Checking in with Middle School: Collaboration is Everywhere!

Though all of us have our sights on for Winter Break vacation, Middle School is still bustling and busy in these final weeks. Wondering just what our older students have been up to? Well, we have a glimpse into just a few of the collaborative projects that have been spotted everywhere from Humanities to Science to Music!

As part of their study of the origins of man and early societies, fifth graders worked in teams to imagine and brainstorm a culture. Using this knowledge of their invented culture, they began to design and create artifacts they wanted to bury to represent aspects of this invented society. They created these artifacts and planned how they will bury them with plastic skeletons. Using the SeeSaw app, the teams documented the meaning behind these artifacts so that the fifth grade “archaeologists” in the other class would have something to refer and compare to when they uncover the dead and take their own archaeological notes on their discoveries. The actual burying will happen in Makers’ Lab – stay tuned for news on that and the official “architectural dig” coming soon! 

Dissonance. Consonance. Chromaticism. Major and minor harmony. Tempo. All of these (and more) are what Speyer’s sixth graders used to dig deeper into their exploration of musical theory and composition. The latest assignment? Composing music for a short film clip of giraffes being stalked and then chased by lions and a mother giraffe defending (successfully) her baby! Using the composing/recording program GarageBand, the students worked in pairs to compose, create, and score music to the film clip.  

Over in seventh grade Science, the students are wrapping up their study of infectious diseases with a Pecha Kucha presentation. Pecha Kucha is a presentation style in which 20 slides are shown for 20 seconds each, with the idea that this type of format keeps presentations concise and fast-paced. Acting as lobbyists asking Congress for money to fund research into their selected disease (HIV/AIDS, Ebola, or Influenza), the students worked in groups of two or three, researching and giving the background information on their selected disease, as well as a breakdown of how much money they would need and where that money would go. Dressed to impress, our seventh graders focused their presentations on convincing Science teacher Dr. Perry to fund their research. 

Meanwhile, the eighth graders have been escaping from the high school application process by traveling back in time during Humanities to examine everything about World War I in an amazing span of a mere three weeks. They read Erich Maria Remarque ‘s All Quiet on the Western Front, and wrote essays about the causes of this war. Looking at this war and historical era through another lens, they researched poetry about World War I, tasked with selecting one poem to rehearse and perform at their upcoming World War I poetry recitation event, along with an explanation of why they chose that particular poem.

Aside from writing about World War I, eighth graders have also discovered the fun of two different writing genres: flash fiction and playwriting. Beginning with a read of Hemingway’s famous flash fiction "For Sale, Baby Shoes, Never Worn," this genre is deceptively complex, asking the author to distill experience into a few paragraphs, in some cases, one sentences. Our eight graders stretched their creative muscles to create a collection of amazing and poignant pieces of flash fiction. Finally, just a day before the break begins, eight graders (working in teams of four) will perform an 5-7 minute play they conceived, wrote and rehearsed, based on any topic inspired by the eighth grade Humanities curriculum to date.  From the soccer match during The Christmas Truce of 1914 to the voting right case United States v. Reese, the topics they chose are fascinating! Needless to say, we can’t wait for their performances!

PS Check out our Facebook and Instagram accounts next week for photos of these eight grade events and happenings!