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)