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This venture focuses on teaching students different aspects of responsibility through three longterm group projects that involve

real-world scenarios such as planning budgets, taking into
account environmental concerns, and relaying information to others. New Horizon Middle
School emphasizes the importance of genuine teaching moments by allowing flexibility in the
school day. By challenging students and staff to think critically about real world scenarios, they
can have ownerships of their learning and be co-constructors of knowledge.

Belief Statement:
We believe that as a community, we strive to be life-long learners, which is done through
positive relationships and a dedication to leadership. We believe in creating a safe, productive
learning environment that is based on promoting active learning, respecting differences and
embracing equality.

Team Expectations:
Every member of New Horizon Middle School is held accountable for creating relationships of
mutual respect.
Students, teachers, administrators and staff members are expected to make the choice to promote
a safe and positive learning environment.
Everyone is expected to be prepared with materials and ideas to be able to work cooperatively
with their colleagues.
Engaging classrooms have motivated, active participants.
Effective communication allows everyone to share and learn new ideas.

Organizational Structure of the Team:











Block A

Block B

Block A

Block B

Block A











Intervention Intervention Intervention Intervention Intervention
Block B

Block A

Block B

Block A

Block B






Block A- Math and Science
Block B- Language Arts and History

New Horizon Middle school is organized into four teams in each grade level. Within
these teams, teachers work in pairs to cover all content areas. Working in pairs allows for
collaboration and activities that cross subject boundary lines. Students will be able to build
strong relationships with these two teachers, while also getting opportunities to work with other
educators in full team activities.

This is the base schedule of what a week would look like for a particular student at New
Horizon Middle School. Teachers teach in teams, which allows for flexibility when hands-on
lessons or thematic units require more time. For example, a science experiment may require
both the science and language arts block, and teachers have the freedom to communicate and
make this switch to allow for a wide range of learning possibilities.
Intervention time is built into the day so that students who need to leave the general
classroom for any purpose (including special education, gifted education and therapy sessions)
can do so without missing class content. Students who remain in the classroom will have the
opportunity to make up missed work, get help in different subjects, or have time for independent
work such as reading or journaling.
One extremely important aspect of an effective middle school is the team teaching
structure. In order for teaching teams to be truly effective, teachers need to have designated
planning times where they can collaborate. All of the educators on a particular team will have the
same lunch block period, which is a good opportunity to discuss daily occurrences or informally
touch base about issues that have risen or positive outcomes of the day. Also, teachers should use
the elective block for team planning. The teachers will also arrive at school forty five minutes
before the students. Team teachers should use this time to plan lessons, organize how the content
blocks will be used for the week and deliberate on any other aspects of the curriculum that need

There is a forty five minutes elective block built into the schedule every day. New
Horizon Middle School values subject areas such as art, music, physical education, and other
non-traditional classes. Students will participate in physical education classes twice a week, on

Mondays and Friday, and can participate in an elective of their choice on Tuesday, Wednesday
and Thursday. Some students may choose to remain in physical education, others may choose to
take classes in applied technology, art, computers, family and consumer science, foreign
language, band, orchestra or chorus. Students can switch their chosen elective each semester, so
that different areas of interest can be explored.

Day Schedule:
Tardy bell: 8:15
Homeroom: 25 minutes
Content areas: 90 minutes each
Electives: 45 minutes each
Lunch: 30 minutes
Intervention: 45 minutes
Ending bell: 2:00

Background of Students and Community
Total Students: About 1,000 students
Racial Demographics: Based off of Tukwila School District in Washington, currently the most
diverse school district in the country

29% White

24% Black

23% Hispanic

22% Asian

2% Native American

Gender Division: 51% Female, 49% Male
Student to Teacher Ratio: 18:1
ELL Students: 96 students (8%)
Students with IEPs: 144 students (12%)
Students identified as gifted: 108 students (9%)
Average family income: $65,000
Top Learning Modalities: Visual and Auditory
Top Multiple Intelligences: Interpersonal, bodily/kinesthetic, logical/mathematical, linguistic and
Our Team:
Each team represents the diversity of the entire school. Our team specifically:

4 general education teachers (2 teaching pairs)

2 intervention specialists- 1 per pair

Student to teacher ratio: 18:1

72 students


6 ELL Students


8 Students on IEPs


5 Students identified as gifted

The students of New Horizon Middle School represent a wide range of ethnic
backgrounds and racial diversity. This is very beneficial to the environment of the school in
which it gains many different perspectives. The students are also diverse in other ways such as
family dynamics and past experiences. The majority of the students come from middle class
families, and we strive to connect individually with each and every family, understanding that it
needs to be approached in a variety of ways due to different situations. Another aspect of
diversity is learning styles. Lessons should reflect the fact that students learn in different ways,
and students who favor different teaching techniques should have opportunities to be successful.
New Horizon Middle School is very committed to incorporating current technology
trends. In each of our classrooms, there is access to a class set of laptops so that teachers can
incorporate different programs into their lessons. Our teachers are constantly being updated on
the newest social media and devices. Every student has an Edmodo account, which is a social
media site similar to Facebook, but used solely for academics. We feel that including social
media into our curriculum engages the students and teachers are encouraged to use it whenever
they feel it will enhance the lesson.
Within the community, there is also a wide range of political viewpoints. The
community generally accepts the school teaching both sides of the political spectrum since one
of our priorities is to provide a well-rounded education. However, there are still topics that spark
controversy, as they do in almost all communities. Some topics that have caused discussion are
sex education in the school, evolution vs creationism, and dress code regulations. When these
topics do arise, we do our best to come together and discuss the issues present with the students,
families, and community. Sex education is covered within our health curriculum, however, there
is a consent form that is sent home to the guardians of each student before the lesson takes

place. We value the beliefs of all the individuals in our community, therefore, we present both
ideas of creationism and evolution. We focus on teaching according to the state standards, which
focuses on evolution, but we use this as a good example that different viewpoints do exist. Our
dress code is as follows:

Body must be covered in clothes from knee to collarbone

Shirts must cover shoulders

No words or images that relate or promote to gangs, violence, drugs, sex, and alcohol

No hoods or hats unless it is affiliated with culture, religion, or sickness

Any conflicts will be resolved by the administration
A connection among home, school, and community is essential to New Horizon Middle

School. We provide all students with opportunities to engage with the community and
encourage service-learning opportunities. For example, a common intervention technique we
provide is allowing our students with exceptionalities to go out into the community and
experience real world situations while gaining life skills. While some students on IEPs at New
Horizon Middle School have mild disabilities and are integrated into the general education
classrooms, other students have severe disabilities. Those students with severe disabilities are
placed in classrooms where they will stay for the majority of the day to meet their needs, because
this is the least restrictive environment for those types of students. Families are valued highly at
New Horizon Middle School and are encouraged to come into the school to volunteer with
different school activities, such as assisting teachers, chaperoning events, and supporting
extracurricular activities.
New Horizon Middle School works together with the community and the students’ homes
to establish a sense of unity. A day dedicated to careers in the community will take place once a
year. Career day will allow students to invite their families to discuss their careers to the school.

Students will be informed on all of the different possibilities they have in their future as a
working citizen. This will provide opportunities for the students to become more aware of the
diversity in the community and will also allow community members to take part in the learning
process and reach students in a way that is oftentimes not possible. Health professionals will help
screen the students for the health exams, which provides a good opportunity for these
professionals to raise awareness and keeps students safe and healthy. Students will be exposed to
health professions and be able to view people from their own community as role models.
Additionally, some of these businesses, as well as parents and other community members, will
have fundraisers to raise money for new supplies, technology, equipment, and field trips for the
school. Students can also go on field trips around the community. For example, students may
shadow a business owner for a day.
To present the students’ work, our school will ask local businesses to display students’
work in their windows. As residents walk by the displays, they can be informed on what the
students are learning in school. This also motivates the students to produce their best work in
school so that they can be proud when they see their work displayed around the community. It
can also help the business’s attract attention. For instance, an art store may display students’ art
in their windows.
We believe that voluntary community work helps develop our students into responsible
citizens. Students will constantly be provided with information about service opportunities, such
as helping clean-up around the community by clearing off the garbage on the streets. This not
only benefits the students by allowing them to be active members of society, but it benefits
community partners as well. School clubs and sports teams will take place in service projects

We invite veterans to come into our school for assemblies. They can discuss their
experiences and teach the students on our country. Additionally, families and community
members are always welcome to come to school functions such as plays, concerts, presentations
and speakers. It is important to us that the community is well aware of and on board with the
curriculum we are teaching. This is necessary in supporting our hope that students use the skills
they learn at New Horizon Middle School when they are out in the community and contributing
to society.
Health, Wellness and Safety Programs:
- Social/Emotional

Sensitivity training for teachers- Both our school and team have a strong commitment to
creating a safe and welcoming environment for all students. While teachers are typically
well-intentioned, they can unknowingly harm students through the use of deficit language
or acts that target particular students. By having all educators participate in ongoing
sensitivity training, awareness can be brought to these issues and the school can act

Advisory programs to build strong relationships- Genuine advisory programs will be
included weekly for every student. These programs help build strong relationships
between the student and their peers as well as with a trustworthy adult. During these
programs, students can voice their concerns, share personal stories and interests, as well
as reflect on the week.

Anonymous bullying box- These boxes will provide an outlet for students to share their
concerns anonymously and report any actions that they have seen or personally
experiences around the school. While students will be actively encouraged to counteract
bullying, many early adolescent students will be intimidated by the social repercussions
of this. These boxes will be available in each classroom and will allow teachers to be
aware of their classroom environment and deal with problems as they occur.

Team building retreats- Each team will participate in in and out of school team building
retreats. These retreats will include games that build trust and community and allow the
students to interact in a way that is separated from academic pressures.

Clubs that represent a wide array of interests- Our school offers after school clubs, such
as robotics, art, drama and fashion. Students also have the opportunity to create their own
club in any area that interests them with the support of 5 students and a teacher sponsor.
This allows students to meet others with the same interests as them and engage in
activities that they might not otherwise have access to.

- Physical

Mandatory Health and PE classes- Many students do not have the opportunity outside of
school hours to participate in active physical activity or get information about different
areas of health. By including this in the curriculum, students can have first hand access to
correct information and resources that they may need. This includes sexual education
with parental consent. If parents feel that their child should not be learning these topics in
school, they have the right to educate their child at home. In addition, students with
disabilities will have the opportunity to participate in the PE classes, with our accessible
resources and classes.

Variety of healthy, affordable school lunches- With the extreme physical changes that
happen in early adolescence, our school makes healthy lunch options a priority. School
lunches will be appropriate to students with different dietary restrictions, such as allergies
and cultural limitations.

Daily school breakfast- Each morning the cafeteria provides nutritious and affordable
breakfast for any student in need of it. Our school makes sure to provide students with
healthy breakfast options, and the opportunity for all the students of New Horizon to eat
at the school each morning.

Limitations of vending machine items- Vending machine items will also be limited to
healthy options. Students should be encouraged to eat when needed so that they can
remain attentive throughout the day. Vending machines will be filled with snacks such as
water, juice, crackers and granola bars that will be most beneficial for the students.

Health screenings- Through community partnerships, students will have access to free
screenings, such as heart, blood pressure and vision screenings.

Intramural and competitive sports teams- By providing competitive sports teams for
advanced players and intramural teams for students who have less experience or are
looking for less of a time commitment, there is a place for any student looking to become
more physically active outside of school. Being part of a team in either of these
opportunities is also extremely beneficial for middle school students.

- Safety

D.A.R.E Program- The D.A.R.E program aims to instill good decision-making skills in
students who live in a world full of temptations and unknowns. This program targets drug
and alcohol use, bullying, internet safety and other issues that are of particular concern in
each school. This program will act as an add-on curricular program that will establish a
lasting relationship with the school police officer and give teachers and students tools to
refer to when difficult situations arise.

Fire, severe weather, lockdown and bus evacuation drills- These drills ensure that
students and staff will be prepared in case of an emergency situation.

Visitor check in

Cameras at all entrances


Visitor name tag and check-in with the front desk


Picture taken at entrance to be used in case of an emergency

School police officer- The school police officer will form relationships with the students
and staff members in order to create a safe, positive atmosphere around the school. The
intention is not to have this authority figure as a threat, but instead to make people in the
building feel safe knowing that they have a familiar resource to turn to.

Guidance and Support Services:

Guidance Groups- Having groups of peers and professionals to discuss issues that are
common for early adolescence can be very helpful in both preventing and dealing with
conflicts. Some of these topics may include having parents going through a divorce,
eating disorders, bullying, dealing with depression and sexual identity.

Outside Resource Availability- There are going to be some topics that will require
professionals outside of school personnel. This is to be expected, but school guidance

counselors should have a variety of resources and contacts that they can relay to students
when needed.

Grief Counseling- When school wide or personal travesties occur there will be measures
in place that provide for students to deal with their grief with guidance counselors oneon-one or discuss difficult concepts in groups.

Regularly scheduled individual and family counseling sessions- This is a progressive
movement to open up communication within the school community. Students and
families will have regular opportunities to meet with the guidance counselor so that a
relationship can be formed before an issue arises. The idea is that guidance counselor
meetings should not have a negative connotation and should not be reserved for negative
occasions or managing situations. Instead, the guidance department should be a resource
that is continuously utilized to prevent negative situations from arising.

Course Description:
The curriculum of New Horizon Middle School is exploring the idea of how to be a
responsible eighth grader. This will be done through three main projects that will interconnect
all of the main content areas. Throughout the year the students will be participating in a service
project at the local veteran’s home, presenting a proposal for an eighth grade class trip, and
creating their own environmental action plan for the community. These projects were chosen
because they allow the students to engage in the learning process. New Horizon Middle School
believes that students should take an active role in their education by extending their engagement
level beyond the school walls.
New Horizon Middle School embraces diversity throughout the school and the
community. We value the differences of each individual and feel that it is a positive asset of our
team. We are proud to have the technology and support system to educate students with
exceptionalities, students who are gifted, and English Language Learners. There is an
Intervention Specialist working with each pair of teachers so that all students can learn to the
best of their ability. Many of our activities in the classrooms are group-based, therefore, making
diverse groups is a top priority for New Horizon Middle School teachers. Students with
exceptionalities will be included into these groups in the general education classroom, however,
an Intervention Specialist will be there with the group to provide any support needed. We
believe that putting these groups together will be very beneficial for students who are gifted as
well as English Language Learners. The group atmosphere allows for students to showcase their
individual thoughts and ideas while being able to use their group members as a resource. The
variety of cultural backgrounds represented in our students offers a wide range of thoughts and
experiences that will play a major role in developing these projects.

Since we believe learning should extend beyond the walls of the classroom, the
community plays an important role in student learning. Each of our three main projects works
directly with the community, therefore, we encourage local businesses and organizations to view
these students as strong contributors to the good of the public. By serving at the local veteran’s
home, students are able to see another aspect of their community that they’re not normally
exposed to. This will spark questions that the students will desire to explore. By creating an
environmental action plan to present to local businesses, students will see the possibility of
having an impact on their community. We also focus on communicating ideas through having
the students plan a possible eighth grade trip to make them feel more confident in sharing their
When exploring the idea of responsibility, New Horizon Middle School chose specific
factors to consider. Students will be exploring the idea of how citizenship, culture,
environmental awareness, finances, communication, and well-being play a role in being a
responsible eighth grader. Middle school is a time of significant development for students,
therefore, we encourage them to engage their curiosity and help to identify their sense of
self. We chose these factors because students will have experiences with each of these and we
want them to be prepared to act responsibly. We want students to be asking themselves how
their actions will affect others and see the different consequences that could arise. Eighth grade
is a time when students are leaving behind their egocentric mindset and these projects will
encourage that transition.
Our first project for our New Horizon eighth graders will be a service project at a local
veteran’s home. Students will share prior knowledge related to this project before traveling
there, so that students will be able to identify what knowledge they already have. Through this

project, we’ll combine increasing environmental awareness with citizenship by having our
students plant a vegetable garden for the residents. The students will also have the opportunity
to talk with the men and women living there about their life experiences in an interview
format. After this service-learning component, the class will research the questions they came
across that were not answered during their time talking with the men and women. This project
will be good for engaging students because they are the ones guiding the learning process. After
a variety of online and physical resources are used to research these questions, students will
share their knowledge in groups. Not only are the students speaking to people who have held
great responsibilities, but they are taking control in ways that they haven’t before by choosing to
further their exploration. This project should take place over the course of 2 weeks.
A second project for our eighth graders will be proposing a plan for a possible eighth
grade trip. Again, students will be working in groups and we will be focusing more heavily on
what it means to be responsible to your group members by forming team expectations as the first
assignment. The students will be given the freedom to choose the destination of their trip, but
are responsible for considering significant cultural factors when deciding. These factors and a
rationale for choosing the location must be including in their final brochure. While teachers will
guide the students, they will still have a lot of freedom to consider factors they deem important.
One of their responsibilities is to create a budget, which is a lifelong skill they’ll need when
managing money wisely. The rationale for choosing the location, the budget for the trip, and at
least 3 other reasons supporting this trip decision will be presented in a brochure to educate their
peers on the trip they have designed. This project will take place over the course of 3 weeks.
Lessons on persuasive writing and cultures around the world will take place throughout the
completion of this project.

The final project we have designed for our New Horizon eighth graders is to develop an
environmental action plan for local businesses. Students will be introduced to environmental
concerns through a series of science experiments that focus on erosion. Students will be put into
diverse groups (taking into consideration ability level, background experiences and learning
styles) where they will come up with an idea for local businesses to become more
environmentally friendly. To aid the students, current events articles will be shared that will give
students ideas to consider. They will then present their idea through a persuasive paper - a skill
that will continue to be developed throughout the year. This idea will be expanded beyond the
local community by looking at environmental issues throughout the entire world, such as air
pollution in china and contaminated bodies of water in India. All of these components will take
place over the course of 3 weeks. This directly shows how important it is to help others and to
take care of the world we live in. Students are also developing the skills to put their thoughts
into action.
These three projects form the base of our curriculum. Another important aspect that we
want to incorporate is freedom for teachers to take advantage of moments that arise. If students
have questions or a discussion takes off, these genuine opportunities should be utilized to
enhance the overall process. Each of the time frames listed above is an approximation, and has
the opportunity to be extended or shortened as necessary. Not only does this further the concept
of students taking responsibility of their own learning, but it holds teachers accountable for being
knowledgeable in their content areas. Therefore, while these lessons are the main focus on the
curriculum, other lessons and explorations will undoubtedly be incorporated to support the
overall experience of this course.

The purpose of these projects is to work with skills outlined in the Common Core
Standards and the Ohio State Standards in an interactive way. Students will become comfortable
with concepts such as geological erosion, persuasive writing, journaling, solving multi-variable
equations and reading informational texts by exploring topics that interest them and have real life
importance. Another main goal for our students is that they understand how to work
productively in groups and both communicate their own ideas as well as accept the ideas of
others with an open mind. This is a skill that is built through lifelong exploration, and students
should begin their experiences as early as possible. Our curriculum is centered around the idea
of responsibility because we believe that students need to learn that they are capable of making a
difference. On top of academic content and skills, we hope that these educational opportunities
lay the groundwork for students to become lifelong leaders. Students are oftentimes
underestimated. All students should be challenged to continuously pursue excellence, and
through these opportunities we hope that students will gain confidence in themselves and prove,
to themselves and to others, that even young adolescents have the power to make a difference.

Veteran’s Home Project:
This project will take place over the course of 2 weeks. The teacher should have
checkpoints with the students, so that errors can be caught early on and the integrity of the
project can be maintained. These checkpoints include:

A precursory journal entry that shows students are considering past experiences

A list of appropriate and relevant questions to ask the veterans in an interview format

A journal entry following the service-learning component that shows what information
was gained from the experience

A list of at least 3 questions that students want to complete additional research on

Notes taken on the new information they have discovered

Informal assessment should be used throughout the entire project in the form of observation so
that teachers can tell if students are remaining engaged and benefiting from the experience.
A completion grade will be given for the checkpoints above. Also, peers will evaluate their
group members on the information gathered through research. They will be given rubrics to rate
their group members on the quality and depth of information gathered. The journal entry
completed after the service-learning component will be graded by the teacher, looking for the
student to include new information that they learned from the interview and why the experience
was valuable.

8th Grade Trip Project:
This project will take place over the course of 3 weeks. After being placed in their
groups, the first thing students need to do is create group expectations that will help proactively

deal with any issues that may arise. These expectations should be checked in with the teacher
before students proceed.
There are two main components to this project: the budget and the rationale as to why
this location is the best place for an 8th grade trip. These components will be compiled into a
final brochure. The budget will be graded for mathematical accuracy, as well as if the students
considered a variety of budget factors such as transportation, hotel costs, attraction prices and
food. Students may not have identical budget considerations, but the information provided
should show that students were thoughtful and purposeful in their execution. The rationale
should include a cultural component as well as 3 additional reasons that are unique to the group.
This component will be graded on organization, voice, consideration of audience, and
grammar/spelling accuracy. There will also be the opportunity for students to assess their group
members by dividing up 100 “group work” points among the students they worked with, based
on how much they feel each member contributed.
Additionally, teachers should be actively observing the group dynamics and deliberation
to make sure that all students are participating- stepping in when necessary. It is important to
remember that working as a responsible group member is a goal of our curriculum, and is a skill
that is still developing among 8th grade students. Students will turn in feedback that they have
for the teacher about how the project went and suggestions they have for the future.

Environmental Action Plan
This project will take place over the course of approximately 3 weeks. Students will be
initially introduced to the idea of environmental issues through a series of science experiments
that allow students to observe the effects of erosion. Students will be responsible for filling out a

packet that guides the experiment, so that important points are made explicitly clear along the
way. These packets will be collected for a grade as an assessment of this component.
Students will then write a persuasive essay in groups, detailing why local businesses
should make their suggested change to become more environmentally friendly. Teachers should
be an active resource during this project, continually checking in with groups to make sure
everyone is staying on track and headed in the right direction. The final paper will first be peer
evaluated by another group, so that comments can be given and changes made. It will then be
graded formally by the teacher using a rubric that considers organization, voice, originality, and
grammar/spelling. Students will have the opportunity to present their action plans to a group of
local professionals. Each group will be graded on their professionalism and will receive feedback
from their peers.
To extend this idea further, students will be exposed to lessons about environmental
issues around the world. The teacher will lead discussion, and students will receive points for
participating in the classroom conversation. This will motivate students to participate as well as
foster a richer conversation that includes the entire class.
As we have said, students with exceptionalities as well as English Language Learners
will be taking part in these projects. The team structure will allow these students to highlight
their strengths, contributing in areas that they excel in, as well as work on their skills that are still
developing with the help of their peers. It is important that teachers have high expectations for
these students, as well as understanding the unique challenges that they face. There will be an
intervention specialist working with each teaching pair so ensure that students with
exceptionalities have additional resources that they need to be successful. Teachers should be

constantly observing the groups to make sure that these students are participating in the group
and benefiting from the project. If students have disabilities that do not allow them to benefit
from this project, a modified assignment should be designed to fit the particular needs of the
student. There are many students at New Horizon Middle School who are English Language
Learners. These students will work with a professional during their intervention block to develop
their English proficiency. Working with a group of peers is very beneficial in language
acquisition. Again, these students can contribute to the group in areas that they are very strong in
and can develop other skills by challenging themselves with these projects.

Course Rationale:
Our curriculum is focused on teaching the idea of responsibility and the different ways
that responsibility will impact different facets of everyday life. In our classroom, we take a
student-centered approach to education because we believe that individuals have the power to
control their education. By learning these skills in the classroom, students will be able contribute
to society, knowing that they can make a difference. Oftentimes in middle school classrooms,
students are placed in an inferior role and are not viewed as valuable, contributing members
(Poetter, 2014, p.70). Our curriculum strives to consider the needs of students in the activities
we’ve chosen as well as give them the opportunity to make discoveries on their own using
teachers as a resource.
In general, societal changes start with the actions of individuals. A major problem in
society today is that people underestimate their power to make a change. When people rely on
others to solve injustices, problems can easily be overlooked. Students have particular difficulty
with this, viewing themselves as too young to stand up for what they believe in. This view is
enforced in traditional classroom settings where students are looked at as having an inferior role
to the teacher. In our classrooms, all members, teachers and students, are active learners. The
needs of everyone are considered when forming groups and developing the central projects. The
focus on responsibility was decided after considering that students need to develop these
abilities. Individuals need the skills to both communicate their ideas and take into consideration
the ideas of others in order to be functioning members of society. These values should be
instilled from a young age, starting in the classroom (Poetter, 2014, p. 119). Our focus on group
work as well as presenting ideas to community members continuously practices these skills.

Society relies on the education system to develop citizens who have a passion to improve the
community and contribute to a better world.
Society is an ever-changing entity that brings together individuals who rely on each other.
It’s important that individuals have unique ideas and perspectives, and it is equally important that
they can see the value in differing viewpoints. Humans are naturally social beings who are
inclined to work together. However, these skills need to be developed. Particularly at the
middle school age, students are becoming more socially aware. They are beginning to understand
that their actions have an impact on those around them. Society is where people come together
for collaboration, but the skills to do so are fostered in the classroom. During school, mistakes
are learned from and are seen as a necessary step to improve. However, in the community,
mistakes are often viewed negatively and people may not be as inclined to take risks or develop
skills when they know they don’t have the support systems that are needed for personal
development. Education has been given the important job of allowing people to grow into
functioning members of society. Our students are well aware of our team’s commitment to
lifelong learning (Meier, 2003, p. 19). Learning is an exploratory process, which we
communicate through the structure of our activities and focus on collaboration.
Actions can never be reversed, they can only be built upon. Therefore, changes made in
the present will inevitably alter the course of the future. It is important to realize that
transformations made will control the route of what is to come. We hope that our students will
grow from our curriculum, and apply the skills they learn to other educational settings as well as
everyday life (Beane, 1997, p.2). Future generations rely on the precedent set before them. Just
as today’s society is a compilation of past events, future society will reflect decisions made
today. We want this to be a realization that students make early in life, so that they can make

informed decisions about the role they play in society and how they develop as a person.
Students are capable of understanding these advanced concepts. When schools decide to not
communicate these real world applications, they are enforcing the false idea that students are
inferior and incapable of applying their knowledge to broader situations.
Knowledge is going to be the most valuable when students discover personal
connections. Information can be presented to students, but if no real world connections are made
then it will most likely be forgotten over time. Students will be encouraged to connect their past
experiences to content being learned, and share with the class to extend the learning experience.
Knowledge is not only what is explicitly taught, but is also gathered from classroom practices,
experiences with peers and what is left out of the curriculum (Beane, 1997, p.2). We embrace
diversity and are committed to making sure no student feels left behind. Every action taken has
the students’ best interests in mind.

246 Text Set
Our three main projects explicitly work with the idea of responsibility. However, we want
students to realize that responsibility has a wider meaning as well: every action has a
consequence, and you are responsible for the outcomes of your decisions. We have included this
text set that deals with the topic of “Feeling like an Outsider”. Not only is this a topic that
socially conscious middle school students will connect with, but it looks at responsibility from a
different perspective. By allowing students to look at what can happen to people when others act
carelessly, students can engage in deeper conversation about issues in the world today.
Anchor Text: “The Outsiders” by S.E. Hinton

“Students Protest Bullying” (Article and Video) (Informational) This article and video set exemplifies students standing
up for one another and protesting the atrocities surrounding bullying. We included this
text to show that bullying is a large way that students are labeled as outsiders. By
illustrating a positive way that a school and community can make a difference and show
their commitment to ending bullying can help students feel like they can also make a
difference. This text can spark a great discussion about why people are bullied, why
people feel like an outcast, and how the students can make a difference.

“Cesar Chavez: Leader for Migrant Farm Workers” by Doreen Gonzalez (Non-fiction
novel) This biography gives a great overview of Cesar Chevez’s life and also his fight for
migrant farm workers, mainly Hispanic migrant farm workers, rights. This novel is a
great way to show that a big part of responsibility is standing up for what you believe in
and challenging the status quo. By including Cesar Chavez, students are able to see a
great leader, who not only was very successful, but also who finally isn’t a white man.
They are able to see someone who looks more like a lot of our students, which is really
important for students to see if they are going to be encouraged to make a change in their

Poem by a Middle School Student (from Kim’s class) (Poem) This poem shows direct
insight into how a middle school student can feel like an outsider. By using this particular
poem in the text set, can get students to talk about how they agree or disagree with the
poem and how it makes them feel.

“The Beauty Radius” by Yena Purmasir (Poem) This poem shows how everyone is
affected by what society calls beautiful (for a young girl for example: white women) and
how detrimental it can be. It is a great way to get students to have dialogue on how the
media and society oppresses others and makes them feel like outsiders also how we can
change this.

“The Middle” by Jimmy Eats World (Song) This song is an uplifting
outlook on how to overcome personally feeling like an outsider. By looking at the word
choice and particular repetitions of the words, the students can discuss and learn about
the author’s purpose. This song is an alternative/rock song, therefore appealing to
students who enjoy this type of genre.

“Changes” by Tupac (Song) This song represents responsibility by
discussing the worlds’ issues and how people need to take action in order to change the
world for the better. Students will analyze the lyrics and interpret the meaning of the
song. This will show students how they can make a difference in this world, and also
introduces social issues in an abstract way. This song is a hip-hop/rap song, which
appeals to students who enjoy that genre, and can be compared to “The Middle” to show
cross-genre connections.

“The Sock Drawer” (Political Cartoon) This political cartoon can be a great way to
introduce the idea of making someone else feel like an outsider. It can also be linked to
history and how political cartoons have ostracized certain groups of people or even
particular politicians or figures of importance in general.

“Squidville” (Spongebob Episode) (TV Show) This episode includes Squidward leaving his
Bikini Bottom home to go live in Squidville, a place he believes he can fit in.
Unbeknownst to Squidward is that he is actually quite unique and cannot fit perfectly into
the Squidville’s way of life. Showing this episode can illustrate to students how even in a
crowd of those that look like you or seem like you, you can still feel like an outsider. This

episode also stresses the importance of being yourself and how not fitting in is a good

“Saving Psychic Raven” (That’s So Raven) (TV Show) This episode involves Raven
feeling isolated because of her supernatural ability. Therefore, she seeks out other
supernatural teens to try to fit in with. However, this causes issues with her nonsupernatural friends and ends up causing a lot of shenanigans for Raven. This episode is
another way to illustrate how being different can cause personal strife. It can be a good
way to show that being different is not a bad thing, but that others can cause it to feel that

“Freak the Mighty” by Rodman Philbrick (Novel) This novel follows two boys who are
ostracized by their classmates, but find friendship in one another. It is also a great way to
include different levels of reading in the classroom. The novel also discusses students
with exceptionalities, which is a great way to include a discussion about diversity in the

“There’s a Boy in the Girls’ Bathroom” by Louis Sachar (Novel) This novel discusses a
troubled boy in the fifth grade. This is also another novel that is at a different reading
level. Having novels at different levels helps to include all the students into the classroom
and into discussions. This book is also very relatable to many students and can spark
great discussion.

“Code Talker: A Novel About the Navajo Marines of World War Two” by Joseph
Bruchac (Novel). This novel gives the often untold story of the Navajo Marines who
were crucial in the war against Japan in WWII. This gives yet another side of
responsibility and shows the students that “unlikely” or “not typical” heroes can make a
huge impact.

Planning the 8th Grade Trip
Common Core State Standards:
Language Arts:
Strand - Writing Grade 8
Topic - Text types and purposes, Production and Distribution of Writing
Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are
appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (Grade-specific expectations for writing types are
defined in standards 1-3 above.)
Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts, and
information through the selection, organization, and analysis of relevant content
Strand - Functions
Topic - Define, Evaluate and Compare Functions, Use Functions to Model Relationships
Between Quantities
Describe qualitatively the functional relationship between two quantities by analyzing a graph
(e.g., where the function is increasing or decreasing, linear or nonlinear). Sketch a graph that
exhibits the qualitative features of a function that has been described verbally.
Ohio Revised Standards:
Social Studies:
Strand - Economic
Topic - Financial Literacy
Content Statement:
25. The effective management of one’s personal finances includes using basic banking services
(e.g., savings accounts and checking accounts) and credit.
Student Performance Objectives:
Students will be able to…
• Give evidence to support their destination decision
• Gather information from multiple, reliable sources
• Collaborate with group members to form expectations for their group
• Arrangement of brochure content is clear in its purpose and organized in a presentable

Formulate numerical data based on realistic financial situations
Visually represent the budget using an appropriate method
Organize financial considerations using a spreadsheet that correlates with a graph
Verbally explain the meaning behind the numbers and operations used
Discuss the marginalization of students

Literacy Rationale and Component:
We are going to have our students read The Toothpaste Millionaire by Jean Merrill. This book
will introduce the idea of large-scale budgeting, and also show a character their age being
successful in implementing a plan. It allows them to see that they are capable of taking on real
world situations, which we are asking them to do through this project.
Questions to discuss:
• Did you expect Rufus to be African American?
• Do you feel that people of power are typically white males?
• How is this message perpetuated in the media?
• Did Rufus’s race have an impact on the story?
When discussing these topics, use the CNN article “Where’s the African-American Harry Potter
or Mexican Katniss?” to further the discussion on diversity in young adult literature.
Key Academic Language:
• Functions
• Quantities
• Input
• Output
• Corresponding
• Analyze
• Linear
• Qualitative
• Organization
• Informative
• Explanatory
• Relevant
• Class set of computers
• Class set of The Toothpaste Millionaire
• Access to Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Publisher
• Books about culturally significant locations around the world
• Access to appropriate web sources

1. Have the class read The Toothpaste Millionaire by the start of this project. If there is
extra time during class, the teacher can read out loud.
2. Discuss the book as a class. Engage in dialogue about why Rufus was successful in his
venture, what problems he faced, and how his age played a role.
3. Organize the students into predetermined groups that have a diverse representation of
skill level, learning styles and past experiences.
4. Have the students make a list of group expectations that will allow their group to reach
their full potential throughout this project.
5. Use the first day to allow groups to brainstorm destination ideas that would be beneficial
for an 8th grade trip using the computers and books provided.
6. Introduce the project to the students, providing a rubric for the final brochure.
7. Allow 3 to 4 days in class for students to research their chosen location and gather
information. Teachers should circulate around the room and encourage students to take
into account accessibility for all students, for example language barriers and handicap
accessible buildings and activities.
8. When students feel that they have all the information they need, each group will meet
with the teacher. If the teacher feels that the students have enough information to be
successful, the students can begin working on their budget.
9. One day in class should be dedicated to explaining how to use Microsoft Excel.
10. Students need to have their budget finalized by the end of the second week.
11. After demonstrating how to use Microsoft Publisher, students need to compile their
findings into a brochure format.
12. Groups will present their ideas and brochures to the class, and at the end of presentations,
the class will vote on which trip they would most like to take.
13. The class will conclude the project by discussing what difficulties they faced in meeting
the needs of all students. Questions to bring up:
• What factors did other groups bring up that your group had not considered?
• What students are typically marginalized?
• Why do you feel the needs of some students are not considered? (Simplifies planning,
forgotten about, see it as normal, etc.)
(This would be a good point to transition into the text set seen above)
• Verbal/Linguistic - Students will read and discuss The Toothpaste Millionaire and
present their brochures to the class.
• Logic/Mathematical - Creating a spreadsheet and graph based on budgeting
• Spatial - Designing a brochure
• Interpersonal - Students will get to work with peers and share ideas with one another.
Learning Modalities:
• Visual - Creating a brochure in a creative and interesting way
• Auditory - Class discussion of book, and presenting the brochure

Informal Check-Points
• Expectations should be checked in with the teacher before students proceed
• General notes need to be checked in before students move on to the budget
• Teacher will observe that students understand how to use the Microsoft programs before
letting the students work on their own
• Group dynamics will be observed by the teacher continuously
Grading of Final Brochure
• The budget will be graded for mathematical accuracy
• The budget will also be analyzed to see if the students considered a variety of budget
factors such as transportation, hotel costs, attraction prices and food
• The spreadsheet and the visual representation of the budget will be graded based on
appropriate use and mathematical accuracy.
• The rationale should include a cultural component as well as 3 additional pieces of
supporting evidence
• The rationale will be graded on organization, voice, consideration of audience, and
grammar/spelling accuracy using a rubric. Students need to include substantial evidence
from multiple, reliable sources.
• There will also be the opportunity for students to assess their group members by dividing
up 100 “group work” points among the students they worked with, based on how much
they feel each member contributed.
Project Handout:
The Eighth Grade Class Trip
First Project for Eighth Graders
For this project, you will be working in groups to come up with a class trip plan, which you will
present through a brochure.

Student Teacher
Check Check

Read The Toothpaste Millionaire by Jean Merrill
In assigned groups, brainstorm and create a list of possible locations to travel
to using the internet
• Keep in mind, different locations will hold different meanings for
each student. Look at the locations you research through a critical
lens and analyze how each student could connect.
Research finalized location and gather any necessary information for your
• You may want to consider transportation, food, attractions, valuable
learning opportunities, and our student population.

Outline the costs of your class trip, including factors such as the cost of food,
hotel, and transportation, in a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet
Compile the information from your spreadsheet into a visual representation
• Examples could be a line graph, bar graph, pie chart, etc.
Create a brochure including all of the information about your class trip
Schedule a time to present your brochure to the class

Group Evaluation:
0 - Strongly Disagree 5 - Strongly Agree
0 1 2 3 4 5 All members worked well together
0 1 2 3 4 5 Working in a group made this project easier
0 1 2 3 4 5 I worked with students who have different experiences from me
Divide 100 points among your group members based on how you feel they contributed to this
project (include yourself)
Points Given
Group Member
Suggestions for the teacher:


Environmental Action Plan
Common Core State Standards:
Language Arts:
Strand - Writing
Topic - Text Types and Purposes
Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence
Establish and maintain a formal style.
Ohio Revised Standards:
Strand - Earth and Space Science
Topic - Physical Earth
Identify examples of destructive geologic processes (e.g., erosion, flooding, mass wasting,
volcanic activity, glacial movement, earthquakes, tsunamis).
Social Studies:
Strand - Government
Topic - Civic Participation and Skills
Content Statements:
18. Participation in social and civic groups can lead to the attainment of individual and public
19. Informed citizens understand how media and communication technology influence public
Student Performance Objectives:
Students will be able to...
• Successfully follow the steps of an experiment, showing that they understand the
scientific terms and concepts related to erosion
• Explain how the findings from the experiment relate to their community
• Write a persuasive essay that includes a hook, supporting details and counterarguments
• Write a clear and concise thesis
• Collaborate efficiently with a diverse group of their peers
• Present their ideas professionally to a group of adults and classmates
• Prove their impact on the community
Literacy Rationale and Component:

After the erosion experiment, students will be given articles about environmental activists. This
will connect the classroom activities with current events, allowing the students to see that they
are interacting with real world issues. Students will discuss the biases that are seen in the articles,
considering multiple viewpoints. This will aid the students in writing their counterarguments.
Questions to discuss:
• What are other issues that people speak out against?
• Why is it difficult to challenge people in power?
• Why is it important to challenge the status quo?
Key Academic Language:
• Geological processes
• Energy
• Physical earth
• Data
• Model
• Record
• Movement
• Research
• Evaluate
• Social
• Civic
• Citizens
• Communication
• Public opinion
For the Erosion Experiment (this is what each group needs):
• 3 prepared/cut empty coke bottles
• 3 prepared “buckets” with the string attached
• 1 piece of ply wood (30cm x 30cm x 2cm thick)
• Wood glue
• Spade
• Soil
• 4 Seedlings
• Mulch (bark chips, dead leaves and sticks)
• Water
• Cup for water
For the Persuasive Letter:

Class set of envelopes
Class set of stamps
Class set of computers
Access to reputable websites for research

Books about environmental awareness plans and issues
Access to Microsoft Word or another type of word processing software

1. The teacher will introduce the topic of environmental awareness by having the students
conduct an experiment modeling erosion in their environment.
2. Students will be given a packet to guide them through the experiment, and will also be
given all of the prepared materials to set up the model.
3. Each group will put soil in 3 bottles, planting a flower in the first bottle, mulch in the
second, and leaving the third as is.
4. A bucket will be hung from each bottle to collect the water that the students pour into the
bottles. This will simulate erosion by showing how soil is displaced.
5. The models will remain in the classroom for the duration of the project so that students
can observe the changes over time.
6. As a class, discuss the implications of this erosion and problems that can arise.
7. Provide the students with nonfiction articles about environmental activists.
8. Put the students into their groups to briefly discuss the articles.
9. In their groups, students will begin brainstorming ideas of changes that could be
implemented in local businesses to better the environment. Students will have access to
online materials as well as books, and the articles provided by the teacher.
10. Students will create an outline of their proposal for the teacher before they begin writing
their formal persuasive essay.
11. Several days of class time should be given to prepare the essay.
12. When students are finished writing their first draft of the persuasive essay, they will
switch papers with another group to peer evaluate and receive feedback.
13. After the editing process is done, students will write letters inviting local business
professionals to come hear their proposals.
14. Plan a day for the presentations to take place.
15. After seeing the business professionals, discuss who made up this population. Were they
mostly white males? What age range were most of them in? Did this surprise you? Why
do you think this is the case?
16. Extend this idea of environmental awareness to a global scale by presenting
environmental issues around the world, such as air pollution in China and water
contamination in India.
• Verbal/Linguistic - Reading and discussing articles, writing persuasive essays, and
presenting proposals
• Logic/Mathematical - Following the experiment steps correctly and outlining the
persuasive essay
• Interpersonal - Students will work in diverse groups and interact professionally with the
local business professionals.
• Intrapersonal - Students will see their potential influence on their environment.

Naturalistic - Conducting an experiment that simulates the real environment
Learning modalities:
• Visual - Observing the experiment, reading the articles, writing the persuasive essay
• Auditory - Debriefing the articles and the experiment, collaborating on ideas as a group,
presenting proposals to local business professionals, giving information on worldwide
environmental issues through a lecture format
• Kinesthetic/Tactile - Conducting the erosion experiment

• Packet completed during experiment is collected and graded for completion as well as
thoroughness of answers
• Teachers are continuously observing group dynamics and guiding students in the right
direction while allowing them to explore their own interests and questions
• The persuasive essay will be peer evaluated as well as formally graded by teachers, using
a rubric that considers organization, voice, originality, and grammar/spelling
• Students will be graded on the professionalism of their presentation using a rubric and
receiving feedback from their peers.
• Students will receive points for participating in the classroom conversation on global
environmental problems.
Project Handout:

Soil Erosion Experiment


3 prepared/cut empty coke bottles
3 prepared “buckets” with the string attached
1 piece of ply wood (30cm x 30cm x 2cm thick)
Wood glue
4 Seedlings
Mulch (bark chips, dead leaves and sticks)
Cup for water

1. Collect all your materials.
2. Glue the three bottles to the board. Make sure to have the neck
of the bottle protrude over the edge of the board.

3. Fill each bottle with plain soil. Make sure to firmly pat the soil
down so that it is compact.
4. Leave the first bottle as it. In the second bottle, cover the top
with mulch. In the third bottle, plant the seedlings. Make sure
that they are planted tightly together and that you pat them in

5. Off of each bottle, hang the prepared “buckets”

6. Predict what will happen when you pour the water into the
bottles. Write a coherent hypothesis and record it here:
7. Slowly pour an equal amount of water into each soil bottle as far
away from the neck of the bottle as possible

8. Observe the color of the water in the buckets.
a. Are they all the same? If not, describe how each bucket
looks different.

b. Why do you think that the water looks like this?

c. What happened to the soil in each bottle?

Continue to observe your models throughout the project. Record
changes and make inferences as to why this might be.



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