10/29/22

Dear Parents,

We have been working hard to finish up a few things to share with you at conferences next week. The kids will be doing some self-reflection early next week about each of their subject areas and will be leading their conference. They will have some work samples to share with you and will set some goals for themselves based upon what we discuss. If you have not yet signed up for a conference slot, please do so this weekend. I will attach a Parent Conference Planning Sheet to this email. Please take a moment to fill it out and email it back to me (or send a hard copy with your child) before Wednesday so that I can prepare for our time together.

We spent a lot of time this week going over the Charlotte Doyle essays the kids wrote last week. I retaught the structure of an essay along with how to write a simple paragraph (the building blocks of an essay) using topic and closing sentences. Many kids chose to re-write their essay based upon the re-teaching and the notes I wrote directly on the essays.

The kids started their Salem witch trial books and completed a variety of literature tasks associated with these books. They also learned about characterization and point of view and analyzed these two concepts in their books so far. I gave many reminders that two book reports for the month of October are due on Monday, the last school day of the month. They should be working to finish those this weekend. I ask the students for substantive work (as described on the Outside Reading Requirements sheet found on the 8th grade page under Resources) so they should not be surprised if they receive only half credit and are asked to re-do for more points. Please remind them that a reading log is due on Monday as well.

In religion, we planned for our All Saints Day liturgy to be held Tuesday, November 1st at 12:30PM. The kids will be processing in with their kindergarten buddies. Kinder buddies will be dressed as saints, and eighth-grade buddies will carry signs with each saint’s name, feast day, symbol, and patronage. Please come and attend with us, if you are able. At Friday’s Mass, the priest spoke about how Jesus is the cornerstone on which we build our faith. I was excited, as this is the exact topic of one of our religion lessons this past week. I taught the song “Cornerstone” by Leon Patillo at the end of that lesson and it kept circulating in my head for the rest of Mass. I got a few glances from the kids as Father started talking about Jesus as the cornerstone, so I know they took the lesson to heart.

We completed our Virtus lesson on Monday. This lesson was about how to be a safe friend. It talked about how to recognize people who are not safe friends, such as those that ask you to do things that are not right or are immoral, or those that may be grooming you to accept more and more inappropriate behavior. The kids showed good understanding of the concepts taught, although I hope they never encounter these situations in their lives.

In social studies, we took our first topic (chapter) test about early colonization. We are not quite finished with the test and will complete it on Monday, if we can squeeze it in around all the Halloween activities that day. We will be meeting to decorate pumpkins with our kinder buddies, so if you have any craft-type decorations to donate for this (sequins, feathers, stickers, etc.), please send them in with your child. We will have some items, but the more diverse and plentiful, the better.

I hope to see many of you at either the 8 or 10 Mass this weekend for coffee hour. This is yet another fund-raising event for our Washington, D.C. trip. Your child should come dressed in some type of ACS swag so that they are easily recognizable.

Reminders:

Monday – Orange and Black Day – kids come dressed in these colors

Tuesday – All Saints’ Day Mass at 12:30, dress uniform

Thursday – Early dismissal – conferences (see schedule to sign up)

Friday – No school – conferences (see schedule to sign up)

Have a great weekend!

Chris

10/21/22

Dear Parents,

Welcome rain! I am so grateful for this blessing and hope that it will put a stop to the fires, smoky weather, cancelled/postponed sporting events, and indoor recess.

This week the kids put their reading and writing skills to work as they wrote their first persuasive essay of the year. They were asked to persuade a judge/jury that Charlotte Doyle was either innocent or guilty of mutiny and murder. The kids used an essay outline to put their ideas on paper. The outline was a great way of reinforcing the different parts of an essay. We reviewed catchy starts, thesis statements, providing evidence in our body paragraphs, rebuttals, and conclusions. I will grade these essays this weekend and will save them to review together at conference time. I hope you have seen the sign-up for conferences that was sent out this week. I will also send home a conference planning sheet early next week via email. This sheet will allow you to let me know about any concerns you might have and will help me to adequately plan our 20-minute conference slot.

In our grammar lessons this week we continued learning about different tenses and reviewed some irregular verbs (especially have, be, and do, since those are used most often as helping verbs). We dove into the progressive tenses today and learned six different ones. We continued studying our Latin roots and will test on Friday.

We didn’t have any lessons on Church history this week but focused our time on morality lessons with Fr. Moore. The kids have been very engaged in his lessons and ask such great questions of him. I am glad to see that they are taking such an interest in these very important topics. This Monday will be our Touching Safety lesson. It will focus on being a good friend and how we can tell safe friends from unsafe ones.

In history class we’ve been learning what life was like in colonial times. We learned about the Great Awakening (ask your child about this) and its effects on religious tolerance. We also learned about the different social classes, and about how important literature, art, and music were. We will learn about politics and government next week and then take our topic (chapter) test on Friday. I will spend some time teaching the kids some test-reviewing strategies beforehand so that they can prepare.

We have our final Fall gardening time on Wednesday from 1:15-2:40. We will be planting cover crops and more garlic, tidying the beds, attending to the compost bins, and disposing of unwanted plants (mostly sunflowers). I would love two parents to come along with us (meet us at school at 1:15 to walk along). We will go rain or shine, so please have your child dress appropriately next Wednesday. If you can come along, please let me know. Thanks!

Please check grades this weekend with your child. The sports season is upon us and kids cannot participate if their grades are low. Have your child fill out and turn in a reading log on Monday. And if there is any extra time this weekend, please encourage your child to complete the two book reports that are due on the last school day of the month – Halloween!

Have a great, wet (I never thought I’d say that!) weekend,

Chris

10/13/22

Dear Parents, 

This was a short week for us made even shorter by our work at the WeGrow Garden. We prepared beds, planted garlic and cover crops, composted sunflowers and other waning plants, and tended to the irrigation system. Thank you to Lynette M. and Anne P. for walking with us and helping us in our important work to feed the hungry. 

We had a great time watching the book trailers about The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle. Many of the kids tried new techniques for the presentations including moving images, blending original art with work from the book’s artist, adding voice overlay and background music. While some of the techniques didn’t work out for some, the kids stepped out of their comfort zones and tried something new. We decided that we would like to learn from one another some techniques we saw in the trailers, so I will find some time for peer teaching. 

We will be using our language arts time next week to write an essay about the novel we read, trying to convince a judge and jury of Charlotte Doyle’s innocence or guilt. I will be using an essay outline that the kids will fill in first to guide and organize their thinking about the topic. This should make writing the essay much easier for them. 

In religion we began learning about how the church is holy. Holy means set apart for God or living in communion with God who is all holy. It also means whole in that we become whole when we turn ourselves entirely over to God. We learned that becoming holy is a life-long process of cooperating with God’s grace. We are invited to walk along with Christ in the sacraments.

In history, we learned about the southern colonies and then compared similarities and differences between the three different colonial regions. The biggest similarities were that each colony had religious freedom (or at least tolerance) and representation in government as their important desires. We will dive into these concepts next week before taking the unit test. The essential question for this unit is “Why do people move?” and these desires of tolerance and representation, along with the need for elbow room (land/resources), are central to answering this question. 

Please take note of the service opportunities that have been sent by eighth-grade parent coordinators recently. The coffee hour and concession sales are two important events that we couldn’t do without “all hands on deck.”

Please check FACTS this weekend with your child so that no assignments are missing. Also, please remind your child to send in a reading log on Monday and to start working on one of two book reports due on the last day of the month. 

Have a great weekend,

Chris 

10/7/22

Dear Parents,

We just got back from a fabulous fall retreat. Our leader, Joan Williamson, did a super job interspersing messages of God’s immense love for us with games and stories. We talked about the choices we make and how they affect those around us, and about our hopes and dreams and how we should try to avoid doing things that get in the way of those dreams. Three main songs we listened to that put Joan’s message to the kids were: Home by Chris Tomlin, Live Like You’re Loved by Hawk Nelson, and Set the World on Fire by Britt Nicole. Our retreat wouldn’t have been nearly as fun if the kids weren’t so awesome. How lucky we are! 

In language arts this week we learned about verb tense and what that means and about the main parts of verbs (infinitive, present participle [walking], and past participle [walked]). We explored several tenses that use present and past participles (e.g. we are walking, were walking, will be walking and we have walked, had walked, will have walked). The more the kids start to see patterns in how their language is put together, the easier it will be for them to both understand their own language and learn new ones.

In literature we finished our plot analyses of The True Adventures of Charlotte Doyle. We dissected the elements that make a good movie trailer and transferred those elements to book trailers. The kids are working on making book trailers of Charlotte Doyle. These are due next Tuesday. I’ll provide popcorn and Red Vines for the “premiere”.

In religion we finished learning about how our Church is apostolic. We completed a chapter review before taking our first chapter test on Thursday. Kids who wish to retake or make corrections may do so next week, they need only ask me.

We have learned about the New England and the Middle Colonies and their search for participation in choosing their government (representation). We learned about the differences between a proprietary colony and a royal colony, about free enterprise and cash crops, and about the Quakers’ belief that all people are equal in God’s eyes. All these ideas are setting us up to learn about what our forefathers looked for when making a new government for this new nation.

Next week we go to the WeGrow Garden on Wednesday from 1:15 – 2:50. We still need one or two parents to walk with us and help supervise at the garden. If you can do this, would you please email me on Monday? It’s always a mad scramble to be sure I have enough parent supervision.

Please sit with your child this weekend and look on FACTS. All grading should be in and updated. Don’t forget to have your child fill out and return a reading log on Monday. This is registered in the gradebook and does affect grades.

The following is from Mrs. Santos:

The 8th graders studied the verb to need and practiced its conjugation using Ellaverbs.com. I presented new food vocabulary and expressed food preferences. We talked about what kind of food we should eat to maintain good health. 

I will use language acquisition techniques, comprehensibility, repetition, and memorable experience to practice new concepts. 

Homework: Students should read vocabulary daily for 15m.   

Feliz fin de Semana! 

Upcoming:

Thursday, October 13 – Free dress (thanks to Principal for the Day)

Friday, October 14 – No school, faculty retreat all day

Have a great weekend,

Chris

10/1/22

Dear Parents,

I have been impressed by the kids’ dedication to turning things in on time and to fixing up/correcting mistakes they make on assignments and tests. They seem to understand that learning is ongoing, and even fixing mistakes is yet another way to cement learning (not to mention the fact that it teaches them that hard work pays off). They worked hard this week, finishing their two book reports in addition to a number of other literature tasks. I was so proud of the kids and had not one late book report! While we have finished reading our first novel, we will spend a few days next week analyzing its plot development and then making book trailers. We will then move on to novels about early colonial times.

In language arts we assessed our knowledge of nouns and began our next unit on verbs. I told the kids that everything we learn about our own grammar will help us to have a better understanding of Spanish grammar. And, conversely, the grammar they learn in Spanish will reinforce what they understand about their own language. In other words, understanding the basic components of grammar help us learn our own and other languages. Grammar matters! We learned that infinitives are the unconjugated base verbs. We learned the difference between action and linking verbs. Linking verbs are usually verbs that act as “to be” verbs like “The teacher is friendly,” or “It seems/smells/appears/sounds wonderful.”

We started our Second Step program this week. This program provides lessons on social emotional learning. We began by taking a peek at what we will cover this year. We then brainstormed norms for how we would treat one another during these lessons. The kids came up with a number of norms that would help them to feel safe and comfortable sharing ideas during these lessons. Their final norm says, “Above all, do the right thing.” What a great precept!

We have moved from early exploration of the New World to early colonization in our social studies text. We usually begin each lesson together, watching a video, exploring unfamiliar vocabulary, and looking at timelines or maps. The kids then “cut loose” and work through the readings and questions. Some kids choose to read the text, others listen to the audio version. We have headsets in the classroom, but I told the kids that they may bring their own, if that is more comfortable for them. At the end of each lesson, we review the main takeaways, then take a short quiz. You should see these listed in the gradebook on FACTS (something you should be looking at with your child each weekend).

You have undoubtedly seen the permission slip for our fall retreat next Friday, October 7th. Most students have returned their permission slips to me. If you have not yet done so, please return it on Monday. We are still in great need of drivers both to and from the retreat. Please consider this, as we can’t hold the retreat without transportation. This is not a retreat you need attend – we only need a ride there and back. Even committing to driving one direction or the other would be a huge help.

I’m heading out now for our fundraiser in the school parking lot. Hope to see you there!

Chris  

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