Jon's Weekly Update 4-24-17

posted Apr 24, 2017, 1:46 PM by Cynthia Friedman
Tues, April 25, 3:15-4pm, 6-6:45pm TRUE PERFORMANCE: Ridgeline Project Fair
Thurs, April 27, 6pm                          TRUE PERFORMANCE: OSLP Fundraiser, Sam Bonds Foundry
Tues, May 2, 3:15-4:15pm                  TRUE Rehearsal
Thur, May 4, 3:15-4:15pm                 TRUE Rehearsal
Tues, May 9, 3:15-4:15pm                  TRUE Rehearsal
Thurs, May 11                                      Field Trip: 7th Grade: Canopy Connections, 8th Grade: Tree2Tree
Thur, May 11, 3:15-4:15pm                 ****NO TRUE Rehearsal
Tues, May 16, 3:15-4:15pm                  TRUE Rehearsal
Thur, May 18, 3:15-4:15pm                 TRUE Rehearsal
Fri., May 19                                         Jogathon
Sat, May 20, 4-7pm                             TRUE PERFORMANCE: Student Uke Jam, Whirled Pies, Downtown
Mon, May 22                                       Smarter Balanced Testing Begins
Tues, May 23, 12:30pm-12am            TRUE PERFORMANCE: DT Portland and Arlene Schnitzer opening for Jake Shimabukuro and the Oregon Symphony
Sat, May 27, 12pm                              TRUE PERFORMANCE: Spencer Creek Grange 
Mon, June 5-Thurs, June 8              Adventure Trip 2017
Fri, June 9                                          **NO SCHOOL--Middle School ONLY
Thurs, June 15, 6-8pm                       8th Grade Graduation
Fri, June 16                                          Last Day of School

Dear Middle School Family,

We've spent this school year digging into Democracy. I wish I could say it's been a perfectly planned, streamlined learning process, but... if that were the case, it wouldn't be a Learning process. Learning is messy. So is Democracy.

Democracy is an experiment.  It's an ideal that we're still striving to understand how to make happen. It starts with understanding how the ideal works: By the People, for the People. I refuse to give up hope that this is the true goal of our Democracy. There's no "easy path" when it comes to Liberty and Justice for ALL of our People. There is work. And more work.

In the middle school, we're working out what this means, in practical terms. What does it mean to be a Citizen? What makes Democracy work?

This was the topic of the essay your student has been working on these last two weeks. They read "The Creed of Democracy," published in the 1940s, that laid out 60 essential elements of Democracy. It's an incredible document that resonated deeply with our community. (I've attached it to this e-mail.) I asked the kids to highlight the 10 things they thought were most important. Then I coached the whole class, step by step, through the process of writing a 5 paragraph essay, over the course of two weeks.

As the students wrote each part of the essay, Introduction, Body, and Conclusion, Maizzy and I helped troubleshoot their essays individually, coaching them through their writing process (and their thought process). We've been scribbling all over their drafts and talking about their writing one on one. They've been fixing things up and coming back for more. After I scratched all over a student's third draft today, I told her, "I'm sorry. I know you thought you were done." She told me, enthusiastically, "No. I want to make it better." 

This! is the behavior our Democracy needs: "I want to make it better." What I've learned this year is that the more personally responsive we've been, as teachers, to the students' work, the more they are invested in doing their best work. It all starts with Important Work. There's a lot of important work to be done.

We have four more weeks of strictly "academic" work left in the school year. We will begin Smarter Balanced testing on May 22. Until then, students will be mainly working on their Immigration projects and one final writing project. We're going to treat the testing as just another assignment. It'll be pretty chill. There will be no other academic work while we're doing the testing. Electives will continue through to the end of the year.

Thank you to Peggy, Tiffany, Daniel, and Meredith for taking charge of the ice cream social and decorations for the 8th Grade Graduation on Thursday, June 15. We'll be in touch later in May to sort out details.

Thank you to Erin, Jen, Laura, Ethan, Darcy, and Erik or Lela Zapata-Minchow for volunteering to join us on the Adventure Trip from June 5-8. That brings the adult total to 10 with Jon, Carrie, Maizzy, and Taylor.  There are 50 students going on this trip! I think we've got it covered, but if you'd like to join us, please let me know, ASAP!

Lot's of uke-tivity in the next month. No after school TRUE Rehearsals this week. We're playing for Project Fair, instead, on Tuesday, and we're playing at Sam Bonds Foundry on Thursday evening.

This is my favorite part of the school year. So much going on!

Jon and Maizzy