Middle School News – December 2022


This month was full of joy as we ran toward our holiday break; it was full of fun, laughter, decorations, and yes, learning. Earlier in the month, we celebrated with our commUNITY during our “Sounds of the Season” Christmas Concert. It was such a blessing to watch the middle school perform!

Each technology class begins with time spent on a typing program called Typing Club. Although it is not the students favorite part of the class, they are beginning to see how their accuracy and speed have increased with time. Fifth grade finished creating digital storyboards to depict a specific scene from Esperanza Rising, a book that they read in language arts. They included quotes from the characters as well as captions that informed the reader as to the events leading up to the scene. The students worked hard on this assignment and their storyboards reflected their efforts. Sixth graders worked on a few small assignments as well as finishing up an ABC book on Greek Mythology this month. They worked in small groups to create the alphabet book using the information they learned in their humanities class. The books turned out very well, it is clear the hard work they put in! Seventh and eighth grade students completed and presented to their classmates a design project. They each had to create a home from the floor up. They were given a rubric that outlined the specifics that needed to be included in the assignment. It was very fun to see how each student approached their house and how they chose to design it. 

For their first class with our new art teacher, fifth grade played an introduction game and finished with a silly drawing game. They also finished designing their rocks for the nursing home. First they painted the background then they created a design to paint over it. Sixth grade also played an introduction game and finished with a silly drawing game. They finished their paper mache projects they had started last trimester. Like sixth grade, seventh and eighth grade finished with their paper mache projects.

In Mrs. Casoni’s Life Skills class this month, the students finished up another brain-stretching series on Task Initiation. They were encouraged to break a large task into smaller tasks. It’s also helpful to plan personal rewards for those overwhelming tasks. Middle school had successful classes creating a step by step plan on how to build creations out of paper. The results were amazing!  

In each of our middle school Spanish classes students have discussed how we acquire a language–through input that we can understand. Sra. Rodriguez has been so proud of the fifth graders as they have continued to work on demonstrating culturally sensitive behaviors, not only in relation to food, but also in relation to other aspects of culture. So far they have tasted grapes, papaya, and guavas. For some it has been a big effort and a great risk to taste something unfamiliar, but all have risen to the challenge. Students have learned how to politely accept an offer, and also how to politely refuse an offer of more. In the context of the foods they have tasted, they have practiced naming colors, and learned other related vocabulary which they record in their journals. Sixth grade has been working mostly with colors and numbers. They have practiced naming eleven colors, and numbers to one hundred. They’ve had fun playing bingo with different sets of numbers, and this month worked with Christmas trees as they practiced colors and numbers. Sixth graders talked about the difference between using our resources and cheating. Seventh grade finished a project in which they wrote a story, converted it into a script, acted it out, filmed it, and put it into a finished video. This took quite a while, and each student had a part. They did a wonderful job! Eighth grade finished reading the graphic novel Billy y las Botas, and then compared it to a music video version of the story. Then they each tried their hand at retelling the story in Spanish. This month, they also worked on the annual Christmas Commercial Madness. Modeled after the March Madness basketball tournament, as a class students watch authentic Christmas commercials from the Spanish-speaking world and interact with each commercial in some way. Then they vote on their favorite commercial. Coca Cola’s “La navidad siempre encuentra una manera” (Christmas Always Finds a Way) beat out Disney’s “Historias que nos unen–El regalo” (Stories that Bring Us Together–The Gift). While they had fun completing this project, they received comprehensible input, and got to explore cultural aspects of the Spanish-speaking world. In January all Spanish classes will learn about a tradition near to Sra. Rodriguez’ Puerto Rican heart–the celebration of Día de Reyes (Three Kings Day).

Science classes this month studied quite the range of topics. In fifth grade, students started their Rainforest Unit. They are looking at the biodiversity of the rainforest and how each plant and animal have a specific purpose to help the rainforest thrive. From the smallest of insects to the tallest of trees, we find God’s incredible masterpiece in all of His creations. After break, they will examine how an earthworm can help break down the soil to produce ‘healthy dirt’ for gardens. They have also worked through a couple mastermind challenges–in their latest challenge, students had to create a “snow launcher” using limited materials. There were very creative designs and problem solving as a result. It is so fun to see the students work together to create a solution to the challenge. Sixth grade science wrapped up their unit on cells and started working on a unit in heredity. Students completed several labs that all involve studying traits and how genes are passed. They compared their own genetics with those of their classmates using gene bracelets they created, used diagrams and jellybeans to create a visual representation of gene inheritance, and began studying how DNA is involved in heredity. They also begun working with acid bases and learned how to pair them to create codons and gene sequences. By the end of the month, students had learned how to write the complementary sequences for both DNA and MRNA. The class had a very insightful discussion about genetically modified foods (specifically produce) and how genetic engineering has shaped the world from a consumer perspective. Seventh and Eighth graders finished their unit on matter and its interactions with a dry ice lab and did an excellent job with their molecule final assessments in which they labeled protons, electrons, neutrons, etc. for elements of their choosing. Next they moved on to studying astronomy and began the unit by using toilet paper and planet cards to understand the distances of planets from the sun (to scale of course). They also talked about a real world current event – the mars occultation that recently occurred this month- when mars and the sun were in alignment with the Earth. Students worked on colorizing raw data from NASA. All of the images that come from NASA or the Hubble telescope have color added to them- meaning they aren’t “true color” images- the color is added as visual aid for data points since the high contrast colors help to see different elements of images. Students used a program called Gimp to edit three different images in three different frequencies in order to colorize space images as NASA workers do. This project was one of four stations. Two other stations were all about eclipses and lunar phases. In the last station, students watched a documentary about the astronomical view of the Star of Bethlehem.

Way to start the new trimester strong, middle school! Have a wonderful break and we will see you in January.