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Easing the Shift From Elementary to Middle School

Edutopia – Heather Wolpert-Gawron

“The biggest shift in K–12 education is the transition from elementary school to middle school. So much is different: campus size, the numbers of students in each class, the accessibility of teachers, how lessons are implemented, student expectations, and the interaction with families. As a teacher, you want parents invested, but some families need guidance in stepping back a bit. Nevertheless, you know that some students falter or fail when the scaffold of parent or elementary teacher falls away.”(more)

Switching To Middle School Can Be Hard On Kids, But There Are Ways To Make It Better

NPR – Anya Kamenetz

“A large body of research suggests that students who go to middle school or junior high do worse academically, socially and emotionally, compared to the young teenagers who get to be the oldest students at schools with grades K-8. A new paper in the Journal of Early Adolescence reinforces this message. The study found that starting a new school in either sixth or seventh grade hurts students’ perceptions of their own reading ability and motivation to work hard in English language arts.”(more)

A teacher’s tips on how to get kids excited about STEM

Buffalo News – Joseph Popiolkowski

“Emerging diseases, energy sustainability and severe weather are just some of the global issues today’s students will be asked to solve using the skills they learn in the classroom, according to one local teacher. Kenneth L. Huff, a middle school science teacher in the Williamsville Central School District, was one of 10 teachers nationwide chosen to help promote the science, technology, engineering and mathematics curriculum as a 2017 STEM Teacher Ambassador. The program aims to train the teachers in communication skills so they can provide input on policies for K-12 STEM education on the local, state and federal level.”(more)

Will middle schools become a thing of the past?

The Sun-Sentinel – Lois K. Solomon

“Middle schools, once seen as a progressive replacement for junior highs, also appear to be on their way out. In their place: K-8 centers, which offer a gentler pre-teen transition into the world of class changes, multiple teachers, electives and academic responsibility. Palm Beach County schools plan to open at least three in the coming years. Broward has five; Miami-Dade is leading the pack with 47. “These kids are with us for nine years,” said Robert Pappas, principal of Gulfstream Academy, a new K-8 school in Hallandale Beach. “I don’t know that K-8 will give us a specific advantage, but we will know our kids and will deliver high-quality instruction because we know them so well.” Research is showing that students have an improved sense of social connection and superior academic results at K-8 centers, which can be found in every state.”(more)

Principal: Real school transformation starts with a magical triangle

E-School News – Tim Webb, Ed. D.

“Every child deserves the opportunity to lead, learn, grow, and succeed. It’s only through a 360-degree approach to learning that we can provide these necessary opportunities to all children. At E.A. Cox Middle School, we are committed to a “whatever it takes” approach to success for each student entrusted to our care. In order to truly dedicate ourselves to this method, my staff and I decided two years ago to develop a three-tiered approach for our curriculum and instruction. The model we created focuses on achieving proficiency in reading and math for our entire student body, along with proficiency in identified social-emotional skills. This model was developed out of a needs assessment that we conducted in 2015–2016, the first year I was principal at Cox Middle School.”(more)

How To Dress Macbeth: A Literary Adventure with Project-Based Learning

Education World – Ryan Tahmaseb

“As a middle school teacher, I’m always looking for ways to get students out of their seats and moving around—to make learning physical. They want this, too. This is why I’m always excited to teach Shakespeare. The language begs to be performed. Macbeth is one of my favorites, and it doesn’t take much to spark the interest of my seventh graders. I just turn out the lights and introduce the idea that this play is cursed: “You cannot say the title of this play in a theater, or else something bad will happen to you.” They look at me like I’m crazy when I start to share a few details of the legend. By the end, however, they are all smiling nervously at each other. And once we start reading and performing scenes, they are hooked. There’s blood, deception, and witchcraft. I mean, come on.”(more)