9/25/21

September 25, 2021

Dear Parents,

We had a busy week and worked hard, including taking a religion and social studies test and MAP testing. Perhaps because of the pressure the kids were feeling, their other teachers and I saw an increase in behavior issues from the kids — issues I hadn’t yet experienced this year. These include disruptive behaviors in the classroom, loud talking when walking through the hallways between classes, laughing at others’ mistakes, questioning or complaining about the things they are being asked to do, and showing disrespect to one another and to teachers. I really want to nip this type of behavior in the bud early on, so the teachers and I met with the kids Friday morning and talked about the issues we have been experiencing. This was a difficult conversation to have, and while not all are involved, I felt that all could benefit from it so that they can support one another in following expectations. Please take some time to talk with your child this weekend about expectations at school. I hope the kids will be back to their old selves next week. I truly think these kids can exercise self-control if we have high standards and ask it of them. As I told them in our meeting, it will help them in all aspects of their lives. If I continue to see these same behaviors, please expect an email or call from me or Mr. Anderson. And, of course, I welcome any feedback from you, if you have suggestions about how I can better support your child.

On the academic front, in science last week, students learned the definitions of Force (measured in Newtons), Acceleration, and Velocity. They also learned how to draw free-body diagrams to model collisions in physics. Next week, they will revisit these concepts in a quiz on Wednesday, followed by a lesson describing Newton’s laws. Students will develop their understanding of Kinetic Energy transfer in collisions through several lab activities and simulations.

In literature, we continued reading The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle. We are about halfway through the book and are focusing on the various types of conflict found in literature. Students should have brought home a reading log so that they can record this week’s reading. The reading log is due each Monday morning. If they forgot to grab one, they can print one from the eighth-grade web page under the “Resources” tab to the left of the page. Keeping track on a piece of binder paper also works for me. Please remind them that they must turn in two book reports by Thursday, September 30th (the last school day of the month). Most have turned in their first, although there are a couple who have not turned in either.

Social studies lessons focused on the rising tensions felt by colonists from the increased demands of their English homeland. Kids studied and gave group presentations about the different colonies, the Triangle Trade, the Mayflower Compact, and the economic influences on life in the colonies. This week we also began making our U.S. history timeline, adding a placard about the Stamp Act, the Townshend Act, the Boston Massacre and Boston Tea Party, and the Intolerable Acts. This timeline will be a reminder of all we study throughout the year and will be a handy resource for our continued studies.

Religion lessons focused on Jesus’ commissioning of the apostles to go out and spread the Good News. The eighth graders will be doing their share to that end by leading Mass next Friday, October 1st. They will be practicing the readings this week and will then lead this celebration. They will also continue to sit with their Kindergarten buddies during Mass to guide them. You are welcome to attend Mass on Friday, but we ask that you sit in the transepts (the side pews) rather than with your student. Finally, in religion Friday I played a song by NeedtoBreathe – “More Heart, Less Attack”. This is an excellent song that gives some great words of wisdom. I felt we could really use it. Enjoy!

The students seem to be managing their homework and assignments and are diligently checking their FACTS to be certain that everything is turned in. Please remember to sit with them on weekends to check FACTS. They are also working hard to improve their learning by re-doing work that doesn’t meet their (or my) expectations, and I am so proud of them for that.

I post students’ daily homework assignments on the webpage under “Homework” so that they (and you) can see what they may have forgotten to write down. Again, if you can get a planner for your child, that would make keeping track of multiple classes and teachers’ assignments and projects with extended due dates that much easier to keep track of.

We have our final MAP test (language) on Tuesday morning. Please be sure that your child brings a charged laptop for this. Also, if any of you are still having any type of trouble logging in to FACTS or your student’s email, please let the office know so that we can get you fully operational.

Have a great weekend,

Chris Eusebio

9/17/21

September 17, 2021

Dear Parents,

It was so nice to meet many of you at Curriculum Night on Wednesday. If you have any questions related to what we spoke about that night, please feel free to contact me. I truly mean it when I say that this is a great group of kids. They are making huge strides in the amount of work and responsibility they are taking on. One example of this happened today. Your students led their Kindergarten buddies to Mass and mentored them throughout the service, helping them go through the motions (literally, not figuratively!), also helping them to do their best to listen to Fr. Moore’s message. I noticed a marked improvement in the Kindergarteners’ focus this week as compared to our first time with them at Mass two weeks ago, and your eighth graders can take credit for this improvement. They are doing so well nurturing these young ones and guiding them in the beginning practices of our faith. Kudos to them!

In our other religion lessons this week we began learning about the marks of the Church (One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic). We learned that the Church is founded by Jesus Christ on the Apostles, hence it is Apostolic. We also learned that the first followers of Jesus were mostly Jews who believed that only they were included in the divine plan of Salvation. The Acts of the Apostles taught that God calls all people, Jews and non-Jews alike, to Salvation in Christ: “To him all the prophets bear witness, that everyone who believes in him will receive forgiveness of sins through his name.” (Acts 10:43) Peter ordered even non-Jewish believers to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Fr. Moore was in on Thursday and spoke about the nature of our relationship with God using a grammar analogy, likening it to a subject/object – a giver/receiver relationship. He then went on to talk about the meaning of Baptism and who is allowed to baptize. The kids had lots of great questions for him and were very engaged in the lesson. Finally, our Second Step lesson this week was about who we are (our identity) and how we express that.

In language arts this week the kids finished their study of Latin Lesson 1, used the words in context, had a spelling bee to practice, and then took their test today. Most did well. For those who didn’t, some extra study and retakes are always possible. Our grammar lessons focused on adding appositives (extra information) using commas, and how to form regular and irregular plural nouns. We wrote an editorial about a school rule that we would like changed. This editorial paragraph focused on the grammar points we are learning and was not meant to be a longer, more involved writing lesson.

Literature lessons this week focused on comprehension of The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle. We explored literary elements found is Charlotte Doyle so far. We learned about the different types of conflicts that often show up in literature (person vs. person, person vs. nature, person vs. self), identified some conflicts in the story, and also talked about cause and effect. We are also reviewing a lot of vocabulary as we read through the novel.

In social studies we learned about the early English settlements and what brought them here. We learned about who was already living here when they arrived and what that encounter brought. We began putting together PowerPoint presentations about the different colonies in groups of three. Students are learning that these slideshows should not be filled with a lot of print, but rather, they should have short bullet points and nice visual aids (maps, charts, pictures) to help guide their telling of the topic. I told them that Cornell Notes are somewhat like slideshows – they have titles, subtitles, and short phrases to guide, but they don’t retell the whole story word for word. Students will present their slideshows on Monday and their classmates will take Cornell Notes on what they hear (also using the slides to guide their notes).

Please take some time to sit with your child this weekend and look at their grades in FACTS. This is a great time to see how they are doing and to catch up on missing work. These kids are working really hard and we have hardly any missing work. I am so proud of them!

Remember that MAP testing begins next week. We have testing Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday mornings, so please be sure that your kids are getting a good night’s sleep beforehand. Also, studies show that a good, healthy breakfast and snack also helps. Thanks!

Have a great weekend!

Chris

 

9/11/21

September 11, 2021

Dear Parents,

We really dove into learning this week. We started with our language arts lessons reviewing a variety of nouns: common and proper, concrete and abstract, collective and compound. We typically review the lesson in the textbook, practice the skill out loud together, do some written practice sentences, then start on homework. Homework is important as an extra layer of practice so that grammar skills become second hand to the kids. I try to alternate English homework between simple sentences and longer writing projects. My goal is to build writing stamina in the kids while also making proper grammar second nature to them.

In literature, we started reading our first whole-group novel, “The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle” by Avi. This novel is about a thirteen-year-old girl who is traveling alone to America on a ship in the 1830’s. It is rich in vocabulary, adventure, and intrigue. We learned about literary elements in order to prepare for our reading of the novel and reinforced some of those elements as we began discussing the novel together. The kids will be asked to do some home reading of the novel as part of their literature homework. They will also have written assignments about what they are reading. We went over the expectations for outside reading requirements and I sent students home with a complete explanation of these requirements as well as a reading log that is to be turned in each Monday morning – starting this Monday. Please be sure that they record their reading (they may include class reading, non-fiction counts double), that you sign off on it, and that they bring it this Monday morning. It will be recorded in the gradebook each week.

In religion, Fr. Moore continued his lessons on morality. I introduced Second Step, our social-emotional learning (SEL) program, to the kids. We will have a Second Step lesson once each week. The program is comprised of four different units: Mindsets & Goals, Recognizing Bullying & Harassment, Thoughts, Emotions & Decisions, and Managing Relationships & Social Conflict. On Friday we had a prayer service in the classroom. As you know, we attend Mass in the church every other week. In the “off” weeks, we will have our own prayer service in which we have the daily readings, prayers, intentions, and music. I prepared the first service as a model of what it might look like but told the kids that they will take turns either individually or as a small group planning the service. My wish for them is that they become more fully engaged in forms of worship other than just the Mass.

In social studies, we began taking Cornell Notes (C.N.) from our social studies text about early North American cultures. I think I pushed them a bit too soon to try out this method of note taking completely on their own. I told them that I will slow down and give them more modeling using the document camera. I hope to have them proficient at taking notes using this method as it will be so important for them in high school, but that will take some time.

The kids have had a good start this week and are really starting to get their groove and learn my expectations of them. Friday afternoon was a bit tricky though as I reminded them of some school expectations that not all are following such as dress uniform (to be worn every Friday), jewelry, painted nails, etc. I told the kids that they don’t have to agree with all expectations, but they do have to follow them. I also said, and I really think it important that they learn, that when you have a disagreement or don’t understand why a decision has been made, it’s really important to find acceptable ways to express yourself rather than go into “attack” mode. I will work with them on finding positive ways to disagree and, most importantly, help them seek understanding of rules/expectations before disagreeing with them. I hope you can support me with this. Perhaps you could take some time this weekend to read through the Family Handbook with your child and have a conversation about what is expected.

Many students would benefit from having a planner of some type. With several different teachers and classrooms to move between, it can be a bit tricky to catch all the homework assignments each night. A planner will also help students keep track of the due dates of longer-term projects such as book reports, social studies projects, etc. Please ask your child if he/she would like a planner and find some time to choose one with plenty of space each day to write down assignments from multiple subjects.

Wednesday night, September 15th, is Curriculum Night. You should have received information in the Wednesday newsletter about it, including the Zoom link for each grade level. I will email you the link again on Tuesday as a reminder of the meeting. On Curriculum Night, I will introduce myself, go over the syllabi for the classes I teach, and talk about general expectations such as homework, grading/FACTS, etc. By then I hope to know who our eighth-grade room parents are so that they can tell us about fund raising and other eighth-grade activities. I will have everything already uploaded to the eighth-grade web page so that you can look at the documents ahead of time. I do have general curriculum explanations on the web page now, but give me time on Monday to upload the additional resources. If you have questions before Curriculum Night, please feel free to email me and I will do my best to answer them.

Upcoming Dates:

Wednesday, 9/15 – Curriculum Night 6:30PM via Zoom

Friday, 9/17 – Dress uniform, 8th grade attends Mass

Tuesday-Thursday, 9/21-23 and 9/28-30 – MAP testing 8-11:30AM. Please do not schedule appointments for your child during these testing times.

Have a great weekend!

Chris

 

9/4/21

9/4/2021

Dear Parents,

First, please let me introduce myself. My name is Chris Eusebio and I am your child’s homeroom teacher as well as their teacher of religion, U.S. history, language arts, and literature. My husband and I are fairly new to Bellingham (2 ½ years), having left Seattle for the more relaxed, outdoorsy nature of this city. We are loving it! We have three grown children living in Seattle, New York, and Washington, D.C. Parish life is very important to us and we are still finding ways to become more closely involved.

I am not new to teaching and spent most of my teaching career in second and third grade at Assumption-St. Bridget School in Seattle. I have also taught high school English as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Morocco, and 5th grade two years ago in Lynden, so I have experience across many grade levels. I am happy to continue teaching eighth grade this year after having been the long-term sub for Mrs. Reyes last year.

Let me start this first weekly newsletter by saying how awed I am about how well these kids have transitioned back to school after a long summer break. We have been learning new routines, new expectations, and new ways to communicate to allow all to have a voice. We are off to a great start!

We had a prayer service on Wednesday during which we were introduced to the spiritual theme of the year, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). We listened to a song by contemporary Christian singer Matt Maher called “Your Grace is Enough”. I plan on infusing a lot of contemporary Christian music into our learning this year.

Students met their Kindergarten buddies on Thursday and escorted them to our first Mass of the year Friday. You would have been so proud to see how well your kids mentored their little buddies at Mass. They taught them how to use “praying hands” as they walked in, how to stand, kneel, and sit multiple times throughout the service, and how to (mostly) sit quietly to listen and watch. We will be interacting with our buddies throughout the year both in person and using See Saw (a classroom app).

One important learning this year will be how to take notes effectively. This skill will be essential next year in high school. I introduced the kids to the Cornell Notes method yesterday during history class. We will continue learning about this method and will use it to take notes in all subject areas. I told the kids that most of the tests I give this year will be open-note tests. I want to be sure that I am assessing understanding of concepts/events over an ability to memorize.

We were introduced to our first novel, “The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle” by Avi, and I explained that much of what we read this year will tie to the historical time periods we are studying in history class. We will read a variety of genres and formats (plays, short stories, novels, poetry, etc.) and will dive deep into analyzing literature and writing about it. I introduced the outside reading requirements of 250 pages per week and two book reports per month. Your child was given an explanation sheet and I will also post it to the 8th grade web page next week. Please be sure that your child is reading every night as part of homework.

I can’t wait to “meet” you all on Curriculum Night, September 15th. I will go over the syllabi for the subjects I teach and will answer any questions you may have about the start of our year. I will also explain our service-learning project, let you know about any volunteer opportunities, and hopefully introduce you to the eighth-grade room parents this year. In the meantime, please feel free to reach out to me by email: ceusebio@school.assumption.org

Have a great three-day weekend!

Chris Eusebio