Welcome to 2016-2017 :)

Welcome back to school! This year is going to be an amazing year, I can feel it. I’m so excited to reconnect with former students – maybe I taught you in 6th grade? – and get to know new students. In all regards, starting 8th grade is a clean slate, whether I have worked with you before or not.

This blog is going to be slowly phased out as the school transitions to using Schoology as our primary form of communication in all divisions and all classes. Be patient and stay tuned!

I hope everyone is relaxed from their summer and energized for the year! We will be challenged and we will have fun – let’s see what happens! Let’s try everything!

China Alive + Transition Speeches!

Hello all and happy Sunday!

We are all heading off for China Alive (or entering into the last week of Microcampus, oh my!) and I am so looking forward to all the stories to share when we return.

Remember, if you are interested in being considered as a speaker, please send me your speech and be prepared to speak it out for me on Monday or Tuesday on return – then the finalists will have time to practice some more with feedback for selection Wednesday or Thursday. So far, I have heard a lot of interest, but only received speeches from Wen-Hsin, Chloe, Ben, Ryley, and Cynthia. If you are interested, please get that to me ASAP, in email, subject title “Speech Consideration.”

Also, if you didn’t make it out to the amazing choir and orchestra concert, check out the Youtube playlist of Springtime Syncopations published by the talented Mr. Chambers. You are all amazing!!!

Weekend Thoughts…

Hey all, so a couple things to keep in mind…

  1. Powerschool grades will be up to date by Sunday evening EXCEPT for the Portfolio you just handed in yesterday. After that, any outstanding missing assignments, work to improve on, etc will be posted and you will have until Thursday May 19th to get those things in to me.
    • Specifically, your Film v. Text essay revision is due Tuesday, May 17th
  2. For Independent Reading, your variety of books, AR quizzes, conferences, Goodreads, all of that…it is due by Friday May 20th.
  3. We are continuing with poetry next week and you will be sharing and presenting some of your poems. We may even animate one or two using a variety of tools at your disposal…
  4. Everyone will be writing a Transition Reflection (see previous posts). Everyone has the option to then use that as a springboard for a speech to be considered for Transition Ceremony. We will be choosing a 4 speakers that represent a variety of experiences in our MS, so please take a chance on yourself and put yourself forward as a contender.
  5. STAY AWESOME! Check out the Princess Bride play at The Pearl this weekend or next…it’s hilarious and you won’t regret it!

Transition Speech examples

If you are interested in being considered as a speaker for the Transition Ceremony, you can see these previous speeches as some examples for how to approach it. Of course, be unique and creative in your own style!

Sara Lawler – Class of 2019 speaker

Each of us, teachers, parents, and students, are individuals with different memories, perceptions, and stories to tell. However, As Mitch Albom said“Each affects the other, and the other affects the next, and the world is full of stories, but the stories are all one.” All of our stories can be woven together to form the story of this grade, our journey through middle school, and discovering ourselves. Three years ago, when middle school began, we were scattered about, living lives and stories that were yet to connect. But as time has passed we’ve grown together. We’ve said goodbye to friends who have stretched our story to new corners of the earth, and said hello to new friends, welcoming in their stories, weaving the chapters together to form one epic saga. The impact and expanse of our lives is incredible.

When I began middle school, I was so focused on getting straight A’s that I didn’t pay attention to the story I was writing. It was all about what I could do to raise my grade that extra 2%, bring my average up from a 96% to a 98%. Not how I could make a positive impact. SAS has taught me that we as middle schoolers are more than the papers we turn in, the grades on our tests, and the people we sit with at lunch.

As my time at SAS has continued, I’ve seen more clearly how I, and our class, impact others. At Microcampus, when I saw how I could make such a huge impact with something as small as a smile, it was life changing. As this year has unfolded, I have continued to see how we are inserted into the lives of others. Whether you went to Qatar to debate the worlds biggest issues, traveled to Shekou to sing in the AMIS Choir Festival, or stayed here in Shanghai to bring music to the hundreds of people who watched our production of Annie, you have spread our story all over the world.

Over these past few years, I’ve learned that what we do in middle school is not important because it will bring us to high school, but rather, it is important because with each day we are writing a chapter in the world’s saga. It doesn’t matter what activities you participated in, what math level you completed, or what language you speak at home. You are an editor in this story, our story. And I’m sure that together, whether at SAS, or on the other side of the world, we will continue to write a beautiful one. Thank you.

Kevin Yang – Class of 2018 Speaker

Parents, teachers, and classmates

Thomas Edison once said, “We often miss opportunity because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work,” Sometimes, we’re lazy. Sometimes, we as students often miss how privileged we are to have education, to look past the tests and homework, and see how lucky we are to have teachers, facilities and opportunities to improve and learn. But I also know that more often than not, we see this, and take advantage of it. Right now, all the doors are still open for us, waiting. In 10 years, even in 5 years, we won’t have this luxury. We won’t have this same clean slate to draw on.

In the sixth grade, I watched with envy as I saw young actors and actresses performing in Honk, the middle school production of the year. I was planning to audition, but I told myself it was easier not to. 7th grade came, and I was part of the pit band, one of my favorite experiences, but still I didn’t audition. I was slightly scared, and way too nervous. In my 3 years of middle school, the decision I made to join the Wizard of Oz was one of the best. I was lucky enough to be with the funniest, kindest, sometimes weirdest, but most talented people as I worked towards finally getting on the stage, wondering what my sixth grade self would have thought. We were only able to do this because we took the opportunity that was given to us, albeit not without support and encouragement from parents, friends and teachers.

In these three years, we have been able to do so much. We have been able to see invisible photons, learn quadratics, express ourselves through poetry, and become connected, global minded citizens. We have been able to earn first place, dance, sing, play our instruments. We didn’t ignore opportunity. We saw it everyday and grasped it before it ran away from us. If I were any of you, I would be proud. After summer we’ll be freshmen in high school, where scary seniors roam the hallways. But, whenever I think about how we’re all going together, it makes it all look a lot less daunting.

These next 4 years we as a group, and you as a person will only do more. Become the class president, team captain, exec, learn how to collaborate, how to be curious, how to become the person that you want to be. Every one of us has the ability to take whatever opportunities that will present itself, and I know that each of you will do that, because we’ve done it already.

Transition Reflection Directions

8th Grade Transition Reflection – 2016

Theme:  My Journey– What have you learned about yourself on your personal journey through middle school and where are you headed?

Your final reflection will be posted on your blog as an update to your “About Me” section.

Before writing, you will need to plan.


Part 1:  Reflect on what you have learned this year and over the course of middle school.  This is just a way to get you started.

Part 2:  Think about connections between your early experiences in middle school and your experiences this year. What have you learned? How have you changed as a result of those experiences?

 Part 3:  Being A World Citizen- How do you see yourself as a global citizen?  How have you grown throughout this year/middle school?

 Part 4: What are looking forward to in the future? High school? Beyond? What tools do you have or need to get you there?

 Part 5:  Find a quote that is significant for you- perhaps it describes growth, past or present beliefs, a vision for the/your future.

Then, write your your reflection.  Remember, this “worksheet” is just a suggestion space.  You do not need to write your reflection in this order.  You also do not need to include every part if it doesn’t fit in your journey and reflections.

Reflection –> Speech

If you would like, there will also be FOUR grade 8 students chosen to speak at the Transition ceremony. This reflection could be used as the basis of your speech. If you would like to do this you will need to:

  • Consider your audience: parents, administration, teachers, peers
  • Include:
    • a hook that grabs attention
    • a strong main idea your audience can recognize
    • use an anecdote – it can make the speech personal, but make sure you don’t disconnect with your audience.
    • utilize topic sentences to stay focused.
  • Practice reading your speech out loud.  You should not have to read your speech word for word from a piece of paper.
  • Give the audience something to think about after you are done.
  • Relax, smile, and enjoy this special moment.


(approximately 150-200 words)

Amazing Student Work!

Hey all, I’m back from Microcampus and so excited about everything I saw out there. Your classmates are part of some awesome projects and I encourage everyone to follow along with their Daily Journals, Inquiry Projects, Daily Shout Outs, and Service Learning. I’m looking forward for some ways to bring some of what they do out in Xizhou to our campus in Pudong.

As well, some of our incredible students have pulled together the first ever student published magazine at PDMS! Please check out the first issue here and enjoy all they have to offer. If you are interested, think about submitting your own original work! Follow the link here to see more information about how to do so for the 2nd issue.

Celebrate all you have accomplished, all your classmates and friends have accomplished, and the struggles, failure, successes, and learning along the way. I’m so proud of you all!

Thinking about Poetry

So, we are thinking about poetry…the power of words…the impact of culture…and struggling with human rights and what happens when they are denied…

Check out the poems below as a sample of different styles. Choose one. Sit with it. Think on it. Put it into your Evernote notebook. Question it. What do you notice? What do you observe? What do you wonder?

“Introduction to Poetry” By Billy Collins 

24 Must-Share Poems for Middle School and High School

6th grade Poet!

Grand Slam Poetry Champion | Harry Baker | TEDxExeter

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings 

Concepts & Historical Context resources

Hey all, if you are looking at more to add to your portfolio regarding the standard “Concepts: Recognizing how time, continuity, and change affect perspectives and relationships. Examines historic and current (within the last 5 years) resources to develop a point of view,” check out some of these resources!


Tuesday May 3

Good afternoon! I hope everyone takes some time to enjoy the lovely weather today.

Humanities today we had DEAR time – please make sure to UPDATE your Evernote note for T3 with any conferences, Goodreads reviews, and AR quizzes.

Next there was time to explain and work on the portfolio piece. This is now due FRIDAY MAY 6. Please ask any questions! We have the Design Studio this week if that makes sense for your project, as well as lots of art supplies.


Friday April 29

Good afternoon! Good luck and bon voyage to all the Microcampus kids! So excited to follow your journey and you will be missed in the classroom!
Congratulations on some amazing conversations from today. The summative Socratic Seminars went better than I could have wished for – I was so impressed with everyone! Scores will be posted soon.
HW this weekend is to relax, read, and take a breath to prepare for the final push of the year.