Math

Welcome to Math!

by Mrs. Janice Alonso & Mr. Josh Howell

Janice Alonso

Joshua Howell III

I was raised in Harlem, New York City and graduated 8th Grade from St. Charles Borromeo Catholic School, a parochial school taught by the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament whose primary ministry was to African Americans and Native Americans throughout the U.S. Their founder, Saint Katherine Drexel, was canonized in 2000.

From there I attended Fordham Preparatory School and then on to Fordham University where I graduated with a Business Degree in Accounting.

I have an extensive corporate background in accounting/accounting systems, finance, financial analysis and internal controls having spent over 40 years working in several Fortune 500 companies.

After I retired from the business world in 2007, I was able to take advantage of one of my hidden avocations…. teaching. I worked in the Vista Unified School District as a substitute teacher and then I became employed at St. Mary’s Star of the Sea School in Oceanside teaching math to the Middle School 6th, 7th and 8th Grade students since the 2014-2015 school year

My wife, Rosalind and I reside in Oceanside and are members of St. Margaret’s Parish since we moved here in 1998.

THE ST. MARY STAR OF THE SEA MIDDLE SCHOOL MATH PROGRAM

The Math Program here at St. Mary’s use a wide variety of skill practice, problem solving, and reasoning exercises which provide effective, efficient instruction for all students. Practice is paced carefully to ensure that students build skills and develop mathematical understanding. New concepts are presented using clear, student-friendly language. Vocabulary and key ideas for each lesson are clearly identified and explained. Activities, exercises, chapter problems, and problem-solving workshops throughout the courses offer students opportunities to be active and engaged in learning. The courses will be accordingly modified to accommodate both in-school and distance learning.

A synopsis of each course is as follows:

6th Grade:

  • Review of arithmetic and mathematical concepts learned in earlier grades.
  • Expand use of ratios and percentages to accommodate real-world applications.
  • Basic introduction to Geometry and Graphing.

 

7th Grade:

  • Review of concepts learned in 6th
  • Expanded use of decimals and percentages and their relationship to real-world situations.
  • Introduction to the use of powers and exponents.
  • Introduction to solving linear equations and inequalities.
  • Using data to create graphs for solving mathematical problems.
  • More complex geometric and volumetric calculations.

8th Grade: Introduction to Algebra I

  • More complex use of graphing linear equations for solving problems, including inequalities.
  • Use of systems of equations and inequalities for reasoning and problem-solving.
  • Identifying and factoring polynomials.
  • Introduction to the functionality of Quadratic equations.
  • Review of exponents and exponential functions.
  • Probability and data analysis.

Science

Welcome to Sciende!

by Mrs. Janice Alonso

History

Welcome to History!

by Mrs. Rachel McGrane

About Me

My name is Rachel McGrane and I am so excited to be teaching at my alma mater (I graduated from St. Mary in 1998!). I graduated from California State University, San Marcos with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Literature and Writing Studies. I then went on to earn a Master of Library and Information Science degree with an emphasis in Teacher Librarianship from San Jose State University. I worked at St. Therese Academy as their K-8 school librarian for six years before being hired at St. Mary as a classroom teacher. 

I am currently enrolled in the Academy of Catholic Teaching at the University of San Diego. Upon completion of the program, I will have a single subject teaching credential in English Language Arts, an education specialist credential, and a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction. 

When I am not working, I love to read, spend time with my family, travel, go camping, attend concerts, and take walks. I have two toddlers and love learning about the world through their eyes.

I look forward to spending the school year with you!

My Class

History

My Aha! moment in history class was when my undergraduate United States history professor told us that the most important aspects of history were what happened, how it happened, and why it happened. Of course, knowing names and dates are important, but they aren’t what drive the purpose of history, which is to help us understand how we got to where we are now and to help us learn from the past to create positive change in our world.

Students will learn the facts and details of events, but will focus their learning on, and engage with, the stories behind those events. They will connect events across decades, build context for decisions and actions, infer motives when none are available, and test their own ethics and morals in decision making as it relates to past events.

We will also incorporate novels into our lessons so that students will have the opportunity to connect with the historical time period they are learning about in class. The sixth graders will read one historical fiction novel and the eighth graders will read a biography and one historical fiction novel.

English Language Arts and Literature

Welcome to English Language Arts and Literature!

by Mrs. Rachel McGrane

About Me

My name is Rachel McGrane and I am so excited to be teaching at my alma mater (I graduated from St. Mary in 1998!). I graduated from California State University, San Marcos with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Literature and Writing Studies. I then went on to earn a Master of Library and Information Science degree with an emphasis in Teacher Librarianship from San Jose State University. I worked at St. Therese Academy as their K-8 school librarian for six years before being hired at St. Mary as a classroom teacher. 

I am currently enrolled in the Academy of Catholic Teaching at the University of San Diego. Upon completion of the program, I will have a single subject teaching credential in English Language Arts, an education specialist credential, and a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction. 

When I am not working, I love to read, spend time with my family, travel, go camping, attend concerts, and take walks. I have two toddlers and love learning about the world through their eyes.

My Class

Language Arts

In middle school language arts, our primary goal is developing and enhancing critical language arts skills. We accomplish this goal by focusing on grammar through creative and academic writing, and increasing vocabulary.

In sixth grade, our vocabulary lessons focus on roots and affixes along with specific vocabulary words from our novel units. Seventh and eighth graders study appropriately complex grade level words along with specific vocabulary words from our novel units.

Literature

My primary goal in literature class is to nurture a love of reading. Novel studies and weekly informational text studies serve as the foundation of our literature classes. We also study poetry, and focus on reading comprehension, literary analysis, and critical thinking skills.

Students purchase their own copies of our class novels so that they can annotate in their texts to better parse meaning and form deeper connections. Each of our novel units begins with contextualizing the novel’s time and place so that we can better understand the text.

Students also read books of their own choosing, have access to the extensive library in the eighth grade classroom, and journal every day.

Methods of Instruction

Methods of instruction in both language arts and literature include group reading, independent reading, literature circles, small and large group discussions, and various writing assignments and activities. Additionally, all of our learning intentions and success criteria are aligned with the California Common Core State Standards.

Novel Units from Previous Years

These lists are not necessarily what we will be reading each year, but are reflective of the types of novels that are selected for our middle school literature courses at St. Mary. 

6th Grade: Rules by Cynthia Lord, The Phantom Tollbooth by Norman Juster, Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan, The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill, Bound by Donna Jo Napoli

7th Grade: Schooled by Gordan Korman, The Giver by Lois Lowry, Hatchet by Gary Paulsen, Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan

8th Grade: The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, Night by Elie Wiesel, Like a River by Kathy Cannon Wiechman, Refugee by Alan Gratz, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave by Frederick Douglass

Distance Learning

Throughout this difficult and unprecedented time, I am focusing on maintaining normalcy, understanding, flexibility, and support for students. While continuing education is important, the mental health and well-being of my students and their families is of utmost importance.

We are continuing our novel, informational text, and short story studies as well as writing and vocabulary activities. I hold synchronous meetings once a week, and am available for drop-in office hours twice a week.

We are using Google Classroom as our primary source of communication and for assignment completion, Flipgrid for presentations, and Padlet for discussions. I also record lessons and lectures using Loom and post them on Google Classroom to support student learning asynchronously.

Contact Me

Please reach out to me if you have any questions! My email address is rmcgrane@stmarystars.com