Grade 8 Bliss

Friday 10/13

On this day in 1792 the cornerstone of the White House was laid. Nothing quite that significant in our classroom as we continue to work on our science and humanities journals to prepare for student led conferences. We will be starting a new novel next week and finishing the Civil War. The novel takes place during the depression but we will be focusing on the period of reconstruction in social studies. This period includes new waves of immigrants, a push toward industrialization, and the move out west. Lots to think about.

Remember that your son or daughter should be reading two hours every week and writing two journal entries. There will also be problems of the week in math coming home and more skill sheets.

We will continue to stress the need to focus and participate in class, as well as the importance of doing an assignment well instead of just good enough.

Friday 10/06

We have been exploring density in science. There will be a test on the basics; What is density? How do you calculate density? What tools do you use to measure and what labels do you need for density? In math we are inching our way forward in algebra at the same time as we go back to brush up on skills. Students will often have skill sheets for homework. Next week they will have a problem that they will solve over the week. This problem will take some perseverance, which is another skill to be practiced. In humanities we are finishing up 1863 and heading into 1864. Finally the war is looking better for the Union, though both sides have lost thousands of men in battle.

We finished The Giver. Next week your child will write a new ending for the story since the ending in the book is so ambiguous. We will be starting Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck later next week.

Student lead conferences will be on 10/17. Please look through your child's bag to find the schedule I sent home yesterday. If none of the times work for you we can plan to meet another day. These conferences are important snapshots of how your child is progressing academically and a good time to set learning goals with everyone present.

Have a great long weekend!

Ms. Bliss

Thursday 9/21

Public and Permanent. That was the lesson this week on social media. Ask your son or daughter about it; how it will affect their behavior when it comes to sharing information.

In science we are getting into a better understanding of density. In math students are finding out that all of 7th grade math will indeed be needed for 8th grade math. I am trying to reawaken those concepts and skills, which to my students, probably seem like ancient history.

Speaking of which, the students created Powtoons to inform their classmates about significant events in 1862. These events will be on next week's test and they will be incorporated into student's reflective journals.

I'll see you next Thursday. Have a good week!

Ms. Bliss

Thursday 9/14

Quizlet rules!! So does Dreambox! These are two sites your child can go to at home if you have internet access. We have a Quizlet account Monroecrew6-8 Password Monroecrew7/8 for words that come up in classes. Right now we are working on vocabulary words from The Giver. Your child can go on these accounts to practice anytime. You don't know how many times I have found students who can buzz through a new math concept because they have practiced it on Dreambox, or how many times students have used new words because they have played with them on Quizlet. There is even a phone app for Quizlet. When your child says they do not have homework, these are great places to go for practice.

Monday 9/11

Today the students and I read a poem, a message on an answering machine from a dad caught in one of the Twin Towers to his family. It was very moving. We then read a newspaper article and an email from 9/12 to look at what impact 9/11 had on the nation's psyche. Ask your son or daughter about it.

We are still reading and discussing the periodic table in science, looking at patterns in the table and how the structure of the atoms in different elements effects their function. We spend time each class on how to read for information and how to take advantage of the interactives in the eReader.

In social studies we are into 1862, the Ironclads, Shiloh, Antietam, and the difficulty finding generals to lead the Union Army. Students continue to write reflections on the war from their unique perspectives.

I am trying to instill the idea that homework needs to be done at certain times and places in the house so that students can get into the habit before next year. Your help in this is certainly appreciated.

Thursday 8/31

The year is on! Some things to keep in mind as your son or daughter goes through eighth grade:

There is homework, including 2 hours of reading each week and 2 reading journal entries due each Friday. I am talking to students in crew about having a plan for their homework time and place. Please try to get them to stick to the schedule they have made for themselves so they can learn to be more consistent. We often have math and sometimes social studies homework as well.

There are quizzes each week. Social studies will be on Wednesday and Science on Thursday. Students may have words on Quizlet they can study with or they may have study sheets.

Have a great Labor Day weekend,

Ms. Bliss

Tuesday 8/22

We are gearing up here at school. Everything will be in place for your child to start his or her eighth grade year. I am really excited about the work we will be diving into. I have updated most of out pages as of now. Our ELA class will be tied directly with social studies and science, so sometimes I am calling ELA Humanities. The focus in writing will start with the assumption of Civil War identities and a reflective journal. You can see more detail in all of the classes.

I hope that many of you can come to the 4:30 meeting next Wednesday to talk about fundraising for the class trip. I also hope that you keep in touch with me all year so that we can do the best job in preparing your child for ninth grade.

Lots more to come...

Tuesday 5/09

The seventh and eighth graders have completed their Grey's Anatomy presentations which are now on YouTube under Louisa Bliss. We are now starting a short soil science unit which will lead us into our PACE science assessment. Our final expedition in science will be a "Heating Our Food," an engineering and physical science unit.

We are continuing the Holocaust and Human Behavior Expedition that is the 7/8 part of Amazing Race. Students have been studying the Holocaust in search of evidence for a letter to the editor about whether learning about the Holocaust is relevant today. They are also learning about the physical and political geography of Europe.

In writing, students are completing their companion books which are informative pieces about the themes, characters, places, conflict, etc in books that they chose. We are also just starting the all time classic, The Outsiders, by S. E. Hinton. Written when she was 16!

On Monday, June 5, the 7/8 will be using their movie money for a trip to the Flume, Cannon Mountain, and Slicks.

Monday 3/27

7/8 news:

In science students are working on their projects for Grey's anatomy. Videos should be coming online next week.

In math: The seventh graders are finishing up the chapter on drawing triangles and quadrilaterals with a short introduction to scale.

In social studies: Please go to that page for more information. We will soon be starting the book, Night, by Elie Wessel.

A reminder to 8th grade parents: Your child needs to be at school by 7:15 on Friday.

Monday 2/20

I wanted to remind everyone that every Wednesday we have a science and a social studies test. Students are currently studying the digestive system in science. The social studies test this week will be the entire map of Asia. We are working on geometry in both 7th and 8th grade math. If your son or daughter does not have any homework, he or she should do 1/2 hour on Dreambox. The goal for all students is to complete 5 lessons each week. Dreambox not only helps to re mediate skills that are rusty, it also prepares students for upcoming concepts. And it can be fun.

After vacation we will be completing the human body systems and heading into the final project, which will be an organ redesign. We'll send out an invitation to Grey's Anatomy rounds at the end of March. In ELA we will be doing a unit on short stories that includes a writing performance assessment.

Have a great vacation. Remind your child to read!

Thursday 2/09

Students in 7th and 8th grades have just finished assessing themselves on their Habits of a Learner. We brought these up at this time because Ms. Lawton and I are worried about the "It's good enough" problem. Students are often handing in work that is not their best work. Please talk to your son or daughter about how he or she feels about the work they are handing in.

In science we had the cardio-vascular system test this week and will be going on to the digestive system. Tests are on Wednesdays. Students are creating pages on each system so that they have a study guide for the test. The focus is on structure and function of systems and the organs in the systems, also how systems interact with each other in the human body.

Today we started reading a fictional account of a boy heading out on the silk road. We have been mapping Asia and will soon be mapping the silk road. The expedition question is, "Should we call it the silk road?" One goal is to study the rich history of the area in order to better understand current events. Ask your child what he or she is mapping in social studies.

Have a great weekend,

Ms. Bliss

Friday 2/03

Both Green math and Purple math have gone on to the next books. This is great news, because it means that they will complete the 7th and 8th grade math courses this year and will be ready for next year. We are also doing lots of extra problem solving so that our students get better at communicating their thinking and representing their math with multiple representations (tables, graphs, equations, pictures).

In science we are concentrating on the cardiovascular system this week. There is a test next Wednesday. Please help your child study by asking him or her about the structure and function of the organs and tissues in this system. We are always connecting systems with other systems in the human body, so ask them about that too.

In social studies we are making table top maps of Asia. Groups are doing different maps. Three groups are creating physical geography maps; topography, climate, natural resources. The other three groups are completing human geography maps; religions, ethnic groups, and political systems. We will be connecting these countries to current events and, to get a different perspective, we will be studying the Silk Road from 200 BCE to 200 CE. Our next book will be a novel based on a boy's life during that time.

Students in 7th and 8th grades are connecting their math skills with programming their robots to park in Platform 9 3/4. First they measured how long it takes their robot to go one meter, then they used their graphing calculators to see exactly how long it will take their robot to go 2.5 meters. We have had a few robots get very close to the platform.

Monday 1/23

We are now into cells and the cardiovascular system in science. Tests are every Wednesday. These focus on structure and function of each system and how human body systems interact with each other. Please help your child study each week.

In Green math, we have been consistently working on word problems, breaking them down and building them back up with information taken out of each sentence. We are working on how to communicate reasoning and defending answers. Every week we have one problem to solve. The first thing students need to do is just fool around with the problem, not rush to find a solution. If your child does not think that he or she has homework, this will usually not be the case. There is always Dreambox to help practice.

In social studies we are now moving from southwest Asia to south Asia. Students will be researching the physical and human geography in these areas and, yes, studying for a test on the map of these countries.

Remember, if your child misses school, it is his or her responsibility to make up missed work.

Friday 1/13

Today we are dissecting chicken wings. Ask your child what types of tissues they saw and what these tissues do in the "elbow" system. There is going to be a test on the skeletal system next Wednesday. Test your child by having him or her name the bones and tell you the functions of the whole system. Also, ask your child how bones interact with other systems in the body. After Wednesday we will take a look at cells and cell theory.

In order for the seventh and eighth graders to make better sense of current events, we are learning the map of Asia. I am highlighting some countries because there are 48 countries in Asia. In each region of Asia we will also look at both physical and human geography.

Friday 1/06

Happy New Year! This week students got out their hopes and dreams that they wrote last August so that they could reflect on what they have achieved and what they need to work on. One of the positive reflections was that our classroom has less drama than students thought we were going to have.

Many students wrote that they would like to get on honor roll. This opened up the discussion about responsibility and the need for each student to reflect honestly about what he or she needs to do to bring up grades. Some ideas were: completing homework, asking questions, clarifying directions, and finding ways to stay on task. We'll continue to work on those skills throughout the year.

We will also continue to focus on current events. Any time you can watch or listen to the news with your child, and talk about it, would be helpful. They are not too young to learn about what is going on in our country. As we work on current events we will also be learning about the Middle East and parts of Asia

Monday 12/19

The students gave their first presentations for MCS News last Friday. These were current events issues that teams reported on as newscasters using interviews and debate. Our events were the earthquakes in Oklahoma, Damming the Amazon River, the Chocolate Crisis, and an anthrax outbreak that is killing hundreds of reindeer. We will be doing more of these newscasts next year.

We are now starting a "mapping the world" expedition, where students will learn about countries on different continents and decide which one on each continent is the "best" to live in. At the same time we will be working on a Global Issues curriculum. See our social studies page for more.

This week we will hopefully complete our mountain building exploration. After the break we will be starting with human body systems. See science for more after the break.

I hope you all have a fun filled break. I'll see you next year.

Tuesday 11/29

Report cards will be going out this Friday, and with those, there are changes afoot in social studies, writing, and science. In science we are looking at evidence of tectonic plates to support that theory. In social studies we are just beginning inquiries into accessing different resources around the world. Students will be researching the damming of the Amazon, fish sanctuaries, declining amounts of chocolate, and earthquakes in Oklahoma. Once they have the backstories, they will be newscasters on Friday's MCS NEWS. Finally, in writing, we are starting persuasion pieces.

Friday 12/16 Window painting

Friday 10/28

We have been busy, busy, busy. Ms. Lawton and I have been integrating the reading of Warriors Don't Cry with Civics. Right now our students are creating "mind mups", a great new program for creating digital mind maps. Ask your son or daughter about Plessy vs Ferguson or Brown vs the Board of Education and what these have to do with our book. The next step in this expedition is researching another event that helps students answer the questions, "What must citizens do to create a more just and democratic society?"and, "What is the line between freedom and responsibility?" and, "What roles do the three branches of government play in the protection of civil rights?" Students will be putting together a podcast so stay tuned.

In science we are starting the final task of making a model that explains the seasons, moon phases, and eclipses. After that we will dig deeper into the Earth to study what makes mountains.

The seventh and eighth graders demonstrated their robots in community crew. Many pairs of students went on to program their robots to see and say red, and then they used a program switch to go the next step. Ask your son or daughter about that too because they are rocketing through these introductory lessons, teaching me new things every day.

I am very pleased with the progress the seventh and eighth graders are making in math. They are persevering through all sorts of new material and achieving the targets more often than not. If they get stuck, we just mess around with the concept a bit more and they get it. Really nice work in math.

That's it for this week. Time to go home and kill the turkeys.

Thursday 10/06

The newspapers are now up on our social studies page. We are just beginning a civics class starting with the foundations of our government and then on through each branch to politics and public policy, civil rights, international affairs, and citizenship and participation. Students will be completing a research project and a presentation of their choosing.

In science we are working on building the information to make the scale model. We are also documenting the moon phase each morning, again for the model.

Everyone is working hard in math and making lots of progress.

Next week, on 10/13, admissions from Lyndon Institute will be talking to the seventh and eighth graders. On the 18th St J will be coming. Both of these meetings are open to parents. Please join us at 2 pm on those days.

Have a great Columbus Day weekend,

Ms. Bliss

Thursday 9/29

Our presidential era newspapers are almost done. We hope to upload them to our social studies page by next Monday. In science we are working towards building models of the Sun/Earth/Moon system, gathering evidence for the reason for seasons and moon phases. We will video student presentations so that you will be able to see them.

Our new book is Tuck Everlasting. We continue to work on the structure of writing, including essay, paragraph, and sentence structure.

Tuesday 9/20

Please make sure that your child is reading his or her book at least 1/2 hour each night. Also, check out the Engineering page on our site. We have been building with LEGOs and will be starting to program tomorrow.

Friday 9/16

After completing "Booked", the seventh and eighth graders are currently writing their first character analysis of the year.The seventh grader's immediate reaction was, "What? A five paragraph essay?!" They are working on this bit by bit so that they learn and use this important skill.

We have started LEGO robotics. Classes will be on Wednesday and Friday. We hope to begin some simple programming today.

In math both groups are just starting the second investigations in their books. Check out those pages if you are interested in what they are doing. And, in science the Sun has been charged with meddling with Earth's electromagnetic spectrum. Next week we should be finishing up this section of how objects affect each other from a distance and moving into the reason for seasons.

Tuesday 9/13

Open House

Lyndon Institute

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

All are welcome!

4:00 pm Tour of technical education facilities.

4:45 Community dinner with families, faculty, and staff.

6:00 Formal welcome by Headmaster Houck

Sunday 9/11

It is difficult to write that date and not think about the disaster of that day.

On the math and science pages there are images that help describe what we are learning in class. If you and your child are having a conversation about what he or she is doing in school, these images can help your child talk about the concepts.

Friday 9/09

Please check your child's planner for homework assignments. We take some time each day to fill in the planner, even if they have no homework. In math we are working on being neat and precise; not handing in work that is "good enough", so you can check for that too. There is regular math homework, probably not every night, but at least every other. The students are creating math journals with their notes for each investigation. Seventh graders are working on the Real number line and eighth graders are working on properties of exponents.

We will be finishing "Booked" today in reading and students will be completing their first character analysis of the year using mind maps that they have created while reading. In writing we are working on "quote sandwiches". (Ask your child what that is.) We are also completing articles from different presidential administrations that will be turned into newspapers.

Please keep in touch with us. Let Ms. Lawton and I know if you have questions or concerns.

Have a great weekend!

Friday 9/02

Orientation was lots of fun. We played cockroach tag, toss the alien, nitro swamp rescue, speed rabbit, energy ring golf... and a big hit was plain old "kick the chicken". Students found the "stamp of approval" from the aliens from Keppler-22b on their desks Friday morning. If you have no idea what I am writing about, ask your child.

In science we have started our study called, "How do objects interact from a distance?" which will focus on the sun, the moon, and the Earth. Their final project will be a model of the Earth, moon, and sun with which they can explain all of the movements and distances plus the reason we have seasons and what cause moon phases and eclipses.

Monday 8/29


Green math: 1.1 #1-4 and #28-35

Purple: complete 1.1

7/8 News

Here we go! 2016-2017, and Ms. Lawton and I are ready and excited. I hope you are too. Check in to all of the courses to see what we have lined up. On the first day of school we will be sending out permission slips for our orientation at Tamarack on September 1, calculator contracts, and a short "Hopes and Dreams" page for you to fill out. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns. See you soon!

Teacher Contact Information:


Telephone: (603)638-2800 ex. 18

Please click here to go to all 7/8 course pages.