Week of November 30, 2020

Welcome back! Sure, it’s only been a few days, but we’re on the cusp of a brand-new trimester, so it feels appropriate.

As young Anne Shirley, from L.M. Montgomery’s classic Anne of Green Gables, once said “[I]sn’t nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?” Or, to put it in a growth mindset frame, isn’t nice to think that tomorrow is a new trimester, full of opportunities to learn from our past mistakes and make new ones? This is a theme we hope all 7th graders will embrace as we start our next trimester.

It’s a full week of classes and students will finish it off with their new specialist for second trimester on Friday. Feel free to check in with them during the week to make sure they know where they are going. We are also beginning Advent, so be on the lookout for our service project and other fun activities in the coming weeks!

News, Events, and Expectations:

  • Monday, November 30, 2020 – Trimester 2 begins
  • Thursday, December 3rd, 2020 – T1 Report cards go home

    • If you never received your progress reports, make sure your address is up to date in Power School and with Mrs. Q in the office.

 Tips, Tricks, and Tools:

  • Start with one change – like the One Ring, but more helpful…and much less disturbing

    • Talk with your 7th graders, discuss where they struggled in first trimester, and help them choose one behavior they want to focus on for second trimester to help them improve.
    • Maybe they struggled with:
      • missing work – they could record their class and homework in the daily planner and go over it with you at the end of each day.
      • focus – they could (pick one) choose to remain in class with the teacher during work time OR clean their workspace at the end of each day to keep it free of distractions OR purge their laptop/desktop of Pinterest, video games, and other distractions OR set timers during work time to keep them on track OR turn in their phone to you at the beginning of each day.
      • something else? Every child is unique and so are their challenges. Reach out if you have questions or need some help.
    • It’s easy to be overwhelmed when trying to make improvements. Just think of the first time you looked at a big project/room/mess and thought, “This could be better in so many ways, I’ll just start…hmmmmm, where should I start?” Multiply that feeling by at least ten (thousand), toss in a good dose of fear, frustration, and just a pinch of shame, and you know how many middle schoolers feel when they realize they should be doing better, but they don’t know where to start.
    • With that in mind, remember to keep it to one behavior change, and help your 7th grader choose wisely.


Curriculum Preview:

  • Science
    • In science this week, we will be wrapping up the force and motion unit, focusing on momentum this time. If anything, this concept is more challenging than what has come before; if your child experiences difficulty here, please encourage them to seek me out during office hours, 2:30-3:00 PM Monday-Friday.
    • Additionally, students should begin work on their research papers for their inquiry projects. These papers are not due until January 12, but this is a time-consuming assignment, and the sooner students start, the less stressful it will be.
  • Social Studies
    • In 7th Grade Social Studies we’ll be moving from the Americas to Asia as we study the ancient cultures of China, Japan, and India. This week we’ll delve into the Golden Ages in China. We’ll learn about Confucius, the Tang and Song dynasties, the Silk Road, and several Chinese inventions that have shaped world history.
  • Language Arts
    • Students will have a chance to share their name poems at the beginning of the week, then we will dive right into a our expository writing mini-unit. Students will choose one aspect of our school theme and explain what it means to them, based on definitions and examples in the modern world.
    • Students have a quiz on their Greek root (phobos – fear) on Wednesday, December 2nd. They should review their vocabulary 5-10 minutes a day.
  • Math
    • Regular –
      This week in Math, we will look at how to solve 2-step equations. Students will ‘box the terms’ and use inverse operations to get the variable by itself. The Ch. 3 test will be the week of December 7th.
    • Zero Period – The zero period students launch into a new unit on Writing and Graphing Linear Equations. We start this week by finding the slope (steepness of a line) and will practice drawing lines on the coordinate plane.
    • STEM Opportunity – Blanchet High School’s Pinewood 2020

      Sign up to pick up a free kit and then create a car to be raced in January!

      Pick up dates: Dec. 1, 3, 8, and 10, so register today!


  • Community / Religion
    • In Community/Religion class this week the 7th graders will continue learning about the Civil Rights Movement.  Students will watch Episode 3 of Eyes on the Prize.  They will learn about the intentionality of the non-violent movement and how this method was effectively utilized during the student protests in Nashville, TN.  The second half of the video will build on the lessons your students had with Ms. Sullivan last year about the Children’s March in Birmingham Alabama in 1963.

As always, please reach out if you have any questions, and have a fresh week!



Gwynedd Rzegocki and Sven Tice

7th grade homeroom teachers (AKA the Levelheaded and Lighthearted Lineup)

Week of November 2, 2020

Dear guardians and parents of St. John 7th graders,


Welcome to November!

It was great to meet with so many of you during conferences last week. We hope you found them helpful and informative, and reach out if you have any additional questions or concerns. November is a busy month – Election Day, book talks, Veteran’s Day, the end of the first trimester, Thanksgiving, and more! Tomorrow, we have an all-school mass for All Souls Day. Please check the link below to make sure your child(ren) can attend.

Teachers have noticed a number of students losing focus and motivation lately – check out Tips, Tricks, and Tools for some suggestions to help your student get back on track!


News, Events, and Expectations:

    • Monday, November 2 – All school mass for All Souls Day
      • Students are expected to attend mass, and you are welcome to participate as a family
      • You can find the live stream of mass on the parish Facebook page:
      • The worship aid for mass is attached to this message.
  • Tuesday, November 3 – Election Day!
    • If you haven’t already, make sure to turn in your fully completed ballot (it’s long, but each vote is important!) to a local ballot drop box.
    • Hooray for civic duty/privilege! 
  • Wednesday, November 11 – NO SCHOOL
    • November 11th is Veteran’s Day – there will be no school.


Tips, Tricks, and Tools:

Give your future self a present and be present! 

    •  It’s simple and effective – being fully present in class makes it easier to learn! (I know, teachers were shocked, too!) At school, the environment is set up to help with this, but that’s not always the case when learning from home. As we all know, maintaining focus and motivation in a distracting environment is challenging, even more so when your brain is saturated in the hormonal stew that is puberty.
    • Teachers have noticed two main impediments to student focus and success – time management and environmental distractions. Now is the perfect time to review these issues with your child and see if they need any help…or a full-blown organizational/motivational intervention.
    • Help with time management:
      • Check in with your child and ask them about their schedule. What are they doing to help themselves stay on task and on schedule? Do they have digital or physical reminders? A clearly posted schedule? Something else?
      • If your child is struggling to get to the right class at the right time (or can’t answer the questions above), help them develop a plan. Please reach out if you have questions or need suggestions.
    • Help with environmental distractions:
      • Unless they need it for emergency contact with you, have your child turn their phone in to you at the beginning of the school day. Phones have proven to be a major distraction during distance learning and students with easy access (phone is with them all the time) are struggling to make progress in school. In school, phones are only used to scan and submit homework, and this can be done from 2:30-3pm every day during office hours.
      • Visit your child’s dedicated workspace with them and consider these questions together –
        • Is it located in a quiet environment? If that’s not possible, can your child use over-the-ear headphones to help block out distractions?
        • Is there a (mostly) clear, flat surface where they can write/draw/calculate/etc.?
        • Are their work materials (textbooks, notebooks, pens, pencils, water bottle) organized and easily accessible?
        • Are there any distractions (games, crafts, toys, people/family members/pets, etc.)? If so, can they be limited?
    • If you and your child are struggling to find effective solutions to either of these issues, please reach out – we’re happy to help!


Curriculum Preview:

  • Science
    • In science this week, students will begin work on Newton’s universal law of gravity. There is some math involved in this, and sometimes it can be challenging; if your child begins to struggle, please encourage them to contact Mr. Tice during office hours from Tuesday-Thursday, 2:30-3:00 PM. Students’ proposals for their inquiry projects are due on election day, Tuesday, November 3 at 3:00 PM
    • Next week, November 9-13, 7th graders will be invited to the school campus to conduct a gravity experiment for science class. Because of ongoing pandemic precautions, students will attend in groups of 5 students per day throughout the week, socially distanced, in masks, after having been screened at home for symptoms. If the weather is favorable, it will be conducted outside; if not, it will be done in the science room with open windows and four fans in operation. A schedule for this activity will be emailed later this week. This activity is of course not required; if your family chooses to opt out of this activity for any reason, an at-home activity can be carried out in its place.  Please contact Mr. Tice if you have questions or concerns
  • Social Studies
    • In 7th Grade Social Studies this week we will wrap up our study of Africa and move on to North and South America. We’ll begin by studying the cultures of Middle America, especially the Maya and the Aztecs.
  • Language Arts
    • Book Talk presentations start this week! Every Tuesday and Thursday for the month of November, students will share their science fiction and fantasy reads. Please check in with your child to make sure they know their presentation date (most are different from the date posted in PowerSchool), and reach out if you, or they, have any questions. When not presenting or listening, students will prepare, work on, and share their name poems.
    • Students have a quiz on their Greek root (metron – measure) on Wednesday, November 4th. They should be reviewing their vocabulary 5-10 minutes a day.
  • Math
    • Regular – This week on Thursday, 7th grade will take the Ch.2 assessment on Adding, Subtracting, Multiplying and Dividing Rational Numbers. Students have created a review booklet and taken a practice test already. This material is fundamental; it will be the basis for many units in middle and high school.
    • Zero Period – Zero period will take their assessment on Equations, tomorrow.  We will then discuss inequalities before launching into a longer unit on writing and graphing linear equations.
  • Community / Religion
    • This week we will continue our discussions from chapter 24 (Social Justice) from the “Catholic Handbook”.  Students will conduct research projects on several of our “unsung heroes of the civil rights movement” and create flip-grid videos detailing how these individuals courageously worked to promote social justice and the common good.


As always, please reach out if you have any questions, and have a warm week!



Gwynedd Rzegocki and Sven Tice

7th grade homeroom teachers (AKA the Heads of Helpful Life Hacking…a little used branch of 7th grade studies)

Week of October 19, 2020:

Dear guardians and parents of St. John 7th graders,

I hope you have enjoyed a restful weekend.

While last week was short, we still covered a lot! It was wonderful to attend mass (even virtually) and read your children’s reflections on Fr. Crispin’s homily. Each student thought about what gifts God wants them to share with the world and how they might begin to do that. We look forward to building on those ideas and helping your children embrace and share their gifts for the common good.

Check out the information below, remember to sign-up for a conference with your child’s homeroom teacher, and please reach out with any questions.

News, Events, and Expectations:

  • Monday, October 25, and Friday, October 30 – Parent-Teacher-Student Conferences
    • When the sign-up genius is available, please sign up for a meeting with your child’s homeroom teacher.
    • If you want to meet with additional subject teachers, please reach out and set up a time during daily office hours.



Tips, Tricks, and Tools:

  • Teach your child to embrace failure! (Bear with me, I promise this makes sense – the title is the educational equivalent of click-bait 😎)
    • No one is perfect, but many 7th graders forget this simple fact and feel crushed by their mistakes, big and small. They see every misstep and mess up as ‘failure’, the ultimate f-word, something of which to be ashamed or to hide. To a 7th grader, failure = bad.
    • In an effort to avoid what they see as damage and the uncomfortable feelings it brings, 7th graders often shut down, refusing to take part in any process where they might be wrong or make a mistake.
    • What they don’t realize is that they are missing out on powerful learning opportunities.
    • You can help your child by illustrating the connection between failure and learning. When you show them that failure is the greatest teacher, you give them the confidence to try new things, to flex their educational muscles, and get the most out of every experience.
    • Here’s one way to help your 7th grader understand –
      • During meal times, or whenever you regularly see and talk with your child(ren), try asking the following questions:
        • When were you/did you feel successful today?
        • When did you fail today?
        • What did you/can you learn from your failure?
      • Have everyone, yourself included, think about and share their answers to the questions. You might be surprised how quickly your child’s attitude shifts.


Curriculum Preview:

  • Science
    • In science this week, students will be introduced to the laws of motion, which is more or less the main idea in classical physics; if students don’t have a firm grasp of this, they will struggle in the next few weeks. Additionally, we will begin using mathematical models to describe and predict the motion of objects. Students often struggle with this at the beginning; if your child has difficulty in mastering this math-oriented skill, please encourage them to contact Mr. Tice. His office hours are 2:30-3:00 Monday-Thursday, and 9:25-9:50 on Friday.
  • Social Studies
    • In 7th Grade Social Studies we will continue to explore the continent and civilizations of Africa. Last week we touched on the Bantu Migrations and completed a physical map of Africa. This week we’ll review sub-Saharan Africa and also learn about the kingdoms of West Africa including Ghana, Mali, and Songhai. We’ll discuss the king who many argue was the richest man to ever live, Mansa Musa, and how he helped foster the great tradition of literature and learning in the ancient city of Timbuktu. Students will also complete a political map of contemporary Africa.
  • Language Arts
    • Almost all students have chosen books for their first trimester book talk. Presentations begin on November 3rd. Please talk to your child(ren) about their books, and reach out if you need help finding a copy.
    • 7th graders will work on name poems this week. This gives them the opportunity to share a part of who they are and learn about their classmates, an integral part of community building. In addition, students will review a variety of poetic devices and practice narrative writing styles.
    • Students have a quiz on their Greek root (phone/phono – sound) on Wednesday, October 21st. They should be reviewing their vocabulary 5-10 minutes a day.
  • Math
    • Regular – 7th graders have practiced subtracting rational numbers (negative and positive fractions, decimals, and whole numbers). By rewriting the subtraction problem as an addition problem (add the opposite of the second number) they then follow the addition rules – ask your child what the rules are! We will continue to review this challenging concept and introduce multiplying and dividing this week too.
    • Zero Period – Zero Period continues to solve equations. We will move into the 8th grade common core standards this week by solving equations with one variable on both sides of the equation.
  • Community / Religion
    • This week students will continue to discuss Chapter 9 from The Catholic Faith Handbook.  We will take a look at what it means to participate in bringing about the “Kingdom of God” here on earth using Jesus and His ministry to the marginalized as our guide and example.  We will begin to look at the 7 Catholic Social Justice Principles, Pope Francis’s recent Encyclical, and read chapter 24 from The Catholic Faith Handbook entitled “Social Justice”.
    • Also, an important note regarding progress report grades for religion/community class:  This class will not be assessed on a percentage grading system.  Unfortunately, when progress reports were processed, the percentage column was included, and showed up as a “0%” for every student.  Please disregard this section of the progress report and look only at the “M/P/I” grade column.  If your student received an “I” or “P” grade there is a corresponding comment explaining how they can improve this grade throughout the rest of the trimester.  My apologies for any confusion this caused as you read through your students’ progress reports- feel free to reach out with any questions- Mrs. Mansfield


As always, please reach out if you have any questions, and have splendiferous Sunday afternoon!




Week of October 5, 2020:


Hello 7th/8th students and families:

Thank you for your generous support of the Jog-a-thon! Whether you were there as a volunteer, taking time to help your child participate, or cheering us on up-close or from a far, we are incredibly grateful. While our muscles may be sore, we had a blast coming together as a community in a new and creative way. Thank you for making all of that possible!


We hope this message finds you well and enjoying a well-deserved rest. As we prepare for the coming week, please make sure to review News, Events, and Expectations and discuss the information with your child(ren) – I apologize in advance for the length. If you have any questions, please reach out!




News, Events, and Expectations:

  • Homework and Effort –
    • Our goal is to limit the amount of work students do outside of the school day (8:45am – 3:00pm) because it tough to be on screens so long and we know this is a difficult time for everybody.
      • For that to actually happen, students need to use their independent work time for work. Many students seem to be struggling with this concept. This is a challenge at any age, and your child may need additional support and reminders. Check out Tips, Tricks, and Tools for some simple ideas.
    • Homework expectations –
      • Students are expected to complete work to the best of their ability and reach out to teachers if they are struggling. They can do this in class, via email, and during office hours.
      • If your child is using all of their work time effectively and still struggling to keep up, teachers need to know so they can address the situation and help problem solve. Help your child reach out to their teacher and ask for help.
      • Late assignments will be marked as such in PowerSchool and will not be counted if submitted two weeks past the due date.
      • We expect work to be completed during the school day so students can ask questions, seek assistance, and be able to stay off screens once the school day is done. We’ve started receiving emails and homework submissions with alarmingly late time stamps.
      • Work not completed during scheduled class time should be finished up at the end of the day during office hours.
    • Attendance, participation, and effort expectations –
      • Students are expected to arrive on time and participate in the lesson (internet connection willing).
      • Whether supervised in class or working on their own, students are expected to follow the daily schedule and use independent class time to complete assigned work.
      • If your child is absent, just like in person classes, they need to check in with teachers upon their return to identify what they missed and what they need to make up.

Tips, Tricks, and Tools:

  • Having trouble staying on track and on time?
    • To stay on time, help your student set up reminders for class attendance, independent work time, and breaks. You can use electronic devices with recurring alarms, signs posted around their work space and the home, and/or review and prominently post the school day schedule. Anything you can do to help your child understand the importance and balance of break and work time will help them now, and in the long run!
    • To stay on track, encourage your child to use their planner to record assignments and assessments, rather than relying on Teams to remind them. Whether it’s a small assignment in class or a longer project, it’s easy to forget something. Keeping track of their assignments helps them stay organized and in practice for when we return to in person work.
  • Looking for mental health support?
    • Check out the October newsletter from our amazing school counselor, Ms. Shaw, attached to this message. It’s fully of practical ideas and solid suggestions – well worth a look!

Curriculum Preview:

  • Science
    • In science, 7th graders will have their first major assessment this Friday, on science practices: the nature of scientific thought, science practices, the metric system, and how to conduct scientific investigations (the scientific method). The test will by necessity be open-note, but students should work independently, and be prepared to do more than simply recall and recite information.
  • Social Studies
    • Just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, nor was it studied. In 7th grade Social Studies, we continue to cover ancient Rome!
  • Language Arts
    • It’s a busy week in 7th grade – students are revising their summer reading review in class on Monday (final drafts are due on Tuesday, 10/6), will review Book Talk expectations and select presentation dates on Tuesday, and take their first root quiz on Wednesday (we’re studying photos). On Thursday, time willing, we will start our new unit, focusing on research and expository writing.
    • Students should continue to review new vocabulary based on their Greek root photos (meaning ‘light’) for about 3-5 minutes a day. They will take a quiz on photos and learn their new root this Wednesday, 10/7.
  • Math
    • Regular – Last week, the 7th graders completed their Integer Projects. Each day class time was given to review which stage of the project students should be working on. Then, for the remining 35 – 40 minutes of class time, students worked independently while I stayed on the call so individuals could unmute and ask questions.  This week we will move onto Chapter 2: Adding, Subtracting, Multiplying and Dividing Rational Numbers. This means we will now be using negative fractions and decimals in our calculations.
    • 7th Zero Period – The Zero Period class will be reviewing, and taking a test on, Chapter 2: Adding, Subtracting, Multiplying and Dividing Rational Numbers. My Office Hours on Tuesday at 2:30pm will be for Zero Period students to ask questions regarding this test.
    • 8th zero period: 8th graders will begin work this week on compound inequalities and absolute value equations.
  • Community / Religion
    • This week in community/religion we will give students an opportunity to share their identity art projects. Students will also break into small groups and use guided questions to help them discuss issues of identity and community.


As always, please reach out if you have any questions and enjoy the changing colors of Fall!

Week of September 21, 2020:


Hello 7th/8th graders and families:

So far, I’ve been impressed with the persistence, hard work and patience of virtually all of the students. You’re all showing up for all classes, you’re doing your work, and you’ve been (thankfully) tolerant of my mistakes. Keep up the good work.

Here’s what is happening this week in science and algebra 1:

Algebra 1: We continue to work on solving problems with single variable equations, and will begin work on percent of change and square roots.

7th grade science: This week will be devoted to promoting productive talk in our class discussions. (This is something that obviously needs work.)

8th grade science: Students will practice developing a model from data.

Please note: weekly checkpoint quizzes will be open note during remote learning. However, “open note” is not the same thing as “open Google.” Please restrict yourself to your own notes while taking quizzes. Also, while it’s totally OK to help one another on daily assignments, it’s NOT ok to help one another during quizzes and other assessments. I need to know what you know.

Don’t forget: the Jogathon is right around the corner!

Have a good week,

Sven Tice