The Bear Necessities

December 2021

Granby Memorial Middle School

Taylor P. Wrye, Principal

Heather A. Tanis, Assistant Principal

Important Events


6 to 10 - Spirt Week!

8 - PSAT 8/9


13 - Toy Drive

22 - Early Release Day

23 to 31 - No School


10 - ½ Day Professional Dev.

13 - GMMS Chorus Concert

14 - End of Q2

17 - No School

18 - Start of Q3

20 - GMMS Band Concert

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Hello GMMS Families!

I hope that all of you had great Thanksgiving vacations with your families. Last month we had a very successful parent-teacher conference night. Please remember that you do not need to wait for parent-teacher conferences to meet with your child’s teacher. Teachers have scheduled times they are able to meet during the school day, both virtual and in person. Please contact your child’s teacher or guidance counselor to set up a meeting if necessary. At GMMS we strive for a strong school-home connection.

We have a short three weeks before the next vacation, and will fit in Spirit Week, PSAT 8/9, and some all-around fun. One of my favorite events in December is the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center annual PJ Day. CCMC holds a special significance for me since my youngest son and current Kelly Lane student spent his first 118 days in its NICU. I am forever grateful to the providers and staff at CCMC. After talking with many of you, I found out that CCMC has also touched the lives of children in our own GMMS community. This year, all four Granby schools are teaming up and asking everyone to donate $1 to wear school-appropriate PJs on Friday, December 10th. This will be the last day of Spirit Week. You can donate online at the link below.

The Renaissance Club is hosting a holiday toy drive for local families. If you are interested in making a donation please place an unwrapped toy in the donation box located in the Middle School lobby.

As we end 2021, I want to thank all of you for your continued support and commitment to Granby Memorial Middle School.

I wish everyone a Happy New Year!


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GMMS is setting a goal to rise 424 dollars! One dollar for every student here at GMMS! In addition all four schools are coming together with a district goal of 5,000 dollars!

Wear Your PJs - Join PJ DAY for the Kids 2021 | Connecticut Children's Foundation
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The holiday season offers many families some much-needed time to celebrate and enjoy each other. It is a time for gathering with loved ones to reflect on the ending of a year and to make resolutions with beginning of a new year. We hope that students and their families will enjoy this time together and use the time out of school to rest, relax and find joy together.

This month, counselors will be working with students to reflect on how to be a good friend. We will be asking students to consider the needs of others and to think about how to offer support to classmates who are struggling emotionally. We will talk about the acronym ACT (Acknowledge, Care, and Tell), as a way for students to get help for friends who are showing signs of being overwhelmed with stress and sadness during this holiday season, or any time during the school year.

We would like to encourage parents too, to take some steps to relieve holiday stress. Below are some tips to help reduce stress during the holidays:

  1. Plan ahead. Set aside specific days for visiting family, shopping and other activities.

  2. Take a breather. Plan some time for fun with the kids. Make a snowman, bake cookies, wrap gifts and sing carols. After the kids are asleep, make some time for yourself. Take a walk, stargaze, or listen to soothing music. Clear your mind. Breathe slowly restoring your inner calm.

  3. Reach out and connect with someone. Volunteering can help lift your spirits as well as, sets a great example for your kids. Suggestions: help an elderly neighbor by shoveling their walk; “Adopt” a needy child for the holiday. Contact your church or local youth services to find out how you might offer help to others.

  4. Be realistic. The holidays do not have to be perfect. Families grow and change and traditions can too. Remember it is about the time together and not just about the gifts that you give each other.

Happy Holidays from the GMMS Pupil Services Team.

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The winter is here and that brings indoor activities. All classes have started work on pretesting for the Connecticut Fitness Test as well as competing in the game of Netball. Different rules, multiple baskets, and classes that make their own rules were some of the highlights! Basketball is on the horizon.
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Students created Multi-Page Websites for a topic of choice using Google Sites. They learned how to communicate simple, but impactful messages or information to a wider audience. As they completed this work, students learned and practiced the following digital skills: Create a new website with Google Sites. Add a title, text, images, various image layouts, google slides, and google forms to a website. Create multiple pages with subtopics that support their main topic. Use various header types. How to add collaborators, and publish/unpublish a website.

Technology Education

7th and 8th grade - the clocks are really coming together. I am so thrilled with all 183 students! Clock parts have been built. Faces are all painted. And parts assembly is beginning this week. In this activity not only do students learn about 3d modeling and design and 3d printing, in the machining phase they learn about safe machine tool operation, Henry Ford style line production, AND Cell based manufacturing. Pictures can be seen below.

6th graders have finished their TinkerCAD creature activity and done their presentations to the class. In this activity students learned about organic modeling in TinkerCAD. Pictures below.

Independent projects are well underway. ALL students by now should have identified an independent project they wish to pursue. Independent project presentations will be made in class on January 5th - January 10th. Independent projects have been underway since the beginning of Q2, so as a result it would be unfair not to have them count 25% of their grade as so much work goes into them. The presentation days are always very exciting in that it is all about what was learned. Even if an independent project does not work out to completion there is always significant learning to be shared. If there are any further questions please do not hesitate to email me.

Mr. Pickhardt

Visual Arts

All three grades have begun the clay unit this month! .6th and 7th grade students are working on Clay Fish while the 8th graders are sculpting Clay Towers.
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The GMMS Performing Ensembles are busy preparing for their upcoming concerts! The band and chorus classes have overcome many changes and challenges in the last year, including the integration of courses into the school schedule, the extra distancing between music students in the classroom, and even purchasing PPE for instrumentalists – all to keep our students safe. We are also grateful to have the opportunity to perform in school, and have been extra careful to follow the current state guidelines.

Select Choir rehearses on Thursdays and Jazz Band rehearses on Mondays. Students that were selected to participate should check the schedule weekly and give advanced notice if there is a conflict.

Northern Regional Middle School Festival

Band and chorus students that wish to engage in an advanced musical challenge have the option to audition for the Northern Region Middle School Festival. Auditions for this festival are scored by professional judges, and the top scorers from all the middle schools in northern CT are awarded with an opportunity to perform at an in-person festival. This year, auditions are completed virtually and students record themselves playing prepared scales and a solo piece. Registration is due by December 3rd, and video submissions are due by December 11th. Interested students should notify their music teacher ASAP. After school practice sessions will be offered. More information to come!


At the middle school, the band and chorus ensembles hold separate concerts on two different nights. These concerts are mandatory for students as part of their academic obligations. Attendance is calculated into their final Quarter 2 grade. Please make all arrangements to avoid conflicts with sporting events (even rescheduled games!) and other extracurricular activities!

The Winter Concert dates and information are as follows:

GMMS Chorus Concert: Thursday, January 13, 2022 @ 7:00 pm in the high school auditorium.

  • Choir students arrive at the high school by 6:30 pm to assemble and warm-up.

  • Concert dress: A solid color top (not white or black), black pants, and black/dark shoes.

GMMS Band Concert: Thursday, January 20, 2022 @ 7:00 pm in the high school auditorium

  • Band students arrive at the high school by 6:30 pm to assemble and warm-up. Jazz Band members should report to the auditorium.

  • Concert dress: A dressy combination of black and white (aka - black pants on the bottom and white shirt on top). This includes black socks or tights, and black or dark shoes. All black is also acceptable, especially for members of the Jazz Band.

  • What to Bring: Your instrument (in good working order with extra reeds, neckstrap,

mouthpiece, etc.) and your concert music.

**Students should plan to bring their instruments and music home with them

prior to the concert, OR leave instruments at the high school after their rehearsal

on Thursday. The middle school secretaries will be gone by 5:00 pm and the school will be locked!

Bushnell Trip - 8th Grade ONLY

Parents of 8th Grade Band and Chorus students should have received an email regarding the Bushnell Theater trip on April 1, 2022. The (strict) payment deadline is FRIDAY, December 17th at 3:00 PM!! We cannot hold any tickets past that deadline! Please contact us ASAP with questions!

Music Department T-shirts

Music Department t-shirts have now been delivered! If your music student is still in need of a shirt, please contact us. These shirts may be used during performances throughout the year, or simply wear them for Granby Spirit Days on Fridays!

Music Appreciation Grades 7 & 8

7th Grade Music Appreciation

Our 7th grade music students start with an entire unit about “listening”. They address questions like: How do we listen to music? What elements change when we change the genre of a song? How do composers express emotion in music, and how does that help them tell a story? The second unit addresses the global problem of “music piracy”. Students come away with knowledge on how to ethically and legally own music, and use the music that they own to create a one-of-a-kind album to “sell to the public”. Lastly, students will learn about how scientifically their voice can be used as an instrument.

8th Grade Music Appreciation

The 8th Grade music curriculum focuses on learning to play the classical guitar. Students will study several different genres of guitar repertoire: Blues, Spirituals, Folk songs, Patriotic, and Rock and Roll. Not only do will they experience 8+ chords and how to read a chord chart, but they learn the history and legacy of America’s music timeline, dating back to the Civil War!

Please email or with any questions.

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There are a number of resources available to guide parents and educators of gifted children and adolescents. Below, please find a listing of university offerings, organizations, summer programming models, and resources to access.

Schoolwide Enrichment Model - Renzulli Center for Creativity, Gifted Education & Talent Development (UConn)

Organizations to connect with - CT Association for the Gifted (CAG)

National Association for the Gifted (NAGC)

Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth; summer programming (CTY)

Hoagies Gifted Education Page

Prufrock Press - Books and professional resources

Creative Learning Press - print resources for students & parents

Great Books Summer Programming-Amherst & Haverford College



6th Grade Spanish students focused on how they like to spend their free time. They talked about the many hobbies they like (or don't like!) to do, using "me/te/le gusta" with activity verbs. They practiced asking others and responding to the questions "¿Qué te gusta hacer/comer/beber?" (What do you like to do/eat/drink?), incorporating various details in their writing and speaking.

7th Grade Spanish students are learning to describe family members and others. In addition to adding many new adjectives to their knowledge base, they are focusing a bit more on form, incorporating adjective agreement with their descriptions, and learning all the different forms of the verb SER (to be) and TENER (to have).

8th Grade Spanish students completed their clothing unit, which culminated with a fun fashion show, allowing students to describe each others' outfits and convince the audience why they, too, need to go out and buy the clothing! We also began our "Vamos al Restaurante" (Let's go to the Restaurant) unit.

To usher in Thanksgiving, 7th and 8th Spanish students created leaves for an "Árbol de Gracias" (Thankfulness Tree), writing about what/whom they give thanks for and why. They also read and drew a summary of a story in Spanish about turkeys who escape their intended fate just in time!


6th grade:

What do you like to do? Students have begun to express their likes and dislikes related to activities and food. They will soon be able to incorporate these elements into their previous learned vocabulary related to introductions.

7th grade:

Délicieux: Our food unit is well underway! Students have created restaurant or café menus and are now beginning conversational vocabulary of servers and customers.

Students have been assigned a cultural integration homework to try to incorporate some of what they have learned and apply it outside of the classroom. Your support is needed for this!

Au cafe: Unit culural homework

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8th grade:

How would you like to move to a château in France? Students are currently exploring real estate in France and will be able to identify rooms, types of homes, location of property, and floor plans. At the end of this unit, students will become real estate agents as they try to “sell” their designed home!

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6th Students are completing Greeting units. 7th graders are completing the Time unit and starting the Family unit! 8th graders are completing the Occupation unit and starting the sports unit. In November, we made our classroom turkey! All three grades write a turkey thank you letter. Please check with your child how to say thank you and turkey in Chinese! 8th graders create a city with occupation! So proud of them! They also learn how to type in Chinese. We also learn how to sing Chinese songs to celebrate winter and learn how to say Thank you! For activities, we played matching game, online book reading, boardgame, duck duck goose (with occupation 8th, with greeting sentences 6th), sing Chinese songs, bingo game, created dice with Pinyin, classroom big essay (each student wrote a sentence for the story), Turkey letter, Would you rather?, Simon says, Guess who, in class. Thank you for all the email, notes, and parents conference, for all parents’ support! Happy winter!



Grade 6:

Grade 6 students completed their first unit on Launching Geography Tools and are now well into a new unit about India. Students began the unit by mapping India and its neighbors. Then, students recently completed posters outlining some of the key geographical features in India. Students presented their posters to the class so they could all learn about some of the most interesting features of India’s geography like the Deccan Plateau, the Himalaya Mountains, and the Thar Desert.

To the left is a poster about the Eastern and Western Ghats in Southern India. Students wrote a short summary about the physical feature, included a few key facts about it, and identified where the physical feature is located on a map of India. They then presented their findings to the class!


For the past month, students have been hard at work exploring the concept of a regional climate, and all the factors that affect regional climates. All students completed a research based project to explore a weather topic of their choice. Students made models, slideshows, board games and demonstrations to teach their classmates about their chosen topic. Students were very proud of their work, and excited to share! In December, students will extend these learnings to explore global climates and how climate changes. They will look at winds and warm or cold fronts, and see how these factors affect their everyday lives.
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In December, students will be expanding their ratio and rate learning to include the idea of percentages. Familiar strategies such as tape diagrams, double number lines and ratio tables will help students to make connections between the concepts. Students will be able to see real world applications of their learning by using current store sales and flyers to find discounts on items. When you are shopping, in stores or online, ask your student to help you find discounts by finding simple percentages of prices. They will also be able to help find the best deal at the grocery store by comparing different prices and quantities of items!

Unit 3 Resources for families

Grade 6 Accelerated

Students are continuing their unit on fractions and decimals in the month of December. Students have been dividing by fractions with the use of tape diagrams. Now that students have a solid understanding of how to show division of fractions visually, they have started making the connection to why multiplying by the divisor’s reciprocal is a quicker strategy. Ask your child to explain why this “shortcut” works! Students will have an assessment on dividing fractions this week and will then move into decimal operations. It is imperative that students know their math facts in order to be successful in this unit and all future units. Please make sure to practice multiplication and division facts at home with your child to ensure they can recall them without the use of a calculator.

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Sixth graders have finished revising and sharing their suspense stories using techniques that we noticed in our mentor texts.

Using new vocabulary words, students practiced finding the meaning of words in the context of what they read.We practiced using four different strategies - synonyms, antonyms, explanation and examples.

We have started to practice discussion techniques and strategies to use in our upcoming book clubs. Book clubs will focus on character analysis and theme.

Students participated in a variety of reading and writing activities honoring our veterans.



Seventh grade students recently wrapped up their introductory unit on Geography Tools and the USA with lessons comparing various forms of government and economic systems. To demonstrate their understanding of authoritarian governments and practice research and writing skills, students wrote advice columns from the point of view of famous world dictators. Our next unit of study is Latin America. Students will begin the unit with an overview of the region’s geography and a research project on a country of their choice.

Students also learned about Veterans Day in November, and created a vocabulary word wall to thank our veterans. Below are images of 7th grade student learning about Veterans Day.

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In December, we continue our Chemistry Unit. Students will use their understanding of atoms and their characteristics to explain reactions such as combustion, photosynthesis and cellular respiration that are a part of their everyday lives. Students will use models to explain how the total number of atoms does not change in a reaction, demonstrating that mass is conserved.


Grade 7

In December, students are building on their knowledge of proportional relationships that they built in unit 3 and learning how proportional relationships with percentages work. In this unit, students will use ratios, scale factors, unit rates (also called constants of proportionality) and proportional relationships to solve multi-step, real world problems that involve fractions and percentages. They’re learning about percent increase, percent decrease, percent error, and measurement error using number line diagrams, tables, and equations. By the end of the unit, they should be able to use their skills to reason about situations involving sales tax, tips, markdowns, sales commissions, interest, and depreciation. This is a great time to ask your student some real world questions about sales, tax, tips, etc!

Unit 4 Resources for families

Grade 7 Accelerated

In December, our accelerated students are wrapping up their work on Proportional relationships. They’ll have their unit test this week, covering proportional tables, equations, and graphs, and some circle relationships, including circumference and area. In the rest of December we’ll be moving on to start our unit on rational numbers. In this unit, we’ll cover positive and negative numbers, ordering rational numbers, operations with positive and negative numbers, and absolute value. Then we’ll apply those baseline concepts to real world scenarios, such as changing temperatures, elevations, deposits and withdrawals, debts, position, direction, speed and velocity, percent change, and graphs on the coordinate plane.


Students in grade 7 are continuing to work with short stories, poems, and novels in unit 2. Students are exploring literary devices in fiction through written responses, group discussions, and short assessments. We, as teachers, encourage students to continue this discovery of literary devices in fiction at home by reading independently. Students should strive to read for 15 minutes every night during the school week.

As a supplement to our work with fiction, we are learning new vocabulary words, and breaking down sentence structures.This foundational work will help students expand their skills in writing.

In unit 3, we will explore informational texts by researching real-life unsolved mysteries. Students will research, read, and write within the informational genre.

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Eighth grade students have spent the past month learning about the creation of the Constitution, how the Constitution works, and the Bill of Rights. Students are currently preparing for a mini-presentation about part of the Constitution and a deeper exploration of the First Amendment’s Freedom of Speech for a debate or discussion in class. After that, we’ll study Jeffersonian Democracy and Westward Expansion in Unit 4.

For Veterans Day, students in Eighth Grade also learned about the history of Veterans Day as a holiday to celebrate the end of the Great War in 1918 and the current shortages and care issues that the nine million veterans who need long-term medical care face when filing claims and seeking help through the Veterans Administration system.

Below are some example cartoons that students created to describe George Washington’s cabinet and his important contributions to protecting the Freedom of Religion in the United States.


In December, 8th grade students will continue their unit on Celestial Motion and the Physics and the Mechanics of the Solar System. We will investigate the lost art of celestial navigation, the laws of planetary motion, and the effects of gravitational and magnetic forces on the Earth. Interactive models highlighting the relationships between the sun, moon and earth will enhance our knowledge of lunar and solar patterns. Students will have continued opportunities to stargaze using navigational principles and an understanding of their location based on celestial objects.


Grade 8

In December, students are learning to understand and use the terms “rate of change,” “linear relationship,” and “vertical intercept.” Students are deepening their understanding of slope, and recognize connections among rate of change, slope, and constant of proportionality, and between linear and proportional relationships. Students are also learning to understand that lines with the same slope are translations of each other. Students will represent linear relationships with tables, equations, and graphs that include lines with negative slopes or vertical intercepts, and horizontal and vertical lines. Unit 3 Resources for families


In December the students are still working within our second unit which is on Linear Equations, Inequalities, and Systems. We are finishing up working with solving solutions to equations and will be headed into working with inequalities. When working with inequalities the students are going to be using similar knowledge to what we had been doing which was working with equations. We are still emphasizing that we need to be showing our work when working with equations because when we move into working with inequalities we are going to be working with more complex problems.


With book club titles in hand, eighth graders are practicing the art of creating thoughtful text based questions to stimulate engaging small group discussions. Please ask your eighth graders about their book titles and club experience at home! You should also see them reading quite a bit using the structured book chunking calendar designed in class!

Along the way, students will navigate a variety of analytical response questions that push them to take the elements in their book beyond the text and into real world applications. Students will use a combination of their classroom journals and Google Classroom for these responses.

As always, eighth graders continue to practice vocabulary acquisition and word relationships. Currently, they are wrapping up a mini warm up week on analogies.

Upon the conclusion of book clubs, groups will be welcomed to choose a final project from a variety of options to share their understanding and opinions of their club’s read.



Adventure Club is up and Running and still looking for a few more Adventurous Members!

Adventure Club has begun! In our first couple of meetings we worked on getting to know each other and played some fun games such as “Jump In, Jump Out, Bucket Ball and Geometric Shapes. Each activity challenged students to come out of their comfort zones and build trust with each other. We could still use a few more members! We meet every other Tuesday. Our December meeting dates are December 7 and 21 from 2:30-3:30.

Permission slips are available in the 7th and 8th grade hall, in the office or here.
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We will have an at school meeting on December 2 from 2:30-3:15 to work on our scrapbook.


FishKids meets on Thursdays, starting in room 66, from 2:30 to 3:30. In December we will set up the nursery for the eggs.


Science Club meets on Tuesdays in room 66 from 2:30 to 3:30. Activities are flexible, depending on the interests of members and the materials we have available. In November, we harvested vegetables from the garden and created Skittle rainbows. New members are welcome.


We have been meeting on the 3rd and 4th Wednesday of every month since October. We are currently at 24 members, but encourage anyone who would like to join to grab a permission slip outside of the Art Room!


The members of the Renaissance Club are working hard after school to plan activities that create a positive impact to benefit our students, staff and local communities.

Please consider helping your student participate in one or all of our events during the busy month of December. We appreciate your support!

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