Main Lesson Teacher

Karen Hartz
  • Karen Hartz

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Welcome to 7th Grade!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

“Adolescence represents an inner emotional upheaval, a struggle between the eternal human wish to cling to the past and the equally powerful wish to get on with the future.”
Louise J. Kaplan

“With any child entering adolescence, one hunts for signs of health, is desperate for the smallest indication that the child's problems will never be important enough for a television movie.”  Nora Ephron

 

Dear Parents,

Welcome to 7th grade!  The old adage, “The days are long, but the years are short,” feels quite apropos as I write this.  I am very excited, however, because I have a fun and interesting year planned that I think will keep the children engaged in their learning, deepen their capacities and strengthen their skills.

The opening quotes really speak to what the children may be experiencing this year and to what the parents may experience, albeit tongue in cheek.  On a soul level  7th graders are wrestling with a serious question.  Aware they are no longer children, they are deciding whether or not they are willing to step closer to the adult world, whether or not they are willing to take up their destiny.  As a result they desperately need to see that the goodness and beauty are present despite the problems in the world, and especially that human beings’ efforts can and do make a difference.  They will need to see that adult responsibilities are not all drudgery and stress---that, in fact, we derive great joy from meeting those responsibilities with our unique gifts.  7th graders must feel that their growing capabilities are vitally needed in this world.  All of this must be done by way of showing them, rather than telling them.

And let me be clear, as they wrestle with these profundities rather unconsciously, the discomfort (not to mention the body that will be in turmoil as well as it matures) will cause them to be quite nasty at times.  Truthfully, they will never be “uglier” than they are this year, with the exception of sophomore year where the soul continues to wrestle with this question more deeply and with greater consciousness.  It will take all our equanimity to meet them with love and compassion.  Nora Ephron’s words will work their way through your mind more than once this year!  Stick together!  And luckily, we are also supported by the curriculum that also serves as a balm for this age. 

Multiple attachments accompany this letter:
7th Grade Block Rotation--complete with important calendar dates as they pertain to our class, including field trips for the year, parent evenings, etc.  Please take the time to read through it and apply the dates to your personal calendars. 
Birthday Celebration List---It states your child’s birthday and the date we will be celebrating it.  As is our tradition, the birthday child will bring in a treat.  This year their verse will be a famous poem.
Class schedule---if it becomes necessary for you to schedule appointments during the school day, you can be aware of the class(es) your child will be missing.
Cell Phone policy and Tardy Policy for Middle School--- the entire middle school is adopting a new tardy policy and cell phone policy.  Please read it carefully.  Students will be made aware of it on the first day of school.
Service Project Fulfillment Form---please fill this out and have your child bring it on the first day of school.
Curriculum Overview---for your reference a description of the material covered in each block and in skills classes this year.

First Day of School and the Knighting Ceremony
The date for the knighting ceremony has been changed to Saturday, September 28 from 2-7 in order to accommodate the Jewish holidays.  I apologize for not recognizing them sooner. The event will take place at Church of Our Savior, 530 West Fullerton Parkway in Lincoln Park.

7th graders should bring a DRAFT of their oath with them to school on the first day.  They will be the content for our first language arts lesson, and then will be revised before a final copy is completed.  I will provide some beautiful paper for the finished draft.

In addition, students should bring the paper stating that

The tabard does not need to be complete until the ceremony, but I will be asking students to describe their symbols and their meanings to me the first week of school.  We will also be working on a presentation for the ceremony the first week of school. 

Parents will have a role in the ceremony as well.  Before the knighting begins, families will have time alone with their child.  During that alone time, parents will present the child with a letter that states what new qualities you see arising in them as young people, perhaps traits you noticed about them as they worked on their project.  The goal is to honor them in their service effort.  Moms did something like this for the girls retreat, but it never hurts to for young people to hear how proud we are of them.  You can be creative; the “letter” could be a drawing, a poem, a cartoon, a song, etc.  Our goal is that we see they accomplished something that makes a difference in this world and the world “sees” them!

First Day and Supplies
As usual, students should bring their snack and lunch on Wednesday.  We also have band and orchestra that day, so students should bring their instruments. 
This year we will be keeping homework and notes in a three ring binder.  I have those and dividers for students and they will receive them on the first day of school along with their planners.  However, it would facilitate efficiency and organization if each student had a three hole punch THAT IS FLAT AND CAN BE SECURED IN THE RINGS OF THEIR BINDER.  These are made specifically to be carried in a binder.  I DO NOT want full size hole punches in their desks! This is the only supply families need to purchase this year; I have pencils, pens, erasers ,etc.

Movement
With the departure of Ms. Baba, who had been the 7th grade eurythymy teacher, students will have a slightly different movement plan this year.  Gym will be on twice a week as typical (Tuesdays and Fridays).  Students should bring separate gym clothes and shoes on those days.  They MUST bring a change of clothes or they will not be allowed to participate in the activity.  Then on Thursdays and Fridays in our eurythmy slot, students will experience the Brazilian art of Capoeira is a martial art that combines elements of dance, acrobatics and music that is experienced as a game.  Ms. Shaffer has found some excellent instructors who are skilled with young people to work with the class.  The school hopes to have a suitable eurythmist in place for second semester. 

Parent Reading
Our first parent evening is October 8th.  Our topic will be my approach to the human development block in early January.  Our agenda will give a more detailed picture of what I topics I will be covering in class and what is best left to your home.  A book some parents through the years have found helpful is The Talk:  What Your Kids Need to Hear From YOU About Sex---A Breakthrough Guide to Raising Healthy Kids in an Oversexualized, Online, In-Your-Face World by Sharon Maxwell, Ph.D.   I think it will be a helpful guide in our discussion that evening.

Student Readers
Our first language arts work will be around the presentation for the knighting ceremony.  After that we will delve into literature.  I am not sure of all the books we will read yet, but I know we will be reading Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain in October.  If your child benefits from reading it as well as hearing it, you have some time to acquire the audio book.  Second semester we will read A Girl Named Disaster by Nancy Farmer.  The school does not own this book, so students will need to acquire a copy.  A library copy is fine, but I also saw many inexpensive copies at Ravenswood Used Books in Lincoln Square and at Armadillo’s Pillow on Sheridan. 

Thank you so much for entrusting me with your children.  My heart is full whenever I think of this group; I am looking forward to seeing how they have grown over the summer and to our adventures together this year.

Warmly,
Karen