|Social Studies |
|Our group of young archaeologists are busy at work, excavating, recording, and analyzing what they find during their "dig"! Bones of various sizes and shapes have been found, along with some full and partial spines and skulls. Additionally, some evidence of pottery, food sources, and perhaps, just perhaps, stone tools, have been discovered. Our class has been filled with cries of delight. "Cool, look at this! Ms. Sheppard, I found a bone, skull....!!" But as they have learned, the dig is only the beginning. Students must record each item, map it on a grid to mark where it was found, describe it (visual and measurements), and hypothesize as to its origin and use. Since no one archaeologist knows everything, they will also have to decide with whom they will need to consult (biologists, forensic anthropologists). Distinguishing between facts and opinions is an important skill developed in this activity. The students are also learning to draw conclusions based on the facts, not opinion. Understanding the archaeological process is fundamental to our study of ancient civilizations. They will constantly be faced with conflicting dates and information. As technology improves and new finds are made, facts as we know them, may be altered or discarded. This is far more understandable to the children when they have experience with the methods used in this field of study. |
November begins with everyone's favorite learning activity -- a test! This is our first big unit test of the year. We will talk about study skills and habits during class and learn how to weed through all of the information to see what is the most important material to remember. I will share many test taking tips as well.
After the test, we will move on to our Earthquakes unit. We will learn about the forces that change the shape of our landscape. We will also learn why this summer's earthquake was felt over such a large area when California earthquakes are more localized. Our big project in this unit is The Water Tower Project. This unit is lots of fun!
|Language Arts |
|The Cay, the novel we are currently reading in class, is one of my favorites because of the depth and breadth of its thematic development. As good writers do, Taylor is able to make the reader think, while still maintaining an exciting plot that appeals to 6th graders. We will trace the "language of racism" used in the book, in order to see how our main character eventually changes. As we read, the children are looking for the ways an author reveals character; through the character's own words and actions, and what other characters say or how they respond to the person. The children will write a character sketch which includes physical characteristics, family background, and personality traits. It is essential that they learn to provide support from the novel when discussing personality, so that will be a focus. Finally, we will also step into the main character's situation and test our ability to survive after a shipwreck. While the simulation is fun, we do discuss some important survival/life skills and knowledge!|
Sixth grade still has “BOLIVIA” as their main country of study. Students will learn about friends and people by learning a variety of adjectives and applying them into sentences to describe people. Students will learn the verb “to be.”
|The sixth graders thoroughly enjoyed making their Incan, Aztec and Mayan inspired headdresses and masks. They also learned about the prayer figures, gaurduan figures and god figures of Mesopotamian art and copied one of theses images in their own style using craypas. We are now starting on a research and art unit about mythical animals. The students will find a rendition of a specific animal, such as a horse, from each of the ancient civilizations they will learn about this year. They will print out images and narrative about these animals and chose one to copy in colored pencil or watercolor. Next they will create their own mythical animal and write a myth about it. In December they will use cast plaster to make a mythical animal mask, first modelling the plaster on their face and then turning the image into an animal mask.|
|It's a Date! |
10: 1:30 Dismissal for Students
11: 11:00 Veteran's Day Assembly
23: Grandparents Day -Noon Dismissal
24-27: Thanksgiving Break
28: P.D.- No school for students
5-9: Black Rock artist in residence
7: Clubs 8th period
9/10: M.S. Winter Play
13: M.S. Holiday Show
15/16: Holiday Shoppe
20: Noon-Holiday Break
3: Classes resume
|The Artistic Process |
The play we attended In November was about artist Alexander Calder and the development of his art form, the mobile. In and of itself, it was fascinating. But, as the children learned, it was more than a biographical piece; it was a thought provoking drama that asked us to reflect upon the nature of art, the artistic process, the role of our own beliefs, and the key importance of "play" in creative expression. As always, I asked the children to reflect upon the experience, asking them to explain what they thought the message was, what is said about the creative process, and how it related to their own reading and writing.
What they wrote surpassed my expectations! Never surrendering to "defeat," but learning from it was an important "take-away," as was the knowledge that there is always more than one way of looking at things. For me, it was about silencing my inner critic, which often interferes with my desire to create, be it in words or in the visual arts. Many of the children also said it reminded them how important "moodling" is to any artist, those "extended periods of time spent in aimless thought, pondering, and puttering." Let there be no doubt, this playful, unpressured time is a key component in creativity. Madison Hall summed it up beautifully when she wrote, " No matter what, you can get inspiration from anything,...when you are creating something you can never fail!"
The rehearsals for the upcoming Holiday Show – Tuesday – December 13, 2011 at 7:30 pm have picked up speed and intensity. Singing, dancing and playing instruments are in full swing. Please note that ALL Middle School students should wearing black dress pants and dress shoes for the Holiday Show. Individual classes have voted as to the color of their shirt.
Guitar strumming, picking and tapping are in full force with current musical artists. Their cache of guitar chords is growing as is their confidence.
Piano instruction continues to provide the basis of musical comprehension and proficiency.
|Physical Education |
The students continue to learn more about exercise and wellness this month (and beyond…). This includes learning more about the major muscle groups and fitness principles. They will have fitness workouts each class that will address the major muscle groups, stretches for the major muscle groups, and record their progress. We have focused on proper strength exercises and flexibility exercises. Additionally, they will start learning about exercising heart rate, developing their own fitness programs, healthy lifestyle habits, and learning how to overcome obstacles. We will also start field hockey. Students will learn agility, balance, dribbling, and game strategies. Their grades are comprised of the following: daily personal performance, skill development and implementation, and personal accountability.