Wow, so there’s probably 1.7 persons who is reading this who will be semi-interested in reading my review of this book! Haha.

It’s been awhile since I’ve read a book about middle school– probably not since my junior year of college. It was a good refresher, and it got my mind going on different issues pertaining to middle school talk.

In Columbia, the middle school system is great. We have teams of teachers who have a group of 100-120 students for 2 years (6th and 7th grade). They are really good about talking about the students, working together on discipline issues, and encouraging one another (at least this was my experience with the team i was on awhile back).

However, according to this book, this idea hasn’t gone far enough. This book suggests that the teams need to be working together on curriculum that is 1.) chosen by the students, and 2.) not concerned with the subject areas. For example, if the students choose to do a several week study on prejudice in the United States, each teacher would choose things that they would like to cover in their classes, but it doesn’t have to/shouldn’t always relate to their subject area. So, the math teacher may teach on— Martin Luther King, Jr. They say this works well, that students learn more, and do better on standardized testing. I can’t imagine how the math would work though– students hate math, for the most part, and will probably never choose to do anything math-y. And unless they learn it, I can guarantee they won’t do well on MAP testing (which, btw, i heard they’re phasing out!- at least for high schools. instead, they’re doing end of class assessments, so not only do you have to pass the class grade wise, but the standardized test as well). Anyway, I like the idea of students choosing their own curriculum, but I can’t imagine how it would look.

Assessment was interesting too. I’m a bigger fan of this, probably because whenever students get to have choice in how they are assessed, it helps them to express their learning in a way that is meaningful and good for them. Not everyone is a test-taker, but some love to write. So, they may choose to write an essay over taking multiple-choice test. Or, they may rather do an oral presentation over a short-answer exam. Or maybe doing a portfolio of their work over… making a brochure.

Good stuff to think about. It looks like I won’t be putting this into practice anytime soon, but I have a few ideas about how this could translate to other things I do. I wish I could teach a Perspectives class at the BSU next year, but I don’t think any students would be committed to a class like that. It’s a lot of work (and it’s for credit or certificate, both of which cost a hundred or three hundred dollars). I could really put this stuff to the test then. I really like to teach; i haven’t got to really be creative in that for awhile, but i’m desiring to teach to college students. Hopefully I want to teach middle schoolers sometime in the near future. 🙂

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