K–8 News and Events

Students Can Help Stop Cycles of Oppression, Says Diversity Expert Rodney Glasgow

rodney2The different aspects of a person’s identity are critically important to how they see themselves and how the world sees them. And while identifiers like race, gender and religion are affirming in many circumstances, they can also result in negative stereotypes, prejudice and oppression, educator Rodney Glasgow told students this week.

Mr. Glasgow, who is a speaker and facilitator on issues of diversity and equality, spent time with the Middle School Tuesday morning leading a discussion about the cycle of oppression and the role of identity in individual lives and society. Mr. Glasgow’s visit was part of an ongoing partnership with the entire School to explore issues of race and identity.

Students broke into their advisory groups for an activity to help them define the different stages in the cycle of oppression: fear of difference, stereotypes, prejudice, discrimination, institutional oppression and internalized oppression.

“Our identities help us understand who we are, and they are often positive, but issues surrounding identity can also cause a lot of heartache,” Mr. Glasgow told students, explaining that institutional and internalized oppression can negatively impact individual lives and entire communities.

People are biologically inclined to put themselves into groups that share their identities, Mr. Glasgow said—such instincts kept people alive at the beginning of human history. Problems arise from stereotypes that are based in fear of differences, which are used by people in power to oppress others.

When oppression becomes internalized, it can make a person doubt their abilities and sense of belonging, Mr. Glasgow said.

“It can make you not seek opportunities because you’re ‘not supposed’ to do that, and ask yourself, ‘Am I worthy? Do I belong here?’” Mr. Glasgow said. He challenged students to interrupt the cycle of oppression by rejecting prejudice and discrimination.

Chair and Founder of the National Diversity Practitioners Institute, Mr. Glasgow has a long and distinguished career in this work. He serves today as chief diversity officer and head of middle school at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School in Maryland. Mr. Glasgow earned degrees in Afro-American studies and psychology at Harvard University and holds a master of arts in organization and leadership from Columbia. He is an independent school alum, having graduated from Gilman School. He is also president of The Glasgow Group, a consortium of dynamic and innovative consultants.

Faculty Voice: Liz West


lizwestOur kids do so many cool assignments at Milton, that I encourage you, when your child brings home an assignment that resonates with you, to try it out for yourself. Not only does this validate the work that we do at School, it also shows your child that you are willing to take a risk and do some similar work. I am attaching the poem and assignment here, so read it first and then try it out for yourself!


Where I’m From
Liz West

I am from the sweet sounds of country music to
     Mountains that touch the sky with snow-capped peaks.
I am from the smell of home and decorations at every holiday.
I am from dad’s blue chair where he spent long naps snoring softly,
     Sounds of Penn State football in the background.
I am from following in Matt’s footsteps with fierce determination in the pool
     and a Division I scholarship.

I am from writing to Santa and opening stockings before breakfast,
     And a single swing on a tall tree, swinging free and quiet.
I am from potato chips with french onion dip,
     And Trouble stories next to Grandpa’s crutches.
I am from fish and hamsters but never a dog.
     Eating cookie dough with mom and Christina while dad isn’t looking.

I am from frustration because school is hard but only for me
     and four schools before high school.
I am from “Hey y’all” and The Sound of Music.
I am from thatched chairs at the kitchen table
     And singing to scare away the monsters in the basement.

I am from turkey with everyone and laughing till we cry,
     And church on Christmas and Easter but praying everyday.
I am from a family who loves reading but I read too slowly.
I am from “Toujours en Francais” and flashlight tag with neighbors in the summer.
I am from lemony sugar crepes after skiing the Alps with dad and Matt
     And “Home is wherever I’m with you.”

Faculty Voice: Josh Kronenberg

grade7-8-joshua-kronenberg-MA20141119-0454A Case for Fiction

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.

read more…

Grade 7 Students Impress with Social Justice Projects

CSPkids1A 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.”

Faculty Voice: Debbie Simon

DebbieBeing 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…

Faculty Voice: Rebecca Edelman


rebecca-edelmanWhen 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…

Making the Impossible Possible Takes Work, But It’s Worth It, Says Chris Waddell

ChrisWaddellweb“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.”

Faculty Voice: Amy Kirkaldy

amy_kirkcaldyI 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.  

read more…

Faculty Voice: Sue Austin

science-sue-austin-MA20120120-0917-1682629434-OTeaching 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…

Faculty Voice: Tom Troy

grade8-thomas-troy-DSC_0137In 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.

read more…

Students Bring a ‘World of Pure Imagination’ to Life in Wonka

17-02_wonkaThacher 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.

Drs. Deepak Chopra and Rudy Tanzi Urge Students to Reshape Their Brains Through Reflection

“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.”

deepakSharing 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.”

Middle and Lower School Students Mix it Up in Sports

sportsWhat 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.


Middle School Students Practice Wellness with a Side of Adventure

wellness1Waiting 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 ‘Speechies’ and Coach Debbie Simon Earn National Recognition

middleschoolteamSpeaking, 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

Celebrating our Milton Spirit!

spiritOn 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.

Congratulations to Evita

Evita and Israel Arbeiter

Evita and Israel Arbeiter

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!

Welcome Coleman Daley to Grade 5!

ColemanWe are delighted to announce that Coleman Daley will be joining our Grade 5 team this fall! Coleman is the Grade 4, 5, and 6 lead teacher at Hill View Montessori Charter School in Haverhill, where he teaches all subject areas (Math, Reading, History, Geography, Grammar, Science, and Conflict Resolution). Prior to Hill View, Coleman co-led the upper elementary grades at Bridgeview Montessori in Bourne. He holds both a B.A. and an M.Ed. from Lesley University, the latter of which he completed through the Shady Hill Teacher Training Program. Prior to teaching, Coleman acted professionally, on both stage, and daytime television. There will be ample opportunity to meet Coleman before the end of the year, including at the Grade 5 Looking Ahead meeting.

Grade 6 Shares Sustainability Ideas

IMG_3191This 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.




What do Dollars, Donuts, and Trees have in common?

For three of our sixth-grade students…Donuts = Dollars = Trees!

IMG_0747For 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.

Donut-day-addOn 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.

Math Teachers attend Connected Math 3 Conference

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.


Students Pitch in to Help the Residents of Flint, Michigan

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.

A Peek into our Classrooms!

Grade 6

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.


Grade 7

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.


Grade 8

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.


Learning to be a Good Friend

Kindergarten Wood shop and Grade 2 Me You Us 070Grade 2 is exploring Me, You, Us, an affective education curriculum which helps children understand that to have good friends, you need to be a good friend. Working with Director of Multiculturalism and Community Development Robert Lightbody and Lower School Counselor Sarah Spinello, the students were given situations to perform for their peers. The topics of the skits provided a springboard for students to discuss the variety of ways they can be good friends, strengthen their community, and nurture kindness both at School and in their lives away from campus.

Learning about the making of video games

First Grade Job Week 007Grade 1 students continued to think about what they want to be when they grow up. On Friday, Eva’s parents, video game designers, stopped by to talk about how a video game was made. Grade 1 learned about all the team members that come together to make a game as well as the different steps in the game-making process. Perhaps some of our students will be inspired to become game programmers when they grow up!

Congratulations to Alison on her success in our National Geographic Geography Bee!

IMG_0484At 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.

Grade 1 visits with Officer Arthur of the Boston Police Department

Grade1PoliceGrade 1 had a very special visitor this week – Officer Arthur from the Boston Police Department! Officer Arthur spoke to students about the work and the many skills that his job entails. Students had lots of time to ask questions about what it is like to be a police officer. What a special afternoon!

Officer Arthur’s visit is part of the “What do I want to be when I grow up?” unit. In this unit, the children learn about some of the many jobs that exist in the world. Reading and note-taking skills are put to work in their research, and interviewing skills are developed as they are given opportunities to ask parent and friend visitors questions about their vocations and avocations. The children then create tools of the trade and instruction manuals to go with the occupations they have chosen. A culminating job fair allows each child to take the role of perspective employer and “interview” candidates, a task that requires thinking about the qualities and skills needed in a given profession.