BIS February 2020 Newsletter
6th Grade Advanced ELA
The 6th graders have finished reading their second novel of the year, The London Eye Mystery, by Siobhan Dowd. The students and I enjoyed vibrant discussion regarding the novel’s unique setting, intricate plot twists, and various themes; including the strengths and weaknesses of a fascinating character who has Asperger's Syndrome. We decided that this character’s “disability” was in fact a “capability.” because his syndrome was actually the very reason that he was such a capable thinker and effective problem solver. Our latest creative writing prompt was based on a painting called, The Wise Children, by British artist Frances Turner. The 6th grade writers invented some very compelling stories; some of which involved telepathy, time travel, and a case of mistaken identity. In the coming weeks, all ELA Gateway students will be writing an original peace poem, and we will be entering these poems in the 25th Annual Voices of Peace Poetry Contest, hosted by the Cape Cod Veterans For Peace. The winners will be selected in 14 categories, grades K-12, and an adult division. There will be a public gathering at South Congregational Church in Centerville on May 2, where the winners will be invited to read their poems.
7th Grade Advanced ELA
The 7th graders are in the midst of reading, analyzing, and discussing The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. The story centers around Liesel, a girl growing up in Germany during World War II. She steals books, learns to read, and ultimately finds comfort and power in her developing mastery of words. This stunning tale of adolescence is narrated in a completely surprising and unique manner, and it is told in a poetic format that is both gorgeous and devastating to the reader. As we read the novel, we will also be researching and discussing many of the disturbing events that occured during this horrific time in human history. In a few weeks, the students will be creating a final project that reflects their own personal analyses and connections to the novel in a written and/or artistic format.
6th Grade FPS
The 6th grade problem solvers have been hard at work learning and applying the 6 step FPS process to a new topic, Sleep Patterns/Disorders. Each member of these non-competitive teams has been doing his/her part in researching this complex topic, and defining and solving an Underlying Problem that addresses the very serious global issues surrounding the chronic lack of sleep that many humans are suffering from in 2020. I encourage you to have a discussion with your Future Problem Solver about the challenges and solutions that his/her team have been discussing and then writing in the proper FPS format.
7th Grade FPS
Our competitive 7th grade problem solving teams, along with our 8th - 12th grade competition teams, have been hard at work gearing up to participate in the FPS International Qualifying Problem, based on the topic of Gamification. Our problem solvers have spent weeks researching and becoming “experts” on this unique topic, and they were totally ready to compete on January 30th! Now we are anxiously awaiting the results from the Massachusetts FPS evaluators, and hopefully, we will be sending some Barnstable FPS teams to the next level of competition in April! The Massachusetts State Bowl will take place on Saturday, April 4th at Clark University in Worcester.
6th Grade Advanced Math
6th grade Advanced Math students are very proud to say that they can solve multi-step equations and literal equations after a lot of hard work over the first half of the year. Students should be finishing up their first writing assignment, “What I Learned in this Unit”. They are finding writing using higher order thinking to be difficult, but I know with practice they will improve! This week we are starting the next unit, MATH: The Language of Science, during which they will learn scientific notation and dimensional analysis. This unit will help students make the connection between math and science.
7th Grade Advanced Math
7th grade Advanced Math students have nearly completed the Number Theory unit, by learning about the Fibonacci Sequence and Phi/The Golden Ratio, and their connections to nature, art and mathematics. They will complete a “Human Body Proportions” project, to see if they can find Phi in the proportions of their own bodies. Coming next, students will explore the secrets of Pascal’s Triangle.
6th Grade STEM
6th Grade STEM students have moved into the Cells unit. Students will be learning about the structures that make up the cell membrane, how water and nutrients move into and out of the cell by passive and active transport, and why drinking salt water can make you sick (or even kill you). After break they will construct a model of the cell membrane. Students last year reported this was their favorite project! Students have had a few opportunities to use higher order thinking to answer the prompt, “What I Learned in this Unit”. They are finding writing using higher order thinking to be difficult, but I know with practice they will improve!
7th Grade STEM
7th grade STEM students have discovered their very first paradox while exploring the question “can you bound an infinite curve?” They have found that as the Koch curve grows in its iterations, the perimeter increases (to infinity presumably) but its area is finite. Mind. Blown. This required quite a bit of math, but I reminded them that the “m” in STEM stands for mathematics! They have been drawing their own fractals using precision and mathematical tools, to be judged by the 6th Grade STEM students. Our next unit is Physical Science, during which students will learn about density, pH and energy. We will start next week by playing with Shrinky Dinks! These will be used to demonstrate the Law of Conservation of Mass.