 2015, 12:30 PM by Cynthia Friedman
Thur, Nov. 12, 3:15-4:15: TRUE Rehearsal
Fri, Nov. 13 Grandparents' Day at Ridgeline
Fri, Nov. 13, 6-8pm: Barnes & Noble Book Fair--Middle School Ukulele Performance (Everybody who wants to perform!)
Sat, Nov. 14, 6:30-7pm: TRUE PERFORMANCE; Petersen Barn

Tues, Nov. 17, 3:15-4:15: TRUE Rehearsal
Thur, Nov. 19 TRUE Rehearsal
Fri, Nov. 20, 6:00-6:30pm: TRUE PERFORMANCE; Friendly St. Market
Sat, Nov. 21, 5:00-5:30pm: TRUE PERFORMANCE; Axe & Fiddle (Cottage Grove)

Tues, Nov. 24, 3:15-4:15: TRUE Rehearsal
Wed, Nov. 25 Stone Soup
Thurs, Nov. 26 NO SCHOOL - Thanksgiving
Fri, Nov. 27 NO SCHOOL - Thanksgiving

Tues, Dec. 1, 3:15-4:15: TRUE Rehearsal
Thurs, Dec. 3, 3:15-4:15: TRUE Rehearsal
Tues, Dec. 8, 3:15-4:15: TRUE Rehearsal
Thurs, Dec. 10, 3:15-4:15: TRUE Rehearsal
Tues, Dec. 15, :15-4:15: TRUE Rehearsal
Thurs, Dec. 17, 3:15-4:15: TRUE Rehearsal

Dear Middle School Family,

It's been a crazy two months for me. Between finishing up the path in the North Field on all-day-Saturdays, and all of the evening events and concerts, I haven't had any weekends off for weeks. After the students' amazing performance at Barnes and Noble on Friday night, and looking forward to another fantastic concert Saturday night, I just really needed a break, so I took Saturday off. I went for a long walk, and played a lot of music for myself in the in between...

This is a preface to me saying that I spent the 4 hours at school on Sunday planning for the week, and barely got any grading done. Sorry about that. I will catch up with grading this week during my prep period. Most of the work we're doing in Humanities is process work for a group project, and the students are mostly on track, so I'm not too worried about it. Communications is consistent practice in writing and speaking, reading and listening. What's most important is that they're writing and speaking, reading and listening.

All is well, I promise.

Please hold the trigger on that e-mail 'Send' button. I will catch up quickly. As always, if it's missing, Jupiter Grades will say so. If it's no longer up for discussion, it will show up as a zero. If it's blank, I just haven't gotten to it yet. Thanks for your understanding. This job can really wear a person out!


SCHEDULE CHANGE (Monday-Thursday)
You've no doubt heard from your student that we changed the schedule up pretty dramatically, starting this week. It's not as big as it sounds, but it's already made a dramatic difference. We moved the second academic work period to the morning, before lunch. We also added a 20 minute break in the morning, between the two work periods.

The kids are BEAT after lunch! We decided to move all academic work back to the morning where it belongs. In the afternoon, we'll be doing the more upbeat, group-oriented work in Media Literacy, Personal World, PE, and Music. It's made a world of difference already. Here's what it looks like:

8:40-9am Morning Meeting
9-9:50am Block 1/Period 1
9:50-10:40am Block 1 Period 2
10:40-11am Break/Snack
11-11:50am Block 2/Period 1
11:50am-12:40pm Block 2/Period 2
12:40-1:30pm Lunch
1:30-2:15pm Media Literacy/Personal World
2:15-2:30 pm Jobs
2:30-3:15 PE/Music


The students are hard at work, creating the practical (food, water, shelter), social (customs, rituals, beliefs), and governmental (labor, justice, economy) details of their land-based, 'primitive' societies. Communal living gets complicated right quick.

One of the things I've taken special care to attend to is the fine line between Fun, and Offensive. I've made it very clear to the students that the Fundamental purpose of this activity is to develop a better understanding of the complexity of what it takes to create a Culture, however small. "Do not resort to stereotypes."

I've also made it clear that the reason we're doing this is because we're going to study African and Native American Cultures before the European colonization of North America. We're going to study the impact of colonization on human beings living in tribal societies. I want the students to get closer to understanding the complexity, richness, and creativity that is required to live in concert with the land. Multiply 6 weeks of creating a Culture by 10,000 years of problem-solving and refinement, and we can begin to imagine what we've lost.

We're going to wrap this project up the week before Winter Break, with each group performing a Live Anthropological Documentary, introducing their BAND to the world. (TONS of scaffolding to build this project.)

I'm piloting a truly "Proficiency-based" system for Math this year with my math classes. What that means is that there are no grades, there are only Progress Measures and Mastery Exams.

Daily Math Work will still run the same, but it won't be "graded," only monitored. For the Chapter Mastery Exam, a student must perform at 80% to achieve Mastery, or else they must study and re-take another version of the Mastery Exam.

Students must keep up with the Daily Math Work (DMW) to achieve Mastery. We'll still meet and score every assignment. If students are struggling with concepts, it'll show up. DMW will shine a light on the concepts I need to work on with individuals who need support to achieve Mastery.

Students will still receive percentage scores for each assignment, so we can see how they're performing. Their progress (are they keeping up, and how are they doing?) will be closely monitored.

Their Mastery Assessment will be based on the end of chapter Exam. Their math 'grade' will be either M or L. Mastery or Learning. If the student is appropriately placed, they should achieve Mastery on the first or second demonstration of their math abilities in the small realm of each Chapter.

It's a different way to think about learning: "We have a clear plan for progress, and we're going to work on this until you Get It."

Thank you for supporting the after school Ukulele Program. It literally wouldn't happen this year without your support. This is 100% after-hours work for me. It's not part of my "other duties as assigned."

There are 20 kids participating in TRUE so far, this year. That's a lot of kids! So awesome! Please note that this is a Serious Rehearsal. I am not available to supervise friends or siblings during this time. Please make other arrangements.

TRUE is truly something special. We all work hard to make it so. I need to be fully Present in the short time that we have. Thank you for your understanding.

Best wishes,