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Karen Hartz
  • Karen Hartz

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A New Block: Human Development

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Hearty Greetings & Happy New Year!  The second half of seventh grade will contain as many rich & interesting events as the first half!  Buckle your seatbelts!

When the cold abates enough for our return, we will begin our block on Human Development.  It looks to be a bit shorter than I anticipated, but we will still be able to cover respiration, circulation, digestion, and reproduction.  Megan Cummins, a doula, will be joining us to set the tone for the block:  reverence.  My intention is to guide the students to seeing the human being as more than a machine.  Instead, in 12 or 13 days, I hope to give a picture of human being as a whole, in progress of developing and changing throughout a lifetime.  Megan will give a beautiful picture of the fetus in utero, a perfect environment for its growth, and then the work both it and the mother do to enter the world.  She will describe the special physical features of the infant that assist this process as well as share the mystery and magic of that moment as she, both a mother herself and in her work as a doula, have experienced.  The infant’s first breath, its sign of life, will be the catalyst for our exploration of the respiratory system and its relationship to the circulatory system.  We will talk in general terms about the growth of the child fueled by nutrition until it matures enough to be physically ready to produce life itself.  We will have some discussion about how physical maturation alone is not the only indicator that one is ready to bring life into the world.  Our discussion of reproduction will involve male and female organs, the month rhythm of a mature female body, fertilization of the egg by a sperm. the beginnings of life.  I will have a box where students can anonymously place questions, which I will answer directly.  This is a good time for families to decide what other information and values they would like to bring to their children at this time, realizing that there isn’t just one “talk,” but a series of ongoing discussions as your children continue to mature and get closer to dating.  After our last parent evening, Kim sent out a list of books/resources some parents may find helpful.  It is by no means exhaustive, and as you discover some gems of your own, feel free to share them with the group.

Some of the things students will be asked to during this block:
• Conduct two questionnaires with their parents:  one on their birth and another on adolescence
• Bring in two pictures--one of themselves before age one and another of their parent of the same gender at 13 or so
• Keep a food journal for three days
• Draw various parts of human anatomy to understand the forms, functions, and relationships
• Take notes in outline form, from skeleton outline I provide
• Study for and take a block test

Please send a single picture of your child under age one in a sealed envelope with his/her name on envelope by Thursday, January 9.  We will be having a “guessing” game contest with them. Students should not show theirs to others.

Your child will receive the birth story questionnaire on our first day back to school.  Looking at it ahead of time will give you a chance to think about your responses before your child asks the questions and records your words.  The questionnaire will be due Friday, January 10.

Before the break, we finished our six-week block on the metric system, including unit conversions and working with word problems.  These types of problems will appear as review on homework in the future.  The final assignment gave me an idea of who may need more assistance.  Some students will continue to work with Ms. Trevillion, sometimes at a lunch or two a week, until they are on more secure footing with the material.

Our new focus will be on ratios.  Mrs. Trevillion will be taking the lead on this topic.  Math homework will continue to follow the pattern of homework sheets due on Friday with work time in class throughout the week. 

We will continue with grammar in class, focusing on types of sentences, phrases and clauses.  Most of the grammar work will be in class.  We will also be doing some work on making selections for our poetry book.  Jason Greenberg has requested that we begin pulling materials for the self-publication of a sample of work to be sold at May Fair and become our first official fundraiser for the 8th grade trip.  Lastly, we will begin reading the script of our play near the end of the month.  The title will be announced near the end of the month. 

Students will also be working on preparing a Book Chat, an oral book report on the novel they choose before break.  Presentations will begin Monday, January 27.  Attached are the materials the students will receive, including an evaluation sheet.  Students will have at least one class period a week to work on this; mostly likely it will be Fridays.

We are entering a block of perspective drawing led by Katherine Rogers.  Mrs. Rogers has two masters degrees, one in painting and studio art.  She has a wealth of experience teaching at various levels from college through middle school.  As adopted during the Renaissance in the west, she will be guiding students in one point,  two point, and atmospheric perspective drawing as a visual communication tool to clearly portray three dimensions in a two dimensional space.  It will be seen as one more tool to add to their repertoire rather than the only means to relate one’s experience. 

Well, I have always been worried that this was a young class, but their activities before break indicated that they are right on target for 7th grade development.  With it come some of the social machinations that can be difficult for the 13 year old to navigate. I believe some adult intervention to help students process, navigate, and make different choices is required.  I have been active in this realm, but have asked for further support from PACT.  This is an arm of our Building Intentional Community group that works to bring high school students, trained and guided by adults, into the grade school.  You will be receiving a letter from them further explaining how they will be working with your class. This group has experience helping classes strengthen their bonds and build better habits by doing what they know they should.

We can discuss all things seventh grade further on Wednesday, January 22, at 7 p.m.  I will send out an agenda closer to the date, but the social scene and building class community, our poetry book, the play, the high school application process, and a further look at media will most likely be relevant topics.

Friday, February 14----Docent tour of African Art at the Art Institute and ice skating at Millennium Park
Friday, April 11---The 7th Grade Play
Sunday, June 15---8th Grade Graduation---ALL HANDS ON DECK!

Please make sure that students have boots, hats, mittens/gloves, and even snow pants so they can enjoy out-of-door play.  As we learned by going to the beach during our poetry block, winter is enjoyable when we’re properly dressed!  Students who do not have proper clothing will have to sit inside working quietly at a desk.  This is not ideal, as it does not meet their bodies’ need for activity.  In addition, this is not always possible as I have duty, so they may also have to suffer in harsh elements, even if not properly dressed because no indoor supervisor is available.  I will continue to reiterate in class the need for warm clothing, too, but please climb this hill with me.

In addition, please send your child with a water bottle.  Water bottles kept in class help keep children better hydrated as they can do so at their need rather than only at a transition between classes.

I hope all of you had a relaxing out breath and find yourselves ready to return, as I do, for all the good stuff that lies ahead.

With warmth and gratitude,