Jon's Weekly Update 11-15-14

posted Nov 25, 2014, 2:16 PM by Cynthia Friedman
Tuesday, Nov. 25 Bring vegetables to slice for Stone Soup
Wed., Nov. 26 Stone Soup
Thurs., Nov. 27 NO SCHOOL – Thanksgiving
Fri., Nov. 28 NO SCHOOL – Thanksgiving Break
Mon., Dec. 1 NO SCHOOL – Professional Development
Friday, Dec. 5 Talent Show
Sat & Sun., Dec. 5-6 Tree Sales
Sat & Sun., Dec. 12-13 Tree Sales 

Dear Middle School Family, 

I'm sure you already heard from your student that we welcomed a new member to our middle school community last week. Paige has only been with us a week, but between her positive energy and our students' enthusiasm, it feels like she hardly missed a beat. Welcome, Paige. We're glad you're here! 

The kids did an outstanding job performing music at the Barnes and Noble bookfair. I'm so proud of how far they've come in such a short time. Thank you for supporting their participation.   

We're off to a good start with Cycle 3. We've been breaking the year in easy, working to get a sense of where the students' skills and habits are. It's time to get down to business. More math has been done this week than I can keep up with! Yes! 

This week, we started our writing curriculum in earnest. (I make these kids write and write and write, anyway, because writing is how you get better at writing.) To process ideas, even ideas we can easily speak out loud, into written words is not the same as speaking. It requires an entirely different system of brain jiu-jitsu to wrestle the sensory explosions in our brain (that we've processed and filtered into language) into the physical action of shaping letters and words into meaning on the page. Not only that, we have to do it in a way that not only makes sense to our Self, but in a way that others can understand and engage in. 

Put more simply: Writing is really, really hard work for our brains, and our hands. It doesn't come naturally. It's a skill we have to work at to become good at. 

We started moving beyond careful sentences last week, out into the "No Man's Land" of meaningful expression of ideas. We're going to spend a lot of time talking about our ideas to help formulate the language to express them, a lot of time writing terrible sentences, and testing them out on each other to see if our intended meaning makes it across the desert. 

We're going to do a lot of talking to get better at writing. It's important work. 

We're also learning a lot about germs and bacteria and viruses and other fun stuff that makes us sick, and how it makes us sick. The students did some pretty fantastic PSA performances this week on specific diseases that are still a threat to us. Carrie's doing a great job keeping the science curriculum fun and engaging. This week, the students are going to start putting together simulations of our body's regulatory systems. Cool stuff! 

Our exploration of the continent of Africa continues. Students are working to Show us Africa, broken down into 28 regions, this week. We'll work to explore the human cultures and the 'economic' systems of the Africa before Winter Break. Starting in January, we'll begin to dig into deep personal projects of interest. 

Our Personal Interest Projects on Wednesdays are moving to a more structured Workshop format. The students have voted for Acting, Cooking, Visual Art, and Writing (Novel and Graphic Novel), as their main options. We'll catch some mavericks with independent projects as well. If there's a skill you'd love to come in and play with students to develop, let me know! We do Studio time every Wednesday, starting up again on December 3, from 1:45-3pm. 

Stone Soup is this Wednesday. Hula hoops and juggling will abound (each family is being asked to donate $2 to the performers). Please send in veggies for soup on Tuesday so we can chop, chop, chop. 

Carrie and I are sincerely grateful for the time we get to spend working and growing with your children. We hope you have a joyful weekend full of love and laughter with people you hold dear. 

Jon and Carrie