HS English: From Research to Writing

This week, high school English students move from the argument research process to the writing process. Yesterday, I posted an early-access look at our work for this week: the Extended Outline. Within the assignment is a video lesson of me teaching the components of an effective argument. To provide students with adequate writing time, I’ve chosen to focus my instruction mainly on structure, and the Extended Outline provides a framework for planning and organization. Careful completion of the Extended Outline will provide support for essay drafting. From this point forward, student work is essentially self-paced. I recommend outlining early this week, submitting the outline for teacher feedback, and moving straight into drafting. Students’ argumentative essays will function as the final in our class, and they are due on Friday, May 8th at 11:59 PM.

I am available on Zoom each weekday for student support. Any student who wishes to collaborate or needs help during the outlining/writing process should drop in during my office hours from 11:00-12:00 daily or email for an alternate time. I’m excited to see students’ final work on the topics they’ve become so invested in.

MS LA: It’s Passion Project Presentation Week!

Last week, middle schoolers had the week to create final Passion Project products. This week is the one we’ve been waiting for: presentation week. I can’t tell you how excited I am to view student presentations. Moreover, though, I’m excited for the community building that surrounds students learning from and about one another in this way. To follow is the information I will share with students tomorrow morning in the assignment “Passion Project: Audience Sign-Up.”


Greetings, Middle Schoolers! It’s the week we’ve all been waiting for: Passion Project Presentation Week! As promised, today will be dedicated to signing up to serve as an audience member for FIVE presentations. You’re welcome to view more, but I need a record of the five you plan to view in an official capacity. Remember, some are live, and many are pre recorded. Choose with that in mind, especially if you’re not sure that you can commit to live presentations. Attached to this assignment, you will find both the master spreadsheet, which includes all names, topics, and access links, and the audience sign-up assignment. If your name is highlighted with a color on the spreadsheet, that means you’re good to go! If your name is not highlighted, that means something still needs your attention. Scroll to the right for a note on what you need to do/your current submission status. As soon as you correct things on your end, email me, and I’ll update the spreadsheet.

Feel invited to sign up to view presentations that are not yet highlighted in color. I trust that those students will submit their work/make necessary adjustments today and that their presentations will be ready for viewing in no time. I’ll add access links as I get them. The sheet is live, so any edits I make will automatically update for you.

For today:
1. Look at the attached spreadsheet. Write down all the topics that interest you on a sheet of paper. You’ll need both the topic and the presenter name to complete today’s assignment.
2. Double check your own line on the spreadsheet. Make sure the info I have is correct and that (if you pre recorded) your link opens as it should. If your line requires an edit, email me ASAP.
3. Sign up for your audience member duties using the attached Google form. After submission, you will get a copy of your responses via email for your records. Tomorrow, I’ll post the “Audience Positive Feedback Form” for your use. If you choose to get a head start and view a couple of pre recorded projects today (feel free!), just take a few notes on positive feedback you can give the presenter, and you can fill out the form tomorrow when it posts. Remember, you have the whole week to view and give feedback on at least 5 projects. Projects are between 5 and 15 minutes long each.

Email me with questions! Thanks!

Parents and guardians,

You can help support your student this week by helping him or her make a viewing schedule. Once he or she has chosen five presentations to view throughout the week, work together to schedule when your student will do this work. Our schedule this week is intentionally flexible. Most projects have been pre recorded for ease of access and can be viewed anytime before Friday at 11:59 PM. Some presentations are live, which means students in the audience will join a Zoom session with the presenting student. If your student chooses to participate in a live presentation, it is essential that he or she make a note/set a reminder to join that session. I will not send reminders to student audience members about live presentations, but the dates and times will remain available in the master spreadsheet, and students will know what they signed up for because they’ll get a copy of their responses to the “Audience Sign-Up” Google form delivered to their emails. Because the master spreadsheet contains student videos and the link to my Zoom room, I have chosen not to share it on this public blog, but beginning tomorrow morning, your student will have access to it through Google Classroom. Thank you for your continued support in this process!

– Ms. Courtney Brown

Social Studies Update

Middle School

On Monday, students joined live classes in their grade levels to discuss their understanding of the political history of the 1960s. After listening to a speech of their choice from both JFK and LBJ last week, students were asked to learn about their childhoods and discover some of the challenges these men faced during their presidencies. I so appreciated students’ thoughtful, critical responses and the observant nature of their notes.

This week, middle school students are continuing their study of the 1960s by looking at the social history of the times. Today’s research involved examining the pop culture of the decade, and students have already submitted pieces of art they have completed in response to their research, collections of slang terms from the time, and slideshows full of images that helped them to understand fashionable items from the ’60s. Tomorrow, students will create a timeline to highlight five to ten major events of the 1960s and share it to Classroom. Their final assignment for the week is to continue to work on their long-term research project, driven by their interest areas, and share an update in Classroom. Be sure to ask them about their topic choice.

Next week, students will begin their study of Vietnam and the 1970s.

High School

High school students have each selected their individual research projects in Missouri history and are pursuing relevant sources before crafting their thesis statements. Students have regular checkpoints posted in Classroom and meet via Zoom with questions and updates. They have selected a variety of research areas and final products to share with their classmates, and I’m excited to see their learning progress in this way.

Science Update: 4/20/20 – 4/23/20

Middle School:
Students will be learning about the properties of waves. This includes things like wavelength, amplitude, and frequency.

Questions/Conversation Starters:

What is the difference between transverse and longitudinal waves?

What is the relationship between frequency and wavelength?

What is amplitude and how does it affect soundwaves? How does amplitude affect light waves?

High School:
Students will be learning about the different layers of our atmosphere, ozone, and air pressure.

Questions/Conversation Starters:

What are the different layers of our atmosphere?

What is ozone and how does it affect life on Earth?

What is the relationship between temperature and altitude in different layers of our atmosphere?

How would you describe air pressure?

This Week in Math with Mrs. B

Happy Monday! Here is what to expect this week in math:

Integrated Math

We will continue our study of geometric transformations in the coordinate plane. Students are working on a Transformation Art project in which they show off both their artistic sides as well as their understanding of rigid transformations. While the project is due Wednesday, for those students that complete it prior and are looking for more, there is an optional enrichment assignment posted on Classroom. We will end the week with a brief introduction to dilations, the last non-rigid transformation we will study.

Algebra 2

After exploring graphs of exponential functions last week, students are primed to study exponential growth and decay this week. Check the weekly work plan for both optional and required assignments dedicated to discovering the real-world applications of exponential functions.


This week in Pre-Calculus, we continue to uncover ways in which we can use matrices to solve systems of equations. After having studied one famous method, Gaussian Elimination, students will learn a second method to solving systems using inverses.

6th Grade Math this week

This week students will be analyzing data using Gizmos (shout-out to Mrs. B for suggesting we check them out). After making sure that we all are on the same page in understanding mean, median, mode, quartiles, interquartile range, and how changing the data will affect these things, we will run a simulation to gather data about our reaction times. Students will also plan a short contest, so if you are home with one, you may be called in to participate! If you want to check out the website for yourself go to https://www.explorelearning.com/. There are lots of science and math simulations to explore.


During our live class last week, our favorite animal-loving yogi brought along her rescued baby opossums. Is Opossum Yoga the next Goat Yoga? Only time will tell.

The Summit yogis continue to practice twice a week. On Tuesdays, students choose and complete an online yoga class, and on Thursday afternoons, we meet live on Zoom to practice together. Practicing live as a class is the highlight of my week, and I’m so proud of students’ dedication to their mental and physical well-being during distance learning.

HS English: The Upcoming Week at a Glance

Hello, High School Families!

Last week, high school English students learned about drafting research questions, navigating online databases, and using advanced search techniques. After viewing tutorials and practicing database navigation, they used their research questions to create a list of keywords, synonyms, and related terms for use in searching. Next, they used that list to conduct advanced searches using Boolean operators and truncation.

This week is guided research week. We’ll begin with an introduction to the concept of “stakeholders” as it applies to issue-based research. Then, students will dig into source material with their stakeholders in mind. Our broad goal this week is to establish a foundation that balances multiple perspectives. An assignment containing details and expectations will post tomorrow morning on Classroom.

Next week, we’ll move from the research process into the writing process. Students will draft a working thesis and learn the Harris Moves for argument writing. Expect a new blog post at the end of this week with a detailed plan.

MS Language Arts: The Upcoming Week at a Glance

Greetings, Middle School Families!

Last week, Language Arts students practiced the skill of research note taking to select and organize source material for their final Passion Project products and met me on Zoom to pitch their product ideas. I heard many creative proposals, and I’m excited to see their final work.

This week will be dedicated to creating the product that will showcase Passion Project learning. Students have the option to pre record their presentation or to deliver it live. They also have choice in the type of product they will create and present. Please feel invited to ask your student about his or her choice.

Tomorrow morning, an assignment containing details on expectations, submission, and assessment will post in Classroom. It is meant to be comprehensive and includes information on both this week and next. Please encourage your student to drop in on my Zoom office hours from 11:00-12:00 Monday-Thursday to check in during product creation this week. Presentations are the week of April 27th-May 1st. Look for another blog post later this week with details.

6th grade math this week

At the start of the semester, 6th graders practiced estimation skills using www.estimation180.com. It was a fun challenge to use a variety of strategies in many different ways. With the move to distance learning, students had the chance to create their own estimation problems.

This week, they are solving each other’s challenges. Students use a picture as a reference, think about what estimate is too high, too low, and just right. Below are some examples for you to give it a try!