One important aspect of curriculum is professional development. One targeted area for our building is Social and Emotional Learning. Earlier this month a group of teachers consisting of representatives from each grade level, guidance, Mr. DeMarco and I attended a wonderful workshop in Andover, Massachusetts, hosted by the New England League of Middle Schools (NELMS) on Responsive Advisory for Middle Schools. This program is based upon the structures of Responsive Classroom, which is part of the structure and culture of the elementary schools in district but is developmentally appropriate for adolescents. The program helps teachers create a structure and framework for building meaningful connections and developing respectful and trusting relationships while meeting students’ developmental needs. This learning will continue for all staff members later this year in preparation for a school-wide advisory program.
Learning at a Glance
On October 30, both grade 6 and grade 8 students experienced an interdisciplinary unit with a focus on the Mexican holiday, Dia de Muertos – Day of the Dead. The unit had a culminating experience where students applied what they are learning in world language, art, and music by creating art reflective of the culture and traditions of the Mexican holiday, the band played and the chorus sang songs that told of the traditions, and the students also made skull cookies in consumer education classes. It was a wonderful celebration of learning and performance.
As we settle into the school year many wonderful activities and new learning are occurring at each grade level. 6th grade just returned from a week at environmental camp, Nature’s Classroom, where students learned about the natural world around them through hands-on activities, field group studies, experiments, and much more. Throughout their stay, students learned a great deal about recycling and how waste impacts our planet. The application of their learning continued back at school, where the school recycling club, together with Northeast Resource Recovery Association (NRRA), held the fourth annual Trash on the Lawn Day (TOLD). During TOLD, all 6th graders took part in analyzing the trash produced at MMS and helped determine how well we were composting and recycling as a school. MMS has developed an award-winning recycling program that has been embedded in the culture of the school. Events like Nature’s Classroom and TOLD are just some examples that help our 6th graders transition to the middle school.
The 7th grade teams have finished their introduction to laboratory procedures and microscopes in science, and have now begun the study of the identification, structure, and function of the basic building blocks of life: cells. Classic short stories such as, “The Tell-Tale Heart”, “The Most Dangerous Game”, and “The Magic Thread” have been studied. These same elements used to teach short stories will be transferred to the novel studies of Freak the Mighty by the Explorers and The Outsiders by the Navigators. The two teams will then switch books and continue their study.
Starting in November, during Response to Intervention (RTI) time, groups in 7th grade will be engaging students in book groups, where the students will have choice in their selection of book. There will be deep discussion around theme as well as targeted skill work for all students based on need. A problem-based performance task will be the culminating activity following the completion of their book.
Beth Gibney, Curriculum Coordinator
673-5221 ext. 1530