Main Lesson Teacher

Karen Hartz
  • Karen Hartz

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7th Grade Parent Letter

Friday, September 13, 2013

September 13, 2013

Dear Parents,

I think the school year is off to a good start.  They class continues to be engaged enthusiastically in their lesson work.  They seemed to have returned with a greater measure of maturity, and socially we are experiencing relative harmony.  A class meeting in which students gave suggestions for ways we can meet the goal of feeling unity as a group and about how to reclaim that when it is disrupted was very positive.  Our discussions of Joan of Arc have been thoughtful and deep; developmentally they are right on target!  It’s been a joy to be with them again!

Picture Day
Just a reminder that picture Day is this Wednesday at 10:30.  This is right after their woodworking/art class as well as snack recess, so students may want to bring a change of clothes. 

The Denis Sullivan Field Trip
Our field trip to Milwaukee to sail on the replica of a schooner from 1880 is on Thursday, September 19.  We will leave at the end of morning lesson, and we are not returning until about 6 p.m.  I did inform Ms. Joiner  two weeks ago, so hopefully the coaches are aware.  Students will need two snacks and their lunch.  Though it may be 80 degrees that day, it can be chilly on the water, so have the kids wear layers.  Tennis shoes are a must.

I AM STILL IN NEED OF ONE MORE CHAPERONE.  First come, first serve!

Curriculum Evening
Thursday, September 19, is a chance for you to hear how the subject teachers’ work supports the 7th grade theme this year of New Perspectives, New Horizons.  You will also get a chance to hear their expectations for behavior and homework in each of the subjects.  I hope you will be able to join us.

Curriculum Overview for September

Main Lesson
Our first block is a history/language arts block, The Age of Discovery.  We began with a detailed biography of Joan of Arc.  She is a transitional figure, who while a devout practicing Catholic, spoke truth to power and acted as an individual guided by inner voices, to accomplish what had not been done before.  Her story will lead us into the humanist impulse.  We will also look at the biographies of Marco Polo, Ibn Battutta, Henry the Navigator, Columbus, Vasco de Gama, and Magellan.  This block gives us an excellent opportunity to augment our understanding of geography as well.
In addition these biographies lend themselves to working on the five paragraph essay form.  In my instruction, I am striving for students to move away from mere factual recounts of the material to more analysis of these figures, using the events as supporting data.  As always, I will emphasize the writing process, encouraging students to build their skills, so thorough self-editing becomes more possible.  In addition to essay writing, students will continue to do dictations as another way to build their editing capabilities. 
During daily review we have also been learning how to take notes, using the questions:  When?  Who?  What?  as guides.   I am trying to make sure they build the habit of using the binders correctly as well!

Our study this block will also include a bit about the ship building process, types of ships and the “discovery” of longitude.  Our speech work is combination of fun articulation exercises and poems that capture the spirit of the sea.

We have four math classes a week this year.  We have been reviewing the fraction, decimal, percent relationships, as well as reviewing the various operations with fractions (including mixed numbers) and word problems that apply these processes practically.  No homework has been assigned to date, but will begin next week with an assignment given Monday and due on Friday.

Language Arts
In addition to the work in morning lesson, we have been using our three skills classes a week to prepare speeches for the Knighting Ceremony.  We look at the rhetorical device of parallelism and its power.  A Stanford commencement speech given by Steve Jobs in 2005 provided a powerful example.  Studying parallelism gave us a great reason to review the parts of speech and begin a study of the parts of the sentence. A draft of their speech for the knighting ceremony is due Thursday, September 19th.

We will continue to work with wet-on-wet watercolor this month.  Our first painting depicts Joan of Arc’s demise.  Students strove to bring depth and movement to the fire.  We will also paint a ship at sea of a rocky coast attempting to capture perspective naturally through color and size.

Knighting Ceremony
The following was a checklist I gave the students to ensure they would be ready with their project on September 28:

• revise
• calligraphy
• memorize

• Design
• Buy materials
• Construct

• Brainstorm
• Draft—due September 19
• Revise
• Memorize---for September 28 ceremony

• Design
• Gather materials
• Construct

Students have half of a six foot table to put their calligraphied oath and anything else they want to share regarding their service project:  journals, pictures, the objects they created or tools they used in their project, etc. are all acceptable. 

On September 28 be sure to bring tabard and display!  Students can begin setting up display at 1:45 p.m.  Event will begin at 2:05.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please email me at or call me at 773-940-5654.