Happy Dr. King Day! On our National Day of Service today, I hope that you are able to find a way to do good for another person!
Calendar Notes: We have an unremarkable week at STM this week, finally. What we do have on the calendar this week are blessings of traditional Catholic school: 6th Grade has Confessions on Wednesday morning, and we will say a decade of the Rosary together from a promise in a "spiritual bouquet" we pledged to do together. On Friday, we will not attend Mass at 10am as a school but the middle school will be attending the 9am Bishop's Mass for Life being held in the Cathedral.
Homeroom Class Notes: The Rm. 9 homeroom parents included links to sign up for Mid Year Conferences (to make up for being out during the Fall Conferences) and the Scholastic Book Fair. On Friday, the blue conduct interim will go home with your student's green sheet. Please sign and return.(Can you believe that this signals the halfway point of the school year? Crazy!) Also, thank you so much for the gift cards for the Auction. These will be included in raffle baskets and prizes, and the students enjoyed the treat of a dress down day. The Auction Committee appreciates our generosity!
Academic Class Notes: Thank you for your assistance in helping to organize your students to turn in their Asynchronous Work. It's difficult to chase assignments down if they're not turned in on time, so we appreciate your intervention as needed.
In 6th grade LA, we have finished our "Windows on our World" descriptive adjective projects and I will take some photos of our finished work! Since we have finished with Adjectives in grammar, we are moving onto Verbs. This is a longer and more difficult unit, so I will plan to break the assessments up into four sections instead of one or two longer tests, similar to assessing Pronouns or Adjectives. Concurrently, we will also study Persuasive Writing through advertising language and advertisements. This is a fun and engaging unit that the students enjoy. We will also repeat the Developmental Spelling Assessment for midyear, and renew our efforts in Word Study.
In the 6th grade Reading classes (Finches, Bluebirds, and Kestrels) we are all reading the Young Readers Edition of Sam Kean's The Disappearing Spoon. Students are either halfway finished or finished with reading the book independently, in or outside of class time, and we have been engaging in a lot of ways to learn how to read nonfiction. This week we'll be reading a few articles about mining, and learning how to write an outline. (From Amazon: A young readers edition of the New York Times bestseller The Disappearing Spoon, chronicling the extraordinary stories behind one of the greatest scientific tools in existence: the periodic table. Why did Gandhi hate iodine (I, 53)? How did radium (Ra, 88) nearly ruin Marie Curie's reputation? And why did tellurium (Te, 52) lead to the most bizarre gold rush in history? The periodic table is a crowning scientific achievement, but it's also a treasure trove of adventure, greed, betrayal, and obsession. The fascinating tales in The Disappearing Spoon follow elements on the table as they play out their parts in human history, finance, mythology, conflict, the arts, medicine, and the lives of the (frequently) mad scientists who discovered them. Adapted for a middle grade audience, the young readers edition of The Disappearing Spoon offers the material in a simple, easy-to-follow format, with approximately 20 line drawings and sidebars throughout. Students, teachers, and burgeoning science buffs will love learning about the history behind the chemistry.
In the C. S. Lewis group for 7th Grade Reading, our daily schedule is 20 minutes of our read-aloud, Ask Me No Questions, by Marina Budhos (From Amazon: A Muslim immigrant teen struggles to hold her family together in the wake of 9/11 in this poignant novel from acclaimed author Marina Budhos.
"You forget. You forget you don’t really exist here, that this isn’t your home.
Since emigrating from Bangladesh, fourteen-year-old Nadira and her family have been living in New York City on expired visas, hoping to realize their dream of becoming legal US citizens. But after 9/11, everything changes. Suddenly being Muslim means you are dangerous, a suspected terrorist.
When Nadira’s father is arrested and detained at the US-Canada border, Nadira and her older sister, Aisha, are told to carry on as if everything is the same. The teachers at Flushing High don’t ask any questions, but Aisha falls apart. Nothing matters to her anymore—not even college. It’s up to Nadira to be the strong one and bring her family back together again."
After I read the read-aloud and we discuss the story, it is time to read in our independent reading novels. I'm including a few summaries here, so that you can check with your student about his/her reading:
Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan (From Amazon: Esperanza thought she'd always live a privileged life on her family's ranch in Mexico. She'd always have fancy dresses, a beautiful home filled with servants, and Mama, Papa, and Abuelita to care for her. But a sudden tragedy forces Esperanza and Mama to flee to California and settle in a Mexican farm labor camp. Esperanza isn't ready for the hard work, financial struggles brought on by the Great Depression, or lack of acceptance she now faces. When Mama gets sick and a strike for better working conditions threatens to uproot their new life, Esperanza must find a way to rise above her difficult circumstances-because Mama's life, and her own, depend on it.
Where Stars are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson. (From Amazon: A National Book Award Finalist, this remarkable graphic novel is about growing up in a refugee camp, as told by a former Somali refugee. Omar and his younger brother, Hassan, have spent most of their lives in Dadaab, a refugee camp in Kenya. Life is hard there: never enough food, achingly dull, and without access to the medical care Omar knows his nonverbal brother needs. So when Omar has the opportunity to go to school, he knows it might be a chance to change their future . . . but it would also mean leaving his brother, the only family member he has left, every day. Heartbreak, hope, and gentle humor exist together in this graphic novel about a childhood spent waiting, and a young man who is able to create a sense of family and home in the most difficult of settings. It's an intimate, important, unforgettable look at the day-to-day life of a refugee, as told to New York Times Bestselling author/artist Victoria Jamieson by Omar Mohamed, the Somali man who lived the story.)
The Year of Impossible Goodbyes, by Sook Nyul Choi. (From Amazon: It is 1945, and courageous ten-year-old Sookan and her family must endure the cruelties of the Japanese military occupying Korea. Police captain Narita does his best to destroy everything of value to the family, but he cannot break their spirit. Sookan's father is with the resistance movement in Manchuria and her older brothers have been sent away to labor camps. Her mother is forced to supervise a sock factory and Sookan herself must wear a uniform and attend a Japanese school. Then the war ends. Out come the colorful Korean silks and bags of white rice. But Communist Russian troops have taken control of North Korea and once again the family is suppressed. Sookan and her family know their only hope for freedom lies in a dangerous escape to American-controlled South Korea.Here is the incredible story of one family's love for each other and their determination to risk everything to find freedom.)
Other Words for Home
by Jasmine Warga (From Amazon:
New York Times bestseller and Newbery Honor Book! A gorgeously written, hopeful middle grade novel in verse about a young girl who must leave Syria to move to the United States, perfect for fans of Jason Reynolds and Aisha Saeed. Jude never thought she’d be leaving her beloved older brother and father behind, all the way across the ocean in Syria. But when things in her hometown start becoming volatile, Jude and her mother are sent to live in Cincinnati with relatives. At first, everything in America seems too fast and too loud. The American movies that Jude has always loved haven’t quite prepared her for starting school in the US—and her new label of “Middle Eastern,” an identity she’s never known before. But this life also brings unexpected surprises—there are new friends, a whole new family, and a school musical that Jude might just try out for. Maybe America, too, is a place where Jude can be seen as she really is. This lyrical, life-affirming story is about losing and finding home and, most importantly, finding yourself.
and Home of the Brave by Katherine Applegate. (From Amazon: Bestselling author Katherine Applegate presents Home of the Brave, a beautifully wrought middle grade novel about an immigrant's journey from hardship to hope.
Kek comes from Africa. In America he sees snow for the first time, and feels its sting. He's never walked on ice, and he falls. He wonders if the people in this new place will be like the winter – cold and unkind.
In Africa, Kek lived with his mother, father, and brother. But only he and his mother have survived, and now she's missing. Kek is on his own. Slowly, he makes friends: a girl who is in foster care; an old woman who owns a rundown farm, and a cow whose name means "family" in Kek's native language. As Kek awaits word of his mother's fate, he weathers the tough Minnesota winter by finding warmth in his new friendships, strength in his memories, and belief in his new country. Home of the Brave is a 2008 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.
The students are also working on a project to learn more about immigration in other countries in order to build background knowledge. We will finish this unit by mid-February.