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January 2012

Be there! Choose your attitude! Play! Make their day! By Deborah Fusi, Principal

10th place internationally. These results would not have been possible if it was not for the great teachers we have here at DMS

Duluth Middle School continues its 8th Grade Basketball season on January 5th at Dacula High School against Dacula Middle School, with the girls’ game beginning at 5 p.m. Our cheerleadGreetings and School News: Happy New Year! Hope you enjoyed your winter break ing and dance/ step teams will all be performing at the various games throughout the season . Be sure to come out and show and are refreshed and ready to kick off an amazing 2012 at Duyour team spirit at one of the games, which are on Thursday luth Middle School! We continue to focus on a positive school evenings or Saturday mornings. See our website for a complete culture, revolving around the popular “Fish” philosophy that game schedule with dates and times. Go DMS Wildcats! grew out of the fish market in Seattle, Washington, which promotes the four basic tenets : Play, Make their day, Be there, and Choose your attitude.! Students have enjoyed our “Fish Fridays” On Wednesday, January 18th, 8th grade students will be taking when upbeat music can be heard streaming through the halls. the Georgia 8th Grade Writing Assessment, which is a gateway They are also responding to the positive student incentives for good citizenship, good behavior, and academic achievement. We test for promotion. The focus is on persuasive and expository know that, as parents, you will continue to support our efforts to writing, and students will be completing a writing “Boot Camp” during their first weeks back at school . Additionally, students instill good character and work ethics in our students through have been practicing their writing all year through schoolwide high expectations and a positive learning environment. As we return for second semester, we are busily prepar- writing assignments and targeted intervention classes. We are ing for basketball season, the Georgia 8th Grade Writing Test, and continuously working with our students to help them become excellent writers. If you are an 8th grade parent, please take the final Academic Bowl, Spelling Bee, and Geography Bee retime the first week we return to school to talk to your student gional and state competitions, to name just a few of the events which will showcase our students’ many talents. For all of you about his or her focus on writing in January. who attended our chorus, orchestra, drama, and band performances just before the holidays, I know you were impressed with our Gwinnett County’s Strategic Priorities: students’ outstanding talent in every area. Drama director Laura If you don’t know where you’re going, you just might not get there. In other words, without goals and direction, we probably Heckman, Chorus Director Katie McCarver, Orchestra Director won’t be very successful. Sounds about right, doesn’t it? That’s Susan Viar, and Band Director Ryan Bertram, along with all of our fine arts students, put in many hours of dedicated practice and why it’s important that the goals we set now and the work we do rehearsals to turn out professional performances that rivaled those every day ensure that children in our schools a decade from now of many high schools. They were also called upon to enhance the are just as successful as the kids we serve today. We have to stay focused on our priorities in order to continue to improve holiday luncheons at several of our neighboring feeder elementary schools, including B. B. Harris and Berkeley Lake. We are and move forward as a leading school district in the country. Gwinnett County’s priorities are: very proud of our students’ accomplishments in the area of fine 1. Students arts. 2. Employees Additionally the DMS Academic Bowl team competed in the on- 3. Parents and Guardians line Knowledge Masters Open in December, and they did a won- 4. Governance and Leadership derful job. It is worth nothing that thousands of students through- 5. Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment out the country and in many foreign countries competed Decem- 6. Facilities and Operations 7. Information Management and Technology ber 7th in this competition. Students had to tackle 200 tough question to vie for top scores based on the accuracy and speed of 8. Communication their answers. These challenging questions focused primarily on 9. Financial Stewardship 10. Public Image and Community Pride the four core academic areas, but also included some questions that tested students' knowledge of current events and pop culture. Learn more specifics about these priorities on the Gwinnett County Our team of 16 students scored a 1621 out of 2000 possible Public Schools website points. That score propelled us into 2nd place in the state and

January 2012

GCPS School Calendar 2011-2012 January 16


February 16 February 17

Th F

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (Systemwide Holiday) End of Fourth Six Weeks Student/Teacher Holiday (Snow Make-up Day #1. Teacher Staff Development

Planning Make-up Day Priority 1) February 20 M Student/Teacher Holiday (Presidents’ Day) February 27-28 M-T Early Release (Middle & Elementary) March 12 M Teacher Planning/ Staff Development Proposed Furlough Day (Student Holiday) March 13 T End of Third Nine Weeks March 29 Th End of Fifth Six Weeks March 30 F Student/Teacher Holiday (Snow Make-up Day #2) April 2-6 M-F Spring Break (School Holidays) May 23 W Last Day of School May 24-25 Th-F Post Planning/Professional Learning (May 24—Snow Make-up Day #3) May 28 F Memorial Day (System-wide Holiday) May 29 T Teacher Planning, Staff Development Make-up Day Priority 2) May 30 W Teacher Planning, Staff Development Make-up Day Priority 3)

Numbers to Know Main Office Fax Assistant Principals Dawn Torcivia -6th JW Mozley -7th Chris Tornese-8th Lynne Best Curriculum/Testing Dawn Torcivia—Special Ed. Jamie Larkin –Admin. Intern Counselors Angela Jenkins - 6th Nicole Colbert - 7th Suzanne McElwee– 8th

770-476-3372 770-232-3295 770-232-3285 770-232-3306 770-232-3305 770-232-3304 770-232-3285 770-232-3397 770-232-3312 770-232-3316 770-232-3300

DULUTH MIDDLE SCHOOL WILDCATS BASKETBALL SCHEDULE 2011-2012 SEASON Thursday January 5th @Dacula (Dacula HS) 5pm Saturday January 7th @Twin Rivers (Mountain View HS) 9am Thursday January 12th @Osborne (Mill Creek HS) 5pm Thursday January 19th vs. SUMMEROUR (Duluth HS) 5pm Saturday January 21st vs. LANIER (Duluth HS) 9am Thursday January 26th @Lilburn (Meadowcreek HS) 5pm Saturday January 28th vs. NORTH GWINNETT (Duluth HS) 9am Saturday February 4th vs. PINCKNEYVILLE (Duluth HS) 9am Thursday February 9th @Jones (Mill Creek HS) 5pm

Curriculum News—8th Grade January 2012

Math-8th Grade Eighth graders have been busy mastering all of the concepts and skills related to linear functions. Students started the year learning how to simplify expressions, solve equations and inequalities, and represent functions in a variety of ways. They then used these basic skills to build an understanding of how to write and graph linear equations. At the conclusion of the first semester, eighth graders explored properties of exponents; next semester we will relate the rules of exponents to square roots. In addition to the algebra lessons, teachers also included statistics in classroom discussions by introducing and exploring scatter plots and their relationship to linear functions. Students are finding it necessary to practice regularly in order to succeed as the math curriculum becomes more difficult . Eighth grade math will continue to focus on CRCT preparation activities, as well as systems of equations, square roots, and geometry after winter break. Accelerated 8th grade math: Students in accelerated math are studying an advanced curriculum that includes algebraic topics such as linear and quadratic functions, radical expressions, and operations with polynomials. During second semester, geometric concepts including congruence, properties of circles, surface area ,and volume of spheres will be explored. Near the end of the school year, these students will take a state end-of-the-year test (EOCT). The rigor of this curriculum requires students to remain focused during instruction, to practice skills by completing all assignments, and to study for all quizzes and tests. Parents can assist students in their efforts by checking onmycalendar for assignments, by providing an environment where study is encouraged, and by providing transportation to help session when possible.

Science—8th Grade In 8th grade physical science this year, students have learned matter, chemical reactions, the periodic table, energy, heat, and waves. They have truly become student scientists! As our student scientists begin the new year, we will begin our unit on speed and motion, which includes gravity and forces. Students can look forward to using technology such as, photogates and discovering how Newton’s three laws relate to our everyday lives. Our last quarter will focus on electricity and magnetism and will include many opportunities for real life uses and applications. Specifically, we will investigate electric and magnetic fields and both static and current electricity. We will wrap up the year with a preview of next year and extension projects.

Social Studies -8th Grade After learning about different parts of the world for the past two years, students in the 8th grade have the opportunity to learn about the history of their very own state! Thanks to our textbook, Georgia and the American Experience, students and teachers have the chance to take a look at up-to-date pictures, facts, and quotes about Georgia. Throughout this semester, students have had the chance to brush up on their geography skills, learn about the regions of Georgia, and study why people decided

to settle in the “New World”. In addition, we have been studying major United States events like the American Revolution, creating a government, and the Antebellum Era while looking at the role Georgia played in all of these important eras. Students learned this information by participating in a number of activities, including: making posters advertising the different regions of Georgia, writing postcards to their friends and families to describe the things they saw while taking a “virtual tour” of Georgia, constructing foldables about the United States government, and having the opportunity to choose a project like a journal or a children’s story to showcase their knowledge on the Trail of Tears. To conclude the semester , students studied the Civil War and its impact on Georgia and the ways in which we had to rebuild our state and nation. This is quite a bit of information in the first semester of school, but thanks to the many power points, visuals, and hands-on activities we do in eighth grade, students will have ample opportunities to learn about our state and the historical events that have affected it!

Language Arts—8th Grade It has been a busy and productive first semester for eighth grade language arts! We began with an inspirational reading unit on “Overcoming Adversity,” which introduced students to some of the many people around the world who have faced challenges and have risen above and beyond them. Our classes were intrigued by the feats of individuals, such as Erik Weihenmayer and Rick Hoyt, who did not let their disabilities keep them from excelling. Going from serious to spooky, our “Strange Goings On” unit truly captivated students. While reading selections like “The Hitchhiker,” “The Monkey’s Paw,” and the classic horror story, “The Tell-Tale Heart,” they learned about techniques that authors use to make a story simply fascinating. These include: figurative language, flashback, foreshadowing, and suspense. Students were able to display their knowledge of the above in the unit’s culminating project, the pop-up book. To complete this assignment, students identified a passage from their favorite selection that best illustrated a particular technique. Using this passage, students created a visual image that would literally “pop out” at the reader. Another major area of focus for this semester has been writing. Students realized that DRAPES can be useful for more than adorning a window as they learned about how this strategy can enhance their writing. As teachers, we are pleased to see how much DRAPES have appeared in their writing, making it more and more descriptive. Our classes are receiving lots of practice with constructing persuasive and expository essays as we continue to gear up for the Eighth Grade Writing Test in January, which is a critical part of the 8th grade promotion criteria. Not only are students creating their own written responses to essay topics, but they are also being constantly exposed to what superior writing looks like through the use of exemplars. Much discussion has been had about what the writing scores mean so that students can continually assess themselves as they write. As we head into second semester, writing skills will continue to be an essential part of our curriculum.

Curriculum News– 7th Grade January 2012

Math—7th Grade We began our semester tackling rational numbers. We discovered there are positive and negative numbers and how they relate to our world. Next up on our syllabus, we began learning a foreign language called ‗Algebra.‘ Yes, variables are now a part of our life. Graphing on a coordinate plane with functions and linear expressions ended our first semester.

Science—7th Grade Seventh grade science students have learned a lot this semester from ecosystems to cells. In the first quarter, students examined the different relationships found between organisms, how organisms depend on each other, and the different types of biomes organisms live in around the world. Seventh grade science students began second quarter by learning how to use one of the most important tools of science – the microscope. Students used microscopes to examine plant and animal cells. After learning about cell structures and the basics of DNA, students learned how cells perform life processes such as making food, converting food into energy, bringing in needed materials, and dividing. Students then applied their knowledge of cells functions to the systems of the human body.

Social Studies—7th Grade The first semester 7th grade social studies focused on the geography, history, and modern developments of the Middle East and Africa. Students were able to see the manner in which geography impacted

human development in the region, how various cultural groups interacted, the influence of religion on these groups, and the impact of European colonization on the present day issues facing these regions. The second semester will explore the above mentioned topics as they relate to South and East Asia. There will be a particular focus on the development and current status of China and India, two of the world‘s emerging superpowers. Also, students will learn about eastern world religions that have impacted the way of life in this region. Lastly, students will continue to improve their knowledge and usage of content specific vocabulary. .

Language Arts— 7th Grade. This year in 7th grade we have had a lot of fun reading novels, discussing stories, and going to the labs to create projects. We have tried new ways to get students involved in learning by providing student choice in some of their assignments as well as developing engaging lessons that relate to the students on a personal level. Many of the students have shown their creativity with the ―Novel Reading Portfolios.‖ As the year comes to an end, we are looking forward to celebrating the students‘ success and continuing engaging lessons that will prepare them for the upcoming semester as well as the CriterionReferenced Competency Tests (CRCT).

Curriculum News– 6th Grade January 2012

Language Arts—6th Grade

We began the 1st nine weeks with a great “All About Me” project which helped us get to know one another very quickly. We, your child’s 6th grade language arts teachers, have thoroughly enjoyed teaching your children this first semester. We have been having so much fun that we can hardly believe that the 1st semester has zoomed by us! In language arts we incorporate writing, reading, and grammar skills, so we are consistently seeing growth in all three areas. Please ask your child to share his or her favorite piece of writing with you. You will be impressed with the level of maturity. The students are learning to include figurative language in their narrative pieces so that their writing comes alive! Ask your child to share his or her favorite book with you and explain the elements of the story. As your child is able to comprehend and explain different genres of books and the elements of a story, he or she will also be able to explain the different types of writing. We have been working on several pieces of “technical writing”. We can show off our technical writing with letters, poems, and instructions. For instance, we created our very own monsters with writing instructions on how to take care of our “new baby”. Also, we found out how very important technical writing is when it comes to giving specific directions; otherwise, when making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, peanut butter was on our hands instead of the bread!! Ask your child about his or her last writing which was responding to literature about a Native American tradition – this was quite interesting. Again, through this last piece of writing, we could see how the study of reading, extra writing, and grammar are coming together to help our students become excellent writers. Writing is about reading and thinking, and in 6 th grade language arts, we have been doing a whole lot of thinking! We tell our students that language arts is used in every single subject; therefore, when their other content area teachers share with us that they see students’ writings improving, we celebrate with our students. We are looking forward to another semester of learning and celebrating with your child.

Science—6th Grade

We got off to a “rocky” start in 6th grade science. Our first unit covered rocks and minerals. We first learned about the five characteristics of a mineral. After mastering this, we moved on to igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks. Do you know what the most abundant intrusive igneous rock is? Ask your child; he or she should know. Our next unit covered the history of the Earth. We “dug” into fossils. Our last unit covered Ecology. Students learned how to protect our precious resources of water, air, and soil. Did you know that it takes hundreds of years for one inch of soil to form? During the first nine weeks we also learned about process skills. We used triple beam balances to measure mass and graduated cylinders to measure the volume of rocks. We started off the second half of the semester learning

about the layers of the Earth. The students then learned about the tectonic plates, plate boundaries, stresses and faults. Several edible labs were completed during this unit which the students really enjoyed. Ask your child what type of boundary is at the San Andreas Fault and why California will not be falling off of the United States. Students should be able to answer these questions and much more! We then moved on to Pangaea and the Theory of Plate Tectonics. Did you know that all of the continents used to be together as one big super continent? The students also learned about earthquakes and volcanoes. Did you know that there have been several small earthquakes in Georgia? Next, we moved on to soil formation. It takes over 200 years for one inch of soil to be formed. Ask your child how soil forms. You might be surprised. We finished up the semester learning about erosion and deposition and the landforms created by these processes. Do you know what process forms a beach? The students took their final exam for the semester which covered everything from the first day of school. It is a lot of material, but all of it will also be covered on the CRCT in April. We look forward to learning about hydrology, meteorology, and astronomy next semester!

Math—6th Grade Sixth grade students and teachers began the year with a data analysis unit. Students learned various ways to display data. They were also able to read data from graphic displays (charts, graphs, and tables) to interpret results. Next, students discovered the relationships between grouping symbols, exponents, and the four operations through the order of operations. GEMA is the “new” PEMDAS. Teachers previewed basic algebra skills and vocabulary so students could begin to build a solid foundation in the basic principles of algebra. Students explored and practiced problem solving using these basic algebra skills. Although students begin to manipulate decimals in 5th grade, they applied the algebra skills to their knowledge of decimals. Recently, students have been busy mastering decimals, fractions, and percents. Not only did students perform the basic operations (adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing) with them, they also used decimals and fractions inside algebraic equations and word problems. At the end of the semester, teachers provided instruction on how to convert between decimals, fractions and percents. Once students built a foundation on these concepts, they applied their knowledge of fractions to ratios, rates, and proportions. Students will continue to work with these topics in the New Year as they explore geometric concepts such as metric conversions, scale drawings, and three-dimensional objects. In the Spring Semester, the students in Mr. Conn's four Accelerated Sequence Math classes will be applying algebraic concepts learned in the Fall semester to the following units: Numbers and operations (4 weeks), Geometry (4 weeks), Measurement (5 weeks), and a return to Data analysis & Probability (2 weeks). We'll also have a March Madness preparation for April's CRCT and the last week or two of the semester students will be introduced to seventh grade Accelerated Sequence concepts.

Cat Chat January 2012  

Cat Chat Publication 2012