Middle School News
As a teacher of literature, it concerns me when what is presented as news contains as much fiction as the novels I teach. To be fair, I’m under no assumptions that the world can be split into binaries as simple as “truth” and “lie.” Some of the most compelling works of literature intentionally blend the two (Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried). Similarly, many cable “news” programs, be they progressively-leaning (Upfront with Samantha Bee) or conservatively-slanted (Tucker Carlson Tonight), market themselves as more entertainment than reporting.
Amidst the deepening river of half-truths, alternative facts, truthiness, and arguments condensed to tweets, students need to be well-equipped to evaluate sources and analyze non-fiction.
A year of research by Grade 7 students culminated in the second-annual Creative Scholars Project museum and showcase on May 17, as students presented their work on social justice issues. Topics ranged from worldwide issues such as fair trade, child labor and religious bias to more national or local issues like the gender pay gap in professional hockey and illegal immigration.
The students chose topics they feel passionate about, says Grade 7 Dean Jin Lee. “They did research, and developed a question they wanted to explore,” Jin says. “They then produced an art piece to convey their message. They also came up with an action step to work toward solving the problem or problems they found.”
Alison wanted to explore a topic that she’s had some experience with. “As a girl in seventh grade, I haven’t experienced things like a gender wage gap, but I have lived with dress codes. I wanted to research ways that different dress codes impact girls versus boys,” she says. While Milton’s dress code is fairly lenient, Alison still created a proposal she feels will make it more gender-blind. She also found schools where girls have been shamed for popular styles that administrators claimed distracted boys, or where students have been unfairly prohibited from certain ethnic or cultural styles.
“It’s not to say that there shouldn’t be dress codes that keep people from wearing very inappropriate things, but there are dress codes that are sexist, racist and homophobic, and they shouldn’t be in schools,” Alison says.
Zander found inspiration for his project from an uncle who’s a public defender. He studied the cases of people who have been wrongfully convicted and imprisoned, and learned that inadequate counsel, mandatory sentencing rules and racial bias have all contributed to the problem. Zander found that wrongful convictions are a complicated issue to solve, but developed some action steps.
“I’m asking people to educate others about the issue of wrongful imprisonment and to support the national and state lawmakers who support increasing the number of public defenders, so their caseloads will be lighter and they can give cases better attention,” he says. “People can also support lawmakers who are trying to end mandatory sentences for crimes.”
Being a theater nerd, I often find myself breaking into song. If you listen closely some days, you can hear Glinda’s song echoing through the corridors of what has become my home—the Ware Hall home I share with the students, teachers, and staff of the Middle School.
Glinda, of course, is a character in the Broadway musical Wicked. One of my favorite moments in that musical is when Glinda sings:
“Like a seed dropped by a sky bird
In a distant wood
Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better?
But because I knew you
Because I knew you
I know I have been changed for good.”
“For Good” from Wicked is just one of the songs that I carry in my heart.
My memories are not so much about the lives I may have changed, but, more important, the lives that changed mine. I often reflect on what they did for me. read more…
When I started college and began to piece together my career trajectory, teaching was never one of the options.
I started college with a focus in microbiology. After spending a semester studying obscure tropical diseases and finding myself rather squeamish, it quickly became apparent to me that being on the front lines of an Ebola outbreak wasn’t for me. Some soul-searching led me to pursue a career as a nurse practitioner. Shortly after finishing my undergraduate degree, I was sitting in an interview for a graduate nursing program, describing to the admissions team why I wanted to be a nurse. I remember feeling in my heart that I just wasn’t passionate about this career option—that I just couldn’t seem myself as an NP for years to come. I wasn’t excited about this prospect either. Cue the existential panic. read more…
“It’s not what happens to you, it’s what you do with what happens to you,” says Chris Waddell, a 13-time Paralympic medalist and monoskiing world champion. “We create images and labels for ourselves because we’re so afraid of breaking away from the crowd, afraid of looking stupid. But if we’re so afraid of looking stupid, or of being different, we run the risk of never figuring out what’s great about us.”
Invited to Milton by the Albright family and Middle School Principal Will Crissman, Mr. Waddell spent time with Upper and Middle School students, asking them to shift their perspectives of people with disabilities and to push beyond the limits of the labels placed on them.
Mr. Waddell broke two vertebrae in a ski accident on a winter break from Middlebury College, losing the use of his legs. After two months of recovery in a hospital, he decided to return to Middlebury’s snowy, hilly campus, where he found that his relationships with his friends were unchanged; they were part of the same team. His college ski coach brought him on his first trip on a monoski, and he repeatedly fell, not making a turn all day.
“Not being able to walk was the worst thing that I could imagine happening, but it was also the most powerful thing that ever happened to me, because I had to get better,” Mr. Waddell said. “I always had to find some sort of solution to every problem.”
People with disabilities are often overlooked or considered incapable—partly because of the stigma surrounding disability, but also because people are told “not to stare” at those who are different. Recounting a conversation with a little girl who pitied him, Mr. Waddell said he wished he’d continued talking to her.
“If I had never had my accident, I would never have had the opportunity to be the best in the world at something. I was the best monoskier in the world,” he said. “What a gift to be able to do that.”
Like all elite athletes, success for Mr. Waddell came with practice and the willingness to come back after failing. “The Michael Jordans of the world struggled like anyone else, they just struggled harder and longer. When other people gave up, they kept struggling.”
Mr. Waddell retired from competitive sports with some trepidation, worrying that he didn’t know what he would be if he wasn’t a professional athlete. So he set a goal, and he became the first paraplegic person to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, the tallest peak in Africa. He made his climb unaided except for 100 feet of terrain where he was carried. He wants his climb, along with his One Revolution Foundation to improve visibility and opportunities for people with disabilities.
“I thought if I could get to the top of one of the tallest mountains in the world, then people would have to see me,” he said. “I want them to see the hundreds of millions of people living with disabilities.”
Competing as a monoskier in the Winter Paralympics, and as a track athlete in the Summer Paralympics, Mr. Waddell earned 13 medals; as a World Championship skier, he won 9 total medals. He was inducted into the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame and the Paralympics Hall of Fame. The Dalai Lama honored him as an “Unsung Hero of Compassion.” People Magazine named him one of the “Fifty Most Beautiful People in the World.” Skiing Magazine placed him amongst the “25 Greatest Skiers in North America”. Middlebury College presented him with a Doctorate in Humane Letters. National Public Radio (NPR) named his 2011 commencement address to Middlebury as one of “The Best Commencement Speeches, Ever.”
I can predict the cycles of the moon based on how my sixth graders are behaving. Usually, right on cue, two days in advance of a full moon, their energy becomes palpable, their questions urgent, their need to move and squirm amplified. For a long time, I planned my classes based on the time of day and the day of the week (Friday before lunch demanding a much more high energy class than Monday mornings, for example). Now, I pull out a lunar calendar as well.
Sixth graders are lovely. Behind the raging hormones, endless questions, and relative innocence, there is a real desire to learn and a willingness to engage wholeheartedly in whatever task is put before them. They are light, free, able to transition easily. Rarely embarrassed, they enjoy singing, dancing, and spontaneous conga lines around the classroom. They love to share their work, especially if it’s written about themselves, and they are kind enough to work with whatever group or partner assigned to them. Curious, open-minded, and sometimes just plain silly, sixth graders are a nearly perfect combination in my opinion.
Teaching in the Pritzker Science Center allows me to be outside a number of times each day. As I travel back and forth to Ware Hall for assemblies, advisory, and other Middle School events, I generally follow the same path. Sometimes, as we fall into a routine, our movements become automatic and we don’t pay attention to the small details around us. Aware of this tendency, I try to take time to notice my surroundings. Towering over a grassy area outside of Cox Library is a magnificent white pine. I don’t know what it is about this beauty, but I often stop to gaze at it. Perhaps it is the height of the tree or way its limbs and needles form an impressive sculpture. Maybe it is the birds that make their homes on its branches. I think it is the realization that there is so much to a tree that is unnoticed and unseen. The same can be said for how we interact with one another. If we take the time to notice and get to know one another, we may realize there is so much more than meets the eye. read more…
In a matter of minutes on Milton’s campus, it is possible to witness the passage of time as marked by the development of children. From a distance, we have seen the youngest members of our community strolling neatly in line behind their teachers. We have also seen our middle school boys and girls frolicking joyously through snow, mud, and puddles to and from Ware Hall, as well as the oldest students congregating in small groups wearing heavily weighted backpacks and purposeful expressions.
Over my first several years of teaching and coaching I was fortunate enough to work closely with young people from 5 to 18 years old. Without question, each age group has its own qualities that are widely appreciated, from the raw exuberance of young children to the measured swagger of older adolescents. I realized early in my career that 11-14 year olds are my resonant demographic. Although I cannot quite isolate why this is, I suppose it has something to do with my respect for the challenges middle schoolers face and their enjoyable temperaments.
Thacher Auditorium will transform into a color-filled candy factory next weekend, as Middle School students perform Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka Jr., the beloved story of a wacky candy-man and his contest to audition potential heirs to his operation.
Student tech crews are working to create larger-than-life cupcakes, gum drops and lollipops to brighten the stage. “In terms of the set, with all the props and everything, I think this is the biggest production that we’ve done,” says Thea (Grade 8), who is doing sound tech for the show. Eighth-grader Sophia is the stage manager, and Upper School students Jocelyn Sabin (III) and Ashley Hales (IV) are assisting with the production throughout the rehearsals.
The original 1964 Dahl book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, was remade into a Broadway musical and two movies. Willy Wonka Jr. is an age-appropriate retelling of the story with music from the 1971 Gene Wilder film “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.”
Every performer in the cast of 27 is important to the show, says Sofi (Grade 8), who plays the mother of Charlie Bucket, the poor boy who wins the fifth “golden ticket” to visit the Wonka factory. “The best part has been getting to know everyone else and making friends,” Sofi says. “Even if you don’t have the biggest part, you have an important role, and it builds your work ethic. It’s a really fun experience. Even students who aren’t necessarily into musicals can have a good time.”
Karol (Grade 7), who plays one of the mischievous Oompa-Loompas working in the factory, said the cast’s teamwork will be on display in the production. “It’s a really magical show and I think we make a good team,” she says. “This place is going to come alive.”
Upper School students Laura Bailey (III), Jenna Peters (IV) and Izzy Dupre (IV) are also assisting with Wonka, which opens on Thursday, February 23, at 7 p.m.
“When you are self-aware, you become a leader of your own life. You become the director, the protagonist, the hero and the producer of your own life. For that you need to reflect, which is part of mindfulness.”
Sharing the “gift of self-awareness,” Dr. Deepak Chopra and Dr. Rudy Tanzi spoke with students, faculty, staff and parents this week. Dr. Chopra, a pioneer in meditation and alternative medicine, and Dr. Tanzi, a professor of neurology at Harvard, offered insights on happiness, fulfillment and good health that they have gathered from researching the human brain.
Dr. Chopra and Dr. Tanzi spent time with the Lower School for a question-and-answer session, where they discussed how they met and answered questions about meditation. A student led a guided meditation, followed by a session led by Dr. Chopra. Prior to their visit with the Lower School, the doctors spoke with Middle and Upper School students in King Theatre.
Citing the Latin root of the word “education,” educere, which means “to bring out,” Dr. Chopra urged students to consider self-reflection and meditation important parts of their education and growth. Great leaders in history asked deep questions about gratitude and mission, along with their place in the world; they were also great storytellers who understood the value of emotionally connecting with other people.
“Smart people don’t necessarily achieve great success if they are just smart,” Dr. Chopra said. “Smart people who also know how to connect emotionally; who know how to offer hope, or trust, or stability, or compassion—or are not ashamed of love—they are the people who reach their full potential and have great passion for life.”
After becoming disenchanted with the Western medicine he studied and practiced, Dr. Chopra turned to transcendental and alternative medicine and ultimately, to meditation. He believes that happiness, health, and fulfillment can be found internally. Dr. Tanzi, whose research career includes discovery and isolation of the genes that lead to the Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s and Wilson’s diseases, met Dr. Chopra by chance six years ago. The two have since written two best-selling books, Super Brain and Super Genes and are working on their third.
The idea of Super Brain was born from breakthroughs in neuroscience. Modern brain-scan technology reveals that the brain is more powerful than ever imagined, with the power to regenerate, and to be shaped. Chopra and Tanzi contend that people can create the brains they want using conscious choice.
The doctors encouraged students to be self-aware; to use their brains to be happy; to lead healthy, balanced lives; and to choose to do good things for others—this, Dr. Tanzi shared, is a “secret to happiness—human beings want to help others.”
What a fantastic day for our first ever Mix-It-Up Sports Day! The sun was shining, it was 70 degrees, and an enthusiastic group of students took to the athletic fields for a competitive and spirited day of field hockey and flag football!
Middle School Athletic Director and Lower School Physical Education teacher Sam Landau organized the fun afternoon for 60 student-athletes from grades 5-8. Our new gender-split physical education classes set the stage for students to play the sports that are available to them in Middle School. Specifically, boys played flag football and girls played field hockey. Middle School coaches facilitated games aimed at building camaraderie among the students. “This was a great opportunity for our Middle School leaders to be role models as they introduced Grade 5 students to Middle School sports and generated excitement about opportunities they will have next year,” said Sam.
Garvin, a student in Grade 8, commented on his experience saying that “playing with the fifth graders not only connects them with the Middle School, but also connects us better with the Lower School. I know that our team had a blast teaching them the game of football. When I was a fifth grader I would have enjoyed that very much, and I was happy to be a part of that experience.” Ally, also in Grade 8, added, “our mini-scrimmage was super fun and I got to see what our next year’s team will look like, and from what I saw today, it’ll be awesome!”
The highly successful afternoon was filled with lots of smiles and connections made among all of the students. We look forward to doing something similar in the winter and spring seasons.
Waiting his turn to ride a horse along the trails behind the Blazing Saddles Equestrian Center, Zachary (Grade 7) said the Middle School’s newly named Wellness Program is an exciting addition to life at school. “It’s great, because we get to go out and experience things we might not do on our own,” he said.
Middle School students are required to choose one of three activities every semester—an interscholastic sport, participation in performing arts, or the Wellness Program. Wellness began as a fitness program, but was renamed and redesigned this year to offer different activities and some more adventurous opportunities, says athletic director Sam Landau.
Students receive fitness instruction every day: On Mondays, they have a kick-boxing class; they play tennis on Tuesday; on Thursday, they do CrossFit and on Friday, they practice yoga and receive some nutrition instruction. Each class is taught by an instructor who specializes in the particular disciplines. Wednesdays are reserved for activities students wouldn’t necessarily encounter on campus or in a traditional fitness program: kayaking on the Charles River, rock-climbing, archery and horseback riding. In the winter—weather permitting—students will have the chance to learn to ski or snowboard at the Blue Hills Ski Area.
“We have several students in the program who are athletes, but they may not be interested in playing a sport in a particular season; and then we have students who aren’t interested in team sports,” Sam says. “This year, we wanted to have activities that are fun and healthy, that get the kids outside and encourage them to try new things.”
At the beginning and end of each season, students are evaluated. “Seeing how much progress they make in a relatively short time is really wonderful,” says Sonya Conway, the Grade 6 dean.
“I love the Wellness Program, because it combines a bunch of different activities together, and the groups are small,” said eighth-grader Blessie. “The skills we’re learning are helpful for other parts of life, as well—things like endurance and mind over matter.”
Middle School is a time of great exploration. Research tells us that identity plays a key role in shaping students’ perspectives and interactions with the world and that school and classroom structures, including time and space for discourse, can influence students’ identity development. At Milton, we strive to acknowledge the multiple worlds we all inhabit and to help students navigate the often complex social and cultural challenges.
This year, we have re-structured our Wednesday schedule to provide more opportunities for students to gather in cultural and affinity groups. “Our goal is to foster understanding, provide time and space for meaningful conversations, and allow students to share their lived experiences,” explains Will Crissman. Affinity groups allow students to gather socially as well as to share ideas outside the classroom. In addition to our Students of Color group, we have established a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA), Reflecting on Anti-Racism (ROAR), a Faith-Based group, Cultural Awareness for Everyone (CAFE), and BOLD, a new media-focused group for girls. read more…
Speaking, storytelling and bringing to life poetry and prose paid off for the Middle School’s Speech team, as it was recognized as one of the top five Teams of Excellence at the National Speech and Debate Association Tournament in Salt Lake City, Utah. The students used their skills in public address, limited preparation and interpretation to succeed in a variety of events over the course of the tournament.
Six students placed as finalists during the tournament, meaning they were among the top six in the nation in their events, while several others earned recognition in the semi- and quarter-finals during the competition.
Honors for the Milton team did not end there, however. Coach Debbie Simon was also named Middle School Coach of the Year by the National Speech and Debate Association. “The parent body is extremely appreciative of Debbie’s tireless efforts and unflagging support of this program,” says parent George Alex. “Debbie’s ‘speechies’ learn so many life lessons and develop critical skills that will serve them well throughout life.”
Students placing in the National Speech and Debate Tournament from Milton were:
Finalists (Top 6 in the nation)
- Maya B., second place, declamation
- Isabel A. and Ben S., sixth place, duo interpretation
- Izzy D. and Ginny B., fifth place, duo interpretation
- Cody W., sixth place, humorous interpretation
Semi-finalists (Top 12)
- Carli G., prose
- Caroline W., prose
- Jana A., impromptu
- Cori D., dramatic interpretation
- Izzi D., dramatic interpretation
Quarter-finalists (Top 24)
- Miranda P., poetry
- Kayla M., poetry
- Brian B., declamation
- Isabel A., storytelling
- Ben S., storytelling
- Walker H., storytelling
- Carli G., dramatic interpretation
- Maya B., impromptu
- Jana A., original oratory
- Ginny B., prose
Much has happened this school year. For many of us, it has been a year of immense transition: a time of difficulty, growth, and ultimately, breakthroughs.
As many of you could probably guess, the biggest transition for me was the birth of my daughter, Iris. Upon meeting her, never before had I been both inspired and completely terrified. I also, unfortunately, can’t ignore the fact that I haven’t had the best track record for the care of living things. Under my watch, classroom plants have come and gone and even an advisory pet fish couldn’t escape my negligence; rest in peace, dear Billy Bubbles.
So, for those of you not in the know, raising a child is hard. Much of the life I once knew has shifted or transformed since Iris’ arrival. There have been sleepless nights, confusion, the full spectrum of emotions, and poop. So much poop delivered in a seemingly gravity-defying myriad of ways. Yet I somehow managed to survive as I now stand before you with most of my hair intact albeit most likely grayer since February. Still through it all, as a good reflective English teacher, my mind would sometimes wonder during those sleepless nights and endless diaper changes towards big, existential questions like “Has she become my life’s meaning?” If so, “Who am I now?” and “When can I start teaching her volleyball?” Big important questions. Recently, these ponderings have lead to reflections of my own childhood, how my own father came to raise me, and even how his father came to raise him. read more…
The Creative Scholars Project Museum Gallery this Wednesday showed how passionate and empowered our students can be. They shared and discussed their individual social injustices with clear knowledge, commitment, and resolve. Because of the independent nature of the project, when they look back on their middle school experience, our hope is that many of them see this experience as a time where they truly made their learning their own. Thank you, parents, for all your commitment and willingness to let your children explore and grow.
This week, the Middle School community came together to celebrate arts, athletics and citizenship.
On Tuesday afternoon, students, faculty, staff and parents gathered to hear performances by our string, wind, and small ensemble vocal groups. On Thursday, we heard short segments of a variety of speeches by members of the Middle School Speech Team. Congratulations to the following students and student groups!
Tech Award – Daisy and Avery
Jana and Brian
- Zaki – Baseball
- Cody – Boys Tennis
- Charlie – Boys Lacrosse
- Annie – Girls Track
- Nate – Boys Track
- Izzy – Girls Tennis
- Avery – Softball
- Kathryn – Girls Lacrosse
Grade 6, Citizenship Awards: Abby & James
- Richard E. Sherbrooke Memorial Award – Garvin
- Edward R. Foley Award – Kayla
Grade 8, Walter A. Beyer Memorial Awards: Ginny & Charlie
To view photos of the Awards Ceremony, click here.
The baseball team enjoyed a successful season filled with much individual and team improvement. At the Athletic Recognition Ceremony, they were recognized as being the most improved team of the Spring Season. With 17 boys all ranging in grade, ability and experience, they proudly came together and made significant strides by the end of the season.
The team finished with 8 wins and 5 losses. Four eighth-grade students were instrumental in helping the younger players learn some big diamond skills. Best game of the year was our 6 -1 win against Dexter. Congratulations on a great season!
Girls lacrosse took to the field this spring with 22 players and great team spirit. We had an 11 game schedule, of which 7 games were on the road and only 4 were at home. Every attack player scored during the season, adding up to a cumulative total of almost 100 goals, and leading to wins in 4 games. Defensive players, many of whom were sixth-grade students just learning the game, made huge progress this spring, successfully shutting down the other team’s offense on several occasions.
The team was enthusiastically led by 8th grade captains, Katie and Dillon. Katie was the unrivaled high-scorer with an impressive 32 goals this season. The team was recognized as the most spirited team of the Spring season.
I asked the girls this year to send me their favorite moments of the season. I imagined that some of them might mention our winning season or our victory over our archrival Nobles. Instead every reply was about the pleasure of being with the team, making new friends, or holding lemonade in their mouth for an entire practice. Their favorite moments were playing with their partners for three years, talking with their coaches after a tough match, helping their teammates in practice, and making up a new team drill with Coach Molly. The bus trips together were a highlight; it seems we could have driven to the away matches, and then turned around and gone home without playing, just being with the team was enough.
Our eighth graders were a special group, both in matches and in team practice. We are sad to see them go. We will miss our team captains, Izzy and Ginny: one of the best doubles teams in our history both for their tennis and their grunting. We will miss very talented Pari with her laid back, relaxed personality, which was the exact opposite of her game – powerful, driven, truly amazing. Chloe, our ’thinker,’ came in with strategy, knowing what she wanted, what she needed to do to get it, a real fighter from first point of the match to last. We will miss Melissa, our backboard, who often stayed in challenge matches ending in losing or winning by points showing her determination. Off to high school tennis you all go and I hope to see you on the courts!!!
The boys lacrosse team made tremendous progress from where they were at the beginning of the season, right up to their last game against arch-rival Nobles. Although many of the teams they played were combined Grade 7 & 8 teams(and some more dominant in number with their 8th graders), our boys made great strides in their cohesion and commitment. The team had big improvements all around, from boys who have never played the game, to the boys who have been playing it for several years. As the boys grew to know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, they came together as a team and improved their performance.
Team highlights include battling Roxbury Latin, having great match-ups in both singles and doubles, battling Fessenden where Jae and Wilder won their matches, and an having inter-squad scrimmage with the girls’ team.
Throughout the season, the players improved their conditioning and fitness, their offense-defense games, and their challenge matches. As coaches, we enjoyed the constant movement within the ladder, as the boys strove to work their way up. All players showed great improvement and competitiveness in practice and in games. We want to thank our eighth-grade players Cody, Leo, Brian, Ben, Seamus, Brendan, Kavi, Zac, and Zack.
We had a great season! We’ll miss the eighth graders and wish them the best of luck in the future.
Our season started with 12 players who ranged in skill from those who have played for many years to those who were throwing a softball for the very first time. As coaches, it was exciting to see them work toward becoming a cohesive unit to which everyone contributed, making our time together both fun and productive.
We managed to pull off an undefeated season. While we could emphasize a fantastic record, outstanding plays, and moments of tremendous growth — I would like to highlight the most which is how we came together as a team. Everyone was excited for one another, offered words of praise and encouragements and weren’t afraid to laugh and have fun with it.
I’d like to personally thank Sue Austin who was a tremendous help to the team and mentor to me. We would like to take a moment to thank our eighth-grade players for their leadership, and the whole team, for a great season.
National Speech and Debate Association’s Middle School Coach of the Year
At this June’s national tournament in Salt Lake City, Ms. Simon will be honored for her outstanding leadership and commitment to speech and debate activities. A member of both the Massachusetts and the National Speech Halls of fame, Ms. Simon’s long-time commitment to speech is legendary. Over her 34 years coaching speech at Milton Academy, Debbie has coached scores of national champions at both the high school and middle school levels. For Debbie, however, it is her work with students that is that is of paramount importance.” It’s not about winning. It’s about what we can accomplish together as a team,” Debbie reminds the 20 students who will be accompanying her to Salt Lake City to compete in the tournament…and to celebrate with Debbie as she receives this well-deserved award.
Thank you, Ms. Simon for all you do for our Middle School team!
On Wednesday afternoon, students and faculty gathered to celebrate our spring athletes and to rally spirit for the last games of the spring season! Traditionally called Milton-Nobles Day, the majority of Middle School teams, with the exception of Softball, Track and Baseball Blue, do, indeed play Noble and Greenough School. Our spirit rally featured our Mustang mascot, videos of professional as well as our own Middle School athletes (and reporters), a plethora of of orange & blue, and lots of cheering!
Click here to view the short video that Athletic Director Sam Landau (together with our own Middle School students) made about this season’s teams.
Next Friday, we will re-cap the spring season in each sport.
This week, over three-quarters of our Middle School population joined the TextLess Live More Campaign. Begun at Milton Academy three years ago in honor and memory of Milton Academy graduate Merritt Levitan, TextLess Live More is a student-led, national campaign that endeavors to raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving. Ultimately, through legislation, the TextLess campaign aims to end the deadly combination of getting behind the wheel and texting and/or streaming. At the same time, the campaign emphasizes and encourages people, particularly young people, to use technology in a mindful manner.
Grade 8 students, led by Corey and Malia, have brought this important effort to our Middle School.
Our Middle School Spring Focus Day provided students time to think about who they are, and who they want to be. Through large and small group discussions, students and teachers, explored the impact of social media, and peer and societal pressures.
The day kicked off with a performance by American Idol contestant Casey McQuillen, who shared her personal experiences and the lessons she learned as a teen and young adult. Part of Casey’s “You Matter” tour, her performance had students laughing, gasping, but also stepping into the shoes of others. In the Media Matters portion of the day, students deconstructed advertisements and considered the inferred pressures of what they saw in print and on the screen.
In this age of on-the-go, the entire Middle School community appreciated the time stop and be both mindful and accountable for their actions.
I will raise my voice until the day I see all human beings love each other.
I will raise my voice until the day I am certain the Holocaust will never happen again.
– Evita, Grade 8, Milton Academy
Evita has a special commitment to bringing to light, the horrors of the Holocaust and to finding hope for future generations. She shared her commitment to human rights in an essay that she recently submitted to the Israel Arbeiter Essay Contest. Her talent as a writer, and her dedication to ensuring that the memory of those who died in the Holocaust is not forgotten earned her 2nd place in the competition which included students from 6th to 12th grade, from across the Boston area. Evita received her award at the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston commemoration of Yom HaShoah on Sunday, May 1 at Faneuil Hall in Boston.
In Grade 8 Social Studies classes, students have been talking about leadership. Specifically, students are asking themselves: What makes a good leader? What does it mean to lead? What lasting impact do leaders, as changemakers, have? Evita’s participation in the contest stemmed from the work that students are doing in the areas of leadership and change.
Congratulations to Evita for her good work! We are all so proud of you!
The Milton Academy Middle School Speech Team is more than a group of dedicated, enthusiastic, supportive students. The Speech Team is an opportunity to step out of a known comfort zone and into a world filled with fantastic, extravagant and moving pieces, characters, and performers. Beyond the year’s prose, declamations, and poetry, popping in and out of characters, choosing between hilarious and deeply moving pieces, the Milton Academy Middle School Speech Team provides students with the confidence and the basic speaking skills needed to become excellent, professional speakers.
If you are curious about what the Middle School Speech does? Come watch a speech round right here on our campus, this Sunday, May 1, when our Middle School team will host its Foley Fiesta. This largest of the regular season middle school tournaments began in 1985, and is named for former Middle School principal, Edward Foley, under whose tenure the tournament began.
Speech competition will begin around 9:30 a.m. and will end late in the afternoon. So, if you’re near campus, stop by to see what makes Speech Team such a fun and challenging activity.
English: Students just finished their four-paragraph thesis papers on Where the Mountain Meets the Moon last week. This week, they are working on their ENYFA assessment projects, which involve a slide show with a creative video component in which each student impersonates his or her chosen author in an evaluative interview. I’m excited to see where this project takes them! They’ll be editing and sharing next week as they finish up. Concurrently, we are reading Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park in class. Students are working on related, in-class prompts in their writing journals as well as continuing their study of vocabulary through Membean and their independent reading books.
Math: We finished the Stretching & Shrinking (Understanding Similarity) unit and had a test on it on Monday, April 4. We are now in full swing with our new unit, Comparing & Scaling (Ratios, Rates, Percents, and Proportions). The students started off the unit using ratios, rates, fractions, differences, and percents to write statements comparing two quantities in a real world situation. Most recently, we are learning to distinguish between and to use both part-to-part and part-to-whole ratios in comparisons. Please refer to the Family Letter given out on Wednesday, April 13 for more specific detail regarding the Comparing & Scaling unit.
Science: Students are completing their study of the age of the Earth and geologic time. They have worked through an introduction to chemistry and learned the principles of radiometric dating. They have learned how to tell the relative ages of geologic events using principles such as the law of superposition and the law of cross-cutting relationships. After completing this unit they will embark on an independent project where they will have an opportunity to study something they are interested in and demonstrate competence with a variety of scientific skills.
Social Studies: Through examining First Encounters in North America, part of a Facing History and Ourselves unit, sixth graders created a set of five guidelines for any person to follow in order to have a successful first encounter. Additionally, they wrapped up a unit centered around the documentary: Guns, Germs and Steel, through which we examined the claim made by American scientist and author, Jared Diamond, that geography determines power. Students continue to work on their QAR skills, research and notetaking both in social studies and their research class.
French: Students are continuing to review irregular verbs and learning how to say the time and making their own agenda. Also they are learning verbs endings in -RE.
Latin: Students in Latin have added another set of case endings – the dative – and are learning to recognize indirect objects. We have encountered a few first and second person verbs; these will be introduced formally in the next week. The focus of the chapter’s readings is on education and the influence of Greek art and literature on Roman culture.
Spanish: We are continuing to work on reinforcing the verb estar in the context of classroom and school vocabulary and describing where things are in relation to one another, as well as the use of estar when describing feelings and emotions. We have also recently begun to explore the irregular verb ir and its different uses, such as expressing actions in the future.
Drama: “Storytelling”, according to Leland B. Jacobs, in “Creative Writing and Storytelling in Today’s Schools”, “ is a bond, an invisible agreement, a transaction of great worth between a weaver with words and one who treasures the weaver.” Students are learning how to use a single published, printed story, anecdote, tale, myth, or legend that they must retell without notes. The tellers are using their words to convey the story’s plot. The retelling must be faithful to the original content. Movement is allowed, and one chair or the storyteller may choose to stand. In May, students will be sharing their story with real audiences.
Chorus: Students are in the midst of an a cappella project. Seven separate groups are devising musical settings of popular songs with the help of five Upper School music students.
General Music: Students are learning how to play the keyboard to help reinforce music reading and how to write down and re-create melodies.
Art: Students are sculpting self portraits out of clay. Inspired by class discussions of identity and how we want to be seen, students are building caricatures of themselves influenced by the French political cartoonist and sculptor Daumier.
Strings: Students are working on three pieces towards a May performance: Strings Cut Loose– Brian Balmages, The Gordian Knot Untied– Henry Purcell, and Palladio– Karl Jenkins.
Winds: Students are working on four pieces: Courage– Henry Fillmore (will play with the Upper School group on April 29), Ancient Flower– Japanese Folk Song, Two Variants on Dives and Lazares– Irish Folk Song, and The Siege of Arundel– John McCabe.
Boys English: Students have begun work on our Independent Novel Unit during which students select, read, and annotate one of eight teacher-selected novels ranging from Sherman Alexie’s Absolute True Diary of a Part Time Indian to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Students will set up their own reading schedule and will be responsible to discuss their novel in groups and pairs, write analytical paragraphs individually, and even film a scene from a novel before the year is through.
Girls English: For our final writing unit, seventh-grade girls are learning about the genre of the memoir by reading I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai and in turn, crafting their personal chapter memoir. Soon, the girls will be able to celebrate their authentic writing by sharing their stories.
French 1-B: Students continue to work on the past tense (passé composé and imperfect) with an introduction to the reflexive verbs. They are writing a paragraph about their vacation or something else in the past. Finally, students are reviewing the 20 irregular verbs (present, past, imperative and future). Last Friday, they also prepared an interview with the French students from The Lycée Duby in France (French exchange). They will soon do a written report of that.
Math: Students are exploring a visual representation of the distributive property. They have discovered that they can represent the expression for a quadratic relationship as the product of two linear expressions, called factored form, or as the sum of one or more terms, called expanded form. Recently, students have begun work on how to roughly sketch a certain parabola by using factored and expanded forms. Next week, students will have a gateway quiz on factoring and expanding.
Science: After an in-depth unit of plants, the students have transitioned to a study of the human body. In this unit, students will continue to develop lab skills while exploring various body systems, paying close attention to interconnections between systems and real world applications. Students will design their own experiments as they investigate bone density and joint structure. In addition, they will explore the components of blood with a forensic challenge activity and simulate chemical reactions using various foodstuffs. Emphasis will continue to be on mastery of skills while exploring the content of different body systems.
Social Studies: Students are engaging in a simulation of Japan during the late 1920s. This simulation will allow students to utilize their knowledge of the Great Depression, League of Nations, Fascism and Mussolini, and Hitler to attempt to make the best decision for Japan in the midst of a famine and growing population. Following the simulation, students will compare their choices with the historical decisions made by Japan.
Visual Arts: Students have just completed pastel drawings in which they began to think about composition, including subject, foreground, middleground and background, as well as, how to use color by blending and layering to create vibrancy and depth. Now they are carrying these skills into landscape painting where they will start with a black and white Ansel Adams photograph and reimagine it in color. For inspiration, they’ve looked at paintings by David Hockney, Albert Bierstadt, Vincent Van Gogh, and Vermont landscape artist Peter Brooke.
West 360: We have been exploring executive functioning skills such as attention, reading for understanding, note taking, working memory, and cognitive flexibility.
King 360: We’ve been exploring social conformity and personal autonomy.
Chorus and General Music: Chorus students are in the midst of an a capella project. Seven separate groups are devising musical settings of popular songs with the help of five Upper School music students. The General Music class is learning how to play the keyboard to help reinforce music reading and how to write down and re-create melodies.
Spanish: We have recently finished the textbook Avancemos 1A, and are beginning in the new book Avancemos 1B. Students are continuing to focus on defining words in Spanish, and learning and using direct object pronouns with the present progressive tense which we have recently begun to explore. They are learning through theatrics, stories, and activities.
Latin B: Students have reviewed the imperfect tense, learned the present and imperfect tenses of 5 irregular verbs, and been introduced to neuter nouns. We continue to work on noun-adjective agreement and developing effective study habits. Last week we completed the text, Ecce Romani IA and, on Monday, students took the cumulative test. English readings have been based on the legendary history of Rome (the seven kings, the expulsion of Sextus Tarquinius and the Horatii brothers.) We are about to start learning third declension adjectives and the perfect tense.
Now that faculty and students are living in the CSP (and not thinking hypothetically), we are gaining a much clearer sense of what does and does not work. As we are all aware, this is a work in progress; nevertheless, it is now an appropriate time for some necessary communication, particularly since the project has recently gone through some changes. Most noteworthy is that the presentation component has been incorporated into the museum exhibit itself. Students will be responsible for having to answer questions (some of which will be prepared) to people visiting their museum exhibit station. Students no longer individually have to present their project to the entire grade.
So in planning for the rest of the year, think of April as the month for students to work heavily on their research paper. May should be focused on working on their Museum Exhibit. From now until the end of the year, the only two things left to complete is the RESEARCH PAPER and the MUSEUM EXHIBIT (Including a poster board).
To help plan, here are some important dates to help students complete their research paper and Museum Exhibit:
April 19 and 21 – Students will work in English Class on their Research Paper and should receive a good sense of what their final research paper should look like. A handout for how to structure their entire research paper is currently on the CSP Schoology Page.
May 6 – Museum Exhibit Check In – Student will determine where he/she should be at this point in their process. Advisor Check in to make sure they’re keeping up. Students should also submit receipts of CSP purchases to advisor.
MAY 16 – CSP RESEARCH PAPER DUE – Submit or Share with Advisor teacher. Feedback will be provided via a teacher evaluation and student self-evaluation, they will focus primarily on successes and challenges throughout the process.
May 20 – Museum Exhibit Check In – Student will determine where he/she should be at this point in their process. Advisor Check in to make sure they’re keeping up.
JUNE 1 – CSP MUSEUM EXHIBIT – The museum exhibit and poster board should completed by this day (since they will be shown in the museum exhibit!). Milton will provide poster boards. Feedback will be provided via a teacher evaluation and student self-evaluation, they will focus primarily on successes and challenges throughout the process. The feedback will be included in their Research Paper feedback.
Much has changed since the start of the year, but the project’s goal remains the same. The purpose of this year’s CSP is to provide students an opportunity to thoroughly independently explore and share a passion through a social justice lens. This can still be achieved! Thank you, parents, as always, for your support.
Spanish: We continue to explore and work with the different tenses used in Spanish to express actions and events in the past; the imperfect and preterit tenses. In addition to our work with this grammar, we have also begun our new unit on ferias y parques de diversión (fairs and amusement parks). Students are exploring the new vocabulary and grammar by speaking about their past and present experiences, activities and preferences.
Social Studies: The students have just completed Civil War Unit. Before spring break students prepared for a senate simulation at the Edward Kennedy Institute in Boston where they were sworn in as senators for the day. Their task was to come up with a bill on The U.S. Patriot Act (Security vs. Privacy). The next unit that the students will engage in is the Reconstruction of the U.S. and the Jim Crow Era after the Civil War. A research paper on leaders and leadership will be introduced this month. They are busy preparing for the final debate on the Cuban Embargo (Maintain the embargo – Pro or lift it – Con). They are in the research phase of gathering information and formulating arguments for the formal debate on Grandfriends’ Day.
West 360: We are wrapping up our unit on neuroscience by exploring the structure and function of a neuron. In the last two sessions of the year, we will explore drugs of abuse and their effects on the brain.
King 360: We are wrapping up our unit on communication skills; it demonstrates the importance of active listening and using thoughtful inquiry to build greater connections. Our next unit will focus on navigating social pressures.
English: Students are examining a range poetic styles as a way to investigate how to infer meaning. The foundations of this unit transfer to the following unit using and creating short stories. Additionally, the tasks and individual feedback for this unit are modelled after what they will encounter in the Upper School. April is National Poetry Month. Please consider sharing a favorite poem of yours with your child.
Chorus: Students are in the midst of an a cappella project. Seven separate groups are devising musical settings of popular songs with the help of five Upper School music students.
Performing Arts: Students recently crafted and performed original group scenes inspired by a variety of found objects. Each student had the opportunity to serve as a group facilitator in the development of these scenes. In the process, students continued to focus on making thoughtful and spontaneous choices as actors and performing with clarity and expressivity.
Visual Arts: In visual arts eighth grade is just finishing a painting unit in which students personified their families as desserts. Students considered family dynamic and personal characteristics in their composition and through their use of color, texture and value, students depicted realistic desserts. In our next project we will continue our exploration of identity in a sculpture until where students will build masks out of cardboard.
Math: This week, we completed our unit test on quadratic functions and function notation. The students are beginning their investigative work on their statistics projects and in the next weeks we will study statistical methods and tools. There will be ongoing review of algebraic material through the last months of the year, too.
Latin: We have been focused on verb tenses and we just finished our unit on Pompeii. Students translated Pliny the Younger’s account of the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius and we watched and discussed portions of an accompanying documentary. Currently, we are focusing on the pluperfect tense and fourth declension nouns, as well as working through a passage on the emperor Nero.
Greetings from San Francisco, CA! I am writing from the annual meeting of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM). I am joined by my colleagues Sandra Correia (Gr. 5), Jin Lee (Gr. 7), Nancy McCuen (Gr. 1), and Sachiyo Unger (Gr. 2) and thousands other mathematics educators from around the country and world. This week, we attended presentations from leading mathematics educators who shared current research findings on the teaching and learning of mathematics. We also gave a presentation of our own. Our talk, Productive Math Talk in K-2 Classrooms? Absolutely! focused on discourse-intensive mathematics instruction — a hot topic in mathematics education today.
Earlier in the week, Jin Lee and I attended the annual meeting of the National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics (NCSM). We also spoke at this conference. Our talk, Coaching Teachers on the Use of Mathematical Talk, provided guidance to school leaders looking to implement the content-based instructional coaching that is a central component of Milton’s K-8 math renewal.
Our attendance at NCTM is a key example of our ongoing commitment to deliver a K-8 mathematics program that is informed by research. We are eager to share what we learned at NCTM with all of our colleagues. And we are grateful to work in a community that supports our professional growth.
On Thursday night, and again on Friday morning, the B & B Company presented Beauty & the Beast, Jr.
The 30-member company, which began rehearsing at the start of the winter athletic season in late November, is led by collaborative coordinator, Debbie Simon who, together with musical director, Louise Mundinger, a band of Upper School student volunteers, imagined, created, and transformed Thacher into the scene of the well-known fairytale. The student directors, headed by Class I students Maddie Dupre and Sophie Charles, are all former Middle School talents who dedicated four months of after school time to work on the production. Ms. Simon has dedicated this show to Maddie and Sophie, who have given so much of themselves to Middle School theater over their four years of Upper School. A special thank you and welcome, also, to Class IV directors, Laura Bailey, Abigail Foster, Cianna O’Flaherty, and Jocelyn Sabin — your direction and choreography work have been instrumental to the success of the production.
If you haven’t yet seen Beauty & the Beast, the last production is Monday, March 7 at 10:15 a.m.
Last weekend, our Middle School Speech Team joined over 1,100 students from all over Massachusetts at the Shrewsbury High School Mardi Gras Carnivale tournament. Mardi Gras is largely a high school tournament. In fact, only 5 of the 52 teams competing that day represented middle schools. For our students, who sometimes found themselves competing against their Upper School coaches, the day was long but eye-opening. The greatest success came at the closing ceremony, when Milton Academy Middle School was awarded 10th place (and top middle school)! A huge congratulations to our speechies!
This afternoon, Grade 6 students shared their Sustainability Projects with parents, the rest of the Middle School, and even some Lower School classes who were able to attend the Sustainability Gala. Click here to see the many projects that students created.
For three of our sixth-grade students…Donuts = Dollars = Trees!
For the last few weeks, Grade 6 students have been studying sustainability — the creation and maintenance of conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony — making sure that we have and will continue to have the water, materials, and resources we need while protecting our environment.
With some brainstorming and creativity, they arrived at a plan: On Tuesday during recess, the trio (who selected the acronym SAD – Students Against Deforestation) will be selling Donuts for Dollars with the hope of raising the funds to purchase some new trees for the Milton Academy campus, thereby preserving the lovely landscape that students appreciate and giving back to the environment for years to come.
On Tuesday, send your Middle School with a dollar to purchase a donut for this great cause. Additional donations welcome too! Then, join Nathan, Sophie and Jack on Earth Day to plant their acquisitions.
Thanks to Mr. Steve Zannino, Director of Facilities, for his work with this group, and to Ms. Jacqui Pennini for brainstorming and facilitating their project.
Join Grade 6 students and families on Friday afternoon in Thacher to hear the plethora of creative ways students have supported and celebrated sustainability.
Message from Dr. Nancy Anderson
Greetings from East Lansing, Michigan! I am writing from the campus of Michigan State University where I am attending the Connected Math 3 (CMP3) Annual Users’ Conference. I am joined by my colleagues Carrie Ferrin and Jin Lee … and hundreds of other mathematics educators from around the country. Each year, the authors of CMP3 host this conference at their university (MSU) and invite teachers to gather for thoughtful discussions about mathematics teaching, learning, and assessment. Workshop sessions focus on describing mathematical models, identifying effective practices, and sharing research findings on the efficacy of the program.
Our attendance at this conference is an example how carefully Milton math teachers attend to the relationship between curriculum and instruction. We adopted CMP3 as the vehicle for delivering our renewed scope and sequence because it rests on decades of research on the teaching and learning of middle grades mathematics. But we recognize that while curriculum materials provide the “ingredients” for our lessons, it is our teaching that has the greatest effect on our students’ learning. As such, we are committed to ongoing professional development work. By attending events like this one, presenting at local and regional conferences, and conducting our own professional study groups here at Milton, we bring the most effective models, questions, and assessment strategies into our classrooms.
In upcoming newsletter entries, I will share more examples of our professional development work. I look forward to providing more information about our math program at our upcoming workshop on Thursday, February 25. In the meantime, please do not hesitate to reach out to me with your questions and comments.
Two eighth-grade students are taking action to help the residents of Flint, Michigan, whose water contamination crisis is getting nationwide attention. They invite other Middle School students and families to join them in donating and gathering goods to send to Michigan.
Consider donating by grade:
Grade 6 – Light non-perishables (pasta, mac & cheese) which can be easily and inexpensively shipped
Grade 7 – water filters (ie: Britta) and/or water testing kits (which can be found at Home Depot, Lowes, Amazon.com and other retailers)
Grade 8 – Small monetary donations for the purchase of goods and to help pay for shipping.
On Sunday, February 7, Milton Academy hosted the Special Olympics of Massachusetts Basketball Tournament. Over 150 special needs athletes from the Boston area, including our own home Milton/Quincy team competed on all three courts in the ACC.
Nineteen Middle School students volunteered to keep score and run the time clock for the morning of games. Two students from Grade 8, Grant and Charlie, have volunteered all three years of Middle School! For them, a highlight of the experience has been coming to know teams and specific athletes. For Piper, Grade 6 and new volunteer, the most surprising aspect of the day was the age ranges of the participants. “Some players were only 7 or 8 years old, while others were in their 40s or 50s.” Nonetheless, she loved “seeing all the athletes working together.” According to Sonya Conway, Middle School faculty member and student coordinator, “All our kids cheered them on and had a great time being a part of this wonderful event.”
All students in Grades 7 and 8 take a 360° class intended to provide them with the knowledge, skills, and strategies necessary to successfully maneuver both the social-emotional and the academic realms of adolescence. Our goal is to provide students the tools for middle and high school success. 360° meets once a week, alternating between the two realms: Middle School Counselor Nicci King teaches the social-emotional, and Grade 4-8 Learning Specialist Liz West Swiatkowski teaches the academic. Both teachers explore topics using a variety of active learning approaches including role plays, interactive PowerPoint presentations, brainstorming, discussion and games.
The Grade 7 social-emotional curriculum engages students in both structured activities and open-discussions aimed at increasing the social comfort, emotional consideration, and personal confidence of each child. Students learn to survey their “internal audio,” to give themselves and those around them the space to evolve in their identities, and to really consider what it takes to be a good friend.
The Grade 8 social-emotional curriculum, focuses on enhancing students’ emotional intelligence and giving them the tools to understand themselves and each other. Topics include: adolescent brain development, goal-setting, expressing gratitude, and choice and accountability. Understanding how the brain works, particularly how it grows and evolves during the adolescent years, underpins our inquiry. The setting of personal goals and the systematic working toward those goals provides a real-life application to the work of the class. Finally, as we prepare students for their last months in Middle School, our discussion has turned toward learning to gather information, and explore choices and consequences prior to making difficult decisions.
The Grade 7 academic curriculum begins with a discussion of individual learning styles, the importance of organization, and time management. Prior to assessment week, we discuss how to study for tests, memory remedies for rote memorization, and how to actually take a test.
The Grade 8 academic curriculum begins with a discussion of Dweck’s theory of growth mindset, which allows us to view mistakes as opportunities to grow as learners. We explore Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligences theory and students create “Learning Styles Portraits” that express both their learning styles and their multiple intelligences. Prior to assessment week, we discuss study strategies a second time and create study schedules.
Ten students in grades 6 to 8 participated in the Mathcounts competition on Saturday, January 30. The contest, held at Melrose Veterans Memorial Middle School, included 288 mathletes from 38 schools in the Massachusetts metro region. Mathcounts is a nationwide middle school mathematics competition held in various sites in the United States. Its founding sponsors include the CNA Foundation, the National Society of Professional Engineers, and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. If you wish to view more information, please visit Mathcounts.
Spanish: Grade 6 Spanish is wrapping up a unit on noun/adjective agreement and definite and indefinite articles. Students have been practicing ways to describe physical attributes, personality traits, and likes and dislikes of themselves and others. We have been working on oral fluency and increasingly, on written fluency. We will begin a new chapter on telling time, describing school schedules and activities, and expressing obligations very shortly.
French: We are reviewing verbs like AVOIR and ETRE (to have and to be) and adjectives of description. To do this, students made Google presentations describing each other with adjectives. We continue to review greetings, months, days of the week, numbers, and nationalities. We will play “Guess Who” to reinforce the use of adjectives of description and learned a song on body parts.
Latin: In Latin, students are becoming more familiar with the past tenses (perfect and imperfect) and have added the third person plural. Practice continues daily on noticing subjects, objects and prepositional phrases. The cultural unit deals with First Century beliefs about the afterlife — we’ve read stories featuring a werewolf and an aggressive ghost.
English: This month in English, students are working on tracing themes, characters, and symbols of their choice through Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. We have also begun a unit on comma usage, which incorporates grammar concepts both new and old. Students are continuing their independent reading of nonfiction books and should be planning to finish up around January twentieth. They are processing their reading through short analytical writing assignments.
Science: In the weeks since we returned from winter break, students have completed their study of climate change by engaging with several key topics. They analyzed the atmospheric data available for the last 800,000 years that shows what the composition of the atmosphere was like before and after industrialization. Students spent time brainstorming and learning about the consequences of a changed climate, and posed solutions to disruptions in global agricultural production, spread of infectious disease and rising sea level. Together we read a scientific paper by a leading climate scientist who suggests a target CO2 concentration for humanity to shoot for, and we considered actions individuals and groups of people could take to reduce their carbon footprint. In the coming days we will shift gears and learn how climate change connects to the concept of sustainability.
Math: In Grade 6 Math, we finished the Accentuate the Negative unit, and students took a test on the unit on January 19. Accentuate the Negative focused on exploring addition, subtraction, multiplication and division of positive and negative rational numbers. Our next unit will be Stretching & Shrinking that entails understanding similarity with a focus on scale factor and ratio.
Social Studies: In Social Studies, students are examining how different Native American tribes emerged from the original people who populated North and South America. For their upcoming research project, they will be selecting and studying an aspect of the culture of an indigenous people. When the semester changes in early February, Research will replace Technology in their schedules. The research they begin in Social Studies will be done in conjunction with their research course.
Visual Arts: In Visual Art students are doing observational self-portraits. Students are learning not only the skill of how to draw an eye or nose, but how to look closely at their own features and to see what makes them unique. Through their self-portraits, Students are using observation as a way to look critically at themselves not in a captious sense, but in how forms and shapes actually relate, line up, and create what they look like.
Drama: The students in Grade 6 Drama are using their newly-acquired public speaking skills to practice Impromptu Speaking. In this type of “limited preparation” speaking, students pull three prompts at random, select one, and have only a few minutes in which to prepare and present a short, well-organized talk inspired by the chosen “jump start.” Students are learning to organize their speeches to include an attention getting device (AGD), preview, first body section, transition, second body section, conclusion, and “whammo.” In this lesson, practice is key.
Math: During the first week of January, students explored the nature of inverse variation in different contexts, such as the fixed area of a rectangle. We also compared inverse variation and linear relationships. This week, we are using the new CMP 3 book called Growing, Growing, Growing that explores exponential functions. Students investigate the growth in the number of ballots created by repeatedly cutting a piece of paper in half. By examining the table, they see that, as the number of cuts increases by one, the number of ballots doubles or increases by a factor of 2.
360 King: Through a “Stand Up/Sit Down” activity, students are beginning to evaluate their unique and common identities. Students then explore the quest for identity and the importance of symbolism by reading and discussing, The Poncho Bearer. Students are encouraged to reflect on how to allow fluidity in the creation of their identities and to offer “space to grow” in their fellow classmates as well.
360 Swiatkowski (aka, West): Students considered their experience during assessment week by writing reflections, which have been passed on to their advisors. Currently we are exploring how we organize both our time and our spaces. Students have been challenged to create an “ideal” study space in their home(s).
Science: We finished up our DNA and Mutations unit last week with students making presentations about genetic disorders. This week, the students took their unit assessments. Beyond that, we are looking forward to beginning our genetics unit, starting with several discussions about Gregor Mendel and Punnett squares. On February 4, the first day of the new semester, Mr. Duryea will be leaving Grade 7 and moving to Grade 8, to cover Mr. Troy’s sabbatical. Ms. Austin will return to Milton and to Grade 7 Science on that day.
Spanish: Students in Grade 7 are working with los comparativos comparisons, and stem changing verbs. Students have been learning how to make comparisons between people and things, and have been looking at the new vocabulary, verbs and material in the context of the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears in Spanish.
Latin: After completing the assessment in December, students reviewed their work, identified areas of confusion, and reflected on their methods of preparation. Since returning, students have learned how to use the genitive (possessive) case. We are now considering three different, important uses for the ablative. We are also learning about Romulus and Remus, the legendary founders of the city, Rome.
French: First students were asked to identify the region “Le Midi de la France” (history, geography, economy, art, culinary and the fine arts links). Students are continuing to use the past tense and they are learning places in the city (with the correct preposition) and transportation plus the verb VOIR (to see). They made a Google presentation of their own city/town labeling the places and adding new ones. That done, students are now learning how to ask and give directions in their cities.
Social Studies: Students are concluding WWI and beginning to examine the impact the Treaty of Versailles had on WWII. Following this, we will examine the rise of Hitler and think about how we define terrorism and who does the labeling. This will lead into the graphic novel, Maus, which will introduce students to the Holocaust.
Boys and Girls English: Boys and Girls English are both beginning To Kill a Mockingbird this week. To help support work with the CSP, students will be guided through a jocial justice reading of the novel. This shared lens will also help support Socratic discussions in combined and separated classes. Additionally, Grade 7 Girls’ English is finishing their reading of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by writing a classification essay. The key to writing a classification essay is to find a way to sort out one’s ideas in a logical way. The thesis statement usually includes the topic and how that topic is classified. For their essay on Francie Nolan, the girls are choosing two of the protagonist’s struggles from 1918 and two modern dilemmas that reflect the same issues. The girls have had two weeks to craft their essay at home and to use class time for sharing and peer editing.
Math: Grade 8 math classes are wrapping up their study of linear inequalities and systems of inequalities. Key goals of the unit include using symbolic methods to solve inequalities, connecting solutions to their underlying graphs, and comparing and contrasting different types of inequalities (e.g.: How is 3x + 4 < 12 similar to and different from 3x + 4y < 12?) Soon we will begin our next unit on function notation, transformations of functions, and quadratic functions in vertex form.
English: We have begun our reading of Richard Wright’s memoir Black Boy, which will carry us to March break. Students are focusing on seeing patterns in writing and connecting the issues raised in the text to issues our society still faces.
Science: In Grade 8 Science, students are learning and practicing different methods of separating pure substances from mixtures. They just finished a four-day experiment on fractional distillation. Next, we will look into paper chromatography, filtration, and fractional crystallization. This unit will culminate with the sludge lab in early February. On February 4, the first day of the spring semester, Mr. Troy will leave for his sabbatical. Mr. Duryea will be taking over the class for the remainder of the academic year.
360 – King: We are discussing personal choices and the importance of using both a conscious and informed decision-making process in assessing possible consequences and personal accountability.
360 – Swiatkowski (a.k.a. West): We are beginning our semester-long study of the brain. The objective of our study is to understand the structure and function of different brain areas so that we can learn about how we learn.
Performing Arts: In our culminating project for the semester, students are rehearsing ensemble performance pieces adapted from children’s literature. They are focusing on character development, narration, and stage movement as they continue to strengthen performance and rehearsal skills.
Social Studies: Students are exploring the development of the slave trade from the point of view of economic power, distribution of goods throughout the world, and the effect that enslavement of a group of people has had on today’s society. Students will be asked to explore what life was like for a slave plantation owner, a captain of a slave ship, slave owner’s family, slave on a plantation, and free men in the U.S. and Africa.
Visual Arts: Students in Visual Arts are doing an observational self-portrait using micrography. Micrography is the use of letters and words instead of lines and shapes to form their drawing. Through this process, students draw not only themselves in a physical sense, but the words they have chosen to use describe their interests, identities, likes and dislikes and anything else they chose to share about themselves.
Spanish: Students continue working with mandatos informales; positivos y negativos (informal positive and negative commands) and have also added los mandatos formales – usted y ustedes (formal positive and negative commands when speaking to one person formally and when speaking to a group). This week, they completed and are presenting their projects on the mandatos in which they came up with slogans in Spanish utilizing commands, and designed paper t-shirts displaying their slogans.
Latin: Students in Latin C just wrapped up their translation on the Roman hero Mucius Scaevola and completed their study of personal pronouns. We are now learning about imperatives and will soon be preparing for next Wednesday’s test.
French: In French C we are working on the vocabulary and grammar of food. Students just started working in pairs to prepare a graded oral presentation that puts together all the grammar and vocabulary we have learned. The scenario is about a patient that visits a nutritionist to talk about his/her diet. Presentations/skits are due next week.
At Thursday’s National Geographic Geography Bee, it was Grade 6 student, Alison, who took top honors. In the eight years that Milton Academy has hosted this school-level event, this is the first time that the victor answered every question correctly.
Congratulations to Alison and the 19 other students from grades 4-8 who participated in the bee!
Click here for more information about the National Geographic Geography Bee.
This week in advisory, students wrapped the gifts they purchased for the children in the ABCD Early Head Start program in Dorchester. On Thursday, Grade 6 students and teachers delivered the gifts to the children and spent time with them in their classrooms.
Parents, thank you for your kindness and generosity.
On Wednesday, eight students were recognized for their good sportsmanship and spirit of teamwork during the fall season. The students, hailed as positive examples for those around them, were selected for “[applying] the Middle School values of respect and responsibility to the realm of athletics in ways both large and small.” Coaches’ Awards are given to one student from each team, each season.
Cross Country –Tommy
Boys Soccer Blue-Kiran
Girls Soccer Blue–Cori
Boys Soccer Orange–Nikhil
Girls Soccer Orange-Sarah
Field Hockey–Eliza (not pictured)
Speech at Milton is popular—60 Middle School students and 51 Upper School students compete on two distinct teams. Many of these “speechies” achieve great success at both the regional and national level. Middle School speech team coach Debbie Simon says a key to this success is the coaching program, in which 42 Upper School students—current and former team members—pair up with Middle School students weekly as mentors. Middle School faculty members, parents, and Upper School speech team faculty also play important roles as Middle School speech coaches.
“Coaching a speech team takes more than a village,” says Ms. Simon. “We are a collaborative group who work together to cultivate a team of young people passionate about speech. Our coaches inspire the young speakers and help them learn to stand up in front of an audience and find their voice.”
Earlier this month, the National Speech and Debate Association (NSDA) asked Ms. Simon if she—with students and coaches—would participate in a webinar, sharing with other NSDA members around the country the success of this unique coaching program. Ms. Simon gathered the group, and they filmed the webinar from her English classroom in Ware Hall.
Mack Makishima (I), captain of the Upper School team and a national speech finalist, participated with one of his mentees—Michael George (IV), now on the Upper School team and coaching his own Middle School student.
“Mack was such an amazing coach for me; he really helped me in every way,” says Michael in the webinar. “He helped my Duo Interpretation partner and I with eye contact and how to portray certain characters. He also helped my partner and I with bonding, which is an important feature for a Duo event.”
“I had a really great Upper School coach when I was on the Middle School team,” says Mack. “He was so important in my speech career, because he taught me the artistry of speech, and he helped me develop and practice these skills.”
Marshal Sloane (II), a national junior champion, former Middle School team member, and current Upper School team member coached Adrian Hackney (IV) last year.
“When Adrian started in Impromptu last year, he was brand new to it, but it gave me an opportunity to teach someone how it works and how to formulate a speech. That naturally… helped me develop my own talents in my category of Extemporary. It was really a two-way relationship. It was a rewarding experience and I wouldn’t give that up for anything.”
Adrian, now in the Upper School, is coaching his own Middle School student. “Being an Upper School coach is very valuable—it allows me to continue my own growth but also share the gifts that Marshall gave me with someone from the Middle School and help them to grow,” says Adrian.
Isabel Alex is a Middle School team member, competing in Demonstration Speaking and Duo Interpretation.
“I’ve had two amazing Upper School coaches,” says Isabel. “They’ve pushed me forward and helped me prepare for nationals. They take time out of their busy schedules to meet with you and show you what to do. They help you progress from the beginning of the year to the very end, and it’s such a dramatic change. They dedicate their time to us so we can have our best shot.”
The Middle School’s new student council is already busy at work, meeting with faculty advisors and discussing plans for the upcoming year. First on the agenda: feedback boxes for each grade, to encourage students to submit ideas and opinions on how to enhance life in the Middle School.
“At this age, students have great ideas, and they are ready to be leaders,” says Jacqui Pennini, Middle School dean of students and one of the council’s faculty advisors. “We began the student council this year because we wanted to foster that independence. In the Upper School, so much programming is student-run. We felt this would be a good way to prepare Middle School students for what they will encounter in the Upper School.” Sharon Mathieu, Grade 8 social studies teacher, is the council’s other faculty advisor.
After a round of excellent speeches, eight students were elected by their peers. Grade 8 holds four leadership positions, and two students each from Grade 6 and Grade 7 represent their class.
President: Malia C.
Vice President: Zach A.
Secretary: Cori D.
School Spirit and Activities Coordinator: Jenna P.
Grade 7: Nikhil P. & Kayla M.
Grade 6: Jack B. & Abby B.
Ms. Pennini says a major goal that emerged in the council’s planning is getting students involved in community service on a more regular basis. Other goals include encouraging integrity, raising diversity awareness, and fostering school spirit.
On a gorgeous Wednesday in September, the entire Middle School—students and faculty—spent the day at Hale Reservation, a 1,100–acre nonprofit educational organization in Westwood, Massachusetts. The daylong retreat is an annual kick-off to the school year, during which students partake in problem-solving activities in mixed-grade groups.
“The eighth graders naturally take on leadership roles because they’ve been here before,” says Nicci King, Middle School counselor. “This day is a great chance for the sixth graders to get to know the older students.”
Some of the most popular activities of the day are the low and high rope elements. Every group completes at least one high rope element, which is challenging. Students are harnessed and can choose which elements to try.
“Every year, I watch a someone push farther than they think they can,” says Ms. King. “The student’s classmates provide authentic support, and a real camaraderie develops. I watch all the students take risks in calculated and thoughtful ways. When one student is belaying for another, he or she is learning how to be the safety net for a classmate. The activity is about recognizing that someone is trusting you, and feeling the responsibility that comes with that.”
Click here to view photos from the day!