Middle School Curriculum Update

March 2017

Helman-Osborn - 5th and 6th Grades

Fifth and 6th grade March advisory discussions focused on Ally Week, considering the question, “How can we be an ally in the struggle for social justice?” and the statement: “Being an ally means: sharing the power, taking a risk, taking responsibility, opening yourself up to the unknown, realizing that you are a part of the solution, leveling the playing field, accepting differences, making allowances, and leading by action.” We explored social justice concerns across the curriculum and our conversations were rich and rewarding. We were greatly inspired by Divine Bradley’s presentation about how he has spent his life helping others and his quote, “ The best way to predict the future is to create it.”


We also appreciated our visitor, Dr. Sandra Chapman, “Chap,” and her message about the importance of being an upstander.

Language Arts

During March 6th through the 10th, Ally Week, the 5th and 6th grade students participated in discussions and activities and viewed videos about race, identity, stereotypes, and diversity. Guest speakers this week included Divine Bradley, social activist, youth mentor, and motivational speaker, and Sandra Chapman, Director of Equity and Community at The Little Red Schoolhouse and Elizabeth Irwin High School in NYC. Middle school students walked to the local theater to view the movie Hidden Figures, a story of a team of African-American women mathematicians who served a vital role in NASA during the early years of the U.S. space program.


Students continue working in their literature groups reading Crispin by Avi and Catherine Called Birdy by Karen Cushman. As they complete the novels, students are finishing written reading responses and planning their project ideas. The Helman-Osborn Class continued their vocabulary studies and received word study lists related to their historical fiction novels.

Math

5th Grade

Fifth graders used many math skills as they completed their Million Dollar Projects. Their challenge was to spend $1,000,000,000 helping others. Their math challenges began with finding out real world prices for electricity, water, waste, heat, transportation, telephone and internet services, salaries, real estate, construction, and the prices of necessary goods. Students researched needs in the world and created imaginary projects that could help meet the needs of others. They created budgets for current expenses and to project saving some of their one million dollars to keep the project going for more than a year. The projects included: Building a School in Haiti, Building a Health Clinic in India, Building a Horse Farm with Free Riding Lessons for the Needy, Making a Food Distribution System, and Making a Survival Kit distribution system.

Science

Physics studies were our focus for March investigations. Our terrific Eco-friendly K’Nex Amusement Park STEAM Challenge ended in a grand finale with all the rides set up and running simultaneously for the UFS Curriculum Night. We are looking forward to continued study of amusement park physics in May while riding the rides at HersheyPark. We are currently studying forces and motion.


During Ally Week, we discussed and watched videos about how social injustice challenged many scientists and mathematicians, especially during the 1960’s-80’s. We also learned about important scientists and mathematicians that were challenged by society’s views of race, gender, or ethnicity. We went to the movies to see the film Hidden Figures and had rich conversations about the brilliant female African American mathematicians and their role in the space race.

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Helman-Osborn 7th and 8th Grades

Language Arts

During Ally week, the students participated in activities and held discussions about race, oppression, racial identity, and the Black Lives Matter movement. Guest speakers this week included Divine Bradley and Sandra Chapman. The middle school students also walked to the local theater to view the movie Hidden Figures, a story of a team of African-American women mathematicians who served a vital role in NASA during the early years of the U.S. space program.


We began our Social Justice literature unit. The 8th grade students are reading To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and the 7th graders are reading from a variety of novels with social justice themes. After completing the novels, we will have discussions about race and race identity and social in/justices displayed in literature. The students will also be analyzing character and identifying themes. This unit, that extends into April, will include thematic essays for the 8th graders and character analysis essays for 7th graders.

Science

Physics studies continue to be our focus for March investigations. During the UFS Curriculum Night, parents and students were challenged to consider the physics of 25 toys and how they worked. The 7th and 8th graders were on hand to offer their expertise because they had just finished their Physics of Toys unit. We are looking forward to continued study of amusement park physics in May while riding the rides at HersheyPark. We are currently studying forms of energy and how energy can be transferred and transformed. One investigation that was especially fun was for student teams to design, test, and analyze the ability for different materials to act as thermal insulators.


During Ally Week, we discussed and watched videos about how social injustice challenged many scientists and mathematicians, especially during the 1960’s-80’s. We also learned about important scientists and mathematicians that were challenged by society’s views of race, gender, or ethnicity. We went to the movies to see the film Hidden Figures and had rich conversations about the brilliant female African American mathematicians and their role in the space race.

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