Friday, August 19, 2016

Week 2 Update

Hello, familes!

We've had a great first full week in 7th-grade Humanities. In English we reviewed the 8 parts of speech and practiced using them in context by writing about funny pictures like the one below:

In Social Studies, we talked about the GRAPES (geography, religion, achievements, politics, economy, and social structure) of civilization, then began exploring the geography of medieval Europe, our first major unit.

Students have done a great job bringing a book for SSR (silent sustained reading) every day and many have already started logging books toward the 30-Book Challenge on our class reading log at! I think we are going to see some really great reading and growth this year.

One concern that has come up already is the amount of time that students are spending in the bathroom. We have very short passing periods in our schedule and we do not allow students to use the restroom during passing periods. Because of this, students are allowed to use the restroom during class time. However, there has been a LOT of restroom trips this year, especially since we have started doing more difficult academic work. In fact, I can guarantee that as soon as I give directions and tell students to start working, at least three will raise their hands and ask to use the bathroom!

Of course, if a student has a real bathroom emergency, they should go to the bathroom! However, if students are using a trip to the bathroom in order to avoid doing work, that becomes a problem and we will have to reevaluate our bathroom procedure since students are missing out on valuable learning experiences. Please have a conversation with your student this weekend about appropriate times to ask to use the restroom during class and remind them that class time is for working and learning.

Finally, if you have not completed the "parent homework" as we have been calling it in class, please head over to and do so ASAP. There are two forms linked on the home page for you to fill out. Let me know if you have any questions!

Have a great weekend!
Mrs. Megan Ellis

First Paragraph Friday - Alabama Moon by Watt Key

This week, I previewed Alabama Moon by Watt Key. This is realistic fiction and will probably appeal to readers who enjoyed books like Hatchet or Holes.

For as long as ten-year-old Moon can remember, he has lived out in the forest in a shelter with his father. They keep to themselves, their only contact with other human beings an occasional trip to the nearest general store. When Moon's father dies, Moon follows his father's last instructions: to travel to Alaska to find others like themselves. But Moon is soon caught and entangled in a world he doesn't know or understand; he's become property of the government he has been avoiding all his life. As the spirited and resourceful Moon encounters constables, jails, institutions, lawyers, true friends, and true enemies, he adapts his wilderness survival skills and learns to survive in the outside world, and even, perhaps, make his home there.
Alabama Moon was made into a movie a few years ago. You can watch the trailer below:

Saturday, August 13, 2016

First Paragraph Friday - The Compound by SA Bodeen

Our inaugural First Paragraph Friday was The Compound by SA Bodeen. This is definitely one of my favorite books to recommend to students!


Eli and his family have lived in the underground Compound for six years. The world they knew is gone, and they've become accustomed to their new life. Accustomed, but not happy. No amount of luxury can stifle the dull routine of living in the same place, with only his two sisters, only his father and mother, doing the same thing day after day after day. As problems with their carefully planned existence threaten to destroy their sanctuary―and their sanity―Eli can't help but wonder if he'd rather take his chances outside. Eli's father built the Compound to keep them safe. But are they safe―really?

Week 1 Update

Welcome back, Explorer families!

We had a great first week in 7th-grade Humanities. We spent most of our first three days getting to know one another, exploring how we learn best, reflecting on growth mindset, and getting ready to dive into our English and Social Studies curriculum. We ended the short week with a great school-wide Back to School rally!

This week, please be on the lookout for a handout from me with some important information for you, including signing up for Remind101 messages, the 7th-grade Humanities syllabus, and a link to a form to tell me more about your student. I will also include that information in next week's update.

As I told my Explorers on Friday, we will begin class each day with 10 minutes of Silent Sustained Reading (SSR). Students should bring a book to read every day. SSR starts on Monday, so please take a moment this weekend to confirm with your student that they have a book in their backpack, ready to go.

I can be reached via email at any time, so please don't hesitate to contact me with any questions you may have. I'm looking forward to a great year!

Mrs. Ellis