Thursday, March 21, 2013

Middle School Philosophy

Last week (March 13th through March 16th), I had the absolute pleasure of chaperoning the annual DSMS 8th grade field trip to Washington, D.C.  Marci Olsen and Jeff Abbott, both phenomenal DSMS teachers, spent countless hours preparing a trip that students will remember for the rest of their lives.  The trip will help inspire a love of history and appreciation for our nation that will grow within our kids into adulthood.  We slammed 3 weeks worth of vacation into 3 days, and it couldn't have been a more impressive trip.  The photo above includes 80 DSMS 8th graders in front of the White House on a very cold Friday morning.  When we arrived at the White House, there was a high school group from another state enjoying the view with us.  One of the high-schoolers was wearing a Superman cape.  Our DSMS kids found that amusing, so they invited him into our picture.  You can see him posing in the front.  Fantastic.

Later today, I leave with the DSMS chorus, band and orchestra on a 3-day trip to California to participate in competitions and workshops.  While there, we plan to enjoy some down time at Disneyland.  I will chaperone a similar trip with the DSMS National Junior Honor Society next month. Speaking of the DSMS NJHS, they will take a mini-field trip to a local retirement community tomorrow to participate in a talent show to entertain and honor the adults who reside within the home as part of their community outreach program.  Last month, all DSMS 8th graders went on a trip to the Renaissance Festival.  Yesterday, all DSMS students participated in an on campus assembly called FMA Live!, which is a hip-hop dance program designed to inspire students to enjoy learning Newton's three Laws of Motion.

Middle-level students must be engaged in the learning process.  The more opportunities we can provide to help them "live" and "experience" the learning process, the more likely they are to succeed academically.  Even better, the more inspired they are during the learning process, the more likely they are to investigate learning opportunities in their free time outside of school.  When that occurs, learning gains are exponential.  That's the goal, and it's probably not going to happen if we only read from the text and hand out worksheets.