Friday, December 20, 2013

The week of December 23, 2013

This is a special time of year.  Whether you celebrate on of the season's "Big Three", Hanukkah, Christmas, or Kwanzaa, or just look forward to a holiday vacation, this is a great time to celebrate the things that are special to you.

As I thought about my blog entry, I thought "What is special about Special ED?"  In the spirit of this season the things that are most special to me are the dedicated people who make up the team here at CCS.

First of all are my hard working, creative, and flexible paraprofessionals.  Sarah Watson and Pat Masi ably handle the support needs of our middle school students, both in the classroom and the resource room.  Tricia Collins supports me carrying out the variety of services for the K-5 students.  This includes interventions in phonics, spelling, reading, and math.  These women are an invaluable resource for me and for the students.  They are dedicated, caring, and attuned to the needs of each of our charges.

Jandi Hanna is the Speech and Language Pathologist here at CCS.  Although she works here part time she is able to attend to the needs of children who require intervention in speech sounds or language development.

Karen Lindstrom has stepped into the school psychologist role and is able to provide students with counseling and conducts assessment when needed.  Her expertise in behavior management is always beneficial in helping all students succeed at CCS.

Ginni Block and Angie Coleman are the Physical and Occupational Therapists who consult with our team for students with motor concerns.  The positive effects of their suggestions are seen from the playground, to the gym, and into the classroom.

Finally, Martha Schwaikert, Supervisor of Special Education, provides our school based team with support and advice that keeps us working together for the benefit of all CCS students.

I hope everyone finds reasons to celebrate during this special season and looks forward to the promise of the future in 2014!

Happy New Year to all,

Elizabeth Clarke
Resource Teacher

Friday, December 13, 2013

Updates from Math!

6th Grade Math

As the first trimester wrapped up, so did the third unit in sixth grade math on integers. As this new trimester begins, sixth grade has started to dive into our first unit in algebra! With algebra comes lots of hands on activities to discover the relationships between numbers and variables. Our current unit looks at order of operations and algebraic expressions. After the holiday break, we will begin to look at algebraic equations.

7th Grade Math

As the sixth grade is starting up their first unit on algebraic concepts, the seventh grade math class is completing their first unit on algebraic concepts. They just finished up a unit that focused on writing and simplifying algebraic expressions, which gave us lots of opportunities to play and learn with manipulatives! Our next unit will move onto solving algebraic equations and will continue to present opportunities to play and learn with more manipulatives!

7th Grade Pre-Algebra

The seventh grade Pre-Algebra class is in the middle of a unit focused on ratios, proportions, and percents. We have been looking at graphs of proportional relationships that will help lead to an understanding of linear relationships that is a large focus in the Algebra I curriculum. As we come to the end of looking at proportional relationships in this unit, we will use what we learned to investigate the connection between percents and proportions.

8th Grade Math

The eighth grade math class is finishing up a unit focused on algebraic concepts as well. We have spent the last couple weeks practicing solving all different equations! One-step equations, two-step equations, equations with variables on both sides, equations that involve combining like-terms, equations that involve the Distributive Property, and equations that involve all of the above! Equations with one solution, equations with no solution, and equations with infinitely many solutions! This deep understanding of equations will help lead to a deeper understanding of linear relationships, which we will study later this year.

8th Grade Algebra I

The Algebra I class is currently learning about linear relationships. Although we spend a few units focused on linear relationships, we are currently working on graphing. We have been practicing graphing linear equations in slope-intercept form, y=mx+b, and in Standard Form, Ax + By = C. We have enjoyed watching some videos that students and teachers have created to help us remember the steps for graphing these equations! Our next unit will continue to focus on linear relationships, but move towards writing equations.

Enjoy the holiday break and time spent with family and friends! 

-Miss Krueger

Monday, December 2, 2013

Spanish (Week of December 2)

Thanksgiving is a time when I pause for a moment to reflect upon the many things for which I am grateful. At the top of my list this year is the educational trip I took to Fuengirola, Spain in July.  This trip was made possible through the generosity of CCSFE (Cornwall Consolidated School Fund for Excellence).  Thanks to CCSFE I became a full-time student again, participating in an intensive Spanish course for two weeks.  This was an around-the-clock experience; every moment was spent absorbing the Spanish culture.  My days there were full and exciting and I look forward to, both formally and informally, sharing my adventures and insights with the students at CCS.  Thanks again to all who made this trip a reality!

I am also grateful to be working in a school where families value education.  I enjoyed the time we spent together during conferences discussing your child's progress in Spanish.  Your feedback is enormously helpful and I appreciate the conversations that we had.

As we start a new month, these are the topics that we will be working on together in Spanish class:
Grade 8 will focus on the universal themes of health and human emotions.  By the end of this new chapter, students will have the ability to talk about feelings and navigate a basic visit to the doctor's office.  Grade 7 students are learning how to talk about their families and homes.  This week students will start creating a family tree.  In grade 6 students are learning how to describe themselves and others.  Next week they will start writing an "Album de Recuerdos" (memory book) about a selection of their friends and family members.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Social Studies (Week of Nov. 25)

       The Geography Bee finals for CCS were held on Monday, November 25, 2013.   All middle schoolers participated in the preliminary rounds.  

Olive, Ewa, Arieh, Lucas, Donovan, Mitch, Danny, Haley, Dartanian, and Sky were the top ten finishers from the preliminary rounds.  Five were left after the first round in the final competition.  Then it was down to three.  The championship round went to seven tiebreaker questions!  Finally, Donovan emerged as our school's 2013-14 Geography Bee Champion.  Our runner-up is Arieh, and Mitch is our third-place finisher.  Congratulations to all!

8th Grade:
Eighth graders recently went on a field trip to the Vanderbilt Mansion, and to the Home of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  In addition to our study of the government and our presidents, students were able to preview their studies of the Gilded Age as well as National Parks.  Check out the links for more information:

Currently, students have been asking the question of sectionalism in the early 1800s.  They've been exploring the idea of sectionalism in our country today as well - examining 2012 election results, and comparing them with results of the Elections of 1824 and 1828.  (John Quicy Adams vs. Andrew Jackson!)

6th and 7th Grades:
In the Blue and Gold mixed-grade classes, students have completed their studies on ancient Egypt.  Many of the Egyptian projects came out great!  

Soon, students will transition from the Minoans and Mycenaeans to the Athenians and Spartans.  They will explore concepts such as the Olympics, democracy, and theatre!  (Extra credit opportunity:  What happened to Helen after the fall of Troy?  Write a response and email or turn it in to Mr. Vincent!)


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Science News

6th and 7th graders went to Rocky Neck State Park on November 1st.  In spite of rain and wind during the first hour, I think the trip was a big success in many ways.  Many thanks to the cheerful, helpful and hardy chaperones who accompanied us.

Students observed and measured some non-living (abiotic) factors that affect organisms, such as sand particle size, pH and temperature of seawater.  The temperature on the surface of the sand, and the temperature under the sand.

They also were asked to think about adaptations of plants that live on the windy, sandy beach.  They thought about adaptations of animals who must avoid predators, and keep from being swept out to sea.  They even played a predator-prey game called "flinch" in which they tried to keep still and avoid being noticed by a pretend predator.

We went to the salt marsh, where the river joins Long Island Sound, and talked about water pollution coming down the river.  Our next unit will be on pollution of watersheds.  Seeing the place that Cornwall's runoff water goes (Long Island Sound) is important when we begin to talk about water pollution in Cornwall. There are many small ways we unintentionally pollute our water, and there are things we can do to minimize water pollution.

We even had a sandcastle building competition, for fun!

This week, in class, 6th and 7th graders are doing their second lab investigation of the year.  This time, 6th graders are being asked to be more independent when writing their lab reports.  Seventh graders are learning to write a "discussion" section, in which they explain why their conclusion is true, talk about unintended variables, ask new questions and relate the concept to a real life example.

8th graders have been working hard on writing about science concepts.  We recently built roller coaster models, and our task is to explain physics concepts, using the roller coaster as an example of concepts like friction, positive acceleration and kinetic energy.  There is a particular style to science writing.  Cultivating an informative writing style that is formal and explains concepts clearly, does not come easily to students.  Many have discovered that what they think they know, is not so easy to explain clearly in writing.  Some students are learning to make their writing more concise.  Others are learning how to define a concept and explain it more completely.  All of them are learning that communicating clearly about science concepts is a task that requires focus, and attention to detail.

8th graders have also been working in the lab on some experiments about friction.  As 8th graders, they have written several lab reports before, and are practicing their skills.  New challenges in lab report writing include writing an introduction and getting more precise in writing a discussion of the experiment.  Ask your 8th grader if you may see a lab report, or their roller coaster essay as they refine their writing techniques!

Our next 8th grade unit will be on the solar system.  We will look at how orbits are affected by the physics concepts we have been studying.  We will refine our knowledge of what causes days, years, and seasons.  We will talk about how much a person might weigh on other planets... and why.  We will review and extend what we know about moon phases and eclipses.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

English News

Grade 6 just finished the 1st class novel, No More Dead Dogs. One of the best parts of this unit was the opportunity for students to learn legal terminology and  work as "attorneys" for the prosecution or defense in preparing opening statements for a mock trial. They collaborated in class and from home using Google Drive.  Students used details from the text to create evidence, motives, alibis, witnesses and counterarguments.Everyone did an excellent job presenting their statements. They were creative and convincing making it a difficult decision for the "jurors".

7th graders are reading their 1st class novel, The Schwa Was Here. They are learning how to answer reader response questions using text evidence and personal connections. After completing these questions they meet in small groups to discuss their ideas. Each group member takes a turn leading the group through his/her question and asking others to respond. Together the class wrote expectations for behavior and preparation when meeting in groups.

Grade 8 recently finished Bruiser by Neal Shusterman. For the final project, students are linking the events and characters in the text to related "real world" issues such as abuse, addiction, emancipation, pain management, and more. The projects will combine informational writing and the analysis of the text using evidence. Some students are acting as psychiatrists or social workers to present the information as if the characters are clients. Others are choosing to use PowerPoint, Prezi or Google to create multimedia presentations.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Middle School Blog?

Yes! The CCS middle school blog will be a place to find out what is happening in CCS middle school classes. Teachers will give periodic updates on the big picture and fine details of their classes. Check in weekly to see what is new!