4/29/22

April 29, 2022

Dear Parents,

We have had a crazy busy week! Students have overcome one of the main portions of their Legacy Project – they turned in their ten-page biography today after peer reviewing it one final time. This, I’m sure, will take a lot of pressure off them. I will teach them how to structure their autobiography next week. Remember that it will only require five pages. They should continue to gather artifacts to put into their L.P. binders or albums (whichever style book they choose), but don’t let them begin assembling until they have their graded writing returned so that they know how many pages to leave in the album. If they want to begin putting captions on documents/artifacts (required of every document) and putting them into sheet protectors, that would be fine. Mrs. Santos will work with them next week to begin the self-portrait.

In social studies we learned more about why the Emancipation Proclamation was so important and how it affected both the Union and the Confederacy. We will continue our lessons about the Civil War next week, focusing on daily life during the war and on how the tide of war shifted.

In language arts we began a review of basic and more advanced punctuation skills. Who knew the comma was so important and had so many rules around it?! We always seek to look at the logic in a grammar or convention rule so that it will be easier for us to remember it later. The review of punctuation came in handy as we peer edited the Legacy Projects.

We finished our April book reports about Civil War novels and the resulting projects adorn our hallway. The kids wrote about the plot structure, themes, characters, and synopsis of their novels – all on an object that was symbolic of their novel. Our next genre will be dystopian novels. The kids were given the task of finding a dystopian novel they would like to read (they should not have read it before) and bringing it in on Monday. They were allowed to borrow from one another (many kids have these at home), from another classroom, from the school or public library, or purchase one. I wanted them to have the option of choosing one they liked. I have a stack of dystopian novels in the classroom, so if your child does not bring one on Monday, I will be assigning one that I have. Please check with your child to be sure he/she comes prepared or amenable to my choice on Monday.

We took our ACRE test in religion class this week. As a reminder, the results of the test do not count toward your child’s religion grade. Rather, the scores let the Archdiocese and us know how strong our religion program is. We also started our first Family Life lesson. As you saw in my email, there are ten lessons in the program. We should finish it the last week of school.

We continue to go to the We Grow Garden most Wednesdays. I have not had any parents volunteer to walk with us on these dates. I would really appreciate some extra help, if you are able. Our remaining dates are May 4, 11, 25, and June 1 (our final session). We leave school at 1:15, walk ten minutes, and return by 2:40. If you can come along with us, please let me know. It really is a lovely and valuable time with the kids.

Our retreat is coming up Tuesday and Wednesday, May 24th and 25th. I will send out a permission slip next week. We will need drivers and overnight chaperones, so please indicate on the slip how you are able to help. I also explained in last week’s letter that eighth-grade parents are responsible for preparing/providing the meals for the retreat. If you can help in that way, please let me know. I have heard from one person so far.

Have a great weekend!

Chris

4/22/22

April 22, 2022

Dear Parents,

We had a great, sunny afternoon at the We Grow Garden on Wednesday. The kids did some planting, some garden bed preparation, and some weeding and composting. We will be going again next Wednesday and need a parent who is willing to go along with us. Ideally, we’d like a parent who can drive our two kids with leg injuries there and back again. If you are Safe Environment/Virtus trained and can join us on Wednesday from 1:15 until 2:45, please let me know.

The kids are feeling a bit of relief with the science projects wrapped up and the bulk of their ten-page Legacy Project biography done. They peer edited their papers today but are not quite finished with that. We will finish peer editing on Monday and they will have until Friday to turn in the final biography. This weekend would be a good opportunity for them to add some details, if they’re feeling a bit shy of the ten-page mark.

In history class, we have been learning about the Civil War and its causes (it wasn’t only about slavery) and will learn about the Emancipation Proclamation next week. In addition to our textbook, we have been using the American Battlefield Trust website to learn about the Civil War. It is filled with many more resources than we have time for, so if your child is interested in this topic, please encourage him/her to do some exploring of the site.

We spent our language arts time learning about different poetry forms so that we could write poems about our relatives to include in our Legacy Projects. Students will write one poem about their relative, and one about themselves. As noted on the due dates sheet, the poem about the relative is due on Friday, April 29th along with the final draft of the ten-page biography. The poem about the student will be due when the autobiography is due, Friday, May 20th. I will explain the autobiography in more detail after next Friday, but I want the focus to be on finishing the biography, first.

In literature class we are nearly finished with our Civil War novels. Some students, in fact, have started a second and even a third novel! Along the way, kids have been completing tasks related to their novel (they had some say in what these tasks were) and have also been learning about different literary elements like conflict, protagonist vs. antagonist, plot development, theme, etc. I will explain the culminating book report expectations on Monday and the kids will be given class time to complete it by Thursday, April 28th.

In religion, we had our Virtus lesson. The topic was “Boundaries: Feelings and Facts”. The kids seemed very knowledgeable about the topic and I am hopeful they will know what to do if they hear or are involved with any type of incorrect or inappropriate behavior. Practice, practice, practice so that if something happens, you respond in a way that is helpful (just like a fire drill!). Our ACRE test is coming up early next week. As you may recall, this is a test given by most Catholic archdioceses in the United States. It is given only to fifth and eighth graders. We will have one final review day on Monday before taking the test Tuesday.

You may have received a notice in the Wednesday parent letter that Tuesday is class picture day. Most students wear their dress uniforms this day, but eighth graders are allowed to wear appropriate free dress that day. Wednesday of next week is “Heart Health Day”. The kids should wear red that day.

Have a great, sunny weekend!

Chris

 

 

 

 

 

4/15/22

April 15, 2022

Dear Parents,

I’m sure you’ve felt the pressure of how busy the kids have been these last couple of weeks with all the deadlines looming. They’ve been working hard in class to finish things like homework so that they can use home time for the longer projects they’ve got going. I’m so proud of them for working hard and hardly complaining. They’ve been pushed this year and have been building resilience in their work habits.

One of the big things they’ve been working on is the Legacy Project. They’ve written their introduction and thesis statement and should now be working on the body of this ten-page biography (rough draft due next Friday for peer editing). We went through some possible paragraph topics (early life, home, school life, marriage, historical context that may have impacted them, etc.). I suggested to the kids that one way to be sure they’re not overwhelmed is to take one paragraph topic each night and write about that part of the story. In fact, I suggested they make a list of all the topics directly onto the document so that they remember, and then just write about each one when they have enough info gathered. That way, they won’t leave big gaps in their relative’s life. Another important piece to any “non-Wikipedia-sounding” biography is the inclusion of stories or anecdotes about the person. If you have any of these to tell your child, be sure they include them in their narrative.

One part of the Legacy Project is to write a poem about their relative and one about themselves. We studied different types of poetry (April is poetry month) and made posters for our walls. I will give the kids time during class next week to get started on writing their poems, although they probably won’t finish them during one class period.

We’ve been reading Civil War novels in literature class. To relieve some of the pressure of outside work, I told the kids that they weren’t required to do two outside reading book reports this month, but only one book report about the Civil War novels we are reading in class. I will give them time the last week of April to complete this report (I will show them what format I would like them to use); I want the majority of their home time to be spent on the Legacy Project biography.

The majority of our religion time this week was spent in preparation for the Triduum. We listened to a song by Will Reagan and United Pursuit called “Take a Moment”. This was especially important for the kids, as busy as they are, to remember that God lightens their loads, even though they don’t always recognize it. The kids finished their Lenten books and shared them with their Kindergarten buddies this morning before escorting their buddies to the “Prayer in the Garden” and Stations of the Cross. The eighth graders had taught their little buddies about the Stations on Thursday in the church with a simplified version so that they would have a better understanding of this prayer form on Good Friday. We spent the day today unplugged and quiet, in keeping with the solemn nature of the day.

I hope you saw and returned the field trip permission slip that came home yesterday. This slip has the dates for our service to the We Grow Garden for the rest of the year. You might remember that we went in the fall. It will be great for the kids to see the things they planted way back in October. We will be going on Wednesdays from 1:15 – 2:40. This includes walking time (the garden is across the street from Bellingham High School. To prepare for this service, the kids did research and learned about food insecurity/food banks, at-risk youth and other marginalized groups, community gardens in Bellingham, the importance of organic gardening, and sustainable gardening/permaculture. They’ll present their learning to one another on Tuesday next week so that they have a good understanding of why they’re serving at the garden. We will need a parent or two to walk with us each week, so if you are able and are already Save Environment trained, please let me know.

I hope you have a very blessed and peaceful Easter!

Chris

 

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