Middle School Sunrise Sessions were held this week over Zoom for our 5th and 6th grade families. Sunrise Sessions function as opportunities for parents and guardians to check in and see what’s going on for their students currently in the semester. They learn about what each subject is focusing on, what each advisory is tackling, upcoming parent education opportunities, and are able to ask any questions they might have.
5th Grade Sunrise Session
The 5th Grade Sunrise Session was led by Head of Middle School Jen Schuckman, 5th Grade Dean Christine Mayer, and Middle School Counselor Taquera Walker. Mayer led most of the PowerPoint presentation, starting with classroom updates where families learned about current lessons in vocal music, drama, PE, art, science, math, history, Spanish, and language arts. She then announced a new badge system in advisory called “Badges of Awesomeness” where advisees are able to earn different badges. Students are currently competing to create the badge design which will later be implemented via the Makerspace using digital fabrication.
Advisees will soon complete mid-semester reflections to review how they are doing academically, emotionally, and socially while also thinking about their homework habits, study strategies, and the routines they’ve set up for success. Part of their reflections involves going through Canvas, documenting their grades, and setting goals or how they want to improve. They also document and ask about any missing assignments, learning to take ownership of their success in the classroom.
Mayer also reported on recent experiences in the 5th grade. Students attended a virtual concert through the Sheldon Theater Drums and Dances of Africa. While spread out in Eliot Chapel or at home, they enjoyed a mini dance lesson. Middle School Librarian Annie Tsai-Gomez also recently read the picture book Dreamers by Caldecott Honor artist Yuyi Morales to open up a conversation about cultural and life experiences that related to her life having moved to different countries, as well as the lives of students. This also served as a jumping-off point to see how students were feeling. Fifth graders illustrated their current emotions after reading the book.
Lastly, the presentation leaders answered questions from parents and guardians. Some asked how students were adapting to the technology. “Beautifully!” shared Mayer. “They can always reach out to email@example.com if they have any trouble, but the students have taken well to all of the technology necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic.” They then closed with a reminder about who to contact if there are questions or concerns, and Walker reminded families of the next Parent Education event.
Sixth Grade Sunrise Session
Sixth Grade Dean Mark Duvall shared an email summary about current life in 6th grade.
Duvall first spoke about how flexible, understanding, and adaptable the class of 2027 is. “Whether they are aware or not, this class has done a remarkable job of ‘doing school’ during a pandemic,” he explains. Despite teachers’ constant and daily reminders to stay six feet apart in the halls and to keep masks on properly, students remain positive and continue to be flexible. “I recently asked our 6th grade advisors about descriptors for this class, and these are some of the adjectives that were listed: flexible, energetic, creative, very competitive, and understanding.”
In advisory, students just finished work on creating their advisory values for the year. Establishing these advisory values serves two purposes: 1) it starts the process of forming a team in advisory, and 2) it establishes the core values the students feel are most important in having a great year. All 6th grade advisories included the following values: trust, respect, communication, and teamwork. To create relevance, engagement, and buy-in from students, advisories created their own video about their values and all students created advisory value posters that will soon hang in the halls.
Over the next six to eight weeks, the 6th grade will begin the implementation of LEAD within the advisory program. Here is a reminder about what LEAD stands for:
- Learn with curiosity & joy
- Embrace challenge
- Advocate for self & community
- Demonstrate teamwork & collaboration
LEAD implementation will occur in three phases or goals:
- Goal 1: Students develop a clear understanding of each element of LEAD.
- Goal 2: Students apply their understanding of LEAD.
- Goal 3: Students make LEAD a part of Middle School culture.
When advisors design and create activities to make each goal happen, these principles are kept front and center:
- Provide student ownership & choice
- Plan relevant & engaging activities
- Acknowledge & praise kids who LEAD
Throughout the year, students in 6th grade work to become LEADers. Part of this journey involves learning how to LEAD themselves, work collaboratively with each other, and give back to our community. Students work every day to live out the values of LEAD. During class meetings, teachers nominate students who have embodied these values. We set up a ROCK JAR which sits in the new 6th grade hallway showcasing all of the rocks (good actions) students have earned. Each rock symbolizes a good action performed by a member of the class of 2027.
At the conclusion of both sessions, families were wished a safe and relaxing Thanksgiving. Up next are the 7th and 8th Grade Sunrise Sessions which will take place on Friday, December 4.