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Articles in Ames Middle School

Creating digital magazines brings nonfiction to life for sixth graders

Digitalmagcupcakes copy

Ames Middle School sixth grade students are ready with an answer in case anyone asks what they learned this year.

In their hands are printed versions of digital magazines the students researched, wrote, and designed for literacy class to show what they learned studying nonfiction text structures and writing processes throughout the year.

Literacy teacher Drew DeJong said the literacy team, as a professional Learning Community, created the magazine project so students could demonstrate understanding of sixth grade learning standards such as identifying the author’s purpose and the structure of a text. The students were expected to create two articles over a topic they chose, using a different text structure for each article.

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Ames Middle School Science Olympiad team takes first place at regional tournament

2017 combined science olympiad teams

Ames Middle School and Ames High School combined teams competed at a regional invitational Science Olympiad tournament in Warren Mo. the weekend of Feb. 4, 2017.

The Ames Middle School Science Olympiad team finished first place in the invitational tournament against 34 other middle school teams from Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, and Iowa on Feb. 4. The team will compete in the State Science Olympiad competition March 25 at Coe College in Cedar Rapids.

First place medals:

  • Seth Durbin and Emily Poag for Wright Stuff
  • Anyang Yu and Emily Poag for Crimebusters
  • Henry Tang, Eddie Wei , and Jerry Han for Experimental Design
  • Sophia Cordoba and Sivani Manimaran for Fast Facts
  • Seth Durbin and Michael Huang for Hovercraft

Third place medals:

  • Taylor Xu and Eddie Wei for Invasive Species
  • Seth Durbin and Jerry Han for Rocks and Minerals
  • Steven Tian and henry Tang for Towers

Fourth place ribbons:

  • Emily Poag and Steven Tian for Meteorology
  • Sivani Manimaran and Quinn Harbison for Microbe Mission

Fifth place ribbons:

  • David Jiang and Quinn Harbison for Disease Detectives
  • Sophia Cordoba and Jixiang Li for Dynamic Planet
  • John Zheng and Taylor Xu for Reach for the Stars

Sixth place ribbons:

  • Sophia Cordoba and Henry Tang for Ecology
  • James Lin and Jerry Han for Optics
  • Eddie Wei and Rishbh Swamy for Road Scholar
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Student leading effort to collect coins for Blank Children’s Hospital

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UPDATE: Students raised $2,806.59 by collecting coins in homeroom between December 6 and December 16.

Raising $10,000 for Blank Children’s Hospital on her own got 11-year-old Grace McCunn thinking about what the experience taught her.

“I learned a dollar helps more than you think, and every little bit really does help,” she said. McCunn said she also learned that most people want to help if they know an actual need exists.

Now the sixth grade student at Ames Middle School hopes to get her peers involved so they can learn, too.

McCunn said when she was a patient at Blank Children’s Hospital, she discovered the need for books, games and toys for children her age.

“The variety of things available was limited, and they were more for much younger children,” she said.

Over the past couple of years, Grace has sold hot chocolate in winter and lemonade in summer, catching the attention of adults who sponsored her efforts with sizable sums to donate to the cause.

Although McCunn was told that a $10,000 donation is enough to get her name on a plaque at the hospital, she hopes to raise at least $2,000 more.

“I want so see how much students can raise just by collecting coins in homeroom,” she said.

Students at Ames Middle School are collecting coins in homeroom December 5 through 16.

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Mock Trial Black Team third in state

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Ames Middle School Mock Trial Black Team, 2016

Ames Middle School’s mock trial Team Black won first place in the regional competition held Oct. 28 in Marshalltown, and advanced to the state competition held Nov. 14-16 to take third place. This is the first time both Ames Middle School Mock Trial teams—Black Team and Orange Team—advanced to the State Competition and the first time in 23 years since an Ames Middle School team made it to the Final Rounds representing the top four teams in the state.

Mock Trial Team Orange took second place at the regional competition.

Ahs mock trial orange 2016

Ames Middle School Mock Trial Orange Team, 2016

Mock Trial is designed to introduce sixth, seventh and eighth graders to the courtroom and legal system, and enhance their public speaking and critical thinking skills. Ames Middle School mock trial teams, led by teacher Shannon Fitchko, have worked hard since the beginning of the school year, preparing questions and memorizing courtroom procedures.

“This year was extra special because our teams were led by Peggy Michelotti, a practicing attorney who gave these children no less than a college law course, donating her free time to our kids,” Fitchko said.

In this year’s scenario, a wrongful death case, each student had at least one roles in the case, either on the side of the defense or of the plaintiff or both. During the competitions, school teams from different cities were paired against each other in separate courtrooms. The teams were then judged on their memorization, their acting ability, their teamwork, and other criteria.

Daniel Lee, an eighth grader and third time Attorney, said during the state competition, “The tension as we entered the courtroom was substantial, but the excitement when the trial started was even greater. Ultimately, the Semi-Final round was a mesmerizing experience.”    

Mock Trial Team results at 2016 Regional Competition

Black Team – First Place: Daniel Lee, Malik Davis, Erin Yoon, Annabella Marquez, Emma Dorhout, Mariam Mkhitaryan, Sophia Cordoba, Suya Que, Matthew Jacobson-Fisher, Leslie Kim.

Orange Team – Second Place: Mia O’Connor-Walker, Alicia Nicolas, Amy Zhang, Elizabeth Burras, David Lee, Yujie Chen, Michael Huang, Adrian Guan, Peter Marshall-Gilbert, Elaina Johnson, Angelina Chen, Daniel Yakobson.

Mock Trial results at 2016 State Competition

Black Team- Third place finish at State Mock Trial – Daniel Lee, Malik Davis, Erin Yoon, Annabella Marquez, Emma Dorhout, Mariam Mkhitaryan, Sophia Cordoba, Suya Que, Matthew Jacobson-Fisher.

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Ames Middle School Mock Trial Black Team reaches third in state

Ahs mock trial black 2016

Ames Middle School Mock Trial Black Team, 2016

Ames Middle School’s mock trial Team Black won first place in the regional competition held Oct. 28 in Marshalltown, and advanced to the state competition held Nov. 14-16 to take third place. This is the first time both Ames Middle School Mock Trial teams—Black Team and Orange Team—advanced to the State Competition and the first time in 23 years since an Ames Middle School team made it to the Final Rounds representing the top four teams in the state.

Mock Trial Team Orange took second place at the regional competition.

Ahs mock trial orange 2016

Ames Middle School Mock Trial Orange Team, 2016

Mock Trial is designed to introduce sixth, seventh and eighth graders to the courtroom and legal system, and enhance their public speaking and critical thinking skills. Ames Middle School mock trial teams, led by teacher Shannon Fitchko, have worked hard since the beginning of the school year, preparing questions and memorizing courtroom procedures.

“This year was extra special because our teams were led by Peggy Michelotti, a practicing attorney who gave these children no less than a college law course, donating her free time to our kids,” Fitchko said.

In this year’s scenario, a wrongful death case, each student had at least one roles in the case, either on the side of the defense or of the plaintiff or both. During the competitions, school teams from different cities were paired against each other in separate courtrooms. The teams were then judged on their memorization, their acting ability, their teamwork, and other criteria.

Daniel Lee, an eighth grader and third time Attorney, said during the state competition, “The tension as we entered the courtroom was substantial, but the excitement when the trial started was even greater. Ultimately, the Semi-Final round was a mesmerizing experience.”    

Mock Trial Team results at 2016 Regional Competition

Black Team – First Place: Daniel Lee, Malik Davis, Erin Yoon, Annabella Marquez, Emma Dorhout, Mariam Mkhitaryan, Sophia Cordoba, Suya Que, Matthew Jacobson-Fisher, Leslie Kim.

Orange Team – Second Place: Mia O’Connor-Walker, Alicia Nicolas, Amy Zhang, Elizabeth Burras, David Lee, Yujie Chen, Michael Huang, Adrian Guan, Peter Marshall-Gilbert, Elaina Johnson, Angelina Chen, Daniel Yakobson.

Mock Trial results at 2016 State Competition

Black Team- Third place finish at State Mock Trial – Daniel Lee, Malik Davis, Erin Yoon, Annabella Marquez, Emma Dorhout, Mariam Mkhitaryan, Sophia Cordoba, Suya Que, Matthew Jacobson-Fisher.

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Author’s life lessons resonate with Ames Middle School students

AMES–Children’s author Ben Mikaelsen has a passion for helping young people break free of labels and discover their own special genius. He brought  his message to Ames Middle School students, Monday, April 11.

Born in La Paz, Bolivia, South America, Mikaelsen is one of six children born to strict fundamental missionaries he says always had time for their religious meetings, devotions, services and work, but seldom spent time with their children. He began writing as a way to escape the not-so-good things happening in his life—like reverse racism and revolutions in Bolivia  and bullying when he moved with his family to Minnesota.

Sixth grade students said Mikaelsen gave voice to issues that are on their minds.

“I learned that by being different shouldn’t stop anyone from doing what they love to do,” Ben McHenry said.

Anatasia Olson said she appreciated Mikaelson’s encouragement to “fight against bullying.”

“People don’t realize it’s still a school problem,”  she said.

Mikaelsen says his goal is to help students discover their own potential. Samantha Chriswisser said the author inspired her confidence in her own potential.

“I thought if I worked hard I could achieve my dreams,” she said. “I learned from Ben that I also need to believe in myself.”

Jason Vernon said, “He taught me dreams aren’t just fantasy.”

“Students can discover the same lessons that I learned,” Mikaelsen says on his website. “They are authors also, not just of words on some written page, but of reality. We are all the authors of our lives.”

Mikaelsen

Literacy teacher Drew DeJong said the goal for the author visit was simple.

“Get students engaged and in love with reading again,” he said. “Once the students heard the author of our book was coming, they couldn’t finish it fast enough.”

DeJong recited the question that guides his teaching.

“What do I want my students to remember about my classroom 10 years from now? I hope this experience was one of those things!”

If Kaylie Davis’s response to Mikaelsen’s presentation is any indication, DeJong’s goal was met. Kylie said she was most impressed with the storytelling that inspires Mikaelsen’s novels. “He talked about when he came to America, children would tease him because he didn’t know American football was different from football in his country. He asked the Americans “What do you do? Eat spaghetti with your ears?”

Mikaelsen’s novels have won many state Reader’s Choice awards, have been carried by Scholastic and Troll book fairs, and are recorded as unabridged audio books. His novels include “Rescue Josh McGuire”, “Sparrow Hawk Red”, “Stranded”, “Countdown”, “Petey”, “Touching Spirit Bear”, “Red Midnight”, “Tree Girl” and “Ghost of Spirit Bear”.

Mikaelson’s visit was sponsored by the Ames Education Foundation.

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Middle School students will receive schedules on first day of school

Ames Middle School students and their primary guardian will receive emails during the week of August 10 listing their homeroom teacher assignments.  Students will receive a paper copy of their class schedule in homeroom on the first day of school, Monday, August 24. At that time, homeroom teachers will go over the schedules with the students, noting locations and answering questions in small groups.

Providing students’ schedules on the first day of school improves their accuracy and allows Ames Middle School administration to show environmental responsibility along with the District’s paperless registration process. Due to late registrations and the need to balance class sizes and composition, we found early schedules were simply inaccurate. They typically required posting and printing for students up to five times each in the days immediately prior to and after the beginning of school.

Students requesting specific courses which they haven’t taken previously (i.e. Accelerated Literacy 8 or Orchestra) will be sent a separate email the week of August 10 with an update on their status in those requested courses.

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Ames Middle School announces team approach for all grade levels

Ames Middle School is excited to announce that students in all grade levels will be served in academic teams for the 2015-16 school year. Our staff has been working toward making the team approach a reality for the past several years.

Previously, our sixth grade students were served in one of four teams with three core teachers sharing approximately 80 students.  Now, in seventh and eighth grades, a core group of four teachers for math, literacy, social studies, and science will share approximately 130 students.  There will be two seventh grade teams, two eighth grade teams, and one team of teachers will split their time between seventh and eighth grade students. Students from all teams will comprise classes such as PE, health, band, chorus, art, and music studies.

FAQs

Why have we made this scheduling/structural shift?

Our goal is to create smaller learning communities in a rather large school of almost 1000 students.  In this environment, students and teachers have shared experiences and expectations.  Teachers will share students, which makes collaboration and differentiation more meaningful and accessible.  Together with our Early Indicators of Success meetings, daily planning time with content area teachers, and our tutorials, we are confident that we will be meeting student needs at a much richer level.  Sharing 130 students instead of more than 300 enables teachers to intervene quickly when there is a concern, create plans for all subject areas, and extend learning authentically when students have already demonstrated mastery.

Do teams mean that my child will have the same 25 classmates all day long?

No, your child will attend the four core academic classes with a variety of students on the 130-member team.  Classes beyond core subjects will comprise students from every grade level team, and of course lunch is a time with every grade level peer.

What is the research base behind this move?

For the past several years our district has been studying the work of Richard and Rebecca DuFour and the importance of quality Professional Learning Communities.  The DuFours along with Austin Buffum, Mike Mattos, Robert Eaker, Gayle Karhanek, Timothy Kanold, and Chris Weber all write extensively about the need for teachers to form functioning groups surrounding shared students in which formative assessments are given, data is examined regularly and responsive action is taken quickly.  Mike Schmoker echoes that sentiment when he calls for team-based continuous improvement and revamping the traditional professional development practices.  Additionally, Robert Marzano calls for changes in communication, culture, and affirmation in terms of knowing our students to effect a positive change in student achievement.  Lastly, John Hattie’s meta-analysis of student achievement factors lists providing formative evaluation and teacher-student relationship as the first and seventh most effective behaviors controlled by teachers as measured by effect size.  Both of these factors are a direct implication of teachers working in teams with smaller numbers of students when paired with our current work in Developmental Designs and essential standards acquisition.

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School pantries help students meet basic needs

Access to personal hygiene products, clothing and food is so basic to most people’s routines, they may take it for granted. For students living with financial or housing instability, however, staple items can be hard to procure. The Ames Community School District unveiled an innovative solution this month by opening Student Pantries at Ames Middle School and Ames High School.

District Homeless Liaison Sipele Quezada gave intern Jenna Lincoln, a senior at Iowa State University majoring in child adult and family services, the task of getting the pantries up and running.

“We were excited to announce the opening of the pantries because they’re available to any student in the District who has need,” Quezada said.

Lincoln said personal hygiene products and school supplies are the most sought-after items so far, because they’re high on the list of priorities for all students.

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Intern Jenna Lincoln adjusts the clothing rack at the Ames Middle School student pantry. Pantries opened at the high school and middle school this month to help students who need access to personal hygiene products, food, clothing and school supplies.

“It’s important for middle and high school students to be as well-groomed and fitted for school as their peers,” she said. “The pantries give them quick access and a bit of privacy in choosing items.”

Students may also collect non-perishable food items and even diapers to take home to their families, Lincoln said, thanks to generous donors such as Food Banks of Iowa, Duck Worth Wearing and The Loft.

A classroom that was formerly a computer lab hosts the pantry at the middle school, although the high school pantry is in a much smaller space due to the temporary constraints of construction in the school’s administrative wing.

“Both pantries look nice and they function well, thanks to lots of hard work by volunteers,” Lincoln said.

The Ames Middle School Builders Club and Cornerstone Church helped organize the middle school pantry, she said, and Ames High School’s Students Helping End Poverty and Hunger (SHEPH) Club helped set up the high school pantry.

The middle school pantry is open Tuesdays during lunch hours and 3:15-4 p.m. Thursdays. The middle school pantry is open during lunch hours and 3:05-4 p.m. Wednesdays.

 

 

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Ames Middle School Science Bowl Team earns regional championship

AMES–Ames Middle School’s Science Bowl team took first place out of 24 Iowa schools Saturday, Feb. 21,  to become the Iowa Regional Science Bowl Champions.

The team, with representatives each middle school grade level, and their coach, eighth grade science teacher Collin Reichert, have earned an all expense paid trip to visit Washington, DC at the end of April to compete at the national level.

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