By the end of each school year, the teachers and I can all glimpse the future high schoolers that the eighth graders will soon become. At this point in the year, they have registered for their high school courses, and finished up many projects.They have laughed together, and been emotionally touched by the intensive trip to Washington, DC. In English, they tackle their first Shakespeare play (this year: “Romeo and Juliet”), and serve as the jury for the seventh grade Lord of the Flies trial. Here are a few of the other end-of-year assignments that are engaging the eighth graders in their final days of middle school:
In history class, each student has researched an event from the 1960’s. After learning about the event, they wrote an account– as if they were an eyewitness– using two primary source quotes to add authenticity. Two examples chosen by students: Neil Armstrong walking on the moon and the launch party for Rolling Stone magazine. It was quite a decade.
In math, students were challenged to calculate a complicated rate. For example: If you set out to write the numbers from 1 to 1,000,000, how long would it take? You know how many numbers, clearly, but the rate of writing each number changes as the sequence progresses. Another example: Imagine a tall staircase with an athlete at the bottom. The athlete runs up and back down, but then runs up one step and back down, next up two and back down, then three and down, continuing until the whole staircase has been covered in this way. How long will it take? The math needed for these rate calculations is algebra– the very same algebra that students have been learning all year. While these rates seems somewhat whimsical, the type of thinking is important for efficiency calculations in many businesses.
This past week also saw the eighth graders using their Spanish to order and dine at Mole Mole, an excellent, local Mexican restaurant. Their teacher followed the server around to make sure– and we can now confirm: our eighth grade will be self-sufficient in life, whenever they ever have to speak in Spanish to dine.
It is always bittersweet to see the eighth grade move up, but we can console ourselves– the seventh grader are looking and acting an awful lot like the eighth graders did in September. We’ll have a new cohort soon.