2/25/22

February 25, 2022

Dear Parents,

The kids did a great job leading Mass this morning. It’s so nice to see them take on this kind of responsibility and to let the Holy Spirit work through them to guide others. We will be going to Ash Wednesday Mass next Wednesday and some students will be altar serving or taking up collections that day.

“Read Across America Day” is next Tuesday. We have a morning activity planned with our Kindergarten buddies. Eighth graders will be leading family groups (mixed-age groups) in a variety of literature- or Mardi Gras-based activities in the afternoon. Kids can choose to dress up as their favorite book character that day (no masks, weapons, facial makeup).

We are still studying a variety of pronouns in grammar and will finish the unit next week. We have also been talking about what makes good, clear writing. The kids had a chance to use their writing skills today to show what they learned in our social studies unit on Westward Movement. They wrote a three-paragraph essay about manifest destiny. I will grade these this weekend and return them on Monday.

“Romeo and Juliet” still captivates our attention. We learned that sometimes greater interest is created when an author doesn’t show a main event, such as Romeo and Juliet’s actual marriage. We also learned that Shakespeare’s tragedies are formulaic in that they are all five acts, and all have six literary elements: starting point (exposition), initial exciting force, rising action, turning point (climax), falling action, and catastrophe (ending). We’ve identified the first four of these elements in what we’ve read so far and will keep working our way through the play next week.

Please remind your kids that two book reports are due for the month of February on Monday.

Have a great weekend!

Chris

 

2/18/22

February 18, 2022

Dear Parents,

In religion this week we completed a religion review for our chapter on the Church and the Roman Empire and then completed the test. One of the quotes from this chapter reminded us to do everything (both in word and in deed) in the name of Jesus Christ, so I played a song from Steven Curtis Chapman called “Do Everything” to remind the kids of this. Fr. Moore began teaching about morality, now that his lessons on the sacraments are finished. The eighth graders will be putting on the Mass next Friday, February 25th. If you’d like to attend, you may sit in the transept by the door. There is usually plenty of room there.

We finished our unit on sentences this week and had an informal test today. The kids should be incorporating the variety of sentence types and structures into their writing. I told them that I would be ramping up the amount of writing they do in all classes as we progress through this second semester. This will mean that they may have an increased amount of homework when working on a writing project, but the payoff will be great. They should be able to enter high school with confidence as writers.

Love is in the air! We are working through the second act of “Romeo and Juliet” and are learning about theme. We have learned about a few more literary devices such as allusion, dramatic irony, pathos, foreshadowing, and soliloquy. The kids have some reading (Act 2 Scenes 3 & 4) and questions to answer in their packets by Tuesday. I have been reminding them of the reading log due next Tuesday, and also of the two February book reports due on February 28th. Please help me with these reminders.

In social studies we are learning about Westward Expansion. We’ve learned about the trails used, the travelers, and their motives for moving. We also learned how Texas became a republic (yes, it was its own country at one point!) and are now learning about the Mexican American War. We will have a closed-packet test next Friday. I have been teaching the kids some study strategies that they’ll want to use in high school. Some of these strategies they know, such as highlighting and taking notes, but some are new to them. We will learn how to use a study buddy to review for a test next week.

Tuesday is 2/2/22 and we will celebrate by having the kids wear crazy socks that day. They should also bring in either a new pair of socks to donate, or two cans of food (no beans, please) to stock the food pantry (Hope House’s, not mine!). Uniforms should still be worn on Tuesday.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend and bonus day off!

Chris

2/11/22

February 11, 2022

Dear Parents,

We were busy this week reading through “Romeo and Juliet”. We have been learning about different literary devices used by Shakespeare and have discovered oxymorons, metaphors, similes, foreshadowing, and puns so far. Reading this play has been a challenge, especially when there are different ways to interpret what is being said. Many kids have discovered the ample analyses that can be found online such as SparkNotes. These analyses have been helpful, although I warned that they should not replace reading the novel.

In religion we continued talking about the early Church and focused on Charlemagne’s role in bringing Christianity and order to all of Europe. Charlemagne’s sense of justice and belief that government should help, not oppress people tied nicely to what we have been studying in history class. We revisited the idea of natural law and fundamental ideas of right and wrong based on this law. We also explored ways to remain faithful when society promotes opposing values or when government establishes a law that is contrary to Catholic moral teaching. We read an excerpt from Luke 9 that talked about losing one’s life because of Jesus, and gaining material things but losing one’s soul. I introduced two songs related to this reading – one by Michael W. Smith called “This is Your Time” about student Cassie Bernall at Columbine High School who was asked by the gunmen if she believed in God (she said yes and was shot). The other song by TobyMac is called “Lose Your Soul” and talks about losing your soul over material things. Hopefully these songs will have a small impact on the kids.

In social studies this week we learned about the Indian Removal Act and focused on what it would be like to be pushed out of our land and moved to a less than ideal reservation. The kids researched the Trail of Tears and worked in groups to create “animal hides” on which to draw pictographs telling this story. Yes, I even found a song tied to this event in history! We listened to Paul Revere and the Raiders “Cherokee Nation”. The kids will present their stories to the class on Monday (some are still attaching their hides to sticks to be “stretched”).

I handed out Legacy Project packets that include all due dates, forms to be turned in along the way, and a planning calendar with school dates listed. Please ask your child to show you this packet as the first due date is coming on February 18th (check-in date for the family tree).

Please have your child bring in valentines on Monday. This is optional, but the kids seemed excited to give them to one another. They also talked about bringing treats, but I’m going to leave that up to them. We will watch “Charlie Brown’s Valentine” at lunch. Please also have your child make a valentine for his/her Kindergarten buddy as we will deliver these to them on Monday.

I hope to see some of you on Sunday at our Open House from 2-4PM. It would be great to have some students here in the classroom to answer questions from visitors. And of course, I’d love to say hello, too!

Have a great weekend!

Chris

2/6/22

February 6, 2022

Dear Parents,

As some of you may know, my dad died last Sunday. He was surrounded by family, and it was a very peaceful goodbye. I missed Monday and Tuesday of last week because of this and was surprised to learn that the kids were worried that I was not coming back. This is a testament to how settled the kids have become and how much they appreciate the stability of their eighth-grade year. I have noticed how much more mature the kids have become since the beginning of the year and how willing they are to work hard. Report cards will be coming out this week, and these reflect this hard work.

In language arts this week we began learning about sentence structure – the difference between simple and complete subjects and predicates. We also learned that we can be more streamlined in our writing if we use compound subjects and predicates. I explained to the kids that they already use these types of structures when speaking, so incorporating them into their writing should not be difficult.

We began our Shakespearian unit in literature class by first studying Shakespeare’s life and creating a class PowerPoint about it. We then studied what a sonnet is (a 14-line form of poetry that has 10 syllables in each line and uses iambic pentameter [walking speed, ABAB pattern]). We also read the prologue to “Romeo and Juliet,” going slowly enough to understand what was happening. It was interesting to note that the prologue is actually a summary of the play (in advance!) with a warning that if the readers pay attention, they will understand what happens in the coming pages. We will do our best! Please remind your child to fill out the weekly reading log so that you can sign it and your child can return it Monday morning for full credit.

We had only a religion test and a visit from Fr. Moore this week, since our religion time was cut short by skiing and Catholic Schools Week (CSW) activities.

Social studies lessons were also abbreviated this week due to CSW, but we started a new unit on Jackson’s Era. This will encompass the nation’s changing views of what it means to be American, how we will expand the nation, and what the consequences to certain groups would be because of that expansion.

Your child should be working on gathering information to put together a family tree for the Legacy Project. Please support him/her in this process. I will send home a calendar of Legacy Project due dates on Friday.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend,

Chris

1/29/22

January 29, 2022

Dear Parents,

We are halfway through the year already! The kids should be proud of their hard work this last week to finish up a few assignments (book reports, Latin and grammar tests, etc.) and meet the Friday deadline for grade submission. The kids have really learned the importance of deadlines and are meeting them consistently, which I appreciate.

In language arts we completed our unit on modifiers – both adjectives and adverbs. We finished Latin lesson 8 and are halfway through the book (right on schedule). Next week we will dive into sentences and how they are formed – always with the intent to make our writing better. We will have the opportunity to assess our language skills when we take our final MAP test next week. We will test on Monday and Wednesday, again splitting the test into two 45-minute sessions so as not to overwhelm. Please take care to avoid pulling kids out for appointments at 10am both days.

Our literature groups finished their novels and had plenty of time to discuss them and complete activities involving language concepts, vocabulary, and comprehension. We will be moving into a unit on Shakespeare next week and will spend the month reading and analyzing “Romeo and Juliet”.

We had very little time for religion lessons this week due to the Tuesday ski program and MAP testing. We did manage to squeeze in a Second Step lesson on how to speak up when you see something that isn’t right. We also reviewed the history of the Liturgy in the Eastern and Western rites in preparation for a test next week. We will continue preparing for the ACRE test for a few minutes at the beginning of each religion lesson. We really enjoyed being back together again for Mass on Friday – community worship is such an important part of our faith.

In social studies we learned about Jefferson’s administration and the difference between Federalists and Democratic Republicans. We studied the struggles of the young nation and how these led to the War of 1812. We are heading into a new era – the Jacksonian Era – and will start learning about the plight of Native Americans as we started to expand the nation westward. And finally, we talked about what legacy means, in preparation for the first step of our Legacy Project. As you may recall, I sent home a packet of information about the project before Christmas break. This packet can also be found on the 8th grade web page under the “Resources” tab. We talked about how legacy is something you receive, but it is also something you give. The kids will be focusing on both aspects of legacy throughout the project. For the first part of the project, the kids need to start creating a family tree as far back as possible. They should gather information from family members, but can also use the Internet. Their final family tree can be displayed in whatever way they wish. Last year, we had kids with huge, artistic posters, but we also had family trees printed out on pages that could fit in their final binder/scrap book. I will send home a calendar with due dates for each part of the project next week, but be sure to support your child in developing the family tree in the meantime. They will need to choose a relative (grandparent or older) to focus their research on from that tree.

Next week is Catholic Schools Week. Please make note of the themes for each day as listed in the school’s newsletter.

Have a great weekend,

Chris

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