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Vermont Middle Grades Summer Institute

At The University of Vermont

June 27-July 2, 2011
3 Graduate Credits
EDML 270: Middle Grades Organization and Pedagogy
Course Syllabus

“At its heart, the middle grades movement is a movement in the service of social justice. In their hearts, middle
grades educators are determined that the dream of high achievement for every young adolescent will become a
Jackson & Davis, Turning Points 2000

Course Description

Middle schools have evolved from the traditional “junior” version of high school into institutions dedicated to
providing developmentally responsive pedagogy for early adolescents. As such, these schools have specific
structures that directly address the unique physical, cognitive, emotional and social needs of students ages 10-
14. Participants in this course will explore the design of these structures, including interdisciplinary and partner
team development, teacher advisory and teacher-based guidance, grouping and scheduling, community service
learning, transitions, and family involvement.

Course Objectives:

As a result of this component of the block, students will demonstrate:

 Knowledge of specialized professional techniques associated with the middle school concept,
including interdisciplinary and partner team organization, teacher-based guidance and teacher
advisory, grouping strategies, scheduling options, and community service learning.

 Growing skill in functioning effectively as a member of an interdisciplinary team and as an

advocate for young adolescents.

 Knowledge of how to establish and maintain positive and productive relationships with families
and the community.

 Understanding of the techniques required to create an environment that encourages each student
to become aware of himself/herself, to develop ability to express, understand and control her/his
feelings; develop sense of trust and independence.

Course/Strand Timeline

Day Topics and Focusing Question(s) Session Activities

6/27/11 COURSE OVERVIEW -Introductions
Who are we? -Review of personal goals, course materials
What are our individual and course - Teaming/Tech. Survey
objectives? - Cognitive Styles Survey
6/28/11 TEAMING -Mini-lecture on teaming
9:30-12:00 What does research tell us about -Student panel (10:00)
collaborative work? - Introduction to Inspiration software
How is teaming developmentally -Establishment of partner or
responsive to young adolescents? interdisciplinary teams
-Development of shared belief statement
6/28/11 TEACHER-BASED GUIDANCE - Cognitive Styles Inventory
1:30-4:15 What is teacher-based guidance? - Student panel (1:30)/ or DVD
How do we advocate for all students? -Examine research on teacher advisory

6/29/11 TRANSITIONS -Student and teacher panel on transition

10:00-12:00 What adolescent issues are central to issues (10:00)
transitions and transition planning? -Reflection on panel in relation to research
and readings
6/29/11 -Team development of transition plan
1:15-4:30 How can we plan for transitions into -Role play of school board presentation of
and out of middle school? transition plan
-Introduction of stages of team development
-Review of project expectations
6/30/11 SERVICE LEARNING - T chart discussion or principles based on
8:30-10:40 What are the distinctions between readings
community service and service - Description of current practices at our
learning? schools
How is service learning -Visit example at
developmentally appropriate? - Team design of service learning plan using
PARR process
6/30/11 GROUPING AND SCHEDULING - Examination of relationship between
1:30-4:15 How can a schedule meet the schedule designs and grouping practices
developmental needs of young - Team planning of simulated schedule
7/1/11 FAMILY INVOLVEMENT - Panel presentation of parents
8:30-11:00 Why and how do we engage families - Discussion of research and relationships to
in the education of young adolescents? family involvement
What does the research tell us? - Develop family involvement action plan
- Assign: course evaluations completed by
Fri. 8:30 am.
- Please reserve 15 minutes to meet with
one of us on project plan
Friday p.m What have we learned? - Team presentations of web pages detailing

Course Expectations

Assignment Description of Assignment Date Due/To Whom

1 Required Readings Before the Institute 6/27 – 7/1
TA discussions
Letters to your Advisor(s)
Articles and texts mailed in packet in June 05 8/04
Research and ideas are
incorporated into your written
reflections and your project
2 Institute Participation 6/27 – 7/1
 # 1: Timely completion of reading 7/1
 #2: Active, daily participation Your completed checklist is
 #3: Daily attendance due to your advisory teacher(s).
3 Letters to your advisor, and to yourself -One letter is due to your advisor
These reflections are part of your formal evaluation on Tuesday, Wednesday and
through active participation. They should reflect a Thursday mornings.
„churning and learning,‟ thoughtfulness. We are -One letter is due to your advisor
particularly looking for the way in which you on Friday morning; that is a
incorporate research and readings, into your thinking letter to yourself.
and reflecting. We value this, because we believe
that as professional educators, it is part of our work to
continually look at research and new ideas, and to
incorporate them into our practice. How can you
make professional reading and reflection part of your
everyday work week?

4 Institute Reflections Due in August 05 (date tba)

Based on the following sources, write a five-page
paper in which you address the areas and questions
_____The standards for your strand
____Your learning experience during the Institute
____The readings you have done
____The letters you exchanged with your advisor,
____Your reflections in the days since the Institute
1. “What meaning does your learning from the
Institute have for you as a middle level
2. "How does the meaning you describe, document
your progress towards the endorsement
competencies, or towards the professional
licensure areas. Be specific in your references to
all of the competencies listed for the strand.

3. In what ways was this new learning for you,
beyond what you knew coming into the Institute?
4. What are some specific ways in which this course
will have an impact on your teaching practice
with students?
5 Middle Level Project Due in August 05 (date tba)

Please see attached assessment criteria for

greater detail.

A Proposal for changes in your middle level practice

(e.g. moving toward a student directed approach),
which highlights current middle level practices that
you believe are developmentally responsive to the
nature and needs of young adolescents.

An integrated, standards-based Unit Plan in which
service learning plays a central role, making
connections with regard to substantial content
addressed, connections made with standards and with
students‟ lives and interests.

A Research Paper or Original Action Research
extending an area of interest you have begun to
explore during the institute week (e.g. family
involvement in the middle grades).

A Product that is clearly based in relevant research
on developmentally appropriate schooling for young
adolescents. Examples from past institutes include
teacher advisory handbooks and curricula; a service
learning website; and family involvement materials.

Course Assessment and Evaluation

Please see attached rubrics and checklist for assessment criteria