Thursday, September 7, 2017

Welcome Back to School!

You are officially in the middle of middle school.  It's going to be a great year!  You will learn so much about yourself, others and the world.  I look forward to helping you make progress in your reading, writing, listening, speaking, organization and technology skills.

Please review your Summer Reading Assignment. We will spend the first week of school getting to know each other by discussing and writing about what you have read this summer. 

Fourth Quarter News

Team Hero teachers are so proud of what our students have accomplished this year. Our students have been dedicated to their studies and to making the world a better place. We know they have worked hard this year and have practiced the skills they need to be successful in the eighth grade. We wish all our students a reinvigorating summer vacation. We encourage them to keep their skills sharp by reading good books, staying current with national and local politics by reading the newspaper, visiting a local park to enjoy the natural world, and practicing their math skills by playing fun strategy games like Sudoku, Othello or Blokus. Thank you to our students and their families for a wonderful year.

Students on Team Hero showcased their literacy, research, technology, critical thinking and collaborative skills in their Akidemy Awards video research projects. On June 1, 2017, students, teachers, and guests celebrated with a mini-gala and awards ceremony. Congratulations to every student for working so well on this intensive research project! Students who enjoyed the project are encouraged to join the staff of HTV or to sign up for video-making electives next year. A heartfelt thanks to parents, teachers, staff and administration for helping to make the project and the evening celebration a wonderful success.

Visions of the Future is the fourth quarter unit for Mrs. Marr and Mrs. Peretz’s seventh grade English classes. Students study the genre of science fiction in depth by reading science fiction stories and novels. Students read Ray Bradbury's "All Summer in a Day" and D. J. MacHale’s “The Scout” (a text featured in John Scieszka’s science fiction and fantasy anthology Guys Read: Other Worlds) and noted the characteristics of science fiction. For the reading group section of the unit, students chose novels that are part of a series, so they may pursue another title by the same author after reading the first text. Students analyzed the texts in double-entry journals and discussed their ideas in their reading groups. Finally, students completed a digital portfolio project using Google Drive and Kidblog to showcase their growth as writers, readers, and thinkers in the seventh grade.

Information about the Self-Select Honors program and the Summer Reading Project was distributed in class and is available online. Students should be prepared to take an assessment on what they have read for their Summer Reading Project upon their return to school in September. A special thanks goes to the PTA for organizing a Book Fair in June to encourage students to read over the summer to keep their skills sharp. While you have time this summer, visit the Great Neck Public Library. Make sure your children’s library cards are up-to-date and that they have access to the library’s OverDrive and TumbleBooks services. The Great Neck Public Library hosts a wonderful Teen Summer Reading Program. Check out their website for more details. Rebel Pen, South Middle’s art and literary magazine, was distributed in June. It is a wonderful showcase for our students’ talents in art, music and writing. Please encourage your child to write for Rebel Pen or for Middleview, the school newspaper, next year.

In Mr. Nahoum, Mr. Goldberg, and Mrs. Hazel’s social studies classes, students ended the year with a thematic unit on "silent voices" throughout American history. Topics studied included slavery, the accused (especially during the Salem Witch Trials), women's rights, worker's rights, and immigration. With each topic discussed, we made connections to current issues such as minimum wage and equal pay for equal work. Finally, we concluded our year with a discussion of the meaning of America as expressed in the Emma Lazarus poem, "The New Colossus."

From Jamestown to Plymouth, and Lexington and Concord to Philadelphia; to Bunker Hill and Valley Forge: to Fort McHenry to Fort Sumter and to Gettysburg, our nation's history was created, developed and reborn. There was Captain John Smith's leadership and Benjamin Franklin's ingenuity and who can forget George Washington willingly giving up power (twice!)? There was Thomas Jefferson's "big purchase" and Andrew Jackson's brash demeanor. There was Alexander Hamilton's financial savvy John Brown's failed raid, and Andrew Carnegie’s rags-to-riches tale. There was a fight for independence in Texas and a war to fulfill our Manifest Destiny. There were "massacres" and "tea parties." There were wars, slogans, proclamations, addresses, doctrines, and acts. In the tiny hall in Philadelphia, a country was born and a government created, a nation forged from the wilderness that would become the "city upon a hill." These places, people, and events make up our national memory and our year in seventh grade social studies.

In the words of our 35th President John F. Kennedy, "There is little that is more important for an American citizen to know than the history and traditions of his country. Without such knowledge, he stands uncertain and defenseless before the world, knowing neither where he has come from nor where he is going." As summer approaches (as well as our nation's 241st birthday) it is our hope that students continue to analyze and follow current events to be informed citizens. Please encourage your children to read historical nonfiction and the newspaper, both online and in print, to watch the news, and to ask questions about our nation and our role in the world.

In Mr. Powder and Ms. Corona’s Math 7 classes, once the math assessment was over, students were introduced to topics on the 8th grade assessment exam: graphing, geometry, and laws of exponents and scientific notation. In the Graphing unit, the students learned how to find slope and y-intercept, put equations into slope-intercept form, graph lines, and how to solve a system of equations graphically and algebraically. In the Exponents unit, students learned how to use the product rule, quotient rule, power rule, the power of zero, and the negative exponent rule. With scientific notation, the students discovered how to add, subtract, multiply and divide.

In Mr. Powder’s Pre-Algebra class, once the math assessment was over, students began exploring topics that will be covered on the Regents Algebra curricula and the Regents itself. In the Polynomials unit, students learned how to add, subtract, and multiply polynomials. In the Factoring units, students learned how to factor polynomials by using the Greatest Common Factor (GCF), the Difference of Two Squares method, and by factoring trinomials with the lead coefficient not greater than 1. Students also began to explore the Quadratic Equations unit. This unit explores the beginnings of how to solve quadratic equations both with and without word problems, and if time allows, we will being to learn how to graph these equations.

In the fourth quarter, Mrs. Hoey, Mr. Pernice and Ms. Corona’s science classes have moved into studying the human body systems. First, the concept of cellular organization was explored to understand how cells differentiate into working in specialized body systems. The first body system was the skeletal system where students learned over 25 scientific names for the most common human bones, including the structure and functions of bones. Next, the muscular system was introduced where the classes learned how muscles work in antagonistic pairs to cause various types of movement in the body. It was then onto the integumentary system, where students learned how the skin serves such an important role in maintaining homeostasis by detecting vital information from the environment. Currently, the cardiovascular system is being taught. Students have learned the difference between arteries, veins and capillaries. Also, students learned the anatomy of the human heart and the path of a single drop of blood throughout the entire cardiovascular system. Still to come are the respiratory, excretory and reproductive systems!

Third Quarter News

Mrs. Marr and Mrs. Peretz’s English classes balanced assessment practice with outside reading projects, public speaking, and creative writing activities this quarter. As the English Language Arts Assessment is March 28-30,2017, students have been reviewing the format of the assessment and brushing up on their test-taking skills on standardized tests. For this quarter’s outside reading project, students read fiction and nonfiction books about sports from our classroom library and from the school library. In their writing and speaking about their reading, students considered writer’s craft and persuasive writing techniques, and evaluated the books in persuasive book reviews. Students participated in a public speaking activity to determine the best sports fiction and nonfiction books for middle school readers. I hope that listening to their classmates’ presentations about books will inspire students to read, read, read! Please continue to encourage your child to read and write inside and outside of school. Better reading and writing skills help academic performance across the disciplines. If your child enjoys public speaking, please encourage him or her to join the debate club or to seek leadership positions in Student Government or other clubs and activities in the eighth grade. There is also a public speaking elective available to students next year. As the quarter ends, students will be analyzing, writing, and sharing poetry. Students are encouraged to submit their creative work to Rebel Pen, South Middle's art and literary magazine, and to read their poetry at South Middle’s Poetry Cocoa House on April 6th after school or on Poem In Your Pocket Day on April 27th. There are also many creative writing contests that students are encouraged to enter. Please check our Google Classroom for more details.

The fourth quarter will be devoted to reading and writing science fiction, reading nonfiction works to understand the science behind science fiction, and completing a portfolio presentation based on their digital portfolio. Maintaining a digital portfolio helps students stay organized, encourages reflection and fosters pride in their work. Students will continue to improve their vocabulary by using the Quizlet App to study words from the “Seventh Grade Essential Vocabulary” booklet, a resource of interdisciplinary academic vocabulary. Students will be receiving information about the Self-Select Honors Program in English and about the summer reading assignment later in the fourth quarter.

In English and social studies Flex classes, students have been preparing video research projects within their groups. They have spent weeks researching a topic using online periodicals. They used their notes in Google Docs to gather research notes, prepare argument essays and plan their storyboard for their movie. In the computer lab, students are using iMovie to edit and arrange raw footage on their topic. Their task is to create a meaningful video to show both sides of an argument on their topic. Students are in the process of videotaping interviews. In the end, students will be using research gathered through online periodicals and the interviews to create a documentary using iMovie. Their video research projects will be on display at the Akidemy Awards Celebration at 6pm on June 1, 2017. Save the date as it promises to be a wonderful celebration of our students’ hard work!