Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Newsletter #11 (11/22/13)

Eva, Ashley, and Izzy excited for their first CBMS concert!

Hello Quest Families,

Thank-you for attending your student's student led conferences!  We hope you all have a happy and safe Thanksgiving!  Here are a few notes  to read over vacation:

ESB Project
Students continued to work on their individual research projects in ESB this week.  They chose from a selection of topics, including early human clothing, tools/weapons, food, language, art, and the archaeological discoveries of "Lucy" and "Otzi".  Student's research on these topics is focused around the question 'What has archaeological evidence told us about Homo sapiens?'  In class, students will write a report on the findings from their research.  

**At home, students should be working on an artifact for their project.  This may range from creating their own prehistoric tools or art to making an early human restaurant menu or cartoon.**  This is due Wednesday, December 4th.

Project Guidlines

Winter Recess
The cold weather is here!  These are a few reminders for what students need for winter recess:  gloves or mittens, winter hat, boots, snow pants (if they plan to play in the snow), winter jacket.

Holiday Feast 
ANNUAL QUEST TEAM HOLIDAY FEAST! We are planning to have our Annual Holiday Feast on Thursday, December 19th at 11:20 (11:00 set up) - 12:30.  We ask each student on the Quest Team to bring in a sample (4-6 servings) of a dish that their family enjoys eating – perhaps something traditional – and we have a big potluck lunch. Families and other teachers from around the building are invited to attend. We will have live music, from our students!  We’ll need some adults to help us set up and monitor the feast. So, mark your calendar… we’ll send home official invitations soon! 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Newsletter #10 (11/8/13)

Students working together to create a skit using primitive language.

Student Led Conferences
This week, the portal for the student led conferences will open.  This is an online way for you to sign up for conferences.  If you do not have computer access, please write a note to indicate which time slot you would like to sign up for, and we will sign you up.

The conferences may look different than what you have seen in the past.  Throughout the trimester, we have been gathering evidence towards particular goals. This continual reflection is intended to help students understand why they are learning what they are learning, and how it can contribute to their development as a middle schooler.  When students share this information, in a room where other students are also sharing their work, it builds validation for their work, and ownership of their progress.  There is time for goal setting with both teachers and parents during these conferences.

The times for conferences are 30 - 45 minutes in length, and during that time, your student will lead you through his / her work from this first trimester.  As these are completely student led, there will be 4 - 7 conferences going on at the same time.  We reserve the library, which enables us to have space so families can sit together and focus on only their student.

This is a photo of student led conferences from last year.

The teachers are available during these conferences.  Curtis Taylor, Melissa Williams, and Melanie Zima will be in the library, stopping in at the different conferences.  If you want to speak to a particular teacher during the conference, you will put up a small "flag" that will signal that teacher to go to that particular table.  If, after the student led conference, you would like to sign up for an individual conference with one of the teachers, there will be a sign up sheet for Tuesday night's conferences. Note:  There is no sign up for Tuesday night until after the student led conference on Monday night.

If you are unable to attend the conference on Monday night, you might opt to have your student review his / her portfolio at home with you.  Most of the information is on their e-portfolios, and in a paper portfolio at school.  These will be available on Monday, the 25th for you to see.  If you need to see it sooner than the 25th, you may contact us, and we can help your student have it available for Friday the 22nd.

We hope you find this format empowering for your student.  Let us know if you have any questions regarding conferences.  The times on Monday are: 3:00, 3:45, 4:30, 5:45, 6:30, and 7:15. 

In our Bones and Stones unit, students were busy this week exploring the development of language and early human cave art.  Activities included creating our own early human language, performing skits, using nature to make paint brushes, and painting our classroom with early human cave art.  Next week, students will be starting a project of their choice on a topic from our Early Humans unit.  Information about this project will be available on our website.

Mick painting, using a brush she created from the woods!

This week we will wrap up our work with division strategies and begin a new unit on 3D Geometry and Measurement.  You can find the parent letter linked to the Quest website.

Questers have been working on Multiplication Fast Fact Goals for the past few months and have met their first goal!  As a reward, students will have next week OFF from homework in Math class.  Their Math's Mate Sheet 6 is due Tuesday, but they will not have homework on Thursday or a Math's Mate for next week.  Keep up the fast fact studying so we can reach our next goal!

Language Arts 

This week we used Google Calendars to map out our reading for our most recent book group books.  We also began reading, and looking for details about characters and figurative language.  We continue with writing with details, both to our epals, and in our POWs.  Next week, we will have book group meetings, and will learn about the narrator's point of view.

What was your early human skit about?
What is an example of figurative writing?
What has your ePal written to you about?
What did you paint on the "cave wall?"
How does a 'menu' help you solve long division problems?
What did you do with your AG on Early Release Day?

Friday, November 1, 2013

Newsletter #9 (11/1/13)

Hello Quest Families!

The study of Early Human Survival continued this week with a exploration the advancements in weaponry and fire.  Students learned about how the early humans made fire with the little tools they had and then tried this difficult task out for themselves. Students also learned about early weapons, trying their throwing skills with "spears" and atlatls!  Students will have an opportunity to make some of these tools on their own with a project that will be coming up in a week and a half.

Service Learning
On Wednesday, students worked with community partners on two different projects.  Some of our students met with James Moore, Co-President of SunCommon, to learn about the new solar array at CBMS.  These students are in the process of making a brochure that will educate the CBMS community about solar energy in our area.  The rest of team Quest met with Alan Quackenbush of the Vermont Land Trust to plant seven maple trees around the school's outdoor classroom.  This work will secure the land's riparian zone by providing stability as well as provide shade for our outdoor classroom.

Multiplication and the order of operations were our big focus points this week.  Students worked on tasks such as determining how much solar energy can be produced by our new solar array.  There is so much multiplication in our every day lives.  See if you and your student can find some examples!  If you see your student using an area model to solve multiplication problems, this is a fine place for them to be.  By the end of this year, we will move away from the model, but it is a great tool to support the decomposition of numbers.  Have them explain how it works!

We will be exploring division strategies this upcoming week with an emphasis on the relationship between multiplication and division.   Again, have students explain their strategies to you before you jump in.  We are building an understanding of division before we learn the traditional long division strategy.

We are beginning our fiction unit!  We worked on our first roles that will be a part of book groups starting next week.  Students will be writing about a descriptive event for their next POW.  This could be Halloween, or any other event that has had an impact.  This writing is a part of our fiction writing unit. Students are also writing to their epals.  Sometime soon, we may even go old fashion and send postcards!

Book Orders
Book orders are due Monday, November 4th.

Wreath and Poinsettia Sale We passed out information for our new fundraiser today.  The fundraiser is a wreath and poinsettia sale.  Students have a green paper to bring home today, which has more detailed information.  Please help support this fundraiser!  It helps with field trips and other opportunities for each of the teams in the school.

What is an atlatl?
What is your independent reading book?
What are the two "banned" words in your writing?
How does a bow drill work?
How many solar panels does the school have in their new solar array?

Enjoy your weekend!

Due Monday, November 4th

Wreath and Poinsettia Sale