Middle school is one of the most difficult situations of transition. Middle schoolers are awkward, hard to deal with and confused. They aren’t children but certainly not adults. They are egocentric to say the least and have little concern for the consequences of their actions. Yet, they are also one of the best ages to work with, if one is willing to try to understand their difficult lives. The culture in middle school can be broken down as such: sexuality, intellect, and social status. Sexually, these students have to deal with their changing bodies and feelings.
They also have to try to understand how these feelings and changes fit in appropriately within the community. This is the area they are most sensitive toward. Intellectually, students have to decide if being “smart” is something they are willing to do. In some environments, being smart is cool, so those students who are gifted have no trouble fitting in. In other schools, these students are outcasts. When it is not cool to be smart, many students have a hard decision to make. If they show their gifts, they may sacrifice social standing.
When it is cool, the struggling students feel even more left out and troubled. At times, these students may even act dumber to try to hide how much they truly struggle. Social status varies with each school environment. Wealth, possessions, address, family legacy and athletic ability are all indicators of success. Middle school is a contest and students are constantly scrutinizing each other to see who will win, popularity being the prize, of course. There are leaders and followers; the status symbols then change as the leaders themselves change.
Whether it is the newest clothing label, shoe or track star, the culture of middle school is dominated by judgment. Evaluation The Illuminative Model of Evaluation rests its assessment on process. It appraises based on qualitative analysis of a situation in order to understand its initiation as clearly as its conclusion. Thus, in order to evaluate a situation, one must observe the effects of the process not simply look at data. The following tools of assessment are based upon that model and are applied to the curriculum overall. Several lessons will be used that typify the learning environment created within the classroom.
Evaluation One: How does this lesson provide skills that work outside the testing environment? To evaluate this lesson, the calendar of lessons was assessed. Questions were asked such as, how do the lessons flow and what overall messages are the students receiving? Can they define, find and apply the concepts discussed in class? Upon reviewing the lessons, they seem to present isolated concepts. The entire unit is research process and narrative writing techniques which are two genres and should be taught separately. These lessons are trying to do way too much too fast.
Middle school students are more successful when you break the process down and connect it to real world reasons for completing the work. If they would’ve started with day five, “reading the memoir,” then they could use the text to help define and find the language. Once they can do that, then they can apply the concepts such as writing dialogue, good word choice and using sensory language. The lesson plans as they are, present interesting skill sets but they aren’t connected to the question of, how do I apply this to reading and writing outside school.
These skills might help them pass a test, but if you ask them to write dialogue, they will not know how. The non-fiction author board is a great idea but is not developed. They are completing tasks that have a function. This project should be enhanced by having students read Georgia authors and doing actual research and a research project on their author. This schedule needs to be totally revamped in order to serve the real world needs of the students. Evaluation Two: Does this lesson connect to a home environment? As is, there is no connection with the home environment.
This will lessen the importance of the work and disconnect the families from what the students are learning. To enhance the process, when having the students write narratives, why not have them collect narratives from family members? This validates the home environment while creating an interest in the school environment at home. For the research section, they could research their family tree or conduct a survey at home regarding their family’s favorite authors. The greater the involvement from the home, the greater opportunity to work with the family for the student’s well being.
Evaluation Three: What purpose does technology serve? This also needs improvement. There is no use of technology which works against evaluative point number one. In the larger society, students must be technologically literate. Students should research using the internet, present their projects via power point, and utilize online oral history collections to hear memoirs. Computers should not only be used to type in language arts but should be used as a tool for diversification of learning styles and presentation methods. Conclusion Overall, the learning process in this curriculum model needs to be improved.
The questions of evaluation, based on the Illuminative Model, show that the process is flawed. Although there are many interesting lessons, they don’t flow together to teach an entire concept that can be applied to a real world learning situation. The terms need to be taught as part of an entire concept. Students can then define, find and apply what they have learned rather than simply be occupied for a 45 minute block of time. According to this model, students are more successful when the process is improved. The product should be the last point of evaluation rather than the first.