Middle School

Carrie's News 12/15/22

Middle School Community,

Winter break is fast approaching! We’re a squirrelly bunch around here. We will return on January 3rd 2023. Our current term (Term 3), will end on January 20th.

Tomorrow, at 11 am Friday, December 19th the middle school will eat Pizza while we watch “The Princess Bride” up in Jon and Jen’s room.

Thank You to our parent volunteers who will be picking up Pizza and Salad from Costco!! We will cook a couple of Gluten Free Pizzas in the Room 12 oven for those who are gluten free.

Movie Party Schedule

8:30 Block 1

9:40 Break

9:50 Block 2

11:00 Start Movie

12:15 Lunch and Pizza Bar

12:30 Resume Movie


As part of our water quality unit, we are conducting investigations to answer the big question “How do you determine water quality in a community?” The week before last we planned our experiment on the effects of water quality on plant growth. As our plant growth investigation continues, we continue to conduct labs on other indicators of water quality.

~In our Lesson on pH as an Indicator of Water Quality, our students practiced pipette skills in goggles and lab aprons, while adding pH indicator to test tubes containing solutions varying from acid to base.

Some questions we answered were:

-After adding the cabbage juice pH indicator, what does the color of the solution tell you about the acidity of the solution?

-What happens when we add an alkaline solution to an acidic solution?

-What is the number assigned to a neutral pH?

-Are lower numbers on the pH scale acid or basic?

~ Questions from our Lesson on the Relationship between Dissolved Oxygen and Temperature:

- What appears to be the relationship between temperature and dissolved oxygen found in water?

- What appears to be the relationship between turbulence (stirring) and dissolved oxygen found in water? Students analyzed data displayed on line graphs, and used it to support their assertions.

~ From our Lesson on Classifying Macroinvertebrates:

- Students used a dichotomous key to identify three macroinvertebrates.

-Ask your students about the mnemonic device to remember the List of the Taxonomic Levels in the Kingdoms of Life Classification System: ”King Phillip…”

- Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species

~ Questions from our Lesson on The Marry Martans River Mystery: Macroinvertebrates in an Ecosystem.

-If polluted runoff could harm macroinvertebrates, which farms seem to be harming the macroinvertebrates? Support your answer with data and science knowledge.

-Does the data support the claim by any of the farms that their pollution-control measures are working? Explain your answer with data and science knowledge.

-List the macroinvertebrate species that were common to all three data points. If pollution is in the river, what effect do you think the pollution has on this set of macroinvertebrates?

-Which species of macroinvertebrates were found at only one data point? Which point was this? If pollution is in the river, what effect do you think the pollution has on this set of macroinvertebrates?

Have a Great Holiday Break!

See you next year,

Carrie and Christa

Middle School Science and Math Online Resources

CPM textbooks:

- All CPM students are to sign in to their online Textbooks at https://sso.cpm.org/ using Google Sign-In and their Ridgeline Email address. There is ‘core problem’ and homework support for every assignment, links to the Desmos online tool and many other resources.

- If a CC3 student cannot access this resource, they can use the CPM Core Connections 3 Homework Help Link: https://homework.cpm.org/cpm-homework/homework/category/CC/textbook/CC3

- For parents with students in CPM Core Connections 2, the link below leads to a good resource for getting your head around math concepts in CPM Core Connections, Course 2.

CPM Core Connections, Course 2 Parent Guide with Extra Practice:


Jon's News 12/12/22

Eugene International High School (Eugene IHS) is a choice school for students in grades 9-12 offering a 4-year interdisciplinary humanities curriculum focused on international studies. Students spend two class periods each school day in their IHS classes and the other three class periods in host school classes.

ANY student can enroll. All interested students must fill out an online 4J School Choice application, regardless of attendance area: www.4j.lane.edu/choice. The in-district deadline is January 31, 2023.

IMPORTANT DATES for the 2023-2024 School Year:

January 1……Online application period for 4J School Choice Lottery opens for in-district students

January 31…..Deadline to submit in-district 4J School Choice Lottery Applications

March 1………Online application period for 4J School Choice Lottery opens for out-of-district students

March 31……..Deadline to submit out-of-district 4J School Choice Lottery Applications

Spanish and French Immersion students from Monroe and Roosevelt will be enrolled in Eugene IHS without the lottery process because they entered immersion through the lottery in elementary or middle school. However, immersion students do need to submit the Eugene IHS Enrollment Form to the Eugene IHS office at South or Sheldon by the January 31st deadline. This form will be included in a special mailing to immersion families.

Eugene IHS will hold special 8th grade parent information nights: Please join us for any of the special information nights to learn more about our exciting school. The presentations will be the same on each night. Please attend any night you can.

  • South region: Wednesday, January 11, 7:00 pm at South Eugene High School Cafeteria (Includes French Immersion break-out session)

  • Sheldon region: Thursday, January 12, 7:00 pm at Sheldon High School Cafeteria (Includes Spanish Immersion break-out session)

  • Churchill region: Wednesday, January 18, 7:00 pm at Churchill High School Cafeteria

  • Any region – Presentation delivered in Spanish for Spanish Speakers: Thursday, January 19, 7:00 pm at 4J Education Center Auditorium in the 4J District Office located at 200 N. Monroe St., Eugene

  • Any region – Zoom Meeting (for anyone who can’t make one of the in-person presentations): Wednesday, January 25, 7:00 pm
    ZOOM link (also available on the Eugene IHS website): https://zoom.us/j/91711106921?pwd=bmM5SjZhVjFmV0dTTkFJdjYxZEFZZz09 Meeting ID: 917 1110 6921, Passcode: 901335

If your student has an interest in the world, and wants to learn about other countries and cultures, we hope they will consider becoming part of our Eugene IHS family.

For more information contact one of the Eugene IHS offices below, or visit the Eugene IHS website at www.ihs.4j.lane.edu.

Eugene IHS @ Churchill: 541-790-5225

Eugene IHS @ Sheldon: 541-790-6636

Eugene IHS @ South Eugene: 541-790-8030

Carrie's News 12/6/22

Middle School Community,

We started Term 3 on Monday, November 28th. This begins our second Trimester of the year (Term 3 and Term 4). Students were eager to begin their new M/W Winter Trimester Creative Communication electives. During the Term 3 - T/Th Creative Expressions electives time slot, Jon and I will be teaching health. Jon will be teaching a curriculum focused on physical health to the Purple cohort, and I will be teaching a curriculum focused on social, emotional, and mental health to the Red cohort. We will then repeat the same set of lessons for the other cohort over the course of Term 4. The content for the social/emotional/mental health curriculum is guided by the national health standards.

In Room 7, our Health content focus will be on the following:

– Acquire knowledge and skills to understand that mental, social and emotional health contributes to building and maintaining interpersonal and intrapersonal relationships.

Common Curriculum Goals: Demonstrate accessing information and interpersonal communication skills while understanding the components of mental, social and emotional health.

Explain how to build and maintain healthy family and peer relationships.

SKILL: IC (Demonstrate effective communication skills that encourage healthy relationships)

SKILL: DM (Make decisions that enhance or establish healthy relationships)

SKILL: AV (Advocate for healthy communication skills within relationships)

Identify qualities that contribute to a positive self image.

SKILL: INF (Analyze influences that may affect self-esteem (e.g., peers, media, adults)

Recognize diversity among people, including disability, gender, race, sexual orientation and body size.

SKILL: SM (Demonstrate appropriate ways to respect and include others who are different from yourself)

SKILL: AV (Advocate for respect)

Identify how emotions change during adolescence.

SKILL: AC (Identify school, home and community resources for mental and emotional health concerns)

Identify the causes, effects and symptoms of depression, including suicide.

SKILL: AC (Identify school and community resources that can help a person who is depressed or contemplating suicide)

SKILL: IC (Communicate to a peer ways of accessing help in a critical situation)

Explain disordered eating habits and symptoms.

SKILL: INF (Identify how food choices are influenced by culture, family, media, technology, peers, body image and emotions)

Identify different types of addictive behaviors.

SKILL: AC (Identify school and community resources for support of addictive behaviors)

SKILL: INF (Identify the influences that may encourage young people to try addictive drugs)

SKILL: DM (Use a decision making model to avoid or refuse addictive substances)


In science, we continue our investigations in order to answer the big question “How does water quality affect the ecology of a community?” This week we planned an experiment to examine the effects of fertilizer concentration on plant growth. Each individual brainstormed a proposal for an experiment design. They defined the independent variable, the dependent variable, and details regarding all other conditions and procedures in our experiment that needed to be addressed and controlled to make it a fair test.

Students were fully engaged in sharing their ideas! We came up with a class consensus, carefully structured plan for our setup and data collection procedures. We will begin collecting data at the beginning of next week (starting 12/6).

Ask your student about our Plant Growth as an Indicator of Water Quality Experiment:

-What are our independent (manipulated) and dependent (responding) variables?

-What were important procedures that we had to agree upon? (Ans: How often we will collect data, team roles, and how to find consensus about each of our data counts.)

-How did we decide to define and control our conditions? (Ans: light source and exposure, containers, water source, water volume, amounts of fertilizer, etc.)

- What are blind and double blind studies, and placebos, and how do they improve our confidence in experimental results?

-What issues did our group encounter in defining the responding variable (# of live/dead duckweed fronds)? How did we come to an agreement on how to define this variable?

- How many iterations of this experiment are we going to conduct?

-How could the number of iterations (repetitions) we conduct potentially affect our confidence in our results?

As our water quality investigations continue, we will conduct various labs to gain experience in collecting and analyzing data on other indicators of water quality. For instance, our students will apply the scientific method and cultivate pipette skills while decked out in goggles and lab aprons, by adding pH indicator to test tubes containing solutions varying from acid to base, and interpreting and communicating their results.

Best Regards,

Carrie and Christa

Middle School Science and Math Online Resources

CPM textbooks:

- All CPM students are to sign in to their online Textbooks at https://sso.cpm.org/ using Google Sign-In and their Ridgeline Email address. There is ‘core problem’ and homework support for every assignment, links to the Desmos online tool and many other resources.

- If a CC3 student cannot access this resource, they can use the CPM Core Connections 3 Homework Help Link: https://homework.cpm.org/cpm-homework/homework/category/CC/textbook/CC3

- For parents with students in CPM Core Connections 2, the link below leads to a good resource for getting your head around math concepts in CPM Core Connections, Course 2.

CPM Core Connections, Course 2 Parent Guide with Extra Practice:


Jon's News 12/6/22

Greetings, everyone.

As Carrie mentioned, we are guiding the students through a National Standards-based Health curriculum this Winter, through terms 3 and 4 in place of one of the students' electives.

Much of the social/emotional work in the Standards is addressed in our everyday interactions in the classroom. Additionally, students are participating in PE twice a week, and Dan is doing a great job helping them set and practice physical fitness goals.

We're using this elective time to fill in some of the specific gaps. Without going into all the nitty gritty details, here are the broad topics I'll be covering over 6 weeks:

PREVENTION AND CONTROL OF DISEASE – Acquire knowledge and skills to understand and practice health habits that can prevent and/or control disease. Common Curriculum Goals: Demonstrate self-management and advocacy skills while understanding the relationships among health behavior and prevention of disease.

PROMOTION OF HEALTHY EATING – Acquire knowledge and skills to understand and practice healthful nutrition that contributes to growth and energy and helps prevent chronic diseases. Common Curriculum Goals: Demonstrate self-management, analyzing influences, goal setting and advocacy skills while understanding the components of healthy eating

ALCOHOL, TOBACCO AND OTHER DRUG PREVENTION – Acquire knowledge and skills to understand the physical, social and emotional effects of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs and their use. Common Curriculum Goals: Demonstrate interpersonal communication, analyzing influences, and advocacy skills while understanding the impact of drug prevention.

We're also doing a few lessons on Personal Hygiene.

Please let me know if you have any questions.



Carrie's News 11/17/22

Our Middle School Community,

From Becky,

The Book Fair is Friday 11/18! Take a look at the eNews to see when your child will be performing and come to Whirled Pies at 5:00 to buy some books for the classrooms, for your own library or as gifts!

Stone Soup

  1. Monday (11/21) Please remind your students to bring veggies and a bowl and spoon to school today.

  2. Tuesday (11/22) If you forgot to bring veggies and a bowl and spoon to school Monday, bring them today! Students will sort veggies by type and cover cut veggies in plastic wrap in the Middle School kitchen, and then store them in the middle school refrigerator.

  3. Wednesday (11/23) Stone Soup. If your student forgot to bring a bowl and spoon to school Monday and Tuesday, bring them today!

    1. Bread baskets will be brought to the classrooms (gluten free options will be provided). Students can take one piece at first, and then extras can go to those that want it. Middle school classrooms will line up outside the gym at 2:00 pm. Each student will get one bowl of soup in the first round. Only after the entire school is served will there be second helpings offered. Students are encouraged to bring snacks to eat during lunch, to tide them over until 2 pm.

Term 2 Ends - On Wednesday 11/23, the middle school will follow our usual morning schedule, and Room 7 will wrap up final assignments and grading for the term.

Spring Chinook Salmon Update - In the image below, we have preserved specimens exhibiting the stages of Chinook Salmon development from Zygote to Swim Up Fry. On October 27th, we received our salmon eggs in the Eyed Egg stage (669 T.U’s). As of Thursday of this week, almost all of our Salmon have hatched into the Alevin stage of development.

Jon's News - TBA

Soon to come!

Carrie's News 11/3/22

Greetings Middle School Community!

Conferences are Wednesday November 9th, and Thursday November 10th. Please sign up for conferences, if you haven’t already!

Middle School Conference Sign-Up Link

We are looking forward to checking in with each and every one of you!

The entire middle school team will meet for 15 minutes with each family. We have enough spaces for everyone to sign up.

If you signed up to meet in person, when you arrive, you can just head on through the gate between the buildings up to Jon and Jen’s outside classroom door. We will be there.

If you chose to meet with us over Zoom when you signed up for conferences, you will find us here: Middle School Conference Zoom Link. at your designated time


We continue to investigate our big question, “How does water quality affect the ecology of a community?” Currently, we are engaged in the study of our own Willamette River watershed.

A few things your students should be able to tell you about the Willamette River watershed:

  • It covers only 12% of Oregon land, but contains 70% of Oregon’s population, including the urban areas of Eugene, Salem, and Portland.

  • The Willamette River does not end at the Ocean, instead, it pours into the Columbia River at a great waterfall in Oregon City.

  • There are many smaller watersheds nested within larger and larger watersheds. A few of the many rivers/watersheds within the Willamette watershed are the: Willamette, McKenzie, Long Tom, Santiam, Calapooia, and Clackamus.

    • * Ask your student what separates one watershed from another.

We are watching a film this week called “Upriver” about the many Willamette Basin Watershed Restoration Projects that have been ongoing since the 90’s, when the people of Oregon voted to contribute Lottery dollars to the restoration of our waterways.

Chinook Salmon Hatching Project

Our Chinook Salmon eggs arrived on October 27th! Thank you Brooke for the pick up and delivery! Student table groups have been collecting data daily on their development. Currently, we have about 155 eggs and 4 newly hatched fry (Alevin). The fish need very cold (~45-52℉) highly oxygenated water.

So far we have only lost 2 eggs!

Water Quality Indicators we will be testing/recording regularly:

  • Temperature

  • pH

  • Ammonia

Ask your student to describe their observations of our Chinook Salmon eggs.


Core Connections 2 and Algebra both had tests this week. Check your students’ grades with them. If they received less than 80% on the test, they are encouraged to complete a test corrections form to earn up to 80% on the test. Tests are heavily weighted in our gradebook and well worth the effort. They are welcome to have others (fellow students, family, friends, teachers, etc.) look over their corrections to help them find errors and make edits.

Enjoy the fall leaves, they are so beautiful.

With Gratitude,

Carrie and Christa

Jon's News 11/3/22

Dear Middle School Family,

November is a wacky month with all these events and days off. We have no school for Conferences and Veteran's Day next week (Wednesday through Friday), and no school on Thursday and Friday (Nov. 24-25) of Thanksgiving week.

School Conferences!

Next week Wednesday and Thursday (November 9 and 10) are Conferences! You can sign up for a 15 minute conference with the entire middle school team here:


Please make sure to bring your student with you to the conference! The main goal for our short meeting is for your child to have the opportunity to check in with their adult support team at home and school, all around one table. We're all in this together!

You can either come to school for an in-person conference in Jon's room in the back of building B, or we can do the conference via Zoom at this Middle School Conference Zoom Link.

To get to Jon's classroom, go through the black fence between the buildings and up the sidewalk and around back of Building B.

Ridgeline Book Fair!

This year, the Book Fair will be hosted by Books With Pictures Eugene on Friday, November 18 from 5-7pm. The Book Fair will be held at Whirled Pies on 8th and Charnelton. All the students in the Ukulele elective (half the class!) are invited to perform on stage. We'll be closing out the show at around 6:45pm.

Stone Soup is Back!

Bring in veggies for slicing on Tuesday, November 22. We'll do all the slicing on Tuesday, and Stone Soup is on Wednesday! No school Thursday and Friday, Nov. 24-25.

Term 2

We are mid-way through the second term of the school year. The last day of the term is Wednesday, November 23.

Article of the Week

Last week we started up the Article of the Week 'academic writing' program. Students are learning to write a two paragraph response to a newspaper article, citing evidence from the article. I conference with each student individually to discuss their writing and give them concrete feedback and suggestions for revision. And then they go back and do the revisions!

We're learning to write strong, on-topic paragraphs. It's a process, and it's going to take some time. We're only wrapping up the second AOW this week, but I'm already seeing big improvements in students' writing and clarity of thinking.

BANDs Documentaries

Our BANDs projects are wrapping up over the next couple of weeks. Students have put their collective imagination into developing land-based, "primitive" (no technology) human communities in specific bioregions. This week they've been designing stone and wooden tools, writing myths, building models of their village, and creating physical representations of food, shelters, and artifacts from their bioregion.

Next week, they're going to film a series of short documentaries from the perspective of anthropologists who are explaining each group's systems of community to an audience.

The purpose of this project has been to look at the way human beings organize and work together on two distinct levels. First, the students are working creatively, trying to imagine what life would look like without modern technology, in a world where our need for community and cooperation is essential to survival. Second, the students are working out how to divide labor for a complex task fairly, to advocate for themselves, and to support each other's efforts.

We're talking a lot about the complexity of group work and when and how it's important to work together. Collaborating in small groups to come to consensus about the nature and specifics of a small, cooperative society is one of those rabbit holes that is proving to be fascinating.

Communication is the key! We can't support each other's needs if we don't know what they are. And, as individuals, we often don't know what it is we need, exactly, just that we feel uncomfortable or frustrated.

Is it possible to fairly meet everyone's needs and expectations in a small group? In a classroom? In a community? In a nation? This is our driving question this year as we dig into US History and Government.

We look forward to meeting with all of you next week!

Have a great weekend!

Jon and Jen

Carrie's News 10/5/22

Greetings Middle School Community,

You recently received information about a field trip to Mount Pisgah, coming up on Tuesday, October 18th.

I will be sending out information soon about another all day field trip to Whittaker Creek on Monday, November 14th. If you are green badge certified, mark your calendars, and request time off work if necessary. We would love to have you along! We will need 6 chaperones (2 of which we will need to drive a total of 6 students) for this trip. More information and Chaperone permission forms about this trip are coming your way very soon! There may be some overlap in information coming out about both field trips, so just know that you will be receiving two separate sets of field trip permission forms in the next week or so.


On Wednesday, in science, we watched a time lapse video of a simulation depicting the pattern of the rising and setting of the sun, moon and stars over the course of a year. ( Observing the Sky at https://youtu.be/pgfWSCTpq2Y )

After reviewing prompts, students took notes on how the height and duration of the visibility of these celestial bodies changed over time. The Application is a pretty cool resource called Stellarium.

Some of the reflection questions they responded to were:

What patterns did your group notice while observing the video of the sky?

Were there any objects that did not follow a pattern or that didn’t appear to move?

If so, where was it located in the sky?

How do our observations compare with the observations from other civilizations we have heard?

Today we created a visual model of our observations and began work on creating a model to explain the patterns of movement and orientation between the Earth, Moon, Sun and stars that explains our observations.


Some Notes about Math Tests and test corrections.

Encourage your students to do test corrections by the Friday of the week after they get their test returned. Each math assignment is worth 5 points in their overall math grade. Each Chapter test is worth 25 points on their overall math grade. Each test is worth 5 assignments.

Our Test Corrections policy is as follows:

  • Students are encouraged to complete the test correction form if and only if they earned <80% on their test, since a score of 80% represents mastery of the content.

  • For each point missed on their test, the student can earn back ½ point for correcting each error only up to 80% on their test when completing test corrections.

  • Students are encouraged to use the glossary of their book to review the concept, and then consult friends, family, and/or teachers to check their corrections. We want them to get the learning and the points for their effort. Often they will find AN error, correct it and move on, when that is not the only error they made in the problem. They must get the problem correct in order to earn the point.

  • They must rework the entire problem in the box on the left. This is our policy so that we can see their work and help them recognize where the error occurred, so they can practice new habits.

  • They must complete and follow the directions on the Test Corrections Form. A sample is provided above.


Fall leaves are on their way!

Carrie and Christa

Jon's News 10/5/22

Dear Middle School Family,

It's hard to believe the first term of middle school is winding down to an end next Thursday, October 13. (There's no school Friday, 10/14 or Monday, 10/17.)

What this means, in practical terms, is that we will close the books on assignments for Term 1 next Thursday. We'll accept late work up until next Thursday, and we'll wrap up grading for the term. On Tuesday, October 18, grades reset and we start fresh with a new term.

I've had a few questions from families about some of our nuts and bolts, so I thought this would be a good time to address them (now that the students have a term of managing the systems under their belts and are feeling more confident).


I don't assign homework, specifically. Sometimes students work ahead, or spend time at home to catch up on work in Communications/Humanities. However, there is no expectation for students to do work for my class at home.

I try very hard to provide the students with challenging and engaging work, and I'm very committed to making sure they have enough time in class to get their work done here at school.

It's going to take time for our students to adjust to the workload expected in middle school. We're already making progress. If you are concerned about the amount of work your child is doing at home for my class, let's please connect soon and talk about what we can do to support them.

Late Work

Jen and I pay close attention and keep tabs on where students are at with the weekly workload, as a whole class, and we're constantly adjusting the pacing of our assignments to fit into the time we have at school. This means that we sometimes extend deadlines or drop assignments as needed. And... illnesses happen, and students sometimes fall behind on their work for all kinds of reasons that we teachers have no control over.

As a general rule, we accept late work until the end of the following week. (So, an assignment due on a Tuesday, for example, can be turned in up to the following Friday.) We regularly make exceptions to this rule. Especially since, oftentimes, the student did the work; they just forgot to get the assignment turned in!

We're super flexible when it comes to deadlines. It's best that students do their best to stay caught up with what's happening right now, this week, before they work on catching up on past assignments. The assignments we're working on during the week are closely tied to the activities and discussions we're engaging in during class.

I keep saying to the kids: "Learning is what's important, not the grades."

Grading System

I'm totally serious about this. Ridgeline is a Montessori school. One of our jobs in the middle school program is to help our students confidently make the transition to public high school. We do grades as part of this process of preparation. I've created a very intentional feedback system to keep me and Jen very aware of what's working (and not working) in the classroom.

Jen and Jon grade everything on a Plus, Check, Minus system. 5, 4, or 3 points. You get three points (60%) just for turning an attempt at the assignment in. If students get a minus (3) on an assignment, they can revise or expand it for a better grade. We give them feedback for what they need to do for a better grade.

What we always want is more intention, more effort: we want capital letters at the beginning of a sentence and punctuation at the end of every sentence, at the very least

What the grades mostly measure is how much of the work your student is doing. If your student has an average of 60% (passing in most schools), it's a good indicator that they are making an attempt at every assignment and turning it in. If a student is earning less than 60%, it waves a red flag for all of us that the student needs more intentional support.

The space between 60%-100%, where grades are concerned, is a three-dimensional rainbow of information. Here's how I look at each assignment: Minus: They did something and turned it in;

Check: They did a good job and turned it in; Plus: They demonstrated growth and turned it in.

A 'Check' is considered a demonstration of "Mastery." I won't look at a 'Check' again. It's good enough. "Move on to the next task." Students can revise a 'Minus' for a better grade.

When we get to the more serious writing that we're conferencing one on one with each student, the assignments are worth the weight of two assignments. Students often ask for a 'Minus' on the assignment I was going to give them a 'Check' for, so they can revise it. They take the feedback I give them and put in the effort to revise the assignment for a Plus.

This part of the grading system serves two purposes: 1. Catch and support students who are struggling. 2. Subjectively measure the engagement and growth of every student.

Learning is not a percentage of some arbitrary whole. Learning is a constant growth process. It's a habit of mind.

My curriculum in both Language Arts and Social Studies is closely aligned with the Oregon State Standards. The Standards set important goals for us to achieve. Each assignment in Jupiter Ed is tagged with the ELA Standards that the assignment is addressing. So, in addition to Jupiter Ed providing an at-a-glance picture of how much work each student is getting done, I can run a report that shows how well each student is performing at each of the ELA standards that our curriculum is addressing.

Sick Days Make-up Work

If a student is out sick, I ask that they come and check in with me as soon as they get back. We go over the assignments they missed, and I typically excuse them from many of the minor assignments. We prioritize the things they should get done to catch up to speed with what we're engaging in as a whole class.

Taking the initiative to check in with us when they get back after being out of school for whatever reason is a skill that is going to be vital to their success in high school. (And it will greatly reduce their stress level in the here and now.) Please remind your student to check in with us when they get back.

The bottom line is we're invested in learning and growth. We're invested in your children, not points they've earned.

AND we're trying to help them learn the habits they need in order to be "successful" in high school.

Hopefully all this answers some of your questions. I'm happy to meet, or email, or talk over the phone if you have any questions or concerns. It's always better to connect sooner rather than later.


Jon and Jen

Carrie's News 9/22/22

Middle School STEM Update 9/22/22

AN INVITATION TO A BRAVE SPACE -Together We will create brave space, because there is no such thing as a “safe space.” We exist in the real world. We all carry scars and we have all caused wounds. In this space, We seek to turn down the volume of the outside world. We amplify voices that fight to be heard elsewhere, We call each other to more truth and love. We have the right to start somewhere and continue to grow. We have the responsibility to examine what we think we know. We will not be perfect. It will not always be what we wish it to be, but It will be our brave space together, and We will work on it side by side. - Micky Scottbey Jones

Welcome to our new and returning families!

We have hit the ground running! The 7th graders seem to be adjusting to middle school life, on top of the adjustments our returning community members are making to the level of presence, engagement, and human interactions inherent in our school environment. It is a big adjustment for all. We talked a lot about creating intellectual, emotional, and physical “safe” space in the first week. Then, I received the quote above at a Professional Development training over the weekend, and was inspired by how this message resonated and expanded on our group agreements. Your students are already showing up in a big way to create brave space together. Kindness abounds! It is almost as though they are Montessori kids! :)


Volunteering Opportunities

There are many capacities in which you can support the middle school: digital processing, prepping materials, joining field trips, teaching a creative expression elective, shopping for cookie crew supplies, and cleaning classroom laundry (towels) are just a few. Please contact us if you have any interest and/or questions about volunteering.

A little more on teaching a Creative Expression elective..

Do you have one or more passions and/or skills that you would love to teach to a small group of middle school students? Opportunities to volunteer in this capacity are on either MW or TTh from 1:30 to 2:20 or Fridays from around 11 am to 1:05 pm. The commitment would be for two terms (about 14 weeks).


Science -

We have officially kicked off our Earth and Life science year with our unit on Earth in Space. Your students will be bringing home a worksheet with the following questions and prompts, today! If they forgot it, no worries, they can write them up on a sheet of paper. If they don’t remember an example pattern or event, ask them about our “Manhattenhenge” video and discussion.

Community Connections to the Sky

Go home and connect with your friends, family, and trusted community members.

First, share with them what we have been talking about and share an example of a pattern or event we discussed in class. Let them know that this is not about weather, but about patterns we think are connected to space. Then ask them these questions:

  1. What patterns or phenomena have they seen in the sky?

  2. What stories have they heard from their family and community about patterns others have observed in the sky or about things on Earth that are connected to patterns and objects in the sky?

Math -

The first few weeks of the year, we are in a warm-up period. As I mentioned above, everyone is in the process of adjusting to a drastically shifted daily routine. Students are familiarizing (or refamiliarizing) themselves with our systems, expectations, and the unique features of their math curriculum.

Math Class Daily Routine Snapshot

When we meet each day for math, we begin by checking the math assignment listed in Jupiter Ed as Due on that date. Students then exchange notebooks and check each other’s work.

Just a few of my many reasons for our peer checking system:

  • Students have the opportunity to see how other students communicate their thinking.

  • Students have the opportunity to struggle (or not struggle) to find or decipher the work or answers of other students. This offers the best feedback and learning opportunities to each student for how they can improve the organization and presentation of their work.

  • They must engage with and process information a second time, with the ‘correct’ answer provided. We will often have in depth discussions about what is required/acceptable. Often, especially in the ‘explain your thinking’ questions, acceptable answers are defined by group agreement, based on the curriculum expectations and the path we took in the previous day's lesson. Once again, this is a review and rethink opportunity.

  • They practice calculating percent every day.

  • They are accountable to each other, and have to advocate for themselves, negotiate, communicate, and resolve misunderstandings. All great metacognitive learning that will benefit them in every aspect of their life that will inevitably involve interactions with other humans!

After checking the assignment from yesterday’s lesson, students return their notebooks to each other, and write the header for the assignment due the following day. Each assignment is in Jupiter Ed, as well as written up on the white board. Each student has, pasted in the front of their math journal, rubrics describing the expectations for how to write a header, as well the expectations for how to work through each assignment in their math journal. We have reviewed these in class, and are reviewing them as we work through these first assignments of the year. After a generous adjustment period for new students, they will become expectations. Returning students are expected to model these expectations, and support their peers as they learn the ropes.

Each of the Core Connections curriculum assignments begins with a lesson around the core problem (practice problems) section, and is followed by the homework section, titled “Review and Preview.” Students work through the core problems together in class with my support. It is designed in such a way that students are to engage with the problems by trying on their own ideas. They are not just hand fed formulas. They are given scenarios and the opportunity to apply mathematical concepts in their efforts to solve problems. Sharing ideas with their peers is an essential part of this process.

At the beginning of the year, we often do not get through all of the core problems in each assignment during the work period. In these instances, students are to just complete the homework, and we will continue working through the core problems the next day.


The homework section of the assignment is titled “Review and Preview.” Research has shown that students retain math skills if they are exposed to concepts repeatedly over time. The homework section is, by design, full of a variety of problems that provide the opportunity for students to practice the many math skills and concepts that they have learned previously. As they learn new skills in the core problem section of each assignment, those will be added to the homework section for continuing practice.

Students will have little time in class to do homework. Students will complete four math assignments a week. If we do not get through the four assignments by Thursday, we will work on them on Friday’s as well, and what is not completed in class will have homework over the weekend. By Monday morning, each of the math assignments due through the Following Tuesday, should be entered in Jupiter Grades.


Please help your student set up a designated and protected time and space to do math homework, free from household or sibling distractions.

Also, help your student understand the difference between the “Due” date and the “Do” date. They are expected to arrive at school with the assignment completed to the best of their ability. There will not be time in science, math, or humanities to complete the assignment. If they get stuck on a problem, they are to skip it and complete the remainder of the assignment. They can ask for help with that problem at the beginning of class. Often there will be other students who have the same question.

It is often a challenge for 7th graders to adjust to the homework load. It takes them a while to get the hang of managing their homework in their personal time. By the end of 8th grade, they will be juggling responsibilities that often feel more than daunting at this time. We believe in holding a bar for our students, and providing the tools, and the opportunities for them to rise to their potential. It is awe inspiring to see how much they evolve and mature over the two years we are working in community together!

Each Core Connections student has already signed in to their digital textbook resource! If they forget their textbook, no worries, they can sign in and it is all right there! Even better, the online textbook had graphing resources and ‘hint’ opportunities for assigned problems. Having your student sign in to this resource is a great first step in helping them with any questions they may have at home. Ask them to read the problem to you first off. Often, this is enough for them to have an epiphany about what they are supposed to do next. ;)

Core Connections Mathematics website suggestions for how to support your student:

Download the Parent Guide: https://cpm.org/effective-learning-resources/ to stay connected to what your child is learning.

  • You can preview or review the lessons with your child using the Parent Guide.

  • If your student asks for help, ask them questions that will lead to their figuring out how to do the problem themselves.

  • Encourage them to find Homework Help in their online textbook.

  • Discuss with your children the importance of mathematics for their future.

  • Instill in them the idea that they can learn mathematics.

Cheers to the return of rain, tea, and boot weather!

Carrie and Christa

Jon's News 9/22/22

Dear Middle School Family,

It was delightful to have everyone back in class (on and off) this week. Keep taking good care of yourselves!

This week, we really got things rolling. We're still in the assessment phase, working out what folks know and what lessons we need to teach. We're also still working out pacing of the curriculum, and getting to know the systems for finding assignments, and turning things in.

It's going really well!


We dove into our Humanities curriculum this week. As I mentioned before, our focus this year is on US History and Government. I am going to be teaching this in a way that is sort of upside down from what we're used to. We're going to learn about the U.S. government by starting with the individual citizen.

We tend to think of our government as an immutable entity. It just is what it is. Fortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. Since its inception, the United States has been an experiment in Democracy, a work in progress. Despite our struggles and successes, we are still a long way off from "Liberty and Justice for All."

This week, we started our journey to understand our individual roles in our Democracy by going all the way back to the first evidence of modern human existence some 200,000 years ago in the Omo river valley near Ethiopia.

We are watching the BBC series, "The Incredible Human Journey" in class over the next couple of weeks. Alice Roberts is a medical doctor and anthropologist who takes us on a journey around the globe to various sites where we have discovered evidence of human existence and migration over the course of the last 200,000 years.

Students watched the first two episodes in class this week and took notes. Then they worked in teams of five to create a quiz to highlight the 10 most important bits of information from each episode.

I know what you're thinking: "Isn't it the teacher's job to create the quiz to highlight the most important bits of information in each episode?"

The most important thing I hope to teach our students this year is to collaborate and share perspectives on what's important, on what's true, on what matters. My perspective on what's important is just one perspective. I'm certainly a voice in the discussion, and I'm the one choosing what material we're discussing, but, ultimately, we are working collectively to create meaning together.

It's hard at first. It's hard to decide for ourselves what's important. Once we've made those decisions, it's even harder to be open to other people's perspectives on what's important. From the very get go this year, we are working together to normalize these discussions and this way of thinking about 'truth.' We are working to build the muscles to accept that opposing ideas can all be equally true and valid.

On the content end of things, these videos are showing us the development of human societies from small bands of individuals struggling to survive as animals in the wild, to participants in complex systems of government that attempt to (hopefully) take care of our collective needs.

It's difficult, in the context of growing up in modern America, to conceptualize what it would mean to live as a primitive human animal struggling to survive in the wild. In order to understand the role and intention of government, I believe it is necessary to start with what we fundamentally need to survive. It is impossible to thrive as individuals, let alone as a society, if these fundamental needs aren't being met.

There is no doubt that we are still struggling on all fronts to provide for the basic needs of all of our citizens. It's important that we start by acknowledging that this puzzle is 200,000 years old and still hasn't been solved. Our work this year will be to envision what parts we, as individuals and as a community, can play in making life better for all of us.

It's good stuff! Important stuff.

Whew. That's a lot to digest. I'll leave it there for this week. Next time, I'll give you a little more insight into the nuts and bolts of our Communications work.

It feels good to be back in the swing of things, friends. We're sure grateful to be able to spend our days learning and growing with your amazing kids.


Jon and Jen

Jon's News 9/13/22

Dear Middle School Family,

Welcome back! We had an epic return to school last week! And a clear lesson that Covid is still very much a part of our current reality. Masks and hand washing and social distancing are going to continue to be part of our lives for a while, yet. Let's please take care of each other!

We're putting all of our more content-driven work on hold for Communications and Humanities until we have everyone back in school. If you're out sick, please focus on taking good care of yourself and getting better. We'll work on bringing you up to speed when you're back at school.

Middle School Class Meeting: Tuesday, September 20, 6pm

Most of you probably already have the back to school picnic on your calendar for Tuesday, September 30. The picnic starts at 5:30pm, so please join the families out in the south field for a quick bite and some catching up, and then come on over to Carrie's classroom, Room 7, in the front, south corner of building B.

Carrie and Jon will be leading a Middle School Class Meeting from 6-7pm. We plan to run through the middle school schedule and explain what and how we're teaching your kids. It will be a fun opportunity to check in about how things are going, and answer any questions y'all have. We promise to be done by 7pm.


I made a command decision this summer that is hopefully going to simplify all of our lives. Instead of having a separate class for Communications and Humanities, I have combined the two into one class, so it's easier to track which assignments are due when, in one list of assignments.

The only downside I can see is that students won't receive a separate grade for Communications and Humanities. Ultimately, I don't think it matters that much. The eighth graders agree: this is a much easier way to track assignments the students are responsible for.

Humanities Quick Overview

This year's Humanities curriculum will center on US History and Government. In particular, we will be examining the roles and responsibilities of citizens in the US government. We will look at the ways that "normal citizens" have stepped up to create positive change in their communities, and in our country. Perhaps most importantly, we will look for ways that we can be of service to our community and engage in community service projects in the spring.

It's going to be some seriously empowering work.

Communications Quick Overview

I look at the traditional "English Language Arts" requirements through the lens of Communication and Media Literacy to prepare our students for life in the digital age. We're going to continue to do authentic writing assignments all year that strengthen our ability to communicate in all forms.

I was accepted as a fellow in the Journalistic Learning Initiative this year, and have access to a ton of resources and materials to help students become critical consumers of the media. The work we'll be doing this year in the community will lend well to helping the students find the important stories that are happening right here in our community, and tell them well. It's going to be a good year for writing.

Personal Growth Projects

To get things started, this week the students are creating Blogs that they'll be posting to weekly, documenting their progress on their Personal Growth Projects. The Personal Growth Projects (PGPs) can pretty much be anything the students are passionate about learning. The main criteria for choosing their PGP is that their families need to approve of it, and the students need to be able to access the activities they want to learn and write about.

Please ask your student about their Personal Growth Project and help them choose something that is exciting for them, and also possible to access. Some of the projects they're choosing are things that they have to do outside of school (like horseback riding, or Minecraft world-building, or aerial silks, for example).

The blog assignment is meant to be a content creation project, using their PGP as the content. Some activities, like poetry, short videos, or learning an instrument lend themselves a little easier to writing an engaging blog post. Please help your student choose a project they're already actively doing, or that you know they'll stay excited about. If they change their mind in a month, or a week, they can try something else!

The main thing we're trying to accomplish here is to give them something they're excited to write about every week.

That's it, for now. We hope to see you next Tuesday.

Have a great week!

Jon and Jen