November 6, 2009

Middle School Conferences

Thank you for making time to meet with us for conferences. We were very pleased with how well the conferences went and proud of the role that the students took in the conversation. Having the students involved in the conference contributes into their taking greater ownership of their learning, their performance, and understanding the expectations of them. When students are asked to reflect on their performance in meaningful ways, their understanding of themselves as learners deepens.

If you have any thoughts stemming from your conference or have reflections on the conference process, please email us with these ideas – they will help shape our work with your child and the assessment tools we use.


We continue our work in 1,100 words with a test on Friday on Week 4.

For the past two weeks, we have begun working on summarization skills – taking short essays and identifying the main points, developing an outline, and finally writing a summary. This is a challenging set of skills to master and we will be working on acquiring these skills as they are vital to writing research papers.

We will be going to the library on Friday to select an Independent Reading Book.

Take-apart Center

We are initiating the Take Apart Center and need your donations! We will accept any unit that we can take a part (without putting it back together or repairing…). For example: typewriters, old computers, sewing machines, vcr’s,…. The idea here is to have students learn to use hand tools and to understand better how things work!
We could also use hand tools: screw drivers (especially small headed ones), wrenches, socket wrenches, pliers,… NO HAMMERS ALLOWED!


Students have been exploring basic algebraic concepts at various skill levels. Defining variables, solving basic equations, working with positive and negative integers, and function tables have all been topics of focus. Some students are working on converting positive and negative fractions to decimals and vice versa.

Also, Friday the 6th is our first Continental Math League competition. Students will get their results on Monday.

Social Studies and Science

A couple weeks ago, we introduced a project that has captured the students’ attention in a huge way: Gutterball! Using the materials provided (wood, hot glue, popsicle sticks, and four 8-foot lengths of pipe insulation for each group) , students are constructing tracks for marbles. There are three categories in which to complete: fastest time, slowest time, and best tricks. We’ll be using this project to tease out some physics principles next week. There are photos of the projects up on the Photos page!

Once this project is done, we’ll be starting a very cool new project related to our fall field study trip involving using topographic maps to create 3-dimensional scale models… More details soon.


Students are using Outlook to keep track of their homework and communicate regarding school issues. In Tech class, they’ve been using Google Earth and learning how to burn cds and dvds.


Students have been working on some theory but mostly practicing for the November 17th performance in their small groups and whole group.


Students have continued their work on numbers, irregular verbs and conversational skills.

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About Halley (Griffin) Knigge

Storyteller and adventurer with a focus on new and social media. Ten years of award-winning writing and editing experience, eight years working professionally to share compelling stories through brand journalism, three years as an airline spokesperson, two years as a Tacoma Arts Commissioner and 30+ years of learning something new every day.

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