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Discussion: Middle school curriculum reform: What is your growing edge?

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posted by: Joni Falk on May 9, 1999 at 5:28PM
subject: Moving the discussion forward:
Thanks to Becky Montano, Bob Box, Susan Elko, Scott Hayes and Christine
Salcito for posting so far. Id like to encourage the other subscribers to
post an introductory message this week, if at all possible, so we have a
better sense whos out there and what our interests are.

Many of you know me as the PI of LSC-net and the sender of many Whats New
messages. I should also share with this list that I have a special interest
in science reform at the middle school level. Brian Drayton and I are co-PIs
on a research project looking at implementation of inquiry based science in
six MA districts which have been involved in systemic reform for at least
four years. We are interested in understanding from the teachers point of
view the competing demands, struggles, and strategies used to implement an
inquiry based curriculum. As we are just at the beginning of this project I
have no findings to share just yet, but am very interested in all the
perspectives that are being brought to this discussion.

Both Bob Box and Susan Elko report that although their LSCs are K-8 the
biggest impact has been in k-6. I would like to hear from them (and others
who share this experience) why you think this is. Do you think this has to
do with the design or professional development emphasis of your or do you
think it is due to the structure of middle school, or difficulty reaching
middle school teachers? Does the lag in reaching the middle school grades
have to do with availability of good curriculum?

Another question that was raised by Becky Montano was about the structure
of middle school. I am curious if schools that are organized according to
middle school concept (of teams across content area, flexible scheduling,
integrated curriculum) are having different experiences than those LSCs
working with middle schools that look quite similar to the Junior High
model? What is the impact of structure on reform?

Next, what is the nature of the reform for your LSC at the middle school
level? Is it changing curricula to be more standard based? Is it a change of
pedagogy to address inquiry and a constructivist approach to learning? Is it
an attempt to integrate life, physical, and earth sciences at each grade
level? Or, perhaps is the emphasis on integrating across subject domains?

Last, Christine Salcito asks if anyone is using the "piloting the Math in
Context standards-based math program?" Perhaps it would be helpful for
people to share what curricula or kits they are using and have found
particularly effective.

Sorry for this lengthy message. Please dont "lurk" because you feel you
dont have all the answers. I dont believe anyone does!
Looking forward to hearing from you and to some new introductions to the
discussion as well.

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