Sixth Grade

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News at 6 - October/November 2010

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News at 6

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April 2010

News at 6

The following newsletter – News at 6! contains an enormous amount of important and useful information. Please take the time to review carefully, making any necessary calendar notes and of course feel free to contact the school with your questions. It’s long, but very important…
As you know, our week long trip to Cape Arago is quickly approaching – May 17-21. This week on the southern Oregon coast culminates our marine science unit and outdoor education lessons for the year. Perhaps most importantly, this week will provide students and adults alike with an unforgettable community experience. We would like to take a moment to remind you of some important items to bring on the trip, and to provide you with a schedule for bringing camp gear to school. 
Everyone on the trip must have good rain gear! This includes both a waterproof  raincoat and waterproof rain pants. Windbreakers or “water resistant” gear is not sufficient. Also, please send enough fleece/wool type clothing to keep your student warm, as it will get cold at night. A fleece hat and gloves, and warm socks, are must haves. 
Students must have the following items at school by Friday, May 14. We will be pre-loading this gear on Sunday afternoon, May 16.
  • Tents for their tent group, labeled.
  • Two tarps for each tent, labeled.
  • A sleeping bag, sleeping pad (Thermarest type), and pillow. Place in one or two white, labeled kitchen garbage bag(s).
  • Supplies from the Equipment List placed inside plastic kitchen garbage bags inside the luggage.
For the luggage, a soft duffle-type bag is preferred. Line it with a large garbage bag that can be used to protect it from water. 
Do not put rain gear, hat, and gloves in the main luggage bag. Put them in the daypack. The daypack should also contain a sketchbook, art supplies, pencils, water bottle, lunch in a reusable sack, toiletry items (if they aren’t packed in the luggage), cards, books, and an MP3 player or cell phone if you are bringing one.  
An MP3 player or cell phone is for the bus ride only. Please have your child bring it in a labeled Ziploc bag that can be turned in upon our arrival at camp. The MP3 players and phones will be locked on the bus. Leave the charger or other electronic games at home.
Please leave “raccoon bait” like candy and gum at home too. 
Last, if your child takes medications, please deliver them to Ann Fyfield or Olivia Miller by Friday, May 14 in a labeled bag along with written instructions for dosage and use. Medications should be in their original container.
If you have any questions about the trip or the packing list, please feel free to contact us. We look forward to a fun trip with your children!
Finally, we are of course back in the saddle after spring break and we have heard about some amazing Breakaway adventures. Surgery Day was a terrific way to usher in the spring term and we are so grateful to the numerous parent volunteers for supporting this unique and educationally valuable program. 6th basketball was a great experience for the 30 plus boys and girls who participated and now we are in the throes of our after school Track & Field season. We have a lot of school left before Arago, as well as upon our return.
What follows are some important class-by-class highlights and details.
The Sixth Grade Team

Notes from the Team:


Science – Larry


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Surgery Day  

Many, many thanks to the Catlin Gabel parents and medical community volunteers for enabling our sixth grade class to spend an amazing day immersed the active surgical environment known as “Surgery Day”. We are very fortunate to have had former parent Dr. Claudia Gallison as the event leader and organizer, and Drs. Juliana Hansen, Paul Hansen and Andy Michaels as station leaders on this fantastic day. Staffed by numerous medical volunteers and fellow parents Jett McCabe, Suzanne Ganote and Drs. Sharon Grayzel, Karen Selden, Jocelyn White and Andy Zechnich, students participated in rotations covering suturing, urology, plastic surgery, minimally invasive surgery and a presentation on “Nurses Talk Tough” trauma prevention.
Thank you Henriette Emond, Traci Bennink and Sue Spooner, who made the whole event run smoothly, and parents and grandparents Asma Ahmed, Mehri Alba, Annette Bergen, grandmother Dodson, grandfather Dodson, Alex Drucker, Lisa Ellenberg, Jim Gowgiel, Dan Hotchkiss, Dana Otto, Sharon Richardson and Leslie Williams for volunteering their time on site. Many thanks also to the numerous parents who provided the delicious snacks for the adults and children…it takes a village!
Back to the science classroom: After finishing our field test of the NIH unit on Rare Diseases (emphasizing leukemia, Marfan syndrome and flesh-eating bacterial disease), we are now discussing and recording notes on the diversity and natural history of fishes, with a day of fish dissections planned as a wrap-up. Next we will study invertebrates in preparation for our sojourn to Cape Arago in mid May.  The Arago field trip will serve as our outdoor science laboratory for studies of marine flora, fauna and habitats, as well as an extended opportunity to practice skills in journaling, sketching, camping and outdoor cooperative living, and community service.

Math – Nagme

After spending a fair amount of time on fractions, decimals and percents, 6th graders started the second term with a probability unit. They applied the basic concepts of probability and types of events. They also computed probabilities for simple events using methods like organized lists or tree diagrams. They worked on different chance games to study fairness.
After calculating our chances and possibilities of winning we studied various strategies for problem solving. 6th graders looked for different solutions for daily life problems and discussed effective solutions. To enhance problem solving skills they worked in small groups to devise original and creative solutions to Destination ImagiNation instant challenges. Not only did they learn to unleash their imaginations and take unique approaches to problem solving but, also they practiced collaborative group work.
We have just concluded our measurement unit where we focused on the metric system. While exploring processes of metric measurement we experienced the metric units of length, mass, capacity and temperature.
Now, we are ready to give a start the fun part… Geometry!

Language Arts – Carter

Since winter break, students have read two award-winning novels as well as numerous thematically related nonfiction articles. They met in their literature circle groups to set their reading calendars for their novels, to discuss the books, and to create projects that presented the texts to other classmates. In addition, they learned the expository essay body paragraph format—topic sentence, examples, and explanations—which they then employed in their own writing to analyze authors’ themes in the books.
Utilizing the full expository essay format that they learned, students wrote their first of many five-paragraph essays that they will write over the upcoming years. These papers insist on a clear thesis, clear topic sentences, supporting examples and explanations, and transitions.
Because we shifted in the winter to expository writing, away from the memoir and fiction pieces that we were writing in the fall, a fair bit of class time has also been given to writing mechanics in the service of making their writing more sophisticated and lyrical. They have learned phrase, clause, and sentence type so that they can combine shorter sentences into longer, more mature sentences. They have also learned the comma rules so that these more robust sentences will be punctuated correctly.
In addition, students have written six poems—one metrical, three free verse, and two open form—for contests and publications outside of school, and some for entry into our own 6th Grade Poetry Box competitions. Several of these poems will be anthologized, eventually, in their yearlong Heroic Journey anthologies that will be completed in May.
Beginning this month and continuing until late May, students will be busily engaged in Heroic Journey Anthology production. They will be revisiting the Moodle posts, stories, poems, and essays they have written this year in Language Arts, going over proofreading marks and questions in the margins, and revising their pieces for a final time before book production. The multi-genre writing will be combined with art and photos into one long file that the students will paginate and eventually print in book form. They will create covers, a book title page, a table of contents, a dedication, chapter titles, and an About the Author page. At the end of May, the students will print their anthology, drill holes in the left margins, then sew them together using tapestry needles and ribbon.
In addition to the anthology production, students will also soon begin working toward memorizing a poem that they will be reciting from memory at Arago. These recitations on the beach will be one of many highlights from our week on the southern Oregon coast.

Humanities –Len & Ann

Students have worked hard reading Making 13 Colonies and learning through the text, class discussion, activities and mini-lectures about colonial life in America. We have worked hard at reading comprehension through continued efforts with active reading including all variety of note taking – margin notes, sticky notes, summarizing with bullets, Cornell Notes, etc. There has been a certain amount of vocabulary building too, with periodic quizzes and tests. Perhaps the largest single assignment of the past few months was the recently completed Colonial Atlas which included 4-detailed maps of the colonies, expository writing on a colony and evidence of the student’s hands on work which ranged from book reports, timelines, letters, cooking, dioramas, etc. In the weeks ahead we will finish up the Colonial period, including the thorough completing and examination of our text. Accompanying this will be a culminating test which will include geography of the colonies, key vocabulary, and important aspects of colonization that we have focused on – religion, economics, government and important individuals. We will provide a review sheet for the test by the end of the month.

Spanish – Spencer

6th grade Spanish students are finishing the movie, Viva Cuba and learning new vocabulary all the while.  Viva Cuba tells the story of 11-year-old Malú whose mom is planning on taking her out of Cuba due to a marriage with a foreigner.  Malú, and her feisty friend Jorgito, escape the woes of their respective, crazy households, seeking the far end of the country so that Malú can prevent her father from signing the leave papers.  It’s all in very fast Cuban Spanish.

We are joined by Miguel Rojas Ortega every Monday and Tuesday, our 10th grade Costa Rican exchange student who will be helping us as my TA.  

In these next months, we will focus more and more on core content with regard to vocabulary and grammar – what abilities they will need to hit the ground running in 7th grade.  Finally, we will end the year with a book project.  They will create a 4-chapter story in Spanish about characters of their choice.  Stay tuned for summer tips.

Francais – Monique

We have just finished Unit 3 of our text and the students did fine presentations of “un must de la chanson française” entitled “Aux Champs-Elysées” (yes, French people love to use words like “must”, “best of”, “look”, etc. because it’s “super cool!”, all with a French accent of course).  The students either acted out the song as they sang its three verses by heart, or, through a PowerPoint, they showed slides of images chosen by them that represented what most lines of the song playing in the background were about.  Then, they were taped singing the song by heart, away from their classmates’ staring looks.  I hope you’ve heard your child singing around the house, it’s a pretty catchy tune!

We’ll now start the world of gender nouns and the agreement of articles and adjectives that modify them.  The projects coming up are assuming the role of a famous French person and being interviewed by their classmates (to practice questions), a glogster (an online poster of themselves that allows them to insert videos and audio clips produced by them) that will be their portfolio, and comic strips summarizing some chapters of the chapter story that we are reading.


Chinese – Li-Ling

6th Grade Chinese students have been studying a unit called “What’s inside my backpack?” since March. In this unit, they learn to identify a variety of objects inside their backpacks. They recycle the sentence structures in previous units while new vocabulary is used to scaffold. A very unique language aspect, measureword, is also introduced to increase the complexity and accuracy of language.
Prior to this unit, students studied Family and watched a film called The King of Masks.
They interviewed faculty members to create a three-generation family tree and did a presentation to describe the relationship of the family members on the family trees. After watching the film, The King of Masks, we did an in-class discussion on whether it is fair to pass a family trade only onto sons.
    We will wrap up our current unit in two weeks, and spend the rest of the school year reviewing all they have studied this year.
To help your child stay with the pace of the class, please monitor their homework assignments and encourage your child to use flash cards at home. They are welcome to contact me either through phone calls or emails if they have questions about their learning.  

Outdoor Education - Olivia

Outdoor Program Spring & Summer trips sign-ups are happening now! There are lots of different trips being offered: biking, climbing, rafting, & backpacking. These trips are perfect opportunities for students to learn outside the classroom, to make new friends, to learn about themselves, and to build confidence through new experiences. They are usually pretty fun too.

Physical Education – Brian, Hedy, John, Carrie

We just completed units on basketball and hockey, and rotating units in rock climbing, badminton and pickle ball. Now we are on to track and field with the big Middle School all day meet set for Friday, April 30. (Don’t forget that the MS meet on 4/30 is a separate event from the after school Track team.)
(From John) …we adjusted the second hurdle much closer than its measured position so that each of the students could run their measured start to the first hurdle and then do a three step pattern between the first and the second hurdle. Just before we finished our class we asked for a few volunteers to demonstrate what a three step pattern will look like.  After only one session of practice on getting our steps down, Soha, Lauren and Carly all volunteered to do a demo run for their classmates to see. – nice!     

Shop – Tom

Our own 82nd Avenue Auto Row is beginning to burgeon like spring flowers!  Think “Classy Chassis”.

Music – Mark

The latest class of sixth graders have just begun their second rotation of music. In this class we explore music of another culture (in this case Japanese music). We will incorporate performing on classroom instruments, adding vocals, original lyrics and improvising. We’ll compose at the computer and on xylophones to create pieces using Japanese instruments in a traditional style, a Techno styled piece and ultimately “The Go Cart Cheer”. This last piece will be performed over a PA system at Sixth Grade Portfolio Night as the go carts careen down the back path to the Gym. All of the students work will be burned to a CD and brought home towards the end of the rotation.

              Cape Arago Trip Gears Up!

On Monday, May 17, the sixth grade will hit the road on a trip that is more than a thirty-year tradition and the culmination of this year’s marine biology study. We will camp in the D loop of Sunset Bay State Park Campground. This beautiful spot on the south coast is just south of North Bend/Coos Bay on the road to Cape Arago. The campground has bathrooms with flush toilets and hot showers, so we will be comfortable, and sometimes clean. We will help place the students in congenial tent groups.  Each tent group will need a tent, so if you have an extra to lend, please let Carter Latendresse know. You can find out more about our location on the website for Oregon State Parks.
Your child will be given a packing list of his/her own (a copy is below) and soon we will go over packing, dishwashing, camp etiquette, what to expect in the way of weather, activities, assignments and schedule. We will practice putting up tents, tucking in ground cloths, and anchoring rain flies. We’ll hope for good weather, but be prepared for anything. Please make sure your child has what he or she needs to be comfortable in rain or cold, as well as sun. If you need help supplying anything, give us a call. 
We are expecting a wonderful week with your children. We are expecting that they will be well-behaved, follow the rules of safety and courtesy, and learn a great deal in one of the loveliest places in Oregon. Should anything go amiss, we will ask you to come to collect your child.
We appreciate offers to help us with all aspects of the Arago field trip: supply purchasing, snack making, packing and van loading, and post-trip unpacking and cleanup. Thank you for your support!
Arago Equipment List, 2010
Please anticipate and plan for cold, possibly wet weather.  Although the campsite is at sea level, evenings will be chilly and damp, and mornings are often misty. Layering is essential. 
Pack for 4 days and 4 nights. Remember this stuff will likely get dirty and wet, so opt for polypropylene, dri-fit, fleece, or wool rather than cotton.
Make sure your raingear is waterproof, not simply water repellent. This includes both a waterproof  raincoat and waterproof rain pants. Windbreakers or “water resistant” gear is not sufficient.
Please label everything.
Put the following inside plastic trash bags, then put those packed plastic bags inside your luggage. Bring this luggage, not your daypack, to school of Friday, May 14.


o       underclothing for 5 days
o       6 pairs of socks,
o       long underwear
o       3-4 T-shirts
o       1-2 long sleeve t-shirts
o       2 sweaters, and one sweatshirt
o       2 pairs of long pants
o       1 pair of shorts
o       pajamas and teddy bear (bedtime comfort object)
o       Waterproof rain gear—coat and pants
o       1 warm coat
o       warm hat
o       warm gloves or mittens
o       a cap or hat for sun
o       at least 2 pairs of shoes – good fit and broken in
§         1 appropriate for walking on uneven ground
§         1 for wet and mud
§         optional flip flops for shower
  • seriously warm sleeping bag – Cotton or lightweight bags are insufficient. If you do not have an appropriate bag, consider borrowing or renting one from an outdoor store – REI does rentals
  • tent with rain fly (a vestibule is nice for shoes) – one person from each tent group needs to supply the tent. Note: The students must know how to set it up. Make sure the tent is waterproof and in good condition.
  • two tarps – one to go under tent and one to line the inside
  • sleeping pad thick enough to sleep on comfortably
  • pillow, if wanted
  • garbage bags – to keep gear dry in camp and to use for dirty clothes
  • flashlight – strong beam, not a pen light
  • extra batteries
  • re-usable lunch sack
  • daypack
  • water bottle
  • sketchbook/journal
  • art supplies you particularly like to use
  • plate, mug, bowl, silverware
  • mesh bag with loop to hang mess kit from tree
  • towel and washcloth
  • toiletries, including lip balm
  • sun screen
  • bug repellent
  • small whistle
  • two cloth napkins
  • camera
  • stamps for postcards
  • hand lens
  • binoculars
  • whisk broom  to sweep out tent
  • a little money to buy small keepsake
  • sunglasses
  • 2-4 pinch-type clothespins
  • small personal first aid kit
  • cards, travel games
  • book and booklight
  • Ipod / cell phone for long bus ride only (these will be locked on bus)
Dates to Remember
April 7                          Service Learning
April 23                        Dance, hosted by 7th grade, 7-10 pm
April 30                        Middle School Track Meet (see Peek for details)
May 12                         Service Learning
May 14                         Arago luggage to school for pre loading
May 17-21                    Arago Trip




News at 6! - November 2009

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Dear Families,

We are deep into the first term of school and we are pleased to report good news from the 6th grade.  Students are highly engaged, motivated and cohesive as a group. We look forward to Grandparents & Special Friends day this Friday, November 13. The first dance will be Friday, December 4. We will give our students a primer on dance etiquette and help them to be informed and prepared for their first dance.

Beginning December 2, we'll spend our Wednesday advisory periods learning how to knit. There are many reasons why this tradition has remained a hallmark of the winter season for the 6th grade. First it allows all the students to learn a craft that has been handed down through generations. As students learn about the early days of our country, this allows them to explore in an experiential way a craft from the colonial era .and beyond  Also, our students are in need of developing techniques which enhance focus and fine motor skills. Knitting is a superb skill to build strength in those areas. Many students are frustrated at first, which any of us who have tried knitting can attest to. However, with practice most come away with the ability to knit a simple scarf and may even embark on knitting a hat or two.

We are asking that each student bring a set of wooden  knitting needles (size 8-10) with a skein of yarn. A simple 4 ply worsted wool is best. Please bring these items to Ann in a large ziplock bag with your child's name  on the front. Sue Spooner has a few sets of needles that she is willing to sell for a good price, so please contact her for details.We also have some yarn and knitting needles on hand in Parallel Universe if you need some hints on what to buy.  Once your child brings the needles and yarn, we will cast on stitches to form the first row of what will become a scarf. The sooner you can get the skeins to us, the sooner we can prepare for our first advisory day of knitting on December 2. I'd appreciate having the sets by Friday, November 20. If there are any questions, or if you'd like to volunteer for knitting, please don't hesitate contacting Ann Fyfield or Trace Bennink.

Although 7th & 8th grade basketball begins in early December, 6th grade basketball does not commence until late January.  We will have both a boys team and a girls team.  We will keep everyone posted  via the daily bulletin, PEEK, website and this newsletter.

Please feel free to be in touch with any of us should you have questions.  Email is probably the best way to reach us quickly.

Best regards,

The 6th grade team

Math- Nagme

We completed our initial review of fraction arithmetic. We had our second test. Overall, the students performed well; some students plan to do retake tests before the Thanksgiving break.
They put their chef’s hat on to be the master chef of fractions. They developed the mathematical skills needed to be able to increase or decrease any receipe.
We will continue to practice arithmetic as we progress into the applied math units. The goal is for all students to master the arithmetic skills by June.

Humanities – Len & Ann    

We are deep into our study of first people as students worked both independently and in partners on their Adapting to Diverse Lands project.  The project has a number of components and the big challenge for 6th graders is staying organized and all caught up. Students have been allowed to pace themselves, with guidance from certain due dates, but it all comes due on Monday, November 16.  At that point when we will begin presentations in class and a sort of celebration of our learning. Coming soon will be first contact, explorers and not too long from now - the colonists. 6th graders took a geographic terms test recently.  Retakes for those who choose, or are chosen b the teachers will be in class on Thursday, November 14.

Science – Larry

Hopefully, all the paper skeletons have made it safely home, to be kept safe and sound in a closet, garage or under the bed for reference until May.  Our recent field trip to P.S.U. was a great success.  Thank you for the generous supply of snacks!  Your children were attentive and polite visitors to labs investigating nanotechnology, deep-sea geology and biology, and electron microscopy.   Following a short “Living Wise” unit on water and energy conservation, we will complete our study of the nervous system, concluding with a National Institutes of Health program on mental health.

Language Arts – Carter

Over the past month students in Language Arts have read and analyzed the second of two books for their Fantasy Literature Circles unit.  Selections have included books from the Maximum Ride and Percy Jackson series, among others. Most recently, they have put together art, website, PowerPoint, or acting projects interpreting the heroic journeys of the protagonists in their books. As writers, students have written their first major essay of the year: an autobiographical incident piece detailing one challenge that improved their lives. Students have also been writing poetry, whether for the yearlong Heroic Journey anthology (Self Portrait poem) or for the biweekly 6th Grade Poetry Box competition.

In the next week, students will begin the Gender Literature Circles unit, during which they will read two more books and look, in particular, at the protagonists as representative boys or girls. They will be prompted to ask, Are boys and girls really like this today? How are heroic boys and girls different, and how are they the same? In a parallel unit, students will read several folktales by Jane Yolen in which the author deliberately upends gender stereotypes. They will then write fables that require them to also upend a gender stereotype. They will eventually work toward their final unit-ending projects before winter break, video skits that analyze contemporary gender roles in the middle school.
Woodshop – Tom

The last rotation of “rabbeteers” added  couple of new twists to the project.  Add strings and call it an instrument (Peter) or add ramps and call it marble roller coaster(Ian).  What’s next?  Tom

Music - Mark

In music we have learned a four part Jazz round and added our own dances to it. We’ve played the classroom instruments, notated rhythms using traditional pencil and paper and learned how to use GarageBand to compose music.

Chinese – Li-Ling Cheng

Students wrapped up the last unit, School Subjects, by creating a school schedule that reflected their ideal school days.  It was fun to see the wide rages of school schedules when this activity ended: some hoped to have a 6-day a week schedule while others wanted just three days a week; some wished to have 8 classes a day while others just 3.
We have moved onto a new unit since the first week of November: classroom objects.  The learning objectives of this unit include identifying the objects (furniture, equipment) in the classroom, and applying the language in functional contexts.  Interrogative, possessive and directional words are incorporated to increase the complexity of the language.  Our classroom page, Mandarin Chinese (6), at will be used to post audio files, handouts, or homework sheets.  Students will be prompted to visit the classroom page when a given assignment is posted.

The learning of fundamental Chinese characters continues to be a focus.  Students have tried to act as if “Chinese character doctors” to dissect the unit vocabularies which are overall more complicated in terms of their forms, with the fundamental one.  This practice allows students to see how Chinese characters are formed and therefore, to ease the transition into the learning of more complicated characters.
To help your child stay with the pace of the class, please monitor their homework assignments and encourage your child to use flash cards at home.  They are welcome to contact me either through phone calls or emails if they have questions about their learning.

Spanish – Spencer

We're wading our way steadily through articles, nouns, their genders and numbers.  Fascinating I know.  Actually, I love geeking out on grammar with the 6th graders and it's fun to see them try to put it into practice.  The next month will bring a full review of present tense conjugation and we will read a story called Pobre Ana before winter break.  TPR still has us standing on chairs and learning all at the same time.

Outdoor Program - Olivia

The Middle School Caving trip is coming this weekend!  This overnight trip to explore caves near Trout Lake, WA is a great first trip for students who have never been on an Outdoor Program trip. Outdoor Program trips are a great opportunity for students to make new friends, learn about the natural world around them, and develop leadership skills. On this trip we will spend the first day exploring several lava tube caves, winding our way through the underground twists and turns as a group. We will then spend the night in a rustic barn, recounting stories of the day's adventure. The next morning we will get up to spend a little more time in the caves before returning to Portland after lunch. This will be a relaxed adventure, and no previous experience in caves is necessary.

The trip cost is $30, which includes food, transportation, instruction, and helmet. The trip will be billed to your school account after the trip. Financial aid is available--talk to Olivia Miller or Financial Aid in Toad Hall.

Middle School Climbing Club

The Middle School Climbing Club will provide an excellent introduction to climbing. The club will meet Thursday afternoons from December 5th-February 25th to spend the afternoon climbing the walls at the Circuit Bouldering Gym. Both new and experienced climbers will have fun monkeying around with their friends.
The dates of the nine sessions at the Circuit Bouldering Gym, are 12/3, 12/10, 12/17, 1/7, 1/14, 1/21, 2/4, 2/18, and 2/25, from 3:15-5:45.
Cost covering transportation, instruction, and gym pass: $71 ($89 with shoes).

For more information on the cave trip or the climbing club,  please email Olivia Miller ( with questions or to sign up.


News at 6

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News at Six
October 2009
Up and Running . . .
The school year is off to a great start! Although learning the ropes of a new school or grade level can be challenging, we are impressed with our students. Sixth graders have adjusted well to life in the middle school: finding their classes, using their agendas, meeting new friends, and figuring out their teachers and varied schedules. We had a wonderful two days of Discovery Days followed by our Campus Day activities topped of by bowling. 30-sixth graders participated in last Friday’s soccer jamboree. Many are engaged in school sports teams or Robotics, not to mention numerous other after school activities. Our getting-to-know-you groupings have just changed and the new groups will continue until winter break. Then we will stir the pot again and regroup. The goal is for each student to be in class with as many of the other 6th graders as we can manage. 
We enjoyed seeing so many of you at Back-to-School Night two weeks ago. You win awards for your patience with all the sitting and listening. Get to know you conferences are on October 16. Please be thinking about your best insights and advice to pass on to us in working with your child. We appreciate your wisdom and experience.
These newsletters will be available periodically and will contain short updates about what is happening in your child’s classes, learning tips and pointers, upcoming events, and calendar dates for planning ahead. Additionally, we encourage you to contact any of us, anytime - email is probably the best route for a speedy response. Note too that you can always contact Chris Bell in the office – she always knows what is going on. Finally, feel free to explore the school’s website where many teachers have their own classroom pages with a more full picture of curriculum and other bits and pieces of pertinent information.
We are delighted to be working with your students this year.
Len, Ann, Carter, Larry, Nagme & Kristin
Notes from the Team…
·        Math – Nagme Karamustafaoglu
The sixth graders are off to a great start in math. We have practiced place value, number systems, order of operations, greatest common factor and least common multiple. While practicing Roman Numerals, we explored different numeric systems that were used in history by different civilizations. We created our own numeral system and discussed the advantages and disadvantages of other systems in the class. By practicing order of operations we understood meanings of operations and how they related to each other. Our next units will be fractions, decimals and percentages. The students just had their first test. You might ask them about it.
Practicing with workbooks is an excellent way of learning incrementally and progressively. Therefore, I have ordered workbooks not only to master their arithmetic skills but also to improve their fundamental problem-solving skills.
·        Humanities – Len Carr & Ann Fyfield
We started the year with some autobiographical and biographical exercise. These turned to conversations about who am I? We have written poems, short written pieces and reflective entries in our composition books. Sprinkled upon all of this has been a healthy and important dose of study skills. We have examined questions such as: How do we best learn? What is active listening? What are some organization strategies? Additionally, we have spent several days examining current events, which will continue sporadically as time allows. We have just begun the reading of our text The History of US – First Americans, by Joy Hakim. We will read this in class, sometimes with the aid of (similar to a book on tape.) For many students, this is their first experience with formal textbook reading, so we will spend time practicing and becoming proficient in the process of nonfiction reading, notably previewing text, reading for important details, and summarizing for overall understanding.  Soon we will embark on a small project examining the various regions across our nation focusing on indigenous people and how they lived. We inaugurated our sketchbooks by doing event mapping and used them during Discovery Days. Sketchbooks are a three-year project. They are used in many different subjects and on all trips - so expect to see them in use over the course of your student’s years in the Middle School
  • Language Arts – Carter Latendresse
We devoted the first few weeks of class to establishing several processes and systems: the Writer’s Notebook composition book was used for both Language Arts and Humanities, and the Writer’s Notebook grammar text was often resourced. The portfolios and the homework agendas were also initiated and revisited on a daily basis. In addition, Daisy Steele came in for a weeklong seminar on all things computer: explaining the server, our school security system, how to use flash drives and email, and how to post and reply to a Wiki discussion in Moodle. For the first few assignments, students learned how to recognize the Heroic Journey as a literary trope by watching and analyzing the film Mulan. They also began writing poetry for the 6th Grade Poetry Box and for the yearlong Heroic Journey Anthology that will be bound in the spring. In addition, students read in small literature circle groups at least one volume in a fantasy genre series. Many students took the opportunity to read at least two books in the series. Over the next few weeks, students will continue to work in literature circle groups to produce a final project based on their readings and analyses. As writers, students will also write the year’s first essay, an autobiographical incident.
·        Science – Larry Hurst
We are about half way through the paper skeleton construction and assembly process in the science classroom. The goal is to have each student’s skeleton hanging in a hallway at home in time to excite any Halloween visitors or Day of the Dead celebrants.   In late October we’ll briefly cover the “Living Wise” energy and water conservation program provided by the Energy Trust of Oregon. In November, after a test on the bones and organs, we will concentrate on the nervous system to study the brain and mental health.
  • Spanish – Spencer White
Spanish students are being challenged with faster vocabulary acquisition and the introduction of some grammar concepts. They are expected to be able to recognize the words we cover using TPR (total physical response)!   We have been working on more efficient skills for vocabulary acquisition, including the use of mnemonic devices to commit words to long term memory. We are learning Spanish, initially, through the use of TPRS (Total Physical Response Storytelling). I suspect your children have already been giving you commands in Spanish to do crazy things at home! Homework is given 2-3 nights of the week and is expected to take them under 30 minutes to complete. If your child is experiencing difficulty please let me know - ( Next week students will do a mini-country study and produce a mini-report with Alison Ward as their substitute. I will be venturing to Guatemala for the week of Oct. 12-16 on a research trip. 
  • Chinese – Li-Ling Cheng
The Sixth Grade Chinese class is off to a wonderful start. Since the school year began, the students have worked on characters, pinyin phonetics, classroom expressions and basic greetings, and are studying School Subjects/ Days/Time at this time. Students are often asked to work in groups to create skits using the expressions they have been learning, or complete reading assignments through cooperative learning. 
During the regular 5-school day weeks, the building blocks in Chinese character is the theme on Mondays. This is an adjustment from last year's curriculum. I hope this will help students ease the transition into writing more complicated characters later. Depending upon student's readiness and background, they are encouraged to challenge themselves from recognizing the character, to know the phonetics, to write the characters without visual clues. Students who are ready to take even more challenges can learn words, a combination of the characters being studies at the time. Please remind your child to use flash cards at home to help them get ready for the character quizzes. After this unit, Classroom Objects will be the new theme.
·        Français 6ième – Monique Bessette
The year has started off very well! We have practiced formal and informal greetings, learned to talk about other people, where they¹re from, their nationalities, have touched on the world of “feminine” and “masculine”, and will have numbers up to 1000 covered very soon! Our first test on Unité 1 will be the week of October 5th. Next come family and Š food!
 The students seem to be getting more and more comfortable with using the School Planner on a daily basis as well as the website that allows them to review the sounds, spelling, and meaning of all that we cover in the textbook. 


         Music – Mark Pritchard

We have just begun the second rotation of Arts and   in music we’re going to sing a four part jazzy round, add instrumental parts and a dance as well!
We'll learn to use GarageBand (a music composition program) and compose pieces using both GarageBand and classroom instruments. We'll work on rhythm and notating music using pencil and paper. Students will burn their compositions to a CD and bring them home for you to hear.
·        Studio Arts – Dale Rawls
In the studio we have been working with light source, shading, experimenting with gray scale and contour line. In the second half of the rotation we explore color through color mixing and combining drawing and color in paintings.
  • Woodshop – Tom Tucker
First round of rabbeted boxes is nearly complete. There are toolboxes, octagonal boxes, painted and carved boxs, wooden containers of every size and description. Good work!
Drama – Deirdre Atkinson
The first Sixth grade drama rotations are off to a grand start with wonderfully enthusiastic and talented young performers. During this fall rotation, sixth graders learn basic theatre and performance skills through games, exercises and a short theatrical sketch. Our first group of actors performed Tuesday, October 6 at morning assembly. Parents are always invited to our performances and we hope to see you there!
  • P.E. – Hedy Jackson, Brian Gant, Carrie Blank, John Hamilton
The sixth graders have been taking an enthusiastic approach to all of our new skill and fitness activities as well as the fitness testing that we have been involved with to this point in the year.  We should anticipate some positive results coming in the next few weeks as we head into our second round of testing at the track.  With the extra training and experience the students have gotten through a variety of campus cross country running and running games, many of them will exceed the previous marks they had achieved just a few weeks ago. This will really help us reinforce the fact that when we focus our efforts and energy on any given task we can accomplish positive results.
Study Hall – Monday and Thursday 3:30-4:30
This year study hall takes place in Parallel Universe. We are fortunate to have upper school students available to help our students during study hall. Our learning specialist, Ann Fyfield, supervises and also can give one-on-one tips and pointers for those who need her assistance. It’s a quiet place to go on Mondays and Thursdays while waiting for a game to start, or to get work done before going home. We recommend it!
If Monday or Thursday won't work for your child, please consider talking with a teacher or calling Ann about referrals for Upper School peer tutors. This year we have a great crop of junior and senior students eager to help Middle School students with any subject from foreign language to math and English. The students are inexpensive ($10.00 per hour) and can work within a tight middle schooler's schedule. Call Ann Fyfield with any questions about this program.
Looking Ahead …
Oct. 9              In-service Day - No School
Oct. 14            Halloween Rummage Sale (Beehive deck 2:30- 4:00)
Oct .16            Parent Conferences - No School
Oct. 21            Service Learning (our first of the year, by C&C) )groups)         
Nov. 4             6th grade helps set up the Rummage Sale
Nov. 5             Rummage Pre-Sale (buses available)
Nov.6-8           Rummage Sale and no homework weekend
Nov 18            Service Learning
Nov. 13           Grandparents’ and Special Friends’ Day
Nov. 23-27      Thanksgiving Break