Middle School News – September 2023


September was a busy month for middle school. It was full of learning routines, meeting new friends, and creating a new middle school culture.

The first week was full of adventure and fun! Monday through Wednesday middle school had their regular classes so that they could get used to the routines and structure of the days. In each class period they learned about expectations and then started the learning and activities.

Students and staff journeyed to Thrive Outdoors to explore how to grow their mindset together as a commUNITY. They participated in several group games that challenged students to work together to achieve a common goal. The students demonstrated our MZ WAYS of responsibility, effort and risk, and perseverance as they handled each group activity. They worked to pass a can, without using their arms or hands, in seconds involving everyone. Another challenge was to pass a hula hoop in a closed circle. What a challenge that was! The final test was to beat the monster in moving through a swamp with decreasing amounts of mats. After brainstorming together, the middle schoolers produced a noteworthy contract of what they want and what they don’t want from themselves and their classmates this year which was agreed to with their signatures.

Our first Den Activity of the year took everyone out of their safe bubbles and introduced this year’s Lions and Cubs to each other. Our middle schooler students are the “Lions”-role models for cubs (students in grades kindergarten through fourth). Bubble-wrapped Mrs. Hamlin informed the schools that the hall in front of the offices is a no-talking bubble zone. Students were challenged to first try to pop bubbles from a seated position as teachers blew bubbles all around them. Challenge two required students to NOT pop bubbles from the same position! The final challenge was to walk the playground but be silent in the bubble zone where teachers bombarded students with more suds! Next the lions and cubs got to make their own bubbles. After a popsicle snack, the kids created bubbles to hang in the hallway made by swirling paint in clear ornaments. This will be a visual reminder of the bubble zone for everyone to see. The kids were bubbling over with enthusiasm!

The fifth and sixth grade had fun making posters to support the soccer players and then decorating the hall in anticipation of the first game. Some even decorated the gym!  At the pep rally Coach Casoni and each player were introduced to the school body to loud cheers. The captains led everyone in the team cheer and Mrs. Hamlin prayed for the team. Much to our delight, Leo the Lion (our school mascot) was present cheering with the crowd. Go Lions!

Fifth grade started their first unit in Language Arts, Stories of Human Rights and How Can They Be Threatened. They started their first novel of the year, Esperanza Rising. In addition to starting this novel, students reviewed grammar rules and parts of speech. They also almost completed their first writing project “The Best Part of Me”. These beautiful masterpieces will be on display in the fifth grade classroom all year long. Sixth grade humanities started off the year with a gallery walk noticing and wondering about the Cabbage Patch Dolls, Barbies, Beanie Babies, Silly Bandz and Marbles. This launched them into a look at fads and how they develop. In their book, The Friendship Wars, the main character comes home from a summer trip to her grandfather’s mill in Massachusetts with hundreds of boxes of buttons. Soon the button craze hits her middle school and threatens her friendships. Students sorted through various buttons and delivered a presentation on expert texts about fads, mills and buttons to their classmates. Seventh grade humanities launched the year exploring the complexities of a middle school community by reading Schooled by Gordon Korman. The main character, Capricorn Anderson, has spent his childhood living with his hippie grandmother and has much to learn with his unexpected entry into the modern world. This novel served as a springboard for students’ research for their final projects. Eighth grade began the year with a book about a missionary, Bruce Olson, who went to Venezuela and Colombia at age 19 to work with the Motilone Indians. At every step, the class ran ahead of their teacher to see what happened next! They began researching various animals, dangers of jungle life, and the oil industry in Venezuela. Their final project was making a trailer for a movie of the book.

In fifth grade math, students started their first unit, Volume! They learned how to find the volume of rectangular prisms and expanded upon their knowledge of concepts they already know like multiplication of two numbers, and they gradually increased the complexity of the numbers. They got to explore 3-D shapes using unit cubes to create an object. Then they used ‘math terms’ to explain to their partner how to build the shape. As the school year continues, fifth grade will work through finding the volume of various rectangular prisms while using the formula L x W x H. In sixth, seventh, and eighth grade math, students did operations with fractions using dominos, had a percent/fraction/decimal matching game, began creating a rectangular prism city, used skittles to find percentages, worked on creating their own Deep Hopes for the school year, did some Skittle introductions, worked on doodle notes, and so much more! During their gallery walk combined with humanities class, each class though of a big question. In sixth grade it was “What do Cabbage Patch dolls, marbles, silly bands, Barbie dolls and Beanie Babies all have in common?” Seventh grade’s walk spawned the question, “What does a hippy look like?” Eighth grade’s lent to wondering, “What does being a missionary mean?” Sixth grade also worked on three-dimensional shapes. They expanded what they learned about volume in fifth grade to include the surface area of rectangular prisms. Students laid a deeper understanding of what area is and how to find the area of complex shapes by decomposing the figures into shapes they better understood. Seventh grade math started right off with their first introduction to algebra! The students were introduced to variables and what it means to keep an equation balanced by doing the same operation on each side of the equal sign. The seventh grade challenge group began their work on proportional relationships. They discovered how pi is the constant of proportionality between the circumference and diameter of a circle. They had fun measuring different parts of the circle and learning how to calculate circumference, diameter, radius, and area. The eighth graders are picking up right where they left off last year with proportional relationships. They took on challenging work on determining the constant of proportionality with more advanced problems. This work quickly led them into work with linear equations. 

Robotics and science classes have hit the ground running!  Robotics is acting as an extension of science class this year as students begin to focus on simple machines and science engineering branches of science. In sixth grade robotics, students used their knowledge of simple machines to engineer a lego robot to catch and pass a ball.  Seventh and eighth graders are working on a self-paced online lego curriculum called SpikePrime this year in which they began working on a unit called “Kick Start a Business”. In this unit, students began creating machinery necessary to establish a business (e.g, packaging and shipping machines). These students also started integrating technology, as they used coding to manipulate their robots. In sixth grade science, students began their journey to learn about cells and familiarize themselves with cell structure and organelle function in preparation for their final projects. Seventh and eighth grade continued their study of anatomy and physiology, and completed their first lab regarding muscle function and location. In addition, students studied mini units on the ear, creating 3-D study models, and viewed an insightful film regarding the human brain. 

We are so proud of you, middle school! Way to start the year off strong.