Middle School

Carrie's Classroom Updates

Carrie's Update 10-29-21

Middle School Family,

Have I said how much I enjoy this group of kids? They are lively and ridiculous. They make me laugh on the regular.

Last year was rough. We are happy to return to our Ridgeline community, but, I think, find it all a bit taxing. There are a lot of social muscles that need to be strengthened. Our students are feeling focus fatigue, in general, but especially in large group discussions. We are practicing focus and interaction skills by reading experiment directions out loud while peers conduct the experiment. They then discuss the results in their table groups and as a class. This requires a lot of subtle interactions and active engagement. Each day we show up, we improve.


Academics

Science -

Previously, we began our work on “Chapter 2: Introducing Interactions,” in which we sought to answer the question, “How can you describe interactions?”

The question we explored in Activity 1: Evidence of Interactions is, “What is the evidence that an interaction has occurred?”

  • The students grappled with the challenge of describing an interaction using only directly observed evidence. It’s harder than you might think. For example, I demonstrated an interaction by smacking a ruler against the table surface.

    • The interaction was clearly defined:

      • The objects interacting: the ruler and the table/book surface

      • The interval: the moment the ruler struck th surface

    • Together as a class we described evidence for this interaction. The challenge was to use ONLY what we observed directly with our senses as evidence for the interaction, and not to jump to using inferences for evidence. (Inference definition: a conclusion reached on the basis of evidence or reasoning.)

      • This is the Evidence we came up with: As the ruler came into contact with the surface, there was a change in motion from motion to no motion, and there was a change in sound from no sound to sound.

  • Since an inference is an idea or conclusion that's drawn from evidence and reasoning, it is an educated guess. For example, when we assert that the tension is increasing in a rubber band we are making an inference based on our observations that the rubber band is lengthening, thinning, and changing to a lighter color. This is an important and challenging distinction. We have been making inferences about interactions since toddlerhood, it takes some thinking about thinking work to interrupt that jump and just describe what we see. This is a great exercise in the scientific process, and our students roese to the challenge!


The questions we explored so far in Activity 2 is:

  • What are the defining characteristics of a magnetic interaction? In other words, what pattern of interactions can you observe that indicate an interaction involves two magnets vs a magnet and a magnetic material? What is a magnetic material, anyway?

  • Are compasses magnets?


Math -

ALL STUDENTS will take math tests at the end of each chapter. They will average around one test every month or so. Students have up to two class periods to complete the test. They will begin the test on the day that the Chapter Review is due. It will be collected at the end of that class period. There will be no homework that night. It will be handed back at the beginning of the next class period, and due by the end. Students are required to show their work thoroughly on the paper provided. Tests are heavily weighted in comparison to homework, participation, and notebook organization grades.


Test Correction Policy - Math test grades are visible in Jupiter Grades as percentage points. A score of 80% accuracy or higher on a test is considered mastery of the material. If your student achieved mastery on the test, Jupiter Ed will show an ‘M’ adjacent to the assignment. We encourage students who have earned below 80% on a test to turn in test corrections by completing the form below. Students will earn back ½ point for every corrected point that they missed on the original test, up to a maximum final score of 80%. The points will be added to their original score in Jupiter Ed, and the details will be noted in the comments box.


The following is a screenshot of the directions for the form your students will use to do test corrections.

After they use this form to complete their corrections (but BEFORE THEY TURN IT IN), they are strongly encouraged to show their work to peers, teachers, and/or family members to have their work checked before turning it in. It is frustrating to go to rework the problems only to miss it again due to either the same, or a different error. Students may use the silent reading time in Room 7 to do test corrections. This is a good time to ask us to review their work. Christa and I are always happy to help!


CC3 / PreAlgebra Students ONLY

We have transitioned the 8th grade math/CC3 students from working in the CPM curriculum to working in the Martin Gay Pre Algebra textbook. There are multiple reasons for this change. After the very different path we took last year, this book is by far the more concrete, user friendly, and accessible option for our community: students, and parents. In addition, it is a strong curriculum. We have been using this book to prepare our 8th graders for high school for many years, with great success. When students do the work, they are very well prepared for high school math. It is also great preparation for the 7th graders who will be working in the freshman level Algebra book in 8th grade, as it is the next book in the sequence by the same author.

We have collected the CC3 book, and assigned a specific PreAlgebra book to each student in this math group. Your student is responsible for returning their assigned PreAlgebra textbook at the end of this school year.

Generally, in the Pre Algebra math group, we will work through the lesson practice problems together during one math period, complete the Exercise Set as Homework that night, and and correct the whole assignment at the beginning of the math period the next day.

The practice problems provide excellent examples for how to conduct each section of the problems assigned in the Exercise Set. Most of the time, the problems assigned will begin with problem #3 and students will complete (E.S.P.) Every Sixth Problem (3, 9,15, 21, 27, etc.) after that. This pattern allows students to do a variety of problems, check their answers in the back of the book, and have a good amount of practice without the time burden of too many problems.

Warmest Regards,

Carrie and Christa

Carrie's Update 10-8-21

Greetings Middle School Community,

Words cannot express how thankful we are to be back in the swing of an in person routine! I hope you are hearing reports that reflect how well this group is gelling and adapting to the flow of each day.

Thank you for sharing your fantastic kids with us!


Academics

Science - Our Science Curriculum is titled Interactions in Physical Science. It is published by It’s About Time. It is an inquiry based curriculum, walking students through the scientific process again and again as they conduct labs to learn about:

energy transfer, mass, volume and density, and mechanical, elastic, magnetic, electrical, and electromagnetic interactions.

Here are some of the key questions we investigated this week:

  • What is the meaning of the terms: controlled variable, relationship, fair test, manipulated variable, responding variable, hypothesis.

  • What are the criteria for evaluating an experiment design for a fair test?

  • How can you tell when a supporting reason for a conclusion is good or poor?


Math - Students began work in math textbooks this week. Over the next few weeks, we will be building good math organization/communication habits in our Math Composition Notebooks. Our goal is to support our students in developing work and study habits that will help them be successful as they continue their educational career and beyond.

Students will be graded on Math Composition Notebook requirements about once a week.

The rubric shown below is in the front of every student’s math notebook for their reference.

Our System for Checking Math Work

Students arrive at school with the previous night's homework completed.


If there is a problem that they are stuck on for more than ten minutes of actual effort, they may skip it, complete the assignment, and ask for help on that problem at the beginning of class.


After the group has discussed any of these questions, I will collect and redistribute the notebooks so that students check each other’s assignments.

The answer key is projected at the front of the room. I go over each problem and answer questions in front of the group as they check each other's work. Students check in with the owner of the notebook throughout the process in order to clarify any confusion.


The peer grading system is in place to increase student learning and feedback on how effectively they are communicating their ideas and process. They must write their work clearly and legibly so that their peers can find and read their answers. As they grade each other's work (they get different students each day), they see how others organize and communicate their reasoning in different ways. This inherently increases student learning of the material, because they have to process the information carefully as they check through each other's assignments. They are accountable for organizing and presenting their work in a way that is digestible to their peers. With my support and guidance, they improve quickly in this arena. As students interact with each other throughout this process, they clarify and improve their understanding of the material.

After students get their notebook back, they are actively encouraged to check over their assignments and missed problems, as review, and to make sure they agree with their peers' assessment. Students often do this immediately after getting their work back. Students are bound to make errors in this checking process, and I also sometimes make errors when I check their tests. I encourage students to double check all of their grades and final percentages for errors, as they will benefit from doing with their bank accounts and bills in the future.

They are encouraged to come to me for clarification if they disagree with a mark, only if they can’t come to an agreement with the student who checked their work.


Checking Off work in General

We have additional time set aside every day during silent reading and the Friday work period for checking off assignments, and receiving help from Christa and me. In addition, we often can arrange to meet with students directly after school. We are thrilled when students approach us to discuss scores they disagree with. This means they are reviewing their work, and advocating for themselves!


ALL students have permanent digital access to their textbooks!


All Students

At the end of this email are links to the Google Drive Folder: Physical Science Textbook! Students must be signed into their Ridgeline account in order to access this file. It is organized by Unit, Chapter, and Activity. For instance if they are doing assignment 1.2.5, look in the Unit 1 folder, to find the Chapter 2 folder, in which you will find Activity 5.


CPM Students

This week students all signed in to their digital CPM textbook in class. At the end of this email are links to sign into the CPM math book, in case your student was absent. Their pin number is located in the assignment notes box.

Find the assignment in Jupiter Ed: Jupiter Ed > Growth Mindset > Sign In to your CPM eBook


Algebra Students

I have also made available digital copies of the Algebra textbook in Jupiter Ed (Algebra > Materials > Files) for any occasion in which Algebra students do not have access to their physical textbook. The Selected answers section from the back of the book is also available there.

By the way, Algebra students are welcome to leave their Algebra textbook at home. We have plenty here for them to use one in class each day.


Whew! That is a lot of information!

Soon it will be second nature to them all!


Warmest Regards,

Carrie and Christa


Resources


Link to the Interactions in Physical Science Textbook:

https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0BxgNrBsjIH5uazNzY0JEQVhXMk0?usp=sharing

NOTE! Ridgeline Middle School students may ONLY access this link using their ridgeline email address.


CPM Core Connections 2 and Core Connections 3 Student EBook sign In:

  1. Students are to sign in to their Ridgeline Google account using their Ridgeline address.

  2. Go to https://sso.cpm.org/

  3. Students use the “Sign in with Google” link to sign in to their assigned ebook.

    1. The CPM ebook has supports and homework help for each assignment.


CPM Parent Support Page:

https://cpm.org/parent-support

CPM Homework Support

http://homework.cpm.org

Carrie's Update 10-4-21

Greetings Middle School Community,

We continue the process of settling into our schedules and routines. What a great group of students! In spite of the big adjustment from last year for us all, the students are diving into the work. It has been a joy to get to know them and watch them get to know each other. The profoundly powerful process of bonding that is a hallmark of our Montessori Community is alive and strong in this group.


Academics

How do you ask a question that gets results? So much of where we go and with who, is driven by the questions we ask. Whether we are seeking our answer through our own experimental investigation, engaging in a conversation, or searching the internet, knowing how to ask a good question from a good resource is key.

Above all, our work here is to reinforce habits for applying focused attention and applying empowered intention with the skills to manifest our goals. The content is a vehicle for this deeper learning.


Science

This week’s engaging Lab Activities provided great vehicles for deepening our fluency in valid experiment design. Here are some questions we explored:

  • How do you find the Best Value and the Uncertainty for a set of data points?

  • What makes the design of an experiment good or poor? (hint: It has to do with whether it is a fair test or not.)

  • What do you need to do to obtain a ‘best value’ with confidence?


Math

Students are taking assessments this week. Next week we hand out books and begin work in our regular math groups.


Math and Science in Jupiter Ed -

Opportunities to turn in assignments are provided by the middle school team on a daily basis.

If a student has a ( / ) in the gradebook, it means that the work is past due, and missing.

If an assignment is marked (abs) in the gradebook, the student was absent that day.

In both of the above scenarios, it is up to the student to check in with an adult as soon as possible to discuss how to make up the assignment.

If a student has an ( ex ) in the gradebook, it means that the work has been excused, and will not count in the student’s overall grade.

If a student has an ( inc ) in the gradebook notes section, it means that the recorded score is due to a significant degree of incompleteness.

Math and science grades are as follows:

  • M - Mastery ( ≥ 80%)

  • P - Pass ( ≥ 60%)

  • N - No Pass (< 60%)

Math and science curriculum builds. Each assignment addresses key concepts required to understand successive assignments. Missed assignments are to be made up by the end of the week unless agreed upon otherwise. At the beginning of the year, we support new students by reminding them often to check off work. Opportunities to turn in late work can be taken daily before school, during morning break, lunch, silent reading, and after school. Fridays are often a big work check off day.

We welcome questions and communications from parents. Please do contact us with questions or concerns regarding your student. As you sit down with your student to go over their progress, help them create positive plans for action, and craft questions for us to clear up any points of confusion. Thus they have the opportunity to exercise initiative, independence and self-advocacy. We strongly advocate for our students to practice these essential skills.


Forward Ever,

Carrie and Christa

Carrie's Update 9-21-21

Greetings Middle School Family,

We are so very relieved to be back in person with our students! We appreciate the opportunity to create this wonderful community with together.


Picture Day – Ridgeline’s annual picture day is scheduled for Thursday, September 23rd. Picture Package order forms were sent home the first week. If you wish to order photos please have your student bring their completed forms to school on picture day (we have extras available in the classroom). We can hold on to them for you if you wish to have your student bring them sooner. ;)


Volunteer Opportunity

I am transferring some of my science curriculum from Google Drive to Jupiter Ed. If you would like to earn volunteer hours by helping with this transfer, please contact me.


Academics

Science

In general, students will conduct daily science labs with their table groups Monday through Thursday. This consists of completing an Activity Record Sheet in class as they conduct a hands on lab with their

team. Almost all Record Sheets are followed by a Practice Sheet, which is to be completed in class as well. If they do not complete their work in class, they are to complete it in study hall, or as homework. Each Activity total is a combined score for both the Record Sheet, and the Practice Sheet. At the end of each Chapter, students will complete an assessment as an opportunity to exhibit their understanding of the content.


We are in the first Unit (Building a Foundation). It consists of Three Chapters with 5-7 Activities Each.

The guiding question for our First Chapter: Science Experiments is:

  • How can you tell if the conclusion from an experiment is valid?

The guiding question for our First Activity: Measurements in Science is:

  • When you measure something, can you obtain an exact value?


Here are a couple other questions from the first activity:

  • What does the concept of exact value have to do with telling if the conclusion from an experiment is valid?

  • Why do you think different groups obtained different values for their measurement?

  • What suggestions did your class have for the best “method” to measure how much time it takes for a pendulum to swing back and forth 10 times?

My hope is that these questions will help facilitate conversations about what your student is learning in class! ;)


Math

For the first two weeks of school, students are reviewing fractions. A little review to warm our brains up while building relationships in a low pressure math environment. In addition, students will complete some pre-assessments the second week. We are taking this process slowly as we focus on safety routines and adjust to being back in person.


Forward Ever,


Carrie and Christa

Jon's Classroom Updates

Jon's Update 11-8-21

Dear Middle School Family,


I'm not gonna lie: these next few weeks are going to feel a little disjointed, schoolwork-wise. We're doing our best to extend the previous 5 days into the 2-day week, so it feels like there's closure before each long weekend.


If your child is behind on any assignments, this week would be a good time to look at Jupiter Ed and help them prioritize and catch up on missing assignments.


This week Monday and Tuesday, we'll wrap up our World News article research, and write pitches for our News Teams. When we get back on November 15, we'll have an editorial pitch session, where each News Team will decide which (one story each) they will research and share on the Ridgeline World News YouTube Channel. (100% internal, no outside access... for now...)


If your student doesn't finish their 3 pitches by Tuesday, they'll have plenty of time to work on them at home this long weekend, so they can actively participate in the next exciting phase of producing a World News Show: decide what News in your region matters.


Talk about power! And responsibility.


Which leads me to the next important thing we're working on: Media Literacy.


We're taking Media down to its roots: two people trying to resolve an interaction. We're growing this exploration through the evolution of human communication from gestures to speech to literacy to mass media... We've already started talking about how our personal human existence (life experience, bias, perspective, emotional state, knowledge, ignorance, beliefs, disbeliefs...) shapes and interprets how we express ourselves, and receive information.


Simply put, we're exploring why it's so hard to feel heard and understood. And why it's hard to hear and understand.


We're examining the stories and intentions behind the messages we receive in the media and how and why they're encoded for our consumption. We're also going to explore how our own life experience prepares us to decode the messages we receive. Perhaps most importantly, we're going to work to become more mindful of how the messages we create, even in our day to day conversations, carry a burden of care and responsibility.


Good stuff.


Cheers!

Jon and Maizzy

Jon's Update 10-21-21

Dear Middle School Family,


This Friday, October 22, marks the end of the first term of middle school! We have broken the school year up into six terms in order to help the students master the "Grades Game." All makeup work for the term must be turned in by the last day of the term. We won't accept work from the previous term once we start each new term.


The good news is that we start the gradebook fresh with each new term, so students have the opportunity to start over and give it another go. Please encourage your student to apply what they've learned about the "Grades Game" this term, and start strong in Term 2.


This week, I'd like to tell you a little bit about our Humanities program for the 2021-22 school year. We teach Humanities in an A/B year fashion in order to meet the Oregon State Standards for 7th and 8th grade social studies. This year, we are focusing on Global Studies. Next year we will focus on US History and Government. We have two big projects this year that will provide the main content of both our Humanities and Communications studies: the World News Project, and Global Scholars.


World News Project

Last week, we divided the world into 7 regions, and assigned students to small news teams that will be covering the news for each region. To kick things off, students began independent research into the state of affairs in countries in their region. Each student looked into the Social, Economic, Environmental, and Governmental of two countries, and will be presenting their findings to their news team.


Next week, each student will begin exploring current events in one country in their region, and coming up with a list of 5 news stories they think are important to share with the class. They will meet with their news team to pitch the stories they found, and come to consensus about which stories they need to include in the first official episode of their televised news show.


Once each student has their news assignment, they will find multiple tellings of the news story (as best they can), and do some research to demystify the historical or social context necessary to make the story relevant to their inexperienced audience. They will each write a 1-2 minute script, and we will set up a news desk, lights, camera, and student news teams will produce a World News Show!


We'll be uploading the videos to a private YouTube channel, and each cohort will watch the other cohort's news program on video (as well as witness the live production in their own cohort). We'll be producing a series of episodes over the course of the school year as the centerpiece of our Global Studies curriculum this year.


Global Scholars

Once again, this year we are participating in the Global Scholars program that is sponsored by the Michael Bloomberg Foundation in New York. We are partnered in a "Collaboration" with students from Poland, Spain, Argentina, India, Taiwan, and Florida.


This year's topic is "Food Security." We'll be learning about where our food comes from, and the systems that provide it for us. We'll also learn about food systems in the cities in our Collaboration, and engage in dialogue with our Collaboration members about the cultural and human aspects of this very fundamental human need.


You can learn more about the Global Scholars program here: https://www.globalcities.org/


For our Unit 1 Project, we need to produce a video introducing Eugene, Oregon to our Collaboration. To that end, we will go on a walking field trip next Friday, October 29, to take photos and videos of various "identity aspects" of Eugene, to compile into a video to share with our global peers.


Volunteer Opportunity

We need 4 volunteers to join us on our exploration on Friday, October 29. We'll leave school at 10am, and will be back at Ridgeline at 1:00pm, in time for regular dismissal. One group will be walking from Ridgeline to Downtown Eugene, and the other will be walking to the University of Oregon (and back, of course).


If you would like to join us, please contact Cynthia Friedman in the office (541-681-9662), or cynthia.friedman@ridgeline.org, to verify that you have met all the volunteer requirements. If you're clear, please send me an email ASAP!


Cheers!

Jon and Maizzy

Jon's Update 9-28-21

Dear Middle School Family,


In a few minutes, you're going to receive another email from Jupiter Ed, our online grading system. (If you don't receive the second email, please let me know!) The email will provide you with a link to your student's account, so you can monitor their progress in school at home. All of the instructions and materials for each assignment are recorded in Jupiter Ed, as well as their grades for each assignment.


You can check in at any time. You can even set Jupiter Ed up to email or text you when your student is missing assignments.


Jupiter Ed and grades, in general, are useful mainly to give us a quick snapshot of how the students are doing overall with their schoolwork. Learning to play the grades game in middle school is an important step for our students who are leaving Ridgeline to enter mainstream high schools.


Overall Grades

For Communications and Humanities, we are going to continue to use the same grading system we adopted during online teaching. Instead of the traditional letter grades, we will use Mastery (80% or above), Proficient (60% or above), or Needs Improvement (Below 60%). (The percentages are displayed in Jupiter Ed, though, so if folks want to consider what their traditional grades would be, an A is 90% and above, a B is 80-89%, etc.)


Grading Individual Assignments

There are three types of assignments that are weighed differently, based on the time and effort required for the assignment. Projects are worth 20 points, Edited assignments are worth 10 points, and drafts, reflections, and short assignments are worth 5 points.


Each assignment, however, is graded with a plus (5 points), check (4 points), or a minus (3 points). A plus means it's thoughtfully and carefully completed. A check means the assignment was completed, it's mostly edited, and some thought and care went into it. A minus means the student did something, but it is either incomplete, needs editing, or simply needs more effort.


If a student receives a plus or a check, they can't make up the assignment. If the student earns a minus for an assignment, we give them feedback on how they can improve the assignment to earn a check or a plus. Students are encouraged to improve their assignments if they have time after they finish their other school work.


Make-up Assignments

Students are allowed to make up Missing assignments and assignments that have earned a minus up to Friday the following week. (So, if I am missing an assignment from Wednesday, the 14th, I have until Friday the 23rd to make up the assignment.) We have found that it's better for students to stay in the present and work on their current assignments with the rest of the class, rather than get stuck in the past and continue to fall behind.


To help students build good work habits, we've divided the school year into 6 terms. The first term ends October 22. On October 24, we start Term 2, and will no longer accept work from the previous term. We reset the gradebook, and start over, clean slate! The grades are really meant to help students build the work habits they need to earn good grades when they go to high school. It really is a matter of doing the work. And turning it in!


Checking in

If at any time you have questions about Jupiter Ed, or your student's progress, please send me an email and let's set up a meeting. Our partnership is essential to your student's success. They need to know that we are all on their team and here to support them.


Thanks for sharing your kids with us. We're in this together!

Jon and Maizzy