Pearson and AMLE, formerly National Middle School Association working together for adolescents
2005 Teams That Make A Difference Honorees
|Simmons Middle School
Principal: Jerry Heupel
Back (L-R) Linda Post, Kris McCafferty,
Lisa Link, Amy Thompson
Front (L-R) Bob Brown, Dave Hagen
|C.L. Phelps Middle School
Principal: Charleen Willey
Back (L-R) Martha Hayward, Dennie Korpi,
Shelia Grazulis, Kathy Bleau
Front (L-R) Carole Turner, Joe Pelkola
|Eisenhower Middle School
Principal: Dr. David Jones
(L-R) Toy Piekarski, Ken Pleasant,
David Jones, Karen Stolworthy
|Billings Middle School
Principal: Ted Kalmus
Back (L-R) Peter Titcomb, Rebecca Timson,
Front (L-R) Jeremy Loerch, Charis Dube
Simmons Middle School
Principal: Jerry Heupel
Team members: Linda Post, Kris McCafferty, Lisa Link, Amy Thompson, Bob Brown, Dave Hagen
Moccasin Creek Trail Guide
One hundred fifty two eighth graders of Simmons Middle School engaged in an interdisciplinary project that revolved around Moccasin Creek which flows through Aberdeen. A study of the creek’s ecosystem along with a historical perspective of the Lewis and Clark Expedition intertwined with local history, flora, fauna and geography along the Missouri River was developed to connect to the Bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark Expedition through South Dakota. The goal was to produce a trail guide for the community that would educate citizens historically, environmentally, and culturally. Students were exposed to the impact the city directly has on the creek. As the students explored the water quality they reflected on sources of pollution, community causes and possible solution to problems found at the creek. The students explored how Lewis and Clark impacted the region. They examined changes from the points of view of both the European culture and the Native American Culture. They also simulated the journaling of Lewis and Clark with writing about their surroundings from an environmental view as well as cultural, geographical and historical view. A map of the area depicting prominent sites and landmarks was developed for pedestrian to follow. Students measured the distance, choose sites and placed a land marker in the ground that corresponded with the trail guide. Students then wrote about these chosen sites and landmarks in order to educate the community.
Students were engaged in their learning in this project. Every student was equally involved and this project allowed for total inclusion. Each student was able to capitalize on their strengths because of the wide variety of activities attached to this project. In science classes students found practical application to science concepts they would generally find boring. By studying the taxonomy of the local fauna students discovered what plants were around them, their importance in today’s world and their importance to early settlers and Native Americans. In social studies class students developed a greater awareness of the importance of the discoveries and hardships of the Lewis and Clark expedition. The researching of facts and incorporating their findings into the trail guide was supported by their language arts skills. An art project incorporated the use of nature, as the Native Americans did, to create a picture relating to the environment. Students learned to appreciate having ready made supplies. Simmons Middle School is considered economically disadvantaged, yet achievement scores have shown a dramatic increase in all areas.
A project of this magnitude requires cooperation from every team member. As a team each person’s strengths were used to accomplish the various tasks. Having the team planning time at the end of the day allowed the team to walk along the trail, discuss how and what the team wanted to accomplish, and who would be doing what tasks. Team meetings were used to corroborate events leading up to field trips. To incorporate a fine arts component some of the team planning time was spent with the art teacher. Being spread out along a creek with many activities going on at the same time requires good planning, well orchestrated time management and sound behavior management. We encompassed a differentiated staff, incorporated the school counselors to keep the groups small and each trip allowed a principal to work with the team.-back to top-
C. L. Phelps Middle School
Principal: Charleen Willey
Team members: Martha Hayward, Dennie Korpi, Shelia Grazulis, Kathy Bleau, Carole Turner, Joe Pelkola
Illuminating the Past, the C. L. Phelps Annual Holocaust Memorial Museum
Seventh grade students at the C. L. Phelps Middle School become teachers as a result of an eight week long interdisciplinary unit emphasizing social responsibility which focuses on the Holocaust. Integrating English/Language Arts, Social Studies, Technology, Science and the Fine Arts, the students work toward a culminating authentic performance, the Holocaust Memorial Museum. Each student designs a display and presentation, demonstrating their ability to access, process, interpret, and organize information. In turn they become teachers to the community, pre-service teachers, and area fifth graders. The program involves students, staff, parents, pre-service teachers, and the community. Holocaust survivors are involved to give first hand accounts and credibility to man’s inhumanity to man and man’s resilience. The program connects learning across the curriculum, as well as impacts students’ abilities to make good choices, behave appropriately and have a positive attitude toward their fellow man.
The Holocaust unit has improved the citizenship of most of the students that have taken part in the unit. There have been no fights in the building in the past eight years. Using their own conflict resolution skills, the students have realized the need to be more tolerant of others. The emotions brought about by studying the prejudice, hatred, stereotyping and racism cause the students to look inside of themselves and make real life choices of how they will treat other people. In reflection upon a lesson using literature circles, students commented that they enjoyed working with students they do not normally associate with because it gave them the opportunity to get to know these students. This response showed a more tolerant attitude toward peers, and additional proof that our students are more open and not as likely to prejudge people.
Because the team was convinced that the students could learn subject matter, skills and strategies in the midst of complex, integrated experience, a rich cross curriculum thematic unit on the Holocaust was developed to involve the students in a long term investigation. Collaborating on this study gave the team members opportunities to grow professionally. Positive collegial relationships intensified as the teachers from different disciplines learned about the instructional goals of their colleagues. Curriculum integration resulted in less redundancy within and across the curriculum, less superficial curriculum cove rage and less fragmentation of knowledge for the students and teachers. -back to top-
Eisenhower Middle School
Principal: Dr. David Jones
Team members: Toy Piekarski, Ken Pleasant, David Jones and Karen Stolworthy
School Health & Fitness Increases Student Achievement
Eisenhower Middle School wanted to promote long term, positive improvement in student achievement. Their research led them to develop a Professional Learning Community, using collaborative adult teams to support and reinforce team accomplishment resulting in a profound impact on student achievement. A School Health Council was formed to promote a healthy school in all possible ways. The council’s focus was to improve staff wellness, increase student fitness and improve the nutritional value of student food and beverage choices. To improve staff wellness the council partnered with the American Cancer Society who helped implement and coordinate a wellness program. The “Active for Life” program provided health and nutritional education, incentives and reminders that the struggle to make changes in adult habits is similar to what is asked of students each day in the classroom. To improve the physical fitness and nutritional health of the students the program presented physical and nutritional guidelines in the physical education and health classes. Goal setting helped the students see the relationship and importance of healthy physical goals to that of academic goals. Student participation in non-school physical activity and sports programs in the community increased. Parents were also invited by their student to participate in the program. Finally, the council team reviewed the nutritional practices and standards at the school. Students were educated on the ability to prevent obesity through physical exercise and nutritional eating habits. Soda pop was removed from the school vending machines. The council served on a district committee that presented recommendations that were adopted by the district as policy.
The continuing work to impact student achievement is showing gains on many critical indicators. One factor which was considered an essential for student success, was the school’s capacity to be health promoting. To monitor this, a professional external evaluator assisted in data collection and interpretation. The results showed the school made tremendous gains in its capacity to promote coordinated school health and student academics improved dramatically. The number of students at standard in math doubled and huge gains were made in two other academic areas as well. Eisenhower Middle School was recognized by the Seattle Times as one of five most improved middle schools in the state.
Working together as a team made it possible to act upon and implement the ideas of the entire team rather ant the input of just one person. Each of the team members contributes unique skills and expertise, yet all shared a common vision for a healthy school and community. The team made it possible to take on huge responsibilities such as tackling the task of improving the nutritional food choices in the cafeteria. The many hours of meetings and research that went into the project would not have been possible without the efforts of each member of the team.-back to top-
Billings Middle School
Principal: Ted Kalmus
Team members: Peter Titcomb, Rebecca Timson, Jeremy Loerch, Charis Dube
Education for a Sustainable Future
Education for a Sustainable Future is an academic program pioneered by Billings Middle School, integrating science, math, technology, humanities, social studies, and community service. This program is connected with the goals of the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development 2005-2006, and supported by strong working relationships with scientists, decision makers and international partner schools. The initial area of emphasis has been air quality issues in the community, with students taking responsibility for developing rigorous research protocol, analyzing and sharing data, and taking action to improve air quality. Student action has been coordinated with government agencies, and students are empowered to take a leadership role in education the wider community.
One project engages eighth graders in a longitudinal study of covariance of particulates with other atmospheric conditions. A major air quality problem in Seattle is associated with fine particulate levels. Students shared and compared data with schools in Hiroshima, Casablanca, and Cochin, India. Scientists from many national and international institutions have worked with the students on this project including Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory; National Weather Service; Hiroshima University and Hokkaido University. When the NASA satellite CALIPSO begins taking vertical measurements of particulates, our research protocol for taking horizontal measurements will be used by schools around the world in the GLOBE program. A related project engages seventh graders in a native plant restoration project at Discovery Park, which includes mapping trees and calculating their carbon storage potential. Additionally students have written successful grant proposals to support extension of their work on air quality. Air-water and air-soil connections will be explored more readily in the greenhouse constructed by sixth and seventh graders.
Education for a Sustainable Futures is an approach to curriculum content and skill building which focuses on connections. Faculty evaluations of student progress has indicated that students who have struggled in math class have done well with the applied math required for analysis of air quality data; students previously uninterested in technology applications have been inspired to develop those skills in order to analyze and present their work, especially among girls; students previously reluctant to participate in discussion have become skilled in presenting their finding to the public; writing skills have generally improved. Student interest in science has also increased, as measured by pre and post project surveys. Student involvement in community service has extended beyond that required for completions of curricular projects.
Working as a team has been essential to the team’s goals, given the strong feeling on building student understanding horizontally and vertically across the curriculum. In order to develop and manage the program the team required planning time, preparation time, and professional development experiences. Planning time included meetings to develop specific projects, identify sources of funding and other support, and articulate the role of these projects in the broader education of their middle school students. Grant writing supported the team’s need for additional preparation time and professional development. It was felt the successful grant proposals were a direct result of the team approach by faculty to develop curriculum projects connected with Education for a Sustainable Future.-back to top-