St John Berchmans - Junior High

St John Berchmans' junior high is commited to keeping you informed about what is happening academically and beyond with our students. We will add new content weekly, so look around and see what is happening here.

- The junior high team.

Week 13: November 15th, 2017

Announcements

Thanksgiving break is just around the corner (school break starts on Wednesday, November 22nd) and we all hope that you will be able to enjoy some relaxing and quality time with your families. We are also conducting a school Thanksgiving Food Drive. If you could help to encourage your student to bring in canned/non-perishable goods it would be greatly appreciated!

Academic Highlights

This week in 6th Grade Social Studies, the students have begun their studies of ancient world history, starting with the topic of Mesopotamia. We had a lively discussion after researching the primary source of Hammurabi’s Code of Laws. Parents, feel free to ask your 6th grader about what the difference between a primary and secondary source is and for an example of one of the laws from Hammurabi’s Code.

In 7th Grade Social Studies, we have begun discussing how historians have to interpret various primary sources to make accurate recordings of an event. We have also begun our introduction to the colonization of the Americas from various European powers (this is especially important as Thanksgiving is almost here). Feel free to ask your 7th grader about the three main categories that distinguish the British colonies in North America.

In 8th Grade Social Studies, we started talking about the formation of the United Sates government and they analyzed the differences between the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution as a review. We have also discussed the importance of “Watershed moments of history” and the topic of Imperialism. Ask your students why the Haymarket Affair is a Watershed moment for Chicago’s history.

Advisory This Week

This week’s advisory has focused primarily on the topics of bullying and how to stand up against mean behavior. It is so often overlooked, (especially in this digital age) that rude things that are said can often have irreversible impacts on others that we may not even realize at first glance. Students have worked to come up with strategies to avoid this behavior and help people feel protected from it. We also discussed the virtue of courage in regards to speaking out against bullying. Feel free to ask your student what they believe it means to be an “up-stander” in a situation involving bullying.

One quote that I always found to be intriguing about courage comes from J.K. Rowling: "It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.”

Week 12: November 9, 2017

Academic Highlights

The 8th grade traveled to De La Salle high school on Tuesday to participate in their annual "activity day." This year focused on The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. Our students were joined with 12 other junior highs from around the city. They spent the day engaged in 5 learning stations run by the De La Salle high school students. See the photo gallery for pictures of them. It was a great day and a great opportunity to see a high school many of them didn't know much about. With only three weeks before the Catholic high school placement test, all opportunities to visit schools are worth it. Please talk to your 8th grader about shadow days and where he/she is planning to test. If you need assistance we are here to help.

The 7th grade (language arts) completed their comparison essay and are working hard to turn it into a formal presentation complete with Keynote (apple's powerpoint) visual aid. I can't wait to hear all about the differences between lions and house cats & blue whales and orcas to name a few. The presentations will be Friday morning. If you are free and would like to come watch please join us after mass (9:30am in Ms. Begley's classroom).

The 6th grade reading class has been focusing on Theme this week. They have been reading for the main message of lesson within the story. Theme is often a confusing element to understand. It is the complete message an author has about a story often connected to the characters' actions, reactions, and ability to overcome (or not overcome) a conflict. Ask your 6th grader to explain how a theme is different than the plot of a story.

Advisory this week:

The junior high has been discussing anger management in advisory this week. We have looked at how "we" typically handle anger or frustration and how we should handle these difficult situations. Ask your child to share some of the strategies we have discussed and how managing expectation and anger can lead to a better day.

Here is a quote about anger that has always resonated with me. I hope you enjoy it. "Anger ruins Joys; steals the goodness of my mind; makes my mouth say terrible things. Overcoming anger brings piece of mind; leads to a mind without regret. If I overcome anger, I will be delightful and loved by everyone." -Charlie Crews from Life 2007

Week 11: November 1, 2017

Academic Highlights

We look forward to seeing you all at Parent Teacher Conferences tomorrow, Thursday, November 2nd. Please be punctual as we will be sticking closely to the time schedule. As a reminder, the students have early dismissal at 11:30 on Thursday. Also, the teachers will be having a professional development workshop day on Friday November 3rd, so there will be no school that day.

We had a wonderful Halloween celebration yesterday and we thank all of our parent volunteers for making it so special. We appreciate YOU! Check out the fun pictures.

In Math class, the students enjoy the guessing jar each week. It is great to see the conversations going on about how the student who won did their estimation. They also seem excited to be able to take the small jar home to fill it up with their choice of items.

This week in Math, the 8th grade have been looking at data represented three different ways - tables, graphs, and equations, and they are understanding slope and writing equations of lines, 7th grade have been working with solving 2-step equations, and the 6th grade are finishing a unit on describing sequences, evaluating expressions and solving 1-step equations. Ask your 6th and 7th grader what an inverse operation means, and your 8th grader what an undefined slope means or a slope of zero.

In Religion, we talked about All Saints Day, who their favorite Saint is, and asked the Saints to intercede for us. The first 10 hours of service were due the end of quarter 1 for the 8th grade. In addition, 8th grade is reviewing the Ten Commandments in more detail and how to follow them, 7th grade is learning about Jesus in the Gospels and the Holy Spirit as our Guide and Helper, and 6th grade is learning about God helping His people as we read the Bible stories about Cain and Abel, Noah, and the Tower of Babel. Ask your child who their favorite Saint is.

Advisory This Week:

This week for Advisory we focused on our goals. It was perfect timing since quarter 1 just ended. At the beginning of the year, the students wrote academic and social-emotional smart goals and this week they are reviewing them. They are reflecting and responding to 3 questions per goal: What progress have I made, What behaviors help me achieve my goal, and What behaviors hinder my goal. We are hopeful that the students will make the appropriate changes to be successful both academically and socially.

Week 10: October 25, 2017

Academic Highlights

As another reminder, the first quarter ends tomorrow October 26th. Parent Teacher Conferences will be occurring next Thursday (November 2nd). Please make sure you have signed up for a time slot, and are punctual; Almost every conference time is booked, so we will be sticking closely to the time schedule. Lastly, the teachers will be having a professional development workshop day on Friday November 3rd, so there will be no school that day.

In 6th Grade Science, the students have been working diligently on their planet projects. Each student group has been assigned one of the eight planets in the solar system and will be giving a short presentation on their information. They have also been covering the different lunar phases of Earth’s moon and the different types of eclipses in class. Ask your 6th grader about what planet they are researching for their project.

In 7th Grade Science, the students have been discussing the damage that natural disasters cause to humans and how best to prepare for different climatic events. They also completed a lab on the rock cycle and how rocks transform amongst the metamorphic, sedimentary, and igneous stages of the rock cycle. Ask your 7th grader about how rock types are continuously transformed through the cycle.

In 8th Grade Science, the students have been participating in an extensive lab on the different effects pollution has on living organisms. The students will be tracking the growth of bean plants over time as they are affected by water pollution, land pollution, and air pollution. The students have also been discussing the human impact on the availability of natural resources. Ask your 8th grader what the five major types of pollution are and how they impact humans and the environment.

Advisory This Week:

This week in advisory we have been discussing leadership skills. The students have discussed the traits that make up a good and effective leader and have also rated how effective of a leader they can be. Most recently, students have been discussing what it means to have a legacy and how our actions often speak louder than our words. It is especially crucial for junior high students to discuss how they can become competent leaders in preparation for when they move to a new school and meet new people. Ask your student what they believe defines a great leader and in what ways they think they can continue to grow as a leader.

Week 9: October 19, 2017

Academic Highlights

First Quarter ends on October 26th which is quickly approaching. Please check with your child to make sure he or she is completing all work and turning it in. Also, please remind him/her that all late assignments will need to be written on the teacher's "late assignment" board, so they can be graded.

In language arts the 6th grade are working on their first essays. They are writing "reflective narratives" about increased responsibility. They have been prewriting and organizing this week and will begin writing their first draft this weekend The final draft will be due on Wednesday the 25th (just in time for the end of the quarter). Please ask your child to show you what he or she is writing. The 7th grade are continuing their reading short story unit. This week they are putting the main character from O'Henry's story "A Retrieved Reformation" on trial. It's an interesting story about a bank robber, love, and the value of a second chance. Ask your child which side he or she is representing. The 8th graders have begun their first novel of the year: S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders. The students are so excited by the story and the knowledge that the author was only 16 when she wrote it. After finishing the novel the class will join several other junior highs at DeLaSalle High School for a day of activities devoted to the novel. I am really looking forward to that experience for them.

Advisory This Week:

This week in advisory we have been discussing communication. The students have discussed formal prepared speeches, informal social-networking, and non-verbal clues and how all together these ideas allow us to become better communicators. I have been fascinated to watch the students knowledge and lack of knowledge on this subject. We often take communication for granted; it is something we do everyday. Yet, it is a skill we need to practice and refine. Each person has different ways to communicate, and we have to work together to communicate better. Ask you child what struggles we face when communicating with each other and what strategies we should use to improve our communication.

Week 8: October 11, 2017

Academic Highlights

In Math class, we have two guessing jars filled with small items, usually candy, that the students are to determine the quantity of. They have used their math skills to determine the surface area and volume to help them make an educated estimation of the quantities. I have filled the large jar weekly and students sign up for a week to fill the small jar. The jar can be filled with any small item, edible or non-edible. The winner does get to keep the contents of the jar. This week the large jar has starbursts and they have to answer the questions: What is the number of starbursts, What is the probability of picking an orange to the nearest percent, and what is the probability of picking a pink to the nearest percent. The small jar has white life savers and the question is asking for the total number.

This week in Math, the 8th grade have been finding square roots and cube roots without using calculators as well as using roots to solve equations, 7th grade have been working with adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing fractions and mixed numbers, and the 6th grade are finishing a statistical unit and are learning about misleading graphs and statistics. Ask your 8th grader how to find the cube root of 64,000 or to estimate the square root of 68.

In Religion, all classes found or created an icon, poem, or song representing the Blessed Trinity and presented it to the class. In addition, 8th grade is reviewing God's Laws in the Ten Commandments and in the Beatitudes, 7th grade is learning about the mystery of the loving relationship of One God in Three Divine persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and 6th grade is learning about the 2 creation stories in the Book of Genesis and acting them out. Also, Fr. Wayne will be teaching Religion on Thursday to all Junior High grades. Don't forget to ask your child what question they asked him.

The Holy Fire Retreat is fast approaching next Friday, October 20. We are excited and looking forward to this day!

Advisory This Week:

This week, we did not have our regular Advisory due to Aspire Testing. We completed Reading and Science practice Aspire on Tuesday and Wednesday and Fr. Wayne came to talk to the students on Thursday.

Week 7: October 4, 2017

Academic Highlights

This week in science, in continuation of learning about earth science, the 6th grade learned about how air currents and ocean currents affect the globe as well. The students recently completed a lab on how wind affects surface level ocean currents and carries debris across water. The students will also be taking a geography test next week. Ask your 6th grader to explain how wind currents and ocean currents are related and the relationship between warm and cold air or water masses.

In 7th Grade Social Studies, the students learned about how different factors in ecosystems can affect population growth of different species. The students participated in a simulated game where they had to track the population growth of four different bird populations based on different events. The students will also have their second geography test next week! Feel free to ask your 7th grader about how populations of groups are affected by carrying capacity.

For 8th Grade Social Studies, the students have begun learning about human migration across the globe. As a class, the students viewed an exciting documentary showing how ancient humans have migrated from their ancestral roots in Africa in order to cover all parts of the globe. The students will also have their first test in geography next week. Discuss with your 8th grader how push and pull factors affect human migration patterns.

Advisory This Week:

This week, the students have been discussing the negative impact of spreading rumors and how to best prevent their harmful affects spreading towards others. The students discussed the various ways in which rumors can spread, which was especially important to discuss in the digital age, and what actions they should take to prevent and address the spreading of rumors. Students finished by creating a hypothetical story about the rumor cycle and its stoppage.

Also, the students will begin their ASPIRE Practice tests on October 5th and finish taking the last one on October 11th. The tests will cover the subjects of Reading, Writing, Math, and Science.

Lastly, don't forget to have a safe and fun three-day weekend due to the Columbus Day Holiday!

Week 6: September 28, 2017

Academic Highlights

This week in reading the 7th graders wrote and filmed short "movies" illustrating the importance of building suspense in narratives. Several of the groups used puppets and the effect was very engaging. The students focused not only on the importance of suspense, but the importance of planning out their movies before just filming. I think creating iMovies is one of the students favorite activities, and these were definitely the best. Ask your 7th grader to show you his/her movie.

The 6th graders had an assessment in both reading and language arts this week. The reading quiz scores were lower than I had hoped, so we are going back over the strategies needed to take a reading test and develop a written answer (and correct the test we took). Next week will include more of these strategies and focus, so that each 6th grader fully understands what he/she needs to focus on for the next test or quiz.

The 8th grade are finishing their study nouns: specifically that various ways we use nouns in sentences, and they are doing very well. It's wonderful to see that the skills we built in 6th and 7th grade are holding strong and supporting the new material, allowing mastery. Ask your 8th grader how to find a direct and an indirect object.

Advisory this Week

First, the 7th and 8th graders spent Monday listening to 9 different high school representatives talk about their respective schools. the students learned about the academic programs, extra curriculars and sports, and even the exciting lunch offerings. It was a busy day of listening, but it was a great opportunity to begin thinking (for the 7th graders) and focus thinking (for the 8th graders). It seems like a long way away, but high school is closer than we like to think.

Additionally, this week the junior high has been talking about time-management: what it means, where we struggle, and how to avoid distractions and improve our use of time. I learned this week that I might still have a bit of a procrastinator in me. Ask your students about themselves.

Week 5: September 20, 2017

Academic Highlights

Each week in Math class, there are two guessing jars filled with small items that the students are to determine the quantity of. They have used their math skills to determine the surface area and volume to help them make an educated estimation of the quantities. I will begin to add more questions such as what is the probability of picking a blue m&m and have the students write their answer as a percent, decimal and fraction. Also, this week, students began to sign up for a week to fill the small jar and come up with questions. The jar can be filled with any small item, edible or non-edible. The winner does get to keep the contents of the jar.

More specifically in Math, the 8th grade have been solving multi-step equations, 7th grade have been working with exponents, factors, and fractions, and the 6th grade began a statistical unit and are learning to find and use measures of center and measures of variability. Ask your child about the review game Hotseat and what they think of it.

In Religion, all classes researched a modern Saint, one that was canonized a Saint in their lifetime, and presented it to the class. In addition, 8th grade is learning to respond to God's love by reflecting on living Holy lives and giving witness to Jesus, 7th grade is reviewing that God is the source of life who created us to know Him and Love Him, and 6th grade is experiencing God's Revelation through His creation, deeds, and interaction with His People.

We are excited to announce that the Junior High will be participating in the Holy Fire Retreat again this year on Friday, October 20. More information will be coming soon!

Advisory This Week:

This week the junior high students are learning about growth and fixed mindsets and how the brain is like a muscle, growing and getting smarter with new learning. They thought about their personal struggles and worked on changing them to reflect a growth mindset. Ask your child about the quiz results on their mindset and also the impact their focus and beliefs have on their learning. You may also ask if they know when our brains grow the most.

Week 4: September 13, 2017

Academic Highlights

This week the students have been growing more accustomed to their iPads and working on their time management skills in terms of turning in homework. We still have been experiencing some technological issues, but we hope to be moving closer to solving those soon.

In Science and Social Studies, all classes have been covering the topics of earth science/geology and geography respectively. The overarching theme is for students to see how we as human beings are affected by scientific events and social systems existing in our world and how to adapt and leave a positive impact in our environment and social communities.

6th grade parents: feel free to ask your students about the theory of plate tectonics.

7th grade parents: encourage your students to discuss the topic of climate change.

8th grade parents: ask your kids to share their knowledge of map-making and the different types of maps.

Advisory This Week:

This week the students have spent their advisory periods focusing on the topics of self-reflection and goal setting skills. Each student was asked on Wednesday to create a goal card with which they are charged with setting academic, family, religious/service oriented, and social goals to accomplish on their own time.

On Thursday, students will be participating in the Faith Partner Day and be working with younger students to prepare them for future church services.

As a reminder, this Friday (September 15th) there will be NO SCHOOL due to the fact that the teachers will be participating in a professional development workshop.

Week 3 September 6, 2017

Academic Highlights:

This week the students have been continuing to master their iPads. Unfortunately, we are continuing to experience some technical difficulties with turning in work through Showbie, but we hope to resolve that issue ASAP.

All the junior high classes are working on a review of sentence structure (subjects and predicates) in language arts. Please take a minute and ask your child what a subject and what a predicate are.

Advisory this week:

This week the junior high students are continuing to explore their interpersonal relationships. We have focused on our homeroom classes: asking students to work together to create "machines" or untie their "human knots."

Thursday the junior high will attend Imagination Theater's interactive performance of "Show Some Respect."