Weekly Update

Cluster 4

ESL with Ms. Schoenbeck

Entering ELD

Our class keeps growing! The students are becoming excellent at welcoming each other and new guests and forging a warm environment in the classroom.


This week, part of our class finished their oral presentations, where they compared and contrasted two characters in a movie of their choice. The other group compared members of their families and will present next week.


Developing ELD

We have continued to read the book “A Long Walk to Water” by Linda Sue Park. We have been building background knowledge about some of the issues raised in the book. For example, today we watched a Ted Talk on mosquitoes and practiced note taking.

Emerging ELD

This week we started reading the graphic novel, When Stars Are Scattered. We will be reading this throughout the end of the year while doing text analysis activities and developing reading strategies to make us confident English readers. We’ve had some excellent discussions about what we may have in common with refugees, the possibility of being happy and sad concurrently, and how much success is defined by the people and events in our lives. Our focus this week was on identifying and inferring feelings from text. Next week we will begin writing CERs (Claim, Evidence, Reasoning) which is practice for finding textual evidence to provide explanations that support our claims. Students are thrilled to see how much they are understanding and feeling like true readers! Please ask them to tell you what the book is about.

Expanding ELD

Students took two comprehension/reflection quizzes—from chapters 4-6 and 7-9—and finished reading the novella Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes. They also wrote two Sadako-inspired poems: a haiku and a cinquain. Finally, students began preparing a graphic organizer collecting evidence for writing a CER (claim-evidence-reasoning essay) on the book.


Phonics 7th & 8th Grade

This week we introduced the new concept of r-controlled vowels (ar, ir, ur, er, or). This can be tricky to learn in the Boston area where the local accent drops r’s (pahk the cah in the yahd), but we are thinking like pirates so that we make our r’s very noticeable. We will perform plays next week and have a quiz on this concept.

English Language Arts with Mrs. Sullivan

The class completed their drafts based on argumentative writing. Each student chose a controversial subject and defended their belief. Whaling, Screentime, and Zoos gave students plenty of reading and video material to peruse searching for the strongest evidence to support their side. Teacher/student conferences will assist with the revisions and final draft.

Pre-reading activities have dropped subtle hints about the novel The Giver written by Lois Lowry as the final term reading begins. With a critical eye, each student took inventory of illustrations, color, texture, and character of a variety of The Giver book covers from around the world. Through writing prompts, the class will continue to make strong connections to the novel’s details. Chapter one has started with students racing to read the next few chapters. Yes! This novel will be etched in their memories for years to come.


“If you were to be lost in the river, Jonas, your memories would not be lost with you. Memories are forever.”


Science with Ms. MacAulay

As we continue our investigation of energy, students have built series and parallel circuits and constructed electromagnets to spin a copper coil. We are trying to grasp the concept of energy generation and how to convert electrical energy into mechanical energy. We will culminate our study of energy with a look at renewable and nonrenewable energy resources so students can understand how humans supply their energy needs.


Social Studies with Ms. Lorigan

Social Studies scholars have begun their last unit of study for the year: a comparative study of decision-making and government in the ancient civilizations of China, India, Greece, and Rome. We began with simulations, experiencing a range of centralized to decentralized decision-making. We compared them to our household decision-making. We are continuing with learning about how during the late Zhou dynasty there was a lot of questioning about the best way to manage the empire. Three primary philosophies arose as most dominate at the time: Confucianism, Daoism, and Legalism.


Government Learning Targets


  • I can identify and explain how values shape government structures and decision making.

  • I can explain how different ancient and modern civilizations made decisions about how to live together.

  • I can compare and contrast government structures in ancient and modern civilizations.


ELA with Ms. McDonagh

For the second half of our argument writing unit, students chose a topic to research and develop an argument for or against: screentime, junk food, whaling or zoos. Students are applying the learning from the first half of the unit to hone their skills. We began with research and gathering evidence. This uses important critical thinking skills to determine which evidence is most valid and convincing and to categorize which pieces of evidence support a pro or con argument. Next they are planning and drafting. We will then be using student models to use more sophisticated reasoning, develop a counterclaim and refine their piece. Quick mini-debates have been a fun way to try out some of the argument skills.

As always, students are reading independently in books of their choosing. By reading 15-20 minutes per day at home, students are building endurance as readers and by this point in the year have a wide repertoire of books completed.


Here are the learning progressions for argument writing


  • I laid out an argument about a topic and made it clear why my particular argument is important and valid.


  • I acknowledged counter (opposing) arguments with my own position, but I still showed why my position makes sense.


  • Each part of my text helped build my argument, and led to a conclusion.


  • I laid out an argument about a topic and made it clear why my particular argument is important and valid.


  • I acknowledged counter (opposing) arguments with my own position, but I still showed why my position makes sense.


  • Each part of my text helped build my argument, and led to a conclusion.


  • I included varied kinds of evidence such as facts, quotations, examples, and definitions.


  • I included reasoning, that I explained from my brain, to make sense of the evidence


  • I analyzed or explained the reasons and evidence, showing how they fit with my claim(s) and built my argument.


  • I wrote about another possible position or positions and explained why the evidence for my position outweighed the counterclaim(s).


  • I brought out why it mattered and why the audience should care about it..


Math with Mr. Martin

Math & WIN Goals:

  • Solve equations of the form `px+q=r` and `p(x+q)=r` that involve positive and negative numbers, and explain the strategy. (Lesson 7)

  • Expand and factor expressions that include positive and negative coefficients. (Lesson 8)

  • Solve equations that involve expanding an expression. (Lesson 8)

  • Write equivalent expressions with fewer terms by expanding and adding terms. (Lesson 10)

  • Solve equations that involve adding and expanding expressions. (Lesson 11)

  • Draw and label a graph on the number line that represents an inequality. (Lesson 13)

  • Determine and graph the solutions to an inequality with only positive numbers. (Lesson 14)

  • Write an inequality to represent a context. (Lesson 15)

  • Solve an inequality in context using its corresponding equation. (Lesson 15)

  • Use substitution to determine the direction of an inequality when solving. (Lesson 16)

  • Write and solve an inequality to answer a question about a situation with a constraint. (Lesson 17)

WIN Goals

  • Determine unknown angle measures by reasoning about complementary and supplementary angles. (Lesson 2)

  • Make connections between angle diagrams and equations that represent them. (Lesson 2)

  • Write and use equations to determine unknown angle measures. (Lesson 3)

  • Solve multistep problems involving complementary, supplementary, and vertical angles. (Lesson 4)

  • Explain that shapes are identical copies if they match up exactly when placed on top of each other. (Lesson 6)

  • Determine whether you can create zero, one, or more than one unique polygon with a given set of side lengths. (Lesson 6)

  • Explain when there is more than one possible triangle given three measurements and why. (Lesson 7)

  • Use a protractor and ruler to draw triangles given three measurements. (Lesson 8)