AIMSweb spring benchmarking is here! Next week, the RCBM screen will be administered in Lit. Ladders, and the MAZE will be administered in Humanities. Logistics and materials have been shared with participating teachers. Please have data entered by Wednesday, May 11th, so that we can prepare for any make-ups that need to happen.
We have had a very successful and exciting year in lit. ladders! Student engagement is evident across all grade levels and classes. Students have enjoyed and been challenged with great discussions, book studies, lit. circles, debates and writing prompts. Here are a few highlights:
Reader's Theater: Many groups, all grade levels & all reading levels have enjoyed reader's theater throughout the year. Several groups, including Jen MacDonald's Expansion class and my 6th grade Fluency class, have put on wonderful performances for their classmates! Reader's Theater is a great way to channel all that middle school drama! (while working on fluency, comprehension, expression, self-confidence, etc.) Theater can be an engaging way for students to engage with content across all disciplines...💃
Core Connections: Lit. ladder teachers try to make connections to what students are learning about in their core classes. Recently, students in Michael Potvin's 8th grade Vocabulary class read Maus--a graphic novel by Art Spiegelman to enhance their study of the Holocaust in Humanities. 5th graders in Liddy Bourne's Fluency class read The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare to support their studies of colonization and the relationship between settlers and the natives.
Exploring Theme: 7th graders in Jordy Griffin's Comprehension class have been reading Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor. They are exploring the question: has racism changed in America over time? They have created a timeline of significant historical and current events that help them analyze this complex question. 5th graders in Alex Bacheller's Comprehension class enjoyed lit. circles that explored the theme of family through three different books: Absolutely Almost by Lisa Graff, The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Alison Levy and The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm. Students demonstrated comprehension through creative projects, including creating comic strips and newspapers.
Book Buddies: 6th graders have partnered up with Anne Demars' 1st graders. They have visited several times: sometimes to read to the younger kids, other times to listen to and support the 1st graders as they read. It is amazing to see how our middle schoolers transform when they take on this mentor role. And the younger students love having the big kids come visit! Think about ways that you could incorporate some sort of mentoring partnerships (both with younger and older students) in your discipline!
Making Arguments & Critiques: 8th graders in Leslie Meyer's Expansion class are working on making arguments! :) They are creating claims about controversial topics, finding evidence to support their claim, and sharing their ideas through argumentative writing and oral presentation (speaking and listening). Look forward to some interesting informed, and well-articulated debates next week! Students in Maura Kelly's 7th grade all read The Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh Johnson. Despite being in the top ten for the Dorothy Canfield Fisher book award, students wrote advice to the author about how to improve the novel.
Community Connections: Several 5th graders recently visited Johnson State College to meet with Jeff Angione, advisor to 90.7 WJSC radio Johnson. The goal of the trip was to emphasize the importance of reading fluency, communication and expression in the real world. Students had fun recording the introductory message that DJs read on air and learning about how radio works. They plan to return in a few weeks to do some real broadcasting.
Follow-Up to Picture Books in the Middle Level Classroom:
A big shoutout to Stephanie Zuccarello for bringing picture books into her 8th grade science class! These books complement her students' exploration of environmental issues. Students are tracking the cycle of products found littering the beach (i.e. single use plastic floss picks): from raw materials, to production, transportation, etc. Students enjoyed reading The Lorax by Dr. Seuss as a reminder that "...Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not."
Emily, Eli, Kendra and Hilary at the VSLL Grant Sharing Day
On Friday, May 13th, four members of the Spring Fling Planning Committee participated in the annual Vermont Student Learning and Leadership Grant Sharing Day Conference in Montpelier, along with Casie Grossman, the coordinator of this grant. Students presented their service learning projects to eleven other schools and members of the Vermont Principals' Association. Students also had the opportunity to learn about the other schools' service learning projects, hearing about their goals, the steps and resources needed to meet them, and the challenges they encountered. Students returned inspired to create these opportunities at PAML.
Bring in your old books! Ready to make some room on your shelves and pass on your old favorite books? We'll take them for the PAML Summer Book Giveaway! Last year, over 100 students came through and picked out some great books to enjoy over the summer. Please make sure books are in good condition and appropriate for grades 5-8. We welcome all genres, including picture books! Books can be dropped off at the middle level office for Ms. Slater. Please try to bring them in as soon as possible, and by Friday, June 3rd at the latest. Thank you for your support!!
Mr. Paige and Ms. Zuccarello combined Core 1 and 2 classes and then Core 3 and 4 classes together on Flexible Fridays to team teach about Weather instruments.
The students were currently learning about the circumference, area, and volume of geometric shapes in Math class and how to predict weather events when given specific data in Science class; so naturally, we decided to have students work in pairs to create a weather instrument.
The learning targets guided the students to gather research, design their instrument, build their instrument, test it for accuracy and precision, then make improvements where needed.
Once there instruments were made the students will combine pairs and offer an opportunity for students to create an experiment while using their instruments.
Students learned a lot about the entire design process during this combination of Math and Science!
If you were unable to make the parent forum on Thursday night, May 5th, I would like to share some of the highlights that Detective Bjerke shared around Cyber Safety from his 20 years with law enforcement; I also have some thoughts to share around your children and personal devices.
With their personal devices, middle school students are developmentally doing exactly what they should be doing which is exploring, checking things out and being curious. However, without some controls in place, they can get in over their heads very easily.
Detective Bjerke speaks to PAML 7th and 8th grade students each year around sexting and sending or receiving inappropriate images from their cell phone or personal device. It is illegal to possess or send any inappropriate image of a minor. Although students may have been pressured to do this, he reminds parents that it is more important to have a conversation with the child instead of looking at punishment and find the reason for them wanting or agreeing to do this.
Sending an image has a lasting impact that kids don’t understand. They have no control of their image once it is sent. He gave examples of all the people that may view it if reported and his office becomes involved.
Reminders for keeping kids safe:(More supervision and safeguards
for 5th and 6th graders)
*Most important is keep the lines of communication open - talk to them
*Know their passwords
*Check search history
*Check “friends” and followers; gamers - if they don't know who a person is, they shouldn't be "friends" or playing them in games
*Make sure privacy settings are private
*If you find things that are concerning, have a conversation with your child to look at reasons for their actions.
*Set limits for time spent on phones, devices, gaming systems.
*Go screen free for a night.
*Talk to you kids about it, ask them what they are noticing.
One thing to remember is that this is a small percentage of students that become involved in this, the dangers are there but most students can navigate this with parental support and guidance. Common Sense Mediais a great resource for parents for all types of media situations. They have a tool which helps families make agreements and just open the conversation. Check this out here!
If you have concerns about your child, feel free to reach out. I see your child every day and want them to feel supported, challenged, encouraged and safe!
Some people say middle school is the worst time of their life, we at PAML all agree we are SO fortunate to be with children during this time of incredible growth and change.