Middle School Curriculum Project

I'm hoping this will be the start of a multi month effort with some participation from multiple schools.   I'd like to track in a purely objective fashion what's occurring in the various middle schools. This will provide more data for some of the ongoing discussions about rigor and equity. Please post  as objectively as you can what your student is currently doing.

Suggested format:

Classroom Activity:

Do not include any teacher names and let's refrain from any analysis here.


Anonymous said...

I asked my 6th grade student to keep notes on her day. This is what happened:

"Period #1: World culture. We did a "mystery song" challenge to learn about allusion, then spent the rest of the class working on our poems (actually spent time talking with friends). Homework: work on poem.

Period #2: Math, had a substitute. We were given our math assignments for the day and after we had done the warmup, it was explained on the board, even though we all understood it. We then spent the rest of the class working in our table groups. The sub went around and made sure everyone got everything, which doesn't usually happen. Homework: math assignment. [I know my son used to use this time to finish the homework in class.]

Period #3: Spanish. Several sentences and verbs were put on the board for conjugation and translation, for our warmup the way they always are. Then we went through the conjugation the way we usually do. Spent the rest of the period working on our poster project with our groups/on our own. Homework: study Spanish commands.

Period #4: Choir. Working on our song compositions. Homework: practice.

Period #5: LA: We spent the entire class working on end-of-year fiction stories. Homework: work on fiction stories.

Period #6: Science: Quiz on the causes of the seasons. We were going to spend the next 40 minutes on a study sheet, but we had a lockdown drill. Homework: none"

So, lots of projects, the pace is slow, and science is maddeningly simplistic. Generally my daughter is bored with the projects.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I should have noted that this is at HIMS.

Anonymous said...

Question: Does anyone have insight into how the incoming principal @ Hamilton views HCC and the HCC community? Curriculum comment: After one year under our belt in HCC, I have to say I'm... underwhelmed. Although there were some bright spots in terms of engaging or high energy teachers, there were also 2 complete duds and frankly, the "homework" and assignments seemed like extreme busy work. The pace overall, as mentioned by the previous commenter, was SLOW, my kid was bored. And, call me crazy but it still seems like there's a lot of emphasis on writing stories but very little about grammar, usage, sentence structure, etc. I keep being told that gets taught "later." Also, I think there is a time and a place for partner project based learning but if the teacher is using it to keep kids occupied with something vs actually teaching, then I'm against it. I feel we saw more of the busy and less of the teaching.

Anonymous said...

8th grade LA at JAMS: They will focus on "skills," not a set curriculum. All 8th graders are to read 40 books. They will keep a reading log and spend most of class reading independently. The focus seems to be on chapter books. I'm not sure about poetry, drama, etc., or if any one work will be read and discussed as a class.

So many questions about this approach...

Anonymous said...

I'm aware that I appear to be in the minority among posters on this blog, but we are happy with the education each of our children are receiving at HIMS. They have (and have had) a few dud teachers, but hasn't everyone, everywhere? I appreciate the desire for six challenging periods every semester of every year, but it's not going to happen. Not in middle school, high school, college, ever.

I also understand that there should be an aligned curriculum taught at the three HCC middle schools, and that most of our personal good experiences are rooted in the fact that our kids have had a few teachers that they, and we, consider great. My kids' feedback is teacher-focused. If I could scan and post a couple of syllabuses in support, I would. For now, here's an abbreviated version of feedback from 6 and 7th grade:

Science in general has been disappointing, both content and instructors.

But LA and Social Studies in 6 and 7 have been very good. The reading assigned by 6th grade LA teacher Ms. Griffith and 7th grade teacher Ms. Paris (currently reading Angela's Ashes along with Greek tragedy Madea) have been interesting, appropriately leveled, and challenging to our students. 7th grade Social Studies with Mr. Moriarty is a favorite and he encourages, challenges and inspires. In general, they are excited about what they're being taught and are learning in these classes.

Every Spanish teacher they've had has been among their "favorites ever" and, again, they are learning and interested in becoming proficient at this language. I credit their teachers and lessons for this.

The music program is going through some changes with a new leader, but my one kid who plays an instrument is still really enjoying band class.

Our children were placed in 8th grade math (not Algebra) as sixth graders. They are neither bored nor wildly challenged by the math curriculum or teachers-- but they (or at least one of them) enjoy it and they both talk about what they're learning. Meaning that they ARE learning.

In sum, I would rank our experience at HIMS as good to very good, and I'm happy that my kids have had the opportunity to attend. We hear from families whose children go to our neighborhood school, fairly highly regarded, and their feedback makes us even more satisfied with our decision. This is not to say that there isn't room for improvement, or that a number of HIMS HCC kids don't need more challenges, or that there aren't some lousy teachers. It's just our experience, and I hope it encourages more people to talk about what IS working-- and let's new HIMS families know that there are some good things happening at this school (including a new principal who is pretty great, but that's for another post.)

-Good at HIMS

EcksteinSpectrum said...

Date: Oct 2015
School: Eckstein
Grade: 6
Subject: Science
Classroom Activities: Largely hands-on science experiments, combined with lecture about fundamental science concepts (observation, hypothesis, etc). Studying a current event -- tragedy at Lake Ryo.
Homework: Minor. Student is expected to share what was learned in class 2x/week.
Comments: I'm pretty well blown away by the level and depth of learning here. Also, it sounds fun.

Date: Oct 2015
School: Eckstein
Grade: 6
Subject: Spectrum ELA
Classroom Activities: Not sure
Homework: Reading, commenting while reading, occasional writing projects, "book writes" that include summary and analysis
Comments: Teacher well grounded in research and practice and is great at breaking down difficult work into small chunks

Date: Oct 2015
School: Eckstein
Grade: 6
Subject: 7th grade math
Classroom Activities: Not sure, but I think it's lectures and worksheets
Homework: Worksheets
Comments: I don't really know what the plan is, haven't seen the upcoming curriculum. Child is bored and math is less challenging than in 5th grade.