March 2019 Newsletter
March 2019 Newsletter
Craig Butcher
Thursday, February 28, 2019

March 2019


Greetings GK Families!

Illinois Assessment of Readiness(IAR)

During the month of April, all of our students will be participating in the IAR test.  The state uses this information to provide more support and resources to the schools in the greatest need.  More information on the IAR test can be found here.

Our students will be taking the IAR test April 15th-17th.  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.  

Spring Sports

To participate in Spring Track students need to have a valid Sports Physical on file.  Track is open to students of all grade levels, including 6th.

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
  • March 25-29--Spring Break
  • 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

It appears we are through the worst of the weather and can achieve some sort of routine at school.  Our PBIS Tier I team met with the student component to discuss behaviors that they see in the school that they would like to address in a school-wide incentive.  It was a productive meeting with wonderful student input in how to make GKMS even better.

While we’re on the topic of Tier I goals, the update for our school-wide goal of “Finishing the school year with more than 80% of students with 0 or 1 referral” is currently continuing at a great pace.  We are at 91.46% of middle school students with 0 or 1 referral. We are well on our way to meet our goal!


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 move into the Spring (after the longest winter ever), teachers will be reinforcing expectations that are needed during the school day so that we can continue to have a great year!

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 appropriate language 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 will be 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 be finishing up our unit on functions and inequalities.  We will be able to graph and explain the uses of functions and inequalities.   We will then be moving on to geometry. We will start with area of some common 2D shapes and then move to volume and surface area of solids.  

Reading and Language Arts

With the Reading curriculum students will be focusing on nonfiction.  They will be working with sets of written texts and videos about the same topic and then analyzing similarities in theme or central idea. Now that students are aware of the different types of text structure they will be asked to identify and analyze those different structures in non-fiction.  As we are in the 3rd quarter and moving into the 4th quarter, students will be asked to take a more critical look at stories citing evidence that support opinions and claims.

In the area of writing, the focus will be persuasive.  In these writing pieces the students will focus on voice(convincing), structure, and sentence fluency, including the incorporation of simple, compound, and complex sentences.  By this time in the year all students are expected to apply the rules for grammar, capitalization, and punctuation in all writing pieces. This should not just be in Language Arts class, but whenever they write in any class.

This month we will explore the skills that a good debater needs, explaining how persuasive and expository aspects of writing are essential.  We will begin with understanding the debating structure step-by-step and will conduct mini in-class debates following the understanding of the debate structure.


Rocks, layers, fossils…what can we learn about the past from these? We will be studying rocks, the rock cycle and plate tectonics.

Social Studies

Sixth grade students are currently completing our Ancient China unit.  We are discussing and learning about the many achievements of the Han Dynasty.  They were responsible for many inventions in the areas of warfare, government, agriculture, industry, art, medicine and science.  We will also cover the spread of Confucian ideas during the Han Dynasty as well. Ancient Greece will be our next great civilization to study and will take us through March and most of April.


From the 7th Grade Team


To go along with the Next Generation Science Standards, everything we do in class is to help give students the knowledge they need to answer essential questions.  In February, we have been working on our main heredity unit with students answering the question, “How are traits passed from one generation to the next, and how can you predict the traits of the next generation.”  This has been a very informative unit for many students since they are getting answers to a lot of questions they have such as “why do both my parents have brown hair but I have blond?”

As we move into March, we will be looking at DNA in more detail.  We will be learning about its structure, how it codes for protein, and how very small changes in base sequences can have huge impacts on a given organism.


In reading classes, students will focus on making inferences and determining how point of view influences narrative writing. Students will examine point of view through a variety of fiction and nonfiction passages in class.  They will respond to the passages through answering comprehension questions as well as generating written responses. Students will focus on providing valid textual evidence to help support their answers.

Also, the month of March is Women’s History Month.  March officially became Women’s History Month in 1987 when President Ronald Reagan wrote the first public proclamation declaring:  Women's History Month is a time for us to recognize and salute women's contributions to the American family and to society. In honor of Women’s History Month, students will research a variety of important women in history and share their research using a foldable or flyer.  The cereal box or dodecahedron book report is due March 4.

Language Arts

In language arts classes, we will continue to work with the 6 of traits writing with constructed responses and essays.  Six Traits focuses on ideas, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency, and conventions.   In direct connection with reading class, students will practice continuing a narrative writing in a realistic, organized, and logical way.  It is our goal to help each of our students grow as writers and we are very impressed with the growth we have observed so far! The ability to critically, look at their own writing, be able to change it (constructively), consider its effect, and shape it further, are skills that will pay off considerably as students continue to grow as writers.  


We are down to the last few weeks of third quarter.  It’s hard to believe, I know!

Course 2 just finished up their chapter on Equations & Inequalities and has just begun the Geometry unit. Here they will explore angles, triangles, area, volume, and circumference. Meanwhile, Acc-7 has also finished up Equations & Inequalities and is currently working on Linear Functions. This includes slope, different representations of slope, and solving systems of equations. After this chapter, the students will explore some Probability & Statistics.

In addition to the regular curriculum, students have been taking advantage of many optional enrichment opportunities that we refer to as “side quests.” Two of the more popular side quests this month were a hexa-maze and the creation of a math superhero/villain. Along with that, our very first “Chopped” champions have been added to our Legacy Wall along with the top finishers from our first Season of Gimkit, which is our way of learning/reviewing vocabulary.

Let’s keep up the awesome work as we head towards fourth quarter!

Social Studies

Americans extended their nation to the west and the south. The idea of manifest destiny fueled many of the events that led to the expansion. As the 1800s progressed, more and more settlers were lured to the West by hopes of free land and an independent and prosperous life. It was a magnet for immigrants and for easterners looking for a new start in life. This month we will be learning about groups of people who turned their faces to the West. We will learn about their motives for heading West, the hardships they faced, and legacies they left behind.

Please check with your son/daughter about replenishing basic supplies (pencils, pens, paper, etc.). We will be needing a second composition notebook. Some students have already started a second and most are close.

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.


The month of March we will be doing our annual cheesecake fundraiser!  The money earned from this goes towards the 7th-8th grade trip to Six Flags for their music performance assessment and towards general purchases for the music program.  Please encourage your student to sell cheesecakes!

Spring Break is upon us! If you’re not traveling this spring break, please encourage your student to practice their instrument over the break so they can continue to make progress on their music!

Music Appreciation

We are currently in our fifth rotation through the Music Appreciation Encore classes. The eighth grade are working on a unit on our National Anthem. We will then explore program music with a unit on the symphonic suite “The Planets” by English composer Gustav Holst.

In Creative Drama, the seventh grade has been learning about impromptu speaking as well as pantomime acting. We are learning about the elements of effective story writing in preparation for producing a short puppet show in small groups.

Our sixth-grade American Popular Music students have been learning about the works of Stephen Foster and Scott Joplin, as well as Louis Armstrong. We have learned about the 12-Bar Blues and are tracing the development of Jazz in America.


Health Tip of the Month:

It is flu season.  Make sure you give yourself plenty of rest this time of year.  Give yourself at least 8 hours of sleep. During the day, make sure you are washing your hands.  If your not feeling well, stay home to get better.

The next few weeks in PE the boys will be playing Eclipse Ball. The boys will have to recall volleyball rules and apply tennis. The challenging skill to overcome is the skill of hitting the ball. This skill is different compared to other racket sports we have played because the racket is heavier.

The girls will be focusing on hockey. The main skills to focus on this unit is stick and puck handling. The girls will be working on passing, hitting and targeting to move the puck down the floor and passing it to teammates.


The 5th encore groups are off to a great start.  The 6th graders are learning about nutrition and how important it is to add fruits and vegetables to their diet.  The 7th graders are working on decision making and refusing unsafe behaviors. The 8th graders are discussing topics on relationships and how to make healthy decisions in those relationships.

Health tip of the month: Sleep:  Try to get 6-8 hours of sleep each night.  A good night's sleep helps you recharge for the next day and helps decrease your risk for a heart attack.


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. These include soft skills, employability skills, and workplace behavior. The 8th grade is analyzing the rights and the wrongs in workplace ethics, along with taking different types of interest surveys to see the career possibilities that match their interests.  On March 15th, 8th grade students will be attending the Kishwaukee Career Conference. This is a great opportunity to hear from working adults in an area of their career choice.


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 the Common Core standard 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.  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 their ideas on the computer. 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!