Thursday, November 12, 2009

"Once On This Island"

Hello there!

Today was the opening night for our school musical, "Once On This Island." If you didn't go see it tonight, GO on Friday or Saturday! It is a good, fun, entertaining show and you can come support your fellow students who have been working hard since September. Let me know what you think of the show - and if you show me your ticket stub on Monday, you'll earn some extra credit :)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Providence Effect!


"The Providence Effect," the documentary about our school, is being released in theaters tomorrow, September 25th. I hope you are all planning on going to see it, and taking family and friends with you!

If you DO go see it, please leave a comment here telling me what you thought of the movie - doing so will earn you extra credit!

You can check out theater listings and times, watch the trailer, and see more information at the website:


Saturday, September 19, 2009

President Obama's Speech

On September 9th, all middle school Social Studies classes got to watch President Obama's speech to schoolchildren. We had an opportunity to talk about the speech and each student picked out some of their favorte quotes - many of these are now hanging on the wall in the hallway. Here are some pictures of us watching the speech:

The 7th grade Language Arts classes are composing letters to President Obama letting him know we watched the speech, what they thought about the things he said, and showing him some pictures. We'll let you know if we hear back from him!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Week 2 - Complete!!

Hello Middle School Social Studies Students!

Congratulations - we have completed the second week of school and we are off to a great start! I'm posting your homework for the weekend here --- if you want to earn some extra credit, leave a comment telling me what you are MOST excited to learn about this year in your Social Studies class :)

6th Grade -
1.3 notes are due Monday. Make sure to follow proper format! (see your 1.1 notes, or ask an older/returning student if you aren't sure!)

7th Grade -
We have our Chapter 1 Test on Monday - use your review questions, review sheet, class notes, and to help you prepare. If you want to review with me, you can come up Monday morning at 7:30am.

8th Grade-
Your compare/contrast essay about the Preamble to the US Constitution and the PSM Mission Statement is due on Monday. It is a project grade worth 25 points -- 5 pts each for: 1) background of each document, 2) audience of each 3) purpose of each 4) meaning of each and 5) language mechanics/spelling. The essay should be at LEAST 3 paragraphs -- opening, body, and closing. Your essay may take on a lengthier format - for example, 1 paragraph for opening, each topic, and the closing. Please email me with any questions!

Have a great weekend, and I'll see you on Monday :)

~ Ms. Michalak

Monday, July 6, 2009

School Supplies!

Happy July!

I KNOW you have a month and a half before school starts up again, but I had to write a quick post because as you all know, you are going to need school supplies -- and Target has ALREADY put out their school supplies. I'm sure they will have them from now through September, but they appear to have some really good deals right now. So, if any of you do your shopping at Target, I thought I would make a list of some of the things that you will definitely need when you return to school. And even if you don't shop at Target, it drew my attention to the fact that having a list in advance might be helpful - so shop wherever you do, and I hope this list is helpful to you :)

Warning: This is NOT a complete list - I am only telling you things I know for SURE - and you can expect to get more complete lists from all of your teachers when you come back to school mid-August :) I don't want to try and guess what everyone else will require, I'm just trying to give you a head start!

In general:
- book covers (you will need to cover all textbooks. Plan for approximately 5)
- pencils
- pens (blue or black)
- looseleaf paper

For Social Studies specifically:
- notebook (at least 120pgs+, with at least 2 sections in it)
- pens (blue or black AND another color - red is a good option!)
- markers or crayons (to be left at home - but you will have take home projects/assignments that will require you complete them in color)

As always, if you have any questions - feel free to leave a comment or email me. I hope you're all doing well!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Hello from Richmond, Virginia!

Hi everyone!

I am coming to you live from a seminar for teachers of American History - the topic is "The South in American History" and we are studying at the University of Richmond for the week with a group of teachers who come from all over the United States and Bermuda. We have representatives from Washington (state), Washington DC, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Florida, Kentucky, Illinois, Michigan, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Virginia, Louisiana, Milwaukee, Georgia ... and I may be forgetting some!

I'll have some great pictures to show you when we get back to school - for now, our schedule is pretty full of lectures, creating podcasts, and visiting some local sites: Jamestown settlement, the Richmond Slave Trail, Drewery's Bluff, Moton Museum, and Monument Avenue.

Hope you are all having a great summer!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Some quick notes -

- All exams have been graded and entered in PowerSchool - so go ahead and check your grades there before you come in for official report card pick up.

- 8th grade graduation is at 6pm this coming Friday, May 29th. 6th/7th graders - you are welcome to come, and I encourage you to do so! You'll be able to celebrate the accomplishments of the 8th graders but also see what is in store for you. It is a fun, happy, exciting occasion (and while you certainly don't have to wear a school uniform, I encourage you to dress up a bit!)
- 12th grade graduation is at 1pm on Sunday, May 31st. This is an even larger celebration - we'll be congratulating the seniors on all their accomplishments, lots of money/scholarships will be given away, and the auditorium will be full of happy, joyful, cheering family and friends. Again, you all are welcome to come - but get there early if you want a seat!

Summer Homework
- Don't lose that summer packet! It IS due the first day of school - make sure it is completed in blue or black ink, cursive handwriting, and using complete sentences. Feel free to email me with any questions - but please be specific :)

Have a great summer everyone! I'm looking forward to seeing you all in August :) Until then - keep checking back, I'll update this blog every so often (or just become a follower!)

Friday, May 22, 2009

In the News:

Recently, the 8th grade finished our study of the modern Civil Rights Era -- 8th graders, do you remember when we talked about those 3 civil rights workers who were murdered in Mississippi? That town - known for its violence and killings by the KKK - just elected their first black mayor this week. Check out the story here:

Sunday, May 17, 2009

This week...

Only 5 days left of the school year - here's what's going on:

Remember to STAY focused!! :) Keep working hard until that last exam is over - you don't have time for any mistakes!

Monday - normal day of school
Tuesday - shortened classes in the morning, Picnic from 12pm - 2:50pm (more on that in a minute)
Wednesday - Exams for periods 7, 8. Dismissal @ 10:45
Thursday - Exams for periods 3, 4/5, 6. Dismissal @12:15
Friday - Exams for periods 1,2. Dismissal at 10:45. 8th Grade luncheon!!

School picnic:
All middle schoolers will be eating lunch in the cafeteria before the picnic - hot dogs and hamburgers - then we'll head outside for fun and games. There will be several student group vendors selling snacks, so bring a little cash if you want to purchase anything! (I'll be with FBLA selling SnoCones - come see us!)

It IS an out-of-uniform day, but you need to buy the $1 sticker from the Junior class on Monday if you haven't done so already in order to be out of uniform. Check at lunch, or after school in room 201 to buy the sticker. Out of uniform means BLUE jeans (pants that fit, with a belt), PSM shirt (polo, gym, or spirit shirt), and gym shoes (laces have to match).

After the picnic, we're all going to help clean up the park then return to advisories for attendance and announcements.

If you have any questions, ask one of your teachers, Mr. McGrath, or Ms. Ward!

Keep studying for those exams ... don't wait until the last minute :)

Saturday, May 9, 2009

We admit defeat ...

Congratulations to the 8th Grade Basketball team in their hard-fought victory over the faculty on Friday afternoon -- it was a fun game and I'm impressed with how hard you guys worked to win!

If any of you/your parents have pictures from the game, please let me know! I'd love to see them, and maybe post a few here on the blog. I didn't take any pictures since I was ... running around trying to block Khalil, Paris, ShaRhonda, Sam, and Michael...

Happy weekend everyone! Remember to start preparing for finals -- 8th grade, your exam is this coming Thursday and 6/7th grades, yours start May 20th!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

8th Grade Extra Credit Opportunity

Hey there 8th Graders!
Your school year is rapidly coming to a close, and I know there are lots of exciting things coming up - but before you can celebrate, you need to finish your classes! So, let's buckle down and stay focused through the end of our exams to achieve the highest possible grades we can.
Here is your last extra credit opportunity for the quarter, the school year, and your middle school career!

We are now in the middle of our study of the Vietnam War -- using Chapter 29 in your textbook and on to help you, you will show the time period through a short series of pictures and brief captions.

- Choose 3 photos, pictures, or visual sources that you feel portray the Vietnam War era. (Use to start, but you may get them from anywhere on the web)
- Copy and paste the photos to a Microsoft Word Document
- Include a caption for each picture. The caption should include a description of what the picture is of, and why you think this is a good illustration of the time period.
- At the end of the document, include a list of works cited -- where did you get the photos/any background information from? Make sure to use MLA format, and include your textbook.
- Email your document to michalake at psmnow dot com (my school account)

Due: By Sunday, May 10th at 6pm.

Weekend Homework + Contest Winners

Good Morning Middle Schoolers!

Just a note with this weekend's homework - after yesterday's Science Fair and with many of you being at today's track meet, I wanted to make sure everyone was clear on what they needed to do! If you have any questions, leave a comment or email me at my school account :)

... but before we get to that, CONGRATULATIONS to our top scorers in the National Geography Challenge!
6th Grade: Jessica B
7th Grade: Ryan M
8th Grade: Sam S

And now, this weekend's homework:
6th Grade:
- Ch 13 Review questions need to be done by Monday (Pg 460 #5-12 all, #13-15 choose 2)
- Ch 13 Test is coming up soon (!) so start studying now!

7th Grade:
- Create a sketch of a battlefield map from the Civil War (doesn't matter when/where - you pick!) Use the examples in 16.3 or on to help guide you. You should include at least 3 battles (their locations and who won), troop movements, a title, key, and compass rose. It is just a sketch, and we'll spend some time talking about it and working on it in class next week.
- Ch 15/16 Test will be next week -- start studying now!

8th Grade:
- 29.1 notes are due on Monday

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

8th Grade Research Project

The 8th graders just completed an interdisciplinary project on a Civil Rights icon of their choice. They had to research their chosen person and present their findings in a web for their Social Studies class, write a speech from a first person point of view for their Language Arts class, and present their speech, in character, in their Reading class. Congratulations, 8th graders, on a job well done!

Here are some of those hard working 8th graders:

Kalei and Sarita, utilizing their print resources:

Sam assembling his research into an Inspiration web:

Victor REALLY likes citations!
(Because of COURSE they had to turn in a Works Cited page, in MLA format!)

Aniyah, checking out some primary sources:

Monday, April 27, 2009

7th Gr - EXTRA CREDIT Opportunity

Hello 7th graders!

Sorry about the delay in my posting - I know some of you were looking for it on Saturday, but thank you for being patient with me while I had the flu! As promised - here is your last extra credit opportunity for the quarter (and the school year!)

First, just let me say - there are some *REALLY* cool books out there about the Civil War. With that in mind:

- Read a novel about the Civil War.
- Present a summary of the book in a format of your choice.
- Critique the book for an audience of teachers.

1) Choose a book, and approve your choice with Ms. Michalak.
There are two websites that have very long lists of novels about the Civil War. The first includes many, many more options - but some are meant for adult readers. They may be too long for the time you have to complete this project, or for some of you, a bit above your reading level.

However, you are welcome to look and select from the list if you choose to do so:

The second list is of novels meant for "young adults," but it has far less options:

Here is a list specifically designed with middle school students in mind:

Some of my favorite Civil War novels are by Ann Rinaldi. Her novels that are set during the time period are: "The Last Silk Dress," "Girl In Blue," "In My Father's House," "Mine Eyes Have Seen," and "Amelia's War."

2) Read the book :)

3) You need to turn in TWO things.
Thing1) The first is a summary of the book - you need to show that you read it, and present what happened in the book. YOU choose how you want to do this. What will your final product be? A written "book report?" A Power Point presentation? An oral presentation? Use your imagination - but again, get your idea approved by Ms. Michalak before you start working on it!

Thing2) Write a 5-8 sentence critique of the book, to be read by a middle school teacher. Your critique should focus on answering these two questions (it is *not* a summary of the book): Should this book be used as part of a middle school curriculum about the American Civil War? Could this book be helpful for a middle school learner? Why or why not?

DUE DATE: Monday, May 11th

If you have ANY questions, PLEASE - email, leave a comment here on the blog, or come see me before/after class. I would love to talk with you as you plan, and work on, this extra credit project. Happy reading!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

6A Test !

Good morning 6A!

I'm writing a new post just so you can practice your posting abilities. Please leave a comment telling me one current event that is interesting to you right now - from your news watching this weekend, the article you chose for the week, or perhaps from our competition.

Make sure to sign your first NAME and last INITIAL only.


Saturday, March 28, 2009

Weekend Updates

Happy Saturday!

All classess will be having a test this week. Start reviewing now, and getting prepared. I had one seventh grade student come to me during Saturday tutoring to review some content we talked about last week, but he was still confused on some details. After some review of the textbook and our textbook's website, he really increased his understanding - we need to have more of this, taking responsibility for your own learning!

Weekend homework:
6th Grade
- Read and take notes on 12.4
- Watch 30 minutes of the news, write down 4 stories and a detail about each one. Include the channel and time you watched, and get a parent signature.

7th Grade
- If your group didn't present your information from 13.4 - you will on Monday. Be ready!
- Read and take notes on 13.4. This will help us be prepared to ask questions of groups who have yet to present.

8th Grade
- Your partner assignment analyzing McCarthy's effect on American rights is due on Monday - check in with your partner BEFORE you get to school to ensure that it's ready to turn in.
- Read and take notes on 27.3

As always - email me or leave a comment if you have any questions!

AND! Go Green! My team won their game last night - make sure to update those brackets :)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Terra Novas!

You guys are doing a great job on your Terra Nova tests - keep up the good work, stay focused, get lots of sleep and eat a good breakfast!

Just a few notes for different classes:

6th Grade:
- Keep looking for new sources for your current events. Remember, only foreign events are accepted for 4th quarter. However, keep watching the news! Domestic events will definitely be in our upcoming Newsbowl contest.

7th Grade:
- Try checking out,, and while looking for your current event article. You can also use the Chicago Tribune, Sun Times, or any other major newspaper. (RedEye and Defender are not allowed for this assignment) One extra credit point if you use a paper newspaper rather than an online source. You can get a newspaper from the LRC if you want/need one!

8th Grade:
- See me for an extra credit project. It must be completed by the Monday after Spring Break.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

NCAA Tournament, 4th Qtr

Hello middle schoolers!

I have seen all of you filling out your brackets for your math project - a few thoughts for you:
1) Good luck!
2) I'd love to see your bracket once it's all filled out - but not during class.
3) Yes, I fully support any time you choose Michigan State. This could be our year (again!) :)
4) A #16 seed has never beaten a #1 seed
5) Just because you haven't heard of a school doesn't mean they can't win a game or two!
6) I. love. basketball!

Now - on to other matters
4th Quarter has begun!

- By now, you have (hopefully) checked your grades on PowerSchool. If you have any questions, or want to review your exam, come and talk to me. I would be happy to look at your exam and overall grades with you and make a plan for your continued success in the 4th quarter.

- Keep checking this blog! I will post extra credit opportunities throughout the quarter.
Leave a comment on this post, telling me who you think will win the NCAA Tournament. Posts must be timestamped by Sunday night at 6pm.

Continue to stay focused and work hard. Many of you made a lot of improvements from 2nd to 3rd quarter - keep that momentum going, and climb even higher!

Until next time -

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Review Time!

Exams are next week.
You have your review sheets (they were passed out in class today).
Now it's time to buckle down, work hard, and get high grades on all your exams!

Study Tips:
- Make flashcards for your key terms. Go through them in small groups at first so you learn them more quickly. Once you mastered a batch of them, begin adding in more cards.
- Answer the practice questions - even the ones you "think" you "know" - you may be surprised how some details and concepts aren't as clear to you now as you thought they were!
- Use for practice questions, practice maps, and identification games. This should ADD to your reviewing - it should NOT be the only thing you use!
- Email me with any questions.
- If necessary, ask about one-on-one or small group tutoring with me before your exam.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Exams are coming up

3rd Quarter Exams start two weeks from tomorrow - NOW is a good time to start preparing!

Exam schedule:
Monday, March 9th: Regular day of school
Tuesday, March 10th: 1st, 2nd period exams. Dismissal: 10:45am
Wednesday, March 11th: 3rd, 4/5th, 6th period exams. Dismissal: 12:15pm
Thursday, March 12th: 7th, 8th period exams. Dismissal: 10:45am.
Friday, March 13th: No Classes!!! Enjoy the time off, and get ready for a busy and exciting 4th quarter!

If you have any questions, please come talk to me, send me an email, or comment here on the blog. Tutoring will be held as usual in my room on Tuesday, February 24th and Tuesday, March 3rd.

Review sheets will be coming towards the end of next week ...

Friday, February 20, 2009


Hello there!

Thank you for stopping by! This blog was created as a way for me to communicate and share resources and information with my students, their parents, former students, or anyone else who feels like joining us. So - welcome, please feel free to browse around, leave a comment, and follow my students and I as we explore social studies!