7-8 Class

Discussion Starters

  • What book are you reading? What do you notice about your book?
  • What does it mean to be "divided"? 
  • What do you know about the Civil War? What makes it a "modern" war?
  • Ask about our Shakespeare essays! 

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Spirit Week Day 4: Show Your Support Day

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Spirit Week Day 2: Beach Party

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Spirit Week Day 1: Disney Day


Jump Rope Challenge: Love Your Heart

To recognize Healthy Heart Month, students prepared and presented their own jump rope routines.

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The Taylor Museum of African American History: Grand Opening

Our grand opening was a huge success! The museum's visitors consisted of parents, members of the Russell Sage community, as well as the students and faculty from the Pinewoods Campus.  We are so proud of all of the hard work our students put into making this happen! 


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Spirit Week: March 9-13th

Below is the schedule of events for the week of March 9th-13th. Students are encouraged to participate in supporting their classmates and teachers. We are excited to see students’ creative Taylor School spirit shine! 


Monday: Disney Day - Wear something that represents your favorite character (this includes any characters from Marvel, Star Wars, or any other Disney universe). 

Tuesday: Beach Party- Let’s manifest warmer weather by dressing the part.  This includes sunglasses, shorts, Hawaiian shirts: bring on the vacation vibes! 

Wednesday: Twin Day - You can dress in twins, triplets, quadruplets, but you have to match your outfit to your partner--your “twin” can be in any grade! 

Thursday: Fan Day/Sports Day - Wear a t-shirt, sweatshirt, sweatpants, any article of clothing that supports an organization you love. You can show support for a favorite sports team, band or musical artist, University, or an important cause that matters to you. 

Friday: Pi-Day - Get ready for Math-a-Thon and to eat some Pi(e)!

Valentine's Day

We had a brief but lovely celebration sharing cards and kinds words! I am so thankful for such a thoughtful class. 


Essay Writing: First Draft

We have finished our drafts and students are beginning to understand the revision process: the first draft is about ideas.  We have created strong theses and body paragraphs that are structured to support them.  Moving into our second draft, our focus will be our language: how do we craft sentences that convey meaning? 

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Arts for Little Hearts

Below I've pasted a link to the Arts for Little Hearts official Taylor School gallery! The organization is so appreciative of our creative contribution, and our critters will be delivered to hospitalized children in Israel and Hungaray at the end of March. 


Open Classroom

The Sage students welcomed their parents to our classrooms, sharing with them the games they created during Think Tank. 


Field Trip to the New York State Museum

We had an awesome day exploring the museum for inspiration as we prepare to curate our exhibits for the Taylor School Museum of African American History

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Students completed reading their first Shakespeare play! The seventh graders were introduced to Shakespeare through the comedy, Much Ado About Nothing, while the eighth graders built upon their knowledge of the genre through reading Twelfth Night.  From this, we will be writing our first argumentative essay of the year, where students will create an original thesis based on a theme in the plays. 

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 Lunch on the Town

This month's Lunch on the Town brought us back to Troy Kitchen, and we were joined by some very special guests: three of our 9th grade alumni! 


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Civil War: Causes

Before learning the events and actions of the Civil War, students need to learn the causes: the main cause of which was slavery.  The 1619 project was put out by the New York Times in August, 2019, and it asks us to reconsider our understanding of American history, and see the roots of slavery throughout that history.  This timeline  was adapted by the Times for the classroom.

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Arts for Little Hearts

Arts for Little Hearts is a unique project that spreads hand-made art projects created by children, adolescents and elderly to hospitalized children all over the world. Students sewed and stuffed rabbits to donate to the project. 

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Curating a Museum Exhibition

The Sage students will be working in teams to curate an interactive museum exhibit that documents African American contributions and helps us understand our interwoven American story. In preparation for this unit, students prepared a mini-exhibition of 3-5 artifacts that demonstrate their story. After examining each exhibit, students determined whether the items truly conveyed the story their peers were trying to tell. As the students begin to research and plan their exhibit for the Taylor School Museum of African American History, they will first decide what they want their audience to learn and why.

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The Spelling Bee

Students in grades 3-8 participated in the Spelling Bee. Congratulations to Lee (6th grade), who will be moving on to the next step in the competition!

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Warm Wishes, Sharing Dishes

We are so thankful to share this experience with the Taylor community.  This year, students provided a musical performance as well as breakfast for their families.  What a great way to end 2019! 


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After enjoying breakfast at the event, students brought the oatmeal they prepared, as well as the items they collected for the Silly Sock Exchange over to Joseph's House to share with those in need from the Troy community. 

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Warm Wishes: The Preparation

Mr. Shepard was the head-chef extraordinaire, leading teams of students in preparing baked oatmeal for Warm Wishes, Sharing Dishes.  When not cooking, students worked with Mrs. Bassett in creating centerpieces for the event. 


Ginger Bread Houses

Our annual tradtition!

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Presentations: The Oneida Nation versus New York

In groups, students researched the series of Supreme Court cases between the Oneida Nation and New York State over land claims and disputes.  They then presented their arguments to the class: one group representing the Oneidas, one group representing New York, and one group researching both sides to prepare the verdict.  

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Sage Theater Company Presents, Oliver!

Taylor students and teachers attended Sage Theater Company's performance of Oliver!, a musical inspired by Charles Dickens' nineteenth-century novel.  This was especially exciting because students were able to support Vincent, our classroom assistant, and their classmate in her performance as the leading role. They both did an incredible job! 


Performance at Shaker Pointe 

Students in grades 3-8 provided a holiday musical performance for the residents at Shaker Pointe.  After their performance, students enjoyed a lunch prepared for us by the community. 

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 Science: Chemistry of Materials

In science, students built models of different molecules, from H20 to C02. The atoms are linked together by tubes representing chemical bonds.  

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Students in grades 5-8 joined Professor Wein and her Russell Sage College undergraduate students majoring in physical education to support them in learning how to implement cooperative games and Fitnessgram into their teaching practice.

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Musical Performance: Planet Light

The Sage campus students were invited to a winter-themed performance by the musical group, Planet Light.  We are so lucky to have seen this group of talented musicians! 

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"I am from" Poems

We’ve read works from current Native American poets, we’ve created our own found poems based off of primary sources, and now, students have written their own “I am from” poems to celebrate the many differences, heritages, and identities in our classroom.  Below are some excerpts from their work. See, the “I am from” project, to learn more. https://iamfromproject.com/


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In class, students studied the work of Alexander Calder, an artist known for his kinetic sculptures.  The students were challenged to create a painting that envoked movement. Below are their creations!

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Visit to Tech Valley

Students in grades 5-8 went to Tech Valley High School to serve as an authentic audience for their nano-technology class. The students presented skits about how nanotech helps shape our world through the lens of international travel.IMG 7241

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Found Poems

A "found poem" combines fragments from a variety of texts--it asks students to find words or phrases they find meaningful and arrange them as poetry.  Our source texts for this assignment were primary sources: first hand accounts, letters, speeches, and journals, all documenting Native American removal, resistance, and resilience during the period of Westward Expansion. 

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As a culminating activity for our genetics unit, we created "genetically modified" hybrid animals.  Students were given a large and a small creature and were asked to identify five traits of these animals.  Using punnett squares, they created a brand new animal displaying a combination of these five traits.  We now have several awesome new creations that are both terrifying and beautiful! 

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SS: Celebrating Native American Poets

American territorial expansion came with many consequences, especially in the removal and colonization of Native American people.  To honor their resilience and to remember their stories, we have been reading poems by Native American poets (including the current Poet Laureate of the United States, Joy Harjo), and will be creating our own "Found Poems" based on primary sources of Native American removal and resistance. 

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ELA: Graphic Novels

Students are at various stages in the creation process, but these graphic novels are certainly coming along!

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A Taylor School Halloween

Green-grapes and midwives and inflatables galore...even the Flash made an appearance!  



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Social Studies: Westward Expansion

To close out our first unit on Westward Expansion, students created annotated maps of the territorial acquistion of the United States.

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Think Tank: Game Design

Students have been playtesting game prototypes and putting their peer-review skills to practice by giving helpful feedback to other groups. 

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In science, students constructed DNA models out of very edible materials.

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Field Trip to Ellms Farms

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Writer's Workshop

A common practice in ELA is "Writer's Workshop," where students get together, read, and give feedback on one another's drafts.  Here is a group of them workshopping the first draft of their graphic novels. 

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Literary Pumpkins!

Here are the results of our annual, school-wide tradition. 



The 7th graders ceated "Leaf People" with exciting backstories. 

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The 8th graders created these gorgeous fall poems. 

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Ask your child to translate them for you! 

ELA: Graphic Novel Project

To conclude our unit on the Elements of Story, students are creating their own Graphic Novels! To begin our thinking of "visual storytelling," we watched the award-winning film, Into the Spider-verse.  Each student has chosen a mentor text, and we will be discussing the different storytelling techniques, as well as drafting, revising and workshopping our novels over the next couple of weeks. 

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Students each received their own ukuele and are learning a variety of chords and songs.  They love to practice whenever they can! 

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Lunch on the Town

The first Friday of the month, the 7th and 8th grade students go out into Troy for Lunch on the Town! This month we adventured to Troy Kitchen. 

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Felted Wool Owls 

Social Studies: Expanding West

...and the Oregon Trail! Today we applied our knowledge of expanding America and played the Oregon Trail card game.  The game is adapted from a popular computer game, and simulates the experience of a family of pioneers.  


Science: Punnet Squares

We are continuing to build up our understanding of genetics.  We have created drawings of imaginary family members using Punnett Squares to determine the potential for  inheritance of different characteristics.  We are developing quite a weird looking family!

Math: Extra Credit and Graphing

For 7th grade math, we are currently studying integers and square roots.  The students were given an extra credit opportunity to make cupcakes using a recipe that involved solving several problems in order to get the correct ingredients.  

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In 8th grade math,we have started our graphing unit and are looking forward to our first project involving graphing lines to create a stained glass window.

Think Tank: Game Design

We are in the brainstorming stages of the Think Tank project, Game Design.  Students were placed in multi-grade groups, in which they must respond to the question: Can you create a game where the players have fun learning something new?

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Visit to Pinewoods

Today, the Sage students visited Pinewoods campus to meet their Pen-Pals! Students, kindergarten through 8th grade, are paired with peers at the opposite campus and throughout the year send letters to each other.  Today students not only met their Pen-Pals, but they engaged in a fun ice-breaker, read stories to each other, had snack, and played outside.  As a teacher, I was so excited to see students of all ages mixing, and so proud of the 7th and 8th grade students for not only being role models, but for playing, smiling, and having fun with the younger students.  The morning was the perfect embodiment of the Taylor community! 

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ELA: The Elements of Story

In order to dig deeper into our Independent Reading Books, we are learning about the elements of story: from characterization, to determining themes, and the many factors that create setting.  Below, students are engaging with a class text, The Treasure of Lemon Brown, by Walter Dean Myers, to establish what the dialogue reveals about the characters within the story. 

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ELA: Independent Reading

Nothing makes Ms. Norton happier than a book filled with sticky notes! Through this, we are practicing engagement with our Independent Reading Books, and applying the lessons we've learned in class to our own texts. 

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We are beginning the year by crafting an ability to see stories all around us.  By allowing students the freedom to choose their own books, we hope to fuel a passion for reading.  We will be taking frequent trips to the Troy Public Library throughout the school year, as well as using mentor texts to learn about the elements of story and apply this knowledge to our individual books. Students will be using sticky notes to engage with their Independent Reading Books, marking moments that make them wonder and think, moments they notice and that surprise. 

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Science: Genetics

Genetics is the study of how traits are transferred through the inheritance of genes. From whom do we get which genes?

In this unit, we’ll be thinking about why we look the way we do. We'll consider diseases that are genetic, question if we should tamper with our own DNA to decide how we want to look, and, most importantly solve the mystery: why is Mr. Shepard bald?  It should be a very busy and interesting unit!

As a Classroom, We Believe...

Students are investigating these belief statements to think about our classroom community; how we want to act and how we want to be. Each student is presenting a "symbol" that they believe connects to their statement, and will lead a class discussion as to whether or not their statement is important to our class culture. 

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Digital Citizenship 

This year, we are using the "Be Internet Awesome Curriculum" from Google to help us think about our online presence and ourselves as "digital citizens" within a larger community.  From this curriculum (which you can check out here: https://beinternetawesome.withgoogle.com/en_us/educators) we will then be drafting a Chromebook Agreement for our class to help us think about how our computers should be used in schools. 

Be Internet Awesome Curriculum Screenshot

From your teachers:

We are so excited to learn and grow with your students, old and new.

The first few weeks we will be working on establishing routines and effective learning habits, and, most importantly, we will be getting to know each other! Please reach out if you have any questions or concerns; we are always available to talk or set up a meeting.  Our emails are This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.