9/23/22

Dear Parents,

This week we worked on MAP testing and completed both the reading and the math portions of the test. The kids understand that this Fall test is simply a baseline so that we can see how much growth they make throughout the year. We will be able to talk about these results at conference time in early November and perhaps use them to set some goals for your child. We will continue testing next week on Tuesday and Thursday from 10-11:30, so please try to avoid pulling kids for appointments during those times. Also, please remind your child to bring a charged laptop on testing days – well, every day!

We completed our nouns unit and will test on Monday. We reviewed today and spent the majority of our time on possessives and appositives (add-ons, as one student aptly called these). We will continue working this week on our Latin and will test on Friday.

In literature, we are reading our way through The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle. We are nearly finished and are enjoying the plot twists and turns. I have been recommending Charles Nordhoff’s Mutiny on the Bounty for those interested in reading a higher-level book of this topic. The kids have been learning a lot of new vocabulary and have been discussing the elements of literature as they pertain to our novel. This would be the weekend to finish up the two book reports that are due on Friday, September 30th. Your child should ask you to sign their reading log, which is due on Monday.

We began our study of the history of the Church this week and started keeping track of new vocabulary related to Church history. This vocabulary list will come in handy when we start studying for the ACRE (Assessment of Catholic Religious Education) test. We learned about the Marks of the Church – that it is one, holy, catholic, and apostolic. We are focusing on the apostolic nature of the Church now and will move on to a closer look at the other marks (characteristics) of the Church in the coming weeks.

In social studies we finished learning about the early Spanish explorers, what they were looking for, and the effects they had on early empires and indigenous peoples. We are moving into a study of the French, Dutch, and English explorers and will focus on the first permanent European settlements in North America.

Next week we will walk to the WeGrow Garden on Wednesday. We leave at 1:15 and return by 2:50. I have one parent volunteer so far but could really use one more. Please let me know if you can come along with us.

Please sit with your child this weekend and log into FACTS to check grades and missing work. This really helps the kids get in the habit of working to better themselves.

From Mrs. Santos:    The students spent time reviewing when and how to use definite and indefinite articles, fall season vocabulary, classroom expressions, and reading time in Spanish. We practiced listening skills, reading comprehension (Lorena y las calabazas), and AR verb conjugation. Celebrating Hispanic heritage month, we talked about any important contributions from a Latino figure in the USA. Students will write 10 sentences about the canine-behavior expert Cesar Milan. Feliz fin de Semana!  

From Ms. McIntosh:   This week in PE 8th graders began fall fitness testing. Students learned about aerobic capacity and tested their abilities in running the mile. Next week students will learn about muscular endurance and test their skills in the push-up test and sit-up tests. Students may bring an appropriate change of clothes to change into during fitness testing if they would like. 

Have a great weekend!

Chris

9/16/22

Hi Parents,

It was so nice to meet so many of you at Curriculum Night on Wednesday. Thank you to those who attended the D.C. fund-raising meeting right before that. We ended up having fourteen attendees, so we will receive a $1000 scholarship towards our trip.

Wednesday was also our field trip/service project at the WeGrow Garden. The kids were amazing, sharing their knowledge about a variety of gardening methods and social issues to the visitors that day. I got so many compliments about how informed they were and how well-behaved and polite they were. Kudos to them! The kids were also able to get their hands dirty and prepare a few of the gardening beds for the fall planting they will do on 9/28, 10/12, and 10/26. We will leave school those days at 1:15 and walk to the garden, returning to school no later than 2:45. If you are willing to come along and help chaperone any of those days, please let me know. I could really use two people to help me manage this large group on each of the above-mentioned dates.

We’re nearly finished reviewing the intricacies of nouns. We will finish our unit next week with a brush-up on possessive nouns before testing the kids’ abilities next Friday. We took our first Latin test today after playing a game of “Sparkle” to review the spelling and definitions.

In literature we’ve been enjoying “The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle” and the adventures and excitement this novel holds. We took a vocabulary test from the first six chapters and will take another one next week. I told the kids that I would put the words on the test that would be the most useful to them, not the unusual ship terminology that they will likely never use again. We learned about the nature of conflict and that it is typically person vs. person, person vs. self, person vs. nature, or person vs. society. We had discussions about the variety of conflicts in the story and identified major and minor ones and how they drive the story. I reminded the kids that they have two book reports due by September 30th. If you could please encourage them to get one done soon, that would save me from having fifty reports to grade at the end of the month.

I asked the kids if this year is harder than last. Some said that seventh grade was harder, while most agreed that this year is harder (more homework). I asked them which class has the most homework and they all agreed that it is social studies. It has a lot of reading (this can also be listened to, thanks to its audio feature) and lots of short-answer questions. I told the kids that what they are doing in social studies is not only benefiting them from a historical perspective, but that it is also helping improve their reading and writing. I hope that you will see much growth in these areas this year.

With all the work (class, home, quizzes, tests) the kids are doing, I told them that it is their job to check FACTS on weekends against what I send home on Friday to make sure that everything has been input correctly. They often make corrections to their work (I encourage it) and I may add the new score to my paper grade book but not add it to FACTS. They need to bring the work to me on Monday and show it to me so that I can make the change in FACTS. This doesn’t happen often, but it is a safeguard I want them to have. Don’t ditch the work until you’ve double checked FACTS! I also reminded the kids about missing work and correcting work — that it must be done within two weeks. Beyond that we will have moved on to new things.

We have MAP testing the next two weeks. Our class will test on Tuesday and Thursday morning this coming week from 8:15 – 10, and the following week Tuesday and Thursday from 10-11:30. Please be sure that your child gets plenty of sleep, a nutritious breakfast, and (hmm – we Catholics like things in three’s …) plenty of words of encouragement!

A few words from our Spanish teacher, Mrs. Santos:

“Spanish: Semana 3

We learned about cognates and the ability to use them in a primary language to help understand words in a second language. The students wrote a list of perfect cognates, near-perfect cognates, and false cognates. 

We review school vocabulary, there is/are, to have conjugation, to be verbs referring to location, and infinitive verbs ar, er, ir. The 8th graders listened to audio exercises to identify and remember a series of words. To end the week with a good rhythm, we danced the AGUA choreography.

Homework: Students should read vocabulary daily for 15m. 

Feliz fin de semana!”

To find out about what is happening in math classes, please follow this link:

News – ACS Middle School Math (assumption.org)

Thanks and have a great weekend,

Chris

 

9/9/2022

Dear Parents,

We have been finding our groove in eighth grade. The kids have been adjusting to the new schedule, greater expectations, and the more rigorous workload. I’m proud of the work they’ve done so far and the amount of effort and attention they’ve given during class time. The kids have been especially helpful and kind to their Kindergarten buddies, showing them how to enter and attend Mass, and showing them how to find their way to their pick-up points in the afternoon. We took a well-deserved break at the end of our day today with our Kinder buddies on the playground. We wanted them to know us as fun, too, not just their “minders”.

In language arts this week we began our Latin and grammar lessons, setting routines for homework, study, and classroom work habits. We are reviewing the intricacies of nouns, including concrete/abstract, and compound/collective nouns. I enjoyed the editorials the kids wrote using these different types of nouns. The kids practiced peer editing before turning these editorials in for grading.

We began reading our first whole-group novel of the year: Charlotte Doyle, by Avi. We begin the year with a class novel so that we can explore it together and set expectations for listening and discussing literature. We will alternate between whole-group and small-group novels (literature circles) throughout the year. One benefit of reading novels is the exposure to new vocabulary. We took our first quiz of some of the vocabulary from Charlotte Doyle. My goal is not that they memorize this vocabulary completely (which includes spelling), but that they recognize the meaning of these words in context and can begin to utilize them in their writing and speaking. Please be sure your child brings in the reading log on Monday morning. This should be signed by you.

We have become a bit more comfortable with the new social studies text and have finished the first two lessons about Early Americans and Native American Cultures. These lessons vary in length and can be one-day or multi-day lessons. The text is much like the text that was used in both sixth and seventh grade in that it has required reading and lots of responses in writing to the text. In addition to this, however, the text also adds interactive features, video content, and links to primary source documents, which makes it rich. If we make the most of this text, despite initial learning and technology challenges, the kids will really benefit in their understanding of U.S. history.

Our learning of history will serve us well as we prepare for our Washington, D.C. trip this May. I hope you had a chance to read the email sent by our room parents yesterday outlining some service opportunities that will benefit our trip. We are offered a $1000 scholarship by World Strides if we have a parent meeting before September 15th. Since the topic of this meeting was to be the same as our spring meeting, I decided to change it to touching base and brainstorming any other ideas for fundraising. Don’t worry – I checked and this does count to give us the extra $1000 – as long as we can get at least ten parents to attend. We will meet at 5:30 on Curriculum Night in my classroom, since you need to be at the gym by 6 anyway. Please bring any ideas you might have – I know we are well on our way to having a nice amount to defray costs to each student.

We devoted religion time to studying the Catholic social justice themes. We then learned about our service-learning project this year at the WeGrow Garden. The kids were divided into groups and studied a variety of topics that they will present on Wednesday when they walk to the garden. I will bring tri-fold boards on Monday so that they can put their information together before the trip. You should have seen a gold permission slip come home yesterday allowing your child to go to the garden with us. If I don’t receive the permission slip or you don’t want your child to attend, I will find another classroom for that child while we are gone. I am especially in need of at least two parents to walk with us and stay for the event. We will leave school at 10:30 and return at 2:10 this Wednesday only. The two subsequent Wednesdays we leave at 1:15 and return at 2:50. Please let me know if you can help by marking the permission slip. Your child needs to bring a water bottle and sack lunch, as we will take breaks during the open house to eat lunch. Please also be sure your child wears the school uniform.

Upcoming Events:

  • Wednesday, September 14th – Walk to WeGrow Garden 10:30-2:10
  • Wednesday, September 14th – World Strides meeting in 8th grade classroom 5:30PM
  • Wednesday, September 14th – Curriculum Night starts in gym 6PM, then to classrooms 6:30-8:40

Have a great weekend!

Chris

9/3/2022

Dear Parents,

The kids were happy to be back together after the summer and showed some excitement and wonder at what their eighth-grade year might look like. I told them that they can expect it to be their best year yet! We went over what each class might offer this year and talked briefly about grading expectations. I told the kids that their eighth-grade year is a time to prepare for high school and that they should fasten their seat belts and get ready to work hard. We’ve got lots of learning ahead and they should expect to work harder than they did in seventh grade. School guidelines are that they have up to one and a half hours of homework nightly, and while they might sometimes have that (and rarely even a bit more during busy times), I try to keep what I assign to one hour, knowing that they may have work from other teachers, too.

One change from last year is that the kids will have fewer teachers. I teach four of their seven subjects: history, religion, language arts, and literature, so they will be moving less throughout the day and will have fewer teachers to “figure out”. This consistency should help them to feel more settled and able to get right to work. Another thing you’ll notice this year is that they have planners. All middle school teachers are training them to use them consistently to keep track of their daily and long-term assignments. These should come home each night and for some, will be a way for parents to keep closer track of what has been assigned and whether it has been completed. No student should ever say that they didn’t know something was due.

I spoke to the kids about middle school expectations around late or missing work. We have tightened the expectations this year and have agreed that all late or missing work will automatically have a grade reduction (most are 20%) with some exceptions listed in the handbook (e.g. if absent, student has the same number of days to make up the work as he/she was absent; and, if something comes up and the parent communicates to the teacher that the student wasn’t able to complete the material, he/she may have an extra day). For missing work, it will not only have the 20% reduced grade, it must also be turned in no later than two weeks past the due date in order to get credit. If it is not turned in, it becomes an “I” for incomplete in the grade book and cannot be changed. This is to keep kids current in their learning and to teach them responsibility. Of course, there are always exceptions for those with special needs or learning plans.

Your child should have shared with you the document about reading requirements. The main difference between this year and last is that the kids must now read 250 pages per week (combination of class and home reading). If your child didn’t share this with you, you can find it under “Resources” on the eighth-grade page. To get there, go to the school web page then Parent Resources→Classrooms→8th Grade. You will find several different resources there in addition to a homework page (which I update nightly), and access to the Parent (Friday Class) letters. Two items that are not yet updated in the Resources list are the Service Hours log (this should read 18 hours per semester) and the Legacy Project document (I have not yet set the dates for this year). I will update those next week.

Our service-learning project this year is to work in the WeGrow Garden, a community garden one block south of Bellingham High School. WeGrow provides low-barrier training to youth and adults who plant, grow, harvest, and distribute produce to those in need. Most of what we grow goes to the Bellingham Food Bank, right across the street from the garden. The garden serves as an educational space for school groups, non-profit youth agencies, and the public. It showcases how food is grown, managed, and harvested. We will begin our visits to the garden soon, so look for a permission slip and opportunities to volunteer by coming along with us soon. The “learning” part of our service-learning project will begin next week when we study several topics including the benefits of community gardens, sustainable and organic gardening, food insecurity, and at-risk youth. We will be participating in the WeGrow Open House on September 14th, and the kids will be making presentation boards and talking about these topics to stakeholders.

You may have heard that we have a new social studies text by Savvas Learning (formerly Pearson Realize). It is a digital text and we are learning how the platform works. There may be some frustration in these early days as we figure it out, but we will get through it and will benefit from the added features only a digital text can provide (interactive maps, videos, links to primary source documents, etc.). The students have been patient in the process and have been a big help to me. We will get there!

Please take care to review the Family Handbook and policies around uniform expectations. This includes things like hair length, make-up, and jewelry. I will be enforcing these policies, although I really hate to be the “boogeyman”, so would you please be that for me before your student even gets to school?

I meant for this newsletter to be short, but there’s so much to communicate! I’ll save some for next week. In the meantime, please mark your calendars to attend Curriculum Night on September 14th from 7-9PM. I will talk more about what is coming in eighth grade and will answer questions you might have. Feel free to email me with any questions that can’t wait until then.

Have a great three-day weekend!

Chris Eusebio

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