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John F Kennedy Middle School

REDWOOD CITY, CA – Over the course of the school year, Melissa VanderMolen’s 7th grade English Language Arts class has been exploring the theme of what it takes to be great. In addition to reading books and articles about growth mindset, goal setting, and learning styles, she is hoping that her students will develop an interest in taking charge of their own learning. “I hope to empower students to create their own learning opportunities through enhancing their drive and internal motivation for learning,” VanderMolen explains.
As a final project, students are participating in literature circles in which they read and discuss a book that explores the theme of greatness. The students who have chosen to work with The Art of Learning will complete a project that showcases their learning and take-aways from the book. Some groups are working on slide presentations and others are working on creating a poster/bulletin board. All of the groups will present their projects to the class when they are finished. VanderMolen told the JWF that her goal for this project is “that students become more reflective about their own learning and capabilities. I have already witnessed their critical thinking skills progress to the next level while processing this book.”

Here are some reflections from the students midway through their exploration of The Art of Learning:

“What I have learned about the art of learning is that you have to follow your dreams and to never give up and to fight and if there is an obstacle in front of you try to jump it to become something great. The most important thing I have learned is to believe in yourself.” A.P.

“Try new things, learn from your mistakes, learn to get better.” S.O.

“I learned that every art is related in some way and that if you put your mind to it you can do amazing things.“ G.F.

“Winning doesn’t matter, what matters is what effort you put into it.” T.S.

TRINITY VALLEY SCHOOL

FORT WORTH, TX – Trinity Valley School is a K-12 independent and innovative college preparatory school committed to providing their students with a broad liberal education in the arts and sciences.  Luke Jacob, Dean of Learning and Curriculum, is working with teachers in the 2nd, 7th, and 9th grades to develop multi-disciplinary models of The Art of Learning, with an aim to continue to grow each year until the entire school is working with the learning principles.

In each grade, a small team of teachers applies a particular learning principle at the same time, using similar language and lesson structures in their different classrooms.  That way, a given student (and his or her parents) encounters three or four iterations of the learning principle.  Jacob explains, “This allows for both the consistency and flexibility of the curriculum model, and in a way that would help everyone to see just how similarly the processes of learning function across different fields of study”.

A wonderful example of this process is with the second grade team consisting of Leslie Garcia (classroom teacher), Karen Arrington (technology), and Melissa Black (visual arts).  They have developed a unit of study around the principle of Making Smaller Circles.  The students explore the concept within the framework of each discipline and then combine their new-found knowledge to create a class e-book.  For a more detailed description of the second grade unit, please visit Karen Arrington’s blog or watch this video.

You can also see wonderful examples of the teachers’ lessons, unit outlines, assignments and more in the elementary (Leslie Garcia) and middle school (Tina Harper) sections of our Educators and Coaches resource page.

MARMADUKE SCHOOL DISTRICT

MARMADUKE, AR – Char Green, an Art 8 teacher, yearbook sponsor, Junior High Cheer Coach and experienced Gifted & Talented Program Coordinator/Facilitator in Marmaduke School District, heard Josh speak at the NAGC conference in St. Louis and has since been using TAOL to teach emotion regulation lessons to students in grades 5-8. In one of her lessons, “Something’s Fishy”, students focus on “learning obstacles”, particularly, the obstacle of living in a culture where we are bombarded with more and more information. She has students list technology devices in their home, discuss how many devices might be going at once, and how quickly the affective experience of boredom sets in if the internet/cable goes down. She uses an example of an Ice Storm in 2009 where students went 11 days without power. She asked the students to reflect on the experience of being without access to technology and entertainment stimulation.  You can see more examples of Char’s lessons on our Resources for Educators and Coaches page, in the middle school section.