MIDDLE SCHOOL CONCEPT
WHAT IS MEANT BY THE "MIDDLE SCHOOL" CONCEPT?
An effective middle school program is designed around the unique developmental needs of early adolescents (11-14 year olds). Because the intellectual, social, physical, and emotional needs of this age group are different from either elementary or high school students, a customized educational program is necessary. The middle school is a bridge between elementary school and high school. It is not an exaggerated elementary school nor a miniature high school, but a blend of the two.
WHAT IS A TEAM?
A team is a group of teachers who have the same group of students (100-120) every day. Their classrooms are clustered together in the same wing of the building. The team consists of anywhere from two or four teachers. Together, teams teach science, language arts, social studies, and mathematics. A special education teacher also works with the teams. Due to scheduling conflicts, the special education teacher may have some students on their caseload that are also on other teams. The number of teams depends each year on the number of students in the school.
DOES THE NAME OF THE TEAM HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH ABILITY GROUPINGS?
No, the designations of Eagle, Explorer, Tracker, and Lion whatever, are for belongingness only. The names have absolutely nothing to do with the ability grouping. Each team has students with a wide range of ability levels.
ADVANTAGES OF THE TEAM APPROACH?
There are many advantages. Classrooms which are contiguous make it easier for students to get back and forth to class on time, especially since lockers are located in the team area of the wing. Since team teachers have the same planning period, they are able to plan for curriculum integration, interdisciplinary units, field trips and special activities for their students. Communication and support among teachers is much greater with this approach. Parent conferences and special education meetings are made easier by the fact that all of a student's basic skills teachers are available at the same time of the day. Students also feel like they are part of a group when on a team. It creates a "school within a school." The team helps provide the child (who is accustomed to elementary school) an atmosphere which is similar to that in his elementary school.
WHAT IS MEANT BY THE TERM "POD"?
Pods are how we group our students within a team. A pod is a group of students that follows more-or-less the same academic schedule. These students become very familiar with and supportive of each other. The rationale for the creation of pods is that pods imitate the elementary school class pattern and subject the students to far fewer peer groups and unfamiliar people or territory.
HOW IS IT DETERMINED WHICH TEAM MY CHILD IS ON?
This is random process done by the computer. However, if your child selects a particular music performance class, he/she may have his/her schedule "locked in" due to the fact that band, orchestra and chorus are offered only at certain times of the day.
CAN MY CHILD SWITCH TEAMS OR CERTAIN TEACHERS ON A TEAM?
Every organization has certain "inviolable rules" that aren't broken. One of ours is to honor the integrity of the team approach. If students have teachers from each team or switch between teams, it defeats the purpose of this approach. As professional educators, we are confident any conflict between a student and teacher can be satisfactorily resolved without jeopardizing the benefits of the team approach. Part of our task of educating the child is to teach them to deal with their problems or concerns in an open manner rather than "escape" from them.
Guidance and counseling services are offered at the middle school in a variety of areas including: academic counseling, career exploration and information, parent relationships, peer relationships, teacher-student relationships, study skills, and group testing. Additional services are offered to students with high absenteeism and low grades. There
is a district Prevention and Crisis Counselor available to teach classes to students on various topics and work with parents, students, and outside referral agencies at times of crisis. Students who need to see a counselor should have a pass from their teacher or leave their name in the guidance office.
ARE MEDICATIONS ADMINISTERED THROUGH A CLINIC?
Medications are given by office staff members only with written permission of the parent. This includes aspirin or Tylenol. Any medication to be given over 7 days must have a doctor's permission form signed by the doctor and parent each semester.
MY CHILD HAS A SPECIFIC MEDICAL CONDITION I WANT THE NURSE AND TEACHERS TO BE AWARE OF. WHAT SHOULD I DO?
Call the nurse and talk to her personally about this. She will relay the information to teachers and principals. It is very important that you do this.
This is a safe place each student can put books, notebooks, coat, P.E. clothes, and band instruments. It allows students not to have to carry all their belongings from class to class.
SHOULD STUDENTS SHARE THEIR LOCKER OR LOCKER COMBINATIONS WITH OTHER
No! This leads to many problems. Each student has their own locker and combination. There is no reason for giving another student the combination to their locker or sharing lockers. An exception would be when two students are assigned to the same locker due to not having enough lockers.
HOW OFTEN CAN MY CHILD GO TO HIS/HER LOCKER?
The students may go to their locker between any of their classes. In order to get to class on time, some teams will work out a system so they only have to go to their locker every other hour.
MIDDLE SCHOOL CURRICULUM
WHAT ARE THE MAJOR COMPONENTS OF THE MIDDLE SCHOOL CURRICULUM?
Three major elements make up the middle school curriculum: 1) basic skills (the team classes), 2) exploratory classes and 3) electives. "Basic Skills" consists of language arts, science, mathematics, and social studies. The "Exploratory classes" component consists of computer keyboarding, computer hardware and components, information skills and, foreign cultures. Physical education, band, choir, orchestra, art and home economics are the electives.
WHAT IS AN INTERDISCIPLINARY UNIT?
An interdisciplinary unit is one where all the teachers on the team teach around one theme and apply it to their subject. For example, in a unit on travel, the social studies teacher would do maps, the English teacher would do a research report, the math teacher would do money exchange, the reading teacher would read about the countries, and the science teacher would cover the plant and animal life. Teams usually do three or four of these units each year.
DO THE TEAMS HAVE FIELD TRIPS IN SEVENTH GRADE?
Yes, field trips are an extension of the regular curriculum and provide a valuable learning experience for students. Each team usually plans one or two field trips per year. A letter and permission slip will be brought home by your child. A fee may be charged to cover the cost of the buses and admission, if any. We sell things to make money for field trips. One field trip for one team to the capitol can cost the school over $1000.
HOW DOES MIDDLE SCHOOL HOMEWORK DIFFER FROM ELEMENTARY SCHOOL HOMEWORK?
Parents should expect to see more homework. When students enter the middle school homework becomes a very important part of their program. At this age, students will be expected to work more independently. Also, homework becomes an even greater part of the student's grade.
WHAT CONSTITUTES HOMEWORK?
Homework will vary from class to class. For math class a student will have a specific daily assignment in which a certain number of problems are to be completed each day. For another class, homework may involve studying for a spelling or unit test over a two or three day period. Other examples of homework might involve doing a book report or an extensive science project. Such an assignment could extend over the period of a month. Reading is a common and extremely important though often overlooked homework task.
HOW CAN PARENTS HELP THEIR CHILD IN MAKING HOMEWORK A POSITIVE AND WORTHWHILE EXPERIENCE?
Establishment of a daily routine for homework has proven to be important. Set a time for it to start and stick with it. Turn off the TV, the internet and any video games. Also, it is important for parents to check over their child's work from time to time to provide support and encouragement. Missing or incomplete homework is a major cause of lack of academic success at the middle school level.
ASK TO SEE WHAT YOUR CHILD PRACTICED TODAY IF HE OR SHE TELLS YOU THEY DID HOMEWORK AT SCHOOL. WE HAVE TO ALLOW SOME TIME DURING CLASS FOR THE PRACTICE OF ASSIGNMENTS. SOME STUDENTS TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS AND RACE THROUGH THE ASSIGNMENT RECKLESSLY. THEY WILL TELL YOU THAT THEY "DID IT AT SCHOOL".