Message from the Principal
We are off to a great start at VandenBerge Middle School! Thank you for your support and for allowing us the opportunity to work with your children. We speak about and truly believe in educating, inspiring and empowering each and every student, but I have to say the students educate, inspire and empower us every day. VandenBerge is a great place to be and we take great PRIDE in being a part of this building and community. You can follow us on Twitter at @ElkRiverVMS, where we regularly post pictures and tweets of the happenings at VMS.
The Chromebooks and Schoology have added a new dimension to VMS. Teachers are utilizing the Chromebooks in class to engage our digital learners in a variety of ways. It is exciting to observe our students eagerly diving into their class material!
I recommend that you check Parent Portal and Schoology to find out what work has been assigned to your student and to ensure that all assignments are turned in. If you have any concerns, please do not hesitate to contact your child’s teacher by phone or e-mail.
We are starting our ZAP (Zeroes Aren’t Permitted) program for students who are missing 2 or more assignments. ZAP occurs over the lunch hour in order to give students extra help during the school day. Students assigned to ZAP by their teachers will go to the head of the lunch line, then take their lunch to the ZAP room where a staff member is there to assist them with assignments, quizzes or tests. We have seen a drastic decrease in the number of missing assignments and failing grades since we implemented this program several years ago.
VMS is once again implementing SOAR (Student Oriented Academic Response) to access remediation or enrichment for students that need the extra help or the extra challenge. SOAR occurs on Wednesdays and Thursdays during RALLY/Homeroom time. Teachers sign students up for this 35 minutes of extra instructional time based on their need or interest. Students and staff enjoy this time to touch base and learn together.
I look forward to a great school year and getting to know you. Thanks for your support of VMS!
Middle School Math League
All VandenBerge students have the opportunity to participate in the Middle School Math League for free. This is a great way for students to start building a college resume and to prepare for the high school math league. Most importantly, it’s a great way for your children to challenge themselves, expand their knowledge of math, and have some fun. The top 10 students and the top 3 scoring schools in the division will get awards for their efforts. The top four or five scoring members of team VandenBerge will be invited to compete in the national Mathcounts competition in February.
Practices will be led by Mr. Michener, the Elk River High School Math Team coach. The commitment is once per week after school until mid-January. It is perfectly acceptable for students to miss a practice or meet. Students who just want to try it for one meet are welcome to come. Practices are typically on Thursdays from 3:00-5:00 in room 242 (ZAP room) at VMS. Students must be picked up at 5:00. The first practice was held on Thursday, September 27th, but there is still time to join!
The first meet is scheduled on October 15. The rest of the meets are tentatively scheduled for November 6, November 27, December 18, and January 14. The schedule will be finalized in the next week.
Please contact Coach Michener at email@example.com to express your interest in the league. Additional details will be sent out once meet locations have been finalized. For more information about math league, go to mnjhml.com.
We hope your child considers participating in what has become a tradition of excellence for VandenBerge students.
Students of the Week
You have probably driven by VandenBerge and noticed the names of the “Students of the Week” on the marquee in front of the building. We will be resuming the “Student of the Week” program during the week of October 1st. This is one of the methods that we utilize to recognize some of the many talented students that we have here at VMS. Our goal is to provide recognition to students that are doing a great job. This honor is not always based on grades alone, but on attitude and exerting an effort to achieve.
To be considered for this honor, a student should meet a minimum of 7 out of 10 of the following criteria:
- Enthusiastic contributing member of the class.
- Displays a positive attitude about the academic material.
- Exhibits a positive outlook towards peers.
- Performs random acts of kindness noteworthy good deeds.
- Conscientious about completing their assignments.
- Willingness to help their peers improve their academic performance.
- Produces quality work (for their perceived ability).
- Continually displays effort and devotes time to their work.
- Completes a project that is of the highest quality. This project may be displayed for other students to view.
- Shows a marked improvement in attitude, effort and work completion.
We congratulate our past “Students of the Week” and look forward to honoring many more during the 2018-19 school year!
Greetings to all! We have been busy here in the VMS art room; planning, creating and learning about the great world of art.
Grade 6 is learning about perspective and the art element of space. Students have been practicing using one and two point perspective and applying those concepts to a final work involving creating structures and forms. They have been excited about how the system of drawing helps them understand depth and distance.
Grade 7 is learning the art of surrealism. We looked at works by Salvador Dali and Rene Magritte and have been using the elements of surrealism to create collage works with magazine images. Students have enjoyed creating interesting combinations of images.
Grade 8 is working on understanding optical effects in design. They have been creating a large poster that combines design elements and repetition to create works that play visual tricks on the eye. We are in the process of getting the works ready for display in the lunchroom.
Check our their works of art below!
We are excited to welcome our AVID students back for another great year!
We have been focusing on building our AVID family and learning about each other. Throughout the year, our focus will be on Writing, Inquiry, Collaboration, Organization, and Reading. We feel these are growth areas for all students and AVID is the right support system for our students to be able to use these strategies to be successful in all their classes.
We will begin recruiting for 6th grade AVID in October. If you feel AVID is a good fit for your child, look for information in October about the application process.
Grade 6 students have been reading, writing and collaborating during class time. Recently, many 6th grade English students have been working on the “If I Were Mayor For a Day” essay contest. The essay contest has given space for students to really take a close look at their writing so they can make edits to their work. We have also been working on reading short stories such as “The Gold Cadillac”. With that story, students write about what their dream car would be - they are so fun to read!
Grade 7 is off to a great start! Students have finished pre-tests on our main standards of text evidence and theme for our fiction unit. We will be working on fiction short stories for the rest of September, October, and into November. While we are giving weekly scheduled in-class reading time for students to read their choice novels, you should expect to see students reading at home as well. As always, please feel free to contact us at any time if you have any questions.
Grade 8 students have been busy reviewing book genres, reading expectations, and setting up accounts/access to digital resources. We are beginning our fiction unit this coming week. We request that ALL students read their independent novels at home for 20 minutes a night. This truly helps build vocabulary skills, comprehension and fluency. Please encourage your child to check their E-Planner (Schoology Calendar) nightly. Feel free to contact your child's teacher with further questions about their class.
Get the Facts about FACS
In the FACS Department, I have the privilege of teaching both 6th grade FACS and 8th grade Pro Chef/Food Science. First, a little about myself. This is my 2nd year at VandenBerge Middle School. I live in St. Cloud with my fiance, Samantha, and our two cats, Finnegan and Winston.
Grade 6 students are learning about Food and Kitchen Safety and Tools of the Trade. In Food and Kitchen Safety, students learn ways to practice good cooking hygiene, how to prevent cross contamination and foodborne illnesses, and proper handling of foods following the clean/cook/separate/chill methods. In Tools of the Trade, students focus on learning proper names of common kitchen utensils and what they are used for. Students also learn how to measure dry and wet ingredients through hands on practice. Next, we will move on to our Reading a Recipe/Kitchen Math unit.
Grade 8 Food Science/Pro Chef students just wrapped up their Job Skills unit. The unit was aimed at preparing students to enter the workforce, possibly in the next year or two. Students learned how to fill out a job application and the importance of doing it correctly. We also practiced interview skills, having a firm handshake, maintaining eye contact, and speaking with a clear confident voice. Finally, we looked at things that happen after you get hired, such as W-4 and I-9 forms, learning about different pay periods, and what deductions are taken out of your checks. Next, we are starting our Financial Literacy unit.
Greetings from the Math Department! We are looking forward to a great year in math!
We’ve already had the chance to practice skills using fun activities and stations! 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students have enjoyed working in collaborative groups, working together to learn from each other.
We would like to take this opportunity to give you a couple of reminders so that every student has the chance to succeed in math this year.
First, it is important that all students come to class prepared, which includes having a scientific calculator, pencil, paper, and other supplies. (Please note: The calculator on the Chromebook is not a sufficient replacement for this required and necessary tool).
Second, students typically have daily practice to work on the skills taught in class that day. Please use Schoology to keep up-to-date on assignments. Daily work should be completed in FOCUS! Students are expected to show their work and correct any mistakes made to demonstrate mastery.
If you have any questions about daily practice or class expectations, feel free contact your child’s math teacher.
VMS Media Center = Reading, Inquiry and Discovery
It’s been a great start to the year in the VMS Media Center. Our book checkout numbers are already trending upward and the space has been busy with reading, inquiry, and discovery. Our first goal in the media center is to help our students foster a love for reading. Our second goal is to model for students that the inquiry process can take them many places. Finally, we want our students to engage in discovery as they explore not only books but also online resources and our hands-on makerspace challenges.
6th Grade Media Orientation
We started the year with orientations for all grade levels. 6th grade students completed two lessons including a QR code scavenger hunt which had them searching high and low for resources and information to complete a quote from a well-loved series of books.
7th Grade Media Center Breakout Review
The 7th grade students were challenged to a Breakout Box experience to see how much they could remember from last year. There were 2 boxes and 4 locks to open. The directional lock proved to be the biggest challenge for many groups but they didn’t give up!
8th Grade GooseChase Media Review
For the 8th grade review, we tried a new app called Goosechase. This allowed students to show what they know about the media center through photo and video evidence. Each team was required to complete a minimum of 9 missions. Our top team from Ms. Shultz’s 6th hour ELA class completed 19 of 23 possible missions - well done!
The VMS Media Center is open every day from 7:45 until 3:15. Students may check out up to 4 items at a time for a loan period of three weeks.
Grade 6 is just finishing the unit on radiation, conduction and convection. Students constructed solar ovens to demonstrate their learning. This unit was completed in conjunction with the Scientific Method.
Grade 7 is investigating the parts of a microscope. They'll use this scientific tool to dive in to the world of a cell, focusing on the types of cells and the complex working of cells that take place in all of us every day.
Grade 8 has blasted into space, traveling through our solar system with its sun, moons, asteroids, meteors and comets. This unit coincides with our Fall Equinox and the constant changes in the phases of the moon. We also enjoyed a day in the Star Lab!
All Social Studies classes acknowledge Patriot Day on September 11, as well as Constitution Day on September 18, with various grade level activities to commemorate these important historical days in our Nation’s history.
Grade 6 has been working on their mapping skills during the first days of school. We have learned the 7 elements of a "good" map, known as TODALSS. Students have spent the last few days mapping Minnesota and getting to know where places are within the great state of Minnesota. Next we move on to learning about what Minnesota looks like today.
Grade 7 students started off the year with a United States map test and will take the test again at the end of the year. The goal is for students to know where all 50 states are. Students also had the opportunity to create a "Mind Map" poster, describing their knowledge and perspectives of US History. It will be exciting to see how much these perspectives change throughout our units! We recently started work on US Government, and students have had great inquiries and discussions about how our government operates. We are learning more in depth about the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Students will be creating a Bill of Rights poster explaining the Amendment and relating it to a real-world experience.
Grade 8 spent the first days of school learning about what geography is, as well as starting mapping skills. Over the next couple of weeks we will learn about map coordinates (latitude/longitude) and the Five Themes of Geography. Students have been creating a "Map of the Mind", where they draw the world from memory! We will keep this map and then draw a new mind map at the end of the year to compare it to the map they created at the beginning of the year. It will be fun to see the differences between the two maps!
Students use headphones regularly in many of their classes, but they are often forgotten at home or in lockers. Please help us remind your student to bring their headphones to class every day! Any headphones are fine but a small pair of ear buds to fit inside their pencil pouch is ideal. Thank you for your assistance!
Building Hours for Students
Students are not allowed to enter the building before 7:45 unless they have a scheduled activity with a staff member. Students remaining in the building after 3:15 must be under the direct supervision of a staff member.
Assistance with Groceries
There are resources available for VandenBerge families who are struggling to make ends meet. One of these resources is a program that is coordinated by the Elk River Women of Today, who deliver products such as bread, muffins, cookies, etc. to VandenBerge each week. The products are collected from Coborn's, Cub Foods and Perkins Restaurant. The food is then distributed to student lockers or you can make arrangements with the School Social Worker to pick up a bag in the main office. If you are interested in receiving a bag on a weekly basis, please contact Krista Brannan at 763-241-3450 extension 2687.