10/30/21

October 30, 2021

Dear Parents,

We had a great retreat yesterday, starting with Mass in the morning and followed by large- and small-group discussions. The main theme of the retreat was about making choices that lead to our best selves and that build up others. Our retreat leader, Joan Williamson, did an amazing job leading the retreat and connected well with the kids. With lots of sunshine, we ate outdoors and played volleyball with a “living net”. Thank you to all the parents who helped with driving to and from the retreat. We couldn’t have gone without you!

We completed our Touching Safety lesson on Monday. The main idea of this lesson was how to be a friend to others who may be undergoing unsafe situations. The students learned the steps to take if they or someone they know is being threatened or harmed. We also used our religion time to finish learning about the marks of the Church – that the Church is One – and then tested our knowledge.

In language arts, we finished learning about irregular verbs, which usually have their irregularities in past tenses and past participles, and moved on to learning about progressive tenses. Students learned that progressive tenses show a progressive or ongoing nature, such as is walking, was walking, will have been walking. They noted that progressive tenses all use the present participle (a verb with -ing). This past week was the second week of our Latin 4 lesson. Because of the retreat on Friday, we had to move our Latin 4 test to Thursday. Not all kids had studied for it, so I told them to consider it a pre-test. If they did well, they are done. If they didn’t do well, they can retest on Monday or Tuesday during study hall time. I also reminded them that they can always re-do work to show new learning. I hope this will relieve some kids of any anxiety about testing.

We began reading new novels that center on colonial times. While our first novel was whole-group, this time the kids are reading in groups of three, each group with a different novel. They have a variety of tasks to complete as they read (found on a task rubric), and will also have lessons about a variety of literary elements along the way. We hope to complete these novels in the next three to four weeks so that we can move on to Revolutionary War novels. I reminded the kids that they have two book reports due by Monday for the month of October. Please remind them of this deadline. They will also need to turn in their weekly reading logs on Monday.

In social studies this week, we wrapped up our unit on colonization of our nation and talked about the essential question: How do governments avoid the abuse of power? On Monday, we sketched out the ideas from what we learned on the board, then transferred them to an outline in preparation for the culminating assessment of our learning – an essay. I gave them time each day during social studies to work on the essay and while most have finished and turned them in, some needed a bit more time because of the loss of a social studies period in lieu of a Halloween party on Thursday. Please remind your child that the essay should be emailed to me by Monday for grading.

Upcoming:

  • Thursday, November 4th- Early Release “A” Day 11:45 am dismissal with casual dress. Conferences from 12:30 pm to 7:30 pm. See sign-up in Wednesday newsletter, if you still need a slot. Please remember that these are student-led, so you must bring your child to the conference.
  • Friday, November 5th- No school for students; conferences today 8:00 am to 3:30 pm 

Have a sunny weekend!

Chris

10/23/21

October 23, 2021

Dear Parents,

It was great fun experiencing Holy Hoops this week. With two thirds of our eighth-grade class participating, we had great representation and lots of worn out kids during the day. Despite having no homework for the week, we managed to pack a lot of learning and skill practice in during the school day.

In language arts, we worked more on verbs, especially on irregular verbs. We learned about the elements of an essay and used an essay outline to plan a culminating essay about the novel we have been reading, The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle. We combined the remaining language arts and literature time this week to work on our essays, since both subjects were cut short by the half day on Wednesday. The kids were able to share their essays with partners on Friday to give critical advice about their writing. I want the kids to get in the habit of using this time not to focus on editing, but to really read with the intent of giving feedback that helps in clarity, organization, and interest. Being critical of another’s work makes us more mindful of our own.

In religion, we learned about the remaining mark of the Church – that it is one. During our discussions about this concept, the kids came up with a few questions to ask Fr. Moore when he came in. One of the questions, “What does it take to be sent to Hell?”, led to a conversation about Heaven. The kids have been really engaged in their time with Fr. Moore and I appreciate his willingness to set his lessons aside to explore and answer the burning questions in students’ minds. As I told them at the beginning of the year, this is their time to figure things out about their faith. Clearly, they are not afraid to ask, and that’s great about them.

In social studies we continued our lessons about the formation of governments, particularly as it relates to the formation of our own young nation. The kids were able to discern the essential question (the focus of our faculty professional development on Wednesday) of this unit: How do governments avoid the abuse of power? Next week, I will have them write an essay with this topic as a culminating activity/assessment of what they learned. Not only will this assignment help them to summarize their learning, it will also help them to understand the value of good note taking. Students continue to learn about events that led up to the American Revolution and have been making placards for the history timeline in our classroom. It’s really fun to watch this timeline grow along with student learning.

You should have received an email about our Touching Safety lesson that I will be teaching on Monday. Please also look for a permission slip (on orange paper) that was sent home with your student on Friday. This is for the eighth-grade fall retreat on Friday, October 29th at St. Joseph’s Parish in Ferndale. I have asked for drivers to and from the event, so if this is something you can do, even if only one direction, please indicate such at the bottom of the form (and the number of students you can take). Please also note that the permission slip has a back that must be filled out. Please return the permission slip on Monday.

Upcoming Events:

  • Touching Safety lesson Monday
  • Door decorating contest Wednesday (in case your kids ask for some art supplies)
  • Pumpkin carving contest Thursday (kids bring already-carved pumpkins to school for judging)
  • Orange and Black Day Thursday (no masks, blood, gore, or weapons, and modestly appropriate costumes)
  • Class Halloween celebration Thursday afternoon (kids are planning this)
  • Fall retreat all day Friday (leaving from school at 8:15, returning to school by 2:45)

Have a great weekend,

Chris

10/17/21

October 17, 2021

Dear Parents,

Sorry for the late newsletter – I had to take advantage of the sun yesterday to get as much fall gardening done as possible. The kids have been working hard in the garden as well – the We Grow Garden. We spent a couple of hours there on Tuesday as part of our service-learning project. As you may recall, this will be our year-long service-learning project. Now that we have had a chance to get our hands dirty in the garden tilling, spreading compost, planting cover crops, and harvesting fall crops, we will begin learning how what we do impacts others.

In religion this week we continued to learn about what it means to be catholic. We learned about the early church and how it had to come to terms with the idea that the church was not meant only for the Mosaic people, but for all – both Jews and Gentiles. We thought of ways that we see this universality and welcoming in the church in general and also in our own parish. We reviewed for and then took a religion test. You can look for the results of that test in FACTS.

In language arts, we studied verbs – this time focusing on the perfect tenses: past perfect (we had planted), present perfect (we have planted), and future perfect (we will have planted). We learned that these tenses are meant to place an action in time relative to some other action in time. An example of this is in the sentence By the time they arrived, I had planted the entire garden. The past perfect tense here shows that the planting I did happened before their arrival. We will continue looking at other verb tenses next week. We finished our Latin Lesson 3 and took a test on both definitions and spelling (both are important). You may have noticed that your kids were asked to use these in a cohesive paragraph as a review for the test. This is more difficult than simply using them in individual sentences, but it has value in that it requires the kids to think about how they might incorporate their Latin vocabulary more universally. Many paragraphs showed great creativity and depth of thought.

In literature, we worked on a culminating project for the novel The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle. We began presenting these at lunch and the few we have seen so far are awesome. After each one, we discuss what was different about it and analyze the way it was done. We are learning from one another what it takes to capture an audience and present effectively. I am hoping that some kids will start choosing this format for their book reports. I have received only two book reports so far this month. Please remind your child that I need two by the last school day of the month (October 29th). Also, please be sure to sign the reading log your child should be turning in each Monday to show what they have read and that they have read a minimum of 250 pages during the week. Beginning Monday, we will be writing an essay about Charlotte Doyle. This will be the students’ first long, formal essay. I will be using an outline to guide them, which should help for this first one.

In social studies we learned how governments organize themselves to avoid the abuse of power. The students understood the importance of this after having read The Tragedy of Antigone in which Creon (the king) abused his unlimited power and chose to do things that were not necessarily for the common good. The kids learned about our system of three branches of government (executive, legislative, and judiciary) and checks and balances, all of which are meant to balance power and keep one person, group, or branch from having too much control. We then learned how the founders based their thinking on the Magna Carta (the English charter that created a greater balance of power between the monarchy and the nobility). The students also learned about British Parliament (akin to our Congress) and the English Bill of Rights. They created a comparison chart in their social studies notebooks comparing the Magna Carta to the English Bill of Rights.

I will be teaching our fall Touching Safety lesson soon (probably Monday, October 25th), so please watch for an email with an explanation of the program/lesson and opt out form early this week.

Have a great weekend,

Chris

 

10/9/21

October 9, 2021

Dear Parents,

We had a full week in all our subjects and the students are starting to be more challenged in what they are being asked to do – both in mechanics (grammar, writing) and creativity (literature projects). They are also being asked to think more deeply about things that matter, such as what it means to be Catholic. Fr. Moore came in to continue his lessons about the sacraments and was able to answer one of the kids’ burning questions (we write these on the board as we think of them so that we remember to ask): Is there anything that God won’t forgive? This question came up because the kids were discussing the idea of catholic meaning “universal/for everyone”. They wondered if those who were not born into a Christian society would still be held accountable for believing in Jesus, which eventually led to the question of forgiveness. For an interesting dinner conversation, ask your child what Fr. Moore’s answer was.

Social studies also had some interesting concepts to discuss that some kids tied to religion lessons. Kids learned about common good, civic virtue, and higher power as they relate to government. They read a synopsis of the Sophocles’ play “The Tragedy of Antigone” in which a couple different characters (sisters Antigone and Ismene) must decide whether a ruler (their uncle Creon) should have absolute power, or if it is a citizen’s duty to obey a higher power (the gods of ancient Greece). After learning about these characters’ points of view through student group presentations, the kids had to type a lengthy, detailed paragraph about what they thought. This was an opportunity for them to learn my expectations about word-processed assignments and also what makes a well-written paragraph. While I led them through each expectation and gave them a sheet to follow with these listed, I will eventually expect them to be able to do this without my guidance by merely reading the question being asked and then responding. This will prepare them well for what will be asked of them in high school and on any type of standardized testing.

In language arts we began a unit on verbs and learned that there are both action and linking verbs. The kids learned a sneaky trick that to tell if a verb is linking, it must be able to be replaced by the verb “be” in some way. For example, “the tomato tastes sweet” can be replaced by “the tomato is sweet”, so the verb tastes is a linking verb. Compare that to “the man tastes tomatoes” which is not the same as “the man is tomatoes”, so that verb tastes is an action verb (something that happens – has action). We learned that there are verb phrases (two or more verbs working together) and counted up to four verbs working together in a phrase (good work, kids!): The puppies will have been sleeping five hours by the time I get home. We started learning about tenses and learned about the base form (infinitive) of a verb (e.g. to talk), the present participle (talking), and the past participle (talked). I reminded the kids that they already use all these forms of verbs and that this is their chance to learn what they are called. We will continue with verbs and different tenses next week. Any work on tenses will also help the students when learning Spanish or any other foreign language, so I hope they hold on to this learning.

Finally, in literature we are nearing the end of our reading of The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle. I showed a couple of sample book trailers for the novel online and the kids are being asked to create a trailer of their own. They will begin work on this next week. I can’t wait to see how creative they can be with these trailers. I told them that this would also be a good form of book report for their two monthly book reports. Thank you to those parents who continue to look at and sign the book logs that are to be turned in each Monday morning. I cannot impress upon you enough the power of reading!

You have surely seen the permission slip for our service project next week. We will depart school at about 9:15, so if you have signed up to walk with us to the We Grow Garden, please be at school a few minutes before that time. We will go rain or shine, so please be sure that your child has adequate outer wear. The kids may wear their casual uniform (jeans and blue Assumption t-shirt, for those new to ACS).

Thanks for all your support and have a relaxing weekend,

Chris

10/2/21

October 2, 2021

Dear Parents,

The kids did a fabulous job leading Mass on Friday. This Mass was devoted to the remembrance of St. Therese of Lisieux, also known as the “Little Flower”. She is best known for her saying, “Do ordinary (small) things with great love,” and was oft quoted by Saint Mother Theresa of Calcutta. The priest spoke in his homily about how we can all follow St. Therese’s example of making every act we do one of love. This is a tough challenge, but it has the potential of bringing so much peace and showing that we are holy – set apart for God. We learned that Epistles are letters written by the Apostles to help the early Church understand Jesus and his message. We listened to a song by Leon Patillo based on one of Peter’s Epistles that said, “Believe in Jesus, the cornerstone of our faith.” 1 Peter 2:4-10. We wrapped up our lessons about the second mark of the Church – holy – and will have a chapter test next week to see what we understand this concept.

In social studies we explored the idea of why we need government. We started by learning that living in a state of nature means living without laws or government. Philosopher John Locke reasoned that, even in a state of nature, people would have certain rights: the right to life (being safe and able to survive), liberty (being as free as possible to make our own decisions), and property (owning things necessary for survival). Locke went on to predict what would happen in a state of nature: stronger/more skilled people would take advantage of weaker people; weaker/less-skilled people would band together to protect their rights; people would feel insecure and therefore want to form governments/laws; and, people would only be allowed to govern one another with consent. These are foundational ideas to the creation of any legitimate government, and we will use them as a foundation for our conversations about our own government in the coming lessons.

Language arts and literature classes were cut short this week due to MAP testing, but we did manage to squeeze a review of nouns before taking our test. Those kids who wished to do so were able to re-test. We also finished another section of our novel and tested both on comprehension and vocabulary. I was grateful to receive almost 100% of the book reports by the end of the month. The kids worked hard and are showing that they are responsible and meeting deadlines. Please do check FACTS with your child to see if there might be a missing assignment or low grade that they’d like to improve. I am always willing to do some re-teaching and allow for them to show that they have learned.

Have a peaceful Sunday!

Chris