Dear Ignite Middle School Family,
There are plenty of celebrations and highlights happening with the Kids in the Middle!
Among them include kids helping set the tone for the class. We are seeing more interaction among our face to face learners and our distance learners. One very powerful practice with a very high effect size shown to increase achievement is kids not just viewing a rubric, but truly understanding what the rubric means in order to provide effective peer feedback. That student to student feedback is critical and leads toward reciprocal teaching. We are wrapping up the MAP assessments, and in classes or the hallways just talking with individuals and small groups of learners, kids are not just aware of their scores. They are reflecting on growth since last year’s winter MAP as we begin the goal setting process with learners. This is the culture we aspire to build focused on growth and continuous improvement.
One look-for in the Middle School at present is what is called Making Thinking Visible. We are intent on improving our Hybrid Teaching and Learning practices now that we have moved to everyday lessons. Teachers have reflected on how they can limit the synchronous learning for increased learner engagement. This means ‘seeing’ and ‘listening’ to kids’ discussions among each other including leveraging technology tools to support more purposeful critical writing opportunities and fostering academic discourse in simple ways to get kids purposefully collaborating.
Getting kids to talk about what they are learning is metacognition. Teachers are providing more opportunities for kids to think in order to do something with their learning or apply their learning. This represents a shift from past practices where we aimed for content knowledge versus now transferring ownership of learning by doing. The hybrid teaching and learning environment has provided us more opportunities to begin to take intellectual risks and try new things they maybe would not have done in a brick and mortar legacy learning model.
One example of Making Thinking Visible I have included here from a Social Studies lesson using Padlet. The student expectation was the same, yet the mode by which kids could make their thinking visible was choice driving. Many students wrote their ideas on the digital wall, and I happened upon two 7th grade learners who took ownership to demonstrate their thinking through a video, embedded in the Padlet digital wall. We also see more student work on display including the writing process. Giving our learners opportunities to write is becoming more common practice, and although we are new to this school-wide practice, there is evidence of student writing in each class to Make Thinking Visible.
I will wrap by saying among the best highlights is seeing our kids from a holistic level, them as whole human beings as we wrap up the Fall Festival. These are opportunities for kids in the middle to express themselves, get involved, and teach all of us more about their identities. We learn a lot when kids show us who they are through student activities that maybe are not as academic in content, but they are incredibly important as we work to build learners who have the essential literacy skills to know who they are and how they fit in the world around them. Life ready and literate in a world that changes every day means we must educate the whole learner. I learned more about kids this week and I know from talking with our teachers that they have, too, than I have all year. We are seeing kids advocate as leaders of the school for what they want to see happen with their school, what they want to do to make this their true family and home away from home and their Middle School. This comes from both face to face learners and distance learners. This impacts the culture and climate, and is especially critical during the Pandemic as we become more focused as a learning community on human connection and tapping into the social emotional needs of not only our learners, but our families and our educators.
Mrs. Sharin L. Tebo, M.Ed.
Ignite Middle School Principal