Monday, January 15, 2018

Fusion Communication: January 12

Hi all,
Another crazy weather week - does break the monotony of winter; who doesn’t like negative temps to start the week, rain and slush to big winter storm at the end? The team is seeing an increase to winter clothing during recess; thank you fighting those battles.  There are some largish things going on in the coming weeks, so keep on reading.

“So Longs” to Fusion Staff (NOT “goodbye”)
Team Fusion will be saying “so long” to two staff members this Friday: Missy Barnier and Robyn Bessette.  Missy is moving over to CHMS for the remainder of the year.  She is already missed, and we look forward to having her back at BRMS (and on Team Fusion!) next year.

Robyn will begin her maternity leave this Friday, expecting to be back in late April.  We wish her well and look forward to seeing some baby pics soon.  Virginia Bobbitt will officially start on Monday - Welcome Ms. Bobbitt!

Career Panel - want to participate?
As part of the annual career / PLP unit, Team Fusion holds a Career Panel for the 8th graders - usually the panel is during the last week before February Break. We are looking for a wide range of careers, and more importantly, paths to those careers. Please contact Mr. Pless if you are interested.

All Laptops are at school over the Weekend
There should be no school laptops / electronic devices at home over the break.  If one does make its way home, please secure it in a spot where it will remain unused for the break.

Calendar
January 15 - Martin Luther King Day; No school for students
January 18 - MMU guidance counselors visit 8th graders at BRMS (yep - it’s really here… high school transition!)
January 25 - 8th Grade families: MMU Transition Meeting at high school starting at 6:30pm (students are welcome to attend - see attached letter)
February 2 -  Tentative field trip to Spare Time Bowling
February 14 - Delayed Start
February 24-March 6: Winter Break (no school)
April 11 - Delayed Start
May 9 - Last Delayed Start
June 1 - 8th Grade: Move up Day at MMU

Curriculum Updates
LA
Starting on Tuesday, our long term sub, Ms. Bobbitt will be taking over LA classes.
See you at the end of April! :)

7 - This week we began our nonfiction unit “Tapping the Power of Nonfiction.” Students have had access to bins of high-interest, nonfiction books in class. Mini lessons have focused on how to approach nonfiction text (looking at the cover, table of contents and introduction to determine what the text aims to teach). We have been using a class mentor text, Fast Food Nation during mini lessons and students have been practicing new skills with their choice books. We have also begun to talk about what skills and strategies go into quality club conversation. Next week students will begin identifying central ideas in nonfiction text. Students will continue to work in their reading/writing notebooks to build up a collection of reading work to be assessed as “reading process” on the next report card.

8 -  This week we also began the nonfiction reading unit Tapping the Power of Nonfiction. In 8th grade, students have been placed in book clubs. Together with 1 or more peers, students are reading and discussing nonfiction chapter books. Mini lessons thus far have focused on how to approach nonfiction text and how best to prepare for book club discussion. Fast Food Nation has been our anchor/mentor text for mini lessons, and students have applied skills from lessons to their own club books. Next week students will start tracking central ideas across the text. Students will continue to work in their reading/writing notebooks to build up a collection of reading work to be assessed as “reading process” on the next report card.

Science
7 - We began our week with formal observations of the brook trout eggs.  We determined their starting population size (99), measured their growth (~3 mm), and made detailed drawings of the structures we could see under the microscope.  We continued our investigation of the effects of salinity on 4 common crop seeds.  Lastly, we explored the process of sexual reproduction in flowering plants and ended the week beginning to match flower structures with specific pollinators.

8 - We continued our exploration of solutions, exploring the difference in saturation levels for two common solutes, sodium chloride and magnesium sulfate.  Students reviewed main concepts of solutions before taking a short quiz on Friday.  Students also turned in their element brochures and their atom models.  The classroom is looking very festive with all the creative ways they chose to represent atoms!  Next week, we look briefly at how atoms bond together in various ways to form molecules and experiment with a few chemical reactions.


SS
7 - It was all feudal this week in social studies; students should have some great stories about their experiences being serfs, knights, lords and queens.  They tried valiantly to avoid the plague; alas, it struck with a vengeance.  Students will use their learning from that activity to compare our current form of government - representative democracy - to monarchy during the first part of next week.  By the end of the week, it’s on to an indepth look at North Korea and authoritarian regimes.

8 - The week began with a final look at the Declaration of Independence; then on to Articles of Confederation! Ask about the simulation at the end of the week - lots of food for thought!

Math -
7 - This week, we focussed on developing rules for adding and subtracting for negative numbers.  Next week we will be exploring multiplying and dividing with negative numbers as well as order of operations. Also, today I began meeting with students about their progress so far this year and checking in to see how I can better support them through the next half of the year.  I will continue this into next week. If you have any helpful feedback for me base on your own conversations about math class with your child, please feel free to share it with me.
8 - This week, we continued our exploration of exponential growth by looking at variations in the initial quantity as well as growth factor and examining the impact this has the on relationship.  We also compared these relationships to linear relationships, determining that linear relationships increase through repeated addition and exponential relationships increase through repeated multiplication.  Next week, we will continue to analyze the parts of an exponential equation and also begin to explore exponential decay.  


Again, stay warm and sane this weekend.

The Fusion Team

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Fusion Communication: January 7

Hi all,

Well, we're baaaack. Students have, again,  re-engaged with school, and we are all learning to cope with the colder temps.  Please do all you can to make sure your child is prepared for the cold, as students will be outside for brief periods of time while at school.

Career Panel - want to participate?
As part of the annual career / PLP unit, Team Fusion holds a Career Panel for the 8th graders - usually the panel is during the last week before February Break. We are looking for a wide range of careers, and more importantly, paths to those careers. Please contact Mr. Pless if you are interested (thank you to those who have volunteered already - Mr. Pless will be in touch this week.

All Laptops are at school over the Weekend
There should be no school laptops / electronic devices at home over the break.  If one does make its way home, please secure it in a spot where it will remain unused for the break.

Calendar
January 10 - Delayed Start
January 15 - Martin Luther King Day; No school for students
January 18 - MMU guidance counselors visit 8th graders at BRMS (yep - it’s really here… high school transition!)
February 14 - Delayed Start
February 24-March 6: Winter Break (no school)
April 11 - Delayed Start
May 9 - Last Delayed Start

Curriculum Updates
LA
Students were able to meet our long term sub, Ms. Bobbitt this week. Once she is settled, families will be able to contact her via email as she will be subbing from mid-January to late April.

7 - This week we finished our class novel, Tuck Everlasting. Students have been working on an informal poster project to summarize their thinking about this book. We also took some time to watch the film in class at the end of the week.

Next week students will take a reading pre assessment prior to the beginning of a unit studying nonfiction text. *** Please see the explanation below in 8th grade overview to better understand how this assessment is used and reported. *** Mini lessons during the 3-4 week nonfiction unit will focus on skills for tackling and interpreting informational text. Students will read from book bins in the classroom on a variety of topics and perform tasks in their journals to apply and practice strategies presented in mini lessons.

8 - This week students took a reading pre assessment. Please know that this assessment will go on the report card. It is used primarily by teachers to inform unit and lesson planning. Students should not be alarmed if their scores on the pre assessment are low as this assessment measures students’ abilities before any lessons have been taught. It is strictly informative and meant to help assess growth over the course of the trimester.

This week students also had the opportunity to browse reading choices for a nonfiction club unit. Students were placed in small groups of 3-5, taking their reading preferences into consideration. Over the next few weeks they will set goals for reading together and discuss what they have been reading. Mini lessons will focus on skills for tackling nonfiction text. Students will complete group and individual tasks in their journals during class. Tasks not completed during class should be done for homework.  

Science
7 - The big news this week is that our Brook Trout eggs arrived!  This image shows our ~100 eggs after they were poured into the breeding basket in out tank.  Look closely to see the dark circles - which are the fish eyes!  Students have been engaged in learning about the “suitable environment” for brook trout and about how we can replicate those conditions in our tank.  They are also examining life cycle diagrams to better anticipate the changes in growth and development we’ll observe over the next few months!  At the same time, students dissected bean seeds in order to identify the structures and functions of plant seeds.  We set up an experiment to explore the effects of the environment (i.e., salt) and genetics (within 4 common crop species) on germination and growth of plants. Lastly, we discussed comparisons between our trout eggs and plant seeds.

8 - Students conducted research this week on one element of the periodic table.  They are producing an informational brochure, as well as a 3-D model of one atom of their element.  They may ask you for materials to help build their model.  We critiqued many examples of models, and discussed ideas for what materials they could use to represent the parts of an atom.  Please email me if you have any questions as your child works on this at home.  We also completed some of our final investigations of physical processes of matter by testing different methods for separating substances from mixtures and solutions.  Next week, we explore saturation and concentration of mixtures before launching our chemistry unit the following wek.

SS
7 - The 7th grade started the government and institutions unit with a look at rules for sports and how those show values of the participants.  In addition, there is a deeper dive into the role of geography, with additional quizzes for world features, major rivers and peninsulas.  This coming week will be a multi-day simulation of feudalism which is usually a student favorite every year.

8 - The 8th grade took a deeper dive into the Declaration of Independence, which will culminate in a look at the successes (and failures) of the goals of the American Revolution. In addition, 8th graders are beginning a deeper look at American geography, which starts with a 50 states quiz.  This coming week will feature a role play of the “first” form of American national governance, the Articles of Confederation, and a quiz about the Declaration of Independence.

Math - will return next week

Stay warm and sane this weekend.

The Fusion Team

Friday, December 22, 2017

Fusion Communication: December 22

Hi all,
Well, we made it to another one.  Students are ready for the break - and it looks like a snow in the forecast.  Or lots of sitting by heating sources.

Career Panel - want to participate?
As part of the annual career / PLP unit, Team Fusion holds a Career Panel for the 8th graders - usually the panel is during the last week before February Break. We are looking for a wide range of careers, and more importantly, paths to those careers. Please contact Mr. Pless if you are interested.

All Laptops are at school over the break
There should be no school laptops / electronic devices at home over the break.  If one does make its way home, please secure it in a spot where it will remain unused for the break.

Calendar
December Break - December 25-29, January 1, 2018!
January 10 - Delayed Start
January 15 - Martin Luther King Day; No school for students
January 18 - MMU guidance counselors visit 8th graders at BRMS (yep - it’s really here… high school transition!)
February 14 - Delayed Start
February 24-March 6: Winter Break (no school)
April 11 - Delayed Start
May 9 - Last Delayed Start

Curriculum Updates
LA
*** I have invited our long term substitute, Virginia Bobbitt to visit following the December break. The hope is that she will be able to spend a few days shadowing, meeting students and observing our daily routines. If all goes according to plan, she will be subbing from mid-January to late April. Once she is settled, you will be able to contact her via email. ***

When we return from break students in both grades will take a nonfiction reading pre-assessment. This assessment is intended to see how students tackle and respond to nonfiction text. It will be placed on the report card for the purpose of demonstrating growth but it is important to note that students are being assessed on their pre-existing skills before any lessons have been taught. Pre assessments are used by teachers to inform unit and lesson planning. They are also used to discuss student growth at the end of the trimester as students will repeat the assessment at the end of the unit.

7 - The first week after break will be spent on a Tuck Everlasting poster project. There will be several topics to choose from and completed posters will be presented during a gallery walk in class. Next, we will move on to a study of nonfiction text. Students will have access to bins of nonfiction books in class. Mini  lessons will focus on determining and tracking central ideas. Students will apply these skills to the books they are reading independently.

8 - Students will be reading nonfiction chapter books during the first few weeks after the break. Mini lessons will focus on summarizing and synthesising information in their books. They will complete independent and group tasks related to these skills and strategies.

Science
7 - Student completed the unit “From Cells to Systems” by examining the interdependence of human body systems in life-threatening situations.  When we return from vacation, we will focus on reproductive strategies among organisms, which will lay the foundation for our unit on genetics and heredity.  We will also receive our Brook Trout Eggs on January 4th!! Stay tuned for regular updates as we observe these babies grow and develop!

8 - Students used butane stoves and digital temperature probes to investigate what happens to ice as it’s heated to boiling.  They completed a mini-lab report, discussing trends in the data as well as comparisons to the ideal phase change graph.  They should be able to explain to you what happens to energy when matter is changing phase.  When we return, we will explore a wide variety of chemical reactions!

SS
7 - Students had a great experience with the Foodarama activity, which sets up further exploration of how food / cuisine is affected by geography and cultural attitudes.  The week ended with a final mini-project focused on religion in daily life, and students adding some of their learning to their Sovereign States, which are student-created countries; ask your child in which latitude their country will be located.

8 - The American Revolution film Unit concluded with the movie The Crossing, starring Jeff Daniels. Part of the study of that film was to compare the famous Emanuel Leutze painting “Washington crossing the Delaware River” to the real events leading to the Battle of Trenton.  After the break, 8th graders will start with a deeper dive into the Declaration of Independence, and then it's off to the Constitution for the next seven weeks.

Math
7 - Students started the next unit, Accentuate the Negative this week by exploring distances on a number line that includes negative numbers. We will continue more exploration of the number line and begin work with addition and subtraction of negative numbers when we return from break.
8 - We had a great reminder of the importance of math within Science on our field trip last week. While one of the professors said this explicitly during his demonstrations, we did not get into any of the math behind the concepts we were exploring. However, there were plenty of leftover formulas on the board behind him from UVM students working through physics problems. Students may have noticed Trigonometry equations that had a strong resemblance to the Pythagorean Theorem.  Thank you again to our chaperones that helped out on this trip!
This week, we wrapped up the unit, Looking for Pythagoras, with a unit test on Wednesday/Thursday.  When we return from break, we start the unit Growing, Growing, Growing.  This unit explores exponential growth and exponent rules.

Have a great break and a happy new year.

The Fusion Team

Monday, December 18, 2017

Fusion Communication: December 18

Hi all,
There will be a longer communication on Friday with curriculum updates.  Otherwise, Team Fusion is hoping for good week before break.

Fun Day this Friday
There will be all school fun day activities and no academics for this Friday. If your child will NOT be attending school, please let us know (contact Mr. Pless directly).

8th Grade Families - December 15 Field
Thank you to the volunteer chaperones and for others who communicated so well about early pick-up’s!  Students were terrific, and blended well with the campus environment!

7th Grade Families - Foodarama Update
Thank you for the time and effort to make this event possible - there were many compliments about the food, but also about the enthusiasm of your children for the event.  A big shout out to Mr. Nicholson, who managed the warm-up of food in his space while teaching his classes.

All Laptops are at school over the break
Laptops will be audited on Thursday, and will not come home until the new year (Wow - 2018 is nearly here!). You will be contacted if your child’s laptop is missing from the cart. If you are contacted, please secure the laptop for the break; experience has shown there is a marked increase in laptop damage over breaks.

Calendar
December 22 - BRMS Fun Day (no academics)
December Break - December 25-29, January 1, 2018!
January 10 - Delayed Start
January 15 - Martin Luther King Day; No school for students
February 14 - Delayed Start

Curriculum Updates will return at the end of the week.

The Fusion Team

Friday, December 8, 2017

Fusion Communication: December 8

Hi all,
Things are getting colder - at least for the next few days. Please make sure your child is prepared to be outside for 20 minutes… some days that 20 minutes seems WAY longer if a child is not prepared.

Got Report Cards?
All families should have received a report card in the mail - contact team if you did not.


8th Grade Families - December 15 Field Trip Information
A reminder that 8th grade students will be going to the UVM physics lab and to the Davis Center for lunch next Friday.  Several permission forms still need to be returned.  I will send reminder emails to families next week, as needed.  Students should be prepared for short walks on the UVM campus; they should bring a bagged lunch or money to purchase lunch at the Davis Center; they should also look forward to many exciting physics demonstrations!  Thanks in advance to chaperone volunteers!


7th Grade Families - Foodarama on December 15
On Friday, December 15, the Fusion 7th graders will host an event called “Foodarama”. Teams from around the school will be invited to join Fusion -starting at 1pm - for five servings of food from around the world.  Fusion students should be bringing home recipes this weekend, and at the latest Monday, for families to look over and help students plan the recipe; students know families have final say:)  Students are allowed to select from the following categories: appetizers, entrees / main dishes, side dishes and desserts. The recipes should contain at least 20 servings.  Contact Mr. pless if there are questions.


All Laptops are at school over the weekend
You will be contacted if your child’s laptop is missing from the cart. If you are contacted, please secure the laptop for the weekend. Student should bring it back on Monday morning.


Calendar
December 13 - Two Hour Delay
December 15 - 8th grade field trip to University of Vermont physics lab.  
                         7th Grade - Foodarama at BRMS 1pm
December 22 - BRMS Fun Day (no academics)
December Break - December 25-29, January 1, 2018!
January 10 - Delayed Start
January 15 - Martin Luther King Day; No school for students
February 14 - Delayed Start


Reading
Books should be brought to all study halls and LA class each day.


LA
7- We continue to work our way through Tuck Everlasting in class. Our on -class discussions about this book have been really rich and interesting.


8- We just finished our class read aloud, Chains. Students are working on a poster project (due on Tuesday). Details are on Schoology. They will have class time to work on it on Monday.


Science
7 - Students completed their research papers on human body systems on Friday!  They have worked diligently these past 2 weeks researching their human disease/condition and how specific body systems work together to keep us alive!  Next week, we will focus more on the endocrine and nervous systems.


8 - This week, students investigated the thermal conductivity of a variety of materials, then used their results to design and build an insulated water bottle.  They analyzed their results and the engineering design process.  Next week, we investigate melting points and other phase changes of different types of matter. Our field trip to the UVM physics lab is on Friday!


SS
7 - Students started the week with a heavy focus on the “Big 5” religions, taking notes and engaging in discussion about Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, Christianity and Islam.  They worked in groups reviewing the actions and beliefs of people who practice these religions around the world using Culturegrams interviews. Students are now identifying recipes and working to prove those recipes are from the countries the students think they are from; these recipes will lead to the “Foodarama” on December 15 (described above).


8 - Students started the week with the assessment for the Boston Massacre and the end of the Causes of the American Revolution unit.  They began a film unit, exploring the messages given to Americans about the Revolution through Schoolhouse Rocks animated shorts, and three full-length feature films: Johnny Tremain (1957), April Morning (1988), and The Crossing (2000).

Math
7 - At the beginning of the week, we explored finding volume of cylinders.  We spent the rest of our week preparing for the unit assessment which will be this coming Tuesday.  Students have a reference page of notes to study from. We will spend Monday reviewing the practice test and doing last minute preparations for the unit assessment.


8 - We are cruising through our current unit, Looking for Pythagoras. We discovered and have been applying the theorem.  We also made proofs for the theorem and created rules for what types of triangles satisfy the theorem.  Next week, we will be looking closer at irrational numbers.


Snow by Sunday evening… not that helps for the weekend. For those more inclined for the indoors, enjoy the longer nights next to the fire (or the start of the basketball / hockey seasons).


The Fusion Team

Friday, December 1, 2017

Fusion Communication: December 1

Hi all,
Hard to believe it’s December - didn’t the team just have an overnight field trip? Team Fusion is back in the swing of things - see all the happenings below.

Report Cards
First Trimester report cards will be mailed Monday.  Please contact the team if you have questions

All Laptops are at school over the weekend
You will be contacted if your child’s laptop is missing from the cart. If you are contacted, please secure the laptop for the weekend. Student should bring it back on Monday morning.

7th Grade Field Trip to VIF
Team had a great time at the Vermont International Festival. Thanks to the following folks who chaperoned:
Marie Sawyer
Sally Wade
Amy Fisher
Robyn Mundell
Meg Beliveau
Pam Clark
Tim Harvey
Kim Norman
Jean Kelly
Christa Alexander

Calendar
December 13 - Two Hour Delay
December 15 - 8th grade field trip to University of Vermont physics lab.  
December Break - December 25-29, January 1, 2018!
January 10 - Delayed Start
January 15 - Martin Luther King Day; No school for students
February 14 - Delayed Start

Reading
Books should be brought to all study halls and LA class each day.

LA
Important Information Regarding the LA Report Card:
Please note that students will now see a pre-assessment score for writing on the report card. While having these scores on the report card is new, please know that the use of these assessments remains the same. They are used by teachers to plan units and assess growth at the end of the trimester. Pre-assessment scores are derived by comparing at a sample piece of each student’s writing against grade level standards at the beginning of the year before any writing lessons have been taught. Pre-assessment scores are then compared to the post assessment in order to determine areas of growth and suggestions for next steps.

Process grades for reading are also new. These scores represent a collection of reading work done over the course of the trimester (journals and in class work). Students are encouraged to try out different methods for showing their thinking and the hope is that as the trimester goes on, students demonstrate deeper thinking about texts. Again, suggestions and celebrations related to this work will show up in the comments section.

Science
7 - Students are in the middle of writing a research paper on human body systems.  They selected one disease/condition to investigate and completed a lead paragraph for their paper outlining the disease and establishing the claim that the human body is a system of interacting subsystems.  Currently, they are focused on writing about the function and structures of 2 body systems directly related to their disease/condition.  This paper will continue into next week.

8 - Energy transfer is the topic this week.  During investigations, students determined how to predict the final temperature of a mixture of hot and cold water, and then learned how to calculate the amount of energy transfer in calories.  They will apply their knowledge of energy transfer and thermal conductivity with a water bottle design challenge next week.

SS
7 - Students embarked on an exploration of cuisine and religion this week.  These topics fit within the culture unit and will lead to a food project in two weeks where students will link certain recipes to certain religions.  There will also be a geography component, as climate and topography are also major drivers of food/cuisine.  Students will collect

8 - The students are finishing up the American Revolution unit by studying the Boston Massacre.  Thursday’s class featured a mock trial of the soldiers - students did great! The final assessment for the American Revolution will be Tuesday, then off to the film unit where students will watch five films (2 Schoolhouse Rock, Johnny Tremain, April Morning, The Crossing) and evaluate how the Revolution is portrayed in popular culture - and also how that portrayal has changed over time.


Math
7 - This week, we explored strategies for finding area of a circle as well as applying our knowledge of surface area of prism and circumference and area of circle to developing strategies for finding surface area of a cylinder. Next week, we will wrap up the unit by developing strategies for finding volume of a cylinder. We are shooting to have a unit assessment at the end of the week.

8 - We have gotten off to a great start with our new unit, Looking for Pythagoras. Students spent this week exploring how to find the area of a square that are set on a diagonal in a dot grid plane. This will help them in work next week of determining and proving the Pythagorean Theorem. Students also defined square roots as the side length of a square with a given area.

Hope everyone has a great weekend.

The Fusion Team