Welcome back! We hope everyone had a restful and enjoyable December break. It may be hard to believe, but the end of quarter 2 is fast approaching. Grades for quarter 2 will close on January 25.
As we settle back in to a routine we are also focusing on building a strong community here at Rockport Middle School. We hope to use our morning announcements to incorporate small practices that help build community and a sense of working together. Beginning January 7, each day will have a theme. The themes are as follows:
Mindful Monday - short mindfulness practices
Trivia Tuesday - a piece of trivia will be shared
Wisdom Wednesday - inspiring quotes
Thankful Thursday - expressions of gratitude from our community
Funny Friday - comic relief
As we approach the halfway point of the year, I also wanted to share some updates from the core departments.
Students in 6th grade reading in the past month have been working on analyzing short stories, poems, and articles. We looked at characters, vocabulary and practiced taking notes while actively listening. We are beginning literature circles and having daily small group discussions. Leading up to this, we talked about what are the elements of a good discussion and had students model what that looked like and sounded like. They will be finishing up their literature circles before the end of the semester and working on a small group project to present to the class.
Students in 6th grade English just finished their unit on the eight parts of speech. Students used these concepts to write descriptive paragraphs about a fascinating person using vivid and specific adjectives, and active verbs while avoiding unnecessary adverbs. During the last two weeks before the December vacation, they read a play version of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. This culminated with our field trip to see the North Shore Music Theater production.
Students in 7th grade English are reviewing the writing process through the creation of a narrative/descriptive writing project. Students regularly practice the multi-step process of brainstorming, drafting, revising, editing and publishing a complete and polished piece of work.
Upon completion of To Kill a Mockingbird, students in 8th grade are currently reading the graphic novel MAUS I and II by Art Spiegelman. While reading, students are annotating their thoughts through questions, comments, connections, and predictions about the novel. In class, students are using the novel to work on skills such as sequencing, identifying conflicts, learning new vocabulary, and character analysis. Weekly, students are reflecting on major themes through journal prompts. Students are anticipating the start of the movie “Boy in Striped Pajamas” to reflect on the different experiences of those that lived through the Holocaust and World War II.
RMS Science, Technology & Engineering
6th graders are working hard being “paleontologists,” studying how rock layers form and change. By understanding how rocks change, 6th graders are learning about environmental evidence of earth’s fossil history and past positions of the continents.
7th graders are engaged in Mr. Allia’s climate change unit, learning how climate change has impacted animals and their environment. Along with environmental impact, 7th graders tested light bulb energy efficiency and found LED the winning energy-efficient. Measuring air quality and comparing modern versus past air composition.
8th graders recently completed their Bunny Projects, where they used 2 parent bunnies to predict offspring traits.
Technology Engineering 6th graders are busy designing and building “Maglev” trains, using magnets to repel and push their train. 7th graders are designing their own scale model homes. 8th graders are building DIY (do it yourself) audio speakers, using magnet wire, cardboard and a styrofoam plate.
The 6th grade students are continuing through their unit on rational numbers and the coordinate plane. They have learned about integers and absolute value, the vocabulary surrounding them, and their real world applications. Currently, students are using coordinates to plot and connect points on a plane to create shapes and images. In order to show their understanding of the concepts, the students are currently creating their own figure and other students can plot the points and recreate the design. Students continue on a coordinate graph. They must then generate a list of coordinates to develop their mental math computational strategies as much as possible .
Analyzing and using proportional relationships is the unit the 7th grade is currently engaged in. They are using equivalent ratios to identify proportional relations. They are then applying them to solve problems. They are learning to recognize proportional relations as graphs of lines through the origin. In order to show their understanding, the students worked collaboratively to create posters to represent real-world problems utilizing tables and graphs. Through the design and discussion of the posters, students were able to identify whether problems were proportional or not.
In 8th grade, the students have been focused on graphing linear equations. They have determined the graphs of equations using both the slope-intercept form (y = mx + b) and the standard form (Ax + By = C) of an equation. The unit of instruction culminated in a scavenger hunt, where the students solved systems of linear equations through graphing in order to find mystery locations throughout the school. They “traveled” to the “destinations” in the building to determine if their solutions were accurate. The students filled their passports with stamps from every location.
In 6th grade one of our essential questions in our Latin America unit was, "People need water to survive. Does that make the rainforest a desirable biome for survival?" To address this question, students read about the rainforest and life in the tropics. They also looked at the importance of water as a survival need and the effects of heat and humidity on our health. After coming to a conclusion about the desirability of living in the rainforest, students created a home appropriate for the rainforest biome. Their home needed to protect them from some of the biggest environmental problems in the biome such as high heat and humidity, rain, and bugs.
In 7th Grade we are currently studying the ancient Egyptian civilization. The focus of the unit will be on the geographical, historical and cultural aspects of ancient Egypt. The highlights for our study of ancient Egypt will be the reading of the myth of "Osiris & Isis" as well as grouping in action activities in the library.
We are currently finishing up a unit on Medieval Europe in Grade 8. Students have learned about powerful rulers such as Charlemagne and Alfred the Great, worked on their second expository essay of the year on their reigns. Using our imaginary kingdom of “Swanbergia,” students have learned how the feudal system worked and how it impacted the people living during the Dark Ages and Medieval Times. We are rounding out this unit by investigating the Bubonic Plague, and how the disease changed the course of European history.