April 2019 Newsletter
April 2019 Newsletter
Craig Butcher
Monday, April 01, 2019

  April 2019


Greetings GK Families,

Illinois Assessment of Readiness(IAR)

During the month of April, all of our students will be participating in the Illinois Assessment of Readiness(IAR) test on April 15-17.  The state uses this information to provide more support and resources to the schools in the greatest need. Our students have been working hard all year.  The IAR give our students an opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned. More information on the IAR test can be found here.

As our students prepare to take the IAR test April 15th-17th, I would encourage you to remind your student to do their best. Students perform their best following a good night sleep and a healthy breakfast.  We thank you for doing all you can each and everyday to help ensure your student’s success.

If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to contact me at 815-784-5222 or by email at  You can also follow us on Facebook at GenoaKingstonMiddleSchool and Twitter @gkmscogs424.  

Upcoming Major Events

April 12-13--Spring Drama Play

April 15-17--IAR testing

April 17--Illinois Science Assessment

May 6th-- 5/6  Band Concert

May 9th--7/8 Band Concert; 6-8 Choir Concert

May 10--8th Grade Dance

May 20th--8th Grade Promotion

From the Assistant Principal-Mr. Uili

The newest update with our year long goal of more than 80% of our students with 1 or 0 referrals is still on pace to happen.  Even with the late winter and early spring jitters we are at 88.8% for students with 1 or 0 referrals. The students have done very well adhering to our school expectations.  Those warm days are just around the corner and I know the extra opportunities to go outside will be great for students and staff alike.

Our Check-In and Check-Out Intervention, the Pride Program, has seen the most successful month of the school year.  Congrats to all the students that meet their point goals and graduated from the program. I know March will bring another wave of students that will pass through the program with great success.

If you are interested in the Pride Program you may contact myself or any classroom teacher for more information.  My email is or I can be reached at 815-784-5222.


GKMS Drama presents the one-acts “10 Ways to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse” and “The Internet Is Distract-- Oh Look a Kitten!”.  The show will start at 7:00pm on Friday, April 12, and Saturday, April 13. Admission is $3.

“10 Ways to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse” by Don Zolidis. It's the end of the world and hordes of rampaging zombies are about to kill you. What do you do? Try your hand at kung fu against the undead? Attempt to reason with creatures that would rather eat brains than use them? Turn to this handy and hilarious guide to survive the apocalypse! (Hint: sacrifice the weak is step number one.)

“The Internet Is Distract--Oh Look a Kitten!” by Ian McWethy.  Micah only has twenty minutes to finish her paper on The Great Gatsby. She just needs to check a few facts on the internet first. Unfortunately, the web is a nefariously wacky place where boxing cats, Facebook lurkers, and pig-throwing games threaten to take over Micah's schoolwork, or worse. Will she finish her paper and escape with her life before the school bell rings? A high-octane comedy that explores the rabbit hole of distraction we all go down everytime we go online.

 Art Club

It is NOT too late! I know and understand that other interests come up. Join us when you can! This club is a place for all of our GKMS artistic students to meet and share their talents.  Project ideas are introduced but are always optional.

We meet (almost) every Thursday but in order to stay,  parent permission is required.

Please email Mrs. Volden, Art Advisor, with questions.

PBIS Tier 1

We are continuing to “Imagine Greatness” here at GKMS.  Individual grades are continually working towards goals and many students have done a great job reaching these goals set forth.  As we come back from Spring Break, grades will be focusing on getting to class on time. We will be having an all school booster for students and they will be working towards all all school activity afternoon late April/early May.  

Cool tools for expected behaviors continue to be taught weekly in Study Hall classes and reinforced that week in classes. Our focuses have been on hallway behaviors and getting on time to class.  Also behavior during the cafeteria continues to be an area to work with.

Students of the Week are chosen weekly and Quarter 3 Cogs of the Quarter have been chosen and recognized.  Congratulations to those past and future students-you should be proud of your accomplishments.

School representatives are rocking it out in our PBIS Tier 1 team and will  continue to help us with our efforts here at the school. Their ideas are truly helping us to improve our efforts with PBIS.  They are helping to bridge the gap with our students so that their voices and ideas can be heard. Again, thank you for your continued support!  #gkcogs.

From the 6th Grade Team


We will begin working with Geometry.  We will start off talking about 2-D shapes and their areas.  We will be using formulas for rectangles, parallelograms, and triangles to find the areas.   After working with the 2-D shapes we will move on to more complex 3-D shapes and their volume and surface area.  We will be working with rectangular and triangular prisms. At the end of these units we will be looking to begin a STEM project that will incorporate activities from multiple chapters throughout the year.  

 Reading and Language Arts

We are spending time this last quarter enriching our writing skills. We will begin with persuasive/argumentative pieces and continue with a variety of writing prompts requiring students to identify the role they need to take, audience they are addressing, format required, and topic discussed. These are fun, creative prompts which invite students to do a variety of types of writing - a restaurant review, a message from a moldy container, and other engaging topics. In addition, we will be developing our skills with word work, word study (tier 2 words) and grammar.

As the 4th quarter gets underway, the students will be focusing on fiction and narrative nonfiction. We will be pulling on all the reading skills we have learning over the year as we determine important ideas and summarize literature.  Using narrative nonfiction literature, lessons will focus on identifying main ideas and supporting details and then forming them into summaries. As we move into fiction, students will also be identifying central ideas and themes will supporting them with text evidence.  Throughout the month of April students will work with fiction and nonfiction making annotations on the stories to help them obtain a deeper understanding.


We will be studying plate tectonics and investigating earthquakes, volcanoes, and the rock cycle.  How are different rocks formed and how do they change through the rock cycle?

 Social Studies

Students have started learning about Ancient Greece.  Topics covered will include geography, the rise of democracy, Persian wars, Athens, Sparta and Alexander the Great.  Currently students have been learning about monarchies, oligarchies, tyrannies, and democracy and how they formed in the ancient Greek city states.  We have also been comparing them to current governments of the world today. After Spring Break we will start learning about how Athens and Sparta became the two dominant city states in Ancient Greece.

From the 7th Grade Team


In March, we finished up our Genetics unit looking more closely at DNA and how even the smallest change (mutation) can cause a big effect in an organism.  These effects can be harmful, have no effect on the organism, or even be helpful. In accordance with the Next Generation Science Standards, our next unit will deal with how these mutations (changes in DNA) can affect a population of organisms.  For example, a rabbit with brown fur will not be able to survive and reproduce in a polar environment because it will be easily spotted by predators. A white rabbit, on the other hand, would thrive in that environment. Over time the population of rabbits would, therefore, change to one with a high percentage of white rabbits.  Through both hands-on and computer simulations students will explore this fundamental idea of biology.


This will be a busy month in reading and language arts classes!  Students will read and comprehend a variety of genres including fiction and non-fiction.  They will apply close reading strategies while analyzing and critiquing these texts. Students will practice making text to text, self, and world connections, identifying story elements, determining the theme, central idea/main idea, mood, and tone while reading various texts. They will read a non-fiction narrative entitled “Justin Lebo” as well as a fictional narrative entitled, “The Amigo Brothers.”  Students will read a nonfiction article on the topic of random acts of kindness. The 4th quarter book report will be due in May. The directions and rubrics for each option (dodecahedron, cereal box, pop up book) can be found on your child’s reading google classroom. We will spend some time working on this book report in class.

Language Arts

In language arts classes, we will continue to work with the 6 traits of writing focusing on sentence fluency and ideas.  Sentence fluency is the rhythm and flow of written language, the sound of word patterns, the way in which the writing plays to the ear, not just the eye. How does it sound when read aloud? Fluent writing is graceful, powerful, and rhythmic.  Ideas are the main message, the content of the piece, the main theme, together with all the supporting details that enrich and develop that theme. Successful writers do not "tell" readers things they already know; but, "show" readers the unusual, unique, bits and pieces of life that might otherwise be overlooked and varied.  We will show what we have learned about sentence fluency and ideas with a well crafted expository benchmark paper at the end of the unit.


Welcome back, hopefully everyone had a relaxing Spring Break.

Right before the break, Course 2 finished the first half of the Geometry unit where they focused on classifying angles and triangles while also determining missing measures of the two. They also worked on scale and 3-D Figures. The second half of this unit will consist of determining different measurements of circles, prisms, and pyramids. So, shapes, shapes, and more shapes. Acc-7 will be finishing up Linear Functions, Slope, and Systems of Equations. Statistics and Probability will follow that with a focus on simple and compound events, as well as theoretical and experimental probability.

The students continue to amaze me with their optional enrichment “side quests.” The Funko Pop! Superheroes/Villains are my favorites currently. Keep your eyes on Twitter (@Math2TheFuture) to see all of the awesome things happening in our classroom throughout the end of the school year.

Social Studies

Please replenish necessary supplies. Pencils and notebooks are needed everyday. Some students have run out of these basic supplies making it difficult for them to be successful.

We are finishing Westward Expansion with projects. Please ask your child what topics they have chosen to work on. The projects consist of creating a research essay, a map, and an application project. As we finalize these projects, we will then turn our attention to the state standardized testing that is scheduled for mid-month. Following the testing,  we will be looking into the issues leading to our countries Civil War.

Please continue to check Assignment Connection to see what we are doing on a daily basis. Topics and assignments are available usually for the week. This is a great way to start a conversation about what is happening in classes or check on what should be coming home for homework. Similarly, continue to check on PowerSchool to see what homework has been graded or possibly missing.


GK music students are continuing to work on their musicianship skills in class.  Chorus students have been working on concert music and developing independent voice parts to combine towards a concert performance.  Band students are beginning to work on their music for their concert in May. All students should have copies of their music and should be practicing it on the weekends!

May Concert Dates

5th & 6th Grade Band Concert - 7pm

7th-8th Grade Band and 6th-8th Chorus Concert - 7pm

Music Appreciation

We are currently in our fifth rotation through the Music Appreciation Encore classes. The eighth grade students are working on a unit on the musical Fiddler On The Roof. We will then explore how technology is used to create and perform music..

In Creative Drama, the seventh grade has finished presenting their puppet shows and are now starting the classic musical The Music Man. We will be explaining the themes of this show as well as the characters of the musical.

Our sixth-grade American Popular Music students have just finished watching the musical Oklahoma!. They will now complete some extension activities based on the show before  tracing the development of rock and country styles of music.


The girls will be starting softball after spring break for three weeks. The girls will be focusing on base running, feilding, throwing and catching, force outs, innings and proper batting stance and hitting.  The boys will be participating in the track and field unit. This unit will consist of relays, sprinting events, the mile run( which will be also part of our fitness testing), field events (shot put, long jump and high jump).

Later in the month of April students will also complete their post assessment in fitness testing. Students will be measured on personal gains in the following categories:

Sit and Reach, Push- Ups, Curl Ups, Pacer Test and Mile Run.

Roller Skating is coming to our PE classes!  New this year, students will be participating in a 5 day unit on skating.  Students have the choice to use roller skates or roller blades. Students are not allowed to bring skates from home due to possible damage to our floors.  We will be renting skates for $3 a student (permission slips will be going home after spring break). Students will also be asked to wear provided proper safety equipment such as helmets and wrist guards.  Students may bring their own helmet from home if they do not want to use the ones provided by Skate Time.

Spring is finally here!  Please make sure your son/ daughter has sweat pants and shirt in their locker.  We will be going outside as long as the weather allows us to.

Ms. Emily Young will be Mrs. Thurlby's student teacher April through mid May.  She will be working on lesson development and classroom management to help her prepare for her own classroom setting once she graduates from NIU and obtains a job of her own.  She is very excited to come to the Middle School and we are very excited to have her.


The 6th graders are learning about e-cigarettes and how harmful they are to the body.  The 7th graders are working on decision making and refusing unsafe behaviors. The 8th graders are examining the impact illicit drugs have on a person’s life and their relationships with family and friends.

Health Tip of the Month -  Make a move: now that the weather is finally warming up, get outside and take in the warm weather.  


We are almost near the end of the 5th encore groups. The 6th grade is learning about the 16 career clusters and jobs in each cluster.  7th graders are focusing on skills needed to be successful in a career, like teamwork and work ethic. They are also looking into work values and the aspects of work that might be important to them. The 8th grade is analyzing the importance of problem solving at work and describing what traits an effective leader would display.


In the second semester of STEM Concepts students will be having me as their Encore teacher for the second time this year. All students in 6th and 7th grades will be assessed in their ability to meet the keyboarding standard as described in Common Core to: “demonstrate sufficient command of keyboarding skills to type a minimum of three pages in a single sitting.” All of my current 6th and 7th grade classes have an account in Typing Club to practice their keyboarding which can be accessed at Students who are not able to meet the standard will be given daily and weekly practice in class. But all students are encouraged to practice on their own time as well.

In 6th grade students will first be learning the fundamentals of coding using the lessons found at We will learn how to program animations using Scratch found at Then we will create a model to describe the role of gravity in the motions within galaxies and the solar system using Scratch.

7th grade students will be building upon the Engineering and Design lessons from first semester. We are solving an engineering design problem to create a puzzle out of excess 3/4" wooden cubes.  And they are to design a therapeutic toy for a child with cerebral palsy. Working individually and in groups, they will be planning, drawing and designing on the computer their ideas. Every student should be taking home a puzzle cube that they designed and assembled themselves.

8th grade students will be using the Engineering Design Process to develop a tool or system to solve a problem. Then we will be learning how to program VEX Robotics using RobotC (a form of the C programming language). Then we will apply the Engineering Design Process with VEX Robotics and C programming to make automated machines and robots to solve problems.

We have a lot of learning to do in just 6 weeks!