Jon's Weekly Update 3-1-13

posted Mar 1, 2013, 11:34 AM by Cynthia Friedman



Tuesday, March 5, 3:15-4pm: Uke Group Rehearsal

Tuesday, March 12, 3:15-4pm: Uke Group Rehearsal

Wednesday, March 13, 2:10-3:15pm: Creative Expressions Showcase in Gym

Tues-Fri, March 19-22: MS Adventure Trip to the Snow!

Mon-Mon, March 25-April 1: Spring Break

Tuesday, April 2: Class Resumes

Tuesday, April 2, 3:15-4pm: Uke Group Rehearsal


Dear Middle School Family,


Adventure is afoot!  The kids started their initial explorations into their Adventure Projects this week.  One group asked me on Wednesday, "So, if we do all this work and build a snow shelter, can we spend the night in it?"  I responded immediately: "Of course.  That's the point!"  They gave me a dubious look.  They were certain I was going to say, "No."  Instead, I followed up with: "How are you going to make sure you'll make it through the night?"


Another group wants to make 'boffers' and have 'boffer wars.'  (Boffers are weapons made with pvc pipe and pipe insulation.  Home-made "Nerf" swords.)  "Sounds fun," I told them.  "We're going to be out there for 4 days together as a community, building community.  I need you to convince me that this will help achieve this goal."  They were also ready for, "No."  My response sounded like, "No."  


"It's not just me you have to convince," I continued.  "You have to convince Chrystell."  They threw up their hands in defeat.  "I can help you do that..."  I smiled.  


"Really?"  They rallied support from their classmates and are putting together a formal proposal to take to a meeting they've scheduled with the highest authority to explain the measures they're putting into place to ensure that this potentially ruinous social activity (beating on each other with foam weapons!) can actually help build community.  I'm convinced. (They still have to pitch their proposal to Chrystell.)


Another group of students has already secured winter clothing and food donations for the trip, and is still at work.  We've got game trackers, music orchestrators, skit planners, game and activity leaders...


Your children are planning the nuts and bolts of this Adventure.  They will live, work, and play together for a week in the Woods (with comfortable accommodations).  They will put their "academic" learning into practice in the real world, and share it with each other.  We are dedicating ALL our project work to this "place-study" work for the next two weeks.  Many of them, like the boffer group and the donation seekers, are already practicing invaluable skills.  All with practical purpose.


We sent home the permission slips for the trip on Tuesday.  Scholarships are available.  



Our academic schedule also rolls on.  The writing work we'll be doing over the next two weeks is adventure-based.  Place-based.  Sentence-based.  We're going to work on writing some rock-star, action-packed sentences.  We're going to test the limits of a single sentence.


Math rolls on.  Every student has math lessons (and assignments due) three days a week.  Our 30 students are divided into 7 different math groups to meet them where they're at.  We're constantly adjusting where we're at to meet the students' needs.  Attention to detail...  Critical Thinking...  Each math assignment averages 30 problems, three days a week.  Please check Jupiter Grades for details.


The Science has been hard, I know.  I teach lessons for each section of the reading to help the students navigate this difficult content and fill out their notes.  The tests are 'open-notes,' and cover exactly what we go over in the lessons.  We even do review sessions the day before the test, where I map out exactly what is going to be on the test.  Again.  Many students have been choosing NOT to participate in the lessons... You won't be surprised to hear that the third of the class that has been Acing the tests have been participating in the lessons.  (There's an important lesson here...)


What makes the Biology studies hard, I think, is that they've been an imaginative leap into activities we can't see.  In order to understand the mumbo jumbo of "Global Warming" and "Carbon Footprint," among other things, we need to understand our relationship to the Carbon cycle (Photosynthesis and Respiration).  An "average" understanding of these processes is necessary for us to move forward, and there's magic in the details.


We're studying nutrition and digestion next. Food is food, right?  (Wrong.)  We're going to ease up on the molecular details just a little, as we move into what our bodies do with the substances we choose to put into our bodies.  We'll spend the rest of the science year focusing on our role in the local food/energy cycle--what does an animal need and where does it come from?  What is the impact of our consumption on our environment?


Meanwhile, the Occupations Projects keep rolling forward.  In the last three weeks, we've made over $100 with our Snack Program.  More importantly, our Snack Program students are engaged in real world economic transactions and resource responsibilities.  (And they're engaging the younger students in money transactions.)  Our Building Green students have helped finalize the plans for our North Field Outdoor Classroom, and are going to start digging and building in the next few weeks.  Our Green Team has gathered all the bins and created all the signs to set up a Compost/Recycle/Trash program at our school, and is preparing educational programs for every classroom.  Our Amazon 'Stream Team' has cleared six wheel-barrow-loads of blackberries from the Amazon Creek in the last three weeks.


Whew!  Long e-mail.  There's a lot going on.  I'm pretty sure I missed something...  Please e-mail or call if you have any questions.

Jon and Carrie