Monthly Archives: September 2010

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Language Arts: We’ve spent time continuing to develop our creative stories. In addition, we’ve begun to discuss and practice editing, the next step in the writing process. Some students have already begun to edit their writing. Next week, we’ll launch into more formal writing as we discuss traits of good writing.

The first trait we’ll focus on is IDEAS. Students will decide how to narrow a topic to make it manageable and appropriate for the purpose. We’ll work with creating “hooks” or strong writing leads and including relevant facts that go beyond the obvious. Students will practice these skills as they work on a essay about a facet of a chosen religion.

Integrated Studies: What an exciting week! On Tuesday we had the privilege of visiting the Islamic Center of Tacoma where Cal, a 19 year old college student who is a member of the center, gave a presentation about Islam. He answered many questions and helped further the understanding of this religion. The students conducted themselves with the utmost respect as we had a chance to watch the afternoon prayer.

We had a chance to listen to the muezzin give the call to prayer as Cal explained what his words meant. We then watched as members prayed alone – going through the repetitious motions on their own. Finally, an elder member led the men in the group prayer. Students described the experience as, “Amazing” and the sense of calm throughout the room was palpable.

It was noted that the women’s area was behind a screen. That day, there were no women praying – but the girls got a chance to meet a woman as we exited through the women’s side. The students got to see firsthand the Islamic principle of Zakah, or charity, as they noticed the many bags of clothing that were collected to sent to the victims of the floods in Pakistan. The members took time to warmly thank the students for coming and we left with a new found understand and respect for the Islamic Center of Tacoma.

Working with Adam, the students are currently working on a away to demonstrate their knowledge of Islam by creating a new “Windows Movie Maker” movie.

Next Wednesday, we’ll get a chance to visit Temple Beth El, a Jewish Synagogue. There we’ll meet with Rabbi Kadden who will give us a tour and talk to the students about the tenants of Judaism. Once again, we ask that your student dress “more nicely than usual” that day. (No t-shirts, sweatpants etc…)

As we tie our study of religions back to cultural universals, we had the chance to meet with an Anthropologist, Dr. Andrews at Pacific Lutheran University today. Dr. Andrews talked to the students about how human culture is studied by cultural anthropologists. He had crania to show the students from early Australopithecus Afarensis to Neandertal to Modern Man. He discussed how culture began to evolve as early hominin became bipeds and had free hands.

As he is a specialist in stone tools, he passed around examples of early stone tools. The highlight was when he demonstrated how to create stone tools using a piece of obsidian. Students were able to take a shard home. Although he abraded the edges, they are still very sharp so be careful!

Check out our pictures from the week, including the favorite new game, broomball! :

Friday Folders are decorated with the Seabury logo and will be coming home with your student every Friday. They’ll contain work from throughout the week, in addition to notes from the parent booster club, flyers and other important information. This week they’ll contain free tickets to the Puyallup Fair, and school pictures order forms, among other important items. Please initial to indicate receipt and send back with your student every Monday.

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Math instruction this week included topics such as working with positive and negative numbers, the order of operations, and algebraic properties. It’s been a great start to the year!

We started Science instruction this week with an experiment designed to get students thinking logically. The experiment involves students working with about a dozen white powders and developing a flow chart to identify them. Students will start by conducting tests on known powders before working to ID mystery powders and mixtures. This week, the students did some background research to learn a little bit about what they’d be working with, then started in on the tests and building the flow chart.

Language Arts: We have launched full swing into Writer’s Workshop and students are experimenting with different ways to start and create stories. Some students have found pre-writing strategies to be helpful while others are happy to sit down with a blank piece of paper or computer screen and start writing. Today we began conferences to determine the author’s plan, talk about strengths and areas for improvement.

In the “nitty gritty” time of Language arts, we’ve been focusing on commonly misspelled words and sentence structure.

Integrated Studies: We’ve launched our study of comparative religion and students have already created mini-movies on Windows movie maker with Adam based on their concepts on the origins of religion. We’ve begun focusing on Islam by reading about the prophet Mohammed. Students are learning note taking skills as we discuss the tenants and other important facets of the religion.

Next Tuesday, Sept. 14, we’ll have the opportunity to visit the Islamic Center of Tacoma where we’ll meet with a member for questions and answers and have the honor of watching a prayer. Students should dress modestly in clothing that is slightly more formal than everyday on Tuesday.

French: Your child has a new name! Seabury students (except the Bear Cubs) chose French names that stay with them for the remainder of the school year. New students and the younger children may not be able to tell you their names just yet. They are still working on recognizing them.

Students receive French names so that they learn new words and sounds. They need to be able to pronounce names of French-speaking people.

Note that even though some names are spelled the same in English and French, the pronunciations are quite different. In French pronunciation, word stress is on the last syllable and final consonants are usually silent. The letters ‘i’ and ‘y’ are usually pronounced like a long ‘e’ and English has no sound like the French ‘u’. An ‘h’ at the beginning of a word is always silent and a ‘th’ has only the sound of ‘t.’

For those of you who wonder why the French name of a child may not be the equivalent or related to the English name:

When English-speaking people visit a French speaking country, Francophones pronounce names as closely as they can to the English, which usually come out with a French accent. In turn, English speakers try to pronounce French names as best they can. This is not easy (or impossible) if the name is one they have not encountered or learned. As I explain to the children, we are learning new words, which is why each year I ask them to select a name that they have not had before or that they do not know.

When the equivalent French name is very close to an English name, such as Michelle, I ask that the children with those names to not select the same name. This is because the pronunciations in the two languages are so close, the distinction is difficult to hear or make. Since the children are used to using the English pronunciation for those particular students, the tendency is use the English pronunciation. If other students choose those names, the tendency to mispronounce is much less.

Sometimes a child’s name, such as David or Christopher, has an equivalent that is different enough in French so that there will not be confusion. Then a child is allowed to select that name, but only for that year.

This year, thanks to the additions made by Léa Tulasne, our new teacher for the Bearcubs, Superstars and Sharks ( one of the 2 classes for the latter), we have some names borrowed from other languages because they are currently popular in France.

Please ask if you have any more questions about names.

SB – Thibaut

EC – Raphaël

KC – Estelle

DD – Simon

PE – Bruno

JF – Nestor

WF – Victor

EK – Lise

GM – Nicolas

DM – Balthazar

NM – Nathan

DM – Barnabé

LN – Amélie

CP – Xavier

AS – Anthony

SS – Miguel

HS – Boris

JT – Tanguy

WT – Matthias

LW – Thierry-Henri

JY – Iphigénie

Welcome! It’s great to be back for our second year at Seabury Middle School. For new parents (welcome!), these Friday emails will be a weekly update of what we’ve been working on and what’s coming up at Seabury.

No School Monday

Don’t forget, Monday, Sept. 6 is Labor Day! Enjoy the long weekend, and we’ll see you Tuesday morning.

Help SENG (Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted) help families!

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France trip feasibility meeting You should have all received an e-mail from Mr. G about a meeting next week, Thursday Sept. 9 at 6 p.m. to discuss the feasibility of a France trip this spring.

At the meeting, you’ll hear a little about the research we’ve done, details of the tour we’ve chosen and deadlines involved. We will also take parent feedback at this meeting.

Seabury Middle School Vancouver Trip 2010

Greetings Middle School Families,

Here is some important information regarding our upcoming trip to Vancouver.

We will be leaving Tuesday, September 28 at 8:30 and returning Friday, October 1 by 3:00.


Children: Beginning June 1, 2009, U.S. and Canadian citizen children under age 16 arriving by land or sea from contiguous territory may also present an original or copy of his or her birth certificate, a Consular Report of Birth Abroad, a Naturalization Certificate, or a Canadian Citizenship Card.

We will also need written consent from each parent-we’ll arrange for that the week before we leave.


Tuesday, September 28:

Leave MS at 8:30 am

Travel to Vancouver- sack lunch (student provided)and break along the way.

Check into- Best Western Kings Inn Burnaby Hotel (5411 Kingsway, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada, V5H 2G1 Phone: 604-438-1383 Toll-Free: 1-800-211-1122 Email:

Visit Tilopa Buddhist Centre and talk to gen Kelsang Delek about the tenants of Buddhism

Down time/Dinner

Walking tour of China Town

Wednesday, September 29:

Breakfast at hotel

Travel to Playland Amusement Park for Science and Physics day.

Meet with the Imam at Zawiyah Foundation

Down time/ Dinner

Evening activity TBD

Thursday, September 30

Breakfast at hotel

Visit Stanley Park totem poles

Travel to Xa:ytem Cultural Center

Travel Back to Vancouver

Dr. Sun Yat Sen Classical Chinese Garden – Tai Chi lesson

Down time/ Dinner

Evening activity TBD

Friday, October 1

Breakfast at hotel

Visit Stanley Park

Depart for Tacoma

Arrive Seabury Middle School approximately 3 p.m.

Integrated Studies

This semester we will be launching a study of cultural universals and comparative religion.

Cultural universals are elements of culture that meet the basic needs of people, and are found in most cultures. Comparative religion is a field of religious studies that analyzes the similarities and differences of themes, myths, rituals and concepts among the world’s religions. Religion can be defined as the human notions regarding the sacred, numinous, spiritual and divine.

Throughout this study, students will examine how religion has influenced culture and discern when culture is more indicative of factors other than religion.

In our study of comparative religions, it will be stressed that as a school we will not advocate or oppose any religious beliefs but rather we will study the tenets of each faith as scholars. We will compare, contrast and analyze the basic tenants of each religion and synthesize that information with our study of cultural universals.

We strive to line up as many authentic experiences for the students as possible. So far we have some very informative trips and speakers scheduled. On September 14 the students will travel to the Islamic Center of Tacoma where they will meet with a representative of Islam. She will share information about her faith and invite the students to watch their afternoon prayer. September 22, we will be traveling to Temple Beth-El, a Jewish synagogue and meet with Rabbi Kadden. He is planning to discuss Jewish festivals and ceremonies after giving the students a tour of the temple. We are in the process of scheduling a visit to a Hindu Mandir in Kent, a visit to the Center for Spiritual Living in Tacoma and a Buddhist temple and Urban Grace Church in Tacoma.

In Vancouver we will meet with a teacher of Buddhism at the Tilopa Center with a focus on a class called “Dharma for Teens”. We are also scheduled to meet with an Imam at the Zawiyah Foundation. We will include First Nations spiritual beliefs as we tour the Xa:ytem Longhouse Cultural Center.

The first book we’ll read aloud to the students is called, Does My Head Look Big in This? by Randa Abdel-Fattah. In the book a young Muslim girl decides to wear the hijab, the Muslim head scarf, full time while attending a rich prep school in Australia. It chronicles her journey as she navigates prejudice, faith, culture, family and the power of friendship. It is a book that will help students understand the difference, yet interconnectedness between religion and culture, in a protagonist they can relate to.

If your family has any particular religious or cultural backgrounds that you would be willing to come in a share with the students we’d love to talk with you.


Math started this week with a pretest to place students in appropriate groups. On Friday morning, we met in our new groups and dove right in to begin instruction.


Because our theme for the year is Perspectives, we began Science this week with a discussion of how that theme might apply to our study of Science. We used the example of a chicken and talked about all the different kinds of scientists who would be interested in a chicken and what their various perspectives would be. We also read an article by Dr. Yakelis from the PLU Chemistry department about how a chemist sees the world. In the future, we’ll be examining and experimenting with substances from the perspectives of different sciences.