Middle School - January 22, 2016

What a fun and busy week. The micro-climate in East Poestenkill provided up with two days of cross country skiable snow, so we took advantage of it because it is impossible to know when we will have out next opportunity. After our first day of skiing I left it up to the students to make a decision about whether they felt up to a second day. They did and it was amazing to see such a huge difference in the quality of the skiing, and the quantity of the falls, from one day to the next.

In addition to skiing on Tuesday we also had a lesson about Mark Twain the man and his times in preparation for reading Huckleberry Finn. On Wednesday we made sure to get back to school in time for Spanish. Cynthia’s lessons are always so fun and valuable.

On Thursday I set out four different works in the Montessori tradition which the students can use to explore the concept of chemical changes versus physical changes. Using household items such as vinegar, candles, iodine, baking soda, cornstarch and various foods, the students can follow simple procedures and write down their observations. Then they are asked to compare those observations to a list we had compiled about chemical changes (things like unexpected colour or state of matter changes and Maddy’s favourite, “things go boom!”) These experiments will also be out next week as we continue our study of Chemistry.

We also started reading The Adventure of Huckleberry Finn on Thursday. To start us off I read the first two chapters out loud to the class. With four different, sometimes thick, accents spoken by the characters I find that it can help students get into the rhythm of the story if they hear it. I compared it to Shakespeare whose work is also more accessible when heard and read simultaneously. It was really gratifying to have a student who had initially grumbled about us reading one of those old, boring, classics pleading to be allowed to keep reading on their own. As I had said in response to that complaint “There is a reason some books are considered classics.” Huck Finn’s backdrop of adventure works to support the bigger issues about what is legal, moral, and just.

Our visiting mathematician came for another visit on Friday and we worked to calculate and graph partial sums. We also worked on our regular math assignment, continued reading about Huck and Jim, and had another Spanish lesson. As always on Fridays the Middle Schoolers collected the recycling from all the classrooms and the office and brought it out to the recycling containers at the side of the building. This is a great help to the staff and a bit of responsibility these Elders have taken on to keep their community functioning.

As you know from Debbie’s permission slip, the Upper Elementary and Middle School are going on a field trip together to the State Capital on Tuesday. Feel free to add your seventh grader to the slip for your younger student. There is no cost for the trip unless your children what to ice skate as does not have skates in which case rental skates are $3 which I can take from the activity money from the beginning of the year. Children who do not wish to skate can hire on as photographers and cheerleaders.

On February 23rd we are also planning on going with the Upper El to a short musical style play about Rosa Parks. It will be at 10am at Proctors. If you would like to be in the count for a ticket please let me know by Tuesday so we can have our final count. Thanks.