Our incredible team of Hazen Union 7th and 8th grade teachers have been working collaboratively and intentionally over the past year to create opportunities for all students to feel empowered in addressing the mission of our middle level. "The middle level years are important in building students' social and emotional skills, as well as developing their abilities to communicate, work with others, be creative, and problem solve. By instilling these skills in our young students we give them the opportunities to express themselves and explore their interests in order to prepare them for the next stage of their lives."
Our team gathered last summer at the Middle Grades Institute with a tremendous task at hand: create a sequence of learning that blends a community-focussed interdisciplinary unit, negotiated learning, personalized learning plans (PLPs), digital citizenship, and the rollout of our 1:1 iPad initiative. With the support of Susan Hennessey and the Tarrant Institute for Innovative Education, our middle level team developed dynamic curriculum and experiences to begin and sustain through the school year.
In addition to this work, we have worked hard at sharing our story. The middle level has created a blog to reflect on a variety of experiences, to which teachers and students contribute. Our school has begun podcasting, interviewing students and faculty on numerous subjects. And most recently, we created a video (to be shared at the Middle Grades Conference) documenting our journey:
Great things are happening here at Hazen and it is only the beginning. Our students have built strong foundations for their PLPs, engaged in meaningful ways with their school and town communities, and developed a rich understanding of their digital footprints. As educators, we are continually amazed by the learning and work produced by our thoughtful and skilled students. We look forward to a great second semester and the opportunity to reflect, refine, and revise the work we have started.
(If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @OldManCraig.)