Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Back To Middle (School)

Last Thursday night, we attended the open house at the middle school at which my son begins 7th grade this week. I have to say I'm rather impressed with how they organize things. Each grade level is broken down into multiple "teams" consisting of about 120 kids. The group all share the same four core teachers: one for language arts (English reading), one for math, one for science and one for social studies/writing. All four classrooms are on the same hallway and there are enough lockers on that hall to accommodate all of the kids in the "team". How's that for being really convenient?

My middle school growing up was much more exercise. The building was three floors (instead of the single story spread out school my son will be attending). My locker, if I recall right, was the second floor on the south side of the building (facing 6th Street). Classes were spread out across the various floors: band and chorus were on the first floor on the north side (facing 5th Street), the language arts and art rooms were next to them, the cafeteria was on the eastern side of the first floor (near the front lobby which faced Eagle Street) and the gym was on the western side of that floor (bordering Swan Street), home economics and the shops (wood and metal) were on the south side of the first floor, the academic classes which were grouped by course types were on the second and third floors along with the auditorium.

It wasn't unusual to have to run between classes (during the four minute break between each one) to swap out books at your locker, etc. I noticed in my son's schedule that actually have scheduled in locker-visit time but not between each class. Also, because of the 'team' formation, the entire class members move as a group from one room to the next.

Something else I noted a bit from Thursday's Open House was the locker sizes. The 120 lockers actually layout in two rows along the one wall - upper and lower. So, they're pretty small; my son's lockers are just one section with a couple hooks in the top for hanging your coat and such. I think we'll likely have to try to make some kind of easy-in-easy-out free standing shelf structure to fit into my son's locker so he can organize things a bit (he'd likely just stack it all up in a mess otherwise). The lockers I had in high school usually had a lower shelf, perfect for boots in the winter or to put your gym clothes during spring and fall. There was also a shelf on the top for storing some books. Then you had the center section with hooks for hanging your coat. I am pretty sure it was the same way in middle school, but I can't be 100% sure.

I do remember, though, quite a few of the classes and teachers from my middle school/junior high days. Mr. Scott was a lot of fun for 6th grade social studies, where as Mr. Sweeny's social studies class in 8th grade was one where you needed to be prepared every day (never knew when he'd spring a surprise quiz on us). Mr. Kolodziej gave us a smattering of all the languages in 7th grade before we chose one to concentrate on in 8th grade (I took Spanish with Mrs. Smith). Mr. Banach who taught math was someone my parents knew from the country club, and Mr. Knack always was the teacher for the board games and card games section of activity period. And in music class, I remember doing an art project where I hand drew my own version of the cover of the Marvel KISS comic magazine on a large piece of poster board.

Oh, and last big Middle School memory - the 8th grade talent show at year end. I remember the cheerleader girls and the cool guys doing "Summer Nights" from Grease, Jim Mitchell singing Billy Joel's "My Life" (and getting censored since 8th graders were not allowed to be singing about people sleeping with other people) and one of the girl's singing Meat Loaf's "Two Out of Three Ain't Bad".

1 comment:

Jim McClain said...

Martin, you are lucky that your son can have teachers in teams. They are, by most research, the most effective way that students at that important age can be reached. The scheduling is a little more difficult and expensive, but I think it's worth it. Our teams were abolished three years ago for the sake of money and our test scores immediately dropped. I'm glad that there are still schools doing the right thing.