Mr. Gaynor's Classroom  *  Clague Middle School  * Ann Arbor, MI  *  7th & 8th Grade  *  Room 136  *  2015-2016

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Kermit's Challenge

February 3, 2015:  The 3rd quarter begins today, and with it, expectations are higher: for level of focus, level of participation, and level of performance.   Projects will be rolled out in the next week, and students will be expected to show more initiative, deeper learning and evidence of meaningful learning.

The irony is that today, we began with a district mandated, end of 2nd semester, multiple choice pre-test on material we haven't covered yet, the purpose of which is to ... is to ... well, show that teachers are teaching what they are directed to, and whether the students are showing growth.  You think they might, after actually having the opportunity to learn this material.   Yes, the same multiple choice questions, which are drawn from the end-of-unit quizzes, will be used for the Post Test.   I suppose it is possible to do worse; this is Middle School after all.   In any event, these scores will not be returned to students, nor their scores posted on Power School.   We may be grooming robots, but I want as little to do with that as possible.

Instead, we'll dance - ballet!   You might have heard that we spent the first 5 minutes of class today learning how to stand - in preparation for relevés.   Pliés come tomorrow, followed by tendus.  The purpose to not so much to produce great dancers, but to emphasize mental focus.   A metaphor I use for academic success is, "Up on your toes, not Back on your heels."

7th GradeMore music and dance.  Along with starting a unit on Africa with Mapping Activities, with the help of 4th Wall Theater who presented a workshop last week sponsored by UMS, we will also take a musical tour of the Continent and incorporate free dance activities.   I'm not quite sure one can understand the culture of a region without feeling the music (or eating the food, for that matter, a hint of what's to come.)

And more:   I have signed up to take all of my 7th grade students to the  UMS School Day performance of Zafir on April 15.  (Please click on the link to learn more.)  The cost for this will be $8.50, using the AAATA buses, and we'll have the opportunity to extend the field trip to include a museum visit.

Related to this, I had also hoped to take students to a special field trip a week earlier - to the Arab American Museum followed by lunch at Al Ameer Restaurant specializing in Mediterranean dishes.  However the Ann Arbor School Foundation did not approve the $1,000 grant requested to subsidize this trip as they have in the past. (They only funded 31 of 101 requests this year.)  The question is, is this trip worth the roughly $20 per person cost - with the understanding that some may need to pay a bit more to cover those whom the $20 would be a hardship.  I do expect to get a small amount of PTSO funding for this.   Please e-mail me and let me know what you think.   I have to commit very soon.

I will have directions written for the Flint Water Crisis Research Paper within a week.  Students had a head start with this.  By next Tuesday, they are to have a narrowed topic, 3 sources, and 10 facts.   More to come.

8th Grade:  With the constitution written, we begin our study of democratic government up to 1800 (Chapter 11) and head on from there.   I'm in the process of writing directions for a research paper based on this article: Con Con ?.   This will provide a challenge for the students, but I will help to guide them through it successfully.  But here too, mental focus will be the key.

For those of us with short memories, here is the after-the-fact (given the UMS School Day performance was cancelled late the day before) Tuesday, Feb. 2 Field Trip Itinerary:
AAATA bus in - route #1,  new AAATA building / Waiting Area
Library:  1st floor Kit Lends;  2nd floor Reference Desk;   3rd floor photography exhibit; 4th floor Meeting Room; Basement Multipurpose Room
Library Lot;   Michigan Theater Graffiti Alley
Rackham Building: Reading Rooms and Lounges (!)
Michigan League (where the concert was to be),   Burton Memorial Tower / Carillon recital (elevator to 8th floor, then walk 2 flights up)
(Kelsey Museum - closed for new exhibit being installed)
Michigan Union - lunch!   And what's on 2nd floor
Law Quad - Reading Room and Library
U-M President's House
Graduate Library - view from 8th floor,   stacks,   (Map Room on 2nd floor that we didn't have time for)
Diag,  Fishbowl,  Old Courtyard, now a computer lab, Angell Hall
(Museum of Art - yikes, no time to visit)
The Cube, Old and New Administration Buildings, Regents/Peoples Plaza   
Student Activities Bldg - the big Maize "M"  (bye, Luke)
Bus back - Route #2
If you missed the announcement:  This - my 38th - will be my last year teaching.   If you would like to know why, go to my staff page, and/or write to me at:;  I will continue to live in the Clague neighborhood, and trust that you will stay in touch.  In fact, if you know former students of mine, spread the word - I'd love to hear from them.
A Word A Day
Grammar Guide
Grammar Review
7th Grade ELA Page
Biweekly Word Lists (BWL) 
Guided Reading Groups

Political Parties Quiz
Bill of Rights
Over Pop. & Consume

U.S.hist. Decades
Decades Project
Capstone Project
How to write a citation

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Introductory letter 
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