January 8, 2022

Dear Parents,

Despite the funky schedule this week, we accomplished a lot. We started new literature circles groups. The kids are reading either “My Brother Sam is Dead” (a Revolutionary War novel), “Lord of the Flies” (a novel about human nature in the face of adversity), and “Treasure Island” (the classic coming-of-age novel). We intend to finish these novels this month and the groups have set their own schedules in order to accomplish this. You will likely see your kids reading these novels at home as I prefer to use class time as group discussion/activity completion time rather than quiet reading time. Remember that they can add this reading to their weekly reading-log requirements. I told the kids that I was going to be a bit stricter on reading log completion through the end of the semester (January 28th). Any reading logs not turned in each Monday will get a late penalty of 10% (as is done in both 6th and 7th grades). Reading logs not signed by parents will receive only 50% credit until they have been signed (I will then add up to 40%, having deducted 10% for not being fully completed on time), so please check on their reading and sign their logs each weekend. Please encourage your kids to turn in one of their two book reports by the middle of this month. The second one must be turned in by January 28th so that I can include it in this semester’s grades.

We began both a new Latin lesson and a short unit on modifiers (focusing on adjectives for now). We will continue these units next week. I am hoping that a deeper understanding of modifiers will help improve student writing as it should give kids more tools for elaboration and specificity.

In religion this week we continued a chapter about the growth of Christendom. We learned about the first ecumenical councils and the importance of the Council of Nicaea (origin of the Nicene Creed). We learned about heresies and listened to a song called “We Believe” by the Newsboys to see if it included any heresies. I encouraged the kids to listen to contemporary Christian music (our local station is 106.5FM) as an uplifting form of inspiration and unity among Christians. We also talked about the ACRE (Assessment of Catholic Religious Education) test that will be given in April. The ACRE assesses knowledge and attitudes about faith (two parts). In order to prepare for this (in addition to what we already study in our lessons about the history of the Church), the kids are beginning each of their religion lessons by practicing vocabulary for the first ten minutes using Quizlet. This format will really help, since the knowledge portion of the ACRE test is multiple choice vocabulary. I will let you know some time in March when the ACRE test has been scheduled.

We finished learning about the U.S. Constitution in December (last year!) and started a brief unit about the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS). We learned who the current members are and talked about what the role of the Supreme Court is – to use the power of judicial review to determine whether the laws and actions of our government conform to the U.S. Constitution. Its power extends to all cases under the Constitution, federal laws, and treaties. We learned that the Supreme Court only takes on about 80 cases per term and began reading a few cases that are of interest to us. We will study some landmark cases next week. I am hoping that having an understanding of our constitution and justice system will help our kids become more aware of what is happening in the news and make them better-informed citizens.

As I mentioned earlier in this letter, January 28th is the end of the semester. Please look over FACTS with your child to be sure there are no missing assignments as those are due by January 27th. I will reserve January 28th for book reports and assessments given that day. I have been reminding the kids that their nine service hours for the semester are due by January 28th. The form can be found on the “Resources” tab of the 8th grade web page.

Have a great weekend!


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