K–8 News and Events

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.


Congratulations to our Fall-Season Coach Award Recipients

Fall Coach AwardsOn 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)
Football- Kalel

Grade 2 Plants some bulbs for Spring

Second Grade Bulb Planting November 4 2015 011Second graders took advantage of the beautiful weather this week! They joined Mrs. McGuinness in the garden to plant allium and tulip bulbs. While the students worked, they learned about the different parts of a bulb as well as the importance of when to properly plant bulbs. We can’t wait to see the bulbs emerge in the spring!

Getting to know Mike Lupica


The author of over thirty books geared toward young readers, with messages about teamwork, friendship, perseverance, and winning, Mike Lupica is widely read among fifth and sixth grade children. When he visited campus earlier this week, the students were thrilled to have the chance to meet him, and mesmerized by his many stories, including how he became a writer of children’s books.

What do goats and First Graders have in common?

Each spring, Milton Academy’s Lower School Teachers, together with Lower School Librarian Joan Eisenberg, select a book that every child in each of our six grades will read over the summer. The summer reading book, a tradition since the early 1970s, provides students with a common reading experience as they enter School in the fall. For teachers, the summer reading book provides a fresh curricular unit with which to start the year. Planning the fall’s curriculum is always a “summer highlight” as we think about “how to make each book come alive by weaving in every element of learning, from math, to art, to music, to writing, to physical education, and even to Spanish!” explains Grade 1 teacher Jerrie Moffett.

goatThis year, Grade 1 read Beatrice’s Goat by Page McBrier. “Through Beatrice’s Goat, we’ve been able to introduce the culture and geography of Uganda, and to extend that learning to the creation of thumb-pianos in woodworking and African paper beads in Art” shares Nancy McCuen. For children like Beatrice, goats provide food and drink as well as help families earn money to sent their children to school. Our children learned about raising goats and even got to try goat’s milk and goat cheese. To bring the idea full-circle, Grade 1 students had a special visit with some goats, one of which they were even able to milk – just like Beatrice!

Grade1Hut“Making cultural connections has been a big part of this unit,” explains Mrs. McCuen. “We do that in a very hands on way in First Grade. We’re currently building a Ugandan village that will give students an idea of what life is like for Beatrice.” In woodworking class, along with their teacher Jenny Sorblom, the children created a “mud hut” complete with straw roof. “The hut allows children to play out everyday life in a Ugandan village.

As one of their projects, students made books explaining how they are both similar to and different from goats.  Wondering what first-graders came up with?

How are some first graders similar to goats?

  • I get scared easily and goats do too.
  • Goats like vegetables and I do too.
  • I have knees and goats do too.
  • I like to nibble Cheez-Its.
  • I am curious.
  •  I run a lot.
  • I have to clip my fingernails and goats have to trim their hooves.
  • I have legs.
  • I like to nibble.


How are some first graders different from goats?

  • I don’t eat hay!
  • Goats stand on their hind legs.
  • I am serious.
  • I don’t play by biting each other.
  • I don’t like to nibble.
  • I don’t like oats.
  • I don’t like to climb.
  • I don’t have hay in my hair.
  • I don’t have an odor.
  • I am not pent in.
  • I don’t have udders that produce milk.
  • Goats don’t play sports and I do.