Middle School is Not a Building

Big Ideas from Middle School is Not A Building:

Goal I: Engagement, student-centered, student voice, collaborate, conceptual understanding, inquiry
Goal II: Individualization, responsibility, student choice, learning how to learn, integrated, differentiated, demonstrating learning
Goal III: Students are resources for one another, self-assessment, feedback-tight loops, student use of assessment data, assessment use in planning, documentation of growth, student articulation of learning-metacognition

Course Description
Education is understanding relationships
-George Washington Carver

Using the policy document, Middle School Is Not a Building, participants in this strand develop curriculum units, work on organizational issues, create assessment plans, and design ways to develop community within their teaching practice while developing the capacity to collaborate and investigate middle level philosophy and design. Individuals, teams of teachers and administrators are invited to participate in this weeklong workshop.

At this point in your professional preparation you have encountered theories on teaching and learning and gained experience in the classroom. The premise for this strand is that teaching requires quality time to plan for, reflect on and investigate teaching and learning in order to best serve young adolescent students. This strand offers that time, as well as guided facilitation and a scholarly approach to accomplish these tasks. Participants will use Middle School Is Not a Building as a lens to facilitate the creation of an Action Plan.

When MSNB participants arrive at the Institute, or prior to their arrival, a one-page proposal describing an individual or team’s project is required. The primary outcome for the strand is to have each individual or team leave the Institute with an Action Plan describing a project that will be implemented during the upcoming fall semester. Participants will not only implement the proposal in the fall, but also be required to present the results in a poster session or presentation at the annual Making Change in the Middle Conference in January 2014.

Course Objectives

During the Institute each participant will work on specific objectives to improve competency as a middle level educator. The course objectives are to:
  • Provide focused and uninterrupted time for planning, reflection, exploration and collaboration;
  • Encourage the development of interdisciplinary or integrated curriculum;
  • Allow teams to resolve issues that reduce the effectiveness of the team;
  • Promote and enact middle level principles as found in Middle School is Not a Building
  • Create an Action Plan that outlines a project for the upcoming year that has been vetted through the best practice lens of the Middle School is Not a Building Goals Matrix.

Performance Tasks

Your grade will be based on three areas of performance during the Institute and during the fall semester: participation in strand meetings and journal reflections; a completed Action Plan; and a poster or presentation session at the annual Making Change in the Middle Conference.

Attendance & Participation:During the strand you will be encouraged to work together in the creation of projects that you will implement at your school. Because learning in this strand depends on learner-to-learner interaction, your presence and participation is essential. Please be punctual and willing to contribute. If you are unable to attend a class session, please notify your colleagues and the instructors in advanced.

Journal & Action Plan: While we work together during the week we expect that you will keep a journal of your thinking about the experience. The journal should be reflections of what you have learned, reactions to prompts, how you think and rethink about your work, and “wonderings” about the middle grades. This journal will be electronic, read daily by colleagues and/or faculty and returned to you with comments. During the week you will work on developing an Action Plan for your project that you will implement during the fall semester. The plan will develop some aspect about teaching and learning that you think is important for your students. The plan must include reflections upon the MSNB Goals Matrix and how your project addresses these issues. Whatever the project topic, it must demonstrate your application of middle level principles in promoting student achievement.


Middle School is Not a Building may be found and downloaded at www.middlegradescollaborative.org.

Bluefish by Pat Schmatz

James Beane http://www.amle.org/Publications/MiddleSchoolJournal/Articles/January2013/Article2/tabid/2785/Default.aspx

Middle School is Not a Building Powerpoint:

We will have resources for your use and will recommend readings based on the individual needs of each participant. Participants are encouraged to email the instructors prior to the institute so that appropriate, personalized readings may be gathered and sent to participants.