Middle School Synergy Newsletter

November Happenings

Welcome Back!

Another exciting month of competitions beginning, challenges, curriculum extensions, integration of new technology and learning, and much more!

Perennial Math Update!

Our four month Perennial Math competition is underway in 6th and 7th grade Advanced Math classes. The creator of Perennial Math, Dr. Sylvia Dean, has been a gifted specialist for 25 years in Huntsville, Alabama. These problems are challenging and students should know up front that scoring a 3 out of 6 on any of these test is extraordinary and above average. Great problem-solvers learn persistence and appreciation for challenge. All six and seventh grade advanced math teachers, along with myself, are encouraging students to take the quest to become great mathletes and problem solvers!


Midsummer Night's Dream StoryBoard Creations!

Mrs. Reiter's 8th Grade Advanced English class at Twin Oaks is using an interactive program called StoryBoardThat to support their Midsummer Night’s Dream Unit. StoryboardThat is a powerful tool for visual communication. StoryboardThat is a great tool to help reinforce the graphic understanding of a piece of literature, the involvement of characters, setting and plot, and creatively presenting students’ knowledge of the content.

The students are doing just that-showing a graphic understanding of Shakespeares Midsummer Night's Dream by creating a storyboard for the historical scene from the play, a modern scene from the play and characters that represent the play and how they might appear now in our culture.

The text involves a lot of new vocabulary that will enrich and improve their understanding of the play through the vocabulary lessons prepared for use in conjunction with the play. They will also be using these vocabulary words in their "speech balloons" for their characters speacking in their Storyboards.


Congratulations to both our Middle Schools for placing 6th and 8th in the STATE for Words Mastered in November! Keep encouraging your reader to take some time at home to master new words. 10-15 minutes a few times a week can go a long way!

Verizon App Challenge COMPLETE!

Mr. Albrecht's Advanced 6th grade schience students finished their Verizon App concepts right before Thanksgiving break. This App Challenge provided a hands-on project that helped...

  • BUILT TEAMWORK: Teams of 5-7 students worked together to identify a problem, assign roles and responsibilities within the team and hold each other accountable for their assignments. They present their solution as a team.
  • TAUGHT CRITICAL THINKING: Students used research and analysis skills, as well as STEM disciplines in identifying problems and devising their solutions.
  • BUILT CHARACTER: By searching for problems that need solutions, students exercise empathy.

Preparing for December WordMaster's Challenge!

This month I visited 6th and 7th grade Advanced English classes at Hidden Oaks and Twin Oaks to do an activity using Pear Deck to prepare them for their upcoming WordMasters Challenge taking place in December. Pear Deck helps schools optimize their 1:1 programs through interactive synchronized learning experiences.

A Pear Deck is a presentation displayed on a projector and student devices simultaneously. As teachers we build interactive slides as a component of our presentation that invite or require responses by the students, and then display the results on the projector in real-time. The presentations are also on student screens with a single click and the entire class is in a group discussion. This Pear Deck was designed to assess students knowledge of upcoming WordMasters definitions. analogies, synonyms, antonoyms and ability to figure out which word fits best in the sentence. It was a fun and engaging way to prepare for their December test.

How do you write a good research question? What's an Annotated Bibliography?

Mr. Ficklin and Ms. Stark's 8th Grade Advanced Science classes are integrating just this with their ongoing Science projects. Students are learning the importance and steps taken to be able to develop a question that is in depth enough to allow them to complete the research portion of the project. Students will need to have a research question to work off of for the rest of the year.

In addition to their research question, students will be required to find research articles and report on them. I visited classrooms to help students learn about an annotated bibilography, what are the components of an annotated bibliography and create one from the articles they will read. As stated, this is an ongoing project and one that requires students too....

  • Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts.
  • Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; provide an accurate summary of the text distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.
  • Compare and contrast the information gained from experiments, simulations, video, or multimedia sources with that gained from reading a text on the same topic.
  • Distinguish among facts, reasoned judgment based on research findings, and speculation in a text.



Next Meeting

Thursday, Jan. 7th 2016 at 7pm

Westwood Elementary Media Center

Meeting Topic:

Prior Lake/Savage district personnel will speak about how the needs of gifted students are met throughout grade levels. I look forward to seeing many of you there!

Contact Information

Your Partner in Education,

Ms. Missy Short

Synergy Program Coordinator

Prior Lake-Savage Area Schools

Hidden Oaks & Twin Oaks Middle Schools

HOMS (952) 226-0291 TOMS (952) 226-0535

“Every child deserves a champion: an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection, and insists they become the best they can possible be.”

- Rita Pierson-