A Peek Inside the Classroom

Middle School ELA is immersed in our Latinx Culture, Heritage and History Unit! Sixth grade has begun an exciting novel, Charlie Hernandez and the League of Shadows by Ryan Calejo. Inspired by Latinx folklore, legends, and myths from Central and South America, Charlie Hernadez has transported avid sixth grade readers to a world of magic, mysticism, and fantasy and is encouraging them to make predictions about the text in fun and imaginative ways. They are also enjoying the new MS ELA vocabulary curriculum, Worldly Wise 3000, which is connecting the dots between what they are learning about Latinx immigrants in their unit novel and new terms they’re building into their weekly word bank.

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Seventh grade is already approaching research projects head-on and with an exploration of Guatemalan culture in their novel, The Other Half of Happy by Rebecca Balcárcel, which tells the story of a seventh grader name Quijana who is straddling two halves of the same whole: her Guatemalan father and her American mother. Quijana receives a Huipil from her Abuela, which she is too embarrassed to wear to school. Seventh grade students are researching huipiles and will write short research essays and design their own huipil as a hands-on project.

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Eighth grade and Eighth Grade Honors ELA is learning about undocumented Latinx immigrants, Dreamer children, and family reunification in Ernesto Cisneros’ Efren, Divided. Before diving headfirst into the story, they learned about anti-Latinx bigotry that swelled in the United States of America from 2016-2020 from a Washington Post article that chronicled the racism of Latinx people dating back to the colonization of the Americas and Thomas Jefferson’s presidency to more recent political offices. In small groups, they were challenged to answer the question, “How can anti-Latinx bigotry and racism be challenged and eradicated?” Their brainstorming resulted in short essay responses of their ideas, which ranged from policy change, to education, to justice reformation. A few students shared their suggestions for solidarity and supporting real, positive change for the Latinx community:

I would challenge Latinx bigotry and racism by encouraging Latinx people to run for the office of president. When Barack Obama ran for president, people were very skeptical of a black man holding that office. But later on, those same people changed their perspective on Obama and voted for him to be president again for another four years at the end of his first term. A Latinx president would be smart and know how to make great decisions about immigration, equal rights, and labor. In the meantime, more Latinx people should be mayors, U.S counsel people, judges, cabinet members, and other important government officials. After all, “United States” means everyone is united and has equal freedom.

-Franklin

My personal favorite solution is to have more Latinx history taught in schools. This is a very simple, yet unused solution for the problem of Anti-Latinx Bigotry. By having more Latinx textbooks, novels, and stories in schools, the next generation will develop a sense of gratitude for everything that Latinx people have done and continue to do for this country, as well as their experiences and what they have gone through. If we can raise up the next generation to be unbiased and anti-racist towards the Latinx community, then we can eradicate Latinx bigotry for sure. And, if we start implementing all three of these things right now, then this can be done before the next generation has to even think about it.

-Ivan

We should relate the experiences and issues of the Latinx community to the average American. By challenging people to think about themselves in the other person's shoes (in this case Latinx people), I think that there would be more of an understanding between everyone. Latinx people have endured so much. It’s time to end the idea that Latinx people are “wanted for their sweat, their military service, their taxes, but not for their children or their company.” Latinx people deserve the freedoms to which every other American is entitled. And, for their sacrifices and contributions to the workforce and society, they deserve gratitude and recognition. They, of all people, have earned it.

-Kaya 

One of the ways to eradicate Latinx racism is through policy change and new laws that protect Latinx people in greater ways. More specifically, laws can be passed in Congress to strengthen equal rights for the Latinx community, immigrants, and the children of immigrants. By passing better laws, people will start to believe that Latinx people are just as deserving of protection. Then, the historical stereotypes perpetuated by false information, hatred and racism will be challenged and hopefully, disappear.

-Rediet

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I am impressed with all three of our middle school grades and not only their willingness to dive into ELA work right away, but also because of their sense of commitment to social justice issues and to a deeper understanding of, and compassion for the experiences of all cultures and identities. I look forward to sharing more of their outstanding work with the Northern Light community!

Warmly,

Ms. Caitlin

(9/6/21)

In 8th Grade, teacher Jeri Johnstone is collaborating with retired educator, scientist, and “startup” mentor Eugene Mizusawa on a frankyear-long entrepreneurship focused STEAM project regarding mask technology. Students received positive pressure air filtering masks that have the added benefit of acting as an air conditioner for your face. They are happy about that!

These masks are used in Japan by runners because of poor air quality, but students will focus on safety for firefighters among other things. Each student has identified a profession that would benefit from the research and development they will conduct in order to redesign the mask to address a specific need.

In the next few weeks, students will learn as much as possible about Carbon dioxide (CO2), as well as taking the filtering unit apart to better understand how the motor works and how the filter is optimized.

The entire project will culminate in a competition that will be like Engineering Fair meets Shark Tank, with students presenting research and making proposals for new mask designs. Stay tuned as this truly STEAM integrated project moves forward

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(9/19/21)

When you enter the 2nd grade classroom, the first thing you may notice is a huge mirror hanging on our front door with positive words surrounding it.

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Students (and adults alike) are encouraged to look in the mirror (when they pass it) and say a few of the positive words to themselves.

Affirmations are a daily part of our Morning Meeting routine. It’s where we (purposefully) give life to positive and powerful words in hopes that those words will give us strength and encouragement. It’s our call to action and motivation to be our best selves. We have ongoing conversations about the power of words and how they can affect us. It’s so awesome to start our day off speaking kindly to ourselves.

One of our first art projects was to draw a self-portrait and write affirming “I Am” statements that resonate with us. This was very powerful because students were able to use words that they felt described them now or qualities they aspire to have.

I am proud of how the 2nd grade students have embraced affirmations and enthusiastically participate in our Morning Meeting. Our next project is to write our own personal affirmations. I can’t wait to share those!

 

Love,

Ms. Miller

 

 

 

If you’re interested in finding some kid friendly affirmations, check THIS out.

Ms. Miller's Class - Daily Affirmations
(10/10/21)

All three Middle School grades have shaken off the Covid cobwebs and are making great starts to the year in Math.math

In 6th grade, we’ve been wrapping up our Statistics unit by analyzing the ages of the winners for Best Actor and Best Actress at the Oscars in the past 20 years. Students discovered that the average age of Best Actor winners was 46 years old, while the average age of Best Actress winners was 39 years old, a full 7 years younger. We discussed a number of reasons that could account for this discrepancy, not least among them sexism.

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To represent the data, 6th graders created Histograms, Line Plots, Stem-and-Leaf plots, and Box-and-Whisker plots. 7th graders began the year studying percent and have learned how to find discounts, markups, tax, tip, and percent of change. At recess, they were very excited to participate in the inaugural NLS Kickball Cup, which was won (in remarkable fashion) by the Blue Tigers. Some facts that they calculated about the NLS Kickball Cup include:

 

 

59% of Middle Schoolers participated (31/53 students)

14% of 8th graders participated (2/14 students)

The Blue Tigers scored 39 runs, 15% more than the Cheetahs (34 runs) and 39% more than the Ballers (28 runs)

Great catch, Kalil!

The 8th graders recently concluded their study of The Pythagorean Theorem with one of my favorite art projects: The Wheel of Theodorus. To create the Wheel (or Spiral) of Theodorus, you start with a right isosceles triangle with legs of one inch each. Using the hypotenuse of this triangle as the base of your next triangle, you construct another right triangle with a height of one inch. By continuing in this fashion, you build a spiral of triangles that can – and did – inspire some awesome artwork. Below are just a few examples of the ways in which the 8th graders turned Algebra into Art.

Best,

Mr. Peter

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(10/17/21)

The first graders have been working so hard and have really hopped into the groove of in-person learning! In reading, we have just completed author studies of David Shannon and Kevin Henkes. Through their books, we have learned to describe and analyze character appearance, actions, and feelings. As we read stories like Wemberly Worriedand A Bad Case of Stripes, we learned to make connections with characters by analyzing our own actions and feelings as well.

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In writing, we are learning how to use the writing process to write personal narratives. The class has been piecing together important elements such as story starters and transition words throughout multiple drafts, and we are slowly marching towards our final published work. We hope to have our "publishing party" next week, at which time the students will get to share their great stories with each other. 

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In science Mrs. B, has given a lot of fantastic and fun lessons exploring the five senses and teaching us about topics such as, living and nonliving things and how plants grow. We have even gotten the opportunity to pair with the 7th grade and learn how to take care of the plant life around our school during our weekly gardening time on Friday afternoons!

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Lastly, as we have been working on mastering our addition and subtraction facts up to 10, we had the pleasure of having a parent volunteer lead us in creating a festive math craft. The class really enjoyed having a guest come spend time with them and help them learn in a different way. 

*We greatly appreciate any and all guests that come to add to our learning community! Our first grade class is all about learning from and about the world around us. So, if you have a hobby, special passion, custom or holiday you would like to share with us please reach out - tgill@nlsoakland.com.

-Mr. Thurston

 
(10/24/21)

Next up on the red carpet (drum roll please)...FIFTH GRADE! 

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During the past few weeks, 5th grade has been hard at work evaluating and reviewing their collections. Each student brought in their own special collection. We had stuffed animals, basketball medals, Beyblades, comic books, artwork, and more!

Before we were ready to present our awards on the red carpet, we needed to rank and order our collections based on a particular characteristic. For example, which stuffed animal is the fuzziest? Which Beyblade spins the fastest? Students ranked their collections in at least two different ways, carefully decided which item deserved to be first, then wrote about their reasoning. 

After collecting details and evidence to support their claims, students decided on which item was the overall best and prepared a speech to give on the red carpet. Students even created their own award ribbons to bestow upon their winning item during the award ceremony. Our ceremony was even more exciting than we could have expected! Check out the pictures from the red carpet.

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As we continue with our opinion writing, students will start writing reviews. They will be reviewing amusement parks, restaurants, video games, books, and more. Keep an eye out for some upcoming 5-star reviews!

(10/31/21)

Hello Everyone and welcome to Kindergarten at Northern Light School! My name is Ms. Smith and I am so happy to share a piece of my classroom with you all and highlight what the children have been learning in math/STEM. 

 

Over the past month, Kindergarteners have been recognizing that math is in everyday things that they are exposed to i.e. the grocery store, their home, going to the park, etc. With this basic knowledge of numbers and how they are represented, the children are learning about 2D/3D shapes and the meaning of STEM (science, technology, engineering, math). The children are noticing shapes and patterns within their world and using them to build meaning with found objects such as wooden sticks and clothespins. 

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What a wonderful world of exploration and discovery! In honor of World STEM Day, the children created a structure that would stand on its own without any support from them holding it. They practiced problem solving skills, engineering, balance, fine motor development, and shape recognition. They worked through trial and error with feelings of “I can’t do it” to “I will try to make it work.” The kindergarten class is a very determined group and works hard to discover new things and create new visions of structures re-imagined. They are finding meaning in teamwork and what it looks like, sounds like and feels like to be a good friend/helper. 

As the children continue to learn about number sense and meaning they will be able to start addition and subtraction in the coming months.

kmkm2

(11/14/21)

All three middle school classes have been diving deep into their history topics of study and have been learning about the contributions of many different communities to our world today.

In 6th grade, we recently finished up a unit on the Aztec and Inca Empires, discussing the pre-colonization cultural characteristics of each, their goals for expanding their territory, and the innovations that they have contributed to modern technology. Specifically, the 6th graders paired up to design and build replicas of the Inca water management system, simultaneously learning about the terraces, canal systems, and microclimates created by the Inca to cultivate different crops with incredible success.

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7th and 8th graders recently concluded their Future Voter Projects for the year. In both grades, students learned details about the history of voting rights in the United States and compared the story that is commonly told when looking at just the Constitutional Amendments in comparison to the story that is told when including the state laws and district voting policies that determine who can and can’t vote. Both classes then utilized the history of voting rights in the United States as they formulated arguments about why the participation of all voters is key to a representative democracy. 7th graders created infographics using Google Drawing and 8th graders combined their reasoning onto an informational poster.

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Greetings from the Northern Light School Music Department! One of the most important components of our NLS Music curriculum is music literacy. When music reading is combined with active music play, all parts of the brain are being stimulated simultaneously. To assist us in learning to decode and read the musical symbols, we focus on one particular musical instrument in each grade level.

In Kindergarten, the children are introduced to various hand percussion instruments such as tambourine, rhythm sticks, djembe, triangle, and maracas. We practice our music reading skills with pulse, beat, and subdivisions using hand percussion and body percussion. In this video we are reading eighth notes, quarter notes, and quarter rests, while vocalizing them with Ta, TiTi, and Sh.

Handbells are the First Grade’s focus instrument. The first graders are learning to follow color coded note cards which they track from left to right, as if they are reading notes on a musical staff. In this video the 1st graders are playing handbells, reading notes, and following a student director on the song ‘Hot Cross Buns.’

In the Second Grade, we learn to play a fun instrument called the boomwhacker - a hollow plastic tube that we “whack” to make tones and tunes! The length of the boomwhacker determines the pitch. This trimester we read the letter names of the notes in a song, tracking them from left to right, just like we would with notes on a staff. By the end of the year we will transition into reading actual notes on the lines and spaces of the musical staff. In this video, the 2nd Graders are playing ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.’

We move on to piano and xylophone exploration in the 3rd Grade. The xylophone’s bars are set up just like the black and white keys of a piano. Currently, we are reading and playing Middle C, D, and E on the staff and will soon add F, G, A and B. In this video, the 3rd grade is reading and playing a rhythm workout on the note ‘C.’

Our music literacy study continues in the 4th and 5th grade with the recorder. We are using an exciting curriculum called 'Recorder Karate’ which uses the reward or merit system as incentive to learn new notes, rhythms, symbols, and songs. Each “belt” (a small satin sash that attaches to the bell of the recorder) is earned by mastering a new testing song that teaches a new symbol or technique. The children are very excited about the recorder and will begin testing to earn their first belt (white belt) on Dec. 1st!

(12/3/21)