News

11/19/21

November 19, 2021

Dear Parents,

We celebrated a great Grandparents’ Day Mass today with our Kindergarten buddies, who were leading the Mass. Although we had only a few grandparents attend Mass, we still made it a special time, and the Kindergarteners did an amazing job. You will be receiving your children’s grandparent greeting cards in the Wednesday envelope next week. We hope many of you will be able to deliver them over the holidays. On Monday, we will have a special prayer service in the morning after which we will be creating a human food chain to bring our Thanksgiving food donations from the school to the Hope House. If you haven’t had a chance to do so, please send in some food items (no glass, please) on Monday so that we can help as many people as possible to have a food-filled Thanksgiving dinner.

We used our religion lessons this week to finalize the scenes for the Nativity play we are creating. Next week and the week following Thanksgiving will be the writing phase during which the kids will write the actual narrative of the play. Once finished, we will work on costumes, filming, and final production/editing. We have our hands full, but I know we can do it.

In language arts this week we finished up our lessons on verbs and then began a review of the concepts in preparation for the unit test on Tuesday. Creating a chart of the different tenses (simple, perfect, progressive, and perfect progressive) was a great way to show how these tenses follow a very simple pattern. The kids will be allowed to use this chart for their test.

In literature, most kids are well into their poster project, a three-panel set of posters with a variety of elements representing their novel. They will finish these next week and present them to their classmates on a gallery wall before Thanksgiving break. With only a few weeks before Christmas break remaining, the students will read a short story by Truman Capote, “A Christmas Memory”, and perhaps have time to write a Christmas memory of their own. Mrs. Demry is asking you to please check your home libraries as it seems that the kids did not return their copies of “The One and Only Ivan” from their literature class last year. If you find a copy, please send it in on Monday so that current seventh graders can begin reading this novel.

In social studies we have been busy – we won the American Revolution, then started thinking about how we would form our new government. We made some mistakes in the first draft of our country’s constitution (the Articles of Confederation) and decided that we wanted to create a completely new document that would give us more rights as a people (having learned how to avoid the abuse of power). We also debated how to divvy up power between states and came up with a couple of compromises, including the Great Compromise and the 3/5ths Compromise. After a lot of hard work, we finally drafted our new U.S. Constitution.

I hope you were able to escape the flooding early this week unscathed. Beautiful, sunny days like today certainly help. Let’s hope for more sunshine and pray for those who lost so much.

Have a great weekend,

Chris

11/14/21

November 14, 2021

Dear Parents,

We have begun working on our Christmas program. After creating a storyboard that lists the main events of the Nativity, the kids will begin writing the narrative for each section. We will then start working on costuming and scenery. We are considering using a greenscreen for our backgrounds so that we have more flexibility in what our scenes look like. We will be filming December 8-10. Because of the major focus on producing the Nativity video, we will be putting our normal religion lessons on hold for the next few weeks, although I will continue to teach our Second Step lessons. We learned in Second Step this week about the social factors that contribute to bullying and harassment and will continue with this touchy subject next week.

We studied some tricky concepts in language arts this week. We learned the difference between transitive and intransitive verbs, direct and indirect objects, and active and passive voice. We will have our final verbs test next week after doing some review of this long unit. We completed Latin lesson 5 and tested on Friday.

In literature circles we learned how setting can have special significance to certain characters and identified some of these special settings in the novels we are reading. Some students have finished their novels and are working on a poster project to share with the rest of the class. Those who are not finished with their novels are working on tasks that elicit deeper understanding of their novels. Our goal is to finish these colonial time period novels by this Friday, November 19th, so that kids have time to complete their posters and share them Thanksgiving week. Please be sure that your child is reading every night and sign their reading logs Sunday night to be turned in Monday. We have reached the middle of the month, so this would be a good time for those who have finished an outside reading book to complete and turn in a book report rather than waiting until the end of the month.

In social studies we learned about France’s role in the American Revolution and listened to “Guns and Ships” from the musical “Hamilton”. We then reached the Battle of Yorktown and independence, playing “Yorktown – the World Turned Upside Down”, also from “Hamilton”. We made our own feather quills and used them to write a favorite quote from that time period or a quote from the Declaration of Independence. We took a test on what we’ve learned about the Revolutionary War and will get the results this week.

Upcoming:

  • November 19th– Grandparents’ Day Mass (streamed), 8:15 am.
  • November 22nd– Human Food Chain/Prayer Service 8:15 am in gym, Pizza Lunch
  • November 24th– Early Release for Thanksgiving (11:45 am dismissal), NO EDP today
  • November 25th-26th– NO SCHOOL, Thanksgiving holiday

Have a great weekend!

Chris

 

10/30/21

October 30, 2021

Dear Parents,

We had a great retreat yesterday, starting with Mass in the morning and followed by large- and small-group discussions. The main theme of the retreat was about making choices that lead to our best selves and that build up others. Our retreat leader, Joan Williamson, did an amazing job leading the retreat and connected well with the kids. With lots of sunshine, we ate outdoors and played volleyball with a “living net”. Thank you to all the parents who helped with driving to and from the retreat. We couldn’t have gone without you!

We completed our Touching Safety lesson on Monday. The main idea of this lesson was how to be a friend to others who may be undergoing unsafe situations. The students learned the steps to take if they or someone they know is being threatened or harmed. We also used our religion time to finish learning about the marks of the Church – that the Church is One – and then tested our knowledge.

In language arts, we finished learning about irregular verbs, which usually have their irregularities in past tenses and past participles, and moved on to learning about progressive tenses. Students learned that progressive tenses show a progressive or ongoing nature, such as is walking, was walking, will have been walking. They noted that progressive tenses all use the present participle (a verb with -ing). This past week was the second week of our Latin 4 lesson. Because of the retreat on Friday, we had to move our Latin 4 test to Thursday. Not all kids had studied for it, so I told them to consider it a pre-test. If they did well, they are done. If they didn’t do well, they can retest on Monday or Tuesday during study hall time. I also reminded them that they can always re-do work to show new learning. I hope this will relieve some kids of any anxiety about testing.

We began reading new novels that center on colonial times. While our first novel was whole-group, this time the kids are reading in groups of three, each group with a different novel. They have a variety of tasks to complete as they read (found on a task rubric), and will also have lessons about a variety of literary elements along the way. We hope to complete these novels in the next three to four weeks so that we can move on to Revolutionary War novels. I reminded the kids that they have two book reports due by Monday for the month of October. Please remind them of this deadline. They will also need to turn in their weekly reading logs on Monday.

In social studies this week, we wrapped up our unit on colonization of our nation and talked about the essential question: How do governments avoid the abuse of power? On Monday, we sketched out the ideas from what we learned on the board, then transferred them to an outline in preparation for the culminating assessment of our learning – an essay. I gave them time each day during social studies to work on the essay and while most have finished and turned them in, some needed a bit more time because of the loss of a social studies period in lieu of a Halloween party on Thursday. Please remind your child that the essay should be emailed to me by Monday for grading.

Upcoming:

  • Thursday, November 4th- Early Release “A” Day 11:45 am dismissal with casual dress. Conferences from 12:30 pm to 7:30 pm. See sign-up in Wednesday newsletter, if you still need a slot. Please remember that these are student-led, so you must bring your child to the conference.
  • Friday, November 5th- No school for students; conferences today 8:00 am to 3:30 pm 

Have a sunny weekend!

Chris

10/23/21

October 23, 2021

Dear Parents,

It was great fun experiencing Holy Hoops this week. With two thirds of our eighth-grade class participating, we had great representation and lots of worn out kids during the day. Despite having no homework for the week, we managed to pack a lot of learning and skill practice in during the school day.

In language arts, we worked more on verbs, especially on irregular verbs. We learned about the elements of an essay and used an essay outline to plan a culminating essay about the novel we have been reading, The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle. We combined the remaining language arts and literature time this week to work on our essays, since both subjects were cut short by the half day on Wednesday. The kids were able to share their essays with partners on Friday to give critical advice about their writing. I want the kids to get in the habit of using this time not to focus on editing, but to really read with the intent of giving feedback that helps in clarity, organization, and interest. Being critical of another’s work makes us more mindful of our own.

In religion, we learned about the remaining mark of the Church – that it is one. During our discussions about this concept, the kids came up with a few questions to ask Fr. Moore when he came in. One of the questions, “What does it take to be sent to Hell?”, led to a conversation about Heaven. The kids have been really engaged in their time with Fr. Moore and I appreciate his willingness to set his lessons aside to explore and answer the burning questions in students’ minds. As I told them at the beginning of the year, this is their time to figure things out about their faith. Clearly, they are not afraid to ask, and that’s great about them.

In social studies we continued our lessons about the formation of governments, particularly as it relates to the formation of our own young nation. The kids were able to discern the essential question (the focus of our faculty professional development on Wednesday) of this unit: How do governments avoid the abuse of power? Next week, I will have them write an essay with this topic as a culminating activity/assessment of what they learned. Not only will this assignment help them to summarize their learning, it will also help them to understand the value of good note taking. Students continue to learn about events that led up to the American Revolution and have been making placards for the history timeline in our classroom. It’s really fun to watch this timeline grow along with student learning.

You should have received an email about our Touching Safety lesson that I will be teaching on Monday. Please also look for a permission slip (on orange paper) that was sent home with your student on Friday. This is for the eighth-grade fall retreat on Friday, October 29th at St. Joseph’s Parish in Ferndale. I have asked for drivers to and from the event, so if this is something you can do, even if only one direction, please indicate such at the bottom of the form (and the number of students you can take). Please also note that the permission slip has a back that must be filled out. Please return the permission slip on Monday.

Upcoming Events:

  • Touching Safety lesson Monday
  • Door decorating contest Wednesday (in case your kids ask for some art supplies)
  • Pumpkin carving contest Thursday (kids bring already-carved pumpkins to school for judging)
  • Orange and Black Day Thursday (no masks, blood, gore, or weapons, and modestly appropriate costumes)
  • Class Halloween celebration Thursday afternoon (kids are planning this)
  • Fall retreat all day Friday (leaving from school at 8:15, returning to school by 2:45)

Have a great weekend,

Chris

10/17/21

October 17, 2021

Dear Parents,

Sorry for the late newsletter – I had to take advantage of the sun yesterday to get as much fall gardening done as possible. The kids have been working hard in the garden as well – the We Grow Garden. We spent a couple of hours there on Tuesday as part of our service-learning project. As you may recall, this will be our year-long service-learning project. Now that we have had a chance to get our hands dirty in the garden tilling, spreading compost, planting cover crops, and harvesting fall crops, we will begin learning how what we do impacts others.

In religion this week we continued to learn about what it means to be catholic. We learned about the early church and how it had to come to terms with the idea that the church was not meant only for the Mosaic people, but for all – both Jews and Gentiles. We thought of ways that we see this universality and welcoming in the church in general and also in our own parish. We reviewed for and then took a religion test. You can look for the results of that test in FACTS.

In language arts, we studied verbs – this time focusing on the perfect tenses: past perfect (we had planted), present perfect (we have planted), and future perfect (we will have planted). We learned that these tenses are meant to place an action in time relative to some other action in time. An example of this is in the sentence By the time they arrived, I had planted the entire garden. The past perfect tense here shows that the planting I did happened before their arrival. We will continue looking at other verb tenses next week. We finished our Latin Lesson 3 and took a test on both definitions and spelling (both are important). You may have noticed that your kids were asked to use these in a cohesive paragraph as a review for the test. This is more difficult than simply using them in individual sentences, but it has value in that it requires the kids to think about how they might incorporate their Latin vocabulary more universally. Many paragraphs showed great creativity and depth of thought.

In literature, we worked on a culminating project for the novel The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle. We began presenting these at lunch and the few we have seen so far are awesome. After each one, we discuss what was different about it and analyze the way it was done. We are learning from one another what it takes to capture an audience and present effectively. I am hoping that some kids will start choosing this format for their book reports. I have received only two book reports so far this month. Please remind your child that I need two by the last school day of the month (October 29th). Also, please be sure to sign the reading log your child should be turning in each Monday to show what they have read and that they have read a minimum of 250 pages during the week. Beginning Monday, we will be writing an essay about Charlotte Doyle. This will be the students’ first long, formal essay. I will be using an outline to guide them, which should help for this first one.

In social studies we learned how governments organize themselves to avoid the abuse of power. The students understood the importance of this after having read The Tragedy of Antigone in which Creon (the king) abused his unlimited power and chose to do things that were not necessarily for the common good. The kids learned about our system of three branches of government (executive, legislative, and judiciary) and checks and balances, all of which are meant to balance power and keep one person, group, or branch from having too much control. We then learned how the founders based their thinking on the Magna Carta (the English charter that created a greater balance of power between the monarchy and the nobility). The students also learned about British Parliament (akin to our Congress) and the English Bill of Rights. They created a comparison chart in their social studies notebooks comparing the Magna Carta to the English Bill of Rights.

I will be teaching our fall Touching Safety lesson soon (probably Monday, October 25th), so please watch for an email with an explanation of the program/lesson and opt out form early this week.

Have a great weekend,

Chris

 

10/9/21

October 9, 2021

Dear Parents,

We had a full week in all our subjects and the students are starting to be more challenged in what they are being asked to do – both in mechanics (grammar, writing) and creativity (literature projects). They are also being asked to think more deeply about things that matter, such as what it means to be Catholic. Fr. Moore came in to continue his lessons about the sacraments and was able to answer one of the kids’ burning questions (we write these on the board as we think of them so that we remember to ask): Is there anything that God won’t forgive? This question came up because the kids were discussing the idea of catholic meaning “universal/for everyone”. They wondered if those who were not born into a Christian society would still be held accountable for believing in Jesus, which eventually led to the question of forgiveness. For an interesting dinner conversation, ask your child what Fr. Moore’s answer was.

Social studies also had some interesting concepts to discuss that some kids tied to religion lessons. Kids learned about common good, civic virtue, and higher power as they relate to government. They read a synopsis of the Sophocles’ play “The Tragedy of Antigone” in which a couple different characters (sisters Antigone and Ismene) must decide whether a ruler (their uncle Creon) should have absolute power, or if it is a citizen’s duty to obey a higher power (the gods of ancient Greece). After learning about these characters’ points of view through student group presentations, the kids had to type a lengthy, detailed paragraph about what they thought. This was an opportunity for them to learn my expectations about word-processed assignments and also what makes a well-written paragraph. While I led them through each expectation and gave them a sheet to follow with these listed, I will eventually expect them to be able to do this without my guidance by merely reading the question being asked and then responding. This will prepare them well for what will be asked of them in high school and on any type of standardized testing.

In language arts we began a unit on verbs and learned that there are both action and linking verbs. The kids learned a sneaky trick that to tell if a verb is linking, it must be able to be replaced by the verb “be” in some way. For example, “the tomato tastes sweet” can be replaced by “the tomato is sweet”, so the verb tastes is a linking verb. Compare that to “the man tastes tomatoes” which is not the same as “the man is tomatoes”, so that verb tastes is an action verb (something that happens – has action). We learned that there are verb phrases (two or more verbs working together) and counted up to four verbs working together in a phrase (good work, kids!): The puppies will have been sleeping five hours by the time I get home. We started learning about tenses and learned about the base form (infinitive) of a verb (e.g. to talk), the present participle (talking), and the past participle (talked). I reminded the kids that they already use all these forms of verbs and that this is their chance to learn what they are called. We will continue with verbs and different tenses next week. Any work on tenses will also help the students when learning Spanish or any other foreign language, so I hope they hold on to this learning.

Finally, in literature we are nearing the end of our reading of The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle. I showed a couple of sample book trailers for the novel online and the kids are being asked to create a trailer of their own. They will begin work on this next week. I can’t wait to see how creative they can be with these trailers. I told them that this would also be a good form of book report for their two monthly book reports. Thank you to those parents who continue to look at and sign the book logs that are to be turned in each Monday morning. I cannot impress upon you enough the power of reading!

You have surely seen the permission slip for our service project next week. We will depart school at about 9:15, so if you have signed up to walk with us to the We Grow Garden, please be at school a few minutes before that time. We will go rain or shine, so please be sure that your child has adequate outer wear. The kids may wear their casual uniform (jeans and blue Assumption t-shirt, for those new to ACS).

Thanks for all your support and have a relaxing weekend,

Chris

10/2/21

October 2, 2021

Dear Parents,

The kids did a fabulous job leading Mass on Friday. This Mass was devoted to the remembrance of St. Therese of Lisieux, also known as the “Little Flower”. She is best known for her saying, “Do ordinary (small) things with great love,” and was oft quoted by Saint Mother Theresa of Calcutta. The priest spoke in his homily about how we can all follow St. Therese’s example of making every act we do one of love. This is a tough challenge, but it has the potential of bringing so much peace and showing that we are holy – set apart for God. We learned that Epistles are letters written by the Apostles to help the early Church understand Jesus and his message. We listened to a song by Leon Patillo based on one of Peter’s Epistles that said, “Believe in Jesus, the cornerstone of our faith.” 1 Peter 2:4-10. We wrapped up our lessons about the second mark of the Church – holy – and will have a chapter test next week to see what we understand this concept.

In social studies we explored the idea of why we need government. We started by learning that living in a state of nature means living without laws or government. Philosopher John Locke reasoned that, even in a state of nature, people would have certain rights: the right to life (being safe and able to survive), liberty (being as free as possible to make our own decisions), and property (owning things necessary for survival). Locke went on to predict what would happen in a state of nature: stronger/more skilled people would take advantage of weaker people; weaker/less-skilled people would band together to protect their rights; people would feel insecure and therefore want to form governments/laws; and, people would only be allowed to govern one another with consent. These are foundational ideas to the creation of any legitimate government, and we will use them as a foundation for our conversations about our own government in the coming lessons.

Language arts and literature classes were cut short this week due to MAP testing, but we did manage to squeeze a review of nouns before taking our test. Those kids who wished to do so were able to re-test. We also finished another section of our novel and tested both on comprehension and vocabulary. I was grateful to receive almost 100% of the book reports by the end of the month. The kids worked hard and are showing that they are responsible and meeting deadlines. Please do check FACTS with your child to see if there might be a missing assignment or low grade that they’d like to improve. I am always willing to do some re-teaching and allow for them to show that they have learned.

Have a peaceful Sunday!

Chris

9/25/21

September 25, 2021

Dear Parents,

We had a busy week and worked hard, including taking a religion and social studies test and MAP testing. Perhaps because of the pressure the kids were feeling, their other teachers and I saw an increase in behavior issues from the kids — issues I hadn’t yet experienced this year. These include disruptive behaviors in the classroom, loud talking when walking through the hallways between classes, laughing at others’ mistakes, questioning or complaining about the things they are being asked to do, and showing disrespect to one another and to teachers. I really want to nip this type of behavior in the bud early on, so the teachers and I met with the kids Friday morning and talked about the issues we have been experiencing. This was a difficult conversation to have, and while not all are involved, I felt that all could benefit from it so that they can support one another in following expectations. Please take some time to talk with your child this weekend about expectations at school. I hope the kids will be back to their old selves next week. I truly think these kids can exercise self-control if we have high standards and ask it of them. As I told them in our meeting, it will help them in all aspects of their lives. If I continue to see these same behaviors, please expect an email or call from me or Mr. Anderson. And, of course, I welcome any feedback from you, if you have suggestions about how I can better support your child.

On the academic front, in science last week, students learned the definitions of Force (measured in Newtons), Acceleration, and Velocity. They also learned how to draw free-body diagrams to model collisions in physics. Next week, they will revisit these concepts in a quiz on Wednesday, followed by a lesson describing Newton’s laws. Students will develop their understanding of Kinetic Energy transfer in collisions through several lab activities and simulations.

In literature, we continued reading The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle. We are about halfway through the book and are focusing on the various types of conflict found in literature. Students should have brought home a reading log so that they can record this week’s reading. The reading log is due each Monday morning. If they forgot to grab one, they can print one from the eighth-grade web page under the “Resources” tab to the left of the page. Keeping track on a piece of binder paper also works for me. Please remind them that they must turn in two book reports by Thursday, September 30th (the last school day of the month). Most have turned in their first, although there are a couple who have not turned in either.

Social studies lessons focused on the rising tensions felt by colonists from the increased demands of their English homeland. Kids studied and gave group presentations about the different colonies, the Triangle Trade, the Mayflower Compact, and the economic influences on life in the colonies. This week we also began making our U.S. history timeline, adding a placard about the Stamp Act, the Townshend Act, the Boston Massacre and Boston Tea Party, and the Intolerable Acts. This timeline will be a reminder of all we study throughout the year and will be a handy resource for our continued studies.

Religion lessons focused on Jesus’ commissioning of the apostles to go out and spread the Good News. The eighth graders will be doing their share to that end by leading Mass next Friday, October 1st. They will be practicing the readings this week and will then lead this celebration. They will also continue to sit with their Kindergarten buddies during Mass to guide them. You are welcome to attend Mass on Friday, but we ask that you sit in the transepts (the side pews) rather than with your student. Finally, in religion Friday I played a song by NeedtoBreathe – “More Heart, Less Attack”. This is an excellent song that gives some great words of wisdom. I felt we could really use it. Enjoy!

The students seem to be managing their homework and assignments and are diligently checking their FACTS to be certain that everything is turned in. Please remember to sit with them on weekends to check FACTS. They are also working hard to improve their learning by re-doing work that doesn’t meet their (or my) expectations, and I am so proud of them for that.

I post students’ daily homework assignments on the webpage under “Homework” so that they (and you) can see what they may have forgotten to write down. Again, if you can get a planner for your child, that would make keeping track of multiple classes and teachers’ assignments and projects with extended due dates that much easier to keep track of.

We have our final MAP test (language) on Tuesday morning. Please be sure that your child brings a charged laptop for this. Also, if any of you are still having any type of trouble logging in to FACTS or your student’s email, please let the office know so that we can get you fully operational.

Have a great weekend,

Chris Eusebio

9/17/21

September 17, 2021

Dear Parents,

It was so nice to meet many of you at Curriculum Night on Wednesday. If you have any questions related to what we spoke about that night, please feel free to contact me. I truly mean it when I say that this is a great group of kids. They are making huge strides in the amount of work and responsibility they are taking on. One example of this happened today. Your students led their Kindergarten buddies to Mass and mentored them throughout the service, helping them go through the motions (literally, not figuratively!), also helping them to do their best to listen to Fr. Moore’s message. I noticed a marked improvement in the Kindergarteners’ focus this week as compared to our first time with them at Mass two weeks ago, and your eighth graders can take credit for this improvement. They are doing so well nurturing these young ones and guiding them in the beginning practices of our faith. Kudos to them!

In our other religion lessons this week we began learning about the marks of the Church (One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic). We learned that the Church is founded by Jesus Christ on the Apostles, hence it is Apostolic. We also learned that the first followers of Jesus were mostly Jews who believed that only they were included in the divine plan of Salvation. The Acts of the Apostles taught that God calls all people, Jews and non-Jews alike, to Salvation in Christ: “To him all the prophets bear witness, that everyone who believes in him will receive forgiveness of sins through his name.” (Acts 10:43) Peter ordered even non-Jewish believers to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Fr. Moore was in on Thursday and spoke about the nature of our relationship with God using a grammar analogy, likening it to a subject/object – a giver/receiver relationship. He then went on to talk about the meaning of Baptism and who is allowed to baptize. The kids had lots of great questions for him and were very engaged in the lesson. Finally, our Second Step lesson this week was about who we are (our identity) and how we express that.

In language arts this week the kids finished their study of Latin Lesson 1, used the words in context, had a spelling bee to practice, and then took their test today. Most did well. For those who didn’t, some extra study and retakes are always possible. Our grammar lessons focused on adding appositives (extra information) using commas, and how to form regular and irregular plural nouns. We wrote an editorial about a school rule that we would like changed. This editorial paragraph focused on the grammar points we are learning and was not meant to be a longer, more involved writing lesson.

Literature lessons this week focused on comprehension of The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle. We explored literary elements found is Charlotte Doyle so far. We learned about the different types of conflicts that often show up in literature (person vs. person, person vs. nature, person vs. self), identified some conflicts in the story, and also talked about cause and effect. We are also reviewing a lot of vocabulary as we read through the novel.

In social studies we learned about the early English settlements and what brought them here. We learned about who was already living here when they arrived and what that encounter brought. We began putting together PowerPoint presentations about the different colonies in groups of three. Students are learning that these slideshows should not be filled with a lot of print, but rather, they should have short bullet points and nice visual aids (maps, charts, pictures) to help guide their telling of the topic. I told them that Cornell Notes are somewhat like slideshows – they have titles, subtitles, and short phrases to guide, but they don’t retell the whole story word for word. Students will present their slideshows on Monday and their classmates will take Cornell Notes on what they hear (also using the slides to guide their notes).

Please take some time to sit with your child this weekend and look at their grades in FACTS. This is a great time to see how they are doing and to catch up on missing work. These kids are working really hard and we have hardly any missing work. I am so proud of them!

Remember that MAP testing begins next week. We have testing Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday mornings, so please be sure that your kids are getting a good night’s sleep beforehand. Also, studies show that a good, healthy breakfast and snack also helps. Thanks!

Have a great weekend!

Chris

 

9/11/21

September 11, 2021

Dear Parents,

We really dove into learning this week. We started with our language arts lessons reviewing a variety of nouns: common and proper, concrete and abstract, collective and compound. We typically review the lesson in the textbook, practice the skill out loud together, do some written practice sentences, then start on homework. Homework is important as an extra layer of practice so that grammar skills become second hand to the kids. I try to alternate English homework between simple sentences and longer writing projects. My goal is to build writing stamina in the kids while also making proper grammar second nature to them.

In literature, we started reading our first whole-group novel, “The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle” by Avi. This novel is about a thirteen-year-old girl who is traveling alone to America on a ship in the 1830’s. It is rich in vocabulary, adventure, and intrigue. We learned about literary elements in order to prepare for our reading of the novel and reinforced some of those elements as we began discussing the novel together. The kids will be asked to do some home reading of the novel as part of their literature homework. They will also have written assignments about what they are reading. We went over the expectations for outside reading requirements and I sent students home with a complete explanation of these requirements as well as a reading log that is to be turned in each Monday morning – starting this Monday. Please be sure that they record their reading (they may include class reading, non-fiction counts double), that you sign off on it, and that they bring it this Monday morning. It will be recorded in the gradebook each week.

In religion, Fr. Moore continued his lessons on morality. I introduced Second Step, our social-emotional learning (SEL) program, to the kids. We will have a Second Step lesson once each week. The program is comprised of four different units: Mindsets & Goals, Recognizing Bullying & Harassment, Thoughts, Emotions & Decisions, and Managing Relationships & Social Conflict. On Friday we had a prayer service in the classroom. As you know, we attend Mass in the church every other week. In the “off” weeks, we will have our own prayer service in which we have the daily readings, prayers, intentions, and music. I prepared the first service as a model of what it might look like but told the kids that they will take turns either individually or as a small group planning the service. My wish for them is that they become more fully engaged in forms of worship other than just the Mass.

In social studies, we began taking Cornell Notes (C.N.) from our social studies text about early North American cultures. I think I pushed them a bit too soon to try out this method of note taking completely on their own. I told them that I will slow down and give them more modeling using the document camera. I hope to have them proficient at taking notes using this method as it will be so important for them in high school, but that will take some time.

The kids have had a good start this week and are really starting to get their groove and learn my expectations of them. Friday afternoon was a bit tricky though as I reminded them of some school expectations that not all are following such as dress uniform (to be worn every Friday), jewelry, painted nails, etc. I told the kids that they don’t have to agree with all expectations, but they do have to follow them. I also said, and I really think it important that they learn, that when you have a disagreement or don’t understand why a decision has been made, it’s really important to find acceptable ways to express yourself rather than go into “attack” mode. I will work with them on finding positive ways to disagree and, most importantly, help them seek understanding of rules/expectations before disagreeing with them. I hope you can support me with this. Perhaps you could take some time this weekend to read through the Family Handbook with your child and have a conversation about what is expected.

Many students would benefit from having a planner of some type. With several different teachers and classrooms to move between, it can be a bit tricky to catch all the homework assignments each night. A planner will also help students keep track of the due dates of longer-term projects such as book reports, social studies projects, etc. Please ask your child if he/she would like a planner and find some time to choose one with plenty of space each day to write down assignments from multiple subjects.

Wednesday night, September 15th, is Curriculum Night. You should have received information in the Wednesday newsletter about it, including the Zoom link for each grade level. I will email you the link again on Tuesday as a reminder of the meeting. On Curriculum Night, I will introduce myself, go over the syllabi for the classes I teach, and talk about general expectations such as homework, grading/FACTS, etc. By then I hope to know who our eighth-grade room parents are so that they can tell us about fund raising and other eighth-grade activities. I will have everything already uploaded to the eighth-grade web page so that you can look at the documents ahead of time. I do have general curriculum explanations on the web page now, but give me time on Monday to upload the additional resources. If you have questions before Curriculum Night, please feel free to email me and I will do my best to answer them.

Upcoming Dates:

Wednesday, 9/15 – Curriculum Night 6:30PM via Zoom

Friday, 9/17 – Dress uniform, 8th grade attends Mass

Tuesday-Thursday, 9/21-23 and 9/28-30 – MAP testing 8-11:30AM. Please do not schedule appointments for your child during these testing times.

Have a great weekend!

Chris