Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Syrian Civil War and the Refugee Crisis

Today in class we learned a bit more about the origin of the current refugee crisis in the Middle East and Europe.  We discussed the Arab Spring as well as the Syrian Civil War.  We used the following video as a discussion starter.

We discussed the unforeseen consequences of  this drawn out conflict in class including:
  • The rise of extremist and terror groups in a power vacuum, ex ISIS
  • Other countries that have become involved in the Syrian Civil War
  • Civilians caught in war zones and creation of refugees

Beacon Blog: Math: Luppino

Beacon Blog: Math: Luppino

Patriots, Bruins, Celtics, Team USA

Assignments 2 -1, 2-2, 2-3, 2-4, and 2-5 are due Tuesday 9/29/15.

Red Sox

Assignments 2-1, 2-2, 2-3, 2-4, and 2-5 are due Friday 9/24/15.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Syrian Crisis Examined

Throughout the year we mix in current events with our study of the ancient world.  As a class we will discuss how understanding the past is essential to understanding the present.  Today we talked about the Syrian refugee crisis and how it is affecting Syrians, neighboring countries, Europe, and what impact it might have on the rest of the world.

Students started class by discussing what might be happening in this image.  It is an
image from 2013 of Syrians crossing into Iraq to escape the violence of the civil war.

Students then viewed CNN Student News which reported on the 
crisis as well as two men who swam from Turkey to Greece

The class then viewed and discussed John Green's explanation of the crisis.

Students reviewed the definition of a migrant vs a refugee.  

A migrant is a person who makes a conscious choice to leave their country to seek a better life elsewhere. Before they decide to leave their country, migrants can seek information about their new home, study the language and explore employment opportunities. They can plan their travel, take their belongings with them and say goodbye to the important people in their lives. They are free to return home at any time if things don’t work out as they had hoped, if they get homesick or if they wish to visit family members and friends left behind.

Refugees are forced to leave their country because they are at risk of, or have experienced persecution. The concerns of refugees are human rights and safety, not economic advantage. They leave behind their homes, most or all of their belongings, family members and friends. Some are forced to flee with no warning and many have experienced significant trauma or been tortured or otherwise ill-treated. The journey to safety is fraught with hazard and many refugees risk their lives in search of protection. They cannot return unless the situation that forced them to leave improves.

As a class we brainstormed reasons why migrants would want to move to another country versus the reason why refugees would want to move to another country.

Students viewed and discussed an image from a refugee camp in Jordan.  

Students viewed and discussed a map of the routes being taken into Europe.
Students viewed and discussed an image of refugees crossing the Mediterranean

Students viewed and discussed an image of refugees arriving at a Greek island
We closed with an image of a father swimming his child to the
 safety of a rescue boat after the boat he was traveling in sank. 
Student Reflections

"I leaned that migrants choose to go but refuees are foreced to go to flee danger."

"I learned that the Syrian Civil War has been going on for over 4 years!"

"I think that some European countries are breaking international rules by punishing refugees."

"Our country should just ignore it so that we don't get into fights with other countries." 

"Our country should donate food, water, shelter, and clothes to help."

On our first half day hat day a portion of the money raised by our student council will be donated to the UN Refugee Agency. The money will be used to do the following.
    • Deliver rescue kits containing a thermal blanket, towel, water, high nutrient energy bar, dry clothes and shoes, to every survivor;
    • Set up reception centres where refugees can be registered and receive vital medical care;
    • Provide temporary emergency shelter to especially vulnerable refugees;
    • Help children travelling alone by providing specialist support and care.  

Our donation will support UNHCR emergency work in Europe and other countries where refugees and internally displaced people are in need.


Source Credits





Thursday, September 10, 2015

Open House

What:     Open House
Where:   Here at Nichols
When:    9/10/15 from 6:30-8:30
Who:      All Parents and Guardians

Our administrative team will be welcoming parents in the auditorium at 6:30 and will be available to answer any questions you might have. Our team will have a drop in style session in our cluster. Please stop in to meet us and see the classrooms that your children will be learning in this year.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

First Day Celebration of Learning: Preparing for Success

I feel like the teachers will support me this year.  

This was a question asked of our students on a quick feedback survey following the first day.  

Strongly Disagree
Strongly Agree

As you can see, our students are overwhelmingly positive about the support they feel they will have this year on the Beacon Team.  We would like our parents and guardians to know that we will support your children as they continue forward on the path of growing into independent thinkers and learners.  

We hope that the student who disagreed with his/ her peers on feeling supported, did this in jest.  Regardless of whether or not one is joking, we are here to help all of our students find success in seventh grade this year.

Some of the activities students were a part of on the first day

Overcoming Obstacles
Prompt:  Think about how this is a new year and how you have the opportunity to start fresh. Tear or crumple up your paper and throw it away! You are free to be the best person that you can be; leave your issues from last year in the trash.

Action: Think about how this is a new year and how you have the opportunity to start fresh. Tear or crumple up your paper and throw it away! You are free to be the best person that you can be; leave your issues from last year in the trash.

Letter to Self on the Best Day Year of My Life
Reflection: Listen to this song. Next, write a letter to yourself. You will turn this letter in to your homeroom teacher who will give it back to you on the last day of school. 

  • Reflect on how you feel today went. 
  • What went well today?
  • What are you looking forward to in the future?
  • Do you really believe in growth mindset?
  • Why could this be the best year of your life?
  • Write about anything else that is on your mind as you start 7th grade. 
  •  You will not read this letter again until you are ready to start 8th grade!

The Beacon Team is looking forward to feeding or igniting a passion for learning and inquiry in our students this year!  Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or concerns.


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Welcome to the Beacon Team!

Today was the start of a wonderful seventh grade year for our new Beacon students.  We look forward to sharing some of our first day activities celebrating learning and education.  Please check back with us in the next few days for updates.

***Important Reminders*** 
  • Please complete the simple team registration form that went home with your child today and have your child return it tomorrow.  
  • Students will bring home a course syllabus for each class tomorrow please review them over the long weekend for important information on each class.  

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

    Sign up for…

Beacons Got Talent!

     Friday, for students only. 

     Music and content must be school appropriate!  

     There will be no judging and plenty of appaws!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Beacon Team is MCAS Testing

“You are not here to be average, you are here to be awesome.  You can do this!”

All Beacon students started MCAS testing with this encouraging quote.  

We encouraged all of our students to not stress out about the test, and to do the very best they can on each testing session.

Good Luck Beacons!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Beacons Learning about Pi in Math Class

Celebrate Pi Day!

Every year we Math people celebrate Pi Day on March 14th but this year is special because the actual date of March 14, 2015 represents the first digits of the Greek letter Pi: 3.1415...

As we continue to learn about solving circle related problems in class, we also are viewing a few videos which entertain as well as informed.  Search the Internet for more pi videos.

Enjoy a round food and celebrate pie and Pi!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Martin Luther King : Remembrance on the Beacon Team

January 20th was our first day back following the Martin Luther King holiday.  In Social Studies students worked on several different actives.  The period began with a CNN student news report which brought our students up-to-date with recent current events in our nation and in the world.  While viewing the student news report students logged onto computers and prepared to take a CIA (Check in Assessment) on the standard that we have been working on in class.  After students completed the CIA they received immediate received feedback on how well they have mastered this content so far.

Following the CIA students continued work on a DBQ (Document Based Question) Essay.  Students received multiple sources in different formats and were asked to answer the question "Should Hatshepsut be included in a study of Ancient Egypt?"  This question has allowed our students to contemplate several interesting thoughts and questions including the role of women throughout history, and the question of what should or should not be included in curriculum.  

At the end of class students were able to listen to an excerpt from Martin Luther King's famous I have a Dream Speech.  Students were asked to reflect one or both of these prompts.
  • King’s speech is a call to action. According to Doctor King what do African-Americans want? What kind of action, does he warn against? Why?
  • The most quoted sentences of this speech repeat the phrase “I have a dream.” What progress have we made on Martin Luther King’s dream over fifty years later?

Friday, December 19, 2014

Current Events Wrap Up for 2014

Today we viewed the final CNN student news episode of the year.  This program reviewed many of the major domestic & international news stories which we have studied in Social Studies.
In small groups, students reflected on and discussed the news stories that they thought were most important.  The majority of our students felt that Isis and Ebola were the two most important current events.

Other students brought up the recent Sony Hacking incident.  Many of our students thought that Sony should still release the film The Interview even with the recent threats which have been made by cyber hackers.

In the words of our students:
"Sony is giving in to North Korea.  What will North Korea or some other group demand that we change next?" 

"It's like they gave in to terrorists!" 

Other students expressed a concern for the safety of people going to see the movie.
"Sony shouldn't put anyone in danger even if the hackers are probably lying."

"Sony should put the movie online so no one has the chance of getting hurt at a movie theater.  If they do that, Sony can make money and the actors can get credit for what they did."  

In addition, students reflected on the Isis threat.  Working with partners, the class brainstormed a variety of ways to deal with Isis.  Students then reflected on the positives and negatives of each approach for dealing with Isis.

Student responses ranged and included:

  • Send in spies
  • Negotiate
  • Send in soldiers
  • Wait and see
  • Evacuate the civilians
  • Do nothing 
  • Targeted strikes
  • Nuke them
  • Make a coalition
  • Use tricks

A range of opinions were expressed and heard.  Students were encouraged to look at the issue from a variety of perspectives.

It is my hope, as a teacher, that students took a step in understanding that with every choice that is made, something is gained and something is lost.

It is my great hope that the lessons we learn from history and the critical thinking skills that we build on, will help our students become productive, deep-thinking members of society and our democracy. It is a great privilege to work with your children everyday.

Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.

John Dewey 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Election Day on the Beacon Team

On November 3rd Beacon students discussed the midterm elections which will be held on November 4th.  Students discussed the democratic process and the election cycle in our country.  

As a class we then spent time reviewing each of the four initiatives which will be on the ballot on November 4th.  Students watched a brief introduction to each ballot item and then listened to a short audio report which discussed the pros and cons of each position.  

After comparing the arguments for and against each ballot item, students had the opportunity to vote on each item in class.  The vote was conducted privately and electronically using polling software in class.  I have included results below each topic.  

We will discuss how our results compare to the state results in class in the coming days.

Question 1- Eliminating Gas Tax Indexing

Question 2 - Expanding the Beverage Container Deposit Law

Question 3 - Expanding Prohibitions On Gaming

Question 4 - Earned Sick Time for Employees.

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Power of Reflection

Today in Journalism and the Media we discussed student self-reflection. This will be an important part of ELA2 and build on the skills covered in sixth grade, as well as prepare students for eighth grade and beyond.

Students were able to respond to this prompt:
On your index card, write down two to three thoughts on the following topic:
Student Self-Reflection
Students responded with thoughts such as:
"It lets people set goals."
"Because it can be fixed and it can be made better."
"In student self- reflection you have to answer truthfully so you know what you can do better."
At the end of class, students wrote a journal entry responding to the question:
How are you standing out in a powerful way?
"I want to be viewed as a kind, friendly person and nice to every person around me and I want that impression to stick with me forever."
"I always push myself to be the best I can be and better than the person I was yesterday."
"I stand out by always being positive and always having a smile."
We used this video to help spark ideas:

 I hope this class activity sparks a conversation with your child about his or her powerful impact on this world. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

September 11, 2001 A Remembrance

On the thirteenth anniversary of September 11, 2001 the Beacon Team spent time learning about and reflecting on the terrible events of that day.  This year, most of our students were born after the tragic events of September 11, 2001.  We invite you to join us in remembering the important moment in the history of our nation.

In Social Studies:
Students reflected upon one of two questions at the start of class.
  • Why do we remember tragic events in our history? Explain.
  • In your opinion, are there any lessons to be learned from what happened on September 11, 2001? Explain.      
Students then watched a CNN Student News report in which September 11, 2001 was featured heavily as well as other acts of terrorism, past and present.

Following the student news report, we reflected in small groups upon what we already knew about the events of 9/11 and what we learned today in school.

Students finished class by reflecting on the following prompt.
  • Choose one of the following images from September 11, 2001 and explain why it is powerful.



In Science:
Students were introduced to the geology of Manhattan, N.Y., its topography, and how Lower Manhattan was reclaimed from the ocean.  Underneath the city and in Central Park there is Manhattan schist which is the bedrock, a type of metamorphic rock capable of withstanding the immense weight of the Twin Towers skyscraper.  

Students discussed how the skyscrapers were built, learned what a slurry wall is and how that was essential to the support of the buildings and bedrock beneath it.

Students compared and contrasted images of Manhattan from 1609 & 2009 and discussed the process of reclaiming land from the ocean.

Arturo Recci Designer of the Slurry Wall

Twin Towers Being Constructed 

In Journalism and Media:
As our Warm Up, students responded to the prompt, "What words  come to mind when they hear "9/11."

Students shared their words and thoughts with the class, as we discussed this touchstone date in America's history. Students shared words such as powerful, crumbling, family, destruction, freedom, and learning.

We then watched the following video about Philippe Petit and his amazing feat of walking a tightrope between the Twin Towers:

The class wrapped up with a reflection on "What is the impact on the world when an event like this occurs?"

Powerful student answers included:

"The world gets wary of things."
"There is sadness in the world."
"The society will never be the same and never forget what happened."
"People become stronger and more alive as a result."

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

First Day As a Beacon

On behalf of the entire Beacon Team, we would like to extend a warm welcome to all of our new Beacon students, parents, and guardians.  We are excited to have the opportunity to work with your children this year.  On our first day, we introduced your children to our team and briefly discussed what we would be doing over the course of this year.  After this initial meeting, we ran a series of breakout sessions during which students discussed the following topics.

  • Growth Mindset with Mr. Rothemich: This is our overarching team philosophy, and it is the concept behind everything we do, both as a team and in our individual classrooms.

  • Multiple Intelligence with Mrs. Kuhn: This theory which was created by Howard Gardner describes the different ways that people can learn best.

  • "Get Your Learn On" with Mrs. Marino: This session focused on encouraging and empowering students to understand what they are capable of and to realize that everyone is both a student and a teacher.

  • Being Part of the Team with Mrs. LaPerriere: Students brainstormed and shared ways to create a positive learning environment and why procedures and discipline policies help all students to achieve.  
  • Student Survey with Ms. Hudson & Ms. Carter: Students were given the opportunity to respond and reflect upon several prompts related to their learning strengths and challenges.  

After listening to the music video below, students did one final reflection activity using the prompt below.

In a two- to- three paragraph letter to yourself, please answer the following questions.  You will receive this letter back on your last day of school.

  • What are you looking forward to this year?
  • What are your thoughts on Growth Mindset?
  • What is one goal that you hope to achieve this year, and how will you achieve it?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Beacons are Boston Strong!!



Why and how are political speeches compelling and influential?

Students viewed two speeches from the memorial service on April 18, 2013 given by Govenor Deval Patrick and President Barack Obama.  We reflected on the speeches.  Students shared what aspects of these powerful speeches resonated most with them.  Additionally, students discussed overarching themes that both speakers used to deliver hope,encouragment, and civic faith to the grieving citizens of Boston, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and the United States of America. 

Link to Governor Patrick's speech:
Student responses to this discussion:
"This bombing affected a lot of poeple, and it was very sad.  These speeches helped us to raise our heads high and keep running!"
"I think this was a tragic, terrible event, but it showed how Boston can come and be one.  Also, how we support each other, all love and care about each other-how we are Boston Strong!!"
"Both Deval Patrick and Barack Obama tied together a state and a country.  this made the speeches very impactful. Both Patrick and Obama showed genuine pride in our city, state, and country.  People like to feel pride, and the speeches gave us civic pride."

Friday, April 11, 2014

Beacons Reveal their Thoughts on Bullying

Image from http://mycalcas.com/2012/04/bullying/bullying/
Today we continued our ongoing discussion on the topic of bullying.  Our Beacon students have been working all year in ELA 2 to examine bullying in our schools and society, and discovering ways to use their voices to become change agents in schools as well as society.  In the coming weeks, I will be posting their editorials on bullying.

Our topic today focused on whether students felt that popular kids could be bullied just as much as outcasts.  Students read an article, watched a video and wrote a journal response on the aforementioned topic. 

The following are excerpts from student journal entries:

“I think that the worst kind of bullying is one of my friends going behind my back and saying something, then someone else telling me what they said.”

“I think, yes because the popular kids are popular for a reason or something they do and others might talk about you behind your back.”

“Yes, anyone can be bullied.  Also, the popular people aren’t any stronger than the people that get bullied.  It is just that they have more friends to keep them strong.”

“I don’t think popular kids get bullied, that’s just my opinion.  They have more backup and friends to stick up for them.”

Here is a link to the article we read in class today.

(To read article, click “close” on the pop up login prompt)
It is my hope that you will continue this discussion at home with your child.  The more we work together to ask questions, discuss and offer social responses to the problem, the better we can empower our children to use their voices to advocate for the type of society they wish to create.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Social Studies Survey and MCAS Testing

Thank you to all parents and guardians who responded to the survey that I emailed yesterday. I am grateful for the feedback you have provided.  I will use the results to continue tayloring my course to the needs of my current and future students. If you have not taken a moment or two to answer the survey, I encourage you to do so.  Please see the email titled Parent/Guardian Feedback for the link I sent it out on 3/18/14 at 1:06 PM.

Thank you Glasgow Caledonian University for this fantastic visual: http://gcucareers.wordpress.com/2012/10/01/making-feedback-work-for-you/

Just a reminder that we are in the middle of ELA MCAS Testing.  Academic scheduling will be impacted on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday this week.  We will be back to our regular schedule on Friday.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Virtual Field Trip

Beacon team students went on a virtual field trip to Ancient Egypt today.  Utilizing the school's computer tablets students were able to explore the ruins of Old & New Kingdom Egypt.  

At the end of the experience students were able to provide feedback to the teacher about the activity.  Feedback was overwhelmingly positive from students many of whom wrote about how much they enjoyed the ability to "walk" around and experience the achievements of Ancient Egypt.

" I really liked going through the pyramid of Khufu and getting to see the other pyramids and Cairo from the top of the Great Pyramid."
                                                                                  Student Reflection

Want to see the monuments of Egypt for yourself?  http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/ancient/explore-ancient-egypt.html  
After opening the site click the Launch Interactive button and start exploring.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Apple Mummy Project

As we prepare to start out apple mummy project in class I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the parents and guardians who were able to bring in supplies for this historical experiment.  As you can see we have plenty of baking soda and apples and at least enough salt to do the first step of the project.  We will begin this project later in the week.  I look forward to updating you on this fun and interesting project.

Thank You