Weekly Update

Cluster 5 - Week 2

Cluster Announcements

Open House September 23rd 6pm-8pm

7:20 pm

Cluster 5 ZOOM meeting


Meeting ID: 253 452 7381
Passcode: cluster5

English/Language Arts

This week (9/17), students enjoyed developing their academic and personal goals with a targeted group video showcasing their hopes for the year- building off the viewing of, “This Is Gonna Be My Year” Zombies video. It was amazing to watch students joyfully planning and implementing technology video recording and editing for an authentic presentation- the students had lots of laughs and social growth through the process.

Starting next week, students will begin their first narrative writing unit using the short story, Being Mean by Gary Soto. The story involves adolescent siblings participating in some seriously mischievous activities. Ask your student about the story- and at some point, maybe they will share their completed narrative with you (at the end of next week).

Please encourage your student to independently read each evening.


We are off to a great start in science class and spent our time learning about models as tools to help us understand concepts. We also reviewed the grading policy for this year (see below) and worked on a cooperative construction challenge.

Grading Policy for 8th-grade Science 21-22

  1. Why are we changing the way we assign grades? To move toward being more:

  1. Accurate: Grades should be an accurate measure of whether students have met standards and not include other irrelevant information.

  2. Bias-resistant: Grading should eliminate all conscious and unconscious biases.

  3. Motivational: Grades should encourage learning through risk-taking and perseverance, not point collecting.

  1. How will the grades work?

  1. Assessments (quizzes, tests, projects, etc.) that show mastery of content and/or skills

    1. 90% of the grade. Isn’t that a lot? → Yes. But it accurately measures whether or not students know the content and have the skills we are trying to teach.

    2. Retakes and revisions required for students who have not mastered content and/or skills.

      1. Our goal is to get EVERYONE meeting the standards by the end of the unit. It won’t take the same amount of time for each person.

      2. New grade replaces old grade (not averaged together)

  1. Practice and Learning Opportunities (homework, classwork)

    1. 10% of the grade. Isn’t that too little? → No. It changes our perception of the point of this work.

    2. Divided into three types of tasks.

      1. MUST DO: Basics

      2. SHOULD DO: collaboration and application of basics

      3. ASPIRE TO DO: enrichment and extension

    3. These are necessary for LEARNING, not for earning average points directly.

    4. Encourages academic honesty

  1. What happens to LATE work?

    1. It counts the same until the set deadline at the end of the term.

    2. No points deducted.

    3. Learn at your own pace, but know that getting behind makes retakes and revisions more likely.

  2. Is there EXTRA CREDIT?

    1. No. That interferes with the grade representing mastery of content and skills.

    2. Utilize retakes and revisions to improve the grade instead.

Weekly Learning Targets for 9/20-24:

  • I can identify the layers of the Earth.

  • I can describe the characteristics unique to each layer of the Earth.

  • I can understand how the layers of the Earth formed based on their differing densities.


We are off to a strong start in your child’s 8th grade Social Studies class. We study Civics, which is all about American Government and how we work together as a community to solve problems.

We are focusing on identity, asking ourselves “who are we?” We read a poem called "We and They" and thought about the ways that communities group people. Next week, we will think about who we are as members of communities, including who we are as Americans. Friday, September 17 is Constitution Day, the anniversary of when our American Constitution was signed, so we thought and wrote about the rules we set for ourselves as a community. We're working on Class Constitutions, which we'll complete next week.


Next week we will continue to learn about shapes. Currently, the students are learning how to identify a rotation, reflection and a translation. In addition, they will learn how to graph a rotation, reflection and a translation.

In order to accomplish this students will be working on activities on paper and through DESMOS. DESMOS is our online learning platform that allows students to work together on a variety of skills.

English Language Development classes


Ms. Rix

This week we studied essential vocabulary for classroom materials like notebooks, pencils, and pencil sharpeners; the verb “to have”; and the days of the week. We also practiced saying and listening to the English alphabet and spelling our names in English.

Next week we will continue learning school vocabulary essential to life at WMS. We will complete our school maps with appropriate classroom vocabulary and use English pronouns to complete simple sentences.


Ms. Schoenbeck

9/20-9/24: This week we will learn subject and object pronouns and their location in sentences. Additionally we’ll learn the differences for singular and plural pronouns, and how that relates to the verbs “to be” and “to have”.

9/13-9/17: We reviewed school and calendar vocabulary, the verbs “to be” and “to have”, articles, singular and plural, and numbers.


Ms. Baildon

We did a variety of activities to get to know each other and to create rules and routines. We also started a unit on values.


Ms. Gilmartin

9/13-9/17: Students worked on two short assessments to provide more information about their skills and abilities in English—one in writing and one in grammar. Together, we came up with a class contract for a positive and engaging class environment. Finally, we started previewing our first story from the anthology America Street by talking about the diversity of the United States.


Ms. Rix

This week our “About the Author” assignments provided a foundation for discussing our class’s different backgrounds. We asked each other intelligent follow-up questions about our experiences and had fun learning about each other and becoming a classroom community where we trust each other.

Next week we will finish setting our personal and academic goals for the school year and express them using poetry and technology.


Ms. Schoenbeck

9/20-9/24: This week we will continue with matching sounds to letters and blending them into 3 and 4 letter words. We will begin learning high frequency words and introduce digraphs wh, ch, th, sh, and ck.

9/13-17: We learned a brief history of alphabetic and logographic language, and we identified consonants and vowels, pairing them with their sounds. We also began learning how to blend 3 letter words for pronunciation.

Sheltered Social Studies

Ms. Gilmartin

Students started previewing and exploring academic vocabulary for the 8th grade Social Studies curriculum about the U.S. federal and Massachusetts state governments by building background knowledge. Students researched and presented words such as “rights,” “Legislative,” “Judicial,” “Executive,” and “Constitution.” They will continue this word study next week.

Past Smores