Welcome to Middle School
Renee Corcoran and Shannon Fitzgerald
Spectrum Progressive Middle School serves students ages 12-14.
As recommended by the Association for Middle Level Education (www.amle.org), it provides a small, caring community for learning. Middle School at Spectrum is unique in that it gives students the opportunity to take creative risks without fear of failure. Within agreed-upon goals and timelines, freedom to explore topics of interest is given in order to help students understand who they are as learners. Families, teachers and students set goals together and students participate in all conferences, which are similar to job reviews. Projects, community involvement and community service are integral to the program.
Self-directed, Interdisciplinary Learning
Middle School students are expected to take responsibility for their learning. As they become more self-directed and independent, they are offered more choices in both the acquisition of and the expression of learning. Teachers use students’ curiosity and individual profile of strengths as a key to teaching skills. The students’ motivation to learn also provides a chance for them to develop sophisticated problem solving strategies. Through interdisciplinary projects, students study individual areas of interest with depth. Students are exposed to a variety of ways of sharing what they have learned, including research papers, PowerPoint presentations, speeches, video projects and models using the Multiple Intelligences as well as technology. Once students reach Middle School, they already have the basic skills necessary in math and reading, and are learning to apply those skills in order to construct new insight and knowledge.
Authentic Experiences Prepare Students for Future Learning
Middle School students are preparing for high school and beyond. Each year the students are involved in and volunteer for several community outreach programs. They have worked with MELD, the Rock River Valley Food Pantry, Noah’s Ark, and many other community service programs throughout the Rockford area. They have also been involved in many community related experiential activities, including grant writing through In Youth We Trust and technology programs through Rock Valley College. In addition, each year the Middle School students participate in many field trips, with the city as their classroom. These opportunities, as well as many others, give Spectrum Middle School students an authentic education. Students have more autonomy and may exercise choice in their educational pursuits. Because of this, they take responsibility for their own learning, and they are enthusiastic, curious, and passionate about school.
Families participate in four conferences a year, an intake conference in September to set goals, a student-led conference in November to go over a student's portfolio, and two progress-reporting conferences in late January and May. As at other levels, there is a balance of student- and teacher-led activities. Technology is crucial to the program at this level, with a 'bring your own technology' philosophy that allows students to utilize e-readers, laptops and tablets to supplement their classroom work, while being monitored by caring adults.
Middle School Students experience engaging topics and academics including: