Pre-Thanksgiving Check In

Things have been fast and furious lately!  Must be getting closer to the holidays and yes, that is the name of our current math/science project.  It has to do with all things that move fast and furious.  Also, sorry it has been awhile since  I posted so here goes….

Tomorrow, we wrap up the week and part for a week for Thanksgiving.  Then, when we return…it will only be about 3 weeks of school then 2 weeks after Christmas break and POLS.  So, the end of the 1st semester will be here before you know it.  Therefore, let’s be thoughtful about a few things:

  1.  Egg Drop Contest is Tomorrow- be ready for your device and write up your Pre-Drop Rationale.
  2. Blue Belt Advancement Tomorrow- if you haven’t got your Blue Belt yet…I hope you have been practicing solving equations so that you can pass the Advancement tomorrow and be ready to attack the Black Belt when you return from break.  Everyone else do not need to take the Black Belt test tomorrow, you have time!
  3. POW Wage Problem Due Tomorrow- this was assigned on Monday so your writeup is due tomorrow.  See your email for details about the problem.

Let’s wrap all this up and when you return, I’ll have your grade sheets on where you stand in math/science.  As always, work hard, stay on task, and always seek me out during class or at math lab for extra help.

Lots to do but I know you can handle!

Happy Thanksgiving!  I am very thankful to have such a motivated group of students this year.  You all are the best!  Keep at it!

Your Sensei,

Mr. Holmes

SLC Goals and Moving On….

We had a great round of Student-Led Conferences….hmm…should say Student-Led Conversations.  I hope you enjoyed them and it is an important time to recognize Strengths and Challenges and set goals for the year.  Can you believe that half the semester is already over.  Please record your goals in your Reflection Journal (see your email for this template…sent through Google Classroom).  In many of our conversations, we outlined specific steps and actionable items you can take to meet your learning goals this year.  There is lots to do and of course, I hope you notice the pace that is in 8th grade- a good prep for high school.

We are moving on!  We had a blast (literally) with balloon cars and all of you should have completed your Balloon Car Rationales where you linked  how your car worked to the all important Newton’s Laws.  Now, we take our knowledge and dive a little deeper into them as we take on the Egg Drop Challenge.  This will be important as you will learn about the impulse-momentum theorem and the impact your egg will need to withstand as we drop your egg drop device from varying heights!  You’ll then take your learning to build a water propelled rocket and see if you can blast your egg off into the sky with what I hope is a safe return.

Lots of you are making progress on your Judo Math Belts and we are moving into the Blue Belt solving equations!  This belt is one of the most important skills in building your algebra skills and will serve you well throughout your mathematical experience in high school.  So, be ready, be on point in class and train your brain each night with at least 20-30 minutes of homework each night!

We are off and running again and before you know it…it will be the end of the semester!


Mr. Holmes

Getting on the Same Page!


It is the final week of Balloon Cars!  You have the rest of this week before we have our grand finale:  Balloon Car Derby.  We will be showcasing our cars in the main commons and then the races begin.  There will be competitions for the Highest Velocity Car, Highest Momentum, Best in Show, and Best in Innovative Design.  You should be working with your partner to complete your car to its highest performance (at least 5 meters), final drawing, your Kinematic Data and Your Design Decisions Document.  So much to do so stay on this task!

In addition, yesterday you received Progress Reports (uh…your grades) in Math/Science up to this point.  Hopefully, you saw if your were missing anything or needs in terms of reconciling work to finalize your grades prior to next week’s Student Led Conferences.  Check your email for the SLC Handout for Math/Science and make sure to see email for your next prompt on your goals in your Math/Science Reflection Journal.

Whew!  Lots to do!  If that wasn’t enough….Get your Orange Belt!!  I am here afterschool and most of you, should have reworks to do on the Orange Belt- Exponents and Radicals!

Stay on top of the work and get on the same page on what you need to do!

Looking forward to having some good important conversations about your growth in 8th grade!  Already, all of you are Amazing so it will be enjoyable!

till next time,

Mr. Holmes

Let’s Get Radical!


Kudos to you all for your hard work and discipline throughout this year!  You truly are a great group.  It’s time to get Radical; no, literally….you will be continuuing your study of exponents this week by simplifying the reverse of the square exponent- the radical or the square root.  So where should you be?  Well, if you had your yellow belt for at least a week or so, you should be working through the 2nd Part of the Orange Belt- simplifying Radicals.  Most of you are expected to take the Orange Belt Advancement this Friday!  So, study up.

Other things happening this week:

  • Balloon Cars- you and your partner are designing your balloon cars and building starts this week.  So, I hope you all are talking about what parts you need to build and plan to bring into class.  I’ll have some supplies but certainly not all supplies.  Think about making your own parts like with the laser cutter, or 3d printer.
  • Stanford MOOC- you should be working through this and it is due this Friday.  You will finish the MOOC and then write a 100 word reflection about what your learned and things that struck you.
  • Reflection Journal Math/Science- I rolled this out to you yesterday.  It is a way for you to reflect on your learning and growth as a student throughout the year.  It will provide me and your parents to hear your thoughts to various prompts and project reflections. So, make sure to share it with your parents.

****Lastly, grades are in full effect and if you notice that your are not passing….I have two words for you: Math Lab.  Come to math lab (afterschool tutoring) to see what the heck is going on.  Usually, it comes down to 2 things:  1.  You need to pass an Advancement  2.  You have a 0 for a single or multiple homework grades (due to that didn’t turn in, I don’t have it or something else).  Moral of the story….you need to take the initiative and seek me out to figure out what is wrong.

Just do it….Be Radical!

Mr. Holmes

Rolling on….Be Ready!


We are rolling on this week after a great first project that we wrapped up last week: The Eye of the Beholder.  I’ll have some pics of your ‘eye’ soon but all did a great job!  Hopefully, you became aware of how you learn and took our work on percents/parts of a whole to apply to your circular eyes.

Now, we are rolling on from the Yellow Belt of Fundamentals to the Orange Belt of Exponents.  This week we have moved into a block schedule where we hit the math hard in the morning and in the block, we are moving on to our next project:  Balloon Cars.  We had some fun measuring our velocity last week and now, you will take your engineering know-how and study of Kinematics (how things move) to build the fastest ballloon car.  You and a partner will build a car following the project protocol sheet outlined here.ballooncarsprotocol

This week, you will be researching and planning your balloon car design and next week, you will start building.  So, let’s get ready to roll on…haha!

A few housekeeping items:

  • if you earned your Yellow Belt last week, you should be working on your Orange Belt Scroll (that was given out this week).  You will take your Orange Belt Advancement next week.
  • If you did NOT earn your Yellow Belt last week, you can come afterschool to retake or wait till this Friday to retake your Yellow Belt….so be ready!
  • Stanford MOOC- due next Friday, Oct. 1st.  Keep watching and completing the reflection questions at the end.  Make sure to create a Google Doc to record your FINAL REFLECTION at the end of the course- Share it with me.

Things are moving quickly and if you ever have any questions about your work or work that I return to you….please see me or email me.

That’s it for now,

Mr. Holmes

Keeping Pace, Be Mindful


Can you believe we are already into our 4th week of school?  We are wrapping up our Eye of the Beholder Project with one more day to add the finishing touches to Eye Models.  Along with this project has been the application of Part of a Whole where you converted your Multiple Intelligence assessment to the 360 degrees eye models.  Many of you retook your Percents Advancement on Friday and you’ll know how you did on this advancement tomorrow.  Mastery is the Key!  If you need more help, stop by the math lab any day after school to clarify your misunderstandings and as always, do your reworks.

This week we are working towards our Yellow Belt Advancement on Friday!  All should be keeping pace by working on the Yellow Belt Scroll Part 2- evaluating expressions, distributive property, and combining like terms.  Therefore, to be ready by Friday you need to work through page 23 tonight….make sure to read through the information provided on the Distributive Property.

Starting on Wednesday, we will launch our next project:  Balloon Cars.  This project will kickoff a 3 project series called  The Fast & The Furious where will embark our science unit on physical science and physics….its all about putting things in motion.

So, manage your daily work including your Yellow Belt Scroll work and doing some work on the Stanford MOOC course.  It will all seem a little fast and furious so keep pace and as always, ask me questions and help when you need it!

Good Luck,

Mr. Holmes

We are taking courses at Stanford! Math Course!!


Yes, you will be taking a course at Stanford (it’s just one of the most premier colleges in the country)…. How to Learn Math: For Students (click this link for access).  This is called a MOOC….Massive Online Open Course.  The purpose is designed to help you develop some different ideas about math.  The course is managed by Jo Boaler, a renowned math education professor.   You should have already registered for the course in class….you will register and then look for courses and make sure to click on How to Learn Math:  For Students.  Then once you are in, click on Courseware and it will take to the course.

What will you do?  It has a table of contents or menu at the top….see here:

Screen Shot 2015-09-01 at 6.40.57 AM

You will click on the first topic “Lesson 1” and then watch the videos, read and write a response when prompted.  At the end of each major chapter, you will be asked to write a longer reflection.  When you finish the reflection, copy and paste what you wrote into a Google Doc entitled  “Name Stanford Math”  and share with me.    You will have approximately 4 weeks due Friday, Sept. 25th to complete the course.  But, you need to do at least a topic per week to stay on track.

I hope this helps and we will discuss some topics throughout in the interim.

Good Luck!

Mr. Holmes