TAMS Journal

The Official Journal of the Tennessee Association of Middle Schools



Volume 31

TAMS is an Affiliate of the National Middle School Association

TAMS Journal
The Official Journal of the Tennessee Association of Middle Schools

Fall 2004

Volume 31

Dr. Shirley Key, Editor
Dr. Kantaylieniere Hill-Clark, Reviewer TAMS is an Affiliate of the National Middle School Association


Table of Contents
Page Message from the President
The Children of the Shadow Emerge by Kathleen S. Cooter, Ph. D. Being an Advocate for Best-Practices and Methods for Your Special Needs Child by Dana R. Bell Equity of Special Education Services Among Populations Within TN’s Middle Schools by Paula M Keller Accountability, Standardization, and Fun? by Allen H. Seed, Ph.D. Classroom Management for the Middle School Teacher by Nancy P. Wilder Initiating Middle School Teacher Candidates into the Culture of Teaching by Mary Ransdell Self-Adjustment to the Middle School Transition by Dr. Mack T. Hines III Creating Literacy Partnerships With Middle School Teachers by Dr. Rebecca Anderson, Dr. Amy Dietrich, Retired, Dr. Jane Puckett, Dr. Jerrie Scott, and Dr. Lana Smith Teaching Adolescent Literature with a Worldview Perspective by Dr. Edward W. Fickley Ed. D Johnny Goes to Washington: Civic Involvement in Action by Ashley Smith, Jr., Ed. D Motivation Memphis by Amber L. Whitmore

5 13 17

20 28 31 43


64 68 72

American Minds Under Aesthetic Construction
by Dr. Mack T. Hines III Skill Development Series: Graphic Organizers by Dr. Shirley Key Call for Manuscripts TAMS /Dual Membership forms


88 90


November 30, 2004 Hello TAMS Members, TAMS has a great deal to be proud of this year. After attending the Annual Conference of the National Middle School Association in Minneapolis, Minnesota, we are energized and motivated to continue being advocates of Middle Level Education. Noted speakers such as Howard Johnston, Henry Winkler, Mama J. Johnson, and Judge Glenda Hatchett mesmerized us. There was a plethora of workshops for educators of all areas of middle level education. The focus of the conference was making relationships connect students to a greater level involvement in the school environment. We should continue to build relationships that empower students to be motivated to come the school each day. Henry Winkler stressed the importance of the Arts curriculum in our schools and that sometimes they are the only things that can save a child’s life, because it saved his life. Let’s continue to try to educate the whole child, mind, body and soul through giving them a balanced curriculum until they find their gifts and strengths to be a success citizen. NMSA has gotten excited about the work that we do in Tennessee and are using two of our major cities to host two important conferences next year. NMSA Affiliate Summit and the NMSA Leadership Conference will both be in Tennessee. July 7-9 Affiliate Summit July 11 – 13 Leadership Conference Nashville Downtown Sheraton Gatlinburg, Tennessee

In 2006 the National Middle School Conference will be in Nashville Tennessee at the Opryland Hotel. Mark your calendars for November 2-4, 2006 to make sure you are in Nashville at the 33rd NMSA Conference. But until then our next state conference will be in Nashville, TN at the Downtown Sheraton Hotel on June 1315, 2005. Our next Drive In conference will be in Memphis, Tennessee at White Station Middle on March 5, 2005. Continue motivating and educating our young adolescent to be all that they can be. Jada Meeks President Tennessee Association of Middle Schools


The Children of the Shadow Emerge: The child with limiting cognitive ability in the middle school classroom
Kathleen S. Cooter, Ph. D., University of Memphis

Abstract Many of the children who pose significant educational and behavioral difficulties in the middle school are children who have limited cognitive abilities. These students do not qualify for special education due to their failure to meet current discrepancy definitions, but are getting increasing attention as No Child Left Behind mandates focus attention on groups who do not make adequate yearly progress. The Individuals with Disabilities Act is currently being reauthorized as well and proposed changes may well affect the child who previously had been denied service. Characteristics of children with limiting cognitive abilities are discussed as well as classroom strategies to consider. The Children of the Shadow Emerge His name was Chad. As a middle school student in the 7th grade, he was already fourteen years old having been retained twice. He and a group of others who did not quite “fit” spent an inordinate amount of time in the friendly office. The secretary would send Chad and his chums on a variety of short errands during the day; in short, they were affectionately “office guys.” Chad wore a Dallas Cowboy jacket wherever he went- not an unusual behavior in that area but the jacket was obviously given to him when he was much younger and many sizes smaller. It was soiled, split at the seams and ragged, but he simply refused to remove it. In frustration one day, the principal asked him why he so stubbornly persisted in wearing the jacket. Chad’s response was sadly memorable. He replied that people only take their coats off in places where they are welcome. School was not that place. Chad’s story is repeated every day across this nation’s schools. He had been tested for special education three times and never qualified. A low birth weight child of poverty born to parents who had “school trouble” as they described it, he had a measured intelligence quotient of 78. He was achieving commensurate academically with his intelligence but was conspicuously behind his peers in every academic realm. He belongs to a extremely large group of children who live in the educational shadows- belonging to no one program and having no safe programmatic haven in which to develop skills needed for productive living. If one ascribes to the normal curve, about 13% of all learners are like Chad – about as many children with intelligence quotients from 70 -85 as numbers of children served in special education in every disability category combined. Yet for them there is no IDEA, no legal or mandated plan to advance them educationally. Time for a Change 5

As the accountability demands of No Child Left Behind legislation continue to make their mark on the American educational landscape, there are increasing concerns about the children who fail to make what is defined as adequate yearly progress. Some of these children are the children who do not “qualify” for special education programs, the children like Chad – many are repeatedly tested year after year due to academic failure. Many have been helped, often significantly, by Title I programs or other school-based programs but still fail to advance grade or skill levels. Educators and others label them as shadow children, gray area children, kids who fall through the cracks, slow learners, dull, borderline and other terms which leave them in an educational and programmatic limbo-- not severe enough to be in special education or other compensatory programs, but failing nonetheless. These labels are unintentionally disrespectful; using people first language, these are simply children with limiting cognitive ability. And while it is certainly respectful to speak of children as having diverse minds (Levine, 2003), it is a grim reality that schools and schooling are not designed for these children who, often despite good classroom teaching, parental assistance, and personal effort simply do not achieve academically at the same rate as their classmates. Urban centers have a disproportionate share of children with limiting cognitive ability due to a greater population of poor families and the societal problems that often accompany poverty. The children of poverty often have a paucity of life and language experiences from which without very early intervention, they rarely overcome. The brain grows most rapidly during the fetal period through age two. When a small child lives in an impoverished nutritional, linguistic or experiential environment, they simply do not fully develop or maximize their cognitive capacity (Karr-Morse & Wiley, 1997). Often children of poverty have prenatal nutritional deficits and teratogenic influences that have significant negative effects on intellectual potential. There are a multitude of studies correlating prenatal drug and alcohol use with children born with a variety of intellectual and behavioral deficits. Poor prenatal care and inadequate nutrition has also been demonstrated repeatedly to result in low birth weight or premature babies – a population which often has been shown to have considerable educational and intellectual difficulties.


Complex societal issues are also strongly associated with intellectual ability. In a chart devised by Boeree (2004) less 75 to 90 to 110 to 125 and IQ than 90 110 125 higher 75 total population 5% 20% 50% 20% 19% 15% 14% 5% 10% out of labor force more than one month out of 22% the year unemployed more than one month out of the 12% year (men) divorced in five years had illegitimate children (women) lives in poverty chronic welfare recipient (mothers) high school dropout 21% 32% 30%

10% 7%


2% 9% 2% 2% 0% 0%

22% 23% 15% 17% 8% 16% 6% 7% 3% 4% 3% 1% 2%

ever incarcerated (men) 7% 31% 55%

17% 8% 35% 6%

0.4% 0%

Characteristics of the Child with Limiting Cognitive Ability What are the characteristics of the child with limiting cognitive ability? Lowenstein (2004), a prominent scholar in “slow learner” research, notes The slow learner is usually normal in appearance and is able to function satisfactorily in many situations. This is precisely why he/she is difficult to understand and identify. While the slow learner usually possesses common sense and adequate memory, is physically adept and has normal dexterity, this does not mean that he/she has normal ability for schoolwork. It is not unusual to hear parents of a slow learner state that they are puzzled over their child's school difficulties since “he/she seems to understand so well at home.” (p. 1) How many youngsters have these characteristics? Surprisingly, it is one of seven, in the average classroom of 25 there will be 3-4 children with limiting cognitive ability and in some urban classrooms these numbers could actually double (Snow, et al., 1998). For any teacher but particularly for teachers who serve children of poverty, these numbers are alarming and disturbing. How does the child with limiting cognitive ability function at the middle school? They tend to function at their cognitive ability, which necessarily means they are significantly below grade level in school tasks. For example, a sixth grade student with an IQ of 75 would be expected to read at a second to third grade level at the beginning of the school year. Some of the skills which are expected in the middle school classroom such following multi-step or novel directions, organizing and prioritizing daily school tasks,

and using problem solving strategies (i.e., organizational skills, transferring, and generalizing information) are problematical for the child with limiting cognitive ability (Balado, 2004). Added to this, this child is often been retained thus not only is the child slower in the academic environment, s/he is older- sometimes as much as two years older. This overage child has often begun the process of gaining secondary sexual maturity and although cognitively and socially they are behind their classmates, physically they are advanced. This hormonal and physical change actually makes the child more difficult not only to manage due to hormonal changes, but often the child is expected to act as s/he physically presents. A teacher once labeled a child in her classroom as a “man-child”; physically he was a man, intellectually and socially a child. It is in judgment that this child is most unlike his peers. He may at adulthood only have the intellectual skills of the middle school student; in the middle school, he is actually cognitively much younger. Therefore, reasoning with the child as if he were a typical preadolescent or adolescent is not effective. He thinks only in the present and is unaware or uncaring of long term planning or results. He lives in the here and now – short term and immediate in his thinking and life (Shaw & Gowens, 2002; Lowenstein, 2004). For the young male, he also has difficulty with verbal and academic situations and he may choose gang or delinquent behavior as his entrée to the world of his classmates. In a longitudinal study of ten-thirteen year old boys by Lynam, Moffitt, and StouthamerLoeber, 1993, it was found that the direction of the effect was from low intelligence quotients to delinquency. Others quote that 20% of juvenile offenders have diminished intellectual levels (Karr-Morse & Wiley, 1997). Although this topic is and will continue to be hotly debated, it is not difficult to believe that the immediacy and short term thinking of the child with limiting cognitive abilities could lead to delinquent behaviors. For the female, socially, she may be shunned. She is unable to keep up with the quick verbal exchanges and witticisms of her classmates and often retreats in verbal situations. It is not unusual for the female to learn that her sexuality may be an entrance to the world of her classmates and she is a prime candidate for adolescent sexual escapades and pregnancy. Indeed as the chart (Boeree, 2004) above indicates, women who have limiting cognitive skills have markedly more illegitimate babies than do their more typical peers. The single largest predictor of later arrest among teenage females is being suspended, expelled or held back in the middle school years (American Bar Association, 2001). It is the lack of skills in basics, which can be exceedingly frustrating for the middle school teacher. These children challenge the rational assumption that a certain set of underlying skills or concepts are mastered prior to middle school entrance. They present remediation/curricula needs which are many and complex – often making presentation of new material delayed or academically unsound. Why the Educational Shadow? Teachers have long agonized about the path many children with limiting cognitive ability follow. Programs such as special education, 504 accommodation and other remedial programs have often been denied these needy youngsters. The “discrepancy model” adopted for the identification of students for special education intervention is not a viable for most of the children with limiting cognitive abilities as services are currently


offered to children with a significant discrepancy between their intellectual aptitude and their school achievement. But for children with limiting cognitive ability they are performing academically at expectation; they simply do not have the cognitive skills to keep up with their peers, thus no ability-aptitude discrepancy exists and special services are denied. Hopeful Signs of Change The Academic Improvement component of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLBA) requires that states set a minimum performance threshold based on the lowest achieving subgroup or the lowest achieving schools in the state. This threshold must be raised at least every three years with the long-term goal of 100% proficiency. Operationally, it is much like Title I programs except that it focuses funds not on lowincome students but rather on low achievement students. Thus states, districts and schools will be forced to focus on their lowest achieving subgroup – the subgroup that invariably is that of the child with limiting cognitive abilities. Other aspects of NCLBA could be of assistance to the slow learning child. Early Reading First in poverty areas for children ages 3-5, Reading First for grades K-3, and Rural Education initiatives will also help identify and serve these needy youngsters. The states have a good deal of latitude as to the use of these resources, but there are dollars specifically assigned to after school programs, intensive tutoring programs, parent education initiatives, and early childhood academic preparation programs. All of these should be of benefit to the child with limiting cognitive ability (Shaw & Gouwens, 2002). These children tend not to be identified as having limiting cognitive abilities until school age, thus many have had no systematic early intervention like that offered to children with disabilities under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Reauthorization of IDEA is not complete, but the proposed change in identification of children with learning disabilities may have tremendous impact on the child who has limiting cognitive abilities. The much maligned discrepancy formula (deservedly so) for identifying children with learning disabilities will probably be replaced by a more curriculum based measurement system of identifying learners with special education needs (Shaw & Gouwens, 2002). The current Senate bill adds a provision that proposes to uses a response to treatment determination for special education program consideration; asking school personnel to ascertain whether the child make gains using scientifically based and well researched instruction before deciding if child has a specific learning disability. The House has a similar proposal. This should increase reliance on professional judgment in placement decisions (Shaw, 2002). Obviously, children with limiting cognitive skills may have little or poor response to intervention thus they might be added to the special education system. This could be a very dramatic shift and over burden the services in some areas. The characterization of learning difficulties considered learning disabilities could and probably will drastically change with this far-reaching legal redefinition. The Council for Exceptional Children reacts to the legislative with these recommendations: CEC recognizes that the use of the aptitude-achievement discrepancy model continues to be a controversial component in the identification of LD and shares those concerns. However, there are no research-based alternatives that have been sufficiently validated at this time. CEC recommends that the Secretary establish a


priority through the Part D research authority and sufficient funds be allocated to validate psychometric, non- psychometric and “response-to-treatment” methods of identification. Particular attention should be given to the fidelity of the response-to-treatment method on a large scale and its impact on disproportional representation of children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. CEC recommends clarifying language in the ESEA of 1965 to ensure that effective “prereferral services” are in place in general education as an integral part of the total educational process to safeguard against inappropriate referral, unnecessary testing, and misclassification in special education. Such efforts should maximize the involvement of all family, school, and community resources to provide effective intervention strategies early to address students’ learning needs. These efforts should occur prior to referral to special education. (CEC, August 2004, p 30) One caveat should be mentioned: special education outcome studies have historically had very mixed educational results. But certainly the thorough study of a child by professional educators in synchrony with parents is a better educational design for intervention over time. Traditional classroom instruction is not enough. These children have educational needs that require alternative educational interventions and curricular design. The programs need not be markedly different than programs offered other learners with learning disabilities or delays; indeed research indicates that focusing on learner commonalities and needs can put these learners together instructionally (Lyon, et al, 1993). Helping Children with Limiting Cognitive Skills Succeed Regardless of their intellectual level, children with limiting cognitive skills do learn. They can make progress in the classroom if the teaching and the materials used are at their level of learning and take into consideration their social and problem solving delays. Perhaps the single most important factor is this: children with limiting cognitive skills come to mastery in skills only after massed and distributed practice over time. • “Immerse” students in new learning by providing a great deal of repetition and interaction in your instruction. Children with limiting cognitive ability need to over learn strategies and skills—what an urban teacher friend of our calls marinating students. Learning new vocabulary for children with intelligence quotients from 70-85, for example, may require as many as 40-45 exposures (Moore-Brown & Montgomery, 2001). It is interesting to note that the same research reveals that even “normal range” students require as many as 30 exposures to acquire new vocabulary, far more repetition than is often provided. • “Do and show” as well as “talk and read” Making cognitive connections with that which is already known is important for all learners, and even more so with children with limiting cognitive skills. Concrete, interactive and active learning activities help make those connections. • Remember that brevity matters. Keep your instructions short and to the point. The more the directions use the same language day to day the better the child will be able to predict what is needed to complete the task. • Be aware that nuance, innuendo or implication are often beyond their reasoning ability. Be explicit and concrete. Do not assume that the student generalizes from subject to subject or day to day. 10

Attend to attention span differences. The students may be physically large, but their attention span is not at the same level as their peers. They may need short task breaks. • Repeat and practice often Taped texts and materials which allow repetition and repeated access to the student help the student’s retention • Find a success Children with limiting cognitive abilities can do some things well. Find what these skills are and let the child accentuate them in some fashion in the classroom or school. • Prioritize learning Learning in the context of real life is critical for all learners. What are important skills that match with the community or the culture? These have meaning to the child and relevance. • Interact often and at length Helping children verbally interact with concepts under the direction of a caring teacher helps the child make needed cognitive connections • Be compassionate It is almost beyond our imagining that a child would attend school every day when he meets unrelenting failure, social isolation and almost constant reminders that he does not “fit.” This child needs to feel welcome- to take off his coat. . In a longitudinal study, school connectedness -defined as a student feeling part of and cared for at school -was linked with lower levels of substance abuse, violence, suicide pregnancy and emotional issues McNeely • Be mindful Disenfranchised and often isolated, children with limiting cognitive abilities may choose unwise and unsafe social behaviors. The classroom teacher must alert himself to those possibilities and act before there are dire or irreversible consequences. Final Thoughts With changes in law and understanding, the child so often left behind is gaining attention. He deserves a place in educational priorities because despite his limitations, he can be a gainful member of our society. With NCLB in place and changes to IDEA being considered, there may well be for the first time in decades, attention will be given to the children with limiting cognitive ability and their individual needs. The classroom teacher can with increased awareness and compassion create an environment where children with limiting cognitive abilities can feel welcome and respectfully gain skills. It is time to leave the shadows. •


American Bar Association (2001). Justice by gender. Washington DC: National Bar Association. Balado, C. (2004). Helping slow learners. [On-line], Available: http://www.foundationosa.org/slow.htm Boeree, C.G. (2004). Intelligence. [On-line]. Available: http://www.ship.edu/~cgboeree/intelligence.html Council for Exceptional Children (2004). Analysis for IDEA Conference.[On-line].Available: http://www.cec.sped.org/pp/August2004AnalysisforIDEAConference Harlow, C.W. (2003). Educational and the Correctional Populations. Washington, D.C.:U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics. Iafolla, B. (2004a). School-To-Prison Pipeline Part 1 Do Not Pass Go…Go Directly to Jail [Online], Available: http://www.weeklydig.com/dig/content/3765.aspx Iafolla, B. (2004b). School-To-Prison Pipeline Part 2 People, Not Statistics [On-line], Available: http://www.weeklydig.com/dig/content/3840.aspx. Iafolla, B. (2004c). School-To-Prison Pipeline Part 3 Education, Not incarceration [On-line], Available: http://www.weeklydig.com/dig/content/3899.aspx Karr-Morse, R. & Wiley, M.S. (1997). Ghosts from the nursery: Tracing the roots of violence. New York: The Atlantic Monthly Press. Levine, M. (2003). Celebrating diverse minds. Educational Leadership, 61, 14-18. Lowenstein, D. (2004) Understanding and helping the slow learner. [On-line], Available: www.clubtheo.com/momdad/html/dlslow.html Lynam, D., Moffitt, T., & Stouthamer-Loeber, M. (1993). Explaining the relation between IQ and delinquency: Class, race, test, motivation, school failure or self -control? Journal of Abnormal Psychology, May 102(2):187-96. Lyon, G.R., Gray, D.B., Kavanagh, J.F. & Krasnegor, N.A. (1993). Better understanding learning disabilities. Baltimore, MD: Paul H Brookes. McNeely, C.A., Nonnemaker, J.M. & Blum, R.W. (2002). Promoting student connectedness to school: Evidence from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. Journal of School Health, 72 (4) 138-147. Moore-Brown, B.J.& Montgomery, J.K. (2001). Making a difference for America’s Children. New York: Guilford Press. Shaw, S. R. (December, 1999). IDEA 97 and slow learners. NASP Communiqué, 15. Shaw, S. R. (February, 2000). Academic interventions for slow learners. NASP Communiqué, 16. Shaw, S. R. (June, 2002). Slow learners and mental health issues. The Guidance Channel. [Online], Available: http://www.guidancechannel.com/channel_detail_new.asp?index=796&cat=13> Shaw, S. R. (March, 2000). Slow learners and mental health issues. NASP Communiqué, 4. Shaw, S. R. (November, 1999). The devolution of interest in of slow learners: Can we continue to ignore? NASP Communiqué, 31. Shaw, S. R., & Gouwens, D. A. (December, 2002). Chasing and catching slow learners in changing times. NASP Communiqué, 31. Snow, C.E., Burns, S.M., & Griffin, P. (Eds.). (1998). Preventing reading difficulties in young children. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.


Being an Advocate for Best-Practices and Methods for Your Special Needs Child
Dana R. Bell, Doctoral Student, Department of Instruction and Curriculum Leadership, University of Memphis In the complex world of education today, many parents face the daunting task of attempting to find the best outlet for reaching the needs of their special needs child. Often, the literature related to appropriate resources for special needs children is not written in laymen’s terms nor is school administration versed in effective communication to relay practical resources available. Parents need to understand that rigorous efforts need to be placed in diagnosing and placement in order to achieve substantive results. It is no secret that minorities are unduly placed in special education classes and often unjustly left out of programs for children with gifts and talents. Often, this is due to a lack of awareness or pure bias on behalf of educators. This author would like to believe that the greater cause is the discrepancy between IQ and achievement based on at-risk circumstance rather than prejudice. However, in cases where there is a documented special need and/or disability that would warrant an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and special accommodations, parents, if not aware, could adversely be left out of the loop. If parents are ignorant to the accommodations legally due their children, then surely they cannot be expected to advocate on their behalf. For instance, parents should understand what supplemental services are due their children and that they must consent to said services before the agreement is developed. The 1999 Revisions of IDEA ensure that they will have a considerable say in the educational process. Today, over 80% of parents are involved in their child’s instructional planning. With more special needs students being contained in regular classrooms, the need for collaborative teams intended to support general education teachers is gradually being acknowledged. The pressures of ‘highly skilled’ and ‘accountability’ for new classroom teachers often replace the importance of an affective environment that fosters social growth and achievement. Yes, if the regular classroom is the least restrictive environment, than by all means, place the special needs child there (the system of inclusion, i.e. educating students with and without special needs/disabilities in the same classroom, stems from the standard of a least restrictive environment and the civil rights movement). If however, it is not a nurturing environment, what positive influence will it be for that child? An important tool for this advocacy is included within the Memphis City School website in a link entitled Exceptional Children. In it one would find an outstanding resource, “Special Ed Connection”. Special Ed Connection provides parents with up to date community news regarding special needs children across the nation. In addition, they can become versed on exactly what Section 504 means in terms of helping their children. The educational experience of all children has a major effect on their overall welfare. The majority of parents are not ignorant to inadequacies in the classroom, They are ignorant to the process of change. Lynchburg City Schools comprised a list of basic questions that parents should ask entitled the Parent Awareness Checklist: • What are the skills my child should master to function within the general 13

education classroom with his/her same-aged non-disabled peers? • Is the present level of performance written based on fact? • Will the present level of performance serve as a base for measuring progress in years to come? • What are the accommodations my child needs? • How will each objective be measured? (What specific instruments will be used to measure progress?) • Is each of the deficits included in the most recent comprehensive evaluation addressed in the IEP? • What special education and related services are needed to address the objectives included in my child’s IEP? • Please help me understand the justification for this child’s placement. • How will I know when my child has mastered an objective? • How frequently will I receive information related to my child’s progress? (Will we meet if he/she is not expected to master an objective included in his/her IEP?) • What are my child’s transition needs? • What should he/she learn this year to prepare for high school? • What extra curricular activities should my child participate in? • What are the Phase I Vocational Assessments that will be used to help my child understand his/her aptitude and interest? • What can I (parent) do to assist you (teacher) in meeting the needs of my child? • Explain the VSAP and the relevance to my child's overall long range instructional plan. • When will we meet to write the IEP for the upcoming year? • What should I do as a parent to prepare for the next IEP? • Please explain the Parental Rights in Special Education document. • Who is my child’s case manager? (How do I contact him/her?) • When should I include my child in the development of his/her IEP? • When does the "age of majority" regulation apply to my child? The Education for All Handicapped Children Act was changed to IDEA in 1990. The eleven conditions that entitled a child to receive special education and related services became thirteen with the addition of autism and traumatic brain injury. The Revisions also clarified who may be considered as having a disability under the law. A category’s inclusion in the list of disability conditions is a necessity for said child to receive specialized services for their needs. Students with a disability not covered under IDEA do not have entitlement to special education, related services, rights, or protections. In addition, a child with attention deficit disorder (ADD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) did not fall under the 13 eligibility categories. Albeit, some school districts provided these children reasonable accommodation plans under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the special needs of most of these children were not addressed by the public school system. Many factors have been noted to affect the likely success of a child’s educational aptitude. One in particular is low birth weight. As a group, low birth weight babies have higher rates of neurodevelopmental and behavioral problems. They are more likely to have lower IQ, cerebral palsy, less emotional maturity, social competence, and attention difficulties. In the United States, African-Americans are twice as likely as whites to be born at low birth weights, even controlling for socioeconomic status. The probabilities of


having a low birth weight child increased fourfold if the mother herself was low birth weight and sixfold if the father was low birth weight (Harris, et al, 1991). There are several interventions that can combat this incidence. They are prenatal care, maternal nutrition, adequate weight gain during pregnancy, control of hypertension, and avoidance of long work hours/physical exertion during late pregnancy. The unparalleled pace of brain growth and the development of fundamental cognitive, emotional, social, and motor processes make the period from conception through infancy one of exceptional opportunity and vulnerability. Children who experience biological insults and stressors early in life are at greater risk for longterm developmental problems. In addition, the kind of preschool experience a child encounters effects his or her likely school success. Middle-class children may attend a wide variety of private preschools as well as publicly supported programs in the community. More high quality preschool options exist for those that can afford them. Likewise, for those middle-class children that stay at home, many will receive enriched educational experiences from educated parents and care givers. Research shows that a high quality preschool experience has positive effects on cognitive functioning, health status, and social adjustment. Many minority students, due to socioeconomic status and the need for parents in the workforce, attend more babysitting centers that wear the mask of educational preschool centers. The Latino community has a high incidence of no preschool experience whatsoever, typically resorting to early entrance into kindergarten (VanTassel-Baska, et al, 1991). Children with disabilities who also are homeless or whose primary language is not English have faced additional difficulties in obtaining suitable accommodations. Some changes in the 1999 Revisions affect the assessment of these children's needs, the condition of necessary special education services, and the communications with families about these services. African-American and Latino children are much more likely than Caucasian and Asian children to have multiple risk factors for school failure. These include, but are not limited to: poverty, single parent household, mother with less than high school education, primary language other than English, and mother unmarried at time of birth. While only six percent of Caucasian and seventeen percent of Asian children had two or more risk factors, twenty seven percent of African-Americans and thirty-three percent of Latinos had two or more risk factors (Ogbu, 1988). Classroom practices designed to encourage the early and continued development of gifted behaviors in underrepresented populations should include: encouragement to explore the environment, mentoring in basic cognitive skills, celebration of newly acquired skills, rehearsal of new skills, protection from inappropriate teasing/punishment, and language stimulation (Tomlinson, 1996). The present review of the literature raised a number of questions regarding current research on the role of racial identity in the lives of special needs students. While teachers must be sensitive to psychological difficulties faced by minorities and the potential for underachievement, they must also be aware of the complexities of racial identities and the many ways that it may be helped out in the classroom. At local, state, and national levels, efforts are being made to ensure that the proper identification tools are available and in place to find these students within our schools. Assessment practices must then evolve to serve the purpose of linking student need to program intervention. There must be effort made to match curriculum and programs to the students who are identified and to revise programs where a significant mismatch exists between population and services


Harris, J. & Ford, D. (1991). Identifying and nurturing the promise of gifted Black American

children. Journal of Negra Education, 60(1), 3-18. Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, P.L. 101-476, 104 Stat. 1142. http://www.ed.gov/offices/OSERS/IDEA Ogbu, J. (1988). Human intelligence testing: A cultural-ecological perspective. National Forum, 68(2), 23-29. Rehabilitation Act of 1973, P.L. 93-112, 87 Stat. 355. http://www.ed.gov/policy/speced/reg/narrative.html Tomlinson, C. A. (1996). Good teaching for one and all: Does gifted education have an instructional identity? Journal for the Education of the Gifted, 20, 155-174. VanTassel-Baska, J., Patton, J., & Prillaman, D. (1991). Gifted youth at risk. Reston, VA: Council for Exceptional Children.


Equity of Special Education Services Among Populations within Tennessee’s Middle Schools
Paula M Keller, Hamilton County Schools, and Dr. William E Estes Jr, Lee University With each student that comes before a multi-disciplinary team after an initial screening for special services, a parade of questions runs through the mind. These questions usually fall into two categories: those of a concerned educator about the wellbeing of the child, and those of an administrator. The questions of concern come quite naturally, such as, “Is this really what is best for the child?” “Will our special education program fit the needs of this student?” “Does the parent even know how much tougher the road before them now lies?” After these questions run their course, the second set of questions from the administrator mindset arise dealing with costs, equity, and resources. This paper focuses on equity issues at the school level. Most of the literature on equity in special education directs itself to identifiers at the child level. But what of schools? This article seeks to examine at the middle school and state level the strength of relationship between the percent of students tested for special education services in a school and the following identifiers: percent receiving free and reduced lunch, percent minority, and the percent of suspensions in a given year in that school. Methods For the purposes of this paper, the following terms from the professional literature were used: Low Socioeconomic Status (SES): There are numerous professional and working definitions of “low SES.” This article will use Warren, Gardner, and Hogan’s standard definition of students receiving “free and reduced lunch” (1975, p. 58). Special Education: Students identified as having exceptionalities in one or more aspects of the cognitive process or as being underachievers in relation to general level or model of their overall abilities (NCES, 2003). Percent Minority: Students identified by the Tennessee Report Cards as non-white (TN Department of Education, 2000-2002). Percent Suspension: Students excluded from school for a minimum of one day as reported on the Tennessee Report Card (TN Department of Education, 2000-2002). Data from the Tennessee Report Cards (2000-2001 & 2001-2002) were obtained from the Tennessee Department of Education. Middle schools serving only students in grades 5-8 were culled from each of the datasets to form a third and fourth dataset. All school identifiers were deleted. Next, three variables were isolated: percent special education, percent free and reduced lunch (low SES), and percent of out of school suspensions. A fourth variable of percent minority was created by finding the percentage


of non-white students in each school. Four new datasets containing only these four variables were created. Any schools that did not provide information in all four variables were deleted from these sets. This left 1239 schools statewide with 40 middle schools for the 2000-2001 dataset, and 1445 school statewide with 49 middle schools for the 2001-2002 dataset. Next, using SPSS v10.0, the following correlations were run on each dataset: 1. The percent of students participating in special education programs and the percent of free and reduced lunch students. 2. The percent of students participating in special education programs and the percent of students classified as belonging to a minority group. 3. The percent of students participating in special education programs and the suspension rate of the school. Results Table 1 shows the results of the correlations that were run for the 2000-2001 Tennessee Report Card. Table 1 Correlation Percent of students participating in special education programs and percent of free and reduced lunch students Percent of students participating in special education programs and percent classified as being non-white Percent of students participating in special education programs and the suspension rate of the school
**significant at the .01 level

Complete TN Results .1831** n=1239 -.1139** n=1239 .1247** n=1239

Middle Schools .199 n=40 -.215 n=40 -.116 n=40

Table 2 shows the results of the correlations that were run for the 2001-2002 Tennessee Report Card. Table 2 Correlation Percent of students participating in special education programs and percent of free and reduced lunch students Percent of students participating in special education programs and percent classified as being non-white Percent of students participating in special education programs and the suspension rate of the school
*significant at the .05 level

Complete TN Results .2628** n=1445 -.0663* n=1445 -.0403 n=1445

Middle Schools .458** n=49 .269 n=49 .358* n=49


**significant at the .01 level

Discussion Recent studies have echoed much of the recent research on equity in special education indicating 1) the over-representation of minority groups (Zhang & Katsiyannis, 2002; Hosp, 2003), 2) a disproportionate representation of low-SES students (Blair & Scott, 2002), and 3) the bias of initial placements based on behavior (Abidin & Robinson, 2002). While this lack of equity in special education placements appears to be widespread at the child level, this is clearly not the case at the state level in Tennessee. While five of the six correlations are significant, the strengths of these correlations are low (the highest being .2628.) And on the middle school level in Tennessee, only two correlations were found to be statistically significant, each showing a moderate relationship (SES at .458 and Suspension at .358.) The cause for the uniqueness of Tennessee’s schools supposed “equal” treatment of its special needs students is beyond this study. Those who interpret these results from the glass half-full vantage would see this data as indicating both the state and its middle schools are treating special needs students with equity. They see the data indicating a lack of bias and in direct refutation of earlier mentioned studies. Those with a more critical view would see both the state and its middle schools not adequately meeting the needs of its special education population for precisely this absence of a strong correlation between these three identifiers and special needs students. Both sides have merit. Further study is recommended in combining child level data with this school level data across Tennessee. It is also suggested that one additional southern state be studied in like manner. References Abidin, R.R., & Robinson, L.L. (2002). Stress, biases, or professionalism: What drives teachers’ referral judgments or students with challenging behaviors? Journal of Emotional & Behavioral Disorders, 10, 204-213. Blair, C. & Scott, K.G. (2002). Proportion of LD placements associated with low socioeconomic status: Evidence for a gradient? Journal of Special Education, 36, 14-22. Hosp, J.L. (2003). Referral rates for intervention or assessment: A meta-analysis of racial differences. The Journal of Special Education, 37, 67-80. National Center for Educational Statistics. (2003). NCES digest of education statistics. Retrieved: November 24, 2003, from: nces.ed.gov/pubsold/D95/defins3.html. Tennessee Report Card: 2000-2001 (Data file). Nashville, TN: Tennessee Department of Education. Tennessee Report Card: 2001-2002 (Data file). Nashville, TN: Tennessee Department of Education. Warren, S.A., Gardner, D.C., & Hogan, D.W. (1975). Teacher nominations of minority and low SES students for special education. Education, 96, 57-63.


Zhang, D. & Katsiyannis, A. (2002). Minority representation in special education. Remedial & Special Education, 23, 180-187.

Accountability, Standardization, and Fun?
By: Allen H. Seed, Ph.D., Assistant Professor University of Memphis aseed@memphis.edu

Introduction With the onslaught of the accountability and standardization movements, it seems that teaching and learning have become a “deadly serious business.” I’ve worked with too many good teachers who have had much of the joy they found in teaching taken away by the pressures resulting from the relentless push for school accountability and standardization. Many of the creative and enjoyable learning activities they used in the past no longer appear to their administrators or parents to help achieve the goal of all goals, raise test scores. This article is a resource to bring back some of the fun in teaching and learning. Many schools have mission statements that include something like “…promote life-long learning.” How is that possible without joy, without fun? In spite of the accountability and standardization movement, teaching and learning can still be a joyous endeavor. I am not recommending that teachers put on a clown suit and twist balloons into different shapes. I am suggesting that teachers examine and try different ways to teach the material they are supposed to teach. This article is an attempt to provide teachers with a variety of activities that are effective, engaging, and fun. I have included a summary of the research about the type of activity to be used. “Why research?” you ask. There are several reasons I am including research. First, as an assistant professor, it is my sworn duty to conduct and use research. Second, when a nosey parent or principal looks in your classroom and sees your students having fun, you can cite the research to support what you are doing. Descriptions of the activities are provided along with a list of resources to assist in implementation and further exploration. One note of caution: I know that after reading this exciting introduction you want to skip ahead to the activity descriptions and begin having fun in your classrooms. But, I must warn you that before you begin using any of these activities in your classroom, you must prepare your students. Remind them of your behavioral expectations and discuss the rules of any game or simulation prior to the start of these activities. Do not assume that they learned how to work cooperatively or how to use technology in the previous grades. Even if they did, there are many skills that need refinement and further development. Your colleagues, who actually think learning should be anything but fun, said they tried these activities and they didn’t work are the ones who missed this advice.


Cooperative Learning Research on Cooperative Learning According to Arthur Ellis and Jeffrey Fouts (1997), cooperative learning is one of the most researched innovations in education. Results from the numerous studies are overwhelmingly positive, and point out several major benefits. • Increases student effort (Johnson & Johnson, 2002). • Improves student achievement when groups are rewarded for successful individual learning (Balkcom, 1992). • Develops more positive relations between diverse groups of students, including mainstreamed special needs students (Balkcom, 1992). • Promotes more positive attitudes towards subject matter, teachers, and schools (Johnson & Johnson, 2002). • According to Balkcom (1992), it also tends to increase self-esteem. But, you may not want to mention this benefit as many of our critics don’t think that’s a good thing. Robert Slavin (1995) points out that these benefits appear to apply to all types of students from high to low achievers. Also, while African-American students benefit greatly from cooperative learning activities, studies show that it works with students from a variety of ethnic backgrounds. Activities: Teams-Games-Tournament, Jigsaw II, Numbered Heads Together 1. Getting Started with TGT I found Teams-Games-Tournaments (TGT) (Slavin,1991) to be an ideal antidote to boring material. To kick off this two to three weeklong event, I’d have each group of three students make an illustrated poster of their team name. They were required to use two vocabulary words from the chapter or unit we were about to study. I kept each team’s score on this poster. 2. Keeping Score Each grade of A on a quiz earned a team 5 points. A grade of B was worth 4 points and a C was worth 3 points. No points were awarded for D’s or F’s. The points for the final test were: A=15 points, B=10 points, and C=5 points. Besides awarding points for quizzes and tests, I also gave out points for other desirable behaviors. I rewarded teams for such things as all having their homework or being prepared to start an activity. This enabled me to keep all teams in the game until the end. 3. The Tournament The tournament is an excellent review activity prior to the final test. To prepare for the tournament, I produced a review question sheet, an answer sheet, and a set of cards numbered 1-30 for each team. I designated tournament competition teams composed of students with similar abilities from the existing teams. Students earn points in the tournament for their original team by competing with students from other teams. To begin the tournament, each student in the three person competition team turned over a card from the set. The student with the highest number took the first turn. The student to the left of him/her read that number question from the question review


sheet while the next student checked the answer using the answer sheet. If the first student provided the correct answer, they would get to keep the card. The next turn was taken by the student who read the previous question and the other roles were passed on to the left around the competition team. The tournament ended when either time ran out or all cards were taken. Points were then awarded to the original teams based on the number of cards each member had acquired. 5. The Reward I rewarded the winning team from each of my classes with a pizza party at lunch. It didn’t cost much and I enjoyed the time shared over lunch with a small group of students. II. Using Jigsaw II Jigsaw II (Slavin, 1980) is a great reading activity for any content area class. If you have three or four similar length text passages or articles for your students to read, this activity can actually generate some excitement about reading. I assigned each member of the teams one of the passages or articles. They were then to read and take notes about the text with the goal of becoming their team’s expert about the topic. When students completed the first part of this activity, they met with all the other students assigned the same piece. This was called the “Expert Group.” Students compared notes and revised their notes while this meeting was conducted. After the “Expert Group” meeting, the students returned to their home teams to share their expertise with each other. The literature I’ve read about this cooperative learning activity recommends that you reward teams based on their individual performances on a quiz administered following the activity. My eighth graders found the activity rewarding by itself, so I rarely followed that recommendation. III. Using Numbered Heads Together Spencer Kagan (1992) offers a wealth of cooperative learning activities that involve a minimum investment of time either in preparation or conducting. My favorite was “Numbered Heads Together.” During a review session, I assigned each member of my three person teams a number: 1, 2, or 3. After each question I asked, the teams would put their heads together to make sure that everyone in the group knew the correct answer. I would then pull a card from the deck and show it to the class. Only students whose number was showing could raise their hands. I called on the first person to raise their hand and awarded points or gave a small prize to the team if they had the correct answer.


Resources for Cooperative Learning Books: Johnson, D.W., Johnson, R.T., Holubec, E.J., & Roy, P. (1984). Circles of learning: cooperation in the classroom. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD). Kagan, S. (1992).Cooperative learning. San Juan Capistrano, CA: Kagan Cooperative Learning. Vermette, P.J. (1998). Making cooperative learning work: student teams in k-12 classrooms. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill. Web Sites: The Cooperative Learning Center http://www.clcrc.com/ North Central Regional Educational Laboratory http://www.ncrel.org/sdrs/areas/issues/students/learning/lr1coop.htm
Cooperative Learning Dr. Spencer Kagan www.kagancooplearn.com A to Z Teacher Stuff Network http://www.atozteacherstuff.com/articles/cooperative.shtml

Games Research on Games While the use of educational games is not as well researched as cooperative learning, there is sufficient evidence to support the use of games in the classroom. According to Paul Shoecraft (1984) games provide the following benefits: • Promote comprehension through heightened interest, assisting memory, and establishing knowledge. • Enhance learning by facilitating student involvement and focusing and clarifying ideas. • Promote enjoyment through sharing, responding, and building understanding. Games offer repetition without the pain of “drill and kill” activities (Sullivan, Davey, & Dickerson, 1978). It has also been found that games incorporating physical activity enhance learning by connecting information with more senses (Cratty, 1971) and that the mental tasks required by games may strengthen the immune system (Berezin, 2001). Games: “Jeopardy”, “Scattegories”, “Wheel of Fortune” I. Jeopardy One of the most enjoyable experiences I had observing student teachers was when one young man dressed in a toga (over his regular clothes) and hosted “Ancient Roman Jeopardy” as Alexus Trebekus. He divided the class into three teams, Centurions, Senators, and Citizens. On poster paper he had several categories of covered answers worth various points based on the class’s study of Ancient Rome. Students from each team were required to signal they knew the correct question. The first team to signal had the opportunity to pose the correct question for the revealed answer. I used poster board and curtain hooks to hang cards with the point values and the answers on them. While you can purchase buzzers for students to buzz in on, these are rather


expensive. I found call bells, which can be obtained at office supply stores, to be useful and inexpensive. II. Scattegories This science example was provided by one of my graduate students. To prepare for the game, you’ll need 10-18 categories, die, timer, 2-6 players and answer pads. These were some suggested categories: types of rocks, famous scientists, human organs, things studied through a microscope, parts of a weather report, electrical terms, solid elements, laboratory equipment, planets, mammals, constellations, and natural resources. Determine the category by rolling the die and having the player whose number is shown choose the category. Start the timer and have the players write as many answers as they can think of in the allotted time. Points are scored for answers that no one else has, the player with the most points wins the game. III. Wheel of Fortune This game can be used to reinforce vocabulary in any subject and was provided by the same graduate student. Divide the class into teams of 4 or 5, select a spokesperson for each team, assign each team a number, and record this on the calk board along with the teacher’s name. The teacher receives the points if no team guesses the word or definition. The teacher puts blanks on the board that correspond to the number of letters in the word or phrase. Team 1 begins play by guessing a consonant, vowels may not be used. If the consonant is part of the word or phrase, the team may continue guessing consonants or the term. A ten second time limit is recommended. One point is given to a team that guesses the term and three points if the team can state the definition. If the team that guesses the term cannot provide a definition the next team may try to provide one. If they fail, the teacher receives the points. Resources for Games Creative Teaching Associates, P.O. Box 7766, Fresno CA 93747. 800-767-4282; www.mastercta.com Educational Materials Associates, Inc. P.O. Box 7385, Charlottesville, VA. 888-EMAGAME; www.emagame.com Odyssey Learning Center and Books, Etc. www.odysseylearning.com Teacher Created Materials, 6421 Industry Way, Westminister, CA 92683. 800-662-4321; www.teachercreatedmaterials.com Simulations Research on Simulations Simulations are basically scenario-based games that provide the same positive experiences as games while adding the following benefits for students: • Simulations emphasize student questioning over answering, an important critical thinking skill (Armstrong & Taylor, 1984). • Simulations develop communication skills through role taking, decision making, and problem solving (Armstrong & Taylor, 1984). According to Bruce, Weil, & Calhoun (2004); the teacher has four important responsibilities during simulations. The first is explaining the simulation’s activities,


expectations, roles, and scenario. The second function is refereeing, controlling participation to maximize student learning. The third is coaching by providing choices and options to solve problems. The last is discussing or assisting the students in processing the experiences they have during the simulation. Simulations:The Civil War and Mock World The team I taught with used the “Civil War” simulation published by Interact as part of an interdisciplinary unit on the Civil War. Students became soldiers or civilians of that period, kept journals, and earned points for a variety of activities associated with the simulation. Our students seemed to enjoy their participation in the simulation even though not all could be generals in their respective armies. I took part in a simulation while I was a high school student. The simulation required the class to divide into small groups. Each group represented an imaginary nation. We were given information about our population, resources, etc. By the end of each class session we had to determine how to use our resources to survive and/or thrive in this imaginary world. One day our recorder added an extra zero to our allocation for the military. Literally overnight we became the superpower. Being benevolent leaders, we tried to use our power to help other nations, rather than conquer them (which we could have easily done). Resources for Simulations Interact: A Learning Experience; www.highsmith.com Educational Simulations Web Site; www.creativeteachingsite.com/edusims.html Technology Research on Technology Educational technology has grown quite sophisticated since the early days of drill and practice computer workbooks. Today’s technology often incorporates all of the previously mentioned activities. Kulick (1994) conducted a meta-analysis of studies on the benefits of student use of educational technology and found positive results for a wide variety of student populations, grade levels, and content areas. Other studies have shown additional benefits: • Students learn faster (Kulik, 1994). • Students improve on achievement measures (Kulik, 1994). • Students increase writing skills (Kosakowski, 1998). • Students become independent learners and self-starters (Kosakowski, 1998). • Students work more collaboratively (Kosakowski, 1998). • Students develop problem-solving and critical thinking skills (Kosakowski, 1998). • Students feel more motivated and successful in school (sounds like that selfesteem thing again) (Kosakowski, 1998). These are all powerful reasons to incorporate educational technology in our teaching.

Technology Activities: “Science Sleuths”, Web Quests


A company called Videodiscovery publishes a two-set CD-ROM series entitled “Science Sleuths.” This series provides middle school students with a variety of science mysteries and resources to solve them. The resources include experts, documents, and other tools that students can either use or ignore as they put together the clues to solving the mystery. My students enjoyed working on these mysteries and I found that my special education students did particularly well with them. Web Quests are teacher designed Internet activities that provide students with roles to play and Internet resources to complete the assigned tasks. Many school districts have posted sample Web Quests on their web sites that teachers can access and either modify or use as is. Teachers supply the web sites to be used so there is no need for students to conduct nonproductive searches. Web Quests can be easily developed in a Word document format. Providing students with imaginative roles and intriguing tasks is the key to making Web Quests fun. Technology Resources “Science Sleuths” www.smartkidssoftware.com/cdsfk1.htm Web Quests http://webquest.sdsu.edu/

Conclusion The research is out there to support that learning that is fun is also productive. We need not succumb to the pressure to make school a dull and boring place where only test scores matter. The activities described here are only a brief sample of all that is available to bring back the joy in teaching and learning.

Acknowledgements I’d like to thank the graduate students in my “The Middle School” class for some of the research and activities described in this article. Thanks to: Jessica McCutchen Murray, Vanessa Davis, Mary Cheairs, Marguerite Joyner Nicar, and Jamila Lucas.

References Armstrong, R.H. & Taylor, J.L. eds.(1984) Feedback on instructional simulation games. London: Croom Helm. Balkcom, S. (1992). “Cooperative Learning”. Office of Research Education Consumer Guide, Number 1. www.ed.gov/pubs/OR/ConsumerGuides/cooplear.html. Retrieved 2/4/03. Berezin, G. (2001). “A bridge to better health?” Psychology Today, 34; 14.


Bruce, J., Weil, M., & Calhoun, E. (2004). Models of teaching 7th edition. Boston: Pearson. Cratty, B.J. (1971). Active learning: Games to enhance academic abilities. Prentice Hall: Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. Ellis, A. & Fouts, J. (1997). Research on educational innovations. Larchmont, NY: Eye On Education. Johnson, D.W., Johnson, R.T., Holubec, E.J., & Roy, P. (1984). Circles of learning: cooperation in the classroom. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD). Johnson, D.W., Johnson, R.T. (2002). “Cooperative Learning.” Research Works. Education.umn.edu/research/ResearchWorks/coop-learning.htm. Kagan, S. (1992).Cooperative learning. San Juan Capistrano, CA: Kagan Cooperative Learning. Kosakowski, J. (1998). The benefits of information technology. ERIC Digest. www.ericfacility.net/ericdigest/ed420302.html. Retrieved 9/13/04. Kulik, J.A. (1994). Meta-analytic studies of findings on computer-based instruction. In E.L. Baker and H.F. O'Neil, Jr. (Eds.). Technology assessment in education and training. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. Shoecraft, P. (1984). Math Games and Activities volume II. Dale Seymour Publications. Slavin, R. E. (1991). "Synthesis of Research on Cooperative Learning." EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP 48: 71-82. Slavin, R. (1980). Using student team learning (rev. ed.). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University, Center for Social Organization of Schools. Slavin, R. E. (1995). “Research on Cooperative Learning and Achievement: What we Know, What we Need to Know.” Office of Educational Research and Improvement. US Department of Education. Sullivan, D.D., Davey, B., & Dickerson, D.P. (1978). Games as learning tools. McGrawHill: Paoli, Pennsylvania.


Classroom Management for the Middle School Teacher
Nancy P. Wilder, Mentor Teacher Division of Exceptional Children Classroom Management for the Middle School Teacher STRUCTURE is the number one component that teachers need, to have a successful middle school classroom. When teachers first hear or see this word they may think UGH….too limiting, too stifling. I beg to differ. A really excellent middle school classroom is one where the teacher has been so creative in designing the classroom, establishing rules, maintaining a class schedule, and delivering instruction that it is difficult to see the amount of effort that went in to creating that environment. The transitions between activities and classes appear effortless. Routines are so much a part of the everyday structure that students in this class know what to do and when to do it. How can you create this classroom structure? I hope you will use some of the tips that I’ve gathered in your classroom. Designing the classroom… 1. You must be able to observe all of the students, all of the time. 2. Students must be able to see you and any instructional media without having to move or turn too much. 3. You must be able to access materials and resources that are used frequently during instruction. 4. Students must be able to move into and out of the room with ease. 5. Your classroom will be more attractive if some decorations are in place. Your classroom should reflect an emphasis on academic achievement. Student work that is posted around the room, posters that offer instructional reminders, and set locations for frequently used classroom materials suggest to an observer that this is a room where learning is important. Establishing rules… 1. You need to establish and enforce 3-5 rules that are needed to promote student learning and safety. 2. Students may help design classroom rules. 3. You need to make certain that rules are SPECIFIC, CLEAR, and POSITIVE. 4. You must establish and enforce consequences. Your classroom rules should be posted in a conspicuous location in your room. These rules should be a reflection of exactly what kind of behavior you expect from your students. Just designing classroom rules, however, is not enough. You must also 28

TEACH students the rules. Engage your students in a discussion of the rules and consequences. Have students demonstrate what each rule means. Share your rules and expectations with parents by sending copies of the rules home. Have students commit to following the rules by signing a copy of the rules. A friend of mine who teaches middle school started the year by showing students a home-made videotape about her class rules. This was a very clear, visual demonstration of her expectations for student behavior. Once you have established and taught the rules, you will need to MONITOR students. You must be CONSISTENT and FAIR when enforcing rules. When students follow the rules you must consistently apply positive consequences. When students do not follow the rules you must consistently apply corrective consequences. Maintaining a class schedule… 1. You will need to begin and end class on time. This takes good planning and time management. My students know that class begins as soon as the bell rings (they are tardy if they are not already in their seats, ready to work). My students also know that class ends when I dismiss them, not when the bell rings again. 2. You will need to establish and teach classroom routines. Routines are actions that occur frequently – this may include early bird or bell work, handing out or taking up materials, entering or exiting the classroom, moving from individual to group activities, or any number of other actions. 3. Early bird work (or bell work) is an activity that students may begin as soon as class starts. This type of activity can be any type of school work that can be completed independently by students in the first few minutes of class. This is an excellent way to get students on task and ready to learn. This also sends the message to students that this is a class where academic learning is treasured. 4. You need to set time limits for most activities. Personally, I can’t teach without a digital timer on my board. When I tell students that they have 10 minutes to complete an activity, I mean it. 5. You will need to stick with the same classroom schedule as often as you possibly can. For example, bell work 10 minutes, whole class instruction 10 minutes, small group instruction 20 minutes, summary/recap 5 minutes, homework instructions 5 minutes. Delivering instruction… 1. You need to plan for effective lessons. Planning takes time and energy but pays off in better lessons and better student learning. 2. You need to know your district and state guidelines for your subject area. Connect your lesson objectives to these guidelines. 3. Your lessons will be more effective if you relate the lesson to students’ personal lives, build the lesson on something students already know, and provide quality content instruction.


4. Students may be more successful when following a model – YOU! 5. You need to monitor students as they work independently. This will give you an idea of student success or difficulty and allows you an opportunity to provide more support to students who may be struggling. 6. Enthusiasm is contagious. The more you enjoy what you are teaching, the more the students will enjoy the learning. These tips do not begin to cover all aspects of classroom management. There are many excellent resources available for teachers who are interested in learning more about the subject. I have included some “user friendly” resources to help you out. Print resources: Alberto, P.A., & Troutman, A.C. (2003). Applied behavior analysis for teachers (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Merrill Prentice-Hall. Emmer, E.T., Evertson, C.M., & Worsham, M.E. (2003). Classroom management for secondary teachers (6th ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon. Wong, H.K., & Wong, R.T. (1998). The first days of school: How to be an effective teacher. Mountain View, CA: Harry K. Wong Publications, Inc. On the web: http://www.behavioradvisor.com http://www.disciplinehelp.com/ http://iris.peabody.vanderbilt.edu

Spring Drive-In Conference March 5, 2005 White Station Middle School Memphis


Initiating Middle School Teacher Candidates into the Culture of Teaching: A Metamorphic Experience through a Structured Approach Mary Ransdell, Assistant Professor, University of Memphis Sheryl A. Maxwell, Associate Professor, University of Memphis Introduction The authors of this article discuss an aspect of our teacher education program at our large urban research university and how the authors restructured the clinical portion of the elementary program in order to help the teacher candidates become more aware of what it means to become an effective teacher. This format benefits our newly mandated middle school program as well. Literature Undergraduate teacher candidates must make the transition from being students who obtain knowledge through lectures, reading, or hands-on learning to teachers who provide that knowledge by means of teaching, mentoring, and coaching (Goodlad, 1994). Faculty members in teacher education programs continue to struggle with how best to accomplish this task. Everhart and Turner (1996) describe sophomore students who learn what to look for in a classroom through a series of structured visits throughout one semester. During these visits, groups of three or four neophytes assist the teachers but do not actually teach lessons yet. Teacher candidates become a regular part of the classroom environment for the semester rather than an infrequent nuisance. They claim that through these visits, students keep a journal of reflections and questions. Baer and Russomano (1996) discuss a strategy of planning initial teaching experiences in a controlled environment whereby teacher candidates teach lessons to peers who then provide critical feedback. Later their teaching involves daycare students transported to the college campus for controlled teaching experiences. Meltzer, Trang & Bailey (1994) describe a format they call clinical cycles whereby junior level teacher candidates create and teach short lessons to a team of student-selected peers and professors who evaluate specific, and previously agreed-upon, aspects of the lesson. The attributes chosen by the students for the critiques might range from the related learning tasks and lesson delivery to the impact on learners. The teacher candidates must organize a number of these short teaching/critique sessions throughout their professional coursework. Participants generally value the experiences and professional growth opportunities provided in the safe environment. Darling-Hammond (1998) advocates organized internship for neophyte teachers. This allows teacher candidates to learn as much as they can about knowledge and learning, curriculum resources and technology, and about scrutinizing their practice from those in the field. The internships, she suggests, involve plentiful clinical experiences combined with the theories behind the praxis. Like many existing programs, our program begins by acclimating the teacher candidates into the schools through a progressive sequence of observation, tutoring, and teaching. In this article, we share our developed structured approach to the clinical component of one aspect of the teacher candidates' involvement in 31

the public school setting. Teacher candidates at our university begin to learn about the culture of teaching from their observations and interactions during their coursework. They spend documented field hours in activities such as observing interactions in a special education classroom, watching a general education teacher’s discipline and transitions, observing students, and tutoring or teaching a prescribed Junior Achievement lesson. During their methods semester(s), these initial licensure teacher candidates target two specific content areas and spend a prescribed number of clinical hours (12 hours for undergraduates and 18 hours for graduates) with a content mentor teacher to hone their skills. Of course, this is in addition to their university content methods coursework. These teacher candidates, known as interns during their pre-student teaching clinical experiences, need support as they enter into the teaching field and learn to connect theory and practice. The mentors provide guidance and allow the interns to struggle a bit in order to learn how to pick up the pieces and go on. Perhaps they will teach the same lesson differently on another day. These real life experiences provide some of the scaffolding needed to develop effective teachers. Expectations We believe that both the mentor teachers and the interns, as we call the teacher candidates, need preparation. The classroom teachers need to be good role models, and the university students need to acclimate themselves into the role of a teacher. We encourage the mentors to provide a workspace for the neophytes and make professional resource materials available to them in the classroom. We ask the mentors to acquaint the interns with the school’s handbook and all emergency plans. Additionally, we would like the mentors to introduce the intern to other building personnel and to the school’s layout. Hopefully, the interns are introduced to the students as members of the teaching team. Interns have professional responsibilities within the school setting. They must call their professor at home, if they will be absent and must make up the missed time. During their visits, we expect interns to assist the teachers by walking around and monitoring students or performing other professional duties as assigned by their mentors. We stress the need for confidentiality and openmindedness. Above all, interns are to remember that they are guests in their mentor’s classrooms. We ask mentors to assist the interns in setting goals and in selecting and planning lessons. We expect the mentors to help the interns learn to think reflectively and to learn to evaluate their progress through open dialogue. We hope that mentors model effective teaching strategies, especially those learned by the interns during their university coursework. Novices imitate observed practice when entering a field experience (Schön, 1987). Although we are hopeful that the teachers are providing "best practices" as a model for the teacher candidates, this does not always happen. However, the teacher candidates can unconsciously nudge their mentors to reform their methodology. Although these teacher candidates clock a specific number of hours in the classroom (12 hours at the undergraduate level and 18 hours at the graduate level), they may not acquire the intended lessons as related to increasing their understandings about teaching (Baer & Russomano, 1996). For example, interns who never focus on the types of questions that an effective teacher asks during a lesson may not realize how the various types of questions can illicit differing insights into student thinking. These same interns may watch a teacher supervise a cooperative learning lesson and take copious notes about what they saw the 32

students physically doing, but miss the fact that the youngsters were demonstrating Vygotsky’s scaffolding theory known as the Zone of Proximal Development. Interns typically have high levels of anxiety before those first few teaching experiences (Everhart & Turner 1996). To assist in their successful journey, we structure the time and focus of their experiences in the clinical setting. In the remainder of this manuscript, we share how we developed this structure, note how students accomplished the activities, and discuss the results. We must confess that our experience has been with elementary majors but believe the following structure will work equally well with preservice teachers at any level. The goal of the structure is to link the methods courses together with the common clinical goal of creating the best teachers possible. Our structured program We analyzed the clinical setting and recognized that it provides the interns with a relatively safe environment in which to 1) Watch children or youth learn, 2) Observe instructors conducting lessons, 3) Reflect about the various instructional techniques, and 4) Experience teaching mini-lessons. To link the six pairs of middle school content areas (math/social studies, math/science, math/literacy, social studies/literacy, social studies/science and literacy/science) we require the interns to complete a checklist for each methods course. For example, if the intern chooses the mathematics/social studies combination, he or she will be given the mathematics clinical checklist to complete while taking the math methods course. Additionally, the intern will complete the social studies checklist while taking the social studies methods component. These checklist items are assessed as “adequate or not yet adequate.” The content-specialized tasks with accompanying checklist After analyzing the components of a classroom in combination with the daily and weekly events, we developed a systematic course of clinical tasks to assist the interns to grow in their understanding of what it means to become an effective teacher. Recognizing the interns’ anxiety about teaching coupled with their inexperience in teaching we focused on three main areas: 1) Analysis of teaching and learning through observations, 2) Progressive intern reflections written with prompting questions, and 3) Development of meaningful clinical teaching experiences. Analysis of teaching and learning through observations All preservice teachers view teaching from the eyes of a student and not yet from the vantage point of a teacher. Capitalizing on this fact, their initial assignments at each methods clinical site are to observe the classroom, students, teacher and take an inventory of resources. Students then examine processes such as transitions and questioning techniques. Later, we ask them to focus on individual students and their unique attitudes toward learning, thinking, and reasoning. Progressive intern reflections written with prompting questions The reflection questions, discussed in more depth later and located in Appendix A, promote this growth in the interns’ ability to perceive teaching realistically and note its complexity. The initial introduction of reflections takes on a pattern that corresponds to their development in understanding the process of teaching. As students mature in their understanding of teaching their reflective 33

essays become more free-flowing, truly reflective, and produce insightful comments. Development of meaningful clinical teaching experiences A Clinical Connections notebook is the focal point of the structured adventure. Because university students do not often know what to look for when initially observing in a classroom (Everhart & Turner, 1996), we provide specific guidance in this document indicating to the interns that it must be an organizational tool when they are in their clinical settings. This notebook contains a list of clinical activities the interns will complete, journal-writing guidelines, and expectations for both the mentor teacher and intern. We require that students divide this clinical notebook into several sections. One section is for their journal reflections with another for the artifacts they create as required in their assignments. Since they are working with mentor teachers, we suggest that a third subdivision be entitled Great Ideas. This organization encourages the intern to become more purposeful when thinking about the teaching/learning processes

Building on the structure of the K-6 experience, we modified aspects and items that had proved to be successful. The clinical setting for cohort participants of the K-6 program was located at one school. We met with the principal and chosen mentor teachers prior to the start of the semester. Together we developed two documents: Mentor Teacher Expectations and Intern Expectations. Since the clinical settings in the middle school would probably be scheduled at different schools, we include ways that the Interns can bring “contemporary” ideas and theory into the existing mentor’s classroom (Appendix B). Each of the classroom teachers receives a mentor teacher's clinical notebook with relevant information about both mentor and intern expectations, and other upcoming events within the general semester calendar. The telephone number, email address of the content professor are posted in this notebook. By providing the same information to each of the mentor teachers, they had knowledge of our expectations for our interns and could better plan each intern’s experiences. Of course, not all teachers followed the guidelines, but those who do are able to afford their interns with beneficial teaching skills and knowledge. The interns are required to write and sign a contract (Appendix C) with the mentor teacher negotiating the specific dates and times to complete their clinical hours – 12 hours for undergraduates and 18 hours for graduates. Before the interns meet their mentor teacher, we talk with them about the mutual expectations, communicate the range of clinical activities that their charges might perform, introduce them to the clinical notebook, complete with the sections and checklist format. With the responsibilities of all parties articulated, the interns know from the very beginning what we expect of them during their clinical work. We suggest activities that the interns might perform, at the discretion of and under the supervision of the mentor teacher. The activities provided structure for the interns’ visits. These are more observational in nature during the earlier weeks and include increased responsibility


as the semester progresses. The reflection prompts add an additional dimension to their growing understanding of teaching. Finally, we included a generic version of our Intern Clinical Connections Checklist (Appendix D), or outline, of tasks to complete. Clinical assignments The interns entered the clinical setting as citizens seeing the school happenings from the eyes of a youth awed their decision to become a teacher. With varying experiences in the public school arena, they attempt to absorb all happenings at the same time. Appendix E displays the questions for an assignment called Getting Acquainted with the School which is listed in the Clinical Connections Checklist in Appendix D. This assignment, coupled with the one asking for a floor plan of the classroom, served to help the students become familiar with the school and their surroundings targeting a focused plan. The interns are required to teach a number of specific content lessons or activities within the classroom. These are often linked to the assignments given in the university setting. For example, in the mathematics methods course, interns are introduced to the concept discovery activities that are considered to be "best practices" for mathematics education. The interns must teach at least three different math lessons to their students during their time in the school. These lessons could be adaptations of activities done in the university classroom, listed in their math methods textbook, or refined ones they create as lesson plans that are graded by their university mathematics teacher educator. Reflections written by the interns A key ingredient of the clinical notebook is the reflection portion. To help prepare the interns for future growth, we recognized that reflection would be an on-going learning process. Experienced teachers reflect-in-action (Schön, 1987) but novices are not yet able to do this. In addition to the given prompting question, the interns are to complete the reflective journal entries after each teaching episode using the questions 1) What went well? 2) What went wrong? 3) What would you do differently and why? 4) Analyze how you would modify using professional resources. 5) What was the knowledge base of the students prior to the lesson? In other words, what did they not know about the topic? Discuss the evidence that illustrates this. And 6) What do the students know now? Discuss the assessment and the results of the assessment. When first initiated in the elementary program, the interns' resulting reflections lacked depth of understanding. Additionally, these reflections were viewed as a meaningless activity to the interns since often they had difficulty answering the questions so ignored them. Consequently, we recognized that the interns needed to learn how to write reflectively through practice. During the following semester one of the authors created specific prompting questions for each clinical visit. In this way, the interns had specific aspects of teaching and learning about which they were to think and for which they were to look. Appendix A contains a sample of the reflections used during the most recent semester. This author's experience in following both interns and student teachers into the classroom guided the progression of the design of the questions. The questions were often geared toward the timely discourse that occurred just days before in the university classroom. Impressions from students The interns from the companion K-6 methods courses generally enjoy their clinical experiences. Comments from some of these teacher candidates indicate they believed the teaching during the methods semester was intense, but that they learned a great deal. Many expressed apprehension about the job of teaching, others’ views of them as a teacher, and themselves as teachers as evidenced in the quotes below.


Sally: “I was nervous, but now I am so much more confident…. I feel very prepared.” Tanya: “I …had no idea what to expect. I have really learned a lot.” Malea: “… I am prepared to handle whatever … I am assigned to teach.” Gabrielle: “I think I was very prepared for my student teaching. I was able to smoothly take over in the classroom. I felt much more comfortable.” Sarah: “I have actually felt very prepared for student teaching.” Shelby: “…I wasn’t sure if I could teach!…I know I can do it. ”
The use of the clinical notebook provides structure for the interns as they enter the teaching world. The reflection questions provide a progression of foci that seem to connect to the development of their awareness of the skills they are to acquire as a teacher. The designed structure helps the interns to acclimate to their newly discovered world of teaching.


Appendix A Reflection for week 1: What ONE thing did I learn today about teaching that I had never thought about before? Relate this in detail telling how you believe this will affect your progress of becoming an effective teacher. Reflection for week 2: Look around the classroom where you are doing your clinical. Describe the classroom in terms of its appeal to students, adults, and educators. How does it portray the clinical teacher's overall philosophy of education? Reflection for week 3: Describe the "transitions" are done by your clinical teacher. Where are the possibilities of "teaching" as you are transitioning? Share at least one time through discourse. Reflection for week 4: The classroom is an interesting place full of social encounters, activities, and questions. The focus of today's investigation is “Questions.” Focus on the two definite types of questions: Closed-ended and Open-ended. Listen to the type of questions that the mentor teacher uses. List at least three of her questions for each type. Notice the reaction/answers to the questions she asks. Describe what occurs with the differing types of questions. Discuss the differences that occur in the classroom and how the effective use of questioning can assist in student learning. Reflection for week 5: Ask your clinical teacher about a particular lesson that she plans to teach today. Investigate the textbook material by looking at the teacher's edition of the content textbook. View the lesson from the eyes of a student, and from the eyes of an educator. What were the strengths of the lesson? What were the objectives of the lesson? Write these in the format given telling the Bloom's Taxonomy level and the assessment strategies. What strategies did the teacher use to meet the objectives? What would you have done differently? Reflection for week 6: Pick three different children in the classroom. Discuss the following: His/her attitude toward learning; His/her strengths and weakness as related to classroom learning; Something the child did that was special today. How would you help them to learn even more? Reflection for week 7: The ultimate purpose for teaching is to help the students gain skills in thinking and reasoning. These skills will help them in lifetime learning enabling them to discover new concepts. Focus on the Thinking/ Reasoning Opportunities in the classroom today. What are the opportunities that the teacher presents to the students to capitalize on their thinking/reasoning abilities? What are the missed opportunities? What will you do or avoid doing in your classroom so that your future students will become expert thinkers?


Appendix B DATE Dear Ms. Teacher: student learn Thank you so much for agreeing to help a University of more about teaching in your classroom. I value your contribution to his continued growth as a teacher. You have been chosen because of your willingness to help as well as being a teacher who is using best practices to build students’ conceptual understandings. Through your class and activities done in the university classroom, this intern can learn beneficial ways to increase students’ knowledge of pedagogy and content. This intern will be attending your classroom and working actively with your students under your watchful guidance. S/He is required to fulfill 12/18 hours of clinical work connected to this methods class. S/He will establish a signed contract with you so you will know exactly when s/he will be coming. S/He should attend during the time you teach this content and for no more than 1.5 hours. I request a copy of this document signed by both of you. • S/He is to observe a minimum amount of time--about one classroom content session, or one hour. During this time s/he will be observing and asking you questions.

After the initial observation period, s/he should be working directly with students presenting or assisting with various activities. According to your desire, he can instruct a small group of students, or the entire class. Both of you may be able to group the children for a “Round Robin” teaching experience. Please take this opportunity to allow this intern to be helpful to you as you continue your excellent instruction. Your guidance may be needed as s/he continues to design more activities that are related to the current topics you teach. S/He would also appreciate short narrative feedback as he teaches. If you have any questions regarding your role, the intern’s active involvement, or any other concern, please contact me directly. Again, thanks for your continued support. Name Phone No. Teacher GRADE Teacher’s Phone No. School

Sincerely, Professor’s name and telephone number


Appendix C Intern / Mentor Teacher Contract ** To be completed for education fieldwork experience. Please make 3 copies of this form after completion. Give one to each of the following: 1) Mentor teacher 2) Intern teacher 3) University instructor Intern Teacher Name: Mentor Teacher Name: School Hours: Contracted days/times to complete fieldwork assignments: (Complete one-half of the hours before midterm.) Days Monday: Tuesday: Wednesday: Thursday: Friday: I agree to attend my contacted fieldwork assignment days weekly in order to complete the necessary hours of fieldwork required for my university course. In addition, I agree to arrive 15 minutes before I will be teaching, so that I may have adequate time to set up my materials for the lesson to be taught. If for some unforeseen reason, I am either detained or am unable to attend the scheduled agreed upon day and time, I will notify the cooperating teacher and my instructor, by phone, before the start of school. Additional conditions may be listed below: (as per mentor teacher and Intern teacher) Times Content area Grade level

Intern Teacher Signature

Mentor Teacher Signature


Appendix D Intern Clinical Connections Checklist

NOTE: You cannot be in a classroom more than ninety minutes at a time unless you are teaching
Items to be completed by interns Create a classroom layout of this classroom using computer drawing software Getting acquainted with the school Class schedule emailed to professors Supervise a whole group activity Interview of teacher Journal entries / reflections Date Main topic of journal entry:
Date Intern’s Initials Mentor’s Initials


Main topic of journal entry:

Rows deleted for space consideration. Include enough rows for each clinical day.

Design and teach lessons using at least two different models from the selections below: 1. Cooperative Learning 2. Inquiry 3. Concept Attainment 4. Concept Discovery Complete the following: Observation of a lesson Analyze classroom discourse Detailed analysis of students’ thinking during a lesson Teaching/small group tutoring (topic) Reflection after teaching above lesson Teaching (topic) Reflection after teaching above lesson Teaching (topic) Reflection after teaching above lesson Teaching (topic) Reflection after teaching above lesson


Intern’s Initials

Mentor’s Initials


Intern’s Initials

Mentor’s Initials

Appendix E


Getting Acquainted with the School
Observations of the School: • How are the grades grouped? • How do teachers work together (i.e., teams, blocks, pods): • How are the classes scheduled for lunch? • How are the parents received into the building and into the classroom? Observations of the classroom: • Create a classroom floor plan that you can later recreate on your computer using drawing software • Describe the ethnic and racial makeup of the classroom • Describe the discipline management system employed • Take an inventory of manipulatives/resources for your content area • Note the transition techniques the mentor teacher uses • Describe the mentor teacher's teaching style • Note the interactions between the mentor and students. Students and class schedules • Make a seating chart using computer software • Learn the students' names • Make a class schedule that includes lunch, conference period, and ancillary classes. REFLECTION is the key to learning about teaching. Use the technique in your assignments throughout this BLOCK semester and in future endeavors. Learn this technique to increase the awareness of what it means to become an effective teacher. Use the prompt below to write your FIRST reflection about your experiences. Do not tell what happened blow by blow. Instead, relate your thoughts, feelings, and insights about the incident/happening. Write at least one page (8.5" x 11"), delving into the topic and place this DATED reflection in your Clinical Connections notebook.


References Baer, J. & Russomano, A. T., (1996). An intensive sophomore field experience for teacher candidates teachers. Education, 116(3). p. 432. Darling-Hammond, L. (1998). Teacher learning that supports student learning. Educational Leadership, 55(5). p.135. Everhart, B. & Turner E., (1996). Teacher candidates’ clinical experiences. The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance., 67(4). p.62. Goodlad, J. I. (1994). Educational renewal: Better teachers, better schools. JosseyBass: San Francisco. Meltzer J., Trang, M. & Bailey B., (1994). Clinical cycles: A productive tool for teacher education. Phi Delta Kappan, 75(8), p.12. Schön, D. (1987). Educating the reflective practitioner: Toward a new design for teaching and learning in the professions. Jossey-Bass: San Francisco.

National Middle School Association Conferences Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - November 3 –5, 2005 NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE – November 2 – 4, 2006


Self-Adjustment to the Middle School Transition
Dr. Mack T. Hines III, Assistant Professor of Middle Level Education University of Arkansas at Monticello

Introduction A report from the Federal Department of Education states that, until recently, the middle years of schooling have not been a high priority of education systems (Proctor & Choi, 1994). This lack of attention occurred despite well-documented problems associated with the transition to middle school. According to Blyth (1997), many children experience problems with adjusting to middle school. A middle school transition study conducted in Gwinnett County, Georgia, showed students having the following concerns: getting to class on time, opening lockers, keeping up with materials, finding lunchrooms and bathrooms, getting on the right bus to go home, getting through crowded halls, and remembering class schedules (Arowosafe & Irvin, 1992). Teachers stated that students experience other adjustive difficulties such as having more teachers, having less free time, accepting more responsibility for their own actions, and completing long-range assignments. Vars (1998) added that this change often causes children to continually reevaluate their self-concept and self-esteem. Robinson, Gardener, and Hillman (1995) stated that students transitioning from elementary to middle school show extreme signs of stress and a decline in their perceptions of school. Crocket, Peterson, Grabo, Schulenberga, and Ebgate (1993) stated that students’ academic drive and performance drastically decline in all subjects. Most children’s achievement values, interest in learning, self-esteem, and self-beliefs significantly decrease across the middle school transition (Adams, 1993). Harter (1990) proposed that adolescence contributes to children’s inability to adjust to middle school. He added that adolescence introduces puberty, role confusion, and other awkward feelings that cause children to have negative perceptions and attitudes toward school. The Study During my first year of middle school administration, I saw many students academically and socially struggling with the middle school transition. They showed few socialization skills, make low grades, and fail to establish a sense of belonging to middle school. Consequently, I conducted an investigated study that examined the factors relevant to their views of the middle school transition. I developed a survey that would indicate students’ views of adjustment to middle school (See Appendix A). This instrument would also indicate whether race, gender, socioeconomic status, and academic achievement affected these views. I then issued the survey to a sample of students from rural and urban middle schools located in South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia.


The first middle school was grades seven through eight, with a student population of 709 students. There were 314 African American students and 395 Caucasian students. Three hundred five students ate free lunch and 404 students paid for lunch. The second middle school was grades six through eight, with a population of 821 students. There were 496 African American students, 303 Caucasian students, and 22 other. Forty-five percent of the students lived below poverty level. Eighty-three percent of the students lived in single-parent households headed by women. Feeder elementary schools were some of the lowest performing schools in South Carolina. The third middle school was a grades seven through eight institution. The school’s population consisted of 737 students. There were 292 African American students, 432 Caucasian students, and 13 other. The fourth middle school was comprised of sixth, seventh, and eighth graders. Enrollment consisted of 517 Caucasian students, 228 African American students, and 15 other. Of this population, there were 410 male students and 350 female students. The fifth middle school consisted of 598 students: 409 African American students, 188 Caucasian students, and one other. While 426 students ate free lunch, 172 students paid for lunch. The sixth middle school consisted of grades six through eight institution. Its population consisted of 856 suburban students. Three hundred seventy-six African American students and 480 Caucasian students attended this school. Four hundred fiftysix students paid for lunch and 400 students ate free lunch. The seventh middle school housed seventh and eighth graders. Its population consisted of 313 African American students, 485 Caucasian students, and 10 other. During the last four years, the percentage of lower income students increased from 48 percent to 58 percent. The school also experienced an increase in the number of Hispanic students, many of whom were served by English as Second Language (ESL) teachers. The eighth middle school enrolled six, seventh, and eighth grade students. Enrollment consisted of 466 Caucasian students, 406 African American students, and 54 other. There were 490 male students and 438 female students who attended this school. Thirty-three percent of the students ate free lunch, and 67% of the students purchased or brought their lunch. After receiving the surveys, I statistically examined the information. What follows is a written explanation and graphical depiction of these outcomes. Academic Adjustment to Middle School Three quarters of the students (74.4%) reported that they were adjusted to learning middle school rules. Three quarters of the students (74.8%) indicated that they were adjusted to following middle school rules. Slightly more than one half of the students (53.9%) reported adjustment to having more homework. Six out of every ten students (62.6 %) reported that they were adjusted to having more class work. Six out of every ten students (60.1%) revealed that they were adjusted to dressing out for gym. Three fifths of the students (61.8%) felt that they were adjusted to having numerous books. Six of ten students (61.4%) indicated that they were adjusted to having a time limit to get to class. Almost seven tenths of the students (69.9%) indicated that they were adjusted to traveling long distances to class. About seven of ten students (69%) felt adjusted to learning middle level math. A slight majority of the students (70.2%) reported that they were adjusted to learning middle level science. More than seven tenths of the students (72%) indicated that they were adjusted to learning middle level social studies. Slightly more that seven out of every ten students (71.7%) and (71.3%) indicated that they were adjusted to learning middle level English and middle level physical education, respectively.


More than half of the students reported that they were adjusted to the different learning styles and schedules of middle school. About six tenths of the students (59.2%) asserted that they were adjusted to having less freedom in the classroom. Eight of ten students (79.6%) reported that they were adjusted to participating in cooperative learning activities. Three fourths of the students (75.3%) stated that they were adjusted to participating in competitive learning activities. Seven of ten students (72%) indicated that they were adjusted to attending the same class every day (See Table 1). Social Adjustment to Middle School Seven of 10 students (71.2%) reported that they were adjusted to attending a larger school. The majority of the students (74%) indicated that they were adjusted to staying in school for a longer period of time. About three quarters of the students (71.7%) reported that they were adjusted to using lunch cards. Slightly less than three fifths of the students (59.4%) reported that they were adjusted to wearing identification cards. Slightly fewer than 7 out of 10 students (69.1%) asserted that they were adjusted to learning a new building. Almost seven tenths (66.9%) of the students reported that they were adjusted to being in the youngest group of the school. About 7 out of every 10 students (71.4%) reported that they were adjusted to having many teachers. About three quarters of the students (74.7%) indicated that they were adjusted to using lockers. About 8 of 10 students (81.4%) indicated that they were adjusted to changing classes. Two thirds of the students (68.1%) felt adjusted to eating lunch at a later time. Almost 8 of every 10 students (79.7%) indicated that they were adjusted to making new friends. More than seven tenths of the students (74.8%) felt adjusted to meeting older students. A similar percentage of students (71.6%) reported that they were adjusted to meeting teacher/principal expectations. Nearly two thirds of the students (65.2%) indicated that they were adjusted to dealing with peer pressure. Slightly more than three fifths of the students asserted (63.9%) that they were adjusted to participating in after-school/extracurricular activities. Essentially, 8 of every 10 students (78.6%) indicated that they were adjusted to having more independence outside of the classroom (See Table 2). Variable Effects on Views of Adjustment To Middle School Race and gender significantly affected students’ views of academic and social adjustment to middle school. However, neither socioeconomic status, academic achievement nor the interactive effects of race, gender, socioeconomic status, and academic achievement affected students’ views of academic and social adjustment to middle school (See Tables 3 and 4). The results of this study revealed that students viewed themselves as being adjusted to middle school. Related literature purports that rarely do beginning middle school students adjust to middle school as quickly as did the participants of this study. Several factors may explain the discrepancy between the results of this study and previous literature on the middle school transition. First, the participants of this study possessed the confidence and stability needed to view themselves as being adjusted to middle school (Thornburg & Glider, 1984). Second, many students entered middle school in the sixth grade, an age in which they are more comfortable in making the switch to middle school (Zhou, 1990). Third, students reported being adjusted to middle school because of attending schools whose size, resources, policies, procedures, and teacher characteristics meet their interests and needs (Wiles & Bond, 1992). Finally, these students are in an environment that gives them a sense of competency, relatedness to others, and autonomy (Owings & Dems, 1992.)


The comparative results of this study indicated that race and gender significantly affected students’ views of adjustment to middle school. Neither socioeconomic status, academic achievement nor the interaction effects of race, gender, socioeconomic status, and academic achievement had a significant effect on students’ views of adjustment to middle school. In all probability, socioeconomic status and academic achievement impacted students’ views of adjustment to middle school. The effect, in this case, just was not significant at the alpha level used to test the hypotheses of this study. Finally, it appears that perception is the underlying factor of the results of this study. The participants of this study viewed themselves as being adjusted to middle school. Views have their own identity and are shaped by perception (Purkey, 2000). Perception is created by self-concept, which is influenced by “whispered” speech (Purkey, 2000). This study strongly suggests that the students whispered “I am adjusted to middle school”. Actual records and observations could show that their claim may or may not reflect reality. In all probability, the reflection was to some degree by race, gender, socioeconomic status, and academic achievement.


Table 1
Academic Adjustment to Middle School Frequency Percentages of Responses

Not Adjusted Survey Item N %

Not Really Adjusted N %

Somewhat Adjusted N %

Adjusted N %

Very Adjusted N %

1. Learning middle school rules. 2. Following middle school rules. 3. More homework. 4. More class work. 5. Dressing for gym. 6. Having numerous books. 7. Having a time limit to get to class. 8. Traveling long distances to class. 9. Learning math. 10. Learning science. 11. Learning s. studies. 12. Learning English.











86 182 121 122

8.3 17.6 11.7 11.8

65 103 90 72

6.3 10.0 8.7 7.0

110 191 175 218

10.6 18.5 16.9 21.1

274 266 297 204

26.5 25.7 28.7 19.7

499 292 351 418

48.3 28.2 33.9 40.4





















115 97 85

11.1 9.4 8.2

69 88 74

6.7 8.5 7.2

127 136 150

12.3 13.2 14.5

274 245 258

26.5 23.7 25.0

447 468 467

43.4 45.3 45.2

93 91

9.0 8.8

74 69

7.2 6.7

122 133

11.8 12.9

243 255

23.5 24.7

502 486

48.5 47.0

13. Learning P.E. 14. Less classroom freedom. 15. Cooperative learning activities. 16. Competitive learning activities. 17. Attending same class every day.




















































Table 2 Social Adjustment to Middle School Frequency Percentages of Responses Not Adjusted Survey Item N % Not Really Adjusted N % Somewhat Adjusted N % Very Adjusted N %

Adjusted N %

1. Larger school. 2. Longer hours. 3. Using lunch cards.

80 138 130

7.7 13/3 12.6

65 97 56

6.3 9.4 5.4

153 137 107

14.8 13.2 10.3

298 245 194

28.8 23.7 18.8

438 417 547

42.8 40.3 52.9

4. Identification cards. 5. New building. 6. Youngest group. 7. Many teachers. 8. Opening lockers. 9. Changing classes. 10. Late lunch. 11. New friends. 12. Older students. 13. Teacher/principal expectations. 14. Peer pressure.

123 72 104 105 115 98 104 96 104

11.9 7.0 10.1 10.2 11.1 9.5 10.1 9.3 10.1

64 87 76 70 44 39 55 44 62

6.2 8.4 7.6 6.8 4.3 3.8 5.3 4.3 6.0

233 160 159 121 92 55 171 70 95

22.5 15.5 15.4 11.7 8.9 5.3 16.5 6.3 9.2

215 264 278 213 175 206 273 202 254

20.8 25.5 26.9 20.6 16.9 19.9 26.4 19.5 24.6

399 451 414 525 608 636 431 622 519

38.6 43.6 40.0 50.8 58.8 61.5 41.7 60.2 50.2

90 101

8.7 9.8

77 73

7.4 7.1

126 186

12.2 18.0

292 266

28.2 25.7

449 408

43.4 39.5

15. After-school Activities.











16. Independence out of classroom.












Table 3 Interaction Effects of Race, Gender, Academic Achievement, and Socioeconomic Status on Students’ Views of Academic Adjustment to Middle School. *If p < .05, then variable(s) affected students’ views of adjustment to middle school. Variables Race Gender Socioeconomic Achievement Race * Gender Race * Socioeconomic Gender * Socioeconomic Race * Gender * Socioeconomic Race * Achievement Gender * Achievement Race * Gender * Achievement Socioeconomic * Achievement Race*Socioeconomic*Achievement Gender*Socioeconomic* Achievement Race*Gender*Socioeconomic* Achievement Sum of Squares 4198.344 3279.764 150.218 668.623 154.654 175.194 867.682 388.972 1151.659 101.853 1017.499 46.525 367.318 236.771 171.486 df 2 1 1 1 2 2 1 2 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 Mean Square 2099.172 3279.764 150.218 668.623 77.327 87.597 867.682 194.486 575.829 101.853 508.749 46.525 183.659 236.771 85.743 F 10.457 16.339 .748 3.331 .385 .436 4.323 .969 2.869 .507 2.534 .232 .915 1.180 427 p .000 .000 .387 .068 .680 .646 .038 .380 .057 .476 .080 .630 .401 .278 .652


Table 4 Interaction Effects of Race, Gender, Socioeconomic Status, and Academic Achievement on Students’ Views of Social Adjustment to Middle School. *If p < .05, then variable(s) affected students’ views of adjustment to middle school. Variables Race Gender Socioeconomic Achievement Race * Gender Race * Socioeconomic Gender * Socioeconomic Race * Gender * Socioeconomic Race * Achievement Gender * Achievement Race * Gender * Achievement Socioeconomic * Achievement Race*Socioeconomic*Achievement Gender*Socioeconomic* Achievement Race*Gender*Socioeconomic* Achievement Sum of Squares 2864.775 4278.014 132.682 281.222 516.891 183.433 907.561 295.727 1763.324 114.704 1185.273 61.437 609.943 281.704 79.594 df 2 1 1 1 2 2 1 2 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 Mean Square 1432.388 4278.014 132.682 281.222 258.445 91.717 907.561 147.863 881.662 114.704 592.637 61.437 304.971 281.704 39.797 F 8.050 24.044 .746 1.581 1.453 .515 5.101 .831 4.955 .645 3.331 .345 1.714 1.583 .224 p .000 .000 .388 .209 .234 .597 .024 .436 .007 .422 .036 .557 .181 .209 .800


References Adams, L. (1993). How one school innovatively serves it students and communities. Middle School Journal, 12(5), 53-55. Arowosafe, D. & Irvin, J. (1992). Transition to middle level school: What kids say. Middle School Journal, 24(2), 15-20. Blyth, D. (1997). How schools alienate students at-risk: A model for examination of proximation classroom variables. Educational Psychology, 7(25), 105-25. Crocket, L., Peterson, A., Graber, J., Shulenberg, J., & Ebgate, A. (1993). School transitions and adjustment during early adolescence. Journal of Early Adolescence, 13(9), 181-210. Harter, S. (1990). At the threshold: The developing adolescent. New York: Harvard University Press. Owings, C., & Den, K. (1992). What are we doing to early adolescents? American Journal of Education, 16(89), 521-542. Proctor, T., & Choi, H. (1994). Effects of transition from elementary to junior high school on early adolescents' self-esteem and perceived competence. Psychology in the schools, 31(3), 319-327. Purkey, W. (2000). What students say to themselves: Internal dialogue and school success. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press. Robinson, K., Gardener, D., & Hillman, S. (1995). Surviving the junior high school transition: family processes and self-perceptions as protection and risk factors. Early Adolescence, 12(14), 162-169. SPSS (2000). SPSS base 10.0 brief guide. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: PrenticeHall, Inc. Thornburg, H. & Glider, P. (1984). Dimensions of early adolescent social perceptions and preferences. Journal of Early Adolescence, 12(4), 387-406. Vars, G. (1998). You’ve come a long way, baby: Early writings and current reflections of middle school founders. Columbus, OH: National Middle School Association. Wiles, S. & Bondi, R. (1992). Ethnic differences in adolescent achievement. American Psychologist, 13(47), 723-729. Zhou, N, (1995) Social skills training for young adolescents. Adolescence, 13(26), 234238.



Middle School Adjustment Survey
Check one blank for each category. 1. I am in the: 6TH Grade_________ 7th Grade_________ 2. I am: White_____ Black________ Other________ 3. I am a: Girl_____ Boy_______ 4. I eat: Free Lunch__________ Reduced/Full-Priced Lunch_______

Circle the number that best describes your feelings of adjustment to each situation within the first few months of middle school. 1= Not Adjusted 2= Not Really Adjusted 3=Somewhat Adjusted 4=Adjusted 5=Very Adjusted
1. Attending a larger, more crowded school 2. Staying in school longer than elementary students 3. Using lunch cards 4. Wearing identification cards 5. Learning a new building 6. Learning middle school rules and procedures 7. Following middle school rules and procedures 8. Being in the youngest group of the school 9. Having many teachers 10. Having more homework 11. Having more classwork 12. Dressing out for gym 13. Opening lockers 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5


14. Changing classes 15. Having/carrying numerous books and materials 16. Eating lunch at a later time 17. Traveling long distances to some classes 18. Having a time limit to get to class 19. Making new friends 20. Meeting older students

1 1 1 1 1 1 1

2 2 2 2 2 2 2

3 3 3 3 3 3 3

4 4 4 4 4 4 4

5 5 5 5 5 5 5

21. Meeting teacher/ principal expectations 22. Dealing with peer pressure 23. Learning middle level mathematics 24. Learning middle level science 25. Learning middle level social studies 26. Learning middle level English 27. Learning middle level physical education

1 1 1 1 1 1 1

2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2

3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3

4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4

5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5

28. Participating in Afterschool/Extracurricular Activities 1 29. Having less freedom in the classroom 30. Having more independence outside of the classroom 31. Participating in cooperative learning activities 32. Participating in competitive learning activities 33. Attending the same class every other day 1 1 1 1 1


Creating Literacy Partnerships With Middle School Teachers
Dr. Rebecca Anderson, University of Memphis Dr. Amy Dietrich, Retired, University of Memphis Dr. Jane Puckett, University of Memphis Dr. Jerrie Scott, University of Memphis Dr. Lana Smith, Retired, University of Memphis Currently President George Bush is clearly setting forth a strong reading agenda. Congress is being supportive of this agenda by increasing federal funding to states that support intensive efforts in improving literacy development. One key component of this initiative, at both the federal and state level, involves intensive professional development programs that ensure teachers receive training on how to teach reading. As teacher educators who are actively engaged in providing literacy professional development in K-12 schools, we are constantly searching for ways to improve our practice. Believing teachers who are supported by their colleagues are more motivated and successful than teachers who work in a solo fashion, we decided to develop and study a model of professional development that matched each participating teacher with a partner. Thus we called this a partner model of professional development. We selected middle school teachers to implement the model because in our district reading scores are especially low at the middle school level and very little professional development has been provided for middle school teachers. Perspectives Although beginning teachers are expected to know how to teach literacy, the literature confirms that this knowledge, skill and confidence is achieved through an ongoing development process (Lyons & Pinnell, 2001; Roskos, Risko & Vukelich, 2000; Sparks & Hirsh, 1997; Sturytevant, Dunlap & White, 2000). There is widespread agreement that professional development programs are the key to keeping teachers current with trends and issues in education, but that the traditional model is in need of change if lasting benefits are to occur (Learning First Alliance, 2000: Ingvarson, 1998; Marx, Blumenfeld & Krajcik, 1998: Robb, 2000). For instance, Robb (2000) points to four reasons why traditional approaches to staff development programs rarely accomplish their missions, despite the amount of money allocated: (1) one-day teacher training, (2) one-size-fits-all presentation, (3) minimal administrator participation, and (4) lack of follow-up support for teachers. Efforts at finding a solution to the problem of sustaining long-term change in teaching have been focusing on a shift in how professional development for teachers has been traditionally delivered. Potts, Moore, et al. (2000) assert that the formation of professional learning communities promotes sustained, meaningful change. Citing a constructivist framework, they posit that working within study groups strengthens the possibility of teachers creating similar learning environments in their classrooms. Both Darling-Hammond (1997) and Hiebert (1999) provide support for partner professional development activities, claiming teachers who observe new ideas and methods of teaching “in action” and can reflect on their motives, are more likely to use them. When peers exchange ideas and concepts, they both leave with a different perspective. The


work of Garet, Porter, Desimone, Birman, and Yoon (2001) confirm that professional development is more likely to be higher in quality if it is sustained over time. According to Rodgers and Pinnell (2002) true expertise develops by doing, and doing with the support of experts. However, they claim “we still know very little about ‘what works” in professional development” (p.1). Embracing the need to shift professional development to a collaborative model, we decided to explore a partner model of professional development for supporting middle school teachers of content area reading. The primary questions that guided the study included: 1) What are the advantages of using a partner model of professional development? 2) What are the disadvantages of using a partner model of professional development? 3) What are middle school teachers’ responses to a partner model of professional development? Methods This research was supported by an Eisenhower grant to 8 literacy faculty at a large urban institution located in the mid-south. A total of 120 middle school teachers applied for admission to the class that required “partners” from individual schools. Partners were identified as two or three teachers from one school who applied and worked as a team. Principals signed a memorandum of understanding stating that they would provide one or more whole-school faculty inservice days for school teams to share their knowledge with their home faculties. Principals also committed to releasing the team members to visit in other teams’ schools and for hosting visiting teams from other schools. Forty-nine teachers were selected to participate: one course section with 24 teachers met on Tuesdays and one course section with 25 teachers met on Thursdays. Participants received 3 semester hours of university credit that could be applied toward Masters’ or doctoral degrees or towards recertification requirements by state and national accrediting agencies. Grant funds covered the costs of tuition, books, and substitute teachers during visits to other schools. The traditional graduate class in Content Reading was redesigned by the university faculty working in collaboration with two directors of literacy and middle schools at the local school system. A different university literacy faculty member or school system personnel, who had special interest or expertise in that week’s topic, taught each week’s class. In addition, each week the middle school teachers, working with their partners, developed and implemented one-hour PowerPoint presentations supplemented with demonstrations and handouts. All materials (including computer presentations) were collected and produced as a manual for the middle school teachers to retain and use in inservice presentations to their home faculties. Six times during the semester the partners posted to the class website an example of a best practice strategy they implemented in their classrooms. Other teams and faculty members read and provided feedback on these practices. Follow-up support was provided to team members by visits from other teams and from a research assistant who observed in teachers’ classrooms and documented supportive literacy activities with a rubric designed for this purpose. At the end of the semester, the middle school teachers presented individual portfolios that captured their learning in the class. Data Sources Qualitative methods were used in this study (Creswell, 1998; Merriam, 1998; Marshall & Rossman, 1999) and the following procedures were used in data collection: 1) Questionnaire. A questionnaire was administered to all middle school teachers at the beginning and completion of the course to determine their attitudes and knowledge about teaching content area literacy and integrating technology into the literacy curriculum. 2)


Free writes. Teachers were asked to respond anonymously in writing to their perceptions of the partner model of professional development. These free writes were initiated the second week of class and continued until the end of the semester. 3) Focus group interview. After the course was completed a focus group interview was conducted with a group of seven teachers. All teachers were invited to participate, and seven volunteered. The structured interview focused on the advantages, disadvantages, attributes, and influences of the partner professional development model. The 60-minute interview was taped recorded and transcribed. 4) Pre/Post Test. A test was administered to all middle school teachers at the beginning and completion of the course to determine changes in their knowledge about teaching content area reading. 5) Participant observers. Each teacher was observed teaching content area literacy in their classroom at the beginning and the end of the semester. An observation rubric was used to document the nature and quality of the classroom activity. 6) Researcher documents. Throughout the semester, the researchers met four times to share their observations and reflections on the professional development model. These meetings lasted approximately three hours. Researchers included participating faculty members and the research assistant. The university faculty members analyzed the data at the conclusion of the semester. To interpret our data, we followed the steps outlined by Patton (1990). We first reviewed each data set to get a sense of the whole; next we examined each data source to label identifiable topics; and then we traced the connections among the data sets in order to categorize them. As we noticed elements that did not easily fit into our categories, we interrogated our data to gain greater insight and reviewed our classification systems in light of these insights. Finally, we focused on the relationship of these categories and identified themes to our questions about professional development. Results Data derived from the questionnaires, focus group, and free-writes indicated the advantages, disadvantages, and responses to a partner professional development model. Advantages According to the data, advantages of a partner model included: (1) promoting the sharing of ideas, (2) providing the input from multiple perspectives, and (3) fostering a shared commitment. • The sharing of ideas. As noted in the interview and according to 71% of middle school teachers’ responses on free writes, working collaboratively and sharing ideas was the number one advantage of a partner model. Teachers had numerous opportunities to work as a team and share ideas about their teaching and learning. They worked together to create and deliver a PowerPoint presentation, to write and post online best literacy practices, and to give feedback on another’s teaching. As noted on free writes, they viewed these experiences as positive features: “The advantages of working with a professional partner model are you get a chance to share ideas and discuss them.” “In this class I have had the opportunity to exchange ideas with people with whom I don’t regularly converse because of our different schedules and subjects we don’t see each other very often.” “I couldn’t wait to get to work the next day [after university class] to share and try out new ideas.” • Provided the input from different perspectives. Thirty two percent of middle school teachers reported on free writes that they valued the different perspectives of their partners. They learned to respect other’s opinions. A


teacher commented during the focus group interview: “One participant wanted to compare the Columbine shootings with the bombing of the church in Birmingham. Before this class she would have dismissed the idea. Through what she learned in class she was open to the suggestion and guided the students to a realistic plan for this activity.” They are good listeners and encouragers.” “Expanded knowledge, resources, and confidence in teaching (less experienced learned from the more experienced)”, “One major advantage of a professional partner model is the opportunity to work and implement a plan of improvement or action using the gifts and talents of others.” • Fostered a shared commitment. According to all data sources, one advantage of a professional development partner model is that it forces middle school teachers to develop relationships with co-workers. These opportunities fostered a shared commitment as noted in these free writes: “An effective team is made up of people who are working together toward one common goal. The people are unselfish and willing to do whatever it takes to help the team reach its goals. The team members are cooperative and always willing to compromise “Expert information is shared, guidance is given, and the team works together rather than the individual.” “When team members participate in professional development together, they have a greater opportunity to impact change in their schools. It’s very difficult to make a difference alone.” “There must be a common goal and a mutually acceptable plan of action in order to attain it and remain a team,” said one teacher. In addition, the data from the researchers’ documents confirmed there was a shared commitment between the university faculty and the district faculty. Throughout the process these faculty members strengthened their relationships as this university faculty member wrote: “ It is a pleasure working with the district. I can depend on them to do what they say. It makes me want to continue working with them on new projects.” In sum, these findings clearly suggest that teachers value the opportunity to get to know their colleagues, respect their perspectives, and share their experiences. Disadvantages According to the data, five themes emerged as disadvantages of a partner model: (1) requiring more time, (2) dividing the labor, (3) meeting individual needs, (4) implementing course requirements, and (5) dealing with personality issues. • Time. A primary disadvantage of a partner model related to time. In free writes, 41% of the teachers noted concerns about time. Completing team projects required common planning time and extra time for negotiation. The lack of common planning time during the school day made it difficult for school teams to work together to prepare for class or home faculty presentations. One teacher explained: “The only disadvantage is finding the time for a team to come together and work as a team. We never plan to fail—we fail to plan.” Another teacher noted the added time needed for negotiation. “When groups did not agree, or debates or differences of opinion were voiced, time was lost in reaching consensus or solving the problem.” • Division of labor. According to interviews and free writes, a secondary theme associated with disadvantages of a partner model was the unequal participation by members. Twenty-nine percent of responses mentioned concerns about the division of labor. As with other types of group work, there were instances when 57

team members did not share equally in the work, dominated the group, or were not adequately prepared for the task. Exemplary comments are: “One person (a perfectionist) will want that 100-A, when other team members don’t care. “One person can end up doing most of the work.” “Weakest link pulled along by stronger members” Individual needs. A smaller number of teachers (14%) felt that the partner model stifled creativity and individuality. In free writes teachers noted that assignments were “confined to team ideas” and they felt a “loss of personal expression” and were “not feeling free to share your true feelings” “lack of recognition and appreciation for creativity, spontaneity and zeal.” One teacher complained that there was “not enough individual accountability,” but rather you were “forced to depend on other people” in the partner model. Course requirements. A theme running throughout all data, including the researchers’ documents was that this model did not clearly communicate the requirements and expectations of this graduate course. A few students entered the course with the perception that this was a workshop or inservice rather than a university course. For some, a specific concern was that there was too little individual accountability associated with the course, since all requirements would be completed by the team. For instance, in a focus group interview, one teacher commented, “Some teams have either forgotten or never knew the expectations of graduate work. Didn’t expect to work this hard.” The teachers noted that many of the “participants came unprepared.” One teacher resented “being on a team that does not want to work.” Another teacher wrote, “An unhappy team member can derail the entire team effort.” Personality issues. According to all data sources, personality issues influence team efforts. Although the majority of teams functioned successfully in completing course assignments, without complaining about one another, there were a few instances where confrontations, conflicts, and disagreements arose. Though rare, these instances had a negative impact. As one teacher noted: “personality issues hampers team effort.” In the focus group interview, another teacher said, “Some team members are difficult to work with. They have different styles.” Others stated that “lack of commitment,” “conflicting ideas,” and “egos” were disadvantages in working with a partner model. “Attitude is everything. A positive attitude yields positive results, more often than not.” In sum, these findings suggest that the individual needs, group needs, and the structure of the course can create challenges for a partner model. Response to Partner Model Across data sources, middle school teachers’ responses to a partner model fell into three categories: (1) commitment, (2) accountability, and (3) content area growth. Commitment. According to the findings, teachers varied in their commitment to the team. Several teachers noted they felt a stronger sense of commitment to the work because it was shared, although this was not true for all. Some comments suggested that the procedures followed for applying to participate in the course could have affected individual’s commitment to the project. The middle school teachers were required to apply as a school team. In some instances, teachers coerced a colleague to participate. As one teacher pointed out in the final 58

interview: “Some participants forced people to sign up for the class. Not always a good idea.” Accountability. We found that teachers’ accountability to the team was closely associated to two factors: administrative support and the university faculty team teaching of the class. In most schools, the administration did not provide the support that was requested during the application process. A significant component of the course was the requirement for teachers to share their new knowledge with colleagues in their schools. However, only two teams of teachers made these presentations. In addition, many teachers experienced challenges with obtaining substitute teachers when they observed their peers teaching at other schools. As one university faculty member wrote in her research journal: “…something needs to be done about the administrative end of this process. Some principals were not cooperative. They would let a teacher schedule an observation at another school, then cancel the teacher’s plans at the last minute because it was difficult to get subs… Some principals didn’t believe they would be paid for the subs.” This lack of administrative support was also evident when only two principals attended the portfolio dinner at the end of the semester. According to the data, teachers noted the connection between the involvement of their principals and their involvement in the class: “ Principals should be required to participate, and see what we are learning.” This will contribute to teachers understanding their role with their partners, in the course, and at their school. Another issue related to accountability was the use of a team teaching model. Eleven different instructors taught a section of each class, and although there was one director of the project and one graduate assistant who was assigned to each class, the teachers expressed discontent with this arrangement as evidenced by this teacher’s comment: “inconsistency caused needless stress.” Because teachers were confused about to whom they were accountable, they suggested one person be responsible, as this teacher argued: “Put one ‘grown up’ in charge that stays all the time in every class.” Content area growth. According to the data, there was conflicting evidence about the teachers’ knowledge growth. The same pre- and posttests were given to the teachers and the results showed no significant gains in the area of content area literacy. The average pretest score was 72, and the average posttest score was 80. This suggests that teachers learned very little about teaching middle school content area literacy. Despite this apparent lack of growth, teachers posted online new strategies they used with their students and the data confirmed that they selected best practices. Initially teachers reported feeling insecure with the computer requirements, but over time, with the help of their partners, they felt more secure. In addition, the research assistant who visited each teacher’s classroom had raving comments about teachers integrating literacy into their content areas: “A great graphic organizer was used to help the students organize their thoughts for writing. Keep up the good work!” “Employed the Jigsaw method effectively. Although it was a new technique for students, you accommodated their needs. Great job!” “Extremely well organized plan and well orchestrated.” Teachers also reported the value of peer observations and the impact it had on their own learning. For instance, during the interview, one


teacher explained, “ I was very excited about the class I saw; I am so ashamed of my work after seeing that teacher in action.” Several teachers reported trying things they saw in other teachers do such as using collaborative learning groups and integrating computers into the curriculum. One could say that declarative knowledge, as measured with a pencil-paper test, did not change significantly but procedural knowledge did. Might this show a preference for practice-based over a theory/research-based knowledge? It further suggests that there is a difference in teacher buy-in to the demands of the partner model. While most were dedicated and fulfilled their obligations, others were less positive. The data also confirmed that teachers valued and used ideas and strategies they learned from their peers; however, the theoretical component of the class was less effective. Discussion Currently there is a resurgence of emphasis on professional development for literacy teachers. However even with a growing literature base on the tenets of effective professional development, there is incongruence between what the literature espouses on effective professional development and what generally happens in schools. In this study middle school content teachers partnered with other teachers from their schools and completed assignments. Although we found that teachers benefited from working collaboratively and sharing their ideas and perspectives with one another, there were challenges with the partner model including meeting individual needs, meeting partner needs, and balancing the course with teacher expectations. We also concluded that teachers vary in their commitment and learning form a partner modal, and from these findings we offer insights into our future partner professional development courses. 1. Individual vs. partner application. Teachers should apply individually to participate in the partner model. In this study, a few teachers noted they were coerced into applying as a team. Their feeling of involuntary participation resulted in negative feelings toward the entire experience. Not all teachers were equally committed. In the future, teachers will apply individually, and then partners will be formed from the admitted pool. 2. One course instructor vs. several. One instructor should shepherd the class and attend all sessions. In this study, there were mixed messages from teachers about having different instructors for each class session. On the one hand they appreciated the variety and different teaching styles that the instructors brought to the sessions; however, they stated they needed continuity and clarity from one instructor. In the future, guest lecturers will be used on a regular basis with the instructor being present. 3.Enforcing principal commitment. Principals should sign an agreement when their teachers are accepted that assures their support by: 1) attending the “end of the course” celebration, 2) scheduling a confirmed date that the teachers can present their PowerPoint presentation to the school faculty, and 3) allowing substitutes for peer observations. Although principals received a letter stating course expectations in this study in this study their support was limited. In the future, principals will receive a commitment letter to sign, and have follow-up phone/email messages from the course instructor. 4. Pre-course meeting. Teachers should attend a meeting prior to the selection process that outlines course requirements. At this meeting the course syllabus, on-site school requirements, and technology expectations can be discussed. In this study we


found that a few teachers were not expecting a challenging graduate course, but rather a workshop format. In addition, information should be provided about individual responsibilities to the partnership. A pre-course meeting would eliminate the misconceptions between a workshop and a graduate course and as well as misconceptions associated with functioning as a partnership. 5. Theory vs. practice. There should be a balance of theoretical and practical emphasis in the course material. In this course, teachers valued and employed the practical applications they learned. However, their knowledge base as measured on the objective test did not improve. This is consistent with literature that suggests teachers’ prefer classroom based professional development. In the future, all assignments, including the field component will include a theoretical underpinning. This added focus would strengthen the theory and practice connection to teaching and learning. 6. University and district partnerships. University faculty should collaborate with local school districts to provide for their professional development needs through university courses. Throughout the development and implementation of the project, the university faculty and district faculty worked cooperatively. This shared commitment resulted in a large number of teachers who were interested in participating in this project and future professional development opportunities as well. 7. Computer integration. Computer assignments such as PowerPoint presentations and online discussion groups should be integrated into the professional development literacy courses. Although the technology component of this class was a new experience for a number of the teachers, all teachers were successful with this task, noted that it helped to have a partner to work with, and were proud of their accomplishments. In the future, partner computer assignments will remain, with the possibility of adding new features such as an electronic portfolio. Although new insights were gained into a partner model of professional development, many unanswered questions remain. We pose the following questions for future study: 1) How can principals become an integral part of a successful partner model of professional development? 2) How does peer feedback impact middle school teachers’ learning? 3) How do course assignments influence the connection between theory and practice? 4) What activities facilitate teachers understanding of group responsibilities? Legislation and funding at the state and national level indicate a strong commitment to improving literacy development. In an effort to achieve this goal, more professional development is provided for K-3 rather than for middle school teachers. In response to low reading scores in our district, we chose to focus on middle school teachers. Our partner model of professional development provided continuous support for teachers in their own unique academic settings. An ongoing delivery system of this nature is more effective than a one-day or short term inservice training. Despite the challenges in implementation of the model, the middle school teachers in our study benefited from working collaboratively, developing creatively, and sharing ideas.


References Creswell, J. W. (1998). Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among five traditions. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications. Darling-Hammond, L. (1997). The right to learn: A blueprint for creating schools that work. San Francisco, Jossey-Bass. Garet, M., Porter, A., Desimone, L., Birman, B., Yoon, K. S. (2001) What makes professional development effective? Results from a national sample of teachers. American Educational Research Journal. 38(4), 915-945. Hiebert, J. (1999). Relationships between research and the NCTM standards. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education. 30(1), 3-19. Ingvarson, L. (1998). Professional development as the pursuit of professional standards: The standards-based professional development system. Teaching and Teacher Education, 14, 127-140. Learning First Alliance (2000). Every child reading: A professional development guide. Baltimore, MD: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Lyons, C. A., & Pinnell, G. S. (2001). Systems for change in literacy education: A guide to professional development. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann. Marshall, C. & Rossman, G. B. (1999). Designing qualitative research. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications. Marx, R. W., Blumenfeld, P. C., & Krajcik, J. S. (1998). New Technologies for teacher professional development. Teaching and Teacher Education, 14, 33-52. Meriam, S. B. (1998). Qualitative research and case study applications in education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers. Patton, M. (1990). Qualitative evaluation and research methods (2nd ed.) Newberry Park, CA: Sage. Potts, A., Moore, S., Frye, S., Kile, M., Wojtera, C., & Criswell, D. (2000). Evolving partnerships: A framework for creating cultures of teacher learning. . In. T. Shanahan and F. V. Rodriguez-Brown (Eds.), National Reading Conference Yearbook 4, 165-177. Chicago: National Reading Conference. Robb, L. (2000). Redefining staff development: A collaborative model for teachers and administrators. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.


Roskos, K., Risko, V., Vukelich, C. (2000). Preparing reflective teachers of reading: A critical review of reflection studies in literacy pedagogy. In. T. Shanahan and F. V. Rodriguez-Brown (Eds.), National Reading Conference Yearbook 49, 109-121. Chicago: National Reading Conference. Sparks, D., & Hirsh, S. (1997). A new vision for staff development. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Sturytevant, E. G., Dunlap, K. L., & White, C. S. (2000). Learning to teach literacy in a high-stakes testing environment: Perceptions of interns and clinical faculty in professional development schools. In. T. Shanahan and F. V. Rodriguez-Brown (Eds.), National Reading Conference Yearbook 49, 153-164. Chicago: National Reading Conference.

TAMS 29th Annual Summer Conference June 13 -15, 2005 Nashville, Tennessee Sheraton Downtown

. Visit TAMS on the web: tams.net


Teaching Adolescent Literature with a Worldview Perspective
Dr. Edward W. Fickley Ed.D. Cleveland Middle School Cleveland, TN

As a middle school teacher of social studies and reading, I’ve had numerous opportunities to integrate literature into the curriculum. Dealing with controversial literature is often one of the most challenging endeavors teachers must face. It is during the early adolescent years that students are seeking to find their niche in the world, and adolescent literature can be used to help students explore their feelings, come to grips with their developing ideologies, and it is an ideal avenue to educate students through interdisciplinary activities. Most teachers realize the need to educate instead of indoctrinate, but it is the good teacher who truly understands the difference. Education allows teachers to provide students with a plethora of experiences, and teachers should provide the necessary tools for students so they can make informed decisions and comparisons of those experiences through the lens of worldviews. Without doing the latter, teachers risk indoctrination intentionally or unintentionally. Teaching adolescent literature is a perfect opportunity for teachers to explore differing worldviews and help students to understand the distinctions between them. Literature reflects worldviews, either implicitly or explicitly. Teachers need to be aware of what worldviews are being presented in a piece of literature, especially adolescent literature, and give students the knowledge of worldviews to understand what the novel is espousing. Catherine Zuckert (1996) in her article “Why Political Scientists Study Fiction” puts forth the notion that fiction helps to concretize and illustrate abstract ideas and make them understandable for students. She believes literature reflects and affects society’s worldview. Maybe it’s time for literature teachers to dust off their philosophy books from college and begin exploring the different ways of viewing the world so they can teach them to their students. Exploring character development, theme, plot, and the other elements of literature is a worthwhile endeavor, but literature is also an avenue to speak to the human condition and addresses differing attempts to understand truth. Gary Phillips and William Brown (1991) explain in their book Making Sense of Your World that a worldview is a way to understand the world and make sense of the meanings of life. They classify the major worldviews into the following three categories: naturalism, transcendentalism, and theism. Naturalism attempts to understand the world through natural means or through human understanding. It encompasses the following beliefs: atheism, physicalism, humanism, existentialism, and hedonism. Transcendentalism seeks to define the world in a spiritual sense. Examples of transcendentalism are pantheism, animism, panpsychism, panentheism, and polytheism. Finally, theism defines the world by means of a personal creator. Deism, finitism, and traditional theism are all examples of theistic worldviews. Literature is a process of reflecting upon human existence, and all literature espouses a worldview. Can an 64

authentic understanding of multicultural literature be achieved without addressing worldviews? Also, one of the hottest topics in regard to literature is censorship, and at the very heart of censorship is the clash of opposing worldviews. Teachers need to be aware of what worldview a piece of literature purports, and they need to understand the differences between worldviews. Teaching problem literature is best accomplished when the worldview that is advocated in the novel is brought to light and understood. In his article “Reflecting on Character through Literary Themes,” Peter Smagorinsky (2000) advocates teaching character education through a reflective approach to literature. He believes that character education is best taught when students explore literary themes and adopt morality in a constructivist approach. In order for students to adopt virtues, morality, or truths from literature, they must understand the encompassing worldview. Controversial literature such as Lois Lowry’s The Giver, Robert Newton Peck’s A Day No Pigs Would Die, Katherine Paterson’s Bridge to Terabithia, and J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series among others are prime examples of adolescent literature that excite student interest and also act as lightning rods for censorship. The American Library Association (2004) cites all of these on their 100 most frequently challenged books list (http://www.ala.org/bbooks/top100bannedbooks.html). Controversy over adolescent literature is best understood as a conflict between worldviews. The main problem is most people, who have issues with Harry Potter for examples, don’t recognize the worldview dilemma. If parents or teachers who teach or allow children to read Harry Potter explained the viewpoints that are supported by the work it would help to ease conflict. Knowledge is power, and understanding Rowling’s message, either implicit or explicit, allows for comparison and evaluation of worldviews. Many who do not like the magic and sorcery found in Harry Potter do not realize that the heart of the controversy is the clash of worldviews between naturalism and theism. James Morone (2001) believes that the beauty of Harry Potter is the existentialism. He explains, “Harry is stunned because he finally comes to that existential moral truth: goodness lies not in who you are but in what you decide, in what you do” (p. 41). He further notes the hard right rejects this existential viewpoint. Edmund Kern (2001) in his article, “Harry Potter, Stoic Boy Wonder,” describes Harry Potter as a reflection of stoic morality. Harry faces what comes his way and endures evil while upholding good. Often, literature can be viewed through multiple lenses and reflect various worldviews. While many see the dangers of sorcery and magic or even existentialism and stoicism in Harry Potter, the real danger is children reading and accepting the worldviews in Harry Potter without realizing it. Literature has a powerful effect on children, and readers should be aware of the worldview message the author reveals. G.K. Chesterton revealed in a chapter from his book Orthodoxy called “The Ethics of Elfland” that his faith in Christianity developed as a result of his childhood interest in fairy tales (The Christian Century, 1999). His Christian worldview was a result of his viewing the world as mysterious and full of unseen connections and truths. Like Chesterton’s experience, children are experiencing similar exposure to worldviews every day. Unfortunately, most children do not realize or understand what worldviews are being expressed. Some literature is more obvious about its worldview than others. C.S. Lewis’s allegory of the Christian faith, The Chronicles of Narnia, is forthright in its worldview, while J.R.R. Tolkien more subtly espouses the


same belief in his tales of Middle Earth. Are students prepared to understand and recognize these worldviews and accept or reject them on their merits? Teachers have the perfect opportunity to equip students with the ability to sift literature through the sieve of worldviews and give them a greater understanding of the world in the process. Often, it is easy to identify the theistic worldviews expressed by explicitly Christian authors such as Tolkien, Lewis, or Madeline L’Engle, or to identify the Christian themes expressed in works like Golding’s Lord of the Flies or Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment. Other worldviews are often expressed more subtly as a natural expression of the author’s worldview. Philip Pullman (2001) in his article “The Republic of Heaven” expresses a humanistic worldview of literature. He believes that in today’s modern society God is dead, and children’s literature should reflect this belief. He points to the humanism expressed in such works as Jane Eyre, “Jack and the Beanstalk”, and The Borrowers to name a few. Philip Pullman (2001) is correct in his observations that there is a plethora of literature that expresses his favored worldview. All literature reveals at least one worldview, and teachers need to be aware of these expressions and teach students to examine literature with a critical eye keen on identifying the worldviews expressed. A.C. Lemieux (1998) suggests in her article “The Problem Novel in a Conservative Age” that literature helps students to question and probe for the deeper meanings of life. Literature helps readers, especially adolescent readers, seek answers to the questions of morality. Adolescent literature provides the opportunities for students to explore truth. Teachers, who do not empower their students to examine literature critically, risk indoctrinating them either explicitly or implicitly. Today’s middle school students are reading controversial adolescent literature. Middle school teachers empower students when they equip them with the knowledge to identify with a critical eye the worldviews expressed in the literature they are reading. Having an understanding of worldviews and how they are expressed in literature enables students to evaluate the themes and worldview expressions the author reveals in a novel. While censorship and controversial literature will always be an issue in education. Educating students on the differences in worldviews helps alleviate much of the controversy that stimulates censorship. Ideally, parents, teachers, and students should discuss openly the worldviews of a novel to better understand it. Literary criticism should include an examination of worldviews when teaching adolescent literature. A full understanding of the role of worldviews in literature helps to stimulate education and abate indoctrination.


References American Library Association. (2004). The 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1999-2000. http://www.ala.org/bbooks/top100bannedbooks.html Kern, E. (2001). Harry Potter, stoic boy wonder. The Chronicle of Higher Education. 48(12), 18-20. LeMieux, A.C. (1998). The problem novel in a conservative age. The Alan Review. 25(3), 4-6. Morone, J.A. (2001). Dumbledore’s message. The American Prospect. 12(22), 40-41. Phillips, W.G. & Brown, W.E. (1991). Making sense of your world. Chicago: Moody Press. Pullman, P. (2001). The republic of heaven. The Horn Book. 77(6), 655-667. Smagorinsky, P. (2000). Reflecting on character through literary themes. English Journal. 89(5), 64-69. The Christian Century. (1999). Wizards and muggles. 116 (33), 1155. Zuckert, C.H. (1996). Why political scientists study fiction. The Chronicle of Higher Education. 42(26), 48-49.


Johnny Goes to Washington: Civic Involvement in Action
Ashley Smith, Jr., Ed. D. Supervisor of Grants and Middle Grades Principal of Cleveland Middle School, 1986-2004 Cleveland City Schools, Cleveland, Tennessee

Johnny, a seventh grader and self-proclaimed troublemaker while in sixth grade, was about to board an airplane to Washington to be honored for his amazing achievement. He was a bit nervous since he had never been more than 175 miles from Cleveland, Tennessee and had never been to an airport. What caused this major change in his life? Certainly his home environment with a non-resident father and a drug-using mother did not. The only real stability in his life was his grandmother who was in her 70’s. The change could not be attributed to his neighborhood since his home was located in a slum area infested with drug users. The change came one fall day in October 2002 when Janis Kyser, one of Johnny’s seventh grade teachers, told her class about the “Make-A-Difference-Day” school project. At a school wide assembly, the principal, Ashley Smith, told students of a nationwide program called Freedom’s Answer and challenged the entire student body of 1,065 students to make a difference by talking to family, friends and neighbors and asking for commitments from at least ten adults to register to vote and then vote on election day. Johnny obtained his ten commitments and asked his teacher if he could ask more people to commit. Ms. Kyser told him to get as many as he could. Johnny became very determined and his final tally exceeded 185 commitments to register and vote! Freedom’s Answer, the sponsor of this voter drive, was a consortium of predominately national high school student organizations1 that had banded together to show support for our country in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The national leaders of these student organizations met to discuss what they could do to support their country. With the next national election then only a few months away in November 2002, these high school students who were too young to vote themselves determined that they must respond in the only way they could - have adults vote. They felt that the most effective response to the terrorists’ actions would be for United States citizens to vote in record numbers and have the largest non-presidential election turnout in history. They appealed to high schools as well as middle schools across the nation to help fulfill this mission.
These organizations include: National Association of Student Councils, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, YMCA Youth in Government, Junior Statesmen of America, National FFA Organization, The National Honor Society, The Presidential Classroom, Youth Partnership Team of America’s Promise, Close Up Foundation, HOBY Leadership, Boys State/Nation, Girls State/Nation, Quill & Scroll, and Junior ROTC (http://www.freedomsanswer.org/PDF/FA_SummarySheet.pdf).


The mission was indeed accomplished, in part, by students across the country doing what Johnny had done – asking people to register and vote. In November 2002, nationally and in 27 states the largest number of voters cast ballots in a non-presidential election (Clayton, Gambhir, Anderson, Ullman, Zoellner, and Holloway, 2003)! To make Johnny’s story even more amazing, on Election Day he spent his entire day in his neighborhood watching over houses as people went to vote. Many of his neighbors committed to vote on the condition that their houses were protected from possible burglars. The authors of Freedom’s Answer: Too young to vote but old enough to lead were so impressed with Johnny’s change of priorities and determination that his story was one of three stories featured among the many interviews chronicled in the book (Clayton, et al., 2003, pp. 110-112). What produced this dramatic turn around in Johnny? I believe there were several key factors that worked together to make this change possible: • A caring teacher who expressed a real interest in Johnny as an important individual in the larger school setting. • An event (the terrorist attack) that triggered an emotional response in Johnny that appealed to a felt need of fairness and justice. • A program (Freedom’s Answer) that connected learning to participation in a real life response to an event. • A desire to make the world a better place through meaningful contributions to a cause larger than himself. A characteristic of middle grades students is the desire to be actively involved in meaningful activities. Civics education is a viable and important response to these characteristics and many others discussed in This We Believe: Successful Schools for Young Adolescents (NMSA, 2003). In September 2003, the First Annual Congressional Conference on Civic Education was held in Washington, D.C. and was hosted by Senate Majority Leader William A. Frist and Senate Minority Leader Thomas A. Daschle. Business representatives, K – 12 educators, judges, state legislators, university researchers, and a variety of other attendees from across the country participated. The Conference affirmed that: Civic knowledge and engagement are essential to maintaining our representative democracy. While many institutions help to develop Americans’ civic knowledge, skills, and dispositions, schools must have the capacity to prepare students for engaged citizenship. Civic education should be a central purpose of education essential to the well-being of representative democracy (Conference Statement). The importance of civic education is not only recognized in the United States, but across the globe. Patrick (1997) has stated that with the global resurgence of democracy, nations “have recognized that effective civic education is an indispensable means to the establishment and maintenance of democratic ideals and institutions.” He identified nine global trends in civic education. Of special interest is Trend 8 which emphasizes active involvement of students. Examples of active learning cited include “systematic concept learning, analysis of case studies, development of decisionmaking skills, cooperative learning tasks, and the interactive group discussions …


associated with teaching civic virtues through literary study.” Further, he suggests that higher levels of achievement are associated with active learning. With the emphasis on active involvement in civics education, what resources are available to the middle school teacher? There are many choices available to teachers, some from publishers and others from organizations specifically advocating civic education. The Center for Civic Education has produced excellent materials for upper elementary, middle level, and high school students and is funded by the U.S. Department of Education by an act of Congress. Two programs that have been used successfully at Cleveland Middle School and across Tennessee are We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution (2003) and We the People: Project Citizen (1996). Both programs are written for the middle grades and can be used independently or consecutively. Each involves specific teaching strategies that make the topics relevant to students. At the completion of the We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution curriculum, students participate in a simulated congressional hearing, an authentic and performance based assessment tool. In We the People: Project Citizen, students become involved in monitoring and influencing public policy in their community. We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution allows upper elementary, middle and high school students the opportunity to participate in district, state, and national competitions using the format of a congressional hearing. The Center for Civic Education2 curricula are correlated to the Tennessee teaching standards in social studies and language arts. With the passage of the No Child Left Behind legislation (NCLB) in 2001, school districts are now required to focus on the results of the instructional programs and determine if these programs are effective. Brody (1994) found in a nationwide research study that high school students using the We the People curriculum display a significantly greater degree of “’political tolerance’, a concept which encompasses many of the beliefs, values and attitudes that are essential to a functioning democracy” than students using traditional approaches. “Political tolerance” translates into a commitment to the principles and values in the Constitution and Bill of Rights. In conclusion, there are important reasons to focus on civic education in the middle school classroom. • There are tested standards in each grade level that can be addressed by a civic education strand. • Students become active participants in the process of civic responsibility through the activities promoted by programs such as the We the People curriculum. • Activity-based instruction uses the characteristics of middle grade learners to support the curriculum. • Most importantly, the understanding of civic responsibility by our youth is critical to the future of our democratic institutions. Johnny changed his whole attitude and his demeanor in both his neighborhood and also at school because he realized that he could become a participant in and an advocate for our democratic way of life. He realized that he could make a difference. When Johnny arrived in Washington, he was awed by the Capitol, the White House, other federal buildings and the monuments. But most of all, Johnny was awed by the


attention that he received for doing what he could to help his family and neighbors do something he was too young to do – vote. Freedom’s Answer Foundation paid for Johnny, his school principal, and the student leaders of Freedom’s Answer to attend the culminating event in Washington - a celebration of the success of the 2002 voter turnout campaign. Johnny and his fellow student leaders told their stories of the past success and their plans to duplicate that success in the 2004 election to two Department of Education officials, the Chairmen of both the Democratic and Republican National Committees, and at a public hearing chaired by Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander. For Johnny, this year was an experience of a lifetime. Little did he know that the challenge given by his teacher and principal would bloom into an exciting adventure and a life changing experience! What will you do to make a difference in your students? Perhaps a starting point for any teacher is to emphasize the power that student involvement can make. Will YOU meet that challenge? References
Brody, R. A. (1994). Secondary education and political attitudes: Examining the effects on political tolerance of the We the people... curriculum. Retrieved October 11, 2004, from http://www.civiced.org/brody.html. Center for Civic Education. (1996). We the people: Project citizen. Calabasas, CA: Author Center for Civic Education. (2003). We the people: The citizen and the constitution. Calabasas, CA: Author Clayton, Z., Gambhir, P., Anderson, D., Ullman, L., Zoellner, V., & Holloway, B. (2003). Freedom’s answer: Too young to vote but old enough to lead. Washington, DC: Freedom’s Answer Foundation and Youth e-Vote, Inc. First Annual Congressional Conference on Civic Education, (2003). Summary report, Washington, DC: Author National Middle School Association, (2003). This we believe: Successful schools for young adolescents. Westerville, OH: Author Patrick, J. J. (1997). Global trends in civic education for democracy. Retrieved October 11, 2004, from http://www.indiana.edu/~ssdc/glotrdig.htm.

Note: If you are interested in knowing more about the Center for Civic Education’s programs, free textbooks, and professional development, please feel free to contact Janis Kyser, Tennessee’s Director of Law Related Education, at jkyser@clevelandschools.org or 423-593-1444.


Motivation Memphis: Utilizing cultural aspects of Memphis to motivate adolescents in a language arts classroom
Amber L. Whitmore, Doctoral student, University of Memphis Most teachers and parents are familiar with the term “it takes a village”. However, there is an increasing number of middle school aged children whose village is damned. The desperate plight of our inner cities is magnified by the constant barrage of sensationalist media coverage, failing schools, and billboards with messages like, “be positive you’re negative” and “1-800-WHOS THE DADDY”. How can a child stay motivated to succeed in an environment that has failed them? This question is at the heart of my research. As professional educators, we try to instill a sense of pride within our students about what they are learning. By relating what they are learning in the classroom, to who they are as members of our community, we can make learning meaningful, thus motivating our students to take “ownership” of their village. I feel that most middle school aged children are apathetic towards a majority of content being taught today. Many of these children do not see any relevance to what is being studied, nor do they take advantage of educational and historical resources that the city of Memphis has to offer. Memphis is an urban area that is rich in culture, not only because of its civil rights heritage and musical roots, but because of the technological advancements, the entrepreneurship of big businesses, and the natural conservation efforts of the Mississippi river. Since most literature being read by students in the Memphis city schools have varying themes, settings, occur in differing historical timeframes, and deal with multicultural issues, my query is this: Can urban middle school aged children be motivated in the language arts by utilizing community resources in the classroom? Educational researchers and practicing professionals agree that learning in an urban environment is a challenge for today’s middle school student. The Memphis city school system is comprised of many urban middle schools that are grappling with urban issues. Researchers have shown that youth exposed to several risk factors simultaneously tend to experience learning or behavioral problems (Luster & McAdoo, 1994). These risk factors include living in poverty, larger family size, low levels of family support, and lower levels of self-esteem and education. In an extensive review of predictors of underachievement in urban children, confirmed by experts and practitioners, Arroyo, Rhoad, and Drew (1999) identified the following variables as the 10 most strongly associated with underachievement in urban settings (presented not in order of strength but in order of likelihood of school having an influence on change): teachers’ demonstrations of caring, respect, and interest in children’s growth, teacher expectations for children’s achievement, curriculum relevance, class size, disengagement from school-related activities, students’ own confidence in their abilities to achieve, high mobility in school attendance, parental expectations and involvement, level of parents’ education, and poverty or low income (Somers, Piliawsdky, 2004). 72

It has been widely reported that many children experience significant decline in achievement over the preadolescent periods, primarily during a critical transition period in adolescent development (e.g., Elmen, 1991; Wigfield, Eccles, Mac Iver, Reuman, & Midgley, 1991; Yoon, Eccles, Wigfield, & Barber, 1996), which further demonstrates the need to provide academic support to at-risk students. The first transition students’ encounter is in middle school when they leave the single class environment and go to a fast paced multiclassroom environment. This difficulty is magnified in the ninth grade where students confront the life transition of moving from the more personalized classrooms of middle school to a relatively impersonal high school (Somers & Piliawsky, 2004). As impoverished inner-city youngsters approach their teen years, external social factors related to living in poverty inhibit their physical, social, emotional, and intellectual development, resulting in low school achievement (Lipman, 1998; Henig, Hula, Orr, & Pedescleaux, 1999). Additional social factors that undercut academic achievement are responsibility for siblings at home, parents unable to help with school work, and negative peer pressure (Eccles, Midgley, Wigfield & Buchanan, 1993). Srebnik and Elias (1993) suggested that drop-out prevention programs often focus too much on students’ personal characteristics instead of making school attractive and meaningful to students. It is true that most at-risk students are not motivated to learn in classrooms. They are inattentive, bored, and unable to see much connection between school learning and their outside lives – where they often face poor health and nutrition, substance abuse, teen parenthood, poverty, violence, racism, and low self-esteem. Their boredom and preoccupation with personal problems lower the quality of their lives in school (Hootstien, 1996). Educational researchers and practicing professionals have produced an extensive body of literature based on the competency of hands on learning, and motivation through the context of personal meaning. Rooted in educational psychology is the concept of meaningfulness, which includes the connections between prior knowledge and personal meaning. In Realms of Meaning, for example, Phenix (1964) suggested that, for learning to be optimal, topics must be relevant, meaningful, and interesting to the child and have an appeal to his or her imagination. Currently, the constructs of challenge, choice, interest, enjoyment, and meaningfulness form the basis for many curricular and instructional differentiation efforts (Renzulli, Leppien, & Hays, 2000). Historically, incorporating student interests, appropriately challenging curricula, meaningful choices, and enjoyment have been advocated in designing learning experiences for students (Gentry, M. & Springer, P. M., 2002). The report, National Excellence: A Case for Developing America’s Talent (US Department of Education, 1993) called for the improvement of education for all America’s students by providing more challenging opportunities for learning; incorporating more advanced materials, including real life learning opportunities; attending to individual talents and strengths; and grouping by needs and interests. One means of assessing the effectiveness of such efforts is by measuring students’ perceptions of their class activities. For example, validity and meaningfulness within their classrooms can provide valuable insights concerning improvement in educational opportunities for these students. In discussing talent development, Durden and Tangherlini (1993) stressed that, by providing opportunities for young people to explore


in depth fields in which they show the greatest talent and interest, educators can provide personal meaning for students that will, in turn, connect students to their own education. After 20 years of scholarship and research devoted to developing student talents, Renzulli (1994) discussed at length how personal meaning and relevance of information help students construct knowledge and learn. He advocated offering opportunities for students to conduct individual or small-group investigations as a means for providing personally meaningful educational experiences. Reis and Cellerino (1983) found one benefit to self-directed learning was that “students begin to understand the process of their own learning, become more selfdirected than teacher-directed, realize they can indeed have a significant impact on their own learning and, finally, produce a product of excellence” (p. 138). Therefore, classroom activities that are practical and related to the students’ daily lives facilitate connections and learning. Further, helping students connect learning to their personal interests and direct their own learning incorporates meaning and facilitates learning with personal depth (Gentry, M. & Springer, P. M., 2002). Motivated readers and writers initiate and sustain literacy activities, and they choose to read and write for pleasure and for information. We have found from research that classrooms providing children with access to materials, choice, challenge, and collaborative experiences are motivating. According to the RISE Model of student motivation, there are instructional strategies that make learning more appealing and selfrewarding (Hootstien, 1996). The practical strategies which are supported by the research literature involve curiosity and interest (Berlyne, 1965), personal meaning of instruction (Brophy, 1987), extrinsic and intrinsic reinforcement (Lepper, 1988), and expectancy of success (Ames, 1990; Deci & Ryan, 1991). Hootstien (1994) suggested making learning relevant and interesting to students by relating to students’ needs, interests, concerns, and experiences. For decades, teachers have known about the importance of making learning relevant. Dewey (1913) told teachers that Asome interest, some bond of connection must be found between the subject matter and the learner@ (33). More recently, researchers in the area of student motivation (e.g., McCombs and Pope 1994; Wlodkowski and Jaynes 1990) have advocated that teachers address students= needs, relate instruction to students= experiences, and emphasize the value of the learning activities. Many at-risk students do not see learning activities as personally meaningful because they are unable to connect the activities to some aspect of their lives, such as their families, community activities, or future employability (Hootstien, 1996). Teachers generally believe that all children are curious and eager to learn at an early age. The needs to explore, discover, and understand are said to be inherent in a child=s nature. However, as they grow older, children seem less curious about many classroom activities. Moreover, middle school students report being bored outside of school as well (Larson & Richards, 1991). If students come to school feeling bored, then teachers need strategies to capture and maintain their interest (Hootstien, 1996). Americans have long expected schools to equip students with the academic skills they need for success in life. However, research indicates a growing number of Americans agree that in addition to scholastic education, schools have a responsibility to help students develop habits of good citizenship, leadership qualities and the ability to work with people different than themselves (Conry, 2003). According to the National


Center for Education, about one third of all public schools, including nearly half of all high schools, incorporate service-learning into their curriculum. These programs produce a win-win outcome for both the community and the individual participants. Students reap countless benefits, including higher self-esteem, increased motivation for learning and greater participation in school activities, while their services improve the well-being of the community (Conry, 2003). It is generally accepted that teachers will face increasing numbers of children atrisk for failure because of social and domestic conditions. Those students tend to have low self-esteem, insecurity about their abilities, and negative altitudes toward schooling. Teachers must offer genuine caring, respect, and encouragement as preconditions for stimulating motivation to learn. In addition, they can use strategies that increase the appeal of learning and challenge students to become more personally and actively engaged in the learning process (Hootstien, 1996). Learning occurs when a student’s prior experiences and knowledge are connected to new information and concepts (Wittrock, 1985). Specifically, it had been found that meaningful learning is more effective than rote learning (Ausubel, Novak, & Hanesian, 1978). Goodlad (1984) emphasized the importance of relevance of school to the lives of students. Unfortunately, his research revealed that students “do not often get involved in projects where they and their classmates set and achieve goals that are important to them” (p.192). Ways to Motivate In terms of making learning relevant to middle school aged students, we must understand who they are. Young adolescents are seeking to understand who they are and how to relate to the world around them. They are learning machines. The issue is what they are learning and how they are learning it. Unfortunately, many adults fail to recognize the strengths of young adolescents and to capitalize on them. Instead they focus on the sometimes erratic behaviors and risk-taking of middle school students, and spend disproportionate energy and time trying to straight jacket the symptoms of this normal developmental period (Mizell, 1995). According to Strong, Silver and Robinson (1995), students who are motivated in a classroom are “engaged in their work” and are “energized by four goals – success, curiosity, originality, and satisfying relationships”. Engaging work, for most students, is work that stimulates curiosity, permits student creativity, and fosters positive relationships with others. Student Success Adolescent students desire work that allows them to demonstrate themselves as capable and successful young adults who are worthy of respect. This is the most important factor on the road toward mastery. Before we can use success to motivate our students to produce high quality work, Strong, Silver, and Robinson (1995) constructed three conditions that must be met: 1. We must clearly articulate the criteria for success and provide clear, immediate, and constructive feedback. 2. We must show students that the skills they need to be successful are within their grasp by clearly and systematically modeling these skills. 3. We must help them to see success as a valuable aspect of their personalities.


According to the Memphis City School curriculum for middle school aged children, the learner will engage in active reading skills, experience and explore the elements of various literary and media genres, and demonstrate knowledge of standard English usage. The Stax Academy of Music website has a link for teachers called Soul Learning. Here teachers can access a dual format CD rom and audio disc that contains a complete 5 lesson unit on Stax and soul music for middle school grades. These lessons are complete with historical and cultural connections to literature and even has a dictionary of soul lingo. In the eighth grade, Memphis city school students read a biography of Harriet Tubman in their language arts class. Slavehaven, located in Memphis, was a predominate stop on the Underground Railroad. Students can visit this museum and see an actual reenactment of Harriet Tubman rescuing slaves. These ideas simply illustrate how easily classroom practices can be improved, thus increasing the success of your students. Teachers define success in many ways. We must not only broaden our definition, but also make sure the definition is clear to everyone. In this way, students will know when they have done a good job, and they will know how to improve their work (Strong, Silver, & Robinson, 1995). One way to clarify the definition is to show examples of work that illustrate high, average, and low levels of student achievement. Once the students produce their own work, have the students ask themselves questions about their work: Does it demonstrate my understanding? How good is the technique I used? Does it relate to my audience? Awakening Student Curiosity A classroom curriculum can arouse the student’s curiosity by presenting information that the students find intriguing and the topic is related to the student’s personal lives. One way is to present a mystery to the class: Did you know that a killer lives among us? This killer is small, but deadly. This killer is sneaky and quiet until it is ready to strike. It is a poisonous snake that makes its home in Memphis. The teacher would then have the students use technology, via the classroom internet or computer lab to find out which snakes are poisonous, and which snakes are found in West Tennessee. The teacher would then draw the parallel to what they will study and use it to introduce the story Rikki Tikki Tavy. All students in the Memphis City School system will read Rikki Tikki Tavy (the story about a poisonous snake and a mongoose) in the seventh grade. This method also relates the learning to their daily lives because it deals with the same environment in which they live. Supporting Student Originality Students want and need work that permits them to express their autonomy and originality, enabling them to discover who they are and who they want to be (Strong, Silver, & Robinson, 1995). Unfortunately for our students, schools will frequently design whole programs (music, for example) around programs that teach technique rather than self-expression. Often it is the students who display the most talent have access to the audiences, while the other students are left in the shadows of the spotlight. Tragically enough, some teachers view creativity as a form of “playing around” and relegate it to being a waste of time. According to Sterberg and Lubart (1995), there are several ways that teachers can encourage a student’s self-expression:


1. Connect creative projects to students’ personal ideas and concerns. Before a teacher began a study about contemporary art (or reading a piece of literature that utilizes contemporary art in its illustrations), that teacher could bring in prints of works by local Memphis artists or take a field trip to the South Main Arts district. However, if visiting the galleries is not attainable, many of the galleries in the South Main Arts District, as well as the Brooks Museum of Art, the Dixon Gallery and Gardens, the Center for Southern Folklore, as well as others around the mid south have web sites that can be accessed by teachers and students. The students could then design a piece of art (painting, sculpture, mixed media) that expresses their feelings about what it means to be a teen living in Memphis. 2. Expand what counts as an audience. For a writing assignment in a language arts class, each student in a middle school could be linked to an older member of the community and asked to write that person’s “autobiography”. 3. Consider giving students more choice. This is one more argument for instructional methods that emphasize learning styles, multiple intelligences, and cultural diversity. Our middle school aged students have a natural drive toward self-expression. It is ultimately a drive to produce work that is of value to others thus being respected. Lower standards work to repress the creation of high-quality work. Peer Relations Students want and need work that will enhance their relationships with people they care about. What are adolescents interested in? Other adolescents! Most of us work hardest on those relationships that are reciprocal – what you have to offer is of values to me, and what I have to offer is of some values to you (Strong, Silver, & Robinson, 1995). This is where aspects of cooperative learning come into play. Cooperative learning allows students to build teamwork ideals, it gives the students a chance to listen to each other and communicate their points of view, and it gives each student a direct path in their task. Cooperative learning strengthens social skills as well as intellectual skills. Cooperative learning also meets the written standards of the Tennessee Education standards of Language Arts for Middle School. For example, if the students in a Memphis City middle school classroom are studying conservation in a science class: it is one students job to study Mud Island to learn about effects of water conservation, it is another student’s job to investigate Shelby Forrest to learn how trees can be conserved, and a third student would investigate the Agricenter to learn how soil conservation effects our community. All three students would then compile the research to create a poster that compares and contrasts these aspects of conservation. A teacher can build reciprocal groups by asking students with differing talents and abilities to work on one project that requires all of their gifts. Icylin Reid (2004), assistant chief education officer in charge of the Core Curriculum Unit at the Ministry of Education says our focus should be less on the “bookish” learning and more on preparing the children to participate actively and function well in their communities and in the country. “We used to talk about the three Rs when we discuss literacy - - these were reading, writing, and arithmetic – but now many of us are talking about the four Cs – communication, computation, cooperation, and comprehension,” says Reid.


Conclusion Adolescent students, in an urban setting, are dealing with a myriad of problems. It is easy to see how school, and school work, is not on the forefront of many student’s minds. These middle school aged children have a difficult time being motivated in a classroom like language arts. Research will tell us, however, that students tend to be more motivated, in any classroom setting, when they feel that the curriculum is relevant. The ideas that I have presented in this paper are just a few ways that teachers can utilize cultural aspects of Memphis to enhance learning in their classroom. Memphis is a city that is rich in history and culture. There are ways to infuse science, social studies, and even math with variables of Memphis, as well as the more obvious subjects, such as music, art, drama, and the humanities. High school teachers have a plethora of college and career-related topics such as entrepreneurship (Fed-Ex, Piggly Wiggly, and Holiday Inn), studies in sports medicine and health related fields (Grizzlies, Redbirds, St. Jude and University of Tennessee Medical School). Elementary school aged teachers have wonderful opportunities for children’s growth and development as well, such as the Children’s Museum of Memphis, the Memphis Fire Museum, and the Pink Palace family of Museums. For our students to learn to love our city is the greatest lesson of all. I believe Harry Wong said it best when he said; “to touch a child is to touch the future.”

Arroyo, A. A., Rhoad, R., & Drew, R (1999). Meeting diverse student needs in urban schools; Research–based recommendations for school personnel. Preventing School Failure. 43(4), 145-153. Ames, C. (1990). Motivation: What teachers need to know. Teachers College Record, 91(3), 409-21. Ausubel, D., Novak, J., & Hanesian, H. (1978). Educational psychology: A cognitive view (2nd ed.). New York: Holt, Rinehart, & Winston. Berlyne, D. E. (1965). Structure and direction in learning. New York: McGraw Hill. Brophy, J. (1987). Synthesis of research on strategies for motivating students to learn. Educational Leadership, 45(2), 40-48. Conrey, J. (2003). From the classroom to the community: Service learning ties academic lessons to community service. American Heritage, 8(9), 4. Deci, E. L. & Ryan, R. M. (1991). A motivational approach to self: Integration in personality. In Nebraska symposium on motivation. Perspectives on Motivation, edited by R. Dienstbier. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.


Dewey, J. (1913). Interest and effort. Cambridge, Mass: The Riverdale Press. Durden, W. G., & Tangherlini, A. E. (1993). How academic talents are developed and nutured in America. Kirkland, WA: Hogrefe & Huber. Eccles, J., Midgley, C., Wigfield, A., & Buchanan. C. (1993). Development during adolescence: Impact of stage-environment fit on young adolescents’ experiences in schools and families. American Psychologist, 48, 90-101. Elmen, J. (1991). Achievement orientation in early adolescence: Developmental patterns and social correlates. Journal of Early Adolescence, 11, 125-151. Gentry, M. & Springer, P. M. (2002). Secondary student perceptions of their class activities regarding meaningfulness, challenge, choice, and appeal: an initial validation study. Journal of Secondary Gifted Education, 13(4) 192-207. Goodlad, J. I. (1984). A place called school. New York: McGraw-Hill. Henig, J. R., Hula, R. C., Orr, M., & Pedescleaux. D. S. (1999). The color of school reform: Race, politics, and the challenge of urban education. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Hootstien, E. W. (1994, May). Motivating middle school students. Middle School Journal, 25(5), 31-35. Hootstien, E. W., (1996). Motivating students to learn. The Clearing House, 70(2), 97101. Larson, R. W. & Richards, M. H. (1991). Boredom in the middle school years: Blaming schools versus blaming students. American Journal of Education, 99(4), 418-433. Lepper, M. R. (1988). Motivational considerations in the study of instruction. Cognition and Instruction, 5(4), 289-309. Lipman, P. (1998) Race, class, and power in school restructuring. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press. Luster, T., & McAdoo, H. P. (1994). Factors related to the achievement and adjustment of young African American Children. Child Development, 62, 1080-1094. McCombs, B. L. & Pope, J. E. (1994). Motivating hard to reach students. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association. Mizell, H. (1995, June). Published speech from the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation Program for Student Achievement. Phenix, P. H. (1964). Realms of meaning. New York: McGraw-Hill. Reid, I. (2004, June). Published speech from the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation Program for Student Achievement


Reis, S. M., & Cellerino, M. (1983). Guiding the gifted students through independent study. Teaching Exceptional Children, 15, 136-139. Renzulli J. S. (1994). Schools for talent development: A comprehensive plan for total school improvement. Mansfield Center, CT: Creative Learning Press. Renzulli, J. S., Leppien, J., & Hays, T. (2000). The multiple menu model: A practical guide for developing differentiated curriculum. Mansfield Center, CT: Creative Learning Press. Somers, C. & Piliawsky, M. (2004). Drop-out prevention among urban, African American adolescents: program evaluation and practical implications. Preventing School Failure, 48(3), 17-23. Srebnik, D. S., & Elias, M. J. (1993). An ecological, interpersonal skills approach to drop-out prevention. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 63(4), 526-535. Sternberg, R. J., and T. I. Lubart. (1995). Defying the crowd: Cultivating creativity in a culture of conformity. New York: The Free Press. Strong, R., Silver, H. F., & Robinson, A. (1995). What do students want (and what really motivates them)? Educational Leadership, 9, 1-7. U.S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Research and Improvement. (1993). National excellence: A case for developing America’s talent. Washington, DC: U. S. Government Printing Office Wigfield, A., Eccles, J., Mac Iver, D., Reuman, D., & Midgley, C. (1991). Transitions during early adolescence: Changes in children’s domain-specific selfperceptions and general self-esteem across the transitions to junior high school. Developmental Psychology, 27, 552-565. Wittrock, M. (1985). Learning science by generating new conceptions from old ideas. In L. H. T. West & A. L. Pines (Eds.), Cognitive structure and conceptual change (pp.259256). Wlodkowski, R. J. & Jaynes, J. H. (1990). Eager to learn. San Francisco: Jossey - Bass Yoon, K., Eccles, J., Wigfield, A., & Barber, B. (1996. March). Developmental trajectories of early to middle adolescents’ academic achievement and motivation. Paper presented at the biennial meetings of the Society for Research on Adolescence, Boston.


Dr. Mack T. Hines III Assistant Professor of Middle Level Education University of Arkansas at Monticello

“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands-one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all”. Each year, millions of middle school children stand and face the American flag to recite this anthem of democracy. They then spend the rest of the instructional day participating in a variety of restrictive curricular activities. The almighty teacher transforms the middle level classroom into a “Fountain of Truth” by pouring “jugs” of knowledge, information, and instruction into the “mugs” of youth (Von Glasserfeld, 1984). Evidence to this effect is seen in how students continuously take notes, memorize facts, regurgitate answers, and complete other tasks conducive to perfunctory and convergent learning and thinking (Singer & Revenson, 1978). These factory-structured experiences leave students with lofty aspirations of being miniature monuments of instructional monotony instead of astute statues of academic liberty. Fortunately, many middle school systems are revising this approach to education by conducting business with constructivism and aesthetic sensitivity (Jaworski, 1991). Constructivism is the theory that describes the use of past experiences to develop an understanding of present situations. Proponents (Piaget, 1951; Jaworski, 1991; Lave & Wenger, 1991; & London, 1988) of constructivism state that: -Learning is a search for meaning; -Knowledge is an innate construction that exists inside the learner; and -The foundation of this constructive search is past experience. Aesthetic sensitivity is the response to situations through the five senses, imagination, and feelings (Davis & Mason, 1989). This theory espouses two ideas. First,


learning is a sensuous activity. Second, imagination and experience are the sixth and seventh senses that take the learners from the mystery of reflection and wonder to the mastery of detection and comprehension. When these principles are implemented in middle school classrooms, learning and teaching become intertwined, interchangeable roles shared between the students and the teacher (Vygotsky, 1978). Students secure the opportunity to be a teacher by sensuously directing the connection of past experiences with the concepts beneath new pedagogical situations. The teacher receives the experience of being a student who couples a multidimensional opinions with observation and thought to facilitate, develop, and nurture achievement. The beauty of this environment is twofold. As an artistic creation, these surroundings allow teaching to be defined as the facilitation of instruction in a manner that bridges students’ past and present experiences. As a scientific application, this atmosphere portrays learning as the elicitation of student-driven searches for relevant meaning from classroom activities (Piaget, 1972). Translation: The ultimate tour guide for middle level teaching and learning is not only the sender, but also the receiver. As such, aspiring and established middle school teachers must inhale and use this information to develop the practice of: -Engaging students in hands-on, minds-on learning experiences; -Delving into student input from a variety of angles and views; -Ushering assessments into the general flow of the classroom experiences; -Challenging students with a curriculum that stretches their abilities; -Altering themselves to meet students’ interests and needs; -Trying a variety of strategies that promote open-ended thinking; -Infecting the classroom with divergent thinking; -Overexposing students to diverse opinions, views, and issues; and -Nudging students to view the classroom as a real-world community. That way, education will finally be a flag waved in consonant with and allegiance to “Land of The Free” and “Home of The Brave” Leadership!


REFERENCES Davis, P., & Mason, J. (1989). Notes on radical constructivist epistomethodology applied to didactic situations. Journal of Structured Learning, (10), 157-176. Jaworksi, B. (1991). Interpretations of a constructivist philosophy in mathematics teaching. Unpublished Ph.D. Thesis. Milton Keynes: Open University. Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. New York: Cambridge University Press. London, C. (1988). A Piagetian constructivist perspective on curriculum development. Reading Improvement, (27), 82-95. Piaget, J. (1951). The origins of intelligence in children. New York: International Universities Press. Piaget, J. (1972). To understand is to invent. New York: The Viking Press, Inc. Singer, D., & Revenson, T. (1978). A Piaget primer: How a child thinks. New York: International Universities Press. Vygotsky, L. (1978). Mind and Society. Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. Von Glasserfeld. (1984). “An introduction to radical constructivism”. In P. Watzawick (ed.) The inverted reality. London: W.W. Naughton & Company.


Skill Development Series: Graphic Organizers
Dr. Shirley Gholston Key, University of Memphis Enhancing Cognitive Skills for the Middle School Student using Graphic Organizers Cognitive learning theories explain learning by focusing on changes in mental processes that people use in their efforts to make sense of the world. One’s cognitive learning style is a preference for the auditory, visual, or kinesthetic learning mode. Cognitive style also suggests the form of instructions that will benefit the learner. Two cognitive styles, which are predominant in classrooms, are field dependency and field independency. Field dependency is the inability of persons to recognize camouflaged information very easily. These students see things holistically; tend to rely on external cues and are less able to differentiate part of a field as discrete from the surrounding field as a whole. Contrarily, the field independent persons have the ability to recognize camouflaged information very easily. The field independent student has the ability to ignore unnecessary details and surrounding camouflaged information. Advocates believe that the closer the match between a student’s cognitive learning style and the teacher’s instructional methods, the more likely the student will experience academic success (Jonassen & Grabowski, 1993; Gregorc, 1979; Dunn & Dunn, 1979). Therefore teachers are encouraged to recognize and aid the field dependent learner. Graphic organizers are means or tools for organizing science information to help teachers or instructors make concepts easier for different types of learners. There are various styles and are conceptual and concept driven. They are very helpful to the field dependent learners. Some graphic organizers include charts, tables, graphs, concept maps, different types of webs, T-charts, KWL charts, and many others. Well-organized and structured materials or organizers help to enhance the understanding of field dependent learners. There are five major types of graphic organizers and are usually classified according to their functions. The types are cause/effect, comparison/contrast, time order, simple listing, and problem/solution. The cause/effect graphic organizer connects reasons with results. Examples include the fishbone diagram and the vector diagram (see Fig. 1). The comparison/contrast organizer highlights apparent similarities and differences between objects or events. The concept map and the KWL chart are examples of the comparison/contrast graphic organizers (See Fig. 2). The time order graphic organizer shows chronological sequences of objects or events and two examples are the flow charts and cycle diagrams (See Fig. 3). The simple listing graphic organizers group related items as in the concept circle diagram and a spectrum (See Fig. 4). The fifth model, the problem/solution graphic organizer (See Fig. 5), shows how a question can be answered as in a Vee diagram and a frame (Mintzes, J., Wandersee, J., & Novak, J., 1998). Graphic organizers can aid field dependent learners and all learners in organizing, analyzing, and reflecting upon science concepts. They have been extremely effective in helping the field dependent learner to focus on key patterns and issues, to look at background information that is normally missed, and to ask questions that lead students to discover properties or qualities (Jonassen & Grabowski, 1993). All of these are important skills needed in understanding concepts. Middle school students are trying to process the most information at one time since the inception of their education career in kindergarten. Some need more help than others to process this information. Sharing or Teaching them with graphic organizers and showing them how to use graphic organizers will enable them to be more successful and master many more concepts. Middle school educators are encouraged to use this tool to increase science understanding and thus science literacy for all students! 84

References Dunn, R. & Dunn, K. (1979). Teaching students through their individual learning styles. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall. Gregorc, A. F. (1979). Learning /teaching styles: Potent forces behind them. Educational Leadership, 36, 234-36. Jonassen, D. & Grabowski, B. (1993). Handbook of Individual Differences: Learning & Instruction. New Jersey: Lawerence Erlbaum Associates. Mintzes, J., Wandersee, J., & Novak, J. (1998). Teaching Science for Understanding: A Human Constructivist View. New York: Academic Press.

Detail Cause 1 Result Detail Cause 3 Cause 4 Cause 2



Figure 1: Fishbone Map


Figure 2: Concept Map

Details Solution Concept or focused question

Fig. 5 Vee Diagram 86

Topic STEP 1

Step 2

Step 3

Figure 3: Flow Chart

Figure 4: Concept Circle 87

Call for Manuscripts This is the call for manuscripts for the upcoming edition of the Spring 2005 issue of the Tennessee Association of Middle School Journal. Deadline for submission of manuscripts is March 15, 2005. This is an open edition, which allows you to write on any topic related to middle schools. The editor and two other reviewers will review the manuscripts. Have you reviewed an excellent book about the middle school or the middle school concepts? What data do you have on the effect of NCLB and the middle school? How has the new middle school certification affected you or your teacher education program? Share your information with readers across Tennessee. Send your manuscript to: TAMS Journal Dr. Shirley Key, Editor University of Memphis 401A Ball Hall Memphis, Tennessee 38152 skey@memphis.edu.

Guidelines for Articles submitted to TAMS Journal The Tennessee Association of Middle School Journal is the journal of the Tennessee Association of Middle Schools. It is published twice in an academic year, November and April. If you are interested in submitting a paper about middle school concepts, students, or practices, please adhere to the following guidelines: 1. A variety of materials for publication is accepted for the TAMS Journal. Papers can assume (but are not limited to) the following types: articles about enhancing learning and teaching for the middle school (research investigations, position papers, policy issues, and critical review of literature), curriculum materials for learning and teaching middle school students, federal and state legislation on the education of the middle school students, and assessments and evaluation of content learning and teaching in the middle school. 2. Publication materials should be prepared according to the style prescribed by the fifth edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological 88

Association. Please follow the manual precisely with regard to (A) content and organization of the manuscript, (B) writing style, grammar, and use of non-biased language, and (c) capitalization, punctuation, spelling, use of abbreviations, headings, quotations, tables, figures, and references cited in the text, and the references list. Papers should be typed or computer-generated on standard 8 1/2 by 11 paper, with one-inch margins. Typical page length for articles is between 13-16 pages doubled spaced. The author’s name, title, and affiliation should appear on the cover page only of the manuscript. 3. Three copies of the paper, a computer disk labeled with the file name and software utilized (IBM -Microsoft Word preferred), and an index card with name and mailing address should be mailed to the Editor. The editor and two other reviewers will review the manuscripts. 4. The TAMS Journal is published two times per academic year, November and April. To guarantee your paper consideration for publication in the next issue, please submit your paper at least 45 to 60 days in advance of the publication date. 5. Papers accepted for publication will appear in the next edition of the newsletter. If we begin to have a backlog of papers, we will publish them according to the date of acceptance. Authors will receive one copy of the journal if they are not a member of TAMS; authors who are members of TAMS will receive two copies (one through regular mailing and an additional one through special mailing). Once your paper is published in the TAMS Journal, it becomes the property of the Tennessee Association of Middle School. If you wish to publish your paper after it has been published in the TAMS Journal, you must receive permission form the Editor.


All correspondences, including papers that have not been published anywhere else, should be addressed to TAMS Journal, Dr. Shirley Key, University of Memphis, 401A Ball Hall, Memphis, Tennessee 38152 or skey@memphis.edu

Visit these Web sites www.tams.net www.nmsa.org


Tennessee Association of Middle Schools
J. Paul Williams, Executive Director P. O. Box 70748 Knoxville, TN 37938 Telephone (865) 922-1248 Email - pwilliams@gresham-ms.knox.k12.tn.us MEMBER APPLICATION/RENEWAL INDIVIDUAL MEMBERSHIP is $20.00. GROUP MEMBERSHIP is $12.00 each if a faculty and staff join as a group of twenty (20) or more, individual memberships are $12.00 provided ONE CHECK is sent for the total amount and completed application forms of each individual are attached. STUDENT/RETIREE/PARENT MEMBERSHIP is $10.00. This membership is for full-time students, retired educators and non-educator parents. Date _______________________________ Name ____________________________________ Renewal_______ New _________ Address________________________________________________________________ City _________________________ Phone-Business_________________ Email-Business___________________ State_____________ Zip___________ - ______ Home__________________________________ Home_________________________________

School_________________________ System________________________________
Position Held: (circle one) Teacher Librarian College/University Principal Asst. Principal Counselor Supervisor/Coordinator Retiree Non-educator parent Consultant Full time student

Type of Membership Student Individual Group Rate (20 or more) Retiree Non-educator Parent $20.00 $12.00 $10.00

Total Amount Enclosed Make check payable to TAMS and send to above address


Tennessee Association of Middle Schools and National Middle School Association
Dual Membership Application Name: School: Title: Mailing Address: City: TEL: (work) ( ) (home) ( Home or Work State: ) Zip: FAX: ( ) No Mr. Ms. Dr.

e-mail: May we share your name with other organizations requesting our mailing list? Yes Dual Membership Information

Dual Membership ---- $70 Membership in both Tennessee Association of Middle Schools and National Middle School Association A savings of 12 % if purchased separately ! Type of payment Please check one: Purchase Order (must accompany this form) Check (payable to NMSA) VISA Mastercard American Express Card Number Exp. Date Cardholder Name Signature: Mail payment to: National Middle School Association 4151 Executive Parkway Suite 300 Westerville, OH 43081


Tennessee Association of Middle School P.O. Box 70748 Knoxville, TN 37938 www.tams.net

TAMS Fall Drive-in Conference -Saturday, October 16, 2004 - 8:00– 12:00 Karns Middle School, Knoxville, TN TAMS Summer Conference - June 15 – 17, 2005 Downtown Sheraton, Nashville, TN

Master your semester with Scribd & The New York Times

Special offer for students: Only $4.99/month.

Master your semester with Scribd & The New York Times

Cancel anytime.