Middle School

Carrie's News


Jon's News 5/3/23

Dear Middle School Family,

Things are moving swiftly towards the end of the school year. This week we are wrapping up our second batch of "America: The Story of US" presentations, covering the period of time from the end of the Civil War until the present. The series carries on much the same as the first six episodes, and students have been doing deep dives into stories that weren't well-represented in the series.

Students' short, low-stakes presentations will be happening on Thursday, May 4. 

On Monday, May 8, we start State testing. 

All students will take the ELA (English Language Arts) tests the week of May 8-12 while they're in my class. There will be no Communication/Humanities work while we are taking the ELA test. Students will continue with their regular Math/Science lessons that week.

The week of May 15-19, all of the students will be taking their Math tests (and Science tests for 8th graders). There will be no Math/Science lessons that week. Students will jump back into Communications/Humanities lessons that week. We're going to wrap up the school year with a creative writing project.

Adventure Trip Update

We are finalizing details on the MS Adventure Trip. We'll be sending home the Permission Forms very soon. We'll send out an email when they go home, so you'll know to dig them out of your student's backpack!

KIDZ Rock! Festival

If you're looking for something fun to do this weekend, TRUE, the Ridgeline Ukulele Extravaganza, and Ultraviolet will be playing at the KIDZ Rock! Festival at Whirled Pies on Saturday, May 6.

Ultraviolet, an independent musical group of Ridgeline 8th graders will be playing from 5:30-6pm. TRUE will be playing from 6:15-6:45pm. 

And don't forget the Middle School Dance Thursday night (May 4) from 6:30-8:30pm!

Have a great weekend, everyone! 



Jon Labrousse

Middle School Teacher

Carrie's News 4/7/23


Jon's News 4/7/23

Dear Middle School Family,

Welcome back!

We wrapped up our Journalistic Learning Institute projects before Spring Break. It was a tough and valuable learning experience for all of us, myself included. I'm excited to catch up on grading and read through their hard work this week. It's going to take me a minute.

As I'm sure you know, Jen Hornsby was out last week, and will be out all this week recovering from a successful surgery. I'm super grateful to have Sarah and Brooke help us out in the classroom during her absence. It makes a big difference having assistants who know and love our kids. Everything is going really well. 

US History Projects

This week we started our deep dive into US History. The way we do research projects in my classroom is a little different than what most people have experienced in their education, so I thought it might be useful to give y'all a quick overview of how the next few weeks will be organized.

We started with documentary videos to give the whole class a common baseline story, a common understanding to build from. Typically, I use documentaries from organizations like PBS, the History Channel, the Smithsonian, and other reputable sources. 

Documentaries today are so much better and more inclusive of multiple perspectives than they were when I was a kid. They're more engaging and accessible for every student than, sorry: painful-to-read history textbooks. 

What I like best about using videos instead of textbooks to survey broad swaths of information is that I can pause the video in real time, and have brief discussions about our common experience of the information that's being presented right there in the moment.

I intentionally choose videos that demand an immediate response to the information being presented in the collective moment. Everything we've been doing in class this year has boiled down to paying critical attention and intention to the information we're being presented.

How do we get closer to the Truth of the matter? How do we open ourselves up to accept multiple perspectives of the story? How do we, ultimately, be more inclusive and open-minded as a society?

Let's Talk About the Notes

I'm breaking this particular US History unit into two timeline sections: 1610ish-1865ish, and 1865ish to the Present Day. We'll finish the first section by the end of April. 

There will be no Test of factual or interpretive information. While we are watching the videos, the students are taking notes. "Notes" is a loaded word that causes a lot of people stress and inflammation. We're not taking notes in the way you're thinking of them.

I honestly don't care about so-called factual information. 

I care about critical thinking.

We are watching "America: The Story of Us." It's a 12-episode documentary produced by the History Channel in 2010. It's engaging, gruesome, and exciting. The music and energy of the show literally gets our hearts pumping and our adrenaline engaged in the story.

Spoiler: It is a very biased, Nationalistic presentation of US History, glorifying white male supremacy. We're working on creating a more representative understanding of what women and people of color have experienced during the evolution of the United States.

The Notes the students are taking are not names and dates. The Notes are not the details of the overtold stories that glorify violent American Individualism.  The Notes are not the extensive details of the gruesome lengths that colonizers went through to survive and conquer the land.

The Notes the students are taking capture the subtle mentions of the other Truths and Perspectives that are hinted at, but not explained in detail. We watched a good five minutes of celebration of the might of Jedediah Smith, the greatest trapper of all time, with his bible and his gun always at his side. 

In the same episode, we watched 30 seconds of sad Cherokees being barked at to "Move on!" by soldiers on the Trail of Tears after being told by the narrator that "The wilderness wasn't the only thing that needed to be cleared."

Pause the video. "Did you hear what he just said?" The students' response: "Native Americans are the other thing that needed to be cleared."

And then we moved on to American Progress! I pause the videos when I feel their hackles rising. I also pause the video to notice possibilities for exploration into technologies, innovations, and environmental avenues for deeper exploration. 

"Listen. Take note. Find something that excites you to investigate in more depth."

The Projects

The Notes the students take each day are meant to be a reflection piece on each episode. They are going to use their notes from the first six episodes to decide next week, "What is the untold story from this narrative that I want to tell?"

It could be technological, about the wagon design, ship design, weapons. It could be about a person they want to know more about. It could be about the life of women, or children! in the colonies. It could be about the impact of the mass trapping of beavers. 

It could be about healing and technological innovations brought to the continent by enslaved Africans. It could be about the plight of Native American tribes who chose to help the colonists. It could be about the Mexicans who opened the borders of Texas to settlers from the Colonies, and how that all worked out.

I have a very scripted, very structured format for the kids to organize their oral presentations. (We're not there yet.) 

US History Projects in a Nutshell

We're moving slowly right now, sponging up information and making some critical decisions. The videos and discussion are taking up most of our class time until Tuesday. Then we'll get rolling on the projects.

This week, we'll also start digging back into our writing curriculum. More on that next time.



Carrie's News 3/10/23

Greetings Middle School Community!


In CC3, we are conducting operations on bases and exponents and applying these skills to scientific notation.  We also learned about the Zero Power Rule. Ask your students why ‘n’ to the power of 0 is equal to 1.  


Last week we began our genetics unit by tallying how many people in the class can roll their tongue, clasp hands right over left or left over right, and have attached or detached earlobes, and calculating the proportions of each trait in the group. 

This week began with the assignment, ‘Reeze-ot: How Traits Are Passed Down.’  Pairs of students each created an imaginary organism named a Reeze-ot (a model of a rice plant). Each student randomly pulled either a capital or lowercase letter from one of a pair of envelopes. 

Each letter pair (capital/capital, capital/lowercase, or lowercase/lowercase) represents the Reeze-ot genotype for one of the eight different traits. 

They then used their list of gene pairs as a key to build their organism.

Depending on what combination of dominant and/or recessive alleles they pulled, their organism was tall (HH or Hh = 3 marshmallows) or short (hh = 1 marshmallow), had two leaves (LL or Ll = 2 pipe cleaner loops ), or one leaf (ll = 1 pipe cleaner loop), had a large (CC = 4 seed beads on a spike), medium (Cc = 3 seed beads on a spike), or small(cc = 2 seed beads on a spike) amount of seeds, etc.  There were some genes that showed up in their organism as completely dominant (height, number of leaves, etc), and some that showed up as partially dominant (eg. number of seeds).  

Question prompts:

Later in the week we dissected (Peruvian Lily) Alstroemeria flowers in the assignment, ‘How Do Flowering Plants Reproduce?’  Students observed Alstroemeria pollen grains and ovules under the magnification of a microscope, and sketched and labeled all the parts of a flower.

Some questions we answered in this lesson were:

Warmest 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:



Carrie Culliton (she, her)

Middle School Math/Science Teacher


Jon's News 3/6/23

Dear Middle School Family,

We wrapped up Term 4 on Friday. Monday, March 6, marks the first day of Term 5. We're closing the books on last term, and starting fresh with grading. We did a good job of keeping up with assignments and getting them turned in this term. Please encourage your student to keep up the good work!

We are starting up our last batch of electives for the school year this week, as well. We're excited to announce that Kris Korfanta, Ridgeline's "Roaming Sub," and former middle school teacher will be teaching a Coding elective for the next two terms on Tuesdays and Thursdays. 

Due to some personal medical issues, I'm going to be leaving school at 12:15pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays for the foreseeable future. I'm hoping I'll be back to full capacity soon, but I'm grateful that Kris will be offering a fun elective in my stead.

The Journalistic Learning Initiative project is going full steam at this point. We spent the better part of last week researching our topics and gathering factual information to put our stories together. It's been a tough process. It feels like the more we learn, the more questions we have. 

This march through uncertainty has been uncomfortable, but I feel like we're coming close to the other side of it. The students know enough about their topics now to have meaningful conversations about them and to ask insightful questions. This week we're starting the process of finding and interviewing sources. We are well on track to finish this project by Spring Break (just 3 weeks away!).

Have a great week!

Jon and Jen

Carrie's News 2/17/23

Greetings All!

Here is a little peek into our February science investigations.



Last Week

Our current understanding of the very important ecological concept of Keystone Species and Trophic Cascades is based on relatively recent research (~1963) in the field of biology. In this research, biology professor Robert T. Paine repeatedly removed Ochre (purple) Sea Stars from a section of the tidal plain on the coast of Tatoosh, Washington. Eventually, this resulted in a massive overgrowth of mussels in the study area of the shoreline.  As the mussels grew more and more dominant in the area, the ecosystem's biodiversity plummeted.  Subsequent research has revealed Keystone species in a variety of habitats. Some other well known examples are the impact that sea otters have on the underwater kelp forests by impacting the behavior and numbers of sea urchins as well as some habitat engineer herbivores like elephants and beavers. I invite you to watch this video depicting the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone National Park. Their reintroduction positively impacted the health and biodiversity of the entire ecosystem in Yellowstone National Park.

Video:  How Wolves Brought Yellowstone Back to Life

Her are some questions your students answered in this series of lessons:

This week we delved into Cell Theory and the levels of organization within complex organisms. 


My name is Elle, and I am one of the outreach coordinators for a student group at Oregon State University called Girls’ Empowerment, Engineering, and Outreach (GEEO). One of our missions as a club is to increase community access to the University and empower young students in STEM education.

This winter, we are starting a new outreach project: GEEO STEM-inars. STEM-inars is a virtual session that your students can join and perform a science experiment with OSU STEM students. Our first STEM-inar will be held March 2, from 6-6:45 PM. This lesson will be best suited for 6th through 8th grade students. See above flier for information. 

We look forward to working (virtually) with your students! Please feel free to email me with any questions or concerns, I am happy to help!

Thank you so much,

Elle Winn she/her 

Oregon State University Honors & Engineering      HBS Bioengineering 2024

GEEO Co-Outreach Coordinator    e: winnel@oregonstate.edu     p: 360-852-0606

An Update From Dan

Hello all, Just thought I would give an update on how things are going and what we are currently working on! Kids seem to be more engaged than ever before, which is awesome. In the beginning of the month we started a striking unit. Kinders have been working with our pickleball paddles and we started with understanding our forehand and backhand while flipping bean bags. Progressions have been adding puffballs in which we then started striking. Already we have seen incredible striking control.

With Lower, Upper, and Middle we have been working on open hand striking activities with defensive skill build and plenty of movement. Striker Ball has been a favorite and we are now leading into GaGa ball! Middle School will be starting their midterm fitness testing today to the end of the week so we will be taking a week off of striking, but I do plan on continuing with striking, but we will add pickleball to their list. 

Just wanted to fill y'all in with fun we are having in PE! Have a great week!

Warmest 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 2/17/23


Carrie's News 1/20/23

Middle School Community,

Please encourage your students to participate in the upcoming Virtual Talent Show. Video submissions are to be 3 minutes or less. Students may perform in groups or singularly. Persons outside of Ridgeline may participate in the performance. Of course, content must be school appropriate. The submission deadline is February 6th. The virtual showing has been changed from its original time (a no school day), to February 10th at 6 pm

Questions and submissions are to go to Kate Downing: wobblykate@hotmail.com.

Thank you Kate for spearheading this event!


In our study of ecosystems, we began this section with simple investigations of food chains, and built on that concept to develop a deeper understanding of the cycle of matter through an ecosystem's Trophic levels.

Some questions we have been answering are:

We are now focusing on the processes of natural selection as we continue to investigate the question, “How do certain factors influence an organism's ability to survive in its habitat?.” In our discussion of the material, we are applying the biology vocabulary terms: trait, population, mutation, adaptation, selection pressure, natural selection, biotic and abiotic factors, etc. Students are accessing and interpreting the graphing feature of the simulation to collect data, and citing the simulation data as evidence to support their claims.

Students have been really enjoying the Natural Selection Simulation tool:  


It is one of many simulations available at phetcolorado.edu interactive simulations at University of Colorado Boulder.

Some questions/tasks students have been investigating in this assignment are:


CC3 Students have completed Volume 1 of their math book. We began Chapter 6 out of 10 this week! We have been working really hard to stay on target with our scope and sequence. The Chapter 6 focus is in the area of transformations: how to translate, rotate, reflect, and dilate geometric figures on a coordinate plane. 

Warmest 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 1/26/23

Dear Middle School Family,

I've mentioned before that I received a Fellowship to participate in the Journalistic Learning Initiative. We got started right after Winter Break. I don't typically teach "canned" curriculum, but this one is a gem. It fits right into the civic responsibility that we're trying to help the students learn the communication skills to participate in.

Here's a link to the program, if you're interested: https://journalisticlearning.org/effective-communicators/

The Free Press is heralded as the fourth branch of government: 1. Executive, 2. Legislative, 3. Judicial, and...  4. The Free Press who are committed to informing We the People about what's going on!

We're digging deep into Media Literacy right now, and how to differentiate between "News" and, well, everything else, from advertisements to opinions to misdirections...

The students have identified important issues in our community that we need to learn more about. Stories we need to change. We conducted research about many of the topics before Winter Break.

We've broken into small groups of reporters who are going to work together up until Spring Break. One group is working on a story about safe spaces in Eugene for the LGTBQ+ community.  Another group is going to interview students in local high schools in order to break down how microaggressions against women in school make women feel unsafe, and ultimately harm everyone. Another group wants to learn more about the small, successful projects that are happening in our local community to support unhoused individuals and families.

We're all pretty passionate about the work we're doing. Rightfully so.

As far as logistics and grades go, it's mostly group work right now, processing these explorations into the media in small groups. The only individual assignments are short, less than 100-word, reflections.

We're placing heavy emphasis on the process: Participate in the conversations with your small group. Turn in the collective Document.

We've also been creating quizzes for the Crash Course US Government videos on YouTube. Be the teacher! Make decisions about what's important to understand and remember!

We're going to take a break from the US Government videos starting next week. We're going to spend that last 30-45 minutes of class Tuesday through Thursday watching (and reflecting on) videos about Black American Heroes through the entire month of February, Black History Month. 

Lots of important work going on right now. Please ask your student about the news story they're working on. Soon, they'll be trying to find folks in the community they can interview about their topics. Maybe you know someone who can help!

Take care,

Jon & Jen

Carrie's News 1/12/23


Jon's News 1/12/23


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.

 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

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:

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:

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:


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).




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:


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:

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. 

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