What is Middle Schooling?
Middle Schooling is a philosophy of education that revolves around the education of the “whole” student. This means that as well as academic learning, which is very important, students learn about how to take care of themselves socially and physically. To support this learning, Grant High School promotes consistency and stability for students in the Middle Years, in our case Years 8 and 9, when adolescence is bringing many other changes with it. Students have fewer teachers to encourage strong student-teacher relationships, and they remain in their homegroups for the majority of lessons to enable positive relationships to develop between students. This stable work environment supports students in their learning as it is generally consistent and predictable over the course of the year.
In order to support the learning of students in the Middle School at Grant High School, teachers employ a variety of methodologies to ensure that every student is learning in their preferred way at least some of the time. We have a strong focus on Bloom’s Taxonomy, a hierarchy of skills, which encourages both deep and lateral thinking. This structure is used in many Year 12 subject areas, so students’ familiarity with it in Junior Secondary is a huge advantage for them as they move through the school. We also use Gardiner’s Multiple Intelligences as a way to encourage students to develop skills outside of their preferred learning styles, and De Bono’s Thinking Hats, with which many students are familiar from primary school, help to order thinking and ideas and are employed in may subject areas.
Middle School Matters
Collaborative skills are explicitly taught to all Middle School students, who are encouraged to work with people they might not know very well, or with whom they might not usually socialise, and they can then use these skills in all parts of their lives.
These elements, combined with every teacher’s commitment to focusing on literacy and numeracy and aspects of Information and Communication Technologies and Higher Order Thinking Skills, ensure that every Grant High School student has access to a well-rounded education in the Middle Years.
As of the beginning of 2010, all students in Year 8 will have developed their own Individual Learning Plan (ILP) in which they set their goals for the year and the longer term. This plan will be further developed throughout Year 8 and 9 and culminate in students undertaking the Personal Learning Plan (PLP) in Year 10, a compulsory element of the new SACE.
At Grant High School the idea of integration in the Middle School is something on which we focus strongly. This can include teacher teams focusing on one idea through the lenses of English, Science and Society and Environment to reinforce learning and encourage the transference of skills from subject to subject.
Other examples of integration in the Middle School curriculum include the teaching of Information and Communication Technologies, where each learning area takes responsibility for an aspect of ICT and incorporates it into the learning of the students. For example, Society and Environment teachers will focus on teaching students how to effectively use search engines throughout the course of the year. In a similar way, Higher Order Thinking Skills and specific Study Skills are incorporated into various learning areas. These areas of focus can be found on Assessment Plans that students receive from their teachers at the beginning of each semester or term.
In addition, teachers at Grant High School have all taken responsibility for teaching literacy and numeracy skills, both in a subject specific and more general way.
In these ways many skills and abilities are reinforced for students as part of integration in the Middle School.