Fall Book Recommendations

Every Friday, our class holds a weekly Council Meeting, in which we discuss the highs and lows of the week. Students each take a turn leading council, and wrap up the meeting with a favorite book recommendation. Here are a few of the recommendations we’ve heard so far this year:

Rowan: A Year Without Autumn is about a girl who goes on vacation with her family and meets her best friend there. She ends up going into an old elevator, and goes forward in time. She realizes that her best friend’s family has changed a lot, and she tries to figure out what went wrong.

Kieran: The Martian is about this guy who is left for dead on Mars after his crew thinks he’s dead in a big sandstorm. He has to find multiple ways to survive, such as farming, since he’s a biologist. It’s a space survival story.
Tyler: Revolt on Alpha C is about a space cadet on a ship going to Alpha C. When he gets to the planet there’s turmoil there and a rebellion against earth. He has to decide between both sides.

A Parent’s Guide to Independent Study 2017

As of this week, your 7th or 8th grader will begin deciding on their topic for their biggest project of the year: Independent Study, or IS.

IS is a multi-part, long-term project that the students will be working on until the end of the school year. During this time, they will be conducting in-depth research on a specific topic of their choosing. The Revolution Project, completed in the fall, can be considered a “mini-IS”, but this upcoming project is a bit more complex.

Independent Study project components:

  1. Learning something new
  2. Extensive research
  3. Working with a mentor outside of school
  4. Writing a paper
  5. Creating a scrapbook/log
  6. Creating a presentation (white) board
  7. Doing a presentation/ speech
  8. And more!

Topics chosen by students over the years have been as diverse as welding, Japanese language, building a bike, basket weaving, banjo… far too many to enumerate here. What is always consistent, no matter the topic, is that the student is given many opportunities for taking their learning experience into their own hands. From finding books at the library to their final presentation, it is truly an independent study.

However, every independent adolescent needs a few capable adults to “help them do it alone.” Gregg and I will be responsible for frequent check ins and evaluations of the students’ work, as well as guiding them through the different components of IS.

Your child will need your help when finding a mentor and a place to study. They’ll be working on the IS Plans & Goals doc this week/weekend, and will ask you to sign their IS Parent Contract (due Monday, February 6).

The role of the mentor is unique to the IS project (further information about this here). For most students, their mentor teaches lessons or classes related to their IS topic. This is not a necessity, however; the main purpose of the mentor is to work with an expert on the topic, and to have weekly contact with that person.

Please talk to your child if you have more questions about IS (and if all else fails, feel free to email me with questions too!).

I’m looking forward to an exciting, productive, creative few months working with the students on IS!

Best wishes,

Meg

Welcome to the new school year!

Greetings parents of the 7th and 8th grade!

Gregg and I are hard at work getting the classroom environment prepared for this coming school year – only a few days away! We’re looking forward to our 4th year teaching together, and we’re excited to meet our new students.

Brozes in MI

The Broz family – Olive is almost 8 months old!

Gregg's big catch: Northern Pike, about 42 inches and 21 pounds

Gregg’s big catch: Northern Pike, about 42 inches and 21 pounds

It’s never quite possible to predict what the classroom culture will be like before the social dynamics of the students and teachers have a chance to begin, but we have found that the Canoe Trip is always a bonding experience where the 7th and 8th graders rediscover old friendships, and begin forging new ones. Last year’s 8th grade made it their mission to be welcoming and kind mentors to “their” 7th graders, and we plan to foster this positive and collaborative attitude this year again.

This new blog will be a place for us to share general classroom announcements, photos, interesting articles and resources, and thoughts on education and adolescents. Blog posts are automatically emailed to all parents of the class. If you ever have questions, feel free to email Gregg and/or I directly. Our contact info can be found on the “About Us” page.

You’ll learn more about us, the classroom, the Junior High level, and the upcoming school year when we all get together for Back to School Night (Thursday, September 10, at 5:30 pm). In the mean time, you might like to check out this recent article from the New Yorker about adolescent brains and risk-taking. Don’t be scared off by the tongue-in-cheek title; I think it will be an interesting read for both new parents of almost-teens, and those going through Junior High for the 2nd (or 3rd, or 4th…) time, as well.

Best wishes,

Meg

In adolescence, the brain is wired to experience pleasure more intensely than before or after.

The New Yorker: In adolescence, the brain is wired to experience pleasure more intensely than before or after.