Monday, February 24, 2014

Spanish Valentines

Once again this year the upper grade students made colorful Spanish valentines.  These were distributed to the homeless and hungry during a Valentine's Day celebration in Harlem on February 8th.  Under the direction of Sister Mary Lanning and her outreach project "Street Corner Gourmet", several hundred people enjoyed a tasty meal, received a small pouch of personal goods and were given some warm clothing.  As folks waited for their meal, they were presented with a handmade valentine.  One cannot overstate the pleasure that these cards bring to the people that receive them.  Many thanks to our caring students who worked hard to create thoughtful, beautiful cards.

Extra help/review Spanish is offered to all interested seventh graders after school on Mondays.  Sixth graders are welcome to stay on Tuesday afternoons.  Pick up time for both afternoons is at four o'clock.
These sessions provide extra practice on vocabulary and grammar; they are also a great opportunity for those individuals who would like to conference with me about writing and projects.  Although there is no regularly scheduled meeting time for eighth graders, students are encouraged to make arrangements to see me for extra help as needed.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Homework Expectations

For many assignments, CCS middle school teachers employ the concept of Focus Correction Areas (FCAs). This is a simple way to establish and communicate expectations. When an assignment is graded, it is done based on the FCAs. Below are FCAs for homework:

Complete the assignment
Show your work
Use pencil

Assignment is complete and neat with good thought and effort
Correct punctuation
Complete sentences when appropriate

English & Social Studies:
Complete/appropriate length
Includes evidence/details to support ideas
Complete sentences including correct punctuation

Assignment is complete and neat with good thought and effort
Includes evidence/details to support ideas
Complete sentences including correct punctuation

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Social Studies Updates - February 2014

8th Graders recently "published" film reviews of Amistad.  They wrote as a movie critic might to a wide, unseen audience.  Check out their work at their blog site:

8th Graders are currently studying Westward Expansion in the mid 1800s, and asking big questions such as, was it a good thing for Americans?  What type of Americans might benefit from Westward Expansion?  Who might view Westward Expansion negatively and why?  Students are reading and examining primary source documents including a US Federal Census from 1850, and "The Peacock Letters", which is a compilation of letters written by a man (William Peacock) to his wife (Susan) as he travels out to California by foot in 1850 in search of gold.

6th and 7th Graders recently performed with Grumbling Gryphons in the play, Persephone.  This play perfectly coincided with our Greek unit!  Thank you to Leslie Elias for all of her help and work in making this happen!  Students will receive extra credit for writing thank you letters to the performers!

Currently, the Blue and the Gold groups of 6th and 7th graders are studying ancient Rome.  The big idea presented to them is that the Romans were great borrowers and great builders.  We are reading a retelling of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar and are comparing the Roman Republic with the Roman Empire.

English 6-8 News for New Year!

Figurative Language:
All 3 middle school classes have been working on figurative language and literary terms needed for narrative writing and understanding literature and poetry. Some of the terms include idiom, simile, metaphor, alliteration and paradox.  6th and 7th graders discussed how often figurative language is a part of pop culture. They viewed examples from movies, TV shows, songs, books, and poetry. All students brought in song lyrics to practice with. Students found numerous examples in their songs (Example: "I came in like a wrecking ball..." Miley Cyrus) and picked the best one to explain and illustrate for our board. 
6-7th Grade Song Lyric Examples 
8th graders worked in pairs to become familiar with 3 of the literary terms from the list. Each pair prepared a lesson for the rest of the class including the definitions, examples, and a hands on activity for their classmates. Once all the terms had been learned, students took a 2 part test. The 2nd part allowed them to work with a partner to complete a full in-depth  analysis of a modern song. 8th graders will be continuing to utilize these terms as we move into our African American unit which includes short stories, poems, and the famous play "A Raisin in the Sun". 

"I Have a Dream..."
 6th and 7th graders compiled lists of issues or challenges in our society today. Some of the items listed were unemployment, gas prices, distracted driving, terrorism, and so on. Next, they watched a clip of the famous MLK speech and created what might have been on Martin Luther King Jr.'s  list (prejudice, segregation, racisim, etc.) We compared lists and discussed what progress has been made and what new issues have been created. Students then followed MLK's format to create their own modern version of a "I Have a Dream..." speech. They read their speeches aloud to a peer and worked on making changes, typing,  and choosing appropriate art work to emphasize their ideas. The final products are powerful and inspiring! 

Utopia or Dystopia?
 7th graders have continued to use their lists of societal problemsas part of our introduction to Utopia/ Dystopia. Students have been working in groups to determine what problems could be solved, how they could be solved, and what new issues the solutions may bring about. They have been introduced to famous utopias in the world or literature and are learning about why a utopia may fail or become a dystopia. These ideas will help with their understanding of our next whole class novel, The Giver by Lois Lowry. In Jonas's community everything is the same. The community leaders make all the choices in order to create a peaceful and safe environment. When Jonas turns 12 he is given a position in the community that allows him to uncover some of the secrets that allow the community to function as it does. Jonas must decide if he can live with these new truths about his home community. 
7th Grade group working together on "My Utopia" plans 

The Great Depression
 6th graders are beginning their study of The Great Depression as an introduction to the next class novel, Bud, Not Buddy. They have been reading articles about the 1930's and working on informational and compare/contrast writing as they look at how different life was for kids at that time. 

Independent Reading (IR)
All grades continue to read independent books and write responses in booklets or online logs. For the 1st trimester, 6-7th graders completed PowerPoint Presentations in English and US/IT on their IR books. 8th graders wrote formal literary analysis papers complete with in-text citations. 2nd trimester books will be complete in the beginning of March and new projects/papers will follow.