Academic Stretch 7th Grade


Debate Prep is INTENSE!

The Stretch room is buzzing with conversations! Had you been a fly on the wall in Mrs. Flavin’s language arts room this week, when both of our classes converged for a discussion on their energy articles, you may have been astounded & rather proud. You would’ve heard comments like… “Whenever I walk into a warm classroom now or take my long shower, I wonder how much Natural Gas was used …..I think about how it was probably provided by BP & came to us through a pipe down the Mississippi…. extracted by fracking….Every time I look at a light bulb, I think of how it is powered by coal & I wonder how much carbon dioxide was released into the atmosphere... What other forms of renewable energy can China use as reliably & efficiently as coal? How do we start every new construction project by installing geothermal?" As students work through their debate preparations they are pondering many high-level questions & pondering the complexities related to their energy source & the impact on the environment.

Here are the Debate Due Dates for your information. All other materials are posted in your son or daughter’s Stretch Google Classroom. My expectation is that students check it each night before class. Mrs. Flavin (Compacted Challenge Language Arts) & I have teamed together to help the kiddos with their Debate prep. She will focus more on fine tuning the writing, crafting statements for the best impact along with proper citing of sources in MLA format. I will focus on sharpening the thinking, debate prep & research skills to gather evidence. We invite you to come join us for the Debate. It will be a grand affair!

How Today's Choices Affect Tomorrow's Opportunities

Right before our Thanksgiving break, Miss Kottkamp spent the entire day giving an Interactive Presentation with each class. She is a junior at SIUE majoring in Biology with a secondary education focus, previously Ecology. Miss Kottkamp had the marvelous opportunity to attend the Illinois Math & Science Academy, a boarding school for the gifted her last years of high school. Students had many questions about preparing for college, what it takes to do well and how even small choices in middle school impact their future.

Miss Kottamp share a wealth of resources with our class that we can use for the Debates.

Living with Intensity!

At our last Class Campfire students took an informal survey to reveal their possible Overexcitabilities (Dabrowski) & then learned all about them. We shared our unique challenges to gain a better understanding of ourselves & others. I’ve noticed that many of the Stretchers this year have one or more of Dabrowski’s Overexcitabilities. I’m sharing it with you so that you & your child may have many more conversations. Who knows, you may discover you have an Overexcitability, too! I have several books that you are welcome to borrow. Yet another resource is the EGRC Newsletter. I just finished The Smart Teens’ Guide to Living with Intensity by Lisa Rivero; it gave many practical tips. Thanks again to those families that provide small snacks on these Fridays!

REVISING Assignments

Thank you for continuing to check Infinite Campus for late or missing work in all subjects. Unfortunately, I have no access to my students’ grades due to a technical glitch; I’m certain the problem will be resolved very soon so that I may update grades. I’ve told the students that revised assignments are the lowest priority as their best effort should have been given the first time around. All grades will be updated before the end of the semester. The last opportunity to turn in any revised work from this quarter is due next Wednesday, Dec. 16. If you have specific questions, please do not hesitate to contact me for clarification.

The end of this semester is rapidly approaching & the final grades may take a few students by surprise. I’ve had many conversations with the kiddos about the importance of doing well in their core classes especially CCLA. Even though we’ve had class discussions on “Hitting the Academic Wall”, procrastination, underachieving, perfectionism, asynchronous development & some are still bewildered by the challenge and haven’t figured out a strategy for successfully “stepping up their game”. As difficult as it is, middle school is a safe place for natural consequences such as a bad grade. Our kids don’t always make the connection between effort & good grades since they’ve skated along all these years on brain power alone. As crazy as it sounds, some kids really do not know how to study or to work hard at something; they have a poorly developed “work ethic”. As a parent myself, I know all too well how hard it is to watch your son or daughter struggle or make poor grades but struggle is a stepping stone for success-even for gifted kids. I highly recommend checking out this great website, Hoagies,it has a ton of resources. I found a blog that had a list of 40 terrific resources just this week.


If there is no struggle, there is no progress. - Frederick Douglass

Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle. - Napoleon Hill

Education comes from within; you get it by struggle and effort and thought. –N.H.

Do not handicap your children by making their lives easy. – Robert A Heinlein

Every child deserves an equal opportunity to struggle. – Mary Slade

ACT TESTING this Saturday!!

We’ve been talking through various sections of the test, what to expect & test taking strategies. I’ve told them NOT to study! It’s about problem solving, critical thinking & moving forward through the test. Sometimes they will just have to guess but that’s okay, too! A relaxing evening with plenty of sleep is the best way to prepare. I suggested they eat a healthy breakfast, take a snack containing protein, pencil, calculator & the all-important, test ticket. Arrive at least 15 minutes early! They must not be late or you'll be turned away forfeiting the cost of the test. Check out more ACT TEST PREP ideas!
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