Jon's Weekly Update 5-22-17

posted May 23, 2017, 9:43 AM by Cynthia Friedman
Fri., May 19                                         Jogathon
Sat, May 20, 4:30-6:30pmpm             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
Thur, May 25, 3:15-4:15pm               ** LAST TRUE Rehearsal**
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
Tues, June 13, 5:30pm                        TRUE PERFORMANCE: Ridgeline Picnic!           Thurs, June 15, 6-8pm                       8th Grade Graduation
Fri, June 16                                          Last Day of School
Sat, June 17, 1-3pm                            TRUE PERFORMANCE: Harlow Neighborhood Block Party

Dear Middle School Family,

Lots to talk about.  Let's get the important details out of the way first:

Adventure Trip
Currently, we have six parents counted in as confirmed chaperones. That amounts to 10 responsible adults on the trip. Thank you for volunteering, we have enough adults for the trip to be a solid, safe GO. Please let me know ASAP if your plans have changed. Please let me know if you are not listed, but would like to join us, even if for just a day or two. (There's paperwork and background checks that must be filled out!)

You should have received a permission slip last week. Please return it ASAP. Taking 50 teenagers camping requires a lot of planning. Last minute planning is very stressful.  Please help us out, and get it in early, so we can let this detail go.

Smarter Balanced Assessment
We start working on the Smarter Balanced Assessment next week. Not a big deal. It's just school work. The students are ready. If your student has opted out, I sincerely ask you to reconsider. They're going to do well, and it provides us with good data about how we can support their growth. (Please let me know if you change your mind.)

We will take the morning easy, and start working on the assessment at 9am. We'll take a half hour break at 10:30am, and chase the kids outside. Then we'll swap classes at 11am, and work on the other assessment until lunch at 12:30pm. Afternoons, electives and PE/Foreign Language will continue as usual.

Immigration Project Wrap-up 
We tried a new approach to the student presentations with this immigration project, and it has been an interesting success. Instead of making them stand up in front of the whole class and present, while the rest of the class (not)listens, we broke into small groups and had the students share their newfound expertise with the group to achieve a common purpose. Let me explain.

As you know, we've been studying US immigration policies and human stories for some time now. The students each chose a topic of interest that would help them fill out the "in general" story we all learned. Students asked questions such as: 

"Is Assad to blame for the crisis in Syria?"
"Could the Irish Potato Famine have been avoided?" 
"Were the immigration acts subsequent to the Page Act of 1875 discriminatory in nature?"
"Can an undocumented migrant worker become successful in the US?"
"Is there hope for refugees?"

Students have spent the last several weeks digging deep into the internet to explain the answer to the research question they formulated with careful coaching from me and Maizzy. They all prepared detailed presentations, expecting to present them to the whole class.  Instead, on Monday, we broke the students into diverse teams of 5, and the students presented their findings to their small groups with a clear common purpose.

We asked the students to listen to each other's presentations, and take notes, with a goal: The students had to combine their newfound expertise in their diverse perspectives to answer a single question: "Should the US abandon all immigration policies and allow anyone who wants to become a US citizen to easily become one?"

They spent the next two days putting together group presentations that combined all of their researched perspectives to provide an informed, well-argued explanation of their answer. We listened to 5 presentations in each class on Thursday, and the consensus was largely that our immigration policies need to be more equitable, and the processes more simple and fair. 

The students were particularly concerned about the refugee crises in Africa and Syria, and providing sanctuary for more of the people in the world who have no home to call Home.

I'm so proud of the deep empathy and compassion our students feel, and practice in their daily lives. It's been a joy to grow with them this school year.

One more week of hard work as we show off what we can do, and then we play together to finish off the year.

Love, love, love these responsible young adults.
Jon and Maizzy