Dear CWS Families,
We want to wish you all a successful end to a wonderful first semester of the 2015/2016 school year here at C.W. Stanford Middle School. Now that we are well on the way in the school year, we wanted to give families a quick look at all the wonderful activities your scholars have been working on. Our AIG staff has been busy working in a consultation and collaboration model with your child as our focus. We work with teachers on planning engaging activities for your child and co-teach units with them as well.
Some of the awesomeness the department has been a part of includes:
Continental Math League
The top math students in sixth, seventh and eighth grades are participating in the Continental Math League again this year. This competition consists of 5 meets, approximately one per month, November through March. At each meet, each student is given identical sets of six problems to solve in thirty minutes. The top six scores are added together to form the team score. Our teams compete against other teams in the US and in English speaking schools throughout the world. Awards will be given at the end of the year to individual students for the strongest performances per grade level at Stanford.
In 8th grade...
In science, the AIG department created an extension to your young scholars “Hydrosphere Unit” where we explored how humans interact with water, focusing on how we treat and store water. We kicked off the unit by participating in the annual model water tower competition held in Raleigh. Students were able to apply the engineering by design model to create lightweight model water towers with high hydraulic efficiency. Students had the choice to participate in this activity or complete a more traditional learning project. Happily, many students built towers. We had our own school wide competition with Summit Engineers acting as judges and our winners represented CWS in Raleigh. We actually swept the competition :-) Go Chargers!!!
English 1 explored the classic epic poem The Odyssey. The focus was on ‘the hero’s journey’ that almost every hero from multiple cultures seems to progress through. Students checked how accurate the global aspect of the Hero’s journey is by looking at the Sanskrit epic poem the Ramayana. “But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks?” It is the next unit. Romeo and Juliet.
In 7th Grade…
Seventh Grade Book Challenge
All seventh graders participate in a challenging contracted reading project this year. All students read books from an assigned list that covers all genres. Each genre is worth a certain number of points, which students earn by writing essays to answer Common Core aligned objectives. Ms. Hurd, Ms. Taylor and Ms. Thibodeaux read and evaluate the essays for grammar, content, fluency, and rigor, and hand them back to the students for correcting. Students must earn 100 points per grading period.
This project challenges students to choose books that are appropriate to their needs and interests, but also encourages and enforces the act of revision. Ms. Hurd and Ms. Taylor will be presenting about this project at the NC Middle Level Educators Conference in March.
In the first semester, ELA classes focused on reading and writing informative and explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis of relevant content.
Through the subject of sharks and their distribution around the globe, students learned to introduce a topic clearly; preview what is to follow; organize ideas, concepts, and information; use strategies such as definition, classification, comparison/contrast, and cause/effect; and include formatting, graphics, and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension.
Flash Fiction Narrative
For a unit of study on fiction narrative, students reviewed the essential elements of fiction: characterization, setting, conflict, plot, and theme.
The class read various short stories of varying lengths in order to identify these elements in each one. In order to become proficient in creating narrative, the students were assigned an exercise in Flash Fiction.
Each student picked a story-starter writing prompt and was instructed to write an original, well-constructed flash fiction narrative that was between 200-500 words in length. The story needed a well-developed conflict, but could not have much rising or falling action because of the restricted word count. The whole story had to take place in a FLASH, and had to be complete, including characters, conflict, theme, and plot.
Throughout the process, they had practice in refining vocabulary and redesigning plot. When the final revisions have been completed, students will be given the opportunity to submit their writing to a student anthology compiled here at CWS that will be available to purchase.
Edgar Allan Poe and Frank Stockton
During first semester we participated in detailed studies of the writings of Edgar A. Poe, and we participated in using critical thinking skills using Stockton’s “The Lady or the Tiger?”
In Math we extended the regular 7th grade curriculum by designing tiny houses. We want to look into how math is used in real life. To do this we examined the modern tiny house movement and gave ourselves a budget. We are trying to create properly scaled tiny house blueprints that we later render on a computer. This is an ongoing extension that we will continue to use over the course of the year. Our regular curriculum has had us learning about scientific notation, how to manipulate exponents, and much more. We’ve even used sticky notes to run a math proof of the Pythagorean Theorem. We are also continuing our participation in the Continental Math League. We hope to build on last years success.
We had the opportunity to work with Social Studies during their last unit of “Colonization and Imperialism”. During this unit we were able to ask the question “how did European countries use cooperation and competition while colonizing Africa”. Students played a board game that, in essence, became the Berlin Conference. The created alliances, broke allegiances, and raced to try to become the most prosperous european nation on the continent.
In 6th Grade...
Our AIG reading students are clustered into groups of six or more for their English Language Arts instruction. We work every week with Ms. Roehrig and Ms. Talley to help plan instruction that provides compelling instruction for the grade level with attention to the assignments and products that are expected of our AIG students.
Our overarching theme for the year is one of Identity. Sixth grade is a wonderful year for students to look at themselves anew and to learn more about themselves.
We offered an enrichment class on Ray Bradbury’s All Summer in a Day. This short story was the focus of our first Socratic Seminar. As a follow-up, Fahrenheit 451 was offered as an optional book club for interested students during literacy time.
These book clubs are optional and meet during literacy time in Ms. Sharpe’s room. So far, we have read The Midwife’s Apprentice, The Door in the Wall and are now working on Crispin, the Cross of Lead. While this work is not graded, we let the ELA teachers know about extra work these students are doing. Being in the book club requires that students keep up with assigned readings, participate in classroom discussions and do some writing for me. We usually meet on Monday and Tuesday mornings.
Our second author study was on Langston Hughes. We read some of Hugh’s poetry, including Mother to Child. Or seminar focused on Hugh’s short story “Thank You, Ma’am”.The Outsiders - a novel for the entire sixth grade - was a big hit with students. Lessons in characterization, plot structure and themes are highlighted with this novel helped us study the identity of not just the the “Soces” and the “Greasers”, but also ourselves.
Short Story Writing was offered to all students. We met with the AIG students to review their stories and to offer editing suggestions. Students were motivated by the opportunity to become published authors in the school short story book, coming out in the Spring.
Upcoming is a study of China. During this unit we will visit students in the Social Studies classes to highlight Chinese Customs and Chinese New Year. Other upcoming grade level novels are American Born Chinese and Flora and Ulysses. During both of these novels, we plan to pull AIG students for more in depth work.
Sixth Grade Math Plus
The curriculum for the Six Plus class includes all of the regular sixth grade curriculum plus two units from the seventh grade curriculum. Due to this the Six Plus classes present material at a quick pace, with little time for review. These students have already had one of the seventh grade units - on the seventh grade level Ratio and Proportions. After EOG testing, they will have the unit on Angles and Circles.
We meet with our math teachers to help plan and am also in the math classes to co-teach on many days.
Math students worked on data concerning Water for our last STEM project. While studying this data, they became very concerned about the fact that our homeless population in Orange County has no access to drinkable water or to restrooms. With the help of Deputy Ivey, Ms. Merritt worked to design a bag that the local policemen could have in their Patrol Cars to give to homeless people when they see them.
Thanks to the parents that sent in socks, protein bars, baby wipes, hand sanitizer, toothpaste and toothbrushes!. Our entire sixth grade was able to assemble the Charge Up! bags the week before Christmas. Our local homeless people should have received these bags over the winter break.
What a wonderful 2015. We are excited to see how 2016 kicks off. Just a reminder that during the second semester Daniel Thayer will be shifting co-teaching responsibilities more towards 8th grade while Judy Thibodeaux will continue to focus her co-teaching with the 7th grade.