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Middle School Happenings
Mr. Will’s and Ms. Erika’s class

May 2015 Happenings

From Monday, May 4th to Friday, May 8th, the Middle School students and staff ventured out to the coast to study how water dramatically influences our local ecosystems, geography, economy, and history. The students started off in Sandy Hook where, besides interesting sunbathers, they learned about the importance of beach barrier islands. We profiled the peaks and troughs, from the dunes to the water’s edge as well as measured the north/south current.

On Tuesday we dragged the seining nets and landed some small shrimp and crabs. The students took a sample of sea water with them back to the lab and were astonished by the abundance of microscopic phytoplankton and zooplankton floating in the Petri dish.

Off we went to Tuckerton, part of Little Egg Harbor, a massive salt marsh estuary zone. Students learned how wetlands are the “kidneys” of Mother Nature, as well as home to a rich array of bird, fish, and insect life. We had the privilege of visiting Rutger’s field station where a 25 year study on icthyoplankton continues. Their research indicates a troubling rise in ocean temperatures with implications still unknown. The delicate balance of the coastal ecosystem persisted as a theme throughout our trip.

In Cape May, our next stop, we learned that the Red Knot bird flies from Argentina to the North Pole every year and relies on the threatened horseshoe crab eggs in Cape May as their only intermediate food source. While on the cape, the students went on a whale and dolphin watching excursion. We spotted many dolphins breaching the surface. Students even had some beach time for rest and relaxation.

In the evenings we set up camp, cooked our meals, and told stories around the campfire. We came back tired, but more informed about the significance of our coastal region. And after 5 days of camping, we certainly got closer as a class!

~ Cheers from Mr. Will, Ms. Erika and the Adolescents

Classroom Photos:

The photos below show some of the work the students are doing each day.  Click on a photo to begin the slideshow.

March – April 2015 Happenings

It’s spring again and the adolescents are getting plenty of time out of the classroom! Since we have been back from break we have been tending bees, planting gardens, and landscaping. Working with local beekeeper Lou Maylor, we installed and maintain 40,000 gentle honeybees in two starter hives in the back pasture. We hope to garner 100 pounds of beautiful raw honey in our second year of operations.

Our garden beds have been cleared, composted, and planted with cold crops such as lettuces, cabbages, broccoli, and peas. We will harvest our first planting in June and prepare seeds for our summer yield. It’s been a joy to vary our work and get more exercise outdoors.

We have begun our new unit in Humanities with the study of the social science of water. Students are learning about the complicated problems of water abundance/waste, water scarcity/quality, and economic scarcity. Students are analyzing the causes of these problems and looking for solutions that could make a difference. Each student will represent a region of the world at a simulation UN summit on water at the end of the unit. All of their instructions, requirements, and deadlines are in their notebooks begging for inquiry.

In Language seminar we will be reading two books connected to our units on water. The first is Hemmingway’s Old Man and the Sea and the second is Mark Kurlansky’s Cod. In the spirit of spring, language workshop will feature a unit on poetry writing. We will explore haiku, limericks, sonnets, and free verse. Students recently read a few challenging poems on water, including two by Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry Vaughan.

Students learned about the most popular “deportes de equipo” (sports) played in Spanish Speaking countries as well as “las partes del cuerpo” (body parts). Students were introduced to the following sports: fútbol (soccer), béisbol (baseball), básquetbol (basketball) and voleibol (volleyball). They also learn how to conjugate the verbs correr, atrapar, pasar and gustar. We also had fun playing a guessing game, in which the students seek for clues by asking questions in Spanish, practicing some of the skills they have acquired throughout the year.

As the end of year quickly approaches, we have initiated “Statistics” our last mathematics unit. By the end of the term students will be able to effectively conduct research, acquiring the ability to collect, understand, organize and use data and information. Familiarity with appropriate means of identifying, finding, retrieving, and organizing information. Without the use of statistics it would be very difficult to make decisions based on just data collection. Therefore, students will receive a research project assignment for the course of Mathematics this term. This week students learned and practiced all statistics measurements; such as, mean, median, mode and range.

Happy Spring from Mr. Will, Ms. Erika and the Adolescents!

January – February 2015 Happenings

Since their return from Christmas Break, the Middle School students have been hard at work delving into many interesting subjects. They opened a unit on Volcanism–discovering the parts of a volcano and formation of magma as well as the different types, volcanic status and shapes of volcanoes around the world.

They also learned about the devices utilized to measure volcano activity, hazards, case studies and safety planning. Final projects for this term consisted of constructing a 3D volcano replica and explaining its geological features and interesting facts during a class presentation. Altogether it was a fun unit that balanced scientific principles with hands on creativity.

Mathematics introduced the geometric applications: distance, midpoint and endpoint formula, and finding missing coordinates. Students are familiarizing themselves with equations and formulas involving radicals, including extraneous solutions and are learning the following concepts: square root functions, the properties of radicals, right triangles, hypotenuse and the Pythagorean Theorem. Students will recognize the absolute necessity of the “shapes” about society that is critical to enjoying their life.

In Spanish, the students were introduced to “¡Viva el Mundo Hispano!”, a series of education videos. This exciting series transports students to Spanish-speaking countries as it continues the humorous adventures of six teens in a boarding school. The videos are designed to help reinforce the language skills already learned by the students as wells comprehension of the Spanish language and the structures of dialogue. It expands the students’ cultural awareness by exploring customs of Latin countries Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, Spain and Venezuela. Students also received their first project, “una vuelta por el mundo hispano.” They will be planning a vacation to a Spanish-speaking country with the provided budget. They are in charge of developing a plan to visit three cultural sites as well as learning about the country’s cultures, food, music, etc. Students will be presenting their findings to the class about their trips.

The students read “The House on Mango Street”, a series of interconnected vignettes. The main character discusses the ups and downs of living in a lower income section of Chicago. Through the characters’ eyes, the students learned what it is like to be poor, to be a female on the threshold of womanhood, and the difficulties of an immigrant family. The book also explores how a person can become a product of his/her surroundings. While in Language Workshop, the class is working on a descriptive essay, a creative writing exercise challenging students to think poetically and expand their vocabulary. Many grammar, usage, syntax, and punctuation decisions have come from this and the students are seeing new ways to elevate their writing. In language workshop students will soon take on a compare and contrast essay.

On Friday, February 6th, the Middle School will be doing some end of term reflection and heading off campus for a fun day of bowling at Pinsetters in Pennsauken. Café le MANJ will return Friday, February 13th, just in time for Valentine’s Day.

~ It has been a great start to the New Year and we look forward to seeing you at the Coffee House! All the best, Mr. Will, Ms. Erika and the Middle School students!

November-December 2014 Happenings

Maria Montessori’s vision for the adolescent centered on land education. This fundamental component is something we are continually developing. Recently we have welcomed Mr. Frank Burkhauser to help focus and implement outdoor learning. As our land manager, Mr. Frank will help design and coordinate hands-on projects from which our students can derive practical skills, systems thinking, and community mindfulness.

Additionally, Ms. Dana Master has generously offered to work regularly with our students in integrating technology. She has expertise in creative computer software, film production, and editing. We are excited to be able to collaborate with a diversity of mentors from which our students can learn.

This term’s Humanities focus is WWI and WWII. The students have explored the causes of WWI, the horrible implications of “total war”, and the problematic terms of the Treaty of Versailles. They have chosen their own projects and have begun research on their topics.

At the end of the first term, each student received a math assessment and met with Mr. Will for a one-on-one discussion of their performance. During this meeting, they received a rubric score card indicating the development of the math skills as well as what skills need more work. All students then created a plan to achieve the mathematical skills goals they have set for themselves.

During the second term the students will be introduced to the following math concepts: polynomials, trinomials, point – slope formulas, distance and rate formulas and word problems. We will also be covering the geometry portion of the course. The students have learned how to solve problems by applying the slope-intercept and point-slope formulas. Also coming up in the second term, we will cover word problems as well as rate and speed challenging questions.

In Spanish, students learned the grammatical rules and conjugations for the verbs endings –AR, -ER, and –IR, such as comer (eat), beber (drink), sonreir (smile), etc. They also received their first writing assignment which consists of creating a short story/conversation with all the vocabulary words and verbs they have learned so far.

Every other Wednesday, the class attends a yoga session with Ms. Kim Stevenson. They are exploring meditation and yoga for flexibility, stress reduction and clarity of mind. So far they have practiced many poses including downward dog, happy baby, crow, tree, Indian push-up, and bird-of-paradise. It is a useful tool for bringing balance to anyone’s life and particularly good for adolescents.

The students will be working on some creative fundraiser projects for the holidays: Holly/Evergreen Swags and Cookie Mix Jars. Sale items will be available starting this Friday, December 5th at the café and outside Cozzi Hall. Tis the season! Please stop by and support the students in their efforts.

Happy Holidays ~ Mr. Will, Ms. Erika and the MANJ Adolescents

Beautiful Cozzi Candles for You!

The Adolescents are making the perfect item for that special gift, to give or to keep for yourself, for your home or office. Hand poured Cozzi Candles! These beautiful candles come in various shapes, styles, colors and scents. All of the candles are hand poured soy wax and burn cleanly and slowly.

The glass containers are cut on site and come in a wide range of styles and colors, most donated by MANJ families and staff. You may choose the perfect candle for your home or office from the varied selection available or bring in your own clean, empty glass bottle or jar for a custom made candle in your favorite scent and colors!

See the display at Café le MANJ! Prices: 12 oz bottle $8.00; 750 ml bottle $15; 1 liter bottle $20.

Budding Middle School Artists Visit SOTA, Phila. – Wed., Oct. 29th

On Wednesday, October 29th, the Middle School students visited SOTA–Spirit of the Artist, the gallery gift shop owned and operated by Frank Burkhauser who only sells gifts that are 100% American Made by artisans he knows. Frank is the father of Juel & Augie in our Elementary class. SOTA is located at 1022 Pine Street, on Historic Antique Row, in the heart of Center City, Philadelphia.

Over the next few weeks, the students will be crafting homemade candles and hope to exhibit–and sell!–their handiwork at SOTA. Look for more details on the candle sale in future Weekly Bulletins and please visit SOTA in the meantime because the spirit of the artist is in every gift they sell!

Middle School Students Visit Franklin Institute – Wed., Oct. 22nd

The Middle School students are currently studying the Science of the Brain, prompting the trip to Philadelphia to visit the Franklin Institute’s “Brain Exhibition”.

The exhibit offers the “Neural Climb”–the new neural network climbing structure, visualizations of the brain, different varieties of brain imaging technologies as well as firing neurons.

September – October 2014 Happenings

The Adolescents have had an excellent start to the school year! The Appalachian Trail/Delaware River camp trip provided the right amount of challenge for our group to come together, succeed, and have fun. Back at campus we have been getting orientated to our schedule and the expectations for learning and contributing to the community.

Students have been exploring the value of learning history and the big questions it presents in their Humanities studies. In addition to teacher directed key lessons, students are creating a course of study for themselves and choosing related projects. We are investigating our place here in South-Western New Jersey and accessing the story of its development over time. We have traveled into the community, taking a driving tour with 85 year local resident, Harold Rose; touring the Watch Case Museum of Riverside; and inviting the Delran Historical Society’s Vice President, Elaine McCabe, to present on farms of historical Delran to the group. Students are converting their research on local history into a project they designed and will present this week.

In Spanish, the students have learned how to introduce themselves and how to formulate basic questions to Spanish speakers. By now they are able to write simple words in Spanish when dictated to them. We continue to work with consonant blends with the letters C, Z, K, R, RR, Q, Qu, G, Gu and J. Our next step will be to learn Spanish grammar exceptions and to discriminate between the sounds of the mentioned letters. In the next few weeks we will introduce the verbs ser vs. estar in order to continue to master the Spanish language.

Math studies began with a refresher of positive and negative numbers and I must say that I’m very pleased with the progress shown by the students! In the next few weeks they will be learning order of operations (PEMDAS), equalities and inequalities, which are important concepts they must understand before other concepts can be introduced. Students created short stories based on the PEMDAS order of operations method, which required them to apply math into their daily lives. They are also practicing previously learned concepts, such as operations with fractions and whole numbers, as well as simple or one-step equations. Once these concepts are mastered, they will be introduced to two-step equations, inequalities, the coordinate plane and linear equations.

In English/Language Arts we are learning the art of the seminar; how to ask factual, interpretive, and evaluative questions and explore their possibilities for revealing truths within texts. They recently attended their first literature seminar and are reading “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”. This week we will be considering chapters 12-21.

The weather has been beautiful and we have enjoyed a lot of education outside the classroom these past few weeks. In PE we had a running game of soccer that lasted the whole week. Great effort by all and goals by Sarah, Nicholas, Isabela, and Christina!

Monday, October 6th will mark the beginning of our Science unit, “The Science of the Human Brain”, for the first term. Students will learn about: 1. Parts of the Brain (Anatomy) 2. The Brain: What’s going on in there? 3. Neurons, Brain Chemistry and Neurotransmission 4. Perception, Personality, Feelings 5. How drugs can change the way Neurons Communicate. This is sure to be a fascinating study.

~ All the best! Mr. Will, Ms. Erika & the Adolescent Students

2014-2015 Bi-Weekly Updates

Click the links below for each posted update:

Bi-Weekly Update 13
Bi-Weekly Update 12
Bi-Weekly Update 11
Bi-Weekly Update 10
Bi-Weekly Update 9
Bi-Weekly Update 8
Bi-Weekly Update 7
Bi-Weekly Update 7
Bi-Weekly Update 6
Bi-Weekly Update 5
Bi-Weekly Update 4
Bi-Weekly Update 3
Bi-Weekly Update 2
Bi-Weekly Update 1

2013-2014 Bi-Weekly Updates

Click the links below for each posted update:
Final Bi-Weekly Update Final Update 2014-06-23
Final Bi-Weekly Update XV 2014-05-21
Final Bi-Weekly Update XIV 2014-05-02
Bi-Weekly Update XIII 2014-03-31
Bi-Weekly Update XII 2014-03-17
Bi-Weekly Update XI 2014-03-07
Bi-Weekly Update X 2014-02-12
Bi-Weekly Update IX 2014-01-31
Bi-Weekly Update VIII 2014-01-17
Bi-Weekly Update VII 2013-12-06
Bi-Weekly Update VI 2013-11-22
Bi-Weekly Update V 2013-11-08
Bi-Weekly Update IV 2013-10-25
Bi-Weekly Update III 2013-10-11
Bi-Weekly Update II 2013-09-27
Bi-Weekly Update I 2013-09-13