We share evidence-based K-12 learning strategies that empower you to improve education.
Extend the Middle School day to include supervised (High School mentors with classroom teachers), choices of "club" activities that will model and promote appropriate social behavior, higher level learning activities, cultural diversity and understanding, and creativity/problem solving.
Hands on SKILLS classes in auto mechanics, art, electronics. Learning how to physically, DO something real will go a million miles for young people who feel temporarily or totally disenfranchised. Our modern eras total focus on book knowledge to the exclusion of all else is what has changed and created kids who feel all efforts are futile. We do not live in a virtual world, they live where cars break down and bills have to be paid. They all have something to give and given a real chance...everyone will contribute! Somewhere we have mistaken the idea that to be equal, we have to be the same. We are not all created the same, but we are all to be given equal opportunity to explore and create ourselves. Bring back shop, and vocational technology classes. Back in the day, I had sewing, a plastics shop class, engine repair and a cooking class in my own middle school years. I went on to be pretty good at some of these things and still interested in academics.
I am not new to teaching...I have been working in urban education for 14 years and am currently coaching new and experienced teachers. I love the work I do, and I work in one of the toughest middle schools in Oakland, CA. While I should probably offer you a list of books to read or strategies to try, I, instead, have a different kind of advice for you. You may not like it, but here it is: you should seriously stop teaching...now...even though the year has just begun. I am horrified to even think about the overt and unintentional messages you are sending all you kids, especially the "bottom 30%" as you refer to them. This is simply not the profession for you; it is sad to see that you are so bigoted after such a short time in this work, but the tone in your post is clear: you have no interest in meeting all kids' needs, which is our job. If not us, then who? No one should be destined for jail because of the amount of money their parents make or the neighborhood they are from or, in your case, the lack of access to a quality education. I am disappointed in Edutopia for allowing your post to be made public. Your comments are doing nothing to better anyone's education...you're merely feeding into the miseducation of another generation of young people.
Anonymous....your comment shows that you have compassion for students who struggle for whatever reason. I do also. For that reason and others, I embrace the concept of "tracking". As another poster said, it has gotten a bad name here in the U.S. but is actually a great way to provide students with what they need at every level.
Middle School, MD
Differentiated instruction, yes. But mixed level classes without aides? No. My school has just been given the news that we can no longer send spec.ed. students to the spec. ed. lab b/c the spec. ed. teacher is overwhelmed. Not enough resources. So, now I get three levels of students within one class and no aide to help with the directed learners and no other place to send them for the help they need and are entitled to. I'm supposed to make sure that the honors students are challenged at the same time that the spec. ed students are directed and try, try, not to forget about all of the good, average, merit students in the class as well. I'm energetic and committed but I'm not Superman. I think the best thing we can do for our middle school students is to group according to ability once again. I think that it's time the pendulum swung back that way.
Im the beginner and have just started searching for the latest and modern techniques to help teaqchers tyo understand middle school children so as to improve their academics, descipline and behaviour.
I think that one way to improve middle schools is to make middle school grade 5-6 and then have a jr. high school which house 7-8 grades. This helps students ease into high school better and keeps them with kids that are close to their own age.
I don't think the curriculum for middle school is so hard, it's the behavior of the middle school students that presents a major problem. At this level I noticed the middle school student is more disrespectful than when I went to school. Middle school students feel they have more rights and will challenge the teacher's authority. The media does not help any with the violent nature of most of the entertainment aimed at middle school students. Maybe it might be different in a higher economic community but working in the inner city I have noticed discipline is a major factor when the schools are not achieving academic success.
As we all know the middle schoolers are very capapble of doing an outstanding job on these tests.However, due to the many woes of adolescent years school and state tests are usually at the bottom of the prioirity list. I can remember when I was in middle school and we were told we were to take tests, when I found out that it did nto effect my grade I could care less how I did on them. At that age who cares about state standards, or district report cards or funding. This is why the scores drop. At that age the hallway gossip is much more important. I feel if we get them to understand in the early part of sixth grade, what to expect in the latter years we would see a change in the scores.