7th Grade Friday Note

Good Afternoon, Parents!

It’s really and truly Spring -- an exciting time all around, and particularly in our 7th Grade. Some highlights from the past week:

We introduced our essential questions for the Spring term, which are:

  • How do you know who you are? 
  • How do notions of race shape and influence you? Your community? Your nation? 
  • What is the relationship among force, power, and authority? 
  • How can one assimilate to a group while also retaining individuality? 
  • What is your relationship to and with the natural world?

In Cultural Studies we did a five-day zebrafish lab this week as part of our introduction to genetics. We started with adult fish on Monday and hypothesized about what their offspring would look like. By Tuesday the fish had produced embryos through external fertilization, and we transferred the embryos to petri dishes in order to examine how many hours post fertilization they were. For the next two days we continued to monitor their development, noting how many embryos were fertilized, how many were not, and how accurate our predictions about the appearance of the offspring were. By today, most of the embryos had already hatched into free-swimming larvae; it’s a remarkably fast process! Be sure to ask your children how many of their embryos turned out to be albino or wildtype and how accurate their hypotheses were. Over the weekend students are writing the second paragraph of their four-paragraph lab reports. For more information and photos, check out the TPSchool Blog http://www.tpschool.org/blog/!

We also started our Spring novel, William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. We spent the bulk of the first week examining Golding’s establishment of setting and characters. By this point, Ralph is trying to hold their fragile “society” together and work towards rescue, while Jack is becoming obsessed with hunting and killing pigs. Students have also made some early symbolic identifications of characters and objects, which they will continue to track throughout the story in order to decode Golding’s allegory.

We returned to Heritage Farm on Tuesday, where we prepared a set of beds that will become a high tunnel, covered a patch in black tarp in order to clear it of weeds before planting, and transplanted hundreds of kale, lettuce, and spring onion starts into outdoor beds that we had helped prepare the week before. We got to use all different kinds of shovels, hoes, seed trays, and a giant dibbling cylinder. There are updates and photos from the farm at the blog link above as well.

Finally, an announcement about weekly checkout. In an effort to transition students into greater individual responsibility and accountability with an eye towards eighth grade and beyond, we will be phasing out checkout forms beginning in May. For the next three weeks we’ll be talking with the kids about how they are using their assignments books and what strategies need to be reinforced or improved in order to prepare for this transition. Similarly, please talk with your child about what their work habits will look like at home in order to stay on top of their responsibilities.

Some questions to ask your child this weekend:

  • What was your zebrafish hypothesis? 
  • Were any of your zebrafish mutated? 
  • What is one way that zebrafish research benefits humans? 
  • What dangers face the boys in Lord of the Flies? 
  • What did you enjoy about working at Heritage Farm?

Until next week,

David, Virginia, and Steve