Archive for February, 2013

Discovering Algebra

February 28, 2013

How strong do the beams in a ceiling have to be? How do bridge engineers select beams to support traffic?

Mrs. Norris asked her Algebra classes these questions before starting a lesson on Line of Best Fit. The students conducted an investigation to collect data and find a line of best fit to determine the strength of various “beams” made of spaghetti.  To do so, each group of students suspended a cup at the center of a spaghetti beam. They started filling the cup with pennies, one at a time, until the beam broke. Then the students repeated the activity using beams made from two, three, four, five and six strands of spaghetti.



After the group experiments were complete, the class worked together to create one data set and make a line to model the relationship between the number of strands of spaghetti in the beam and the load in pennies the beam could support. The students used the line of best fit to model a set of data points for the sake of making predictions. Engineers often conduct tests using similar procedures. The test results help them select the best materials and sizes for beams in buildings, bridges, and other forms of architecture.



After the activity, several 8th grade students expressed their approval.

Carnell Bagby said, “This was a great hands-on activity.”

Greg Pitts agreed. “I would rather do activities like this than write notes.”

Corin Keller said, “It helped us comprehend real-world situations.”


Mrs. Norris shared her viewpoint by explaining, “Investigations are a way I can guide my students to discover new learning without boring them with a lecture. They allow students to collaborate in groups and provide rich discussion opportunities for whole-class participation.”

Article submitted by Laura Norris

Kindergarten Students Gets Messy!

February 27, 2013


Currently, some kindergarten students at MES are getting their hands messy! The classroom of Kelly Thomas has been busy with an activity creating and comparing maps and globes.

One of the kindergarten standards of learning states that students will know a map is flat and is seen from a bird’s eye view, unlike a globe which is a round model of the earth.

To provide visual representation of maps and globes, Thomas’s students created flat maps and then covered balloons with paper mache to make globes. Visualizing the differences allows the students to then use Venn diagrams to compare and contrast the two.

Thomas chooses this fun, inventive activity to tie the maps and globes SOL to other standards which focus on texture and 3D shapes. Although the activity is messier than some, the students truly benefit from Thomas’s incorporation of hands-on learning in her classroom.

SCW Seahawks Soar with Great Character

February 20, 2013


Last Friday, an exciting event took place in the classrooms of St. Clare Walker Middle School.

SCW holds regular classroom meetings throughout the entire school as part of their Olweus Bullying Prevention Program on the first and third Friday of each month.  During this past meeting, students explored the qualities of great character. They made paper airplanes to represent being Seahawks and were able to fly them as they contributed the qualities to the class. The students came up with many components of being a great character such as being supportive and helpful, aware of others, kind and considerate, dependable and trustworthy, prepared, honest and respectful, and able to show empathy.


Matthew Wilson added tolerance to the list and explained, “One way we can demonstrate good character is by demonstrating tolerance for those who are different from us.”

Another student added, “Great characters make the world a better place to live.”

Brian Frey said, “Treat others as you would like to be treated.”

“Stand up for the defeated; they need your help,” was also shared.

At the end of the meeting, each student chose a quality they wanted to work towards and collectively pledged to commit to it. They then released their Seahawks at the same time to represent working together to be the highest soaring Seahawks at SCW. The qualities students listed were written on clouds and placed on posters hanging throughout the school which will serve as a visual reminder to be a Seahawk soaring with great character.


Jennifer Hogge, the 7th grade paraprofessional who planned the lesson, had the privilege to visit several classrooms during this time and was impressed with the students’ enthusiastic participation. They embraced the opportunity to continue creating a positive atmosphere in their school and community. Go Seahawks!!

SCW Runs for Fun and Fitness

February 4, 2013


A group of SCW students spend time on Monday mornings with Annie Somerville, eighth grade civics and language arts teacher, in the Running Club. Somerville, an avid competitive runner, leads the students as they run the trails around SCW, enjoying the fresh air and exercise.

Somerville, who took over the club when her husband, Jamie Somerville moved to the MHS for the 2012-13 school year, believes running isn’t just a form of exercise. She explains, “It also helps people stay in shape, prevents disease, boosts confidence, and relieves stress.”

The students run every week, as long as it isn’t raining. Even in the brisk, cold days of winter, they head out to run and arrive back at school with frosty breath and cheeks rosy from exertion.

All students who are not required to attend a LASER session are eligible for participation in the club. Somerville hopes the club will generate a lifelong love of running in the students. She encourages the students to continue their running careers in high school through track during spring sports and cross country in the fall.

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