Of all the concepts in middle school math, the leap to proportional thinking looms as one of the most important. We have to be able to make comparisons, and proportions make that possible. Percents are one example of proportional thinking that most adults use every day. Real fluency though, takes practice. Students have to hold in their heads two things at the same time: an actual amount and then what that amount might look like as a fraction of 100.
To help give percents an every day meaning, students were asked to calculate percent problems that have to do with everyday life: tax, discounts and commissions. Their next task will be to use proportional thinking to scale an everyday object up or down.
In English, seventh grades have a long tradition of reaching spring time, and transitioning to “adult” literature classics by reading William Golding’s, Lord of the Flies. Along with the transition in reading material comes the start of the true literary analysis that will be used over and over again in high school and college. A discipline of thought as much as of action, literary analysis requires the reader to not just react to the writing as if hearing a story, but to engage with the words to find evidence for drawing conclusions about themes and character development.
This introduction requires close reading, and re-reading, and marking the copy to be able to pick up quotes later when building a thesis. In most English classes, the thesis is presented in an essay. We help seventh graders bridge into close reading by asking them to build a case–literally. The class puts Jack on trial for the death (spoiler alert) of Piggy.
Students have made character charts, been assigned roles and are writing statements. If they play a character in the novel, they will be put on the stand in June. If they are lawyers for the prosecution or the defense, they need to prepare for witnesses and for opening and closing statements. It’s a highlight of the year for grade seven, as well as for the eighth graders, who serve as a the jury.
While we have a mere nine class days left after Memorial Day, they will be full of learning.