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Hastings Middle School                                                                                                  December/January Issue
Tiger Connection

A note from the Principal
Happy holidays! I hope everyone was able to enjoy the Thanksgiving break with family and friends. It was a great chance for students and staff alike to re-charge their batteries and get ready for a strong finish to the semester. First semester ends before Winter Break, so the last day for middle school students will be Thursday, December 17. Dismissal will be at regular time that day. The first day back after break will be Monday, January 4.
      Now that we are in the colder part of the year, I wanted to remind everyone of our policy outside in the morning. When students are dropped off in the morning, they can either be dropped off at the front door for breakfast, which starts at 7:45, or at their pod area. If the temperature or wind chill is below 20 degrees, we have students come inside and sit in front of their lockers. The first bell rings at 8:05 so if students arrive before that, they will need to dress for the weather and be prepared to stand outside unless it is below 20 degrees. The other option in the morning if students arrive early is to sit in the Commons area and study or play board games. We are fortunate to have several college students who come and help supervise that area every day. The Commons area is supervised starting at 7:00 a.m. on Monday and Thursday mornings.  Our 8th grade PE teachers also provide an activity time in the gym from 7:30-8:00. Everyone is welcome to attend, but must be ready to participate. For school closing information in the event of bad weather, the best way to find out is from the local tv and radio stations.
      Hastings Middle School has again been named a National Showcase School by the NASSP (National Association of Secondary School Principals) and the CSSR (Center for Secondary School Redesign). We have been asked to bring our team to a National Conference in Orlando, FL, to present on best practices. We will be presenting on several strategies, but will mostly be focusing on how important it is to build positive relationships with students and families in order to provide a solid education.
      If you haven’t checked out the middle school website lately, you can view it at www.ms.hastingspublicschools.org. There are a lot of pictures and links to information on the site. Lesson plans for all classes are also available under each team link. On the left side of the website are links to individual teachers if you need to contact your child’s teacher.  There is also a link that says Bullying and School Safety Reports. By clicking on that site, anyone can report a bullying incident or a safety issue that needs attention. You can give your name or remain anonymous when filling out the report. We want all students to be safe and free from bullying and will check out every report that is filled out. Of course, you can always call the school with concerns as well.
     Encourage your child to get involved in the different clubs and activities offered at HMS. Research shows that students who are involved in activities often do better in school and are happier about going to school. This can carry over to their classroom performance and other areas of life as well. Check out our daily announcements on Power School or sign up for a weekly e-mail to get the latest news. If you are not on the e-mail list, send me an e-mail, and I will get you added. You can also add grandparents or other relatives to the master list if you wish. My e-mail is dessink@esu9.org.
     Finally, I want to thank parents again for being supportive of the middle school as we work to educate your children and help them grow into productive young adults. The middle school years can be challenging and we want to work together to “assure the essential, and expand the possible.”
David Essink
 News from the Classroom
6th Grade:
6th Grade Winter Solstice Activities-Thursday, December 17.  Dress up in your favorite "Horrific Holiday or Fabulously Festive Attire."  We will have a variety of activities throughout the day.  More information will come later.
-English-We will spend the month of December finishing up our five paragraph animal essay.  Your child may bring home his or her essay for help with editing for some extra bonus points.  We will also have a midterm test over L to J vocabulary to see how students are progressing with the important terms for the year.  After the break, we'll come back and tackle descriptive writing.  Sixth graders will be able to see that their work on the five-paragraph essay has prepared them for other genres of writing.
-Science-Students are learning how to use the information in the Periodic Table to draw models of atoms. We will then move onto learning about many physical properties.  Finally, before our holiday break, we will work with chemical reactions.  Be sure to ask your sixth grader about "The Christmas Cookie Mystery" lab.  After break, we will focus our energy on the study of different types of energy.
-Math-Your child will be working on fractions.  We'll focus on making equivalent fractions, as well as using fractions and mixed numbers to add, subtract, multiply, and divide.  Remember, you can always look up the textbook online if it's left at school, or you need to look something up at home.  Your child should have a purple sheet with the website, username, and password information.
-Reading-We will continue to focus on close reading questions to improve comprehension. Close reading questions require students to use evidence from the text and support their answers. We will wrap up second quarter with a semester test focusing on vocabulary, fiction, and nonfiction elements.  Ask your student what he or she is reading for self-selected reading.
-Social Studies-We have completed our archeological dig of Egypt and will progress to our studies of the Israelites before crossing the Mediterranean Sea into Greece.
Science-We will be learning about cell processes including photosynthesis, osmosis, and diffusion.   Also discussions will begin on heredity, such as dominate versus recessive genes.    
Reading-Second semester we will begin our non-fiction unit. Students will do a one pager over a non-fiction book. We will also take a look at text pattern and text features. 
Math-Period 2--We are reviewing integers, fractions, least common multiples, greatest common factors, prime factorization, and equations.
Period 4--We are beginning a chapter on repeating and terminating decimals, solving fractions with variables in them, and solving equations with fraction that have variables. 
Period 6--We are solving 1 and 2 step equations.
Period 7,8,9—We are solving 2 step equations, inequalities, and proportions. 
English-We will be using technology to create an Animoto presentation.  Students will be writing a literary analysis paper. We will start focusing on essay organization and word choice. Then we will move into a descriptive writing unit.  
Social Studies- Social Studies classes are wrapping up a chapter on early colonial America, including Puritans, separatists, Jamestown, and the Roanoke settlement. Next, we will be moving into the French and Indian War, and the issues leading up to the Revolutionary War. 
The 7B White Wolves are staying busy.  In Social Studies they are studying the 13 original colonies. Then the Social Studies class will be moving into the history of the American revolution.
7B Reading will be reading the teleplay, “Monsters are due on Maple Street.” They are working on a genre study, as well as reading and working with stories from anthology character traits.
7B math students are busy working with fractions. This will lead us into solving one-step equations with rational numbers. After this we will spend time working with two-step equations. This is a big 7th grade concept that we will continue to work on all year.
In Science, 7B students are working hard at understanding the cell functions. For vocabulary, we are getting to know the bones of the human skeleton.
In 7B English we are busy reading, writing, and discussing our literature circle novel. Please ask your child about their book.  Many of the students are making wonderful connections with the characters and their real-world struggles.  It has been a pleasure to cross-team with 7A, as well. By the end of the novel we will create a final project, character essay, and a video book trailer.  
8th Grade:
Reading: 8th Grade Reading is currently involved in reading excerpts from the novels: The Story of Keesh by Jack London and The Life of Pi by Yann Martel. In these texts, readers discover how authors develop characters with the strength to survive extreme environments. This unit discusses the Essential Question: What inspires the will to survive in an extreme environment?
Science:  When we return back from Winter Break our data collections for our science fair experiments are due!  This is a very hard deadline as a student cannot continue with his/her project without having data.  So parents, make sure your kids have their experiment DONE by the time they come back from break!  The first week back after Winter Break, we will be turning our data into a graph, so it is ESSENTIAL that students have collected their data by then.  
       In between working on our science fair projects, we will be learning about Earth and Space.  Our space unit is a layered unit.  Students will have to test out of each lesson before moving to the next.  A layered unit is very student driven and also gives students a lot of options on how to display the knowledge they are gaining.  Students tend to enjoy layered units because of the choices provided and students have more control over their own learning, which generally engages students more. 
Music Notes
Vocal Music
December 1,  7:00   
8th Grade Holiday Concert   (8th Grade Choir, 8th Notes, Girls’ Glee, Boys Ensemble)   
December 14,  7:00   
Select Group Holiday Concert   (Minor 6th’s, Dominant 7th’s, 8th Notes, Girls’ Glee, Boys Ensemble)
December 17,  9:45 – 1:00   
Christmas Caroling   (8th Notes)  
The 6th Grade Band Concert is set for January 12th, at 7:00pm. It will be held at Hastings Middle School in the Commons. The students will need to be ready to play by 6:45pm. The dress code regulations are listed below.
The 7th Grade/8th Grade/Jazz Cats concert is set for January 14th, at 7:00pm. It will be held at Hastings Middle School in the Commons. The students will need to be ready to play by 6:45pm. Jazz Cats members will need to be at the middle school by 6:10 for a sound check. The dress code regulations are listed below.
**Dress Code for all concerts: Black pants with a white shirt and black dress shoes. Girls have the option of wearing a black skirt or dress, as long as it obeys the school dress code. Jeans, yoga pants, and athletic shoes are not allowed for concerts and performances. 
Mr. Ehmke encourages all students to consider performing at Malcolm Music Contest. If your student is interested in playing a solo, duet, trio, etc., they will need to talk with Mr. Ehmke, Mr. Beave, or Mr. Matticks as soon as possible. The status of each student/groups level of preparation will be assessed in January. A final determination on the student/groups participation in the Malcolm Music Contest will be made at that time.  

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