MS Head's Blog
In the Middle of It All
Middle School Musings by Trevor O’Driscoll, Bancroft's Head of Middle School
Most weeks, MS Head Trevor O’Driscoll writes a short note to parents and faculty about middle school, education, parenting, and other topics relevant to our community. We share these Middle School Musings here for the benefit and enjoyment of all who are interested. Read recent entries, browse the archives, and delight in Mr. O’Driscoll’s take on our Middle School and the amazing people who inhabit it.
What's Bubbling in Our Learning Lab
I was struck by how many interesting things are going on in the halls of the Middle School these days, and I thought I’d share some snapshots of the happenings. This by-no-means-exhaustive list demonstrates engaging, student-centered work that is reflective of our mission and the Learning Lab Method (LLM) approach.
- Students in Grade 6, after learning about Eastern and Western artists including Hokusai and Durer and their varied methods of printing, as well as learning about Gutenberg's movable type printing press, are creating/carving their own woodblock prints.
- Seventh grade English students are writing professional letters to Cecilia Galante, author of The Patron Saint of Butterflies, a novel the class recently read. They will soon Skype with the author. Additionally, students are crafting 15-second Vocabulary Videos for the New York Times vocabulary contest.
- Our Good Reads book club recently Skyped with National Book Award winner Eliot Schrefer after reading his book Endangered about the bonobos of Nigeria.
- After recent and impressive competition results, our Middle School MathCounts Team is in the running for a wild card slot at the state competition at Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston on Saturday, March 5. Three of our seven competitors are going on to the individual competition at states.
- Eighth graders are deep into their arts electives, which include the following course options: Ukulele, Drumming, Drawing/Painting, Bookmaking, Handbells, Tech Theatre, and Improvisation.
- In a mash-up of their English and history studies, the Grade 7 HGP class is investigating the concept of an "ideal" society by contrasting The Giver, a dystopian novel about a controlled society, with the Framers' experiences at the Constitutional Convention. Using the ideas and principles that they learn, they will design their own ideal societies, presenting in teams to a panel of teachers and peers who will vote on the society in which they would most like to live.
- An eighth grade advisory recently practiced guided meditation. It’s not unheard of for students to ask for permission to go meditate.
- French students recently participated in a proficiency-based assessment where they took on the roles of waiter and diner, communicating in the target language, sans notes.
- After collaborating on scripts via iPads, sixth graders produced NPR-style radio broadcasts and reported "live from the battlefield" in connection with their 19th century American studies. Students also wrote reviews of classmates’ broadcasts.
- Seventh grade science students have begun their science fair projects, but their excitement and work is not contained to their science classroom alone. A number of students are using their time in Project-Builder's Club to work on projects including: a baseball batting device, a gas collection and measuring apparatus, and a wind tunnel/airfoil testing machine.
- In the discussion stage is a Middle/Upper cross-division plan to create an Electric Car Project.
- Eighth graders were busy wrapping up their big mid-year assessment in English by creating portfolios of their work. You can see all the requirements here, but of particular interest may be the creative writing component for which students had five options:
- Choose one of the zodiac signs (Taurus, Pisces, Aquarius, etc.) and research what that sign means. Then, choose a character that could fit this zodiac sign and explain how/why.
- Write a eulogy (a speech given at a funeral) in honor of a character who has died. Make sure it is clear which character is giving the eulogy!
- Create a scene using narration and dialogue in which characters from two or more texts meet and interact with each other in some interesting way.
- Create a 15-20 line ‘found poem’ using lines from two or more texts. You must cite each of the lines so your readers know which texts they are from!
- Pretend you are the author of one of our texts, but the Bancroft administration is threatening to ban your work at school because of “inappropriate content” or “adult themes.” Write a formal, one-page letter to Mr. Cassidy explaining why your text should not be banned at Bancroft. Sample letter starter: “Dear Mr. Cassidy, It has come to my attention that…”
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