Middle School: Photos! Trip to D.C. & 5th Year Visitors

It’s been a great week back after spending last week on our trip to Washington D.C. We were fortunate to have a wonderful tour guide, Dwight, who was incredibly knowledgeable of the city and its sites. One of the biggest benefits to having Dwight was the thoughtful discussions he led with our students and having them make connections between the sites. He offered questions before visiting memorials to have the kids figure out through observation and the prior knowledge he provided.

Additionally, as Chris noted in his reflection email, the middle school students were fabulous; there were no complaints, and they were flexible. We are incredibly fortunate and grateful to have a group like this middle school. It makes traveling fun!

Finally, this week the 5th years spent a morning attending our classes. They were excited to be immersed in the middle school and were great participants. We can’t wait to welcome them in the fall!

Middle School: Expert Night & Grandparents Day

What a wonderful week! A special congratulations to the 8th years for completing their expert projects, a culmination of 5-months worth of planning, research, writing, and practicing. They should be proud of all they accomplished!

Next, we had special visitors on Friday. They enjoyed some math and a rocket launch on the field.

A big thank you to middle school parents and families for supporting our 8th years on their big night and visiting our classes on Grandparents Day. We love seeing you!

Middle School: A Humanities Rebellion!

As promised, I want to take time to write about a unique classroom experience the 7th years participated in last week. Experiential learning, or learning by doing, is an important part of acquiring knowledge.

During their unit surrounding Animal Farm by George Orwell, students learned various economic and political systems of government (capitalism, socialism, communism, dictatorship, democracy, monarchy/oligarchy, and totalitarianism) and paralleled the novella with the Russian Revolution of 1917 and its aftermath, reading it as an allegory. They also spent time investigating the notion of a revolution. We looked at various revolutions from past and present and spoke about the causes, goals, what actually happened, and if they achieved their goals. We ended by devising a list of qualities that would make a great leader. Little did they know, this would be the launching point for tomorrow’s lesson.

The students walked into Humanities, and I told them there had been a rebellion. I had been overthrown and they would need to figure out how to successfully run class. I then went and sat in the back of the room and took copious notes, observing what happened next.

As expected, they were surprised at first, but they quickly sprang to action. Leaders emerged, both logical and more controlling, and it became clear that they all had the same goal: to learn as much as possible in the time given. While the first half of the class was spent deciding who would lead the pack, they realized that they should be focusing their time planning the class. They broke Humanities into a multi-day schedule of mini-classes that would run 10-15 minutes each. They cleverly realized that it would be optimal to have a reading comprehension class following a history lesson, so they could tie them together. I was impressed.

The end of the class came, and they begged to actually run the class the next day, exactly how they planned it. They agreed to go home and prep lessons to be delivered the next day. How could I say no?

The following day, 7th years executed their lessons. It was eye-opening to me. For the most part, they decided to take their favorite parts of Humanities and teach them as I might. I watched a history lesson about the Cuban Missile Crisis followed by written questions about that lesson, editing practice, a poetry discussion, current events, and a public speaking lesson. What I noticed, though, was the lack of movement in their lessons. They sat and worked quietly at their seats. I thought to myself, Is this how they feel the best practice of teaching is? Is this a direct reflection of their own experiences? I hoped not! I know, personally, I always plan at least one movement of environment during class and give children the freedom to do their quiet or group work in any space they feel comfortable. It wasn’t until one of the students became strict that they digressed and started speaking up.

The other crucial piece to experiential learning is reflection. Afterwards, we gathered and I asked the students about the experience. When I asked for overall feedback, one student mentioned that because one of their parents is a teacher, he was able to have a different type of conversation with him: not so much about what he teaches but how he teaches it. Another student enjoyed the process of teaching so much (planning and executing the lesson) that they thought they might consider it as a career. I asked if this was their dream version of a humanities class. They said they hadn’t considered they could do something like that and that there just simply wasn’t enough time to start from scratch. I would love to see what that might look like! Overall, the feedback was that they loved teaching each other. It will be important for me to honor this and celebrate it in my future planning of curriculum for students.

I think I will keep this experience in my repertoire. With different groups, this can go in completely separate directions each year. I can’t wait!

A reminder:
The deadline for this year’s FWM sweatshirt is the end of the day on Monday. Order yours now! FWM Sweatshirt Order

Middle School: Week in Review

This was a loaded week! So much went on in our classes. The kids even commented about how quickly this week flew by.

In Science this week, the 6th year Earth Science students have been working on their unit, Earth, Moon, and Sun. Within this unit, students are discovering how Earth moves in space and how it associates with our seasons. Students created a short, stop-motion video representing key aspects and principles to each objective. The 7th year students are identifying the characteristics of waves. This unit informs students how a wave travels through or not through certain mediums. In order to facilitate these principles, students were able to demonstrate certain aspects of a wave using a slinky. Lastly, the 8th years are finishing their unit, Minor Bodies of the Solar System. Students have been working on identifying aspects of our moon in addition to the similarities/differences between meteoroids, meteorites, asteroids, and comets. By understanding more of the “small picture” within our solar system, students will better understand the “big picture”.

In Math this week, the 6th years are now working on transforming formulas.  They know how to find the area of triangle, but now they have to find the length of one of the legs.  They are given the area of a circle, but they now have to find the radius. Next, the 6th years will move onto graphing points and lines on a coordinate plane. The 7th years will conclude their geometry unit this week.  In addition to finding the perimeter and area of polygons and circles, they found the surface area and volume of prisms and cylinders.  They have also learned how to find the slant height in order to find the surface area of a cone or pyramid.  Their unit will conclude with converting areas and volumes within or between systems of measurements. Lastly, the 8th years will finish their unit on quadratics this week.  This unit included solving quadratics by graphing, factoring, and by using the quadratic formula.  They discovered that their answers can have two solutions, one solution, or no solution.  The class also solved systems of linear and quadratic equations.

In Humanities this week, 6th years continued reading Shooting Kabul, by N.H. Senzai. Connecting to the Humanities curriculum, we learned about the Islam religion as well as common Western misperceptions about it in a post-9/11 country. They are also watched a short documentary about the city of Kabul as it is today. Also in connection with the novel, we have been learning about racial profiling and bias. We have personally reflected and are becoming mindful of our own biases, recognizing them and moving forward. The 7th years finished reading Animal Farm by George Orwell this week. They also had a rebellion and I was overthrown, leaving Humanities class completely in their hands. During this two-day experiment (which is deserving of its own blog post) students decided what to do and how to move forward. In the end, we reflected and I also gave them a play-by-play of what they did and said. It was interesting for me to see, and for them to hear, the roles they take on when they are left on their own devices. Finally, 8th years completed the first round of expert presentations and received written feedback for moving forward. I can’t wait for the community to see what they have done!

Have a wonderful and peaceful weekend! Don’t forget to order your FWM sweatshirt and RSVP for next Friday’s dance, hosted by our 8th years!

Middle School: Science Fair!

Science Fair is an annual event for 6th and 7th year students and showcases skills such as inquiry, creativity, and critical thinking. This year’s theme asked students to consider the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) when creating their hypothesis to drive their project. Topics such as cryptocurrency, methanotrophs, heart disease, soil absorption, and wealth in medicine were just a few.

It is amazing to listen to the students explain their projects as well as watch their enthusiasm for the topics. They have become experts! It is exactly this type of thinking and passion that make us feel pretty good about them leading the world in the future.

Middle School: A Week in Review

Thank you to those of you who attended the Art Show and Pizza Dinner! The Middle School students did a wonderful job setting up, doing their jobs, and taking down the event. It was wonderful to see the community come together and enjoy food and conversation. Next week, we will let you know the charity the 8th years choose to donate the proceeds.

This week in math class, the 6th years began their patterns and rules unit. So far, they’ve worked with patterns and graphs and are learning about scaling and intervals when reading and drawing graphs. They have also been working on arithmetic and geometric sequences. The 7th years continue their brief introduction to trigonometric ratios. They have learned how to use the tangent ratio to find the length of a side and concluded with the sine and cosine ratios. From here, the 7th years will continue working with area and perimeter of polygons. The 8th years continue working with quadratic graphs and their properties. They’re working with the formula to find the line of symmetry and the vertex of a parabola.  They are then plotting points in order to graph quadratic functions.

In science class, the 6th and 7th years are beginning to assemble their display boards for next week’s Science Fair. Students are excited to share and display their hard work. The 8th years are continuing their unit on space titled, Minor Bodies of our Solar System. Students tested the difficulties of being an astronaut, performing simple tasks such as opening a CD case, grabbing a pencil, or writing their name wearing gloves. Students also performed a lab demonstrating the formation of an impact crater using plaster of Paris and marbles.

In Humanities, 6th years continue looking at Afghan culture as they began to read, Shooting Kabul by N.H. Senzai. The book takes place in 2011 and discusses the influences of the Taliban on culture in parts of Afghanistan and the plight of a family traveling to the U.S. for refuge. The students were surprised to learn that at its genesis, the Taliban was not a terrorist group. They are learning through the novel and class lessons the progression of the Taliban as well as the struggle between the people and the Taliban with regards to religion, culture, and everyday life. The 7th years studied the historical context needed to begin George Orwell’s Animal Farm. They learned the differences in the political economic systems of capitalism, socialism, and communism, and then took a look at revolutions: why they occurred, what the goals were, and if goals were achieved. Specifically, they looked at the American Revolution as well as current Sudanese protests and the Yellow Vests in France. This all built up to learning about the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the history building up to it. We are excited to continue reading Animal Farm next week. In 8th year Humanities, we finished the novel, Witness, and are ending our analysis on the novel. Classes surrounding our analytical work have been rich and challenging, which has been exciting to see. We also took pause to discuss some of the controversy following the burning of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. What are the feelings surrounding this by nationals and foreigners? Why so much controversy over donations? What are the ripple effects of this? We spoke about the outpouring of donations after the Notre Dame fire to the three historically black, Louisiana Baptist Churches that were burned to the ground at the end of March-early April and victims of hate crime. I love allowing students to have a platform to give honest opinions and hear each other’s perspectives while respectfully disagreeing. It’s a great age to start including your children in these discussions and modeling civility while doing so.

All-in-all it’s been a great week! We look forward to seeing you next Thursday at the Science Fair!

Middle School: Week in Review

**Don’t forget to place your pizza orders for next Wednesday, April 17th!

It’s been another busy week in middle school! We started off with new electives. Frisbee Golf has returned this spring and is a great outdoors activity with some competition. Chess is also being offered and students are continuing to challenge each other in matches. Finally, a Game Creation elective is being offered. Students are developing rules, setting an objective, and designing boards and materials. In the end, they will all play their games with each other.

In Humanities, sixth years are studying the history and beautiful culture of Afghanistan. We are most focused on the country since the early 1900’s. They have learned about Soviet involvement and the Muhajideen, how religion plays a role in the country, and the origins and myths surrounding jihad and the Taliban. We are excited to begin Shooting Kabul by N.H. Senzai now that we have historical context for the novel. The seventh years are writing essays using specific examples from their last two novels to support the quotation by Joseph Lekuton, “…a man who has gone through hardships will be the most likely to enjoy success” (84). Finally, 8th year students are doing challenging literary analysis of Karen Hesse’s book, Witness, about a rural, Vermont town being introduced to the KKK in 1924. We are also reading about the historical references mentioned in the novel like the election of Miriam Ferguson, the case of Leopold and Loeb, and the variety of views of race in a northern town.

In Science, 6th and 7th years have continued working on their science fair reports and projects. 8th years have conducted several activities related to their unit on our solar system. Students have illustrated elliptical orbits, orbital periods, origin of our solar system, and a rap presentation describing the unique characteristics of each planet.

In Math, the 8th years will finish unit 8 this week and next week will begin their unit on quadratics.  In this new unit they will be solving quadratic equations, graphing parabolas, factoring quadratics, and will be introduced to the quadratic formula. The 7th years continue working with the Pythagorean Theorem and square roots of rational and irrational numbers.  Shortly, they will be introduced to the tangent, sine and cosine ratios.  The 6th years are continuing their measurement unit.  They have been introduced to area and perimeter.  They have also learned to find the surface area of prisms and cylinders and will soon be introduced to volume of prisms and cylinders.

***NOTE: If your child/children is not coming home the way they typically do (staying after for extra help, being picked up by a different adult) please make sure you email Michele Stramaglia in the office (mstramaglia@fraserwoods.com) and the appropriate teacher/advisor to inform them of this change at the start of the day. Thank you!***

Don’t forget to mark your calendar for 3 wonderful events on Wednesday, April 17th!

Art Show from 3:30 pm – 5:30 pm

Elementary and Middle School student artwork will be showcased in the Commons!

FWM Family Pizza & Salad Dinner from 5:00 pm – 6:00 pm

Dine with us! Service and hospitality provided by Middle School students in the GYM!

Log in and place your order here:


Deadline for orders to be submitted by Monday, April 15th

Parent & Child Night from 5:30 pm – 6:30 pm

Work alongside your child by engaging in the many Montessori works in his or her classroom!

Middle School: Impermanence

On Thursday, the middle school took a short walk through FWM’s trails to the Resiliency Center of Newtown. This week, visiting Buddhist Monks completed a sand mandala in honor of Jeremy Richman.

Ms. Reid taught all of her middle school art students about this ancient traditional practice in her classes a few months ago. In Humanities classes, we are constantly learning about the beauty and importance of diverse cultural traditions. This experience brought meaning to the content in our classes.

While there, we were fortunate enough to be welcomed into the space to sit and observe this Tibetan Buddhist practice. One of the monks explained the entire process to us, the philosophy, and allowed the students to ask questions.

It is common for people to be shocked that after about 40 hours of work to complete the beautiful and intricate piece, a ceremony is done and it is dismantled. The meaning behind this part of the practice is invaluable: impermanence. The idea is that there is beauty in creation and compassion for the process, but we must be mindful that not everything is permanent in life.

During Poetry Tuesday last week, the 6th years read Robert Frost’s,”Nothing Gold Can Stay”. The 6th years connected this to the mandala and its purpose while we reflected on our visit. I posted the poem at the end of the post.

I am grateful we were able to view the mandala and speak to the monks at the Resiliency Center of Newtown. It was not only beautiful and emotional to witness, but moving for me to see the students in awe of something that holds so much meaning.

“Nothing Gold Can Stay” by Robert Frost

Nature’s first green is gold, 
Her hardest hue to hold. 
Her early leaf’s a flower; 
But only so an hour. 
Then leaf subsides to leaf. 
So Eden sank to grief, 
So dawn goes down to day. 
Nothing gold can stay.