Diverse Schools to Watch have much in common

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Eighth-grade student Savannah Campbell glues together a toothpick bridge during teacher Carol Warren's science class at North Oldham Middle School (Oldham County) May 27, 2010. As an end-of-year project, students worked in small groups to design and construct a bridge. During the last day of class weight was hung from the bridges to see how much they could support before breaking. Photo by Amy Wallot
Eighth-grade student Savannah Campbell glues together a toothpick bridge during teacher Carol Warren's science class at North Oldham Middle School (Oldham County) May 27, 2010. As an end-of-year project, students worked in small groups to design and construct a bridge. During the last day of class weight was hung from the bridges to see how much they could support before breaking. Photo by Amy Wallot

North Oldham Middle School

  • Community: Suburban area near Louisville
  • Enrollment: 799
  • Grade levels: 6-8
  • School schedule: Rotating block
  • www.mustangs.org

Academic Excellence

  • A literacy coach provides instructional support for teachers and plays a key role at the school.
  • Weekly team meetings and PLCs allow teachers to plan based on specific needs and interests of students, to align curriculum and reflect on instructional practice.
  • Mastery is the standard; students resubmit work until mastery is achieved.
  • Socratic discussion, patterned after the way Socrates conducted learning activities in ancient Greece, is used in many classes to explore ideas in depth and breadth.
  • Extended library media center hours provide greater student access for research and to technology.

Developmental Responsiveness

  • Strong, intentional focus on students is evident (e.g., pictures of students in hallways, birthday bulletin board, community bulletin boards in classrooms).
  • TARGET program allows students to meet in small groups with an adult to foster the development of social skills.
  • Character-building activities allow students to self-assess and address their character development.

Social Equity

  • Collaboration is used whenever possible, allowing maximum opportunities for the mastery of standards by all students.
  • There is shared ownership for exceptional students with collaborating teachers assigned to each grade level.
  • Multiple supports, including high school peer tutors, for students struggling in academic areas have been developed.
  • Tolerance is intentionally taught and practiced.

Organizational Support

  • Classrooms are equipped with Intelligent Classroom systems.
  • Team leaders and lead teachers are part of the shared leadership and are also a means of empowering teachers and building leadership capacity.
  • Students are given both a process grade that is based on their effort and an academic grade that indicates their mastery level of the standards.
  • Faculty are provided time (i.e., common planning for each grade level, PLCs) for working and meeting with colleagues for the purpose of enhancing student achievement.
  • Teachers have the opportunity to observe other teachers and reflect on the experience through written evaluation.
  • A counselor is assigned to each grade level.

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