Notes from the Junior High: Week 11

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Hello from the Academy! Welcome to our weekly blog where we share what we’ve been working on in junior high. Let us know what’s happening with your middle schooler in the comments!

This Tuesday I had an opportunity to eavesdrop on the parent meeting for high school students, where Amy and Shelly shared our plans for next year and let everyone know what’s going on at The Academy. It was great to see people making plans and getting excited for fall 2019! We’re working on getting a date for our junior high parent meeting, so look for that in your email soon.

We’ve had so much fun talking about scams in Critical Thinking that this week I decided to let students come up with some of their own. Our “investors” (Amy and I) then discussed which one of these shady schemes would be more likely to get our money. The “Good People Co.” team made a strong pitch for ‘investing’ in their charity (that provides Nintendo Switches to Switch-less teens), but ultimately we had to go with the Puffy Puppy Animal Shelter that claimed to serve needy puppies, while actually serving only its scheming operators. (Always remember to research your charities, folks!) After all, who wouldn’t want to support PUPPIES?!? In Math (important for adding up all your ill-gotten gains!) we did some factoring of algebraic expressions (In Algebra I) and began talking about the wonderful world of probability and chance (in pre-Algebra).

We are almost finished reading Isabel Allende’s City of the Beasts in World Literature! I hope all of our students are enjoying the Amazonian adventures of Alex and Nadia. Our students should also be working on their project, which they’ll have an opportunity to talk about in class next week. I’m looking forward to opinionated book reviews, challenging lit exams, and creative character diaries. In Grammar, we had more independent AND dependent clauses, plus subordinating conjunction AND conjunctive adverbs. (Yeah, I’m trying here, but it’s hard to make diagramming compound sentences exciting after talking about the hunt for maybe-not-mythical beasts in the South American jungle.)

In History, we covered the 1943 Allied invasion of Sicily and mainland Italy (which led to the fall of Italian fascism! Yay!) and the D-Day landings in Normandy on June 6, 1944. YouTube is a great resource for videos of the actual landing, and we watched some short clips of color footage shot during the invasion. (Perhaps the most accurate depiction of D-Day - and certainly one of the best battlefield scenes ever - is the D-Day reenactment in Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan, but it is of course much too graphic and violent to show in class. I’ve never even been able to watch it all the way through.)

In Biology, the students learned about insect adaptations via the David Attenborough documentary Life. (Although we first had to explain to them who David Attenborough is. These kids today - next they’ll be telling us that they’ve never heard of Jacques Cousteau!) (Yeah, turns out they’ve absolutely never heard of Jacques Cousteau.) The students were particularly horrified by the beetles that shoot formic acid. Class pet idea!