Tag Archives: Middle School

Translating Roman Slavery: A Visit to the Middle School

2014 Teresa Ramsby 1When it came to Roman slaves, Emily Vezina’s Middle School class wanted to know all the details: Did a freed slave have a better life? Were slaves ever paid? What was the reason why a master might free a slave, anyway?

“Boy, you guys have good questions,” said Teresa Ramsby, who was visiting from the University of Massachusetts Amherst last week. “These are tougher than my college students.”

Ms. Ramsby, an associate professor in University’s Classics Department, spent a period with Latin I class, talking about manumission in the Roman world.

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Fanfare for the New Middle School Program

When 7th and 8th graders at The Williston Northampton School settle into their seats for one of the fall assemblies, they may spot their head of school standing in the aisle, playing a joyful tune on the trumpet.

Jen Fulcher can’t think of a much better way to announce a new program that will have every student in the Middle School involved in music.

“I played the trumpet all through middle school, all through high school,” Fulcher said recently. “So this was an easy sell for me of the importance of music in young people’s lives, because it was a huge part of my life and my education.”

Under the new year-long program, students will join either the string ensemble, wind ensemble, or Middle School Chorus. The groups will meet three times every two weeks, and students will receive school credit for their participation.

Fulcher said the program was the culmination of several years of discussions, coupled with a recent change to Williston’s school day that added a seventh period. While Middle School students had been able to join the orchestra or band in the past, their practice times were limited to one 45-minute period, once a week.

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A New Schedule, Better Options

Kim Evelti’s 45-minute geometry class was always a challenge to teach. If the math teacher wanted do classroom projects—studying angles on buildings, for example, or forming geometrical shapes out of paper—she had to squeeze in the activity, plus time for discussions and assignments, in less than an hour.

“It was hard for me to even fit that in to a 45-minute period, let alone fit it into the period, come back together, talk about it, write something down in your note book and then try a problem that applies to it,” she said.

So, Evelti, who is also the assistant academic dean for program development at The Williston Northampton School, was said she was excited when asked to head the Daily Schedule Task Force last year. The task force offered an opportunity to look at new models for the academic day, she said.

“I had played with different schedule models for fun,” Evelti said. “I had had some days about longer periods with fewer periods over the day, longer transitions, shorter homework assignments—just different thoughts and crazy ideas.”

Led by Evelti, the task force, a group of nine faculty members from various disciplines, spent the next six months identifying schedule goals, researching other schools, developing models, and gathering feedback from the Williston community.

What would emerge was a series of small, but significant, changes, all designed to give students and faculty better options during the day. Among the changes: a seventh period, standardized 60-minute classes, free periods during the day, and departmental meeting times. The schedule also moved from a four-week to a two-week rotation on a green and blue scheme.

View the new schedule at On the Quad.

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“It’s Just Propaganda” and Other Media Lessons for A 7th Grade Class

“Do you really want to think that someone with a contagious disease drank from your bottle?” read the advertisement. The ad, which used pictures of bacteria, urged readers to throw out their plastic bottles instead of recycling them. “Out with the old, in with the new!” it read.20110523 Greto 098

Very tiny print at the bottom identified a fictional plastics lobbying council as the ad creators.

Absurd? A bit. But also strangely persuasive. And that is exactly the point of the seventh grade exercise—create a piece of propaganda that is at once ridiculous and compelling.

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Mock Congressional Hearings: An 8th Grade Lesson in Civics

IMG 5748Caroline Borden ‘16 was in the hot seat. Her team had finished making their case for why judicial review was an important part of the United State’s constitutional system. Now it was time for a panel to quiz the three girls.

“I’m curious what you would say would be checks on judicial review,” said science teacher Matt Spearing, one of the panel’s judges.

Borden thought for a moment.

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