Jonas Clarke Middle

News and Notes | November 2018

From the Principal

The month of November is quickly passing us by! With the first quarter behind us already (and our first snow delay - WHAT?), we are well into the school year and all of our routines. As usual there are many things happening in school and around the community!

With regard to the missed conference times between 8am and 10:00am, we have added more times in our schedule, so please take a look at the conference sign ups on our website. If you cannot reschedule or schedule a conference with a particular team or teacher, please contact either that teacher or the team leader. thank you!

I would like to thank the Clarke PTO for their continued support of all of the teaching and learning going on in our classrooms. This year, we had a huge response from teachers who applied for PTO Mini-Grants this year. At the November PTO meeting, the members voted to support all of the grants that had been submitted and we cannot thank you enough for your support. Throughout the year, you will see the results of some of these grants in and around the school such as; Making Science Visible w/ Games, Spanish Classroom Library, Bit Talk Question Cards for 7th grade Geography, supplies for a Paws and Claws family paint night, knitting supplies for WIN block, books for a Parent / Child Book Club, a Shared Library for Special Education Reading classrooms, Dinner for an Apollo Team movie night and so many more. Thank you to the PTO for supporting some of these initiatives, that are not supported by the regular school budget.

In addition at the PTO meeting, Dr. Julie Hackett, Superintendent of Lexington Schools came and spoke about the work that the district and school principals are participating in around Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. We invite you to read the position paper on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion put together by our administrative council team earlier this fall that outlines the work that we hope to accomplish with regard to equity for all of our students. Thanks to Dr. Hackett for taking the time to speak with parents about this important work.

Wishing you all a wonderful and relaxing Thanksgiving Holiday and break!

The Scoop on Finland

Earlier this month I had the most incredible opportunity to visit Finland for a full week to learn about their top notch school system. Thanks to the Lexington Education Foundation, Diamond MS Principal, Jennifer Turner and I were awarded fellowship grants to attend a Principal Study Tour for the week. We spent this week learning both from lectures and five different school visits which afforded us the opportunity to see schools in action, observe classes, and speak with students, teachers and administrators at length!

This was an inspiring and profound experience to say the least and since we have returned we have been asked about our biggest take-aways from our experience. We learned so much that It is hard to narrow it down to even a few but I would have to say that even though the Finnish culture has much to do with their philosophy on education, there are aspects that we can certainly learn from such as their views on equity and equality and that "In Finland, everyone matters" as one principal stated. In addition their attitude towards school schedules and frequent brain breaks was also fascinating and could be implemented in our schools more often.

In order to record our journey and organize our thoughts, we created a blog and invite you to follow along as we learned about the Finnish language, culture, history and schools. Enjoy!

The Scoop on Finland; by Anna Monaco and Jennifer Turner

Learn More About Minuteman High School

Did you know that Minuteman High School is a 2018 Blue Ribbon award winning school? Recently all 8th graders and interested parents had the opportunity to hear about Minuteman Vocational High school through student and parent presentations. We are thrilled that so many students took the opportunity to learn more about their high school options for next year. Minuteman is building a brand new building with state of the art facilities that is set to open in the fall of 2019. Their administration wrote to thank us for allowing them to meet and greet parents and students this fall and they are hoping that enrollment from Lexington will grow over the next few years. There is an open house on December 2nd that anyone is welcome to attend.

You can read more about Minuteman in the letter from Principal Dillon here: Letter to families from Minuteman Regional Vocational High School

Yearbooks on sale now

It is hard to believe but we are selling yearbooks for this year already! Don't miss out on a chance to order the yearbook online. The yearbook is NOT just for 8th graders, but a memory book with pictures of all grades, teams and other school events. Order yours today by clicking on the link! Yearbooks are $32.00

Order your yearbook here

8th Grade Class Trip

This year we are switching things up and our annual 8th grade trip will be to NYC rather than Washington DC. To read more about the reasons why I have included a link to the letter sent to all 8th grade families in October here: Letter to 8th grade Parents and Students

For those 8th graders who would like to attend the trip to NYC in June, it's time to get registered! Please go to the Capital Tours Website to register for the trip and put down a deposit. You can read more about the registration process here as well as a trip itinerary. The cost of the trip is $533.00 with the option to purchase trip insurance. We strongly recommend the insurance so that you may get refunded if the need to cancel arises. Our goal is to get as many students on this trip as possible so please contact Mrs. Monaco at if scholarship funding is needed.

The registration deadline is December 15, 2018 so get those registrations in now! We don't want you to miss out on this great opportunity and late registrations will not be accepted.

PTO in search of volunteers!

The PTO needs to fill two important volunteer positions this year and we need your help! The first position is PTO Co-President, but two volunteers could share this role as well. It is a two year commitment so we’re looking for 6th and 7th grade parents. The main responsibilities can be found here CLICK HERE The second position is Vice President, Membership/Directory and the description can be found here CLICK HERE.

Parents interested in these roles can shadow the current parent volunteers so we have a smooth transition next year. As you know, Clarke teachers and staff rely heavily on the PTO to help support activities and events for students to create the kind of supportive atmosphere where our teachers can do their best work. It really does take a community to make our school faculty and learning environment so successful. We are fortunate to have so many wonderful parent volunteers currently at Clarke. Please consider volunteering in one of these positions to we can continue all of our great work! Please email Christina Cohen at if you are interested.

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Dates to Remember

Wednesday November 21 | Parent Conferences

8:00AM - 11:30AM (6th Grade Only)

Wednesday November 21 | Early Release

11:45AM Dismissal for the Thanksgiving Holiday

Thursday November 22 - Friday November 23 | No School

Thanksgiving Holiday Break

Thursday December 6 | Clarke PTO Meeting

7:00PM Location TBD

Friday December 7 | Early Release - Parent Conferences

11:45AM dismissal

Friday December 7 - Friday December 14 | PTO Book Fair

Wednesday December 12 | Clarke Choral Concert

7:00 PM / Grades 6 & 7 only

Thursday December 13 | Clarke Choral Concert

7:00PM / Grade 8 and Middle C's only

Friday December 14 | Early Release - Parent Conferences

11:45AM dismissal

Monday December 24 - Tuesday Jan 1 | No School

Winter Break

Wednesday January 2 | School Resumes

Thursday January 10 | Clarke PTO Meeting

8:30AM Clarke Cafeteria

Thursday January 10 | Early Release Day

Dismissal 11:45AM

News from the 8th Grade

Team Apollo

US History:

In US History, Apollo students have recently used multiple historical documents and sources to enhance their understanding of critical events pertaining to the American Revolutionary War. Now that our young historians have completed their studies of the Revolutionary War, they have been called to use their skills to research other published historians’ works on a selected topic. In addition to researching other’s work, students are to establish and defend their own thesis regarding their researched topic. Upon completion of our research of the Revolutionary War, Apollo students will study challenges associated with the United States’ attempts in uniting the original thirteen states and forming a perfect union. We will begin with the impact of the Articles of Confederation, the original constitution of the United States. - Mr. Romulus


You know (or can assume) that we learn about Science in Science class, but were you aware that we are also working on our Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)? Students in Apollo Science are familiar with this as “Mindfulness Thursdays” or “It’s Thursday…” Since the beginning of the year, we spend 3-5 minutes at the beginning of every Thursday’s Science class “doing” an activity to promote SEL. To date, we have done mindful movement of several types, meditation (walking, seated, and standing), coloring, planning a kind act, and self assessments on the emotional front. We also take 3 minutes before every assessment for “what we need” and reflect on how our choice worked out on a post-assessment reflection. Why are we doing this in Science class? We all need it - sometimes in the moment when it is offered, but we can all stand to build our “vocabulary” of tools for bringing ourselves to a place where we can be our best selves - for learning, for being a friend, and for being a community member. We all need reminders that we have choices in the moments when we feel most stressed - as long as we can bring some awareness to ourselves.

I have been impressed with and grateful for students’ willingness to engage in this learning with me in Science class. Now that we have partially built our vocabulary of tools, we will begin having choices more often of which tools to implement and more opportunities to reflect on how our choices met our own individual needs.

I hope you will share any feedback you hear from your Apollo student with me - about our SEL or any other aspect of Science class. Thank you - Hillary Berbeco


In Math 1 we have been focusing on the question "What is a function?" and properties of functions. In Grade 8 math we've finished equations and are exploring properties of exponents and exponential growth. - Mr. Frost


We are just about finishing our first unit, analyzing the “small details” in literature. As we consider a variety of literary elements and devices that meet this standard in The Outsiders, we also uncover many of the themes that make this novel a classic. After a successful “Greaser/Soc Dress-Up Day” (see pictures), we will now begin the process of writing a proposal to Netflix to remake the 1983 film with minor tweaks to make the story even more relevant today. Who knows? Maybe we will hear from the corporation and get our wish!

This is the first of many projects this year that fall under the category of Project-Based Learning where we use typical English content to complete a larger, real-life tasks. We have set an amazing foundation this term to successfully utilize personal voice and choice, consistent rounds of peer feedback, and ongoing project production. I look forward to the projects ahead!

Next up: We will begin our literary book club unit in which students will choose one of four books to examine. The choices all fall under the Bildungsroman genre (“Coming of Age”), and I will be sending an email home summarizing the options. The books include: Speak, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian., The Secret Life of Bees, and A Separate Peace.

As always, please be in touch with anything that may be relevant to your child’s experience in English class! Thanks! ~Mrs. Gagnon

Team Challenge

In Mr. Borden’s History and Civics class - students recently wrapped up analyzing the causes and legacy of the Boston Massacre. We spent a few days analyzing Paul Revere’s famous depiction of the Massacre and learned that he actually was not the original creator of the piece! We have started to transition to learning about the Tea Act and Boston Tea Party. Students will be utilizing their Colonial Profiles they were assigned as part of our Choices project to create a political cartoon of their own to demonstrate their opinion on the state of British rule in Colonial America.

Mr. MacDonald, English

Students have just finished S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders. During their reading, they took elements of the novel to levels of depth and complexity as they applied a particular lens to the text. This was in preparation for student-led literature discussion circles. Capitalizing on these discussions, students wrote analytical paragraphs focusing on a specific chapter of a text interpreting the author's choices with respect to irony, indirect characterization, symbolism, and mood. Students also worked to conceptualize a Netflix revamp of The Outsiders, maintaining the core themes but altering the story in such a way that it would appeal to today's teens.

Mr. MacDonald, History

In history, students have been interpreting the events, issues, and debates leading up to the Revolutionary War. Each student has taken on a particular "colonial lens," and as we study the key moments leading to the war each student is drawing and justifying original conclusions from their colonial perspective and their perspective as a student today. Digging deep into rich primary sources, political cartoons, establishing the motivating factors of various colonists at the time, and connecting these to "American Ideals" has been rewarding for all.

Mr. Despres, English

In English, we are wrapping up our close reading of S.E. Hinton’s classic young adult novel, The Outsiders, and imagining how the novel could be adapted into a new movie version that would emphasize themes important to teenagers today. Here are a few of the themes in the novel that students have identified as being meaningful to them:

· “Aimlessly fitting in prevents you from discovering the potential you have.”

· “You can’t judge people without knowing their beliefs and struggles.”

· “As people go into adulthood, it is easy to conform with society, but it’s the golden ones -- the “outsiders” -- who stay who they are.”

Mrs. Kaw, Science

In science class, challenge team students have been studying physics. We explored how and why objects move and hoping to change students’ misconceptions about the physical world around them. They have been using photogate (lasers) to measure speeds of the objects and discussing how to interpret data. Students are, currently, studying energy and its ability to cause change.

Math - Ms. Denham

In 8th Grade Math, students have successfully tackled equations and are moving on to study exponents and scientific notation. In Math 1, we have covered units on Solving Equations and Graphs and Functions. In Math 1 Honors, we have covered units on Solving Equations and Inequalities. Our next unit will be on Linear Relationships. Throughout this year, all Math classes will be using the TI-83/TI-84 Graphing Calculator as a tool to understand the graphs of different types of functions as well as to do a wide variety of statistical analysis. We will also be using several iPad apps such as Geogebra, Desmos, Khan Academy, and Euclidea as mathematical tools to help with conceptual understanding.

Team Curiosity

Team Curiosity has been living up to its name as we round out the first quarter. Students have been puzzling over the causes of the American Revolution in US History, while in English they have been pondering how to update the story of The Outsiders for today's teens. Several of our students took the themes of The Outsiders to heart as they dressed up for Clarke's 'Dress like a Greaser or Soc' day.

In Math, the curiosity continues with Math 1 students looking at Functions, Domain, and Range, and Grade 8 students investigating exponential growth. Students in both classes are using real world situations to make connections between topics. Math 1 students are asking themselves how a situation can have a discrete domain and range. Grade 8 students are asking themselves how they can trick their parents into giving them their allowance with an exponential pattern.

In Science, students are pondering the question: What will it take to create a long-term colony on Mars? They applied their understanding of Newton's Laws to the physics of space travel as they considered how rockets launch spacecraft and the net force of a safe landing. Now we are starting our Energy unit, where students will consider different energy sources that might be available on Mars.

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Team Discovery

Winter is coming. And Discovery students are getting ready by heating up the classroom with the unquenchable fire of learning!

U.S. History classes have been examining the causes and events of the American Revolution, analyzing how in just 12 years, people in the American colonies could transition from loyal British subjects to actively fighting for independence from the mother country. Over the course of these units, we read and analyzed a multitude of primary documents from the Revolutionary era, including the Declaration of Independence, excerpts from Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, and the personal letters of John and Abigail Adams. We will soon delve into the formation (and failure) of the first national government, before embarking on an in-depth, two-month unit on Civics and Government.

In English class this September, we learned about stereotypes, especially gender and racial stereotyping, and examined texts that show this. We have been building our understanding of literary devices, especially indirect characterization, mood, symbolism, and irony. More recently, we've been reading The Outsiders and continuing to build our awareness of inferencing, especially in connecting these literary devices with larger themes in the novel. Now as a team project, we are preparing a variety of scenes for The Outsiders for presentation.

Science students have completed the beginning of their application to be some of the first students on Mars. So far students have applied their knowledge of Newton's Laws to the Mars Expedition and designed their Mission Patch. We are nearing the end of our physics unit and students will be designing their own experiment to show that potential energy can be altered. This is an individual project and students will be applying the science practices we have been working on so far this year to design, gather and analyze data to answer their own guiding questions.

Throughout the year in all Math classes we will be using the TI-83/TI-84 Graphing Calculator as a tool to understand the graphs of different types of functions as well as to do a wide variety of statistical analysis. We will be using several iPad apps such as Geogebra, Desmos, Khan Academy, and Euclidea as mathematical tools to help with conceptual understanding.

In 8th Grade Math so far this year we have covered the "Say It With Symbols" unit which focused on the topics of Linear Relationships and solving Linear Equations. We are currently in the "Growing, Growing, Growing" unit which focused on the topics of Exponents, Scientific Notation, and Exponential Functions.

In Math 1 so far this year we have covered units on Solving Equations and Graphs & Functions. Our next unit will be on Linear Relationships. We will begin the unit by using a 15cm ruler and 10 styrofoam cups to calculate Mr. Owens' height in units of styrofoam cups. We will also be using information found online to determine the cost of a 100 by 100 Burger from the In-n-Out Burger Secret Menu. Both of these problems will launch our discussion of rate of change and will lead into our discussion of Slope and the use of the Slope-Intercept form of an equation to model Linear Relationships. We will also begin our use of Graphing Calculators this unit as we explore how to use both a Table and a Graph to model Linear Relationships.

In Math 1 Honors so far this year we have covered units on Solving Equations and Inequalities. We are finishing up our unit on Functions, which included the topics of Distance-Time and Speed-Time Graphs, Graphing Functions, Identifying Functions, Using and Interpreting Function Notation, Inverse Functions, and the Domain and Range of a Function.

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