Belmont middle school
What's happening at belmont middle school?
Aaron Pope, Principal
Over six years ago the middle school began its transition to becoming a competency-based model of instruction. The first step was to have a fully articulated curriculum. Next educators developed performance assessments to assess the standards, and finally instruction was designed by teachers to align to the standards outlined in the curriculum. For grading the school uses a combination of formative and summative assessments, rubrics, and a four-point performance scale. Behavior and work habits are evaluated separately. Scores students earn are not averaged, instead teachers look at a body of evidence to see how their students met the competencies. An on-line learning management system tracks scores, shows learning progressions, and is a tool to record evidence of student learning. This competency-based system is sustained by professional learning communities--groups of subject area teachers that meet regularly to ensure vertical alignment of standards, and to calibrate assessments to make sure they are scored with consistency.
Belmont Middle School has an enrichment teacher that collaborates with classroom teachers on different projects. Some examples of projects include learning about the stock market and participating in a stock exchange competition, learning to use primary sources in history, and using Makey Makey, an invention kit. (Makey Makey uses electronic circuitry to create inventions such as a piano keyboard by connecting the components to actions on a computer.) Students also may be involved in STEM experiences, and projects in the school's Maker Space. These enrichment experiences are available to all students.
Students using Makey-Makey to create piano keyboards
Space for creating pottery
3d printer in the Makerspace
The STEM lab refocuses a traditional industrial arts-type of class in the middle school to one focused on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). The lab has workspaces, a variety of tools, and a makerspace. The lab's placement right next to the art room allows for collaboration between the classes, enhancing student projects in both spaces. Every student attends class in the STEM lab daily for a six-week rotation. Examples of projects in the STEM lab:
*making wooden napkin holders
*using snap circuits to learn about electricity
*creating robots using Vex Robotics kits
*creating to-scale models of students' houses using a 3d printer
*designing and building air power dragsters (using wood or a 3d printer)
*designing and building water rockets
*learning about flight, designing planes with Tinkercad, and then making the plane
Vex Robotics workspace
Students work on Vex robots
Students created masks in the art room as the culmination of a social studies unit. They will be holding a silent auction to sell the masks, with money going toward a local hospice organization.
Photo credits to Aaron Pope