Middle School: Week in Review

Happy Friday! The Middle School had an amazing, action-packed week! A few reminders for next week:

*We are still having recess outdoors each day. Please send an outer layer with your children, as they became quite chilly with the fall weather.

*On Monday, we are traveling to Sharpe Reservation in Fishkill, NY for our annual team building experience on a high and low ropes course. A bagged lunch is required as well as plenty of hydration! Please see the MyFWM calendar for more details.


In Science, 6th year Earth Science students are exploring the correlation between tectonic plates and earthquakes. We are currently discussing the events of the Japan earthquake which occurred in 2011. Students are able to make connections from their prior knowledge of how convection currents cause tectonic plates to move/shift, ultimately colliding, resulting in an earthquake. 7th year Physical Science students have conducted several labs leading to the discovery of what distinguishes a physical vs chemical change. Students determined that sugar is combustible but not a good conductor of electricity while salt is a good conductor but not combustible. 8th year Life Science students are beginning their dissection of a dogfish shark and frog. The goal of the dissection is to see first-hand the complexity of how a cell can differentiate in creating the organ system.


Math class has been going well for everyone! They have officially completed Unit 2 in all classes and are now working towards the first quiz of Unit 3. Ms. Sutherland has been impressed with efforts from all students and appreciates their dedication and perseverance to make math a successful class this school year.
Algebra 1 has been practicing solving equations with tables, graphs, and equivalent expressions. They are working through challenging word problems and creating their own equations based off the questions.
Transition has been working on understanding decimals and fractions as rational numbers. More specifically, comparing decimals and fractions using inequalities, finding equal fractions, and using all operations to combine fractions and decimals.
Pre-transition has been exploring inverse and opposite values, adding and subtracting with negative numbers, and using BEDMAS (order of operations) to solve for large number sentences. This group has also been doing daily review of previous topics to help prepare for cumulative exams. (It’s always a good idea to refresh on what you already know).
As a general reminder, students need to be completing both the lesson masters worksheet and assigned textbook problems as a part of our daily homework routine. Please remember to help your child check MyFWM for upcoming important dates and homework assignments. If you are not able to find where this is located, please feel free to email Ms. Sutherland.
Math Joke: Why should you never talk to pi? Because it will go on and on and on…..
For 6th years, Humanities classes were split between their class novel, Out of My Mind, and descriptive writing lessons and exercises. 6th years are now annotating their text and leading class book discussions. They are doing a phenomenal job with this, and classes are full of rich information and conversation. With descriptive writing, they have completed their first short piece of writing that must use at least three examples of figurative language, imagery, specific nouns, strong verbs, and descriptive adjectives. They are using a thesaurus regularly to compose and making great word choices. They are totally transforming as writers!
The 7th year Humanities students began their reading of A Gift From Childhood: Memories of an African Boyhood. They are unbelievable readers and have picked up on the intricacies of this book full of traditional culture. They even commented how surprised they are that so much can come from a short novel. They wrote responses in their journals following a discussion regarding tradition and modern culture. Finally, they learned about the French occupation of Mali and West Africa in the late 19th century and throughout the 20th century.
8th year Humanities students are learning about Plimouth Plantation and the settlers to occupy the Northeast. They also read about the relationships with the Natives in this area, including what historians believe the “First Thanksgiving” truly entailed. Finally, they are working on planning an impressive essay called, Rewriting History. They are charged with the task of making one change to the course of history regarding indigenous Americans and Western settlers and discussing the subsequent effects of this singular change, even writing about how today’s America might be different. Their theses are shaping up to be quite interesting!

Middle School: Highlight on Advisory

This week we are highlighting Advisory. Each morning, Advisory groups meet from 8:10-8:30 and are an important start to the day. As you will read, each group has different structures and objectives that unify each class and help them build a network of trust and support among their peers and advisors.

6th Year Advisory: Forming the Middle School Group

The 6th year advisory period consists of building a strong community and trust among one another. In order to achieve this vision of community and trust for the year, students have shared questions and concerns they face throughout their transition into middle school. Discussions consisting of how to balance homework, prioritize time efficiently, and respect for all have been covered in Advisory. Mr. Brown makes the students’ transitions into middle school as comforting as possible while promoting their accountability as students, peers, and members of the community. 

In addition to using activities in the Responsive Advisory Curriculum, Mr. Brown forms the 6th grade group in creative ways. One example is Student Scrabble. 6th years used a Scrabble board to connect the students’ names. Then, almost like a crossword puzzle, the group developed a unique clue representing each of their personalities. Each student provided something different about one another to help develop their clues. Once everyone finished their boards, we attempted to solve them as a class. It was nice to see how some students were surprised to find some characteristics of themselves others saw in them.

It is clear that 6th Year Advisory is a crucial component to this important transition that students go through from elementary to middle school.


7th Year Advisory: Community Development

Each day, 7th years have a new topic to help them expand their thinking and build our FWM community. Students are assigned a role and rotate through responsibilities each week. The following are the topic titles for each day of the school week and an example of what they have already accomplished:

Monday (Weekend Update) – Students share news stories and current events about what is happening in the world. They have talked about the top box office films, sports games, the UN climate change summit, and the local fair in Durham, Connecticut.  

Tuesday (Talk it Out Tuesday) – Students bring forward an open question that will spark conversation about who they are as community members. They have discussed how stress affects them in middle school, their greatest accomplishments, and the pets that bring them joy. 

Wednesday (Work it Wednesday) – Students initiate a physical activity to start the morning advisory group. This is a chance to be creative together and play a fun game in hopes of building friendships among peers. They have played four corners, practiced morning yoga, answered a question ball, and followed along in Simon Says. 

Thursday (Life on the Outside) – Students have an opportunity to share a skill or talent they practice outside of school. So far, 7th years have had guitar and violin performances, learned different ballet positions, learned how to bake chocolate brownies, and the important components of competitive horseback riding. 

Friday (Fun Fridays) – Students can decompress from the busy school week and play a group cooperative board game together. They listen to each other’s favorite songs and share funny math jokes. 

Students have expressed that this year’s advisory group is, “…fun and exciting to get to know my peers better.” Students have shared they, “…enjoy learning something new about my friends I might not have known before.” Some have said, “Advisory rotations are a calm and joyful way to start my day.” 

The ultimate goal for 7th year advisory group this year is to build our community and be comfortable and confident working together. 


8th Year Leadership

As 8th years, these are the oldest students at FWM. 8th Year Leadership is unique because it gives space for the eldest students to develop and run items like fundraisers, charitable events, Friday Morning Gathering, and the annual sweatshirt design, as well as discuss what is important in the school community. 

This year, mornings are spent in many ways. First of all, they started the year discussing the students’ goals. What do they wish to achieve as 8th years? How do they want others to view them? What will this year’s projects look like? It was clear from the start that some of our advisory time would be spent reaching one, specific goal that holds importance for them.

This year’s group has a vested interest in raising funds to purchase a water bottle refilling station for the school. Their goal is to raise $5,000 over the course of the year. In only the second month of school, they have successfully raised just over $1,000 from their Name the Bunny fundraiser and their pumpkin painting station at this fall’s Oktoberfest. 

Each week, 8th years also plan, write, and film for the Friday Morning Gathering that is attended by students in Lower El, Upper El, and the rest of Middle School. 8th years have a vision for how they want the meeting to go this year, so they work hard to execute their plan along with their other Leadership projects. 

With continual fundraising and charitable events, 8th year advisory time is busy. Students have also begun reading Putting Peace First: 7 Commitments to Change the World by Eric David Dawson as a guide to being leaders and change-makers in their school community.

Without a doubt, 8th Year Leadership is important to the whole FWM community.

Middle School: Week in Review

Another busy week in Middle School has come to a close! We enjoyed the beautiful weather the first half of the week at recess and felt fall really begin at the end.

In Science, 6th year students are working on creating a stop-motion video depicting how convection currents influence geographic features. This project is based on their current unit, Plate Tectonics. 7th year students are establishing the differences between chemical and physical reactions. We have been conducting experiments identifying physical characteristics of matter such as volume, mass, and density. 8th year Life Science students are finishing their unit on cells. Moving forward, they will be studying Structure of Life, identifying how cells help shape and form certain systems all around us.

Math classes were lots of fun this week. All students worked hard to demonstrate their best math skills and brought a positive attitude to class every day!
Algebra 1 has been practicing four new techniques to solve for equivalent equations. They have been building fact triangles to help solve for unknown variables. Unit 2 test is on Friday, October 4th. Happy studying!
Transition has been working on understanding how to use formulas, such as the Pythagorean Theorem. They created grocery lists on Google Sheets to practice working with a new digital organization system.  Also, students played a question game to understand what an open statement is.
Pre-transition has been working on rounding whole numbers, integers, and rational numbers. They are able to successfully convert decimals to fractions and vise versa. They have started to incorporate percent into their learning and will continue to explore this next week.
**As a general reminder, there is an extra math help session happening on Tuesdays after school from 3-4pm in Ms. Sutherland’s room. This is an opportunity for all students to get one-on-one support, go over quizzes/tests, and get homework help.
Humanities classes had a week full of material. It was a current events week, so Group B students presented for the first time this year. With so much going on in the news, the presentations were varied and interesting. 6th years began Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper and had great, lively discussions about the chapters. They also worked on identifying nouns in writing and writing personal responses. 7th years wrapped up their presentations on religion and taught each other about Islam, Taoism, and Buddhism and their presence in China. They then traveled to the continent of Africa and are working on the geography of SubSaharan Africa. Finally, students drafted odes after reading Pablo Neruda’s, “Ode to the Apple”. 8th years read excerpts from Stolen Lives: The Indigenous Peoples of Canada and the Indian Residential Schools as they explore the background for the continued American Indian stereotype in pop culture and literature that stems back as far as the late 15th century. In doing so, they read parts of an essay by Charles Dickens and looked at artwork by George Catlin. This is providing context before we go back in time for our study of settlement of the New World after the Age of Discovery. We began the settlements of Roanoke and Jamestown at the week’s end. Students also began talking about the term cultural appropriation and its controversial “grey areas”. They looked into the topic on their own and watched a short PBS talk in class on the issue. We had great discussion surrounding this that I’m sure will continue throughout the year.
More to come next week!

Middle School: Week in Review

Happy Friday, everyone! It’s been a busy week in the middle school!

In 6th year Humanities classes, students discussed some examples of figurative language and identified it in poetry. We also spent time learning how to respectfully argue a point. It can be difficult not to become emotional when you fervently believe in something, so listening to another perspective can seem impossible. I am proud of the 6th years for working on this tricky skill. They also finished Becoming Naomi Leon. Next up is our empathy and compassion unit centered around Sharon Draper’s novel, Out of My Mind. In 7th year Humanities classes, we are finishing our unit on China by researching the major religions of the country: Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Islam, and Christianity. Students completed group presentations to teach each religion. Finally, 8th years talked about human migration, Mesoamerica, early exploration from the Vikings, and Columbus. We have begun the Age of Discovery and will continue learning about the different exploits by European explorers and their effects on the indigenous people of those lands.

Week 3 was a success in all math classes!
Algebra 1 has been practicing on the graphing calculator. Work included plotting scatter points, drawing linear functions, and creating new absolute value images. We are analyzing data with mean, median, range, and mean absolute deviation values.
Transition has been working on mastering order of operation problems, using inequalities to compare numbers, and simplifying fractions. Most recently we have practiced how to plot ordered pairs on a coordinate grid, using both paper/pencil and a graphing calculator. We have also worked with numbers in scientific notation form.
Pre-transition has been working on understanding mixed, improper, and proper fractions. Students are able to identify natural numbers, whole numbers, and integers. We are also practicing different study techniques in order to feel prepared for the upcoming test.

In Science, 6th year students are finishing their unit, Fossils and Studying Earth’s Past. Throughout this unit, students constructed amber preservation, molds, casts, and fossils. 7th year students are also finishing their unit, Combining and Separating. Students had several in-class activities in which they created different types of mixtures (suspensions, solutions) and methods of separation. Lastly, 8th year students conducted their debate on stem cells. Embryonic stem cells were the focus of their debate.

We are looking forward to the week ahead!

Tiny Art Show!

In the Art Studio, our young artists from Lower Elementary through Middle School kicked off the school year by putting on a Tiny Art Show! Each artist was given a choice between various small canvases, paper, and even shells to create their tiny artwork on. Students practiced layering art materials such as colorful sharpies and tempera paints, as well as practicing color mixing techniques. There was no specific prompt for what to paint, but rather it was an opportunity for each young artist to trust their creativity and express themselves. The challenge, however, was the small size restriction. Students had to problem solve ways in which they could fit their designs and ideas onto the tiny canvases, as well as how to carefully apply paint with small paintbrushes so as not to lose any detail. It was wonderful to see the variety of artwork created!

Once their tiny artwork was complete, we set up a display in the hallway for the whole school to enjoy. Magnifying glasses were set up with the display so everyone could take a closer look at all of the wonderfully unique tiny works of art!

Middle School: All About the Community

Another beautiful week has commenced in Middle School. This week, I noticed the mindset shift towards community. I’ve always been in awe of the FWM Middle School because in my school and camp experiences, I have never seen students across the three grades and ages come together to play one game so effortlessly as I have at FWM. I think my entire first year here, I continually commented on the socialization between grades; it truly felt like one community. This came to mind as Ms. Sutherland made a similar comment to me.

Then I thought about how the 8th years are leading the charge with fundraising. They planned and are executing their Name the Bunny fundraiser in the commons. They had each grade, 1-8 nominate a name. Each name was placed on a jar and left in the Commons. Whichever jar has the most value in coins after two weeks, will be the name of our new rabbit. The sole purpose of this is to raise enough money throughout the year to install a water bottle filling station. This group is fully aware that they will not benefit from this, but the idea of helping the community and filling a need is essential to their class. They are planning another fundraiser for Oktoberfest as well.

Another way the FWM Middle School embodies community is with their community service period. This dedicated period occurs one period in their 6-day rotation. They truly look forward to entering the younger classrooms and becoming a buddy or mentor to a younger student during their work cycle. This looks differently depending on the age. It’s beautiful. Not only do the younger children look forward to seeing their Middle School friends, but the older students are reminded about their vital presence in a younger community.

Now for a quick overview of academics:

In Humanities, all classes had their first current events presentations of the year! They really rose to the occasion and had wonderful discussions about important global events. 6th years discussed Becoming Naomi Leon character progression and went through some “anatomy” lessons about writing. 7th years had an awesome week comparing and contrasting political and economic systems, learning about Mao Zedong (Mao Tse-tung), the cultural revolution in China, and the significance of Tiananmen Square.  They also reviewed essay writing techniques. Finally, 8th years began reading A Different Mirror and discussing the idea of the Master Narrative in the story of America. They also read about and discussed what it means to be American, leading to lessons about stereotypes- are they true? Where do they come from? How can we overcome them?

Week 3 Math classes at FWM are over and chapter 1 is almost done! This week, all math groups continue to prepare for their cumulative chapter tests. This is an opportunity to summarize all they have learned in the past 14 school days.
Algebra 1 has been using the graphing calculator to work on plotting scatter points, drawing linear functions, and creating new absolute value images. They are analyzing data with mean, median, range and mean absolute deviation (MAD) values.
Transition has been working on mastering order of operation, problems using inequalities to compare numbers, and simplifying fractions. Most recently we have practiced how to plot ordered pairs on a coordinate grid using both paper/pencil and a graphing calculator. We have also worked with numbers in scientific notation form.
Pre-transition has been working on understanding mixed, improper, and proper fractions. They are able to identify natural numbers, whole numbers, and integers. They are also practicing different study techniques in order to feel prepared for the upcoming test.
In Science, 6th year students continue working on factors that influence the preservation of a fossil. Students made molds in clay using objects found in nature, then poured plaster of paris into the impression. The result is known as a cast, which represents the initial impression left from the object used. 7th year students conducted their own trials on different types of mixtures. Students were asked to create a solution, suspension, and colloid. Afterwards, each student was to record what methods were implemented in order to bring each mixture back to a pure substance. Finally, 8th year students are busy working on gathering information for their debate on stem cells. This debate correlates to their past unit on the Cell Theory.

Español con Señora Hall

I’m so excited to be part of the FWM family and share my passion for language with the children here! In World Language, the children have been diving into stories each class. Storytelling helps students acquire language in a compelling manner and allows them to see words used in context rather than simply learning them in isolation. The children learn actions to correspond with new vocabulary words. 

In alignment with their author study for September, primary classes heard Oso Pardo, Oso Pardo, ¿Qué ves ahí? (Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see? By Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle). With the story, they were presented with names of different animals along with their colors. Next, we will work on categorizing living and non-living things, just as they are doing for science this month.

Lower Elementary has been acquiring the skills to discuss which foods we like and do not like. They have been using the story, ¡No me gusta! from the No Me Digas elementary Spanish curriculum. We have been singing and sharing about our favorite and least favorite foods. 

Upper Elementary has practiced retelling stories and sequencing with the stories Isabel va a la escuela and Los Peces, and Los Tiburones, all from The Storyteller’s Corner. They have learned to talk about leaving or staying, how they are feeling, and they have practiced counting 0-10 and backward. 

Middle School just started our Free Voluntary Reading, which is at the beginning of each class. All middle schoolers choose a book to read and spend the first five to ten minutes of class reading in Spanish. Aside from this, they have been singing and hearing stories to say who people are, what they say, and what they like and do not like to do. Then they applied these skills to begin writing their own stories about themselves. 

Middle School: Off To a Great Start!

It’s been an amazing start to the year in Middle School! We have enjoyed all of the enthusiasm for learning and excitement for what’s to come this year.

In 6th year Earth Science, students are working on Earth’s History. Within this unit, students are exploring Earth’s past by learning how to recreate fossils and amber preservation. In 7th year Physical Science, students are learning about the properties of Matter. Students have explored this unit by performing several activities involving the combination and separation of solids and liquids. Finally, 8th year Life Science students are learning about Cells. Currently, students are working on establishing the differences between eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells, constructing models of each.

In Math, students are off to a busy start with textbook distribution, completing homework questions, and practicing our note taking skills, all in the first week. Algebra 1 has been working on understanding the basics of algebra and how to identify number systems being used in the real world. More specifically, they have been describing patterns in word problems, finding equivalent expressions, and learning to use a graphing calculator.  Transition has been working on reading and writing real numbers. They have also been comparing positive and negative numbers on a number line, using rational numbers in ratios, and discussing order of operations. Pre-transition has been working on interpreting integers and fractions. Students are currently trying to understand mixed numbers, measuring units, and equivalent fractions.
Humanities classes are also in full swing! All students have completed their summer independent book presentations, their first vocabulary unit, and have been writing in their Writer’s Journal. Additionally, 6th years  are going over the class read, Becoming Naomi Leon by Pam Munoz Ryan. Students are looking at the culture and geography of the Mexican state of Oaxaca with an emphasis on the importance of art. 7th years are reviewing Lensey Namioka’s novel, Ties That Bind, Ties That Break. They studied Chinese dynasties, specifically looking at the Qing dynasty, the Opium Wars, the Boxer Rebellion, as well as the changing culture during the revolution, specifically with regards to women’s rights. 8th years are discussing stereotypes as they review The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton and begin their yearlong journey through American history using Ronald Takaki’s, A Different Mirror for Young People:  A History of Multicultural America.
In addition to their classes, students spent time training for community service and beginning electives. As a full group, they shared experiences with each other from the perspectives of being a student mentor and receiving student help during community service time. Then, students broke up by grade and acted out scenarios to problem solve some common situations they might find during their time in younger classrooms. Next, MS students chose from the following electives for the first trimester: fantasy football, dance, and cooking. The groups split equitably and had a great first session. The fantasy football elective set up their rosters, the dance elective worked on choreography, and the cooking elective made three different puff pastry desserts.
We are already completely immersed in the year and have loved watching the 6th years become acclimated to the Middle School environment. It is exciting to think about what is to come with so much curiosity and insight in our classrooms! Thank you to students and parents for a great start to the year.