12/10/21

December 10, 2021

Dear Parents,

We didn’t have Mass this morning, so we read the daily readings from the USCCB website instead. The readings talked about how Jesus was a friend of sinners. We listened to a song by Casting Crowns called, “Jesus, Friend of Sinners”, and enjoyed the painting that was “performed” alongside the song at one of Casting Crown’s live concerts. We also finished filming and editing the scenes for the Nativity video. This was a huge deal for the kids and took two weeks of research, writing, and filming. During the process, they learned how to use a green screen (it’s trickier than it seems) and how to use one of the many video editing apps, Power Director. Today we sent everything off to Mr. Anderson so that he could add in each grade’s contribution to the final production. Look to the newsletter for information about “Opening Night”.

This week we read “A Christmas Memory”, a short story by Truman Capote. This is an iconic work from the author of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and “In Cold Blood”. Truman Capote masterfully uses imagery in his writing, and we saw many instances of imagery that ignited the senses. After doing some research about the author’s life, we realized that “A Christmas Memory” is autobiographical in nature and is a nostalgic telling of Capote’s relationship with a much-older cousin. We will begin writing Christmas memories of our own next week and will finish them in time to send home for the holidays.

We started a mini unit called “Protest Nation” in which we explore what it means to protest. We talked a lot about some of the protests we have experienced (either live or on the news) and how protests are meant to get people’s attention and spur them to think differently about an issue. We looked at some great examples of art as protest and explored the idea that art can plead, argue, and provoke as much as other forms of protest (like marches and sit-ins). Today, the kids chose an issue and will need to do some research about that issue. They will have only next Monday during social studies time to complete an art project (a poster) that represents that issue in a creative way. They may not use a slogan or artistic idea that was created by someone else – it must be original. When they present their posters on Tuesday, they will first need to present the issue they chose, tell why they chose that issue, give some background on it, and mention both sides of the issue. They will then present their poster and explain why they created it in the way they did. This will culminate our “abuse of power” unit.

I will be sending an overview of the “Legacy Project” next week. This is a long-range project in which the students study an ancestor and write a narrative biography about the person, then create a 50-page album about them. Although we won’t really launch the project until January, I am sending the overview before Christmas so that those who will be seeing relatives during the break can start gathering information, family stories, photos, etc. about the person they choose. The person must be a grandparent or (preferably) older relative.

Next week will be busy with a few things:

Thursday, December 16th: “Hamilton” watch party in the afternoon. Kids can bring treats and blankets for the floor. I am still waiting on a few permission slips. Kids without permission will spend the time helping in another classroom.

Friday, December 17th: Kids have a white elephant exchange in the morning. They should bring a wrapped gift worth no more than $10. It need not be store bought.

Friday, December 17th: Kids make gingerbread houses with their Kindergarten buddies. We still need a bag of candy (jellybeans, gum drops, etc.) from each 8th grader to make this happen.

Friday, December 17th: School out at 11:45 for Christmas break.

Have a great weekend!

Chris

 

12/4/2021

December 4, 2021

Dear Parents,

I hope you enjoyed the Thanksgiving break with family. The students came back to a classroom fully decorated for Christmas, complete with holiday lights, Advent wreath, and stockings (hung by the virtual fireplace). The kids decided to have a white elephant gift exchange the last week of school before break. They haven’t hashed out the details yet, but I don’t expect it will affect you other than getting them to the store to do their shopping. We will be making gingerbread houses with our Kindergarten buddies on the last day before break and I am asking for one bag of candy from each student to use for decorating. Please send these in starting next week. Thanks!

We have been working hard on writing the script for the Nativity video and these are now complete. We will be filming the various scenes next week and are prepared to start the long editing process using the video-editing app Power Director. This has been a long process, but it has allowed the kids to see how important it is to understand the subject being filmed to “get it right” and also to think about how to portray this in a way that is clear and interesting to the audience. We have located only a few of the costumes that we need, so if you happen to have anything at home that looks like it could be of use (rustic-looking robes, shawls, head scarves, etc.), please send them in with your child on Monday.

Nativity writing has taken most of our language arts and literature time, although we did manage to squeeze in some Latin lessons. We will finish the Latin next week and test on Friday. We will be able to resume a mostly normal language arts and literature schedule next week, depending on how well Nativity filming and editing goes. Please be sure that your child is reading each night as I will continue to be checking reading logs (which can be found on the eighth-grade webpage under “Resources”) each Monday. I told the kids that I will only be asking for one book report for the month of December in order to honor students’ time on vacation. I will ask for these to be completed and turned in by Friday, December 17th.

In social studies we started learning about the U.S. Constitution and why the framers chose to organize it in the way that they did. Again, we came back to our essential question: How do governments avoid the abuse of power? The kids memorized the Preamble (the opening lines of the Constitution) and began working on a pamphlet about the U.S. government that will include the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and U.S. citizenship. This is an alternative form of assessment of their knowledge, so there will not be a typical unit test. I will be showing the musical “Hamilton” on Thursday, December 16th in the afternoon as a culmination of our Revolutionary War unit. Since this musical is rated PG-13 (due to some colorful language), I will be sending home a permission slip next week. If you choose not to have your child watch this video, I will arrange for him/her to spend time in another classroom.

We have been using our laptop devices quite a bit to do research, create documents, and edit videos, so please be sure that your child brings a fully-charged device each day.

Upcoming:

Monday, December 6th: St. Nicholas Day special surprise for kids

Tuesday, December 7th: Assembly in gym 1:15 PM (Second Step, basketball)

Wednesday, December 8th: Feast of the Immaculate Conception Mass in church 12:30 PM

Friday, December 10th: Daily Mass 8:20 (includes Peacemakers)

Have a great weekend!

Chris

 

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