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Middle School Curriculum

ED 441/641 Section 400


Lecture Six
Introduction
I hope everyone is doing well and is able to keep up the good work I ve se
en from most of you in this class. Summer Sessions can be rough on both student
and teacher, especially when we have so much to cover. From your writing, I can
see that your thinking is evolving regarding the MSC, and that s great. Most of yo
u have been to relate (either positively or negatively) to the TWB model for bes
t practice in MS education. A few of you (myself included) draw a different pict
ure of your MS experience when compared to best MSC practice, while many of you
can relate reflect on your experiences and see the attempts by your school and t
eachers to incorporate the elements of TWB into your education during those vita
l years.
We just finished an introduction to Differentiating Instruction. This co
ncept is used at every level of K-12 education and came originally from models u
sed to design instruction for Gifted and Talented Students. Like most good pedag
ological techniques, it has spread to all student groups in the K-12 model. For
those of you who are pre-service teachers or who are looking for a position as M
S teacher, here is some practical advice. If a principal or other hiring officia
l asks you how you would teach students of mixed ability in the same classroom,
they are asking you how you would differentiate instruction. In the Masters prog
ram at Clemson and in the Middle Grades program at Mercer, I teach an entire cou
rse on differentiating instruction (DI). It is that important.
However, many teachers resist using that model, out of ignorance of it o
r inability to change. It is very much a constructivist model of teaching, and a
concept that is actually reflected in many other models as well. As we go over
the models commonly used in MSC, I will ask you how those models compare with di
fferentiating instruction.
Instructional Techniques for Early Adolescents
The article Unlocking the Potential of African-American Students is a rese
arch-based application of DI, using the ideas of DI in an attempt to motive stu
dents to learn. Please take the time to read this article carefully I am giving
you some extra time for this week s assignments to pause and reflect, especially s
ince we will soon discuss your big paper for this course, which is a statement o
f your own ideas of teaching middle school. While some of Jackson s ideas may seem
to be common sense, ask yourself as you read this article is this something I sa
w in my own educational experience? Is this something I would dare try? Be honest w
ith yourself.
Core Practices of the Middle School Concept
Juvonen neatly summarizes many of the common and prevalent practices in
MSC, She takes a long, critical, and well-balanced look at these practices, all
the cornerstone of MSC s best practices. Pay close attention to the terms she uses
in order to acquaint yourself with these models and how they are perceived in p
ractice and in her evaluation of their effectiveness.
Teaming deferred to next class!
Reading
Chapter Three, FWY
Unlocking the Potential of African-American Students
Writing (Both Due 7/15/2010, 10:00PM)
Assignment: Discussion
In Juvonen s critical review of the middle school, she asks questions abou
t the vary core of the MSC and common techniques used in the MS. Many of these
questions come form Chapter 3. . After reading that chapter, answer the f
ollowing questions. What is the underlying rationale for each of the core
practices? How extensively are they implemented in today s schools? What
do we know about their effectiveness?
Assignment: Reflection
While some of Jackson s (Unlocking the Potential of African-American Stude
nts) ideas may seem to be common sense, ask yourself as you read this article is
this something I saw in my own educational experience? Is this something I wo
uld dare try as a teacher? Be honest with yourself. Then summerize your thoug
hts, with examples of why you would or would not use it and how you might go abo
ut meeting the needs of students.