Letter From an Author

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Westhampton Beach Middle School seventh grader Alexandre Schroeder recently received a surprise email response from Lian Tanner, author of “Icebreaker,” as part of an independent reading project.

For the assignment in Michelle Bennett’s class, Schroeder had the option of emailing the author after reading her book. He carefully drafted a message with poignant questions, such as what inspired her to write the tale of a young outcast living on an ancient ship.

Schroeder was thrilled to hear back from Tanner and receive answers to his questions. “I was surprised and happy,” he said.

Looking From the Outside in at ‘The Outsiders’

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To gain a deeper understanding of the era in which S.E. Hinton wrote and set her bestselling novel “The Outsiders,” Westhampton Beach Middle School eighth graders ventured on a WebQuest prior to the read.

A WebQuest, as defined by webquest.org, is “an inquiry-oriented lesson format in which most or all the information that learners work with comes from the web.” English teachers Donna Flaherty and Alicia Niosi, teacher Lori Reinfurt and librarian Yvonne Perez collaboratively assisted students in researching the 1960s, from cars and cultural landmarks like drive-in movie theaters to the music of the Beatles and Elvis Presley. Students also took a Google Earth tour of some iconic locations mentioned in the novel.

“Whenever I read a book, I visualize everything about it — what the characters look like, what kind of clothes they wear, what hairstyles they might have, the surroundings, everything,” said student Isabelle Schneider. “This WebQuest helped me see everything like I was living in the book. I felt like I could have gone back in time and lived in the ’60s.”

Fellow eighth grader Meghan Pomroy agreed. “It was like looking into a time capsule,” she said. “We got to see how things have changed since the 1960s and what the environment was like for the characters in ‘The Outsiders.’ This information can help us better understand the book and further immerse ourselves in the wonders of the time period.”

Masks for Those in Need

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Using pins, fabric and sewing machines, Kathleen Ciancio’s seventh and eighth grade family and consumer sciences students at Westhampton Beach Middle School put their sewing skills into practice and learned how to stitch their own face masks. After mastering mask making, the students plan to sew more for those in need.  

 

Expanding Language Skills with Pen Pals

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Spanish teacher Jennifer Anderson’s seventh graders at Westhampton Beach Middle School are expanding their Spanish speaking and writing skills though a new pen pal program.

The students recently met their pen pals, who attend a bilingual school in Buenos Aires, Argentina, via Google Meet. Both cohorts of students spoke about their respective schools, seasonal differences, communities and how life has changed in the last six months. The students all spoke in both Spanish and English.

“My students were very excited to connect with students their age from another country,” said Anderson.

The seventh graders will continue to write and converse with their pen pals throughout the school year to enhance not only their Spanish language skills, but their cultural knowledge as well. The classes will also work collaboratively on global projects.