Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Second Quarter News

Seventh grade students enjoyed a team day before the December vacation. In the morning, student volunteers performed in the annual Seventh Grade Talent Show. Thank you to all the performers at the talent show from Team Hero: David W., Derek P., Abel F., Sarah K., Byron H., Yang W., and Julie G. You impressed all of us with your dedication, skill and creativity! In the afternoon, students participated in Minute-to-Win-It activities. Students used their skills to attempt to beat the clock in some challenging activities that tested their critical thinking skills. Abisa O., Andres P., Andrew D., Awais I., Isabel W., Jongwon K., Julie G., Karthika N., Nicholas C., Phoebe S., and Yang W. managed to beat the clock! Congratulations!

Mrs. Marr and Mrs. Peretz’s English classes entered the world of the past as they began studying historical fiction and nonfiction in the second quarter. The unit opened with a “Thank a Veteran” event that occurred the week after Veterans Day. Students interviewed local veterans, who served during WWII, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. Many veterans had a personal connection to Great Neck public schools; Mr. Gil Blum is a former principal of South High and Mr. Lawrence Gross is a member of the Board of Education. In their conversations with the veterans, students reflected upon the idea of heroism, the power of storytelling, and the effects of war on an individual and society. The veterans were impressed not only by the caliber of students’ questions, but also by their respectful behavior. The “Thank a Veteran” event was filmed by our local HTV staff and footage will appear in news segments during homeroom. In flex, students wrote a reflection based upon their experiences. The “Thank a Veteran” event would not have been possible without the hard work and collaboration of Team Hero teachers and students, the library staff, HTV, the technology staff, the administration, and veterans from the local veterans centers. Thank you to all who made it a meaningful experience!

In the historical fiction unit, students read texts that align with their work in social studies class. First, students assumed the roles of important historical figures when they performed scenes from 1776, The Musical. They considered the historical context in which the play was written, the techniques used by the writers to breathe life into characters, the theme of the play, and its relevance to our lives today. Students were challenged to think about whether they (and the nation) are living up to the promise of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” for all Americans. In their Reader’s Notebooks, they practiced the skills of accumulating the text, envisioning, and organizing and evaluating their ideas. Next, in small reading groups, students interpreted the crises faced by the teenage protagonists and the world in which he or she lives in one of the following novels: Light in the Forest, Sophia’s War, Soldier’s Heart, The Witch of Blackbird Pond, My Brother Sam Is Dead, War Comes to Willy Freeman, Under a Painted Sky, or The Fighting Ground. Students analyzed the Coming of Age motif across the texts making sure to cite specific evidence from the novels in classroom discussions and in their notebooks and extended responses. Students also read When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead, who is this year’s visiting author. Stead will be visiting South Middle on Monday, February 13, 2017. Students will read Petey, which is based on a real life story of a person living with cerebral palsy in the 1920s-1990s. Through their reading of the novel and analysis of secondary sources about the Americans with Disabilities Act, students will explore the rights of Americans with physical disabilities during that time period. Finally, students have been working on their writing skills by creating their own blogs through Kidblog.

Looking ahead in the third quarter, we will be studying nonfiction in greater depth, writing persuasive essays, tackling a research project, and reviewing test-taking techniques for the English Language Arts Assessment to be taken March 28-30, 2017. If you received a letter about your child’s participation in the tutorial(s), please encourage your child to attend regularly on Tuesdays after school to improve his or her skills. As always, students are encouraged to submit writing pieces to The Rebel Pen, South Middle’s Art and Literary Magazine, and to Middleview, South Middle's student newspaper.