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BIS October 2019 Newsletter

  • 6th Grade Advanced ELA   

    The 6th graders are halfway through their first novel of the year, The Graveyard Book; a dark and delightful gothic fantasy by Neil Gaiman.  The students typically read 60 pages for homework each week, and return to class ready to discuss and write about key elements of the novel.  In addition, everyone has been working diligently on the monthly writing assignment, to be written and shared through our Google Classroom . At the end of October, we will be conducting our 9th Annual Creepy Story Contest! The 6th graders will be reading a packet of 7th grade stories, and voting for their favorites.  The 7th graders will be judging the 6th grade entries. It is so exciting and motivating for our young writers to read, critique, and learn from the work of other students!

    7th Grade Advanced ELA

    Our 7th graders have been reading, writing about, and enthusiastically discussing various classic short stories, such as The Lottery by Shirley Jackson, as well as ten modern stories from a new anthology, Flying Lessons. “Whether it is basketball dreams, family fiascos, first crushes, or new neighborhoods, this bold short story collection—written by some of the best children’s authors including Kwame Alexander, Meg Medina, Jacqueline Woodson, and many more and published in partnership with We Need Diverse Books—celebrates the uniqueness and universality in all of us.” - Ellen Oh, Editor.  Additionally, these eager young writers have been thoughtfully crafting their own chilling short stories for entry in the 2019 Creepy Story Contest. I am excited to see the increased complexity and sophistication in their writing compared with the stories that they wrote last year! ONE MORE THING...The childrens’ books that our Advanced ELA students created at the end of 6th grade are going on tour! These gorgeous and clever little books will be on display throughout the month of November at the Sturgis Library in Barnstable Village. All of the kids who visit Sturgis are sure to enjoy reading a book that was written and illustrated by a fellow Barnstable kid! Please try to make a special visit to Sturgis Library to see our awesome display of handmade children’s books! Tell your friends!

    6th and 7th Grade Future Problem Solving International  

    This year we have a very large number of 6th graders who have signed on to learn the basics of a very complex and challenging component of the FPS Program, Global Issues Problem Solving. GIPS is a competitive component of Future Problem Solving which can be accomplished as a team (up to 4) or individual activity in which participants research a series of global topics and learn a six-step creative problem solving process.  

    We are excited to have six competitive 7th grade FPS teams as well as two individual competitors here at BIS.  All FPS participants, in Barnstable and throughout the world, have begun the year with a “practice problem,” which focuses on the first topic of the FPS season: International Travel.  

    All teams have been learning or refining their understanding of the first three steps of the problem solving process: 

    1. Identify 16 “challenges” the team recognizes within the Future Scene. 2. Select an Underlying Problem. Which of the 16 challenges is most solvable? 3. Produce 16 solution ideas for the one Underlying Problem. 

    The 7th grade teams are fully competitive this year; and they will be hard at work measuring their critical and creative thinking skills against other middle school FPS teams from around Massachusetts. The first practice problem competition date is set for October 17. 

    Go Barnstable!


    6th Grade Advanced Math

    We start the year learning about numbers & their inverses.  Our 6th graders will be having “opposite day” every day as they learn about inverses, such as squares and square roots, additive inverses (positive and negative numbers) and multiplicative inverses (reciprocals). They were tasked with finding patterns in the first 100 perfect squares and learned a formula to find the square of any number: n2 + 2n +1.  Next students will use what they learned about inverses to solve one-, two- and multi-step equations. 

    7th Grade Advanced Math

    Our first unit this year is titled Real & Imaginary Numbers, during which our 7th-graderAdvanced Math students will learn that there is a whole number system containing numbers that aren’t real!  They will read about Carl Friedrich Gauss, a famous number theorist and considered one of the top 3 mathematicians of all time. Gauss did much work with polynomials and encountered these imaginary numbers in his work.  He hated that name though, and proposed that they be called “complex” numbers, or “lateral” numbers instead, and he created a third axis on the Cartesian Coordinate Plane called the lateral plane just for these numbers. In order to better understand imaginary numbers, students will be learning about square roots, and the other roots that numbers can have.  In our work with radicals, students will learn their properties and simplify them. They will be using the quadratic formula to find the roots of a quadratic equation, and it will be here they will understand the difficulties that mathematicians had with imaginary numbers before they fully embraced them as having an important place in mathematics.  

    6th Grade STEM

    6th Grade STEM students have stated the year learning about experimental design.  Students have used the Scientific Method to test “The 5-Second Rule” (they may never eat food off the ground again!)  Students then designed their own experiment involving bacterial growth following the steps of the scientific method. Next students will practice their graphing skills and learn how to extrapolate data during our “Barbie Bungee Jump” lab.  I’m very excited to open our classroom to all 6th-graders in BIS during STEM Week (Oct 21-25). Our Gateway students along with all of their peers, will be extracting DNA from a strawberry. So cool! Finally, students will explore how Epidemiologists study bacteria and viruses to learn about diseases and how to cure or prevent them, and complete a virtual reality tour of a Microbiome Scientist’s laboratory.  

    7th Grade STEM

    7th Grade STEM Students are learning about DNA, specifically its structure and how it codes for amino acids that are the building blocks of proteins.   Students will be extracting their own DNA (don’t worry I won’t be taking any blood; they will be swishing salt water in their mouths) and learning how gel electrophoresis can create a DNA fingerprint.  Finally, students will explore how DNA extraction and fingerprinting are used by Forensic Scientists. During STEM week (Oct 21 - 25), 7th grade STEM students will be assisting as all 6th Graders at BIS will be invited into our classroom to extract DNA from a strawberry.  As they completed this lab as 6th graders, their expertise will be very helpful!