Science

Life Science: Jen

In Life Science, students are learning a great deal about the ecosystems around them and how the abiotic factors (temperature, precipitation, space, etc) all affect the biotic (living things) elements in the ecosystems. We are currently creating a biome/ecosystem display for each student to explore the food/energy diagrams at a glance and determine a hypothetical response to a change in either organism representation or to an abiotic factor. For example, if a major plant food source were removed, what would happen to the animals. In addition, if the sunlight were to dramatically be changed, how might that affect the ecosystem. Students have also discovered different relationships within ecosystems between different organisms such as parasitism, commensalism, and mutualism. Quiz them and ask them for an example of each!

Physical Science:  Ryan

Students studied Daniel Bernoulli and Fluid Dynamics during the month of December and had a blast reenacting experiments Bernoulli did that later formed the basis of papers such as Hydrodynamica. We looked at how airplane wings gain lift; we studied the relationship between airspeed and force perpendicular to the direction of current. One of the primary takeaways was for students to grasp the incompressibility of liquids, which is the concept at the heart of hydraulics. Of course we had to explore how hydraulic pressure works and that’s led us to a fun and engaging project still underway in mid-January, and I’ll save that story for next month’s newsletter!

Earth & Space Science: Ryan

We were excited in December to work with the Renaissance’s Fourth Grade class. Sam Gerlack guided our visitors through the scientific method and how it related to the once mysterious “sailing stones” of Death Valley. It was fun to share the idea of recreating earth-based geologic phenomenon in a laboratory setting and the questions and hypotheses that ensued were extremely stimulating.  

During December, we continued our work exploring rocks and minerals and enjoyed relating them to meta-processes such as ocean and atmospheric currents. The exciting thing about Science, certainly Earth and Space Science included, is that all concepts interrelate if only one seeks the connection. Often we’ll find ourselves following a thread of curiosity sparked by research or discussion and then we’re off pacing the parking lot to model the distance from the sun to Earth given a model diameter of Earth equal to one and a half centimeters. This exercise will pave the way for the work we’ll do on our solar system and specifically the Earth’s relationship to its moon and sun. We live on an amazing planet with a four and a half billion year history so it can sometimes be difficult redirecting student interest in order to set the stage for high school.

Ultimately I seek a balance between planned curriculum and student curiosity. Engaged learning is an absolute priority and a beautiful thing about the independent school climate is having the latitude to focus the microscope or telescope on the topics and questions most relevant or gleaming to the class.

STEAM

STEAM A (Ryan)

December brought a shift in STEAM A from model tree houses to projects that were confined to single class periods. A couple of projects we undertook were making cars out of plastic straws, rubber bands, and toothpicks and during Experience Endeavor Day, bridge building. Fifth Grade students joined middle school students in friendly competition to create a bridge from plastic straws, newspaper, and scotch tape to span a distance between stacks of textbooks. Each bridge was required to have a smooth deck on which a “matchbox” Lamborghini could travel from one side to the other. After this qualification was tested, STEAM students placed weights on a petri dish placed in the center of their bridge. Students crowded together to view bridges being tested and as the weight increased, excitement built. It was a lively experience to say the least and was a testament to Jen and I that the bridge competition at VTC in April is a must!

STEAM B (Jen) 

Students in STEAM B have been hard at work creating their fashionable, yet functional shoes. Each student created their own drawing(s), critiqued each other, and revised. Later, students paired up to negotiate and work together on a shared design, which was then given feedback and improved. Finally, like in an actual business, the entire group had to come together, to compromise on a design that they agreed on. On the first attempt, the shoe prototype did not survive the test, so it was back to the drawing board. Design Number 1 offered a lot of insight into what does and does not work when creating a model. Design 2 is showing great promise and will hopefully be ready for display the end of the quarter.

Comment

Megan Shrestha

Want a gorgeous website done right, on budget,  and on time? You’re in the right place. I’ve got over a decade of experience and know what it takes to create stunning websites that get real results.

World Language, Arts, Electives, and Outreach

Life Skills:

Life Skills A (John)

Students in Life Skills spent the latter half of the second quarter discussing healthy nutrition, effective communication, sewing, and decision making. They participated in a number of activities designed to encourage them to consider the consequences of their actions while also realizing the positive benefits of using good judgement. Each of these lessons ended with a reflection and discussion period during which students reflected on the consequences of their decisions within the simulations as well as the importance of decision making in real life. The students also learned a variety of techniques for sewing which they put to use to create items to sell at the annual craft fair.

Life Skills B (Ryan)

During December, we discussed health, energy, lifestyle habits that promote feeling good, and goal setting. Each student set a goal for themselves that would presumably take several months to complete. It’s important for students to learn that achievements are comprised of small steps, which are explicitly defined during the planning stage or further developed as amendments to the plan. Students learned to set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely) goals. Several used verbiage such as “get better at …” and were encouraged to change checkpoint descriptions to be less vague. It’s a pleasure to see these students excited about reaching their goals. Every Thursday we continue to share goal updates, including what students are doing as they meet or fall short of their checkpoint targets.

French: Caroline

French 1A:

We played the French game “Les 7 Familles” as an introduction to Chapter 4 about family. This traditional card game is as part of growing up in France as Go Fish is in the United States!
It includes a repetitive scripted dialogue which allows the players to collect all 6 members of the same family. Different sets include Hobbies, Professions, Transportation, Jungle Animals, etc…

French 1B:

We finished Chapter 9 about train travels with the study of irregular IRE verbs - such as Lire (to read), Dire (to say), Ecrire (to write) - and DRE verbs such as Descendre, Attendre (to wait), Entendre (to hear), Defendre.

In both sections we continued our research on Africa. Students graphed and compared the population of their assigned country with that of France. They also compared its land surface area to that of France and Vermont. In both cases they created final drafts and visuals to include in their reports, which will be displayed at the end of January.

We welcomed many new and familiar faces on Discover Endeavour Day. Our combined French block had 13 students! We played number Bingo and Verb Battleship in small groups and ended the class with a game of ER verbs charade!

Wishing you all une Bonne Annee 2017.

Spanish: Marcela

In Spanish, students continue to practice verb conjugation for both regular and irregular verbs in the present tense. Before the holidays, students learned about prepositions which answer the question “¿Dónde está?” (Where is?) and gerunds which answer the question “¿Qué haces?” (What are you doing?).

As part of our culture corner, we finished reading “When Tía Lola Came to Stay” by Julia Alvarez and had a discussion about the special traditions that tía Lola brought back to the family characters, Miguel and Juanita.

Students have also been working on writing a paragraph that compares their daily routine to the routine of a famous person in Spanish. We learned about the Canadian hockey player, Sydney Crosby, the World Cup ski racer, Mikaela Schiffrin, and the famous actors and comedians, Kevin Hart and Eddie Murphy. Students outlined their routine for the day or the week and researched the routine of their role model. They presented and answered questions in Spanish regarding their work for the end of the quarter. 

Art: Nicole

In art class this Quarter, we created art for some of our community events; the Coffee House Talent Show and the Holiday Craft Fair. We designed and sculpted our own clay gargoyles and made a paper snowflake installation for the hallway. Now we are working on creating a diorama from a scene in our dreams with mixed media; including drawing, transfers, clay, wire, wood, and paper. 

Music and Drama: Randal

In music class this quarter, we have begun delving into music theory and keyboard work. We have talked about keys and tonal centers and learned about the construction of major and minor chords and scales. From this, students will learn about songs and instrumental pieces and their musical construction. We’ve also been creating stories to act out in drama class and generating characters and storylines for our spring musical as well.

PE: Henry

In PE, students continued to develop motor skills by hiking in the woods behind our school, while playing camouflage, playing Four Square, and other games. While not competitive, students participated in a Fitness test to get a baseline on physical fitness levels.  Students were in good spirits and enthusiastically enjoyed the activities.   

Young Writers Project: Cara

Students,working with prompts from the Young Writers Project, explored the nature of memoirs. Some students wrote about holiday traditions, others about vivid memories from childhood. Students used the techniques of fiction, adding dialogue and details. The new routine is for students to log on to the Young Writers Project website, find a prompt they like, and write for a class or two, and then submit their work. I’m looking forward to reading more wonderful work as we continue to write during the second semester!

Math

General Math 6: Jen

Students in Grade 6 are finishing up their unit on rates and ratios. We have learned a great deal about how to work with rates and ratios through real world problems. In addition, we have explored the use of percentages as a ratio and begun looking at proportions. A look ahead entails some work with complex operations of division with fractions, as well as multiplication of decimals and whole and mixed numbers. It looks to be an exciting month ahead in math. 

Pre-Algebra: Ryan

Students have been expanding mathematical skills and techniques while continuing to solidify fundamental understanding of fractions, decimals, and equivalencies.  Students have been learning how to visually represent inequalities and are embarking on how to manipulate the left and right side of equations in order to isolate the variable.  We vacillate between playing math games (bingo, scavenger hunts, quack quack) and more rigid classroom exercises like partner classwork and lecture with note taking.  Students are positive, enthusiastic, and committed to understanding where they erred when they arrive at an incorrect answer.  By the end of the second quarter, students will have mastered the distributive, associative, and commutative properties of Pre-Algebra.

Algebra: Jen

In Algebra, students explored how the length of a particular bone in the body can be used to predict the height of a person. We did an analysis of what forensic scientists use as equations and determined that out of the tibia, radius and humerus bones, the radius bone was the most accurate in predicting an adult’s height. Very interesting. We have recently embarked on an adventure into inequalities (graphing, solving and exploring their meanings). We will conclude this unit right before the break.

Science

Life Science: Jen

In Life Science, students are learning a great deal about the ecosystems around them and how the abiotic factors (temperature, precipitation, space, etc) all affect the biotic (living things) elements in the ecosystems. We are currently creating a biome/ecosystem display for each student to explore the food/energy diagrams at a glance and determine a hypothetical response to a change in either organism representation or to an abiotic factor. For example, if a major plant food source were removed, what would happen to the animals. In addition, if the sunlight were to dramatically be changed, how might that affect the ecosystem. 

Physical Science:  Ryan

Students have been exploring forces, motion, Kinetic and Potential Energy, and more recently, Daniel Bernoulli and his contributions to the scientific community.  We’ve made roller coasters while learning about clothoid loops and critical velocity.  We’ve dropped helicopters that resemble seed pods from the crow’s nest to the first floor by the lockers to experiment with air resistance and the conversion to rotational motion.  Students have been so good lately with buckling down and taking solid notes when working with formulas such as Bernoulli’s continuity formula or KE and PE formulas, we’ve been able to celebrate as a class with some friendly science room ping pong!  Ultimately, I’m looking for balance in the classroom and this class is well on its way to finding it.

Earth & Space Science: Ryan

In Earth and Space Science, we’ve been exploring macro systems such as how rocks cycle through the lithosphere and mantle.  Students continued learning on tectonic plates, earthquakes, and faults and created news videos anchoring and field reporting on a recent 5.1 quake that occurred in Cushing, OK.  Minerals, gems, garnets, and rocks are a common theme in Earth and Space Science that we continue to be fascinated by.  We’re hoping to take a field trip in the Spring to pan for gold and hunt for minerals.  Next up, we’ll be studying the atmosphere, ocean currents, and planet-wide systems such as jet streams, the magnetism of the poles, and tidal phenomenon.

Humanities

humanities.jpg

Language Arts: John

Language Arts students have been hard at work completing their unit on narrative poetry. This unit began at the end of October with Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven and has culminated in the students composing their own narrative poems. The students have read a number of poems by authors such as Shel Silverstein and Edgar Lee Masters and identified narrative elements within each one. Quarterly book reports have recently been submitted, and students will take turns presenting their work in the coming days. 

History

Humanities I: John

The first few weeks of the second quarter have focused on events surrounding the recent elections, and the students are putting the finishing touches on their persuasive essays about the electoral college. Simultaneously, daily grammar lessons have focused on regular, irregular, helping, linking and action verbs. The students have been demonstrating their mastery of these lessons as well as their spelling lessons through end-of-week assessments. Quarterly book reports have recently been submitted, and students will take turns presenting their work in the coming days. 

Global Studies in the Middle Ages: John

The primary focus in Global Studies in the Middle Ages has been on everyday life in the Roman Republic, including education, housing, health, infrastructure, clothing and food. Each student was randomly assigned to one of these topics with the goal of learning and subsequently teaching what he or she learned to his or her peers. The students are currently in the process of studying the Punic Wars and the resulting emergence of Rome as a superpower in the ancient world. In the coming weeks, they will be acting as journalists and creating a magazine that discusses various events through the eyes of Romans and Carthaginians who lived during this tumultuous time period. 

Modern American History: John 

The second quarter in Modern American History kicked off by wrapping up the events surrounding the recent elections with a focus on whether or not the electoral college is an effective means of electing a president. Weekly notebook and organizational checks continue to take place each Wednesday. Recent current events have also been emphasized in recent weeks, including the continuing protests at the Standing Rock Sioux reservation as well as the death of Cuban leader Fidel Castro. The latter of these two topics served as our transition to the Spanish-American War and the emergence of the United States as a global superpower. 

Young Writers Project: Cara

Students have spent some time learning about the difference between narrative and lyric poems, free verse and metered verse, and the different styles of poems.  Among other exercises, students in each grade wrote Haikus.  Here are a few Haikus from the Sixth Graders: 

Knit
By Caspar 

Cold in the winter
Get frostbite while outside
I want to knit scarves

Summer
By Alivia

It is very warm
Fun in the sun crashing waves
I like to chase birds

Food Seasons
By Ethan

Turkey is yummy
Gingerbread coming so soon
I like lots of food

Seasons
By Isabella

Leaves fall from the sky
Winter comes in a cold breeze
I see the sun now

This month, albeit a short school month, we will be writing memoirs about a holiday tradition.  Look for more pieces soon!

Comment

Megan Shrestha

Want a gorgeous website done right, on budget,  and on time? You’re in the right place. I’ve got over a decade of experience and know what it takes to create stunning websites that get real results.

STEAM

STEAM A: Ryan

Students have been finding the architect inside themselves with the recent Model Treehouse project.  We spent several class periods in the forest, looking for trees that were clustered, growing in close proximity to other trees, that would suit our model treehouse project.  Students chose the tree / branch they wanted and cut it down with saws and loppers.  We then set to the task of mounting branches on bases so they wouldn’t tip over.  After that, students were challenged to use materials commonly found throughout the classroom (cardboard, hot glue, string, rope, corks, and other re-purposed knick knacks) to create a design they drew on paper.  All treehouses were required to have windows, a roof for snow and rain protection, and a way up.  In the final two or three class periods devoted to this project, I was really impressed with the way students dove in, problem solved, and truly enjoyed themselves while they enhanced their awesome designs.  Please check them out when you have a few extra minutes and feel free to pass on some feedback to the designers/builders!  Treehouses are located by the front entrance to the school.

STEAM B: Jen

In STEAM B, students are working collaboratively as engineers and designers in a shoe company to create a shoe that meets specific criteria. The criteria is that it must be worn by one student, therefore specific measurements were taken, it must have a 1.5 inch heel, it must be aesthetically interesting and can only use the materials provided in class. It has proven to be a challenge for students who prefer working alone, as there is a requirement to collaborate which is a valuable 21st Century skill. I am excited for the finished product. 

World Languages, Arts, and Electives

Life Skills

Life Skills A: John

Recent lessons in Life Skills A have emphasized the importance of decision making in our everyday lives. The students participated in a number of interactive simulations that encouraged them to use their judgement in order to succeed. One of these scenarios took place on the moon and required students to list the objects they had with them in order of most important to least important for survival. Similarly, a desert island scenario took place over the course of multiple class periods and provided a number of challenges that needed to be overcome before any rescue could take place. Each of these lessons ended with a reflection and discussion period during which students reflected on the consequences of their decisions within the simulations as well as the importance of decision making in real life.

Life Skills B: Ryan

We continue to discuss goal setting and are on our way to committing to S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely) goals.  This challenges students to break down larger targets into smaller steps / checkpoints.  We’ll be creating charts and plans to complement discussions and goals already identified.  Aside from goal-setting, students have been taking part in games that encourage collaboration, problem-solving, prioritization, and roles. They thoroughly enjoy these and we have a load of fun sharing ideas and perspectives while practicing respect and good listening skills.

French: Caroline

We have left Europe, and are now traveling across Africa and its many French speaking countries. In both sections, each student has selected one of these 27 countries to research more in depth.

French 1A:

Chapter 1 introduced the students to the masculine and feminine forms of French nouns and adjectives, and the irregular verb "être" (to be), so they could practice describing themselves and their personality.
Chapter 2 allowed them to explore the French school system and talk about their own school and classes, and tell which subjects are their favorite.
We are now finishing Chapter 3 in which, besides learning about school and classroom supplies, the students are formally introduced to the first group of French regular verbs - ER verbs.

French 1B:

This section starts the year at Chapter 7, teaching about men and women's clothing.
Chapter 8 takes us to the airport and exposes the students to vocabulary related to air travel, from the initial checking of their luggage to the passport verification at their destination.
We are now traveling by train in Chapter 9, and, as a hands-on project, the students are building a "shoebox train station" highlighting key vocabulary.
Each chapter is an opportunity to introduce small groups of irregular verbs that share similarities. 

Spanish: Marcela

Spanish 1A:

¿Qué pasa en español?
 
In Spanish, we concluded October by celebrating “El día de los muertos” (The Day of the Dead). Students learned about the elements of the altar and why people celebrate this holiday in México. As part of our celebration, we remembered two important figures in Mexican culture – the famous Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo and the famous revolutionary hero, Pancho Villa.
 
Students continue to practice different roles during our “Noticias del día” (News of the day) and have settled into different jobs throughout our units. Their roles include the reporter, the meteorologist, the mathematician, the geographer and the reader. In recent units, students are conjugating regular verbs that end in “-ar”, “-er” and “-ir”. They’ve also learned about the irregular verb “to be” and how it has two flavors in Spanish – “ser” and “estar”. They’ve also recognized patterns with other irregular verbs, although they don’t follow the same rules as the regular verbs.
 
As part of our daily exercises, students were introduced to “El Quijote”. They continue to practice adjectives by comparing the two main characters, Sancho Panza and Don Quijote. Along with adjective endings, students become more familiar with the use of the verb, “ser”.
 
To enhance our connections in Spanish culture and our practice at home, we started reading “When Tía Lola Came to Visit” by Julia Alvarez. Duolingo homework has also been uploaded and most students completed the Basic 1 and Basic 2 modules. As students build upon their Spanish skills, they will be working on their first project – “Mi rutina y la rutina de un olímpico”.

Art: Nicole

In November, Endeavour Art classes made 2D art and installed it for the Coffee House. We also made crafts and started a large snowflake installation that will be hung for the Holiday Art Fair starting December 14th!

Music and Drama: Randal

In our classes this quarter we've successfully prepared and performed the Endeavor Coffeehouse and the Winter Performance.  Endeavor students were a crucial part of not only performing but stage managing, running lights and sound, and helping design our beautiful performance spaces.  Apart from the performances, we've continued work on stage and have delved into music theory where students are learning about tonal centers, chord construction and our harmonic system in Western Culture through studying basics of the piano keyboard.

PE: Henry

During November, we continued the spirit of competition by introducing the volleyball game Nukem, with the goal of improving hand-eye coordination.  In addition, students participated in a fitness test to help them create individualized baselines and to help improve basic skills such as the plank, push-ups, wall sit, PACER run, sit & reach, and arm reach.  Keep exercising over the holidays! 

Comment

Megan Shrestha

Want a gorgeous website done right, on budget,  and on time? You’re in the right place. I’ve got over a decade of experience and know what it takes to create stunning websites that get real results.

Math Highlights

General Math: Jen

Students in General Math are taking on the challenges of looking at how numbers compare to each other and are beginning to see that it is important to compare “apples to apples” instead of to “oranges” so to speak. Students are finding unit rates and comparing information from tables, graphs and algebraic equations to find the best price, mileage, rate, etc. Students have done an amazing job connecting their basic mathematical knowledge of ratios to algebraic equations. It is so exciting to see the growth that is occurring in our classroom and how students are learning to express their understanding in different ways and at their own pace.

Pre-Algebra: Ryan

Students have been hard at work sorting out fundamentals such as converting percentages to decimals, estimating a product by rounding the terms, double checking their answer by conducting the “smell test,” manipulating fractions, and identifying patterns. We’re also working on visualizing the problem rather than just working with numbers and applying rules. Misconceptions emerge daily and are addressed from multiple angles until understood fully. Students were under the assumption that two numbers when multiplied together will always be larger than either number so of course we began multiplying integers by decimals. We then related decimals to their fractional counterpart in an effort to understand that multiple representations of a single concept are all describing the same thing. This is paramount to mastery of Pre-Algebra and Mathematics in general.

Algebra: Jen

Our Algebra class is moving along at full steam. We are solving equations, both simple and complex. In addition, students are finishing up the second unit in our book. We are doing a really neat project to analyze how the length of different bones in the body can help predict a person’s height. We will be taking measurement data, finding measures of central tendency (statistics) to determine how different genders and age groups compare to each other, and representing this information graphically. Finally, we will determine whether measuring different bones in the body really is an accurate predictor of height. Keep your eyes open in the lobby for the display on this.

Science

Life Science: Jen

In Life Science, students have presented different animals to show how they fit the definition of life using their knowledge of life characteristics. They created a slideshow presentation in Google Slides, and I encourage you to check it out and give feedback to your child. Now, we are beginning to understand the different classifications of living things from bacteria, to protists, fungi, plants, and finally animals. We will spend the bulk of our unit on animals and understanding how they are grouped into their respective levels of organization. We will briefly look at invertebrates and move onto the different types of vertebrate animals. Students will come back to the investigation of the Plant Kingdom when we cover cells later in the year and protists and bacteria when we cover diseases. This has been an exciting month filled with really great conversations and learning in biology.

Physical Science:  Ryan

We’ve been having a blast studying Forces, Motion, and Simple Machines. From calculating mechanical advantage by pulling ropes attached to pulleys to showing how a single student standing on a lever, far from the fulcrum, can offset the force of three students huddled together. Students are learning formulas for Force, Momentum, and Torque and are applying them to lab activities. Currently we’re having fun learning how to scientifically diagram a drawing of Rube Goldberg inspired contraptions. Each invention must demonstrate knowledge of each of the six simple machines. Look for these in the foyer!

Earth & Space Science: Ryan

Geology has consumed us in Earth Science for the past month, from studying the effects of heat and pressure on the rock cycle to testing rock samples to determine Mohs hardness ratings. Currently we’re learning about Yoho Park in the Canadian Rockies and the Burgess Shale formation which is home to hundreds of thousands of Cambrian fossils such as Trilobites and Wiwaxia, two organisms that roamed the sea floors 300 million years ago! Lastly, we’re learning key differences between Metamorphic, Igneous, and Sedimentary rocks and how to identify commonly found rocks such as gneiss, schist, granite, shale, slate, quartz, and gabbro. It’s an expansive discipline that’s taking us around the globe and back in time - so fun and interesting!

Humanities Overview

Language Arts: John

The Language Arts students have been hard at work for the past few weeks as they have been focused on writing creative fictional pieces. The students revisited their writing again and again as they added details, dialogue, action verbs, conflicts, similes, and metaphors. During the writing process, the students completed a variety of activities in class and for homework that were designed to help them understand each one of these aspects of creative writing. Identifying creative elements and figurative language in writing was emphasized as the students exchanged stories and completed thorough peer reviews.

History

Humanities I: John

The Humanities I students finished their unit on Ancient Egypt with aplomb. Our primary focus on recent weeks has been on Ancient Egyptian society. The students have studied class structure, housing, tombs, and government of Ancient Egypt. Each student also designed and presented a slideshow that focused on an Egyptian pharaoh or queen of his or her choosing. Students continue to complete daily spelling and grammar activities at the beginning of each class with brief assessments at the end of each week. Spelling lessons have focused on words with ie and ei; words ending in -ation and -ion; and words with silent letters. Grammar lessons have focused primarily on nouns, including common and proper nouns; regular and irregular plural nouns; and personal pronouns. Additionally, each student has completed a book report for the First Quarter.

Global Studies in the Middle Ages: John

Students in Global Studies in the Middle Ages recently assumed the role of Roman Senators tasked with solving the many problems of the early Roman Republic. They broke into groups to discuss various issues and create prospective laws before coming together in the “Roman Forum” to vote on these laws. The ensuing discussions and debates were very productive, and many of the topics had direct connections to our modern world. Students then compared and contrasted the governments of the modern day United States and the Roman Republic before demonstrating their mastery on a quiz. The coming weeks will focus on everyday life in Rome and the transition from republic to empire.

Modern American History: John

With the 2016 presidential election, Modern American History has focused on the Electoral College and the American political system. We have reviewed the electoral maps from the last thirty years to identify voting trends and political bastions within the United States. National polls are consulted on a daily basis as we monitor the likelihood of each respective candidate becoming President. This unit culminated in a presentation of the American Electoral College to the rest of the school just before Election Day. In addition, we have instituted a weekly notebook check and a daily homework planner check in order to encourage positive organization techniques.

Young Writers Project: Cara

Endeavour students are creative! Students in each grade continued to craft stories and poetry, playing with conventions and adding sensory detail and dialogue to bring their stories to life. Dovetailing with lessons from John’s Language Arts classes, students worked on properly punctuating dialogue and adding speech tags. At the end of the month, we transitioned to a focus on poetry. Expect to see students’ work published soon!

STEAM

STEAM: Jen and Ryan

STEAM A with Ryan has been packed full of clarity and confusion, frustration and success. We celebrated progress on the robotic hand/arm project and then jumped into our egg chairlift mission where the goal was to transport an egg by cable car up two vertical meters. While this mission hasn’t exactly been achieved, I’m proud of the fortitude and problem solving that’s being practiced in STEAM. Students are learning how to explore an idea and then either tweak it or trash it altogether and start over. Learning how to let go of something you’ve been working on to embrace a superior solution is a valuable lesson. I’m enjoying listening to the ideas students are coming up with, and it’s fun to challenge some of their assumptions. Parents are invited to join us, participate even, in STEAM A; we meet Monday and Wednesday from 9:00-9:40am!

STEAM B with Jen this month has been working on designing, testing, redesigning and reflecting on individual projects. We have created wind-powered boats that must use balloons to create power, no outside source is available. Once completed, students engaged in active feedback and reflection. We discussed what worked and didn’t, where we encountered setbacks and successes and then each student gave feedback to builders on what they noticed and asked questions to guide thinking. From that, we are planning to create one final boat project, where all students bring their successes and challenges to the table to create one final piece that meets the criteria, is aesthetically pleasing and is the result of group collaboration.

World Languages, Arts, and Electives

French and Spanish: Caroline and Marcela

We have finished our review of the basic vocabulary and classroom instructions, and are moving ahead with new material. Every unit covered includes the study of grammatical concepts, verb conjugation, and the expansion of the students’ vocabulary. In both French and Spanish classes, besides daily writing exercises, the focus remains on helping the students become confident speakers regardless of their level of fluency.

New this November:
We have set up our online groups in the DuoLingo application and the Endeavour students will be able to practice French or Spanish on the computer in and out of the classroom.

Art: Nicole

The Endeavour Art classes continued to study color after painting our color wheels in the month of October. We played with paint swatches and learned that color changes when it is in a different context. We learned about the artist Lea Anderson and created work based on her ideas of the elements of art, Unity and Variety. While using analogous color, organic shapes, and patterns, we created a collaborative installation inspired by Lea Anderson. The next project we are working on is art for the Coffee House on November 17th. We would love it if any parents could donate some 8 x 10” frames for our art!

Advisory

This month in advisory we have focused on the trait perseverance. Students have worked on setting goals, determined how much “grit” they have when dealing with problem solving and challenges (Angela Duckworth grit test). We have discussed how we can look at failure as a potential for growth rather than the end of the world; we watched a great Ted talk to this end. Students and teachers shared experiences with failure and how we have learned from that experience. We have also discussed how to take steps to reach our goals and determined that it takes just one step to start and it progresses one step at a time. Our friends, the Feikens, visited on a break from their cross country bike tour, and we learned first hand that it takes perseverance to meet our goals!

Music and Drama: Randal

In music class this month, we worked on generating rhythms from pulses that students started on percussion instruments like Djembes, snare pads, and bass drums. We worked on establishing bass beats, back beats and cymbal beats and looked at and used rhythmic notation. Students have now progressed to working on harmonic instruments - piano, guitar, ukulele and mallet percussion - and many of them are planning on helping with the set-up and performances at our Coffee House on November 17th!

PE: Henry

This past month we played the HRE Soccer Jamboree with 4 teams, in a double elimination tournament. The action was fast and evenly competitive! Students continued working on skills, sportsmanship, and collaborative play. 

Endeavour Students Visit UVM's Living Machine

Matt Beam, a Research Specialist at the Rubenstein School of Environment & Natural Resources at the University of Vermont, spent time with Endeavour Middle School students this week, explaining how the Living Machine he built for his master's thesis works, and why he thinks that waste water can be a resource rather than an expensive nuisance for communities.  On top of treating the Aiken Center’s black waters, Matt explains, “the purpose of the EcoMachine is to inspire and nurture a worldview that works with — and not against — nature, to provide reliable treatment of the Aiken building’s wastewater, and to serve as a research and learning tool.” Our students were intrigued by the process of treatment by plants and re-oxygenation.  Other student take-aways included wonder at the number of microbial organisms there are in a handful of soil and in our bodies, the potability of rain water, and the benefits of working with nature and not against it.  We hope to invite Matt to Endeavour Middle School soon to show him our science lab and maybe conduct a few experiments!

Teachers Went Full STEAM Ahead at the Endeavour and Renaissance Schools Professional Development

In the medical world, residents are taught using the mantra: Watch One, Do One, Teach One.  In education, it's not too different!  While teachers often learn through reading articles, blogs, or observing other teachers, there's nothing like a hands-on activity to bring the topic home.  

On Friday, towards the end of our professional development day, we learned about the benefits of STEAM (a unique curriculum that teaches design and problem solving through Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) and its importance as an educational foundation in all of our schools.  Teachers from both our elementary school and middle schools had the opportunity to collaborate on a STEAM challenge: build a boat that could stay afloat with the greatest weight. 

Led by Endeavour math, science, and STEAM teachers, Jen Clark and Ryan Humke, the teacher teams were up for the challenge!  Using aluminum foil, straws, popsicle sticks and tape, they got to work. 

The lesson we all learned? That STEAM teaches outside-the-box thinking, grit, collaboration, innovation, and engineering skills.  We also learned that students had to improve their social and emotional skills while they managed social skills and emotions such as anticipation, excitement, disappointment, and creating the resolve to try again when reflecting on the overall process and outcome. While pulling academic content from areas as far ranging as art to physics, teachers' biggest take-away? STEAM is engaging and fun.  Look for more STEAM displays in our lobby soon!  

Randal, John, and Marcela created an impressive boat with an interesting design.  It held quite a bit of weight before succumbing to its watery end.  Did they win the design challenge?  You'll have to ask them!

Jen Clark and Ryan Humke get ready to test the boats after much work by the teacher teams.

Jen Clark and Ryan Humke get ready to test the boats after much work by the teacher teams.

Danielle and Jocelyn ponder the simplicity of their boat.  Will it work?  You'll have to ask them!

Danielle and Jocelyn ponder the simplicity of their boat.  Will it work?  You'll have to ask them!

Melissa and Laura firmly believe in the power of the triangle.  Will the triangle prevail?

Melissa and Laura firmly believe in the power of the triangle.  Will the triangle prevail?

Theanna and Shannon have high hopes for their design!  

Theanna and Shannon have high hopes for their design!  

Math Highlights

General Math 6: Jen

We have begun the year exploring ratios and how they can be used to compare small quantities, as well as very large quantities. Students have applied their previous knowledge of fractions, and also new knowledge from our lessons to explore real-world problems. I am looking forward to continuing to see our students learn and grow through problem solving challenges in mathematics. The ah-ha moments are coming faster and faster as we move through the material and I have seen amazing growth from each student’s confidence and efficiency with the problems. 

Pre-Algebra: Ryan

Students have been reviewing what they know and sorting out techniques on how to divide fractions and when to line up the decimal point in addition and multiplication problems. The bigger question/concept of course is WHY do we line up the decimal point and how can we quickly double check our answer to see if it’s within reason. Students are encouraged to take risks and make mistakes in class. All students solve math problems on the dry erase board at the front of the room daily. We work through misconceptions and mistakes together as a class and point out that all of us are here to learn, which cannot happen without trying, failing, and trying again. All students have been supportive and caring toward their peers. We’re also exploring short-cuts (when to use them and when not to) in math problems that can save time. Math is all about patterns and becoming comfortable inside the relationships that patterns represent. Lastly, we’re having fun as a class and routinely play games to cement learning while enjoying our community energy!

Algebra: Jen

The month of September has primarily been a review of pre-algebra concepts and a chance for me to get a feel for our pace as things move forward. We have covered working with numbers and properties of numbers and operations to refresh our understanding of the mathematical rules for working within the confines of numbers. In the upcoming month, the curriculum will dive into traditionally algebraic concepts such as linear equations, inequalities and graphing. Each student is showing a great deal of confidence with the material so far and we have learned to say “I am starting to get this,” “I get this” or “I need help with this” and we have learned that “This is easy” is a phrase that downplays the process of our learning in Algebra.

Humanities

Language Arts: John

The Language Arts students began the year by learning about the role of conflict and omniscient narrator in literature. The class read the short story The Interlopers as a group, identifying various examples of internal and external conflict as they progressed through the text. The lesson culminated in each student outlining a draft for his or her own short story that demonstrated understanding of internal conflict, external conflict and omniscient narrator. These stories will be typed and revised as the first formal writing assignment of the year. Additionally, most of the homework assignments have been informal written responses to course content. The students are also completing daily grammar and spelling lessons in order to practice and enhance their understanding of the English language. 

History: John

Humanities I class focussed on the differences between primary and secondary sources before studying civilization in Ancient Egypt. The students got their hands dirty early on by creating a model of the Nile River using sand, potting soil, aluminum foil and grass seed. This model accurately demonstrates the importance of the Nile in the everyday lives of both ancient and modern Egyptians. Each student also designed and presented a slideshow that focused on an Egyptian god or goddess of his or her choosing.  Students complete daily spelling and grammar activities at the beginning of each class, and homework assignments have primarily been written responses designed to reinforce course content. 

Global Studies in the Middle Ages: John

Students were introduced to a general overview of early Roman history during the first few weeks of school. Our class learned about the founding of Rome by consulting multiple sources regarding the story of Romulus and Remus. One week was devoted to reading and performing a brief eight-act play surrounding the antics of these two famous brothers, and the students did a wonderful job getting into character and acting. Recent classes have focused on map skills, the impact of the Etruscans in early Rome and the structure of government in the early Roman Republic. The coming month will be devoted to learning about the Roman legal system, and each student will assume the role of senator. 

Modern American History: John

The primary focus of Modern American History class has been on current events and the presidential election. We started the year by studying the electoral college. After studying recent polls and news articles we then predicted which direction each state would go on election day and will check our results the electoral map once the dust settles. Each class begins with an update on the presidential election, although the primary focus of the past week has been the controversial pipeline project near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota. After learning about both perspectives we weighed the pros and cons of the pipeline before choosing a side and writing a persuasive essay. 

Young Writers Project: Cara

This past month, our stand alone Young Writers Project class focused on setting up accounts, navigating prompts, and discussing the five steps of the process of writing.  We delved right into writing, and students have already begun poems and stories in response to the weekly challenges.  We’re looking forward to submitting our pieces and perhaps seeing a few published!  Stay tuned for poems and excerpts to appear in our monthly newsletter as well!

Science

Life Science: Jen

Students in life science have begun to explore the concepts of sustainability and inquiry (formerly called the scientific method). We began by looking at scenarios to identify problems, ask experimental questions and research background information. In addition, we have spent time out back in the trees observing our surroundings. Each student has chosen a “sit spot” that will be theirs for the entire year and have begun to look at the scene through the lens of a scientist. While learning about research during our inquiry study, students were so excited about the idea of global climate change and making changes to stop it, that two students are creating a lobbying campaign with signs to invest in renewable energy and one student has decided to do a grassroots effort by talking with everyone he knows and encouraging them to call their senators and representatives.

Physical Science:  Ryan

Our first unit was Methods and Measures where students performed experiments in order to learn about various units of measure such as the centimeter, gram, and milliliter.  When we experiment, students fill out a graphic organizer structured on the scientific method, which guides them to think about and record the important parts and details of the process.  Our class learned about air resistance, terminal velocity, opposing forces, and acceleration due to gravity by making egg parachutes and throwing them out the window on the second floor into the multi-purpose room (gym). That experiment helped us turn the corner into motion where we continued to explore this topic through hands-on experiential learning followed by classroom discussion, note-taking, and written reflection. Students played ping pong and then diagramed the vectors and forces involved, thereby merging fun with academics, my ultimate daily goal!

Earth & Space Science: Ryan

Our first unit of the school year was Geologic Time, which explores Earth’s 4.5 billion years of history and identifies the timeline on which major events of development, evolution, and dynamic change took place. Students have learned the order of the Eons, Eras, Periods, and Epochs and have identified species of life that have lived in each Epoch.  This puts the hominin, and Homo Sapien existence into perspective as we learned that if we equate 4.5 billion years of history to a 100 foot clothesline, Homo Sapiens came on the scene five hundredths of an inch from the end (i.e. quite recently). From Geologic Time we’ll be moving on to Rocks and Minerals and explore one of Vermont’s unique geologic features nearby in Burlington at Rock Point, which boasts a first class example of a thrust fault. Leaving the classroom regularly to explore the natural world and conduct field research is an essential part of this class.  We’re enjoying our experiments inside (recently we slingshotted golf balls into play sand to observe how impact craters are formed, the ejecta that results, and how this is related to the K-T boundary, which marks the extinction of the dinosaur world wide) as well as our jaunts outdoors!

STEAM

with Jen and Ryan:

STEAM has gotten off to a running start. Students have experienced the fundamentals of tower building, through the use of multiple materials such as spaghetti and marshmallows, paper and tape, pipe cleaners, and cards. In addition to learning to build towers, students have analyzed what makes an effective tower and why some towers can be extremely tall and stable, while others simply fall. Furthermore, and most importantly, students have begun to develop the skills necessary in STEAM of designing, building, analyzing and reflecting. These are important to all scientists and engineers. The planning and reflecting processes are equally important to the building process. Without a solid plan, the build may be worthless, and without analyzing and reflecting on the outcome, improvements may never be made. Looking forward we are excited to continue with some really great ideas in STEAM and continue bringing these concepts to the students. If possible, we are looking for some items: 2L soda bottles, chicken wire, and twine for a project in the spring. We need a significant number of bottles, so donations are always welcome.

 

Comment

Megan Shrestha

Want a gorgeous website done right, on budget,  and on time? You’re in the right place. I’ve got over a decade of experience and know what it takes to create stunning websites that get real results.