Pearson and AMLE, formerly National Middle School Association working together for adolescents
2012 Teams That Make A Difference Honorees
Grand Prize Winner
|Southwest Middle School
Principal: John Wilson
Debra Porter, Karen Horsting,
Paul Peterson, Tabitha Biehl
The Florida Environmental Education Team (FLEET)
Second Place Winner
|Pipkin Middle School
Principal: Tim Zeigler
Roland Young, Jason Christman,
Elizabeth Frecks, Jill Palmer
Fostering Resiliency in At-Risk Youth
|Cardigan Mountain School
Principal: Dave McCusker
David Auerbach, Heather Oliver
Learning Community Team USA
Southwest Middle School
The team at Southwest Middle School, known as FLEET (the Florida Environmental Education Team), was developed to help students focus, understand, and appreciate environmental resources right outside their door. The curriculum used is divided into six sections: an introduction to Florida's environment, meteorology, geology, watersheds, wetlands, and uplands. Collaborating with community environmental agencies, students learn how individual actions affect the environment, acquire skills to weigh various sides of issues, and become informed decision makers. In this program, students do science rather than just learn about science.
Some of the students' activities during the year are listed below:
- Field experiences with numerous community agencies
- A lake clean-up project
- Guest speakers on topics such as Gopher tortoise relocation, importance of the tortoise as a keynote species, and using field marks, sounds, and silhouettes for bird identification.
- Hands-on experiments with a groundwater flow model, through which they learned about how water travels underground and how contaminants seep into wells and travel to larger bodies of water.
- Graphed home water use
- Shared their knowledge and preservation messages through contests and articles
The students benefited from the higher level thinking in this multi-faceted program that kept the students actively engaged. The program connected students to real-world situations and opened their eyes to the diversity of nature and the potential issues that occur if communities do not attend to the environment. Students learned first-hand that citizens have a responsibility to stay informed about environmental issues so we can be active participants in developing solutions.
The Southwest Middle School FLEET team was honored at AMLE's 39th Annual Conference in Portland, Oregon, on November 8, 2012, and presented its winning program to attendees. In addition to presenting at the annual conference, the FLEET team received a $5,000 cash award from Pearson.
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Pipkin Middle School
The vision of this team is to foster resiliency in at-risk students through student-centered practices and data-driven instruction. They have created a sense of community in the school and facilitated data-driven identification of at-risk students and various levels of interventions to support students. While the school staff sets high expectations for student achievement and behavior, there are students in need of more strategies to be successful and this is where the specialized team comes into play.
Through a data-driven process, students are referred to a coordinator of student interventions (CSI) who brings the information to the team. The CSIs work with students to jointly create goals and interventions for success. Goals can range from increasing attendance to increasing the number of completed assignments. By working collaboratively with the student, the student takes ownership of the goal.
Students are encouraged to communicate openly with teachers and peers despite differences. The aim is to develop students' sense of responsibility for their well-being, for their physical and social environment and the well-being of others.
The CSIs work to establish trusting relationships amongst students and staff and model and teach effective skills for students to use beyond the CSI classroom. The team helps students think about the future, focusing on success and guiding students to believe in that future for themselves.
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Cardigan Mountain School
The Living Laboratory is a multi-faceted, experiential life science program designed for seventh grade students. The program encompasses many curricular areas and reinforces students' sense of responsibility and pride while learning about plant and animal life. Living terrariums are placed in classes and hallways and provide exciting learning experiences. While terrariums in school are not a new idea, the scope and scale that Cardigan brings to this project provide a unique twist.
The terraria are used as departure points for written exercises and mathematical activities associated with setting up, maintaining, and collecting data. The project enables students to link cognitive and affective domains through the use of authentic tasks and realistic problems posed by the maintenance and nurturing of the animals within. Each student can set up and maintain a small ecosystem and prepare documents describing the organisms and their living requirements in addition to logging data about the ecosystem's environment daily.
The Living Laboratory program immerses students in an age-appropriate learning environment that stimulates pride and accomplishment and generates positive attitudes and feelings toward life among the student body. The students have opportunities to collaborate and communicate with peers and share their work with others. The program also promotes character growth, teamwork, and reflection and reflects many of the school's core values including compassion, respect, and scholarship.
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