Jon's Weekly Update 9-14-12

posted Sep 14, 2012, 11:46 AM by Cynthia Friedman

Dear Middle School Family,


And we're off! I can't help but wonder if your kids are as wiped out as mine are this week. There was an interesting article in this year's July issue of the Scientific American addressing the question, "Does Thinking Really Hard Burn More Calories?"  It's an interesting read...


We're settling into a rhythm this week, getting used to the basic routine and setting up our systems: 



1) Math lessons and independent work in the mornings

2) Lunch and Silent Reading in the middle

3) Occupations and Humanities projects in the afternoon

4) "House Challenges" after lunch on Wednesday

5) "Creative Expressions" classes on Wednesday afternoons

6) P.E. Tuesday and Thursday afternoon

7) Classroom Jobs every day.  Jobs change weekly

8) Community Clean-up on Friday afternoon

9) Ukuleles every morning! (except Friday)

10) Current Events presentations every day



1) Jupiter Grades on Monday to transfer the week's assignments and school events into their hard copy Day Planner.  

2) Take the Day Planner HOME and talk with your parents about what's going on for the week.  Add family events to your calendar. Have your parent sign your planner Monday night confirming that your whole week is in there.  Bring your planner back on Tuesday to get checked into Jupiter Grades by Carrie.

3) Math in their "Math Notebooks."  Assignments graded daily in math lessons on the DUE DATE in Jupiter Grades.

4) Reading Journals and Journal Entries in their "Inquiry Journals"

5) Formal written assignments in Google Docs, turned in to their "Turned In" folder.

6) "Inquiry Journals" turned in on Thursday afternoon in their hanging folder before PE.


You're probably wondering what these "Humanities and Occupations" projects are all about, and why we're spending so much time on them. It's a legitimate question.  For the complete rundown, please come to the Parent Meeting on Wednesday, October 3 in the Middle School Classroom from 6-7pm.  The short and skinny is that I've divided the school year into 5 Terms.  Students will spend half of each term working on a Humanities project and the other half of the term working on an Occupations Project.


Humanities Projects are cultural in nature.  Students will use the five themes of geography as a jumping point to learn more about the history, culture, literature, art, etc. of various regions of the world. We're starting with Eugene to understand the framework for exploration, and will cover: the Middle East, Southeast Asia, North Africa, and South America this year.  Students will engage in projects to teach their classmates about very specific communities in these big regions.  It's basically a jigsaw approach to explore vast regions and learn from each other's explorations.


Occupations Projects are... occupational in nature.  Students have chosen projects to meet the real needs of the Ridgeline Community.  Their top choices were: Lunch Program, Library, Outdoor Classroom/Garden/Bike Parking, and the Assisted Living facility next door.  Students will pilot a school lunch program, starting with one day a week; they will build and manage the school library, starting with the middle school library; they will work with a team of student architects from the UO to design, plan, and build an outdoor classroom/garden (and hopefully) bike parking in our north field; they will also build relationships with residents and do work to support our neighbor Assisted Living Facility.


Creative Expressions on Wednesday afternoons are also a new, exciting addition to the Ridgeline tradition.  In addition to our amazing choir program, we've rallied the upper el and middle school assistants and teachers to create more small-group opportunities for our students to explore creative expression.  We've divided the year into 5 terms.  Students will spend 6 Wednesdays exploring and producing art, and will participate in a group exhibition on the 7th Wednesday.  Then we start over, giving students the chance to explore other opportunities.  This Term, we're offering: Painting, Drawing, Adventure Writing, Drama, Adventure Cooking, Tai Chi, Knitting, Mask Making, and Choir.  Drama and Choir are a little larger, by necessity, but every other class is capped at 8 students.  Pure awesome!  This would be an amazing volunteer opportunity, if you have skills in any of these areas!


Yes, this really is what Middle School can look like (for starters).  Granted, we're still working out the kinks... =)


Loving the work we've chosen,

Jon and Carrie