We share evidence-based K-12 learning strategies that empower you to improve education.
Most teachers will look at classroom size no matter what the age of the students and say that they would be better off with a smaller group. After all with less students you can concentrate/give more attention to the students that you have and work with on a daily basis. A few teachers touched on it above, and that is keeping the students engaged no matter what subject they are learning. For me personally I am lucky, because in teaching technology the majority of kids are excited when they enter my classroom, but that means for me as an educator I need to try really hard to get the few kids that weren't as excited intrigued to be in my class.
In classes today I often here students saying when will this be relevant, so I believe that it is ever so important for teachers to relate what they are teaching to real life situations in as many ways as possible. If students feel the attachment, then they are more willing to try, and will often times give you a much higher level of effort when it comes to their work.
In today's economy the hope of getting more money to research middle school improvement seems like a pretty tough challenge, but thats why learning communities full of teachers should be able to come together and make decisions that will change middle schools for the better.
What I think will do most to improve Middle School is more parental involvement and discipline.
Students MUST read EVERY DAY and review notes EVERY DAY. To do this, parents MUST take away the video games, computer, and TV remote. We only have them for 6 hours a day, 180 days a year. Study after study proves that home environment is essential to academic and life success.
HOW do we do this? I don't know. But next week is Parent/Teacher conference and I'm going to ask for more help on the homefront. Suggestions?
The class sizes in middle schools are usually higher than at most grammar schools. The reason is because in most cases there are many Elementary schools that feed into one Middle School. Then when funding for activities continues to get cut, the student continue to fill the school, making classes up to 35 sometimes 40 students.
Middle school students love a challenge, they are very physical and very social. We have the ideal situation at our small rural school in that we also have small classes. Because we are in a very small town we can also easily contact parents. Students need individual attention.
This is the age where they follow their passion, whatever it is, with passion. Often it is the extracurricular activities that capture the hearts of the students and make the classwork more relevant.
Parent involvement is critical. Parents want to help and be involved. Parents have helped with extracurricular activities as volunteers and worked alongside their children with fundraisers. Our fundraisers relate to the activity they are raising funds for. For example, the basketball team has a hoop-a-thon. The art classes have an art print show and sale of art made by the students. The Music Club has a talent show. We aren't selling candy. All of the events are community events and they bring in students, family and community into the school. The extracurricular activities mean a lot. we have Battle of the Books, Math-a-thon and of course the spelling bee. We have a very active Students against Tobacco group.
The recent research on millennials backs up the fact that students need to be more engaged in their learning experience. They are not apt to accept being passive learners as we were in earlier days of school.
Curriculum must be interactive, relevant, and should address the postmodern skills necessary for life-long learning and application.
I have found that in both rural and urban settings my students seem to be products of lowered standards/accountability, "dumbed down curriculum and assessment", and inconsistant learning standards that progress through the grade levels.
I'm discovering that taking the time to differentiate my own curriculum to meet students' abilities where they are and build upon their learning...as well as allow them to create their own learning experience is highly motivating for the middle school age group. It's a different way of teaching that does not fit the mold and habits of my own learning or what I was taught in teacher education, but I believe once it's done effectively will decrease student apathy and behavioral issues and increase motivation for my middle school students. If class sizes were smaller at the middle school level, it would help teachers assist each child more effectively.
Lastly, I have found that 6th graders are much more successful in a self-contained or departmentalized program. There is a lot of maturity that occurs between 6th and 7th. By 7th grade they are more willing to begin learning the skills toward higher education and careers.
First of all, quit "dividing" up school into arbiytrary sub-grouping. ALL learning is continuous - from birth to death.
Second, concentrate on effective learning with ral-world open-ended projects.
Third, use masrery tests as measures of progress with portfolios used to measure eFfective learning.
Being a beginner may be a great thing you know. You are more open to ideas than those of us that have doing it for years. Technology is part of the answer. Go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RRymi-lFHpE and watch what Richard Baraniuk has to say about the coming trend of no more text books and more online content. AMD hopes to get internet connection to 50% of the worlds population by 2015. We will still be alive and that will be a miracle to see. All of the worlds information in onine now. Why are we continuing to purchase expensive books? Because we have always done it that way. What a waste of technology money when our students need to learn to Read, Write and Type and Spell all at the same time. See http://www.talkingfingers.com/ and it requires little teacher time. They pk kids love to work on their own. You know how they say, "Let me do it myself!" Just a few of my own ideas that I have seen work in the rural schools. Hooked on Phonics is another really good program that can be purchased for pennies on the dollar at eBay. Where there is a will there is a way. And my favorite is "If you think education is expensive, think about the alternative-unknown" Teachers need to be educating themselves everyday in someway, especially in technology and how to integrate it into their classes. Children love to type, writing with pen is hard work for them and they develop a more sophisticated vocabulary when they type. Just another point of view.
All of the above comments should be taken into consideration. We are failing and that should be all we need to know that the mind that created the current system is not going to be the mind that fixes it. Excite the teachers to want to do online professional development in the areas they are passionate about and give them a job teaching those students what they are passionate about, not what they have to do to have a job. Get a team of teachers to be the principle and not just one person to hold that "holier than thou" postion that does nothing to enrich the teaching and learning experience.
If the stduents are not engaged they will not learn. Asked the educators they know what to do to help their students to learn and a longer day could help. An assistant for every teacher would help. And more money would help, but it takes a lot of changes to make it all happen. Ask the people and communities that are getting it right to teach the rest of us what it takes to improve the success rate of our students. There are those pockets of schools that are doing it correctly right now!
I have taught in middle schools for the majority of my teaching career. What keeps kids engaged in middle school are classes like art, music, choir, cooking, sewing, shop, and even technology classes. What my school doesn't have is art, choir, cooking, sewing, and shop. We do have double periods of math and language for everyone. Middle school students are in transition. They only motivation is their peers. They need to be able to interact with others, be creative and productive. They also need to be allowed to read things of their choice. These are "becoming people" and they should be allowed to become.
The Nazi and Soviet regimes practiced censorship of opposing viewpoints. Where are those societies now?