National World War One Museum and Memorial

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Yesterday the high school American history class traveled to Kansas City, Missouri to visit the National World War One Museum and Memorial. It was a long day of travel, but it was such a special opportunity to visit this site and see the many artifacts from this important conflict.

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Beware the Ides of March!

The 6th grade class has been acting out and working through The Tragedy of Julius Caesar. The students are utilizing their understanding of plot and conflict to analyze the development of Shakespeare’s telling of the events surrounding Julius Caesar’s death, as well as breaking down metaphors that Shakespeare uses to describe characters, their actions and motivation.

On Monday afternoon, the students worked in small groups to act out the scene where the conspirators advance on and kill Julius Caesar. The students took the original scene and changed the dialogue in fun and interesting ways, spoofing the original. One group used the framework of Scooby Doo, another made it a western. Each group used their understanding of the scene to craft the new scene. In the play, Brutus states, “How many times shall Caesar bleed in sport,” and the reader almost has to chuckle at Shakespeare’s own thoughts of this play being acted out over and over. The students enjoyed this little line tucked into such a serious scene, and they remarked how he had bled “in sport” at least four times on Monday.

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Social Studies

Student Council worked to provide an excellent service learning opportunity for eighth grade and high school students on Friday, April 5th. These students, along with Mr. Powers and Mrs. Smith, took the afternoon to go to the Fairbanks Community Center and volunteer in their garden and flower beds. Before we began working, Emilee from Fairbanks took time to explain to our group the importance of the community center in its neighborhood, providing services to those in need. Our group worked on pulling weeds, beautifying a playground, and spreading mulch. During this time, students in 6th and 7th grades helped out around school, volunteering to help teachers and Mr. Mike with tasks.

Sixth grade students are making wonderful progress in learning about the sectional crisis leading up the Civil War. Over the past week we have studied the ways in which westward expansion caused a rift in the United States. These sixth graders are doing a wonderful job making connections between these lessons and things we have studied over the past several months, showing great recall. They are growing in their note-taking skills and in their abilities to make arguments based in evidence, and I’m so proud of them!


This week students in seventh and eighth grade are learning about Jacksonian America and the many reform movements that took place during that time. This era is rich in reform, but it also introduces the ideas of manifest destiny and westward expansion, all building up to a crisis in the United States.

Seventh grade students who are studying geography were able to spend some time exploring the Google Cardboard virtual reality app last Thursday.

High school students are presenting on the New Era and the Great Depression in class on Tuesday. Students each chose a topic and will take 2-3 minutes presenting to their classmates the background and significance of their chosen topic. On Thursday, our class will continue learning about the Great War, with a more global focus than last week when we heard from a guest speaker at the Springfield-Greene County Library about Springfield’s Impact on the Great War.

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The Math Classroom

High School

In high school, we have been synthesizing our geometry knowledge by practicing with sample ACT questions related to geometry. It is requiring us to remember and/or refer back to our notes from throughout the year to apply our skills in an integrated way, rather than isolated into units. It has given me a chance to see what topics in class have really stuck with us and what topics we should delve back into before the end of the year.

8th Grade

With the beautiful weather we had on this week, we were able to enjoy math class outside in the backyard as we reviewed for our exponential functions quiz. Our ability to recognize the growth factor from graphs and tables is increasing as is our ability to solve equations involving exponential variables.

7th Grade

As we study the difference between theoretical and experiential probability, 7th graders are preparing games in which we can calculate the simple probability of winning. Students are choosing a wide variety of games, with some choosing games that require two events in order to win. After these games are created, we will be comparing the calculated chances of winning, the experiential chances after a small number of games are played, and the experiential chances after the games are played many times. There have already been multiple discussions about what things affect probability and how we could go much deeper into statistical probability if we took into account even more variables.

6th Grade

Sixth graders are integrating several of the skills we have studied this year in order to create a blueprint for a zoo with certain requirements for animal area enclosures as well as certain budgetary requirements. Students are showing their creativity in designs while doing the math to make sure they are on track with the needs of the zoo in order to be successful.

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High School Science

High school biology students dissected earthworms and compared the anatomy of these interesting organisms to human anatomy. There are more dissections on the horizon, with students learning about the amazing similarities and differences among organisms. Through these dissections students also have the opportunity to learn dissection procedures that will help them as they advance into biology classes in college.

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Middle School Science

Middle school students have just wrapped up learning about photosynthesis and cellular respiration. Please feel free to ask your student intriguing questions like:

1. What is photosynthesis?
2. What is the difference between aerobic and anaerobic respiration?
3. What is ATP?
4. How does sunlight get converted into glucose?
5. How do our bodies convert glucose into energy?

Students made a variety of wonderful visual aids that helped in their understanding. Several examples are on display in and around the science classroom.

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Happy April!

Happy April!

Upper school students at The Summit had a busy weekend. On Saturday morning, many excelled in the Spanish competition. Saturday afternoon, three upper school students competed at Zenith in rock climbing. And then on Sunday afternoon, six upper school students were recognized for their essays at the annual SMBA Law Day contest. Anna W. (7th grade) took home the first place prize, Luke S. (8th grade) took home second, and Garret D. (8th grade) won third place. I was so proud of these students for their diligence in this project. Their essays are on display at The Library Center on Campbell Avenue until May 1st, along with the 2nd-5th grade poster contest.

In sixth grade, students have just completed their journal entries for the Oregon Trail. First, the class studied Westward Expansion and the presidency of James K. Polk. Students looked into the Mexican Revolution, the Oregon Treaty, and the Mexican-American War. To round out the study of “manifest destiny,” students spent time exploring the game “Oregon Trail.” Then the class read a journal of a woman who traveled the trail in 1853. Supporting their learning of the trail, students completed fictional journal entries, supporting their stories with historical sources. For the remainder of this week, sixth grade will be examining the sectional crisis and the years leading up to the Civil War.

Last week proved busy for the seventh and eighth grade classes, with the MSU field trip, the backyard cleanup, and the 8th grade class job shadowing. Students are now wrapping up their presentations on 19th century immigration. From here, the classes will examine the Jacksonian Era, including the Indian Removal Act, the southeastern tribes, the growing cotton empire, and the reform movements of the 1830s and 40s.

High school students have a guest speaker on Tuesday, providing them insight into Springfield’s role in the Great War. They are also working on a 2-3 minute presentation on a topic from the 1920s or 1930s, ranging from prohibition, the dust bowl, the stock market crash, to FDR’s New Deal. From here, the class will move on to learn about World War II and America on the home-front.

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Pre-K/6th Grade Buddies

Today was such a fun day with 6th grade and pre-k. The pre-k students have been learning about living and non-living things. As a way to compare and contrast pre-k and 6th graders, we played a game sharing pictures of the 6th grade students when they were in pre-k. The pre-k students enjoyed guessing which buddy was in the picture.

After the game, the buddies outlined each other on the same paper. This brought about great conversations about the differences between the two ages and the growth that happens in the years between. Through Pre-K/6th Buddies, the students foster community and grow in their role as leaders.

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Reading, Writing, and Thinking in Language Arts

It has been a busy time in Language Arts. Last week, I joined many area educators for LAD Fair Sorting and Judging Days.

Sample Work

The 6th Grade students won first place with their “My Head, My Head” original poetry book; this book is based on a prompt that the 6th grade students have followed the past three year, it is becoming a bit of a tradition. The students write the internal stanzas for the first stanza prompt: “My head, my head contains a space so broad and wide that even I get lost in it.” The students create metaphors or similes that express the way they think about their own brain. Some compare their brains to a filing cabinet that gets out of order, others have compared it to the number pi – infinity, another compared it to the zeros and ones like computer code. There are so many wonderful metaphors and similes, and each student expresses the thought-life a differently.

After we create the poems, Mrs. Murphy leads the students in creating silhouettes of themselves that are inspired by their poems. Here are a few examples.

Lately in 6th Grade

We’re working our way through The Tragedy of Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare. We’ve learned about iambic pentameter and why Shakespeare would use this style of meter in powerful or heartfelt scenes. Applying our understanding of plot and conflict, we’ve been analyzing the development of the storyline and what is the true, central conflict.

Acting out the play has been exciting; the students have enjoyed getting to take on the parts and dress up.

The students are using their phones and computers to read the electronic script.

As our work with Shakespeare is primarily inside class, students have begun reading Three Times Lucky outside of class and we will have book discussions once or twice a week starting next week. I’m excited to discuss this hilarious murder mystery with them!

Lately in 7th/8th

The 7th and 8th grade students did a phenomenal job on their analysis and discussion of To Kill a Mockingbird! They made great connections to life and to other books we have read. Next Thursday, April 4th, students are welcome to stay after school to view the movie together. I will be sending an email out in the next day or two with details.

While on spring break, I had the opportunity to stop in Monroeville, Alabama which is the hometown of Harper Lee- the author of To Kill a Mockingbird. I was able to visit the old courthouse which she visited as a child where her father worked cases as a lawyer. The courthouse is now a historical site; you can visit just for a tour or if you go in April/May, there is an on-site production of To Kill a Mockingbird with the second act taking place inside the actual courtroom. I felt like I was walking around inside the book! It was an awesome experience.


We are preparing to begin book groups; I provided the students with descriptors for each book and they expressed which books they preferred to read. Each book is an excellent selection, and I look forward to seeing the leadership which arises from holding small, student-led book groups.

Image result for carry on rainbow rowell

Lately in High School

In high school, we are concentrating on writing concise and clean literary analysis papers. The students have been applying their knowledge and analysis skills we have been building in order to formulate a strong opinion-based thesis about a piece of literature they have read. We will repeat this process twice more before the end of the year in order to compare our attempts and look for growth in their analysis writing.

Image result for kurt vonnWe’ve been reading and discussing Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle and it has been very interesting. Mr. Powers has been reading along and joined us for discussion yesterday, and kindly plans to participate with us again for the final discussion next Wednesday. This satire pushes the reader to consider the “sacred cows” of our society- looking at our own hypocrisies.

Image result for kurt vonn

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Inside the Math Classroom

High School

After completing our study of 3D shapes and coordinate grids, we are now diving back into proofs. Again we are focusing on not trusting our eyes, but rather trusting mathematical theorems and definitions. Using our learning throughout this year, we can prove quadrilaterals to be parallelograms, rhombi, rectangles, or squares. Additionally we can use the definitions of these specific figures to prove parts of diagrams congruent.


8th Grade

Eighth graders returned from break to begin a study of exponential functions. We can explain, using tables and graphs, the difference between linear, quadratic, and exponential functions. Using the general growth rate formula, we are able to make predictions about population growth and the results of investments. We have also worked with using online graphing tools to help us find solutions to functions.


7th Grade

In 7th grade, we have begun to study probability and statistics. So far we have done chance experiments that had a statistically equal chance of occurring: flipping a coin, spinning a spinner, and flipping a cup-however this final one, led us to a conversation about outcomes that are not equally likely as well as the conditions under which an experiment is conducted. We are learning much about the difference between observed probability and mathematical probability.







6th Grade

Sixth grade students are reinforcing their understanding of the relationships between and descriptions of polygons and exploring perimeter, area, surface area, and volume. Using previous knowledge of how to calculate area, students developed their own formula for the area of a trapezoid. We are also using this knowledge to determine measurements of compound figures and creating a zoo design that meets certain requirements involving  budget and space.


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