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Thompson: Making Middle Grades Work

I can’t believe the National Journal discussion on fixing middle schools didn't mention the efforts of High Schools That Work and its proposals to help middle grades students become independent learners by replacing "worksheet science" with Project Lead The Way and other exploratory learning programs.

Robotics031I wonder how many middle school students get to "solve mathematics problems other than those in the textbook at least weekly." Given the chronic disorder in so many neighborhood middle schools how many urban students get to "complete science projects that last one week or longer?"  Middle schools that work "teach students the habits of successful, independent learners, build trusting relationships, teach teens how to "study, manage time, and get organized." They may provide "four to six week summer bridge programs." These are not summer school "remediations" that are just Cover Your Rear programs for adults, but "hands-on, real world learning." 

We can debate whether these proposals are curriculum-driven or not, data-driven or data-informed, accountability-driven or collaborative - or we can get down to the work of providing respectful learning cultures for neighborhood schools. 

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Thanks for highlighting HSTW and MMGW. They are the remarkable achievements of one of America's great educators, Gene Bottoms. When all the blood-letting is done, maybe some "leaders" will finally pay attention to what he and the hundreds of schools participating in these programs are accomplishing.

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