JU-D Weekly Note

Dear JU-D Families,

L. Frank Baum once said, “Everything has to come to an end, sometime.” It seems that we have finally made it to that point this year. The room has been filled to the brim with symbols of learning, small and large. It’s hard to imagine the blank carpeted expanse that we began the year with, but each mobile, cave, and pillar tells the story of the journey of JU-D from a blank canvas to packed. As we return the room to its original state, it is clear that although things are ending, the work done this year in JU-D will endure.

As things wind down, students are deeply engaged in the Olympics. Already students have recited pledges and carried out elaborate dances to the gods. They have competed in boat building, improv, relay races, and Jeopardy-- and that’s only after one week. Next week will be full of other events, culminating in a glorious day of competition at The Schuylkill Center next Thursday.

Underneath all the competition, there is a definite tone of nostalgia. With Move-Up Day on Monday, fifth graders are looking ahead, and fourth graders have begun to imagine taking on the leadership role in the classroom. Still, we find ourselves looking back at our year as a whole JU-D. In these moments, students have demonstrated a real pride for all that they have accomplished this year. Not only have they designed huge constructivist projects, their writing, speaking, and community have evolved in an amazing way.

It has been a pleasure to teach your kids this year. Getting to know families is always a special experience, and you have all contributed to this healthy learning community. From learning celebrations to the opening Olympic ceremonies, your involvement has been essential to our classroom culture. We hope you all have a thoroughly enjoyable summer full of relaxation and learning in the “real world.”

A few useful pieces of JU-D information:

  • Move-Up Day for students is Monday at 11:25am.
  • Graduation for 8th graders is next Friday at 9am. Students are invited to dress up a bit for the annual ceremony. Dismissal is at 11:30am, with no after school activities.

Truly,
Noelle & Nick

JU-D Weekly Note

Dear JU-D Families,

We just wrapped up a week of ERB testing, and as the sun finally peeks out, students are beginning to feel that it’s summer. Still, there’s a lot of work going on in these dog days of the school year. City-state groups have been meeting to finalize a massive amount of preparation for the Olympics next week. Students have continued to bring a huge amount of energy to their work as the finish chants, flags, flair, and event planning. Today students spent their day designing, discussing, and building full-sized boats out of nothing but cardboard and duct tape. We will be floating these vessels next Thursday at the Friends Select pool. Students will compete to stay afloat the longest and to complete the most laps in the pool.

Next week all the work will pay off. Opening ceremonies will take place Tuesday at 10:35am. Students will proudly present their city-state and give an overview of their games. Parents are encouraged to attend the festivities to get a taste of the epic end of the year in JU. We hope to see you there. Enjoy the long weekend and this early summer weather!

Truly,

Noelle and Nick

May 20, 2016

Dear JUD Families,

As we wrap up our last full week of the year, there’s still much to share. Our Greek city states continue to meet, preparing events for the Junior Unit Olympics and building team spirit. We’re looking forward to the Opening Ceremonies on June 1st. We’ll begin at 10:30am. After the Ceremony, you are invited to attend the first big event, our relay races. You are also invited to come visit the JUD classroom; ceiling tiles and Archimedean mobiles will be ready for your perusal by then.

Thursday marked a close to our work with Wissahickon Charter School and Awbury Arboretum. After a serious effort to remove phragmites and overgrown cattail from the pond, native plant tagging, trash pick up, and the preparation of educational materials, we all gathered in the meadow for one last time. David led us in song before WCS returned to school. In the coming weeks, we will be focusing our Thursdays on Olympic work. We’ll stay at TPS this coming week. On June 2nd, we’ll head to Friends Select in the afternoon for a special Olympic event (more details coming in next week’s note!), and on June 9th, we’ll have a final day at the Schuylkill Center, where we will hold our final Olympic competitions.

Next week we’ll focus our energies on ERBs. You can take a look at the schedule here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B8rtjtskSgjicXE1NjkxTG5wZGM/view?usp=sharing. Please help your child get quality sleep, and feel free to pack extra healthy snacks; if possible, consider avoiding too many sweets,a s they can lead to energy ups and downs. This week, students are permitted to bring in mints, which have been shown to have a stimulating effect on the brain… Students will get breaks, but they will have more sit still time than is typical at TPS.

We were delighted to see the sun come out this week. Hopefully the weather will hold for those of you attending EATS, and perhaps even give you the chance to spend some dry moments outside this weekend.

Truly, Noelle & Nick

JU-D Weekly Note

Dear JU-D Families,

We hope you are all enjoying a wonderfully lucky Friday the 13th. JU-D students forged ahead despite any superstitions this week and pushed towards a strong finish to the year. Ceiling tiles were coming down and being pasted with rich historical information as the last blank piece of our room was filled.

We wrapped up our journey through Greek epics when we completed The Odyssey this week. Students experienced Odysseus as he finally reached his beloved Ithaca and are now grounded in the Homeric tales of adventure and heroism.

This week we launched our Olympic preparation. The Junior Unit was broken up into mixed groups from A, B, C, and D. They began the work of learning about their individual city state. Over the next couple of weeks, JU will assume the identity of a specific city state and will plan an Olympic event, create cheers, speeches, flags, and more. Students are energized by the project and have been bringing loads of excitement to their groups.

Finally, we returned to Awbury Arboretum where students continued a variety of service learning projects designed to increase community engagement, and awareness as well as to cement an understanding of invasive plant species and watersheds. The different projects include a massive removal of invasive species, the identification and marking of native species, and a multi-faceted effort to increase awareness about this unique space.

A piece of useful JU-D information: The Olympic celebration will take place on June 1st. Parents are invited to watch the festivities which will begin around 10:30. We look forward to this end of the year fun!

Truly,

Noelle and Nick

JU-D Weekly Note

Dear JU-D Families:

There aren’t too many weeks left in the year now, and although the finish is in sight, JU-D hasn’t lost its momentum. The week began with the final push on our Greek ceiling tile project. Students are balancing, painting, and beginning to record an explanation of their complex hero and the symbolism they have developed in their mobiles. Additionally, kids began to identify themes between their heroes and planned the way posters will be organized on our ceiling.

Outside of JU-D, students met to conclude their work in affinity groups. We delved deeply into thoughts that came up after taking the implicit bias test and related some of these ideas with our continued partnership with Wissahickon Charter School. We put these conversations into use as we journeyed to Awbury Arboretum and went to work to solve problems currently facing the space. Students engaged joyfully, and bolstered partner relationships through hard work and good old fashioned fun in the mud. 

The week ended as JU-D welcomed teachers from Lower Merion high school who observed a productive conversation about our work around diversity and our complex relationship with students from a different community. Students demonstrated a deep understanding of ideas around brave spaces and showed how productive these types of spaces are in our community. 

A few useful pieces of JU-D information:

Move-Up Meeting for parents of next year's 6th graders (that’s right… our 5th graders are becoming middle schoolers soon!) is scheduled for May 9 from 5 to 6pm.

ERB Testing is scheduled for May 22, 23, and 24.  It is incredibly important to the smooth proctoring of tests that students are present on these days.  Please, please work to schedule non-emergency appointments around these days.

Have a lovely weekend! 

Truly, 

Noelle & Nick

JU-D Weekly Note

Dear JU-D families,

Apologies for missing the Friday note last week... and for not getting this one posted on Friday. We crossed wires, and it didn't post. We didn't want you to miss this week's news... thus the email. Please forgive us if we have clogged up your inbox!

Students continued to track the journey of Odysseus through his wanderings on his return home. They worked in two small reading groups visualizing the journey, posing questions to deepen their understanding, and using discussion groups to advance their knowledge. We are approaching the end of the journey and should be wrapping up the tale next week.

The paints, paper, and tools came out again as students worked to complete a ceiling tile poster for their great Greek. In addition, we put our knowledge of Archimedian principles to work as students balanced symbols on multi-level mobiles that will eventually hang from our ceiling. This will mark the final frontier of our Empty Classroom Project.

Wissahickon Charter School students visited us on Wednesday to launch our service learning projects related to watershed and invasive plants. Denis Lucey, Landscape Manager, and Karen Flick, Assistant Landscape Manager, spoke about the history of the arboretum, the work happening while we are not there, and the challenges that students can help to address. Students then worked in small groups to clarify the problems, consider the impact, and create action steps to execute when we travel to Awbury Arboretum for the next three Thursdays. Our racial identity work continued in affinity groups, as well, and we see these two curricula as reinforcing one another, as Wissahickon Charter School students represent a demographic that is in contrast to TPS students, both racially and socioeconomically.

ERB practice began this week. You received an email regarding ERBs from the learning resource department. Please feel free to email with questions. This week we focused on reading sections, and we’ll review writing and math sections in the coming weeks. We continue to monitor student perceptions of the ERB and respond in ways that will help set them up for a low-stress, positive experience.

The Junior Unit teachers will be hosting a JU Move-Up Meeting on Tuesday. While you are welcome to join us, please know that the program is designed to introduce families to the Junior Unit experience. You are likely to know already a great deal of what we have to say, so please don't feel concerned if you will not be attending.

We hope you enjoyed the weekend.

Truly,

Nick & Noelle

JU-D Weekly Note

Dear JU-D Families,

This week in JU-D, students pushed their creativity in writing, pondered racial identity, proposed “Great Greeks” to study, and experimented with density and buoyancy. There was a lot to wonder about, and JU-D kids rose the challenge and expanded their thinking across the board.

Along with a variety of different writing experiments, students utilized thier new understanding of direct and indirect characterization to make their creative Iliad stories come alive. The week ended in a peer editing session that allowed students to see whether the writing techniques they have been experimenting with were effective for their readers.

In our community meeting we grappled with the idea of race. Students learned that although this concept affects their lives in many real ways, that it is in fact a fluid concept that has changed over time. We will continue to unpack this extremely complex piece of identity. This work will allow JU to grow as a community of learners and friends.

Research was also at the center of this week’s work, as students moved forward in their research on their Great Greek. They utilized the information they gathered to formulate proposals which were submitted to teachers. They will use this work to create “an educational ceiling display.”

This week also marked our return to our country classroom where we continued to look at density and its application to buoyancy. We learned to calculate volume, accurately measure mass, and to combine the two concepts to realize density. Students used the pond at the Schuylkill Center to conduct experiments that allowed them to measure the density of a variety of objects. They also concluded that objects less dense than water will always be buoyant. We will continue this investigation as it leads us to our end of the year nautical challenge.

A few useful pieces of JU-D information:

Next week in our community meeting, students will divide themselves into affinity groups based on racial identity. Please discuss this with your children and email us with any questions or concerns.

Junior Unit students have begun to wonder about romantic relationships. There has been some talk of crushes. Your students may have questions that they might hesitate to ask. We have started a continuing conversation around these issues at school, so please continue them at home if this topic comes up.

Truly,

Noelle and Nick

JU-D Weekly Note

Dear JU-D Families,

We are entering the final stretch of the year! It seems like only moments ago that fresh faced fourth graders were meeting their seasoned fifth grade peers. Now our younger students are stepping up into new roles as mature class leaders as our fifth graders look ahead to next year. Amidst all of the nostalgia, JU-D hopped back into a rigorous week of writing, research, science, and special events.

This week we worked to bridge the gap between our two classroom epics, The Iliad and The Odyssey. We focused the gap between the stories as students planned out and began an extended short story project that will track a character’s journey from the destruction of Troy to the departure of the Greek fleet from the shores of Ilium. Students have learned to experiment with creating rich characters based off a real story and also practiced developing detailed vivid settings for their epic struggles.

Additionally, JU-D began to work to cover the few bare parts our classroom space with Greek flair. This week began a study of great Greeks. Each student selected an influential Grecian from history and will work to research and create a poster to be placed on our ceiling tiles. They will also use Archimedes’ research on balance to create extra flair thematic mobiles to hang from their posters.

Archimedes entered our classroom again as we set out on our spring science curriculum, a study of buoyancy. JU-D members tested buoyancy with an assortment of objects and worked towards an understanding of density. Moving forward, we will practice calculating density and apply this knowledge to a nautical challenge.

Finally, the week culminated with a schoolwide trip to the Philadelphia museum of art. Mixed groups of students explored the collection along with a guide and received a unique glimpse of our city’s treasures.

A few useful pieces of JU-D information:

TPS City Country Camp registration is open. Regular registration ends on May 1st. Junior Unit teachers Nick Dekker, Hilary Hamilton, Jenson Cheng, and David Stills are offering camp programming this summer. TPS camps are enrichment programs, allowing children to delve deeply into topics of interest under caring supervision and with the guidance of passionate, talented leadership. Take a look at the TPS City Country Camps Website for a complete list of camp offerings: http://www.tpschool.org/camps.

Have a lovely weekend!

Truly,

Noelle and Nick

Dear JU-D Families,

This week things got bloody in JU-D. Students have continued to be wowed by the intensely rich and somewhat gory story of Homer’s Iliad. This week, as the class witnessed the deaths of Patroclus and Hector in battle, we worked to contextualize the drama of these moments by investigating the complex ritual of Greek funeral practices. Students utilized this knowledge to enter the text through a series of creative writing activities that asked student to use envisioning skills to paint a clear picture of the action. These strategies fit into our repertoire of text attack strategies that we will continue to develop as the year continues.

Finally in theme we launched another constructivist JU-D style project. In honor of the brutally slain Trojan hero Hector, we will be conducting a full Greek-style funeral. Students will plan and execute one of three parts of the traditional funerary process. You may get some requests to bring materials from home to assist in this construction.

In other news, JU-D class members worked hard to finalize their preparation for student-led conferences. JU-Ders conducted trial conferences, reflected on goals, and worked towards a comfortable and confident conference. They are looking forward to sharing their learning with you all.

A useful piece of JU-D information: Community service forms went home yesterday. Please discuss them with you kids and return them on Monday.

Truly,

Noelle and Nick

JU-D Weekly Note

Dear JU-D families,

What a beautiful week! JU-D has used the sunlight and warm weather to energize deep classroom discussion, and to fuel clear reflection on student goals and growth. This week we continued our work on The Iliad. Students honed their envisioning skills as they took detailed notes on the story, attempting to gather moments of intense sensory detail to include in original short story versions of the battles of The Iliad. Furthermore, students also worked on a classroom model of the story arc of this epic. Students worked in groups to place plot summaries, character lists, and depictions of setting on a class story arc.

Outside of our layered work on The Iliad JU-D experienced and explored different facets of identity. Students attended an original play at HMS School for Students with Cerebral Palsy. There they saw different challenges that people face, as well as the way people overcome these challenges. Additionally, JU-D spent more time trying to break down the “box” of gender. We took an up close look at the differences in men’s and women’s athletics as a launching point for a discussion that started out globally and quickly became focused on the way JU-D students unconsciously reinforce gender roles. Students opened up bravely and moved to a place of deeper understanding that we will continue to build on. These conversations should continue at home. JU-Ders are ready to begin expanding their view on this topic to more general aspects of their life.

Finally JU-D members finished an entire hero paper from start to finish. They submitted rough drafts today, and are developing more sophisticated writing structures and ideas about what actually makes a hero. This demonstrates huge growth in the class as a whole as they continually become more comfortable conceiving of and carrying out long term assignments.

A few useful pieces of JU-D information: 

  • Student-led conferences are approaching. They will happen on March 24 and 25.
  • JU-D launched a pilot trial of Google Classroom, a program that will allow students to manage resources, plan in advance, and submit work quickly and easily. Students are still adjusting to the program, but invite them to show the page as we hope it will become a helpful resource.

Nick and Noelle

 

JU-D Weekly Note

Dear JU-D families,

The days are getting longer, and despite a bit of snow this morning, it’s clear that spring is just around the corner. As the seasons shift, our classroom has moved towards preparing for student-led conferences at the end of the month. Members of JU-D have begun setting goals for the end of the year and laying out concrete action steps for accomplishing this goal. To bolster this work, students have further fleshed out their plans by contemplating supports they need from teachers, families, and themselves to accomplish their goals.

This week, students also worked to peer edit hero papers and began to glimpse the heroes of prehistoric Greece. We have started to follow Homer’s epic journey to the Trojan war and back. We will read both The Iliad and The Odyssey as a way of pulling apart Greek traditions, society, and history. We are working to peel back the layers of this complex story in order to separate fact from legend, and belief from reality. Students will learn to view history as an evolving and pliable medium for viewing our world as they struggle to make decisions about the reality and authenticity of Homer’s epics.

Finally, we continued our work with the complex world of gender expression and identity. Students have spent multiple class periods analyzing different societal pressures placed on individuals in the way that they behave and what they feel. Students discussed different feelings and societal expectations that are placed associated with gender in our world. Our work is to allow students the freedom to feel comfortable with authentic expression of who they are. Members of the Junior Unit are beginning to see the boundaries and limitations caused by rigid ideas about gender, and will discuss ways we can move beyond these limitations in the coming week.

A few useful pieces of JU-D information:

Next week, the Junior Unit will attend a play at HMS School for Children with Cerebral Palsy. -

Students will get started on their next hero paragraph next week, so be ready to discuss heroes with your students.

Truly, Noelle and Nick

-- Nick Dekker Junior Unit Teacher

215-545-5323
www.tpschool.org

JU-D Weekly Note

Dear JU-D Families,

There were heroes, anthropology, and identity development in JU-D this week. We started off with the launch of our next hero paragraph and worked to develop clear and concise theses and began to bolster these statements with strong supporting details. Students created graphic organizers to develop clear threads that run throughout their papers. JU-D members also learned the art of the outline, a tool that will serve them moving forward.

After today, many students may have a new hero to add to their list, in the form of anthropologist and curator of the Greek and Roman galleries at the University of Pennsylvania, Brian Rose. Mr. Rose graciously presented a gripping tale about the excavation of multiple sites in modern Turkey, including what is believed to be the site of Homer’s Troy. Students were captivated by the relationship between myth and reality and worked to unpack the intricate ways in which history and legend intertwine.

Finally, we began discussing identity by analyzing gender identity. Because the “boxes” that define gender are associated with human anatomy, one of our first classes will included a discussion of male and female reproductive anatomy. The terms we discussed were: vagina, vulva, ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus, breasts, penis, scrotum, and testes. We did not discuss sexuality or sexual health. Students divided themselves into groups by self-identified gender, and were taught by a teacher of their same gender. We hope that this class will provide important background knowledge and equip all students with common language to use as we examine gender identity as something more than “the sum of our parts.” Students may want to continue the conversation at home, and should feel comfortable asking questions or sharing ideas.

A few pieces of JU-D information:

Here is a doodle poll from Kait, some of the JUA students' art teacher. Please click on this link if you are interested in meeting with her during conferences: http://doodle.com/poll/7vua2c5ub3ihmzrf

If Rick is your student's art teacher, you are welcome to sign up for a conference with him here: http://doodle.com/poll/kqwpvbwingb5wzcz

Attached below is a communication from the Strategic Planning Steering Committee.

Truly,

Noelle and Nick


Weekly Note

Dear JU-D Families,

This week we returned to a calmer and more simple classroom structure. There are still significant portions of the room dedicated to our expansive Greek god tribute project, but now these structures are becoming a part of everyday learning environment. Hephaestus’ cave has become an independent work space, we conduct lessons and conversations atop our stage, and our columns add a Greek flair to every classroom moment.

Amidst all of this classroom flair, students have returned to their hero paragraphs and an exploration of heroism both in Europe and south of the equator. To bolster this writing, we launched a study of parts of speech and the manipulation of words. Students played with Mad-Libs and even created their own in order to strengthen their skills working with these words. Outside of grammar, we also began to construct an ancient Greek timeline in which students studied and summarized critical moments in the history of ancient Greece. They then placed these summaries on a class timeline. We are using this to build conceptual knowledge that will clarify and intensify our coming class reading of The Odyssey (a developmentally appropriate and abbreviated version of the original text). Additionally, students engaged with writing about Greek daily life in order to make connections with, and visualize a distant but present past.

We’ve used the WIP Menu to organize this work and reflected with almost every student this week on their planning and work completion. They’ll be able to discuss this in very clear terms when we all sit together in late March to discuss their progress at student-led conferences.

A few pieces of JU-D information:

Thanks for taking a look at our conference doodles! Remember that JU-D students will need to attend the conference since they’ll be leading them. If you’re wondering who your child’s advisor is, please refer to these lists…

Nick: Moshe, Gabe, Jack, Nat, Lucy, Ella, Maddy, Navlea, Oliver, Ruby, Ben, Lara

Noelle: Lexi, Elijah, Sylvia, Arjun, Taylor, Zane, Lev, Maria, Natasha, Samara, Lucca

Also, Olympic Opening Ceremonies are scheduled for June 1st. Please save the date as we’ll have more of your child’s work to share with you then. Families will be invited to attend and observe the games as we close out our ancient Greek year.

Enjoy the weekend.

Truly,

Noelle & Nick

JU-D Weekly Note

Dear JU-D Families,

We are filled with gratitude for your strong show of support this morning.  Our students were so very proud of the work they shared today, and they deserved to be.  By clicking here, you can view all of the QR codes we had strung about the classroom.  We know many of you were only able to sample these.  Now you can feel free to listen to the entire collection of audio and images at your leisure.  

After you left, we discussed the progress students had made through planning and revising and persisting.  We hope you were able to see and feel the student investment and motivation that led to such high standards of work from every JUD student.  Through this process we watched leaders emerge, authentic problem-solving and conflict resolution occur, and joyful learning erupt.  We closed out our morning with a gratitude circle, where students let one another know that they were thankful for the help and encouragement they’d received along the way to our open house event.

Next week we’ll turn to simpler things… no more room designing, massive construction, or power tools for at least a few days!  You can expect to see a slight increase in homework as we continue our hero study and encounter more ancient Greece content focused on everyday life.

Again, thank you for your enthusiastic words and ongoing partnership.

Truly,
Noelle, Nick, & Sherlly

JU-D Weekly Note

Dear JU-D Families,

This week students hustled towards the finish line of their patron god project. Paints flowed, drills spun, and students got a glimpse of what their final products would be. The classroom is crammed with inventive large scale constructions that tell the story of, and honor five Greek gods. Students are beginning to see their labors come to fruition and are feeling the payoff of their hard work.

Outside of the JU-D patron gods project, students worked diligently in the agora with JU-C as they began to put plans into place to change a variety of school policies dealing with snack and birthday celebrations. Your young activists built digital surveys, composed and rehearsed speeches, and designed posters to increase awareness throughout the school. This fits into our continued study of social activism and our analyses of how Americans make changes to their community both “inside and outside of the system.” Additionally, as the primary season heats up, students dipped their toes into the world of presidential politics. They learned vocabulary about this complex and often daunting system, and had the opportunity to explore and analyze the policies of one of the many presidential hopefuls. As the week draws to a close, we hope that parents will continue these political conversations as a way of reinforcing the idea that young people are vital participants in our governmental system.

Finally, the week culminated in a cultural Encuentro celebration in which students experienced first hand the complex rhythms of Afro-Cuban percussion. TPS alums joined in on the demonstration as students watched and even participated in a rousing drum session. It was an excellent way to cap off a busy and productive week.

A few useful pieces of JU-D information:

  • Our February 11 open house will begin at 10:00 and will be followed by the school’s talent show.
  • Keep an eye out for an email regarding software for parent cell phones that will help maximize the open house experience.
  • In preparation for their plays, students may be looking for props and pieces for their costumes over the weekend to bring into school on Monday.
  • Next week there will be a 4 day weekend: Friday is a faculty professional development day and Monday school will closed for President’s Day.

Truly,

Noelle and Nick

JU-D Weekly Note

Dear JU-D Families,

Although we had a significantly abbreviated week in JU-D, there was no shortage of action within the classroom. Students molded chicken wire, fired up drills, and painted portraits of gods in preparation for our February 11th Open House. The classroom is cluttered with supplies and construction projects in a variety of stages of completion. As we crammed in construction time, JU-D members were hard at work rehearsing and revising their plays devoted to Greek gods. Additionally, we began to complete our kid created audio tour of the classroom, which will guide parents through the numerous JU-D practices and learning opportunities. Despite the time we've made for the project, students are beginning to feel the pressure of their performance date baring down. Some parents may have already seen some of these jitters at home, although the mood in class is overwhelmingly positive.

In other news, it is report season. This is the time of year when teachers fill in parents on student progress. This year, Junior Unit has launched a new model for filing reports. In addition to the traditional narrative structure, reports will include a checklist that will help break down individual skills students have worked on this year. An email will be sent home early next week with a link to your child's progress report; there also will be a full explanation of our checklist. 

Truly,

Noelle and Nick 

JU-D Weekly Note

Dear JU-D Families,

As Philadelphia gears up for the first real snow storm of the year, JU-D has been hard at work prepping for a monumental open house. This week, after hours of painstaking planning, debate, and discussion, members of JU-D finally began a whirlwind of construction. We are on the way to transforming our student built classroom into a tribute to five Greek gods. There is chicken wire, lumber, tubing, styrofoam, shelving, and paper-mache moving throughout the room as teams of students put their plans into action. Columns, caves, stages, and altars are already beginning to take shape in the classroom as students finally get their hands dirty.

Outside of our construction, JU-D members have continued to work with different forms of narrative expression. As we finished Maniac Magee, we created comic books commemorating the “labors” of Maniac Magee. This allowed us to practice taking quotes from text and to cement the similarities between Maniac and other heroes we have met in Junior Unit.

Moving forward, JU-D students will continue to build through the next week and fine tune plays for their debut during our open house on February 11 (we will begin at 10:00). Additionally, we will begin work on a multimedia project that will help to show the intricate layers of learning that students have taken part in this year.

Friday folders have been conspicuously absent. We have been hoarding student work as we work towards finalizing reports.

Truly,

Noelle and Nick

JU-D Weekly Note

Dear JU-D Families,

It was a busy but abbreviated week in JU-D. Much of our work was dedicated to advancing our patron god project. Students began the process of workshopping plays, revising their building proposals, and creating concrete plans on the way the construction of their tribute will proceed. Along with their intensive project based work, we continued to make our way through Maniac Magee, pausing to explore the relationship between race, community, and where we live. Additionally, we continued to parallel Maniac’s story with the tale of Heracles and tracked his progress through the heroic journey.

Your students are pushing towards a complex and fascinating Open House presentation that will be jam-packed with examples of the learning that has taken place in JU-D this year. Again, the presentation will be held on February 11 and will begin at 10:00. JU-D members are beginning to feel the flutter of nervousness, but they are excited to demonstrate the knowledge they have accumulated this year. Save the date!

Truly,

Noelle and Nick

JU-D Weekly Note

Dear JU-D Families,

This week was full of drama, heroism, maniacs, and rigorous planning. Students began the week with the launch of the next aspect of their JU-D patron god tribute project. In total JU-D will honor and explore five different gods: Athena, Dionysus, Artemis, Hermes, and Hephaestus. You may already have heard about the first element of this project, our original drama about the exploits of each god. This week we began crafting detailed proposals (blueprints included) for honorary structures which we build in the classroom. JU-D members contemplated the best way to encapsulate their god in a physical space that adds to the purpose driven classroom we have created. Students designed, schemed, debated, and imagined structures all while negotiating the dynamics of their group.

This week we also continued our study of heroes through our new class book, Jerry Spinneli’s masterpiece Maniac Magee. We parallelled the story of this mighty young man with an examination of Heracles and his 12 monumental labors. Your kids created dynamic comic books detailing each of the 12 labors. We looked at the Heroic Journey in relation to Heracles as well as Maniac. Students are beginning to see the ways in which heroes follow similar progressions through trials and triumphs alike. To connect this journey with our study of drama, we also began a classroom performance of The Golden Fleece, a play about Jason and his team of heroic Argonauts.

Finally, we wrapped up the week by laying out a complex and tricky spelling rule. JU-D students grappled with the tricky rules of doubling consonants when adding a variety of suffixes. Your kids broke down words into their essential pieces and came out with a clear understanding of this rule.

We’ve begun preparing for our open house on February 11th, so save the date!

Truly,

Noelle and Nick

JU-D Weekly Note

Dear JU-D Families,

It’s hard to believe that December is already winding down and that we are headed to a restful and joyful holiday season. Looking back on the blank classroom where we started, it’s amazing to think of all of the ground we’ve covered. We have honed our acting skills, jumped into the wild world of critical research, explored questions around identity, and analyzed current events. All the while, we’ve been making connections to ancient Greece.

JU-D students left today having drafted plays that capture the most important things we learned about the patron gods we’ve chosen for our classroom: Athena, Artemis, Hermes, Hephaestus, and Dionysus. Over the break, students may be meeting through their shared Google documents to continue revising and editing these plays. When we return, students will launch their building project, erecting a structure that memorializes the group’s patron god. This will bring Greek notions of beauty into our empty classroom project. Students will also be practicing their play in preparation for the JU-D Open House, which will be held on February 11th. Please save the date!

You will be receiving an email with information about community service. We had a logistical complication, and JU-D students did not get the chance to choose their jobs.

We hope that the break is a good one for you and your family. We look forward to more exciting work upon our return in 2016.

Truly, Noelle & Nick