"Skills" class also promotes life-long reading by incorporating time for independent reading and, at right, assistance with learning how to discover books of interest.
The transition from elementary to middle school is challenging. Suddenly, students are moving between eight (or more) different teachers, learning to communicate with and understand the expectations of each of them. Time management becomes increasingly important. Research is more in-depth and independent, requiring self-reliant critical thought. Technology increases, or, depending on a student’s elementary school, may be an entirely new addition to the classroom.
“Middle School Skills,” a unique, required class for all TGS sixth graders, was designed to help ease this transition. “The idea is to learn to navigate a new experience in school with a lot more components to juggle,” TGS Middle School teacher Ms. Katie Petersen-Snider said. “When developing the class, we asked, ‘What are the basic skills students need to feel successful, and what skills can we introduce now that can be built upon in future grades?’”
Students spend the fall semester of Skills class focusing on three primary areas:
Technology Skills - Navigating email, PowerSchool, Google Classroom, Google Slides and Google Docs.
Thinking Skills - Understanding the definition, value, and application of perseverance, striving for accuracy, and monitoring your own thinking.
Study Skills - Learning a variety of note-taking methods and time management and organizational tools.
The spring semester’s focus is how to conduct effective research. Using a topic of their own choosing, students learn how to find reliable sources and evaluate websites for credibility. They practice creating and answering research questions, taking relevant notes, using The Gregory School’s print and online library resources, and creating proper citations. As a culmination to the project, students get practice in oral and visual presentation as they present their research to the class, in addition to learning how to provide appropriate and constructive feedback to peers. The semester ends with an exploration of leadership skills, including The Gregory School’s 6Cs (communication, community, collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, and compassion).
“Along with components such as Advisory and Tutorial, Middle School Skills is one of the many unique opportunities we provide students to make a successful transition to middle school and beyond,” Ms. Allycyn Jacobs, Dean of Faculty and Academic Programming, said. “The intent is to give students tools that build a foundation for success throughout life.”