Eighth grade students have been developing their inquiry projects for the unit, “Changes in Europe, Africa, and the Americas” in Humanities. The inquiry process has been an intensive examination of student-lead, researched, and strategic questions and relevant terminology that highlight various aspects this time period, including European exploration, Protestantism, theology, and the Golden Age.

An emphasis has been placed on using reliable resources during the research process and tracing fact finding with citations and ultimately a bibliography. They’ve been able to gather information without “googling it” or using computers as a tool. Between textbooks, the school library, their notes from the public library, and graphic organizers, they’ve been able to gain in depth insight into historical texts.

Before the end of term, students will be able to share this knowledge as teachers in their final presentations. They will share their ideas and summarize their projects in open-ended, five-minute each on the 14th.

This is the inquiry project for their school year. Their curriculum will continue to evolve into future inquiries, including an academic essay at the end of the year where they’ll inquire about the US Constitution.


Teacher Feature: Get to know Jeff Kessler…

After graduating from Willamette University in 1998, Jeff began teaching 5th and 6th grade in Altadena, California through Teach for America. For the last 19 years Jeff has taught students from 1st to 8th grade in a variety of middle school and elementary school settings. In addition to teaching University writing classes, Jeff currently is a faculty affiliate at the University of Montana’s Phyllis Washington School of Education teaching IB classes to educators. Jeff won a Gold Star Award in Teaching Excellence for his work at MIS in 2010. In 2014 Jeff completed a two year fellowship with the National Association of Independent Schools in School Leadership. While completing his master’s degree at the University of Montana, Jeff joined MIS in 2003. He became Assistant Head of School in 2010. In addition to his administrative responsibilities Jeff teaches 8th grade Humanities.


Where are you from and what do you miss about it?

I’m from New Jersey, close to the New York City area. I miss being close to the ocean.


Where is your favorite place to travel?

I like to go to Mexico to surf. My family is going to California for winter break, so that will be fun to get a chance to enjoy some warmer weather. I also love to road trip across the West.


What brought you to MIS?

I came to MIS to teach the first group of first and second graders, At that time, I taught Language arts or English Literacy while I was finishing my Masters Degree. The following year, I  taught third through fifth grade and then fourth through sixth grade. Then, in 2007, we started the MIS Middle School program.


Knowledgeable is the IB profile word of the month. How do you encourage students to be knowledgeable?

Through their inquiry projects in class, I encourage students to link their own passions with the content and concepts they are learning so they are inherently more motivated to learn. I insist that they know something about the world through weekly homework assignments and I offer differentiated options to adapt to different learning styles.


Are there any other fun facts about you that you’d like to share?

One time Julie and Laura bought me an Elvis costume and made me wear it at an assembly.