JU-A Weekly Note

Dear JU-A families,

You may remember back to last fall when students studied invasive plants at Awbury Arboretum. We returned to Awbury this Thursday to engage in environmental service work with Wissahickon Charter School (WCS) teachers and students. The four activities we engaged in were pulling invasive plants, protecting native plants, removing trash, and coming up with a plan to educate the community. Students enjoyed roaming the vast natural area, brainstorming more solutions to these environmental challenges, and getting to know their WCS partners.

The other science work we did this week was wrapping up our study of windmills as simple Archimedean machines. Students used a hair dryer to test the force and function of their windmills, and we reflected on how blade length, quantity, and shape influence spin and speed. We emphasized the importance of creating detailed sketches of their models, which showcased rotational symmetry.

This week, as part of our racial identity curriculum, we finished up our work in affinity groups. In our individual classrooms, we will continue reflecting with students on the topics we have discussed in affinity groups, such as marginalized vs. mainstream identities, white privilege, implicit bias, and appreciating diversity.

On a related note, we are moving further along in our read-aloud book, Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli, which deals with themes of race, diversity, and community. Students reflected on the racial identity development of the novel’s main character. Later in the week, we also did some close reading of the novel as we identified and analyzed Spinelli’s use of figurative language.

Shout-out to Matt Murray, our technology integration specialist who visited our classroom Friday to lead a “Power-searching workshop.” He shared with us tips to help us Google, specifically how to choose good keywords to yield specific, credible, informative results. His framework and tricks will be useful to students as they continue researching for their final hero paragraph on a child hero. (Rough draft for this is due Tuesday 5/24.)

Next week we’ll learn about the city-states who will be represented in our Junior Unit Olympics, and on Tuesday the students will find out which city-state they’ll be part of for the events. Mark your calendars: our Olympics Opening Ceremony will take place on Wednesday, June 1. It is scheduled to begin at 10:35 am. Parents are invited; we hope to see you there!

Finally, a reminder about ERBs: these tests will take place from Monday, May 23 to Wednesday, May 25. Please do not schedule doctor’s appointments or other extra-curricular activities during this time that will take them out of school, as it’s very tricky to arrange times for make-up sessions.

Here are some questions that you can ask your child this weekend:

  • How did your windmill fare during the hair dryer test? 
  • What is the difference between a simile and a metaphor? 
  • What environmental challenge did you tackle at Awbury Thursday? 
  • What is something you enjoyed about working with another Wissahickon student?

Happy Mother’s Day to the moms out there, and enjoy your weekends!


Jenson, Julia, and Heather

[email protected] [email protected] [email protected]