Sunday, September 18, 2016

Community and the Local Ecosystem

Students in House 2 have begun working on their "Community and the Local Ecosystem" projects. In this unit students identify how they interact with their ecosystem and how their connections with the ecosystem are part of a larger interconnected local community. Students began the topic by investigating the interconnectedness of organisms in the local environment. They collected samples of goldenrod from behind the school that had goldenrod gall:

Students made observations of the goldenrod gall before opening the gall and discovering the pupa of the gall fly inside! Students used their ipads the answer their own questions about the gall fly's life cycle and connection to the goldenrod.

Later in the unit students learned about invasive species in Lake Champlain. They looked at how the sea lamprey and the spiny waterflea affect various fish species in the lake and how humans have tried to intervene to mitigate the effects of nuisance species. After exploring these topics in ecosystem communities, students moved on to choose a project that explored their own place in the local ecosystem. Students are currently working to create projects that include a qualitative and quantitative investigation of a topic that is personally meaningful to them. Some examples of topics so far include: "Why do we hunt?" "What are the best local fishing spots?" "What invasive species have made it to our local ponds and lakes?" "How is yarn made?" "How has Jasper Hill Farm changed over the years?" "What regulations are there for egg farmers?" and "How is my forested land altered for human recreation?"

Thursday, September 8, 2016

The Community Unit Has Begun!

September 3, 2016

The Community unit has begun at the Hazen Middle School!! Students picked over a hundred pounds of blueberries for their community! Some were, of course, enjoyed by the students, but the rest will go to the Hardwick Food Pantry in a couple of different ways~ some were delivered fresh on Thursday and then the Middle School will make some pies to bring to the Pantry. Other blueberries will be used by the Hazen cafeteria.


Hazen 8th graders met their Hardwick 3rd grade buddies and helped them pick their blueberries. We are hoping to do more community projects with them throughout the year!


MANY, MANY thanks to Brown’s Beautiful Blueberries in Craftsbury and to Mario and Mary Jane Fradette in East Hardwick for donating all of the blueberries that were picked on Thursday!


Another part of the community unit will be learning how to be a citizen, including how to be a good digital citizen. Students began their journey through many different digital lesson. Digital Life 101 was designed from Common Sense Media lesson, where students think about their digital world. Students developed good advice to people. Here is an example of a digital collage with a message:

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Students will next be studying Scams and Schemes. Once through all of the lessons, students will be able to take their iPads home!

On Thursday, we also had a speaker. Elizabeth Dow (The “Wiz”) came to introduce Hardwick through the years. Students heard about what Hardwick was like starting in the 1800’s. Students will then use this information to create a historical fiction story to share.

Another part of our Community project is creating a timeline of events. Students will be visiting the Hardwick Historical Society next week to find events that happened before they were born. The Wiz will be helping us with this project too!

Community opportunities are everywhere. We enjoyed our first week of school creating the Hazen Middle School community. Students and teachers worked on social contracts, getting to know one another and just learning how to work together to make school a great place to be! Everyone enjoyed the Goosechase APP and here are some photos. Students were learning where things are in the building:

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Selfies in the gym by the hallway! Look who they found- Mr. Sperry and Mr. Hill!!!

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Found my way to the library and found an author with my initials!!

I found Jen in the Middle Level Lab:

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And Chip!!!

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Everyone enjoyed using the Goosechase APP for their school Scavenger hunt! Middle Schoolers had such a great week. One parent reported his son saying, “Dad- Middle School is like camp every single day!”

Friday, May 6, 2016

Watershed Week

Today, we had students from UVM come to teach us about water pollution, and watersheds. We learned that watersheds are a piece of land that separates different flows of water, that all flow to different rivers, streams, or basins, and most of the time, these all lead to the same place (lake/pond). We also learned the many different ways that areas in our community can pollute the water. The seniors at UVM (Sam, and Ben) showed us the things that we do every day, and how they can affect the water quality. The things that people put into the ground can easily be transported into our waterways and can ruin complete ecosystems. If there is a rainstorm, the runoff can pick up the chemicals that are on/in the ground, and transport them into a river, stream or basin, and can be transported into a river, then dumped off into a major lake. We will be testing the water quality of the water Eaton Brook behind Hazen, and the Lamoille River, that flows through most of Vermont. We will be looking for indicator species that will tell us if the water quality is low, or if the water quality is good.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Carbon Tax & Renewable Energy Debate

On Thursday, March 24th, the Middle Level held a debate on the carbon tax and renewable energy.  Here is a summary written by 8th grader Mac Lanphear:

The debates in the Middle Level went swimmingly. The seventh graders, while new to the task, showed effort and promise in their debating skills. The eighth graders, the “old vets”, had a more heated match, but it was a close one. Both sides in both debates had good information, ok decorum, and everyone had a (varying) level of interest.

The seventh graders did quite well. They had good points, and the info to back them up. It was polite and effective. There were a few students who would do well to go on into their high school careers as members of the Debate Team.

Likewise with the eighth graders. This match was more intense, and some students likened it to a GOP debate in the aftermath. There were more opinions on this topic, and they certainly conflicted, which led to brief losses of decorum. But the info was solid. However, the rebuttals were difficult. Their brains were distracted, and with a fifteen-second limit, it was tricky to conceive a well-written counter. The limit led to some obvious moments of “winging it”. As with the seventh graders, a select number of the students showed a seed of skill, which should certainly be nurtured into a truly masterful debater.

All in all, these two debates went quite well. Each of the teams in each of the grades showed effort and a desire to win. This is an assignment that should be repeated, and will have another deal of success.

Mac Lanphear

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

UVM Professor Brian Tokar Visit

This Monday, all 7th and 8th graders met with Brian Tokar, author of Toward Climate Justice.

The students have been studying the pros and cons of Vermont's proposed carbon tax and renewable energy law in preparation for a formal debate later this month.

Mr. Tokar gave a short presentation and then fielded several thoughtful questions from students regarding the costs and benefits of converting to wind and solar sources for Vermont's electricity.

Many students were struck by the graphic below, which Mr. Tokar shared. It shows the percentage of each state's current electrical usage that could be generated by that state's wind and solar capacity.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Introduction to Online Learning

Beginning this year, all seventh grade students will be taking a short "Introduction to Online Learning" class. The class is administered online so students get the experience of taking an online class before taking one for credit. This prepares them for online learning, as well as helping students determine whether or not it's a good option for them. The first round of this class has just finished; below is one student's perspective.

Online Learning
by Deanna Gann

Online learning is a great experience. I am in a class of students who think that there is no point to online learning; they think “what’s the point?” The point is that online learning is a way for kids to learn that is just different from other ways of learning. People may take online learning because they may begin to fall behind in their classes, online learning can help the students get back to the place they need to be. Another reason people choose online learning is because at their school they can not get a certain class they want to take. So by taking online learning they can take those classes. Online learning is personalized, students can take the classes at their own pace. Money is another big reason that schools are choosing online learning. When money is tight and they have to get rid of classes and programs schools turn to online learning to do that class. What if our school had to cut it’s science program entirely. The school could use online learning to have the students take the classes online.

Online learning teaches the same things they do in school, so parents who think “My kid is going to fall behind the other students because they are taking online classes” are wrong. Students may learn at their own pace, but over time they will be at the same place all the other students are. Lots of students join online learning to catch up with their work if they are falling behind in their classwork. Online learning isn't just a child playing on the computer. No, the teachers care about your child’s education, just like any teacher in a face-to-face classroom. Your student can email or even call the teacher if they have any questions.

At first I thought, “Well why would I want to do online learning?” Now I know that it really helps in some places where regular schools can’t. I personally don’t like talking to the teacher face to face, I think that when I talk to them in person I stutter and I don’t do as well whereas online, I don’t see them and I can do all of the work the way I want to do it. Some parents say “My kids don’t have time for online learning.” Well the reality is, if your kid has time to go to regular school, then he or she can have time for online learning. If your kid is busy then he/she doesn’t have to do it at that time. Which is another great part of online learning, it is very flexible when it comes to when students log on to do their work. Online learning is a way for kids to do their learning the way they want to do it. Online learning is something that soon many people are going to start doing, kid’s will learn to love it and soon everyone will be doing online learning, with the help of the teachers and at their own pace.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Video News Take 1; Final Cut

Video News Take 1; Final Cut

In the course of reading and analyzing the historical novel Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson, these 8th grade students produced a mock newscast to show their understanding of the novel's plot and the historical circumstances it depicts.

They have since finished the book and are working on a followup segment.