7th – Media Bias

We took a bit of a break for a few days from our planting research to find out more related to media bias.  So many students have been asking about what is in the news and why it is there.  I wanted to dig a bit deeper into the role media and social media plays in the information we receive before moving on.


So far, it has been an interesting ride by having them examine different artifacts as they relate to media bias.  Some of the students are even starting to uncover some of their own personal biases and trying to overcome those.

8th – Putting it together

We studied different aspects of film (literary, dramatic, cinematic), as well as different ways directors use cameras to help tell a story (ranging from camera angles to types of shots).  All the 8th graders are putting that information they learned into practice by making their own film.  They need to use the information we studied and apply that to their own film they make, which ranges from 1-2 minutes long.

Hopefully putting the information into practice makes it more real for them so when we are starting to watch our first film this week (Hidden Figures), they can look at the content, messaging, and meaning behind why films are written, acted, and filmed in a certain manner.

7th + 8th – Geography Quiz

Friday is fun day (every day is a fun day, but today is a challenging fun day).  Each student will be asked to go to the following website to take the quiz.  They have 15 minutes to guess all the countries in the world…without cheating. Once they are done, they will take a screen shot and reply to this blog post.  The most countries without cheating wins…care to join us?

Me – 115/196

my ability to guess the countries around the world…I only got 115/196

8th – Film Study

Although we have been at home and not physically in school, our 8th graders are spending the week learning how to “read” or analyze a film.  Yes, all of them laughed at me when I said we were going to learn how to read a film, but alas they are working toward that skill.

With three different mini lessons set up for this week, students are learning about three major aspects of films: literary, dramatic, and cinematic.  Literary aspects of films are simple: characters, setting, plot, symbols, and general story line type things.  Dramatic aspects are more of the visuals we see: makeup, costumes, and the set.  Our last aspect of films, cinematic, is more of what we hear and see in a more subtle way.  It in the sound effects, background noise, but also how the camera sets us up and makes us feel certain things.

We watched numerous film clips along the way, which will eventually end in us working toward better understanding the film Hidden Figures as we start our Civil Rights focus.

Until then, if you are free and interested, please participate in our Flipgrid learning session.  As part of their study of the cinematic aspects of film, I asked each student to play 30 seconds of their favorite movie score/soundtrack and tell us why it was so important to them (without revealing the movie).  Participate by doing your own Flipgrid.

The link is here.  Come join in our learning!

7th + 8th – Student Blogging Challenge – WK 1

We started up the spring session of the Student Blogging Challenge yesterday, with students working on completing their first task.  I have pasted below the challenge each student is expected to partake in; which is really just a way for them to be more connected to others around the world, as well as build their level of blogging/internet proficiency.  This first challenge is based on getting to know others and effectively introducing yourself to your community.

Feel free to check out your child’s blog to see how they did their first task.


Summary of week one tasks STUBC Avatars About Pages and Connecting

7th – Helping to end Hunger in Milwaukee

Our ultimate goal of the school year is to figure out how we can make our community (and world) a better place.  We realized that poverty was a major factor in people’s lives and wanted to do something about that (more specifically, getting food to people that need it).

Since this goal became apparent for us, we have worked at understanding better how food is raised and make available for others.  We are now on a researching quest, trying to find the best, cheapest, and most efficient way to raise healthy food for people in need in our community.

Students have researched thus far raised garden beds an hoop houses.  Soon, we will examine in more depth greenhouses, hydro and aquaponics, and indoor grow lights.  Eventually, we will come to a decision on what we think is best to help members of our community and put that into practice.

8th – Film Study

Hello all. What a strange way to open up a week. Never would I imagine being home during a school day….although I have probably done more computer work this morning so far than the last few weeks.

We are moving forward with our film study, especially as it relates to the Civil Rights Movement. First, students must learn the three main focuses of film: literary, dramatic, and cinematographic aspects of film. Each of these components help make movies the amazing, enjoyable, and educational pieces of entertainment that they are. We started looking at the literary aspects of film on Friday, but have since started doing so on the computer (I have a Google Slides presentation I shared with the students, in addition to a brief video explaining what everything means).

We will continue to explore all parts of film and their definitions and important components. As we get closer to films, below is a list of the films students will watch when we reach our main area of focus: Civil Rights.

Hidden Figures
Long Walk Home and The Rosa Parks Story
All the Way
The Blood is at the Doorstep

If you have further suggestions or recommendations, please do provide them. I will make sure each student has access to these films during our extended home study.

8th – Civil Rights

Our last major unit of focus for this school year will be that of the Civil Rights Movement; examining it from a historical and current perspective.  Students will be examining the origins and impact of the Civil Rights Act.  Our study will take us from the 1950’s and 1960’s all the way to today, looking differently at at our city compared to a national perspective.


One way we are going to examine this topic is by viewing numerous films.  We will start our unit with a brief film-analysis activity, focusing on increasing the ability of our students to read and understand film from an academic perspective.  After developing and understanding the skills required to “read” film, we will begin watching films; analyzing them for their historical value and the message they are trying to get across.  We will watch numerous films as a class, across a wide-array of time periods and focuses, all with the hope of better understanding the impact of the Civil Rights Act.  The list of films will be provided as we move closer into our unit (all films are rated PG-13 or lower).


This is a wonderful opportunity for our students to continue to explore a topic of extreme importance in today’s world while gaining additional skills to set them up for future success (media literacy, critical thinking, discussion skills).

7th – Save the Last Word

First off: Gev. McAdams and Gev. Jirovetz are amazing at what they do!

Secondly: they let me steal their amazing teaching strategies (and make me look good while doing that).


The 7th graders all read an article about the good and bad of urban gardening projects in Milwaukee (as it relates to our question of how do we get healthy food options to people cheaply; especially those living in poverty and food deserts).  When reading this article, they were asked to write down five passages from the article that they: 1. agreed with, 2. disagreed with, 3. had heard of before, 4. found interesting, and 5. wanted to talk about.  They did this process alone.  Next, they gathered in small groups of 4-5 students.  One person started the conversation by stating the topic (meaning “something I agree with…).  Every student then got a chance to share something that related to that topic, with the person who started the conversation having the last word.  From there, organic conversations and questions popped up, which was awesome to hear about (I heard a lot of “why do you think that” and even heard a conversation about the merits of investing in solar arrays for one’s house).


It was great to see them having an informed and intense discussion of the good and bad of urban gardening in Milwaukee.

really good conversation about solar arrays and their economic value

really good questioning and support for answers

really diverse set of opinions on offer

8th – Soapbox Speeches

We finished out speeches!  We developed an idea, wrote a 1-2 minute speech on the topic, peer-edited, practiced, and finally delivered our speech to friends, classmates, and community members.  Click on the link below to find all of our student speech presentations.


Hats off to all our students for working so hard at delivering their speech.  Really amazing job!


Link to speeches.