HFS Weekly Collections

HFS News & Special Events
November 2, 2007

HFS Grade 6 Weekly Collections
(11/2/07)

Dear HFS Families,

One of the themes that seems to emerge each year about this time concerns “involvement.” To what extent should a parent be involved in his or her child’s academic life? Quite simply, but not clearly the answer is “Yes.” Parents must be involved. However, the nature of that involvement should be changing throughout the middle school years. The degree to which a parent is involved in the academic pursuits will vary from child to child. Some students will require more supports – assistance with organizing or prompts to get started on projects or study buddies. Others will do everything possible to assert their independence and avoid engaging in any level of communication about schoolwork. While there are individual variations, there are some critical skills that must be fostered within, developed and owned by students before they move on to high school. Responsibility. Accountability. Confidence. Our request at HFS is for parents to “be involved,” but “not to solve.” Students must be permitted to make their own mistakes and learn from them. However, this does not imply that a parent should adopt a “hands-off” approach. We create these Weekly Collections, in part, to generate conversation at home about classes, long-term projects, class topics. Ask questions of your child, learn about what they experience on a daily basis. Ask if you might assist them with something, but please do not assume responsibility for the task yourself. When a note of concern comes home or you know an effort has fallen short of expectations, allow your child to feel the sting of coming up short. Our teachers are experts in facilitating learning. In many instances, there is no better accelerant to learning and skill development than something short of success. Middle school, in many ways, is that awkward stage when the training wheels are off and true, balanced, and confident pedaling takes place. From both the parent’s and teacher’s perspective, it is not a comfortable sight to see someone careening and teetering, falling and rising. However, with encouragement, good instruction, and time to ask “How’s it going? Can I help?” the skill will be learned and confidence gained. This is often more than a three year process when it comes to organization, time management, study habits, etc. and your degree of involvement may wax and wane, but the process never changes. Learning takes time and experience is the most reliable teacher of all.

In peace,

Jonathan

NOTES from Humanities…

Humanities: Sixth grade students continue to work very hard in all aspects of Humanities 6.  Each day begins with a short period of silent sustained reading for approximately 12 minutes.  Then pupils often share what they have read with other members of the class and write up a short summary statement for their reading logs.  We then advance to spelling-vocabulary for approximately ten to twelve minutes each day.  Punctuation comes next, and students and parents should note that we will be having a test on comma usage in the not too distant future.  Our latest short story was “All Summer in a Day” by the renowned science fiction writer, Ray Bradbury.  Students enjoyed thinking about life on Venus as Bradbury portrayed it.  We are also working on the various contributions of the many different civilizations of Ancient Mesopotamia and have only recently done map work on Ancient Persia.  A reminder for all:  our next book report is due on Thursday, November 8.

NOTES from Technology…

Math: We started an exciting new unit on fractions, decimals, and percents called “Bits and Pieces.” In closing out the first marking period, unti projects, tests, and notebooks have been graded, and returned to students.

Science: 6th Grade Science is beginning magnetism.  We began with looking at the earth as a magnet, and seeing how this is similar to bar magnets. We should even all have an idea of what is the magnetosphere.  We have also seen how the magnetic north pole is wandering its way north towards the geographic north pole at an increasing rate.  I was very excited to see the highest average score on a quiz yet from the quiz from last Friday.  We will continue with magnetism and electricity next week, with a quiz early in the week, just to check up on our first dabbling in magnetism.

NOTES from Explorations…

Music: For additional information on the Maryland Conservatory of Music, please see www.musicismagic.com.

Spanish: For additional information on Fun with Foreign Language, please see www.funwithforeignlanguage.com.

Computer Technology: We will continue with Ultrakey for 20 minutes of class. After that we will collect our Practical Exercise (Part 2 of our test) to determine what areas need review. We will also go over the written test to determine what students need extra help. We will continue another lesson in Microsoft Word and add pictures into documents. For additional information on MParr Solutions, please see www.mparrsolutions.com.

Physical Education: Our short, two week unit on cooperative games/group challenges ends with our GVOLC trip. In class this week we played “tail tag” and “team target” as circles of students worked to “catch” a thrown ball in the circle they made with joined hands. Next week we “kick off” our six-week long flag football unit that culminates with our 2nd Annual Holiday Bowl on Friday, December 21 in which parents, faculty, and friends are encouraged to participate. More information to follow.

Announcements/Calendar Updates

  1. SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 4, HFS OPEN HOUSE, 2-4 PM: This is our most well-attended Open House of the school year. Your participation as HFS parents and students is critical. Please know that we expect a large crowd and we hope to be able to offer our guests HFS parents, students, and trustees as guides for their time with us that day. Please let us know if you will be able to join us. Thank you in advance for the gift of your time!
  2. Wednesday, November 7: Harford Technical High School Open House (5:30-8:00PM)
  3. Wednesday, November 7: Phone-A-Thank at the home of Paul & Beth Babikow. Please volunteer to contact donors to thank them for contributing to the success of HFS! Email Jonathan Huxtable (headofschool@harfordfriends.org and/or Paul Babikow at babikow@comcast.net for additional details and to volunteer.
  4. Friday, November 9: Advisor Interim Summary Reports handed to students. Signed parent copy should be returned to advisors on Monday, November 12.
  5. Friday, November 9: Sixth grade students will travel to Emory Knoll Farms for a science based field trip.
  6. Friday, November 16: Sixth and seventh graders will travel to Blue Dog Creative Arts to enjoy the use of their studio (12:00-2:30PM).
  7. Nov. 17: Admissions Testing Day volunteers needed. HFS will be hosting admissions tests for prospective students between 9 and 11 and 12 and 2 on Saturday, Nov. 17. We would like to have current HFS parents available to talk with prospective families while their children are testing (one 45 minutes time block for such conversations). Also, anyone interested in simply assisting with background support – collating, printing, filing, refreshment prep, serving, etc. – would be a wonderful addition.  Thank you!
  8. Please be aware that there will not be a county-wide Spelling Bee this school year. County public and private schools have opted to withdraw from the contest due, in part, to the new “per school” fee.

HFS Grade 7 Weekly Collections
(11/2/07)

Dear HFS Families,

One of the themes that seems to emerge each year about this time concerns “involvement.” To what extent should a parent be involved in his or her child’s academic life? Quite simply, but not clearly the answer is “Yes.” Parents must be involved. However, the nature of that involvement should be changing throughout the middle school years. The degree to which a parent is involved in the academic pursuits will vary from child to child. Some students will require more supports – assistance with organizing or prompts to get started on projects or study buddies. Others will do everything possible to assert their independence and avoid engaging in any level of communication about schoolwork. While there are individual variations, there are some critical skills that must be fostered within, developed and owned by students before they move on to high school. Responsibility. Accountability. Confidence. Our request at HFS is for parents to “be involved,” but “not to solve.” Students must be permitted to make their own mistakes and learn from them. However, this does not imply that a parent should adopt a “hands-off” approach. We create these Weekly Collections, in part, to generate conversation at home about classes, long-term projects, class topics. Ask questions of your child, learn about what they experience on a daily basis. Ask if you might assist them with something, but please do not assume responsibility for the task yourself. When a note of concern comes home or you know an effort has fallen short of expectations, allow your child to feel the sting of coming up short. Our teachers are experts in facilitating learning. In many instances, there is no better accelerant to learning and skill development than something short of success. Middle school, in many ways, is that awkward stage when the training wheels are off and true, balanced, and confident pedaling takes place. From both the parent’s and teacher’s perspective, it is not a comfortable sight to see someone careening and teetering, falling and rising. However, with encouragement, good instruction, and time to ask “How’s it going? Can I help?” the skill will be learned and confidence gained. This is often more than a three year process when it comes to organization, time management, study habits, etc. and your degree of involvement may wax and wane, but the process never changes. Learning takes time and experience is the most reliable teacher of all.

In peace,

Jonathan

NOTES from Humanities…

Humanities: Seventh grade students continue to work very hard in all aspects of Humanities 7.  Each “long” day begins with a short period of silent sustained reading for approximately 12 minutes.  Then pupils often share what they have read with other members of the class and write up a short summary statement for their reading logs.  We then advance to spelling-vocabulary for approximately ten to twelve minutes each day.  Punctuation comes next, and students and parents should note that we will be having a test on comma usage in the not too distant future.  Our latest short story was “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” by the renowned American humorist, James Thurber.  Students enjoyed thinking about how well Thurber employed characterization in this short story.  We have begun a new unit in social studies, and Mr. Norton is assuming the leadership role in this new venture as he has actually lived in Africa and has done extensive traveling there.  Students have been involved in several map activities and will soon be involved in the tourism business for a particular African country.  A reminder for all:  our next book report is due on Thursday, November 8.

NOTES from Technology…

Math: Seventh grade math finds itself diving into similarity and scale factors even further.  We have surmised, and then confirmed, how we determine mathematical similarity in triangles and quadrilaterals.  We also have determined how changes in perimeter and in side lengths compare to the changes in area of a shape.  Also, next Friday, we have a project on similarity and expanding an image due.  I hope substantial parts will be done by the beginning of next week.

Science: In 7th grade Science we are continuing our investigation of biomes and ecosystems.  We know about the six biomes, as well as freshwater ecosystems and marine ecosystems.  We also learned about nitrogen fixation, the oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon cycles, as well as the roles of producers and consumers in these cycles.  We should expect a quiz on Chapter 22 on Monday.  I feel confident that we know our material on biomes and ecosystems, so Monday will afford us the opportunity to strut our stuff.

NOTES from Explorations…

Music: For additional information on the Maryland Conservatory of Music, please see www.musicismagic.com.

Spanish: For additional information on Fun with Foreign Language, please see www.funwithforeignlanguage.com.

Computer Technology: We will continue with Ultrakey for 20 minutes of class. After that we will collect our Practical Exercise (Part 2 of our test) to determine what areas need review. We will also go over the written test to determine what students need extra help. We will finalize our Excel training and work on Mail Merge in Microsoft Word.For additional information on MParr Solutions, please see www.mparrsolutions.com.

Physical Education: Our short, two week unit on cooperative games/group challenges ends with our GVOLC trip. In class this week we played “tail tag” and “team target” as circles of students worked to “catch” a thrown ball in the circle they made with joined hands. Next week we “kick off” our six-week long flag football unit that culminates with our 2nd Annual Holiday Bowl on Friday, December 21 in which parents, faculty, and friends are encouraged to participate. More information to follow.

Announcements/Calendar Updates

  1. SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 4, HFS OPEN HOUSE, 2-4 PM: This is our most well-attended Open House of the school year. Your participation as HFS parents and students is critical. Please know that we expect a large crowd and we hope to be able to offer our guests HFS parents, students, and trustees as guides for their time with us that day. Please let us know if you will be able to join us. Thank you in advance for the gift of your time!
  2. Wednesday, November 7: Harford Technical High School Open House (5:30-8:00PM)
  3. Wednesday, November 7: Phone-A-Thank at the home of Paul & Beth Babikow. Please volunteer to contact donors to thank them for contributing to the success of HFS! Email Jonathan Huxtable (headofschool@harfordfriends.org and/or Paul Babikow at babikow@comcast.net for additional details and to volunteer.
  4. Friday, November 9: Advisor Interim Summary Reports handed to students. Signed parent copy should be returned to advisors on Monday, November 12.
  5. Friday, November 9: Seventh grade students will travel to Kikos Restaurant for a Spanish immersion field trip.
  6. Friday, November 16: Sixth and seventh graders will travel to Blue Dog Creative Arts to enjoy the use of their studio (12:00-2:30PM).
  7. Nov. 17: Admissions Testing Day volunteers needed. HFS will be hosting admissions tests for prospective students between 9 and 11 and 12 and 2 on Saturday, Nov. 17. We would like to have current HFS parents available to talk with prospective families while their children are testing (one 45 minutes time block for such conversations). Also, anyone interested in simply assisting with background support – collating, printing, filing, refreshment prep, serving, etc. – would be a wonderful addition.  Thank you!
  8. Please be aware that there will not be a county-wide Spelling Bee this school year. County public and private schools have opted to withdraw from the contest due, in part, to the new “per school” fee.

HFS Grade 8 Weekly Collections
(11/2/07)

Dear HFS Families,

One of the themes that seems to emerge each year about this time concerns “involvement.” To what extent should a parent be involved in his or her child’s academic life? Quite simply, but not clearly the answer is “Yes.” Parents must be involved. However, the nature of that involvement should be changing throughout the middle school years. The degree to which a parent is involved in the academic pursuits will vary from child to child. Some students will require more supports – assistance with organizing or prompts to get started on projects or study buddies. Others will do everything possible to assert their independence and avoid engaging in any level of communication about schoolwork. While there are individual variations, there are some critical skills that must be fostered within, developed and owned by students before they move on to high school. Responsibility. Accountability. Confidence. Our request at HFS is for parents to “be involved,” but “not to solve.” Students must be permitted to make their own mistakes and learn from them. However, this does not imply that a parent should adopt a “hands-off” approach. We create these Weekly Collections, in part, to generate conversation at home about classes, long-term projects, class topics. Ask questions of your child, learn about what they experience on a daily basis. Ask if you might assist them with something, but please do not assume responsibility for the task yourself. When a note of concern comes home or you know an effort has fallen short of expectations, allow your child to feel the sting of coming up short. Our teachers are experts in facilitating learning. In many instances, there is no better accelerant to learning and skill development than something short of success. Middle school, in many ways, is that awkward stage when the training wheels are off and true, balanced, and confident pedaling takes place. From both the parent’s and teacher’s perspective, it is not a comfortable sight to see someone careening and teetering, falling and rising. However, with encouragement, good instruction, and time to ask “How’s it going? Can I help?” the skill will be learned and confidence gained. This is often more than a three year process when it comes to organization, time management, study habits, etc. and your degree of involvement may wax and wane, but the process never changes. Learning takes time and experience is the most reliable teacher of all.

In peace,

Jonathan

NOTES from Humanities…

English: Eighth grade students continue to work very hard in all aspects of Humanities 6.  Each day begins with a short period of silent sustained readying for approximately 12 minutes.  Then pupils often share what they have read with other members of the class and write up a short summary statement for their reading logs.  We then advance to spelling-vocabulary for approximately ten to twelve minutes each day.  Punctuation comes next, and students and parents should note that we will be having a test on comma usage in the not too distant future.  Students seem especially engrossed in our reading of “The Crucible” by the esteemed American playwright Arthur Miller.  They are relating what they are reading to the time period it reflects and are doing very well!  A reminder for all:  our next book report is due on Thursday, November 8.

Social Studies: Reading notes are said to be getting easier as the semester progresses. A follow up assignment to Monday’s reading notes was choosing the most valuable point (MVP) from each chapter, and writing a 1-2 sentence defense of that point in terms of its overall importance in American history. In class on Tuesday, students worked in small groups to decide upon the group’s MVP for all six chapters; then groups debated to derive the class MVP. This exercise was aimed at making clear assertions, backed up with evidence, and actively participating in class discussion. Small group work was productive; the class debate was more orderly (in addressing counterarguments) than our previous one, but students tired of the exercise and crafted a rather forced synthesis of the two.

Wednesday’s written assignment compared the Spanish and English experience in the New World from two perspectives, that of the conquistadors/explorer’s, and that of their followers. This is our first exercise in how history is experienced and recorded differently according to one’s perspective.

We nominated descriptors for our Qualities of a Good Paper checklist, then rated them by importance. This is to provide students with criteria to use to judge their research papers as they begin writing them.

Wednesday in class we discussed the research papers, reviewing each paper’s proposed scope and organization. A class question led to a discussion of the scope of history, i.e., can a history paper include data from modern day? Some students felt that history could only be “old.” When asked, how old? the consensus emerged that we were in fact living history (pronounced “corny” by one student), and that our perception of history as “old” is a function of our usually studying “olden times” in history classes. When asked how this discussion related to the Spanish-English homework assignment (that is, in emphasizing the importance of perspective in how we approach history)—many students were resistant to making the connection, dismissing our discussion as “going off on a tangent,” and asserting that one could make a connection between any two things by taking a sufficiently circuitous route. In short, students are still more comfortable dealing with the “stuff” of history–the dates, the personalites–than the thinking that informs it.

Next week, we continue with our reading in Hakim (chapters 10-15) and discussion of the material. Notecards are due on Monday, along with the list of references they are drawn from. Students are to bring in the resource materials that they have in hand. Questions students plan to ask interviewees are also due Monday. Part of Monday’s class will address appropriate ways to interview. Tuesday’s written assignment will be a detailed organization of the paper, in outline form, annotated with sentences that describe the material to be covered in that section.  To prepare for this, we discussed how papers are to be organized. Class notes were again collected; students need to take careful notes in class to prepare them for next year’s high school classes with this requirement.

NOTES from Technology…

Math: In our geometry unit on the Pythagorean Theorem, we actually proved the theorem not only in one way, but in two, two, two ways in one. More coming next week.

Science: Eighth Grade Science took on the concepts (and vocabulary) of such things as energy (potential and kinetic), force, acceleration, momentum, and work, thereby spending some time with Galileo and Newton.  We experimented with variations on the pendulum, and traveled to the world of applied physics as students designed and built prototype catapults.  As teams finished with projectile marshmallows and ping-pong balls, students were asked to close the circle of fun and learning by discussing in writing the physics of their catapults.  In Science in the News, we considered news articles that highlighted two opposing human phenomena that add to the overall difficulty of science:  brilliant scientists (Nobel Prize winners) too frequently stray from their area of knowledge and say things most scientists regard as foolish; and the science-consuming public is difficult to dissuade from scientific myths to such and extent that efforts to debunk myths are often remembered as further affirmation of the myths.  May we guard ourselves against living these human shortcomings in microcosm in the classroom!

NOTES from Explorations…

Music: For additional information on the Maryland Conservatory of Music, please see www.musicismagic.com.

Spanish: For additional information on Fun with Foreign Language, please see www.funwithforeignlanguage.com.

Computer Technology: For additional information on MParr Solutions, please see www.mparrsolutions.com.

Physical Education: Our short, two week unit on cooperative games/group challenges ends with our GVOLC trip. In class this week we played “tail tag” and “team target” as circles of students worked to “catch” a thrown ball in the circle they made with joined hands. Next week we “kick off” our six-week long flag football unit that culminates with our 2nd Annual Holiday Bowl on Friday, December 21 in which parents, faculty, and friends are encouraged to participate. More information to follow.

Announcements/Calendar Updates

  1. SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 4, HFS OPEN HOUSE, 2-4 PM: This is our most well-attended Open House of the school year. Your participation as HFS parents and students is critical. Please know that we expect a large crowd and we hope to be able to offer our guests  HFS parents, students, and trustees as guides for their time with us that day. Please let us know if you wil be able to join us. Thank you in advance for the gift of your time!
  2. Wednesday, November 7: Harford Technical High School Open House (5:30-8:00PM)
  3. Wednesday, November 7: Phone-A-Thank at the home of Paul & Beth Babikow. Please volunteer to contact donors to thank them for contributing to the success of HFS! Email Jonathan Huxtable (headofschool@harfordfriends.org and/or Paul Babikow at babikow@comcast.net for additional details and to volunteer.
  4. Friday, November 9: Advisor Interim Summary Reports handed to students. Signed parent copy should be returned to advisors on Monday, November 12.
  5. Friday, November 9: Eighth grade students are encouraged to use the day to shadow at high school to which they might apply for the 08-09 school year. This will count as an excused absence provided a parent-written note is submitted on or before the 9th. Students not visiting high schools that day will be provided time and space to conduct research for their social studies research project.
  6. Friday, November 16: Sixth and seventh graders will travel to Blue Dog Creative Arts to enjoy the use of their studio (12:00-2:30PM).
  7. Nov. 17: Admissions Testing Day volunteers needed. HFS will be hosting admissions tests for prospective students between 9 and 11 and 12 and 2 on Saturday, Nov. 17. We would like to have current HFS parents available to talk with prospective families while their children are testing (one 45 minutes time block for such conversations). Also, anyone interested in simply assisting with background support – collating, printing, filing, refreshment prep, serving, etc. – would be a wonderful addition.  Thank you!
  8. Please be aware that there will not be a county-wide Spelling Bee this school year. County public and private schools have opted to withdraw from the contest due, in part, to the new “per school” fee.
Archived Weekly Collections: