Tuesday, September 19, 2017

September 20 Seminars

WES this Week: September 20, 2017

Here is a preview of what the faculty has planned for this week’s Wednesday Exploratory Seminars:

Grade Six:

·      Great Math Minds: This seminar is repeated this week for students who did not attend this WES two weeks ago. Sixth grade students get inside the minds of three amazing mathematicians: Pascal, Sierpinski, and Fibonacci.  Number patterns, tetrahedrons, collaborative triangles, and Fibonacci poems rule the day.  Students leave this seminar intrigued with the minds of these masters and inspired to embark on a mathematical journey of their own. Faculty: Janice Smith (math 6)

·      Technology Scavenger Hunt: Students get hands-on experience using their SMA Chromebooks and are introduced to the Academy’s extensive range of research resources and databases.  Using the structure of a science-based scavenger hunt, students learn appropriate ways to search the web, developing their technology skills along the way. Co-faculty: Geoff McVie (instructional technology) and Steve Mayfield (science 6)

·      Native American Storytelling: Throughout most of human history, storytelling was used to pass along a community’s culture and history.  In this seminar, students learn the art of oral history through the study of Native American stories, beginning with a focus on the Cherokee people. They explore story telling and examine the importance of masks in Native American ceremonies, leading them to express personal history orally with masks. Co-faculty: Andy Rodgers (social studies 6) and Celsa Rutan (world languages IA)

·      Six Room Poems:  Poetry is perhaps the most demanding form of creative writing.  Many writers struggle to convey depth and detail while maintaining brevity and form.  Working within the six-room poetry structure, students capture great detail by examining their subjects from multiple perspectives and senses.  Then they narrow their focus and refine their choice of image and words.  Writer’s block be gone! Faculty: Mark Garcia (language arts 6)


Grade Seven:
·      How Come Planet Earth? This interactive, team-based seminar allows students to discover the answers to frequently asked questions about planet Earth and the organisms that inhabit it.  Students work in competitive teams, using a glossary of scientific vocabulary and their powers of reasoning to devise answers that convince their peers that they know the facts.  After watching a short video clip of the correct response, teams will vote on which student explanation was closest to the truth. Faculty: JoAnn Cencula (science 7)

·      The Narrative Power of Country Music: Every country song tells a story with purpose and intention.  In this seminar students write lyrics for a country song based on their personal story.  They discover that with discipline and focus, the creative process yields a powerful narrative that connects listeners to a shared experience or emotion.  In addition to teaching writing, this seminar allows students to express all the wonders and angst of adolescence. Faculty: Terrye Easton (social studies 7)

·      More Than a Necklace: Students are introduced or reintroduced to the concept of meditation.  After experiencing a guided breathing meditation, participants will discuss how difficult it can be to reach a place of reflection and calmness in our current culture.  Students explore the use of mala beads and make connections to the use of beads and necklaces in other cultures and religions, including rosary beads in Catholicism.  They engage in written expression, devising a mantra and then writing a post-meditation reflection.
Faculty: Victoria Fernandez (language arts 7)

·      Ties that Bind – The History of Loretto and St. Mary’s Academy:  Students leave this seminar with a better understanding of the history of the Sisters of Loretto and the founding of St. Mary’s Academy.  They study the courage and tenacity of the Sisters and develop a richer understanding of how SMA is grounded in the Loretto values, assuming a role in the continuation of living a courageous and tenacious life.  The seminar allows students to mentally “time-travel”, as they review primary research documents and hear anecdotes shared by Regina Drey SL.  They have opportunities to represent their understanding by creating an illustrated timeline for display in the pods and by reenacting some of the fun and brave experiences of early Loretto leaders. Faculty: Christina Garcia (world languages IB)

·      Circles, Circles Everywhere?  This seminar explores the myth of the circle.  Everywhere we look we see shapes and call them circles or spheres.  But are they really circles?  What is the world’s roundest object and does a perfect circle exist in the real world?  Students react to this seminar with many “but what about” questions as they grapple with the nuances of circles, spheres, and ellipses.  Faculty: Melissa McQueen (math 7)

·      Building Emotional Awareness through Improvisational Theatre: This seminar is designed to help students develop emotional awareness and stress management skills through creative expression and group interaction.  Students will learn about improvisational theatre and use this acting method to become more aware of emotional regulation and verbal and nonverbal communication cues.  Improvisational theatre helps build individual risk-taking skills and provides a fun but structured opportunity to practice collaboration and foster community. Faculty: Cheri Buxman (visual arts)


Grade Eight:

·      Sherman Alexie’s Life and Works: This seminar complements the language arts classroom study of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.  Students read more of Alexie’s work, including his poetry, and learn about his life.  They create a written piece using Alexie’s techniques to discover the value of employing personal experience as an inspiration for artistic expression.  Co-Faculty: Anna Smith (language arts 8) and Joe Riehl (world issues 8)

·      Fibonacci in Nature: Students delve into the Fibonacci series, discovering how this sequence appears in nature.  They calculate numbers in the Fibonacci series and experiment with creating original numerical patterns.  Exploration of the pattern is accomplished through constructing an equiangular spiral and examining the Fibonacci patterns found in pinecones, sneezewort, pineapple, cauliflower, shells and crystals. This seminar ends with an inspiring glimpse at how these patterns and sequences appear in art, architecture, and music. Faculty: Kathy Rosborough (science 8)

·      Probability and Games of Chance: This seminar is the first in a series that examines the fairness of certain games, providing opportunities to predict results (theoretical probability), play the games, and calculate probabilities (experimental probability). Students define probability and explore the correspondence between Fermat and Pascal in 1654, gaining insight into the origins of probability as a field of study in mathematics. On a broader level, the seminar seeks to help students see that probability is at work in many situations outside the classroom setting. Co-Faculty: Michael Pattison (math 8) and Ana Fonseca (world languages II)


Monday, September 18, 2017

NPR Health - For Teens Knee-Deep in Negativity

Hello Friends, Students and Parents,

Kathryn McNamee sent this article to me and I am posting the link for you. Helping our adolescents find balance in their thinking and thus greater resiliency is a contribution to their health.

Mary K. Alvord, Ph.D., is a psychologist and director of Alvord, Baker & Associates, LLC, in Rockville, Md. She is the co-author of Conquer Negative Thinking for Teens: A Workbook to Break the Nine Thought Habits That Are Holding You Back, as well as the audio recording Relaxation and Self-Regulation Techniques for Children and Teens.


Reframing Thoughts Can Help

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

WES Highlights: September 6, 2017

WES Highlights: September 6, 2017

Here is what faculty planned for just a few of today’s Wednesday Exploratory Seminars and what students had to say after their experience:

·      Great Math Minds: Sixth grade students will get inside the minds of three amazing mathematicians: Pascal, Sierpinski, and Fibonacci.  Number patterns, tetrahedrons, collaborative triangles, and Fibonacci poems will rule the day.  Students will leave this seminar intrigued with the minds of these masters, and inspired to embark on a mathematical journey of their own.
Faculty: Janice Smith (math)

“We learned about patterns in math and I made a Pascal triangle.”

“This is the best class because we learned so much.  We learned so many patterns and shapes.”

“Instead of sitting at a desk we were building so much.  It made learning so much fun.”

·      Kill the Indian, Save the Man: Students will leave this seminar curiously confused by the intentional destruction of Native culture imposed though boarding school education.  Students will travel through six stations, including a Socratic seminar about the Dawes Act, an exploration of personal family trees, and the documentation of the negative impact of cultural assimilation.  Students will leave asking questions they never before imagined and having gained insights that will prepare them for their trip to the Cochiti Pueblo.
Co-Faculty: Terrye Easton (social studies) and Joe Riehl (world issues)

“There’s an amount of security you feel if other people are like you.  It’s difficult to face the isolation that being different creates.”

“Forcing others to change will impact their way of life.  I feel like an outcast when someone tries to change me.”

“Now I realize how hard it is when people have to assimilate and make so many changes so quickly.”

“Forcing others to change and become more like us makes them feel unaccepted, but also more resistant.  I respond to the pressures to be like others by trying even harder to be myself!”

·      Watercolor - Discovering a Sense of Place: Painting en plein air, students will learn to look closely and critically at the everyday details surrounding them on the St. Mary’s Academy campus.  Students will find awareness of overlooked beauty, becoming mindful and observant.

“I noticed that the world is a lot more colorful than I thought.”

“I noticed that the world is a lot more complicated than I thought.”

“When I looked really hard at that tree, I noticed so many different colors and details and I had never noticed that before.”

“When I looked really hard at the building I noticed there is so much texture that makes up brick.”

·      It’s Geo-Natural: Triangles in Nature:  This seminar will leave students amazed at the math that is hidden in nature.  This topic builds on students’ command of geometrical concepts and vocabulary.  After refining their skills with protractors and rulers, students will head outside. They will hone their ability to make scientific observations in the field and leave this seminar astounded at the math that is everywhere around us.
Co-Faculty: Kathy Rosborough (science) and Michael Pattison (math)

“It was cool to see all the different angles and triangles.  I had no idea that you can find triangles inside cucumbers.”

“I really know how to draw triangles perfectly now.  I didn’t know how to use the math tools very well before.”


Monday, September 4, 2017

Freshly Designed for 2017-18 Report Card

Freshly Designed Report Card 2017-2018



St. Mary’s Academy Middle School 2017-2018
Six-Week Progress Report
(Student’s Name)
(Student’s Grade)


Assessed Coursework:


Formative - Percent for learning expressed and graded on a daily basis, including but not limited to checkpoints, short written and oral quizzes, short labs, writing prompt responses, and contributions to interactive discussions.


Summative - Percent average for longer quizzes, projects, major labs, presentations of learning, and tests.


Assessed Learning Habits:


Engagement: Student arrives open to learning, stays on task, and productively contributes to his or her learning with an attitude of curiosity.


Persistence: Student responds to disequilibrium with determination by asking appropriate critical questions and seeking alternative approaches.


Organization - Student manages materials, time, and attention effectively and regularly meets due dates.


Metacognition: Student questions and considers how he or she learns, and is aware of his or her impact on the learning of others.


Respect: The student is considerate of others and respects space and materials.


Collaboration - The student regularly contributes to class activities through active listening and responsible engagement.


ND  Needs Development   AS  Approaches Expectations   ME  Meets Expectations

Optional Comment Field



LANGUAGE ARTS
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MATHEMATICS

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SCIENCE

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SOCIAL STUDIES

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WORLD LANGUAGE

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THEOLOGY
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Average Percent or Pass/Fail




ELECTIVE

Habits of Learning
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Progress
Average Percent or Pass/Fail





PHYSICAL EDUCATION or SPORT

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Coursework
Progress
Excellent, Good, Satisfactory, or
Needs Improvement




PERU or EL PASO COLLABORATIVE LEADERSHIP AND SERVICE
Or
LORETTO LEADERSHIP COUNCIL

Habits of Leadership
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Collaboration