MIDDLE SCHOOL messages
FROM MIDDLE SCHOOL
May 14, 2020
Time truly flies! It is hard to believe it is just six short weeks until the end of the academic year which will officially end on Thursday 25 June.
This year the Grade 8 completion ceremony, scheduled for Tuesday 23 June, will be conducted remotely. We have a committee formulating plans to ensure it is a truly memorable occasion for our Middle Schoolers who are preparing to transition to High School. Details will be sent home in due course.
Our wellbeing team is also working tirelessly behind the scenes planning ahead for the next academic year. All returning students who have re-enrolled should have completed their elective options together with a student survey about who they work effectively with. We use this student information in conjunction with teacher feedback considering both individual learning styles and class dynamics when placing students.
Many hours are spent by our counselors and Dean of Students in collaboration with teachers and a wide range of factors are considered to ensure students are placed in classes that provide an optimal learning environment for their needs. Students are allocated to one of four core classes in a pod of approximately 100 students. Heads of Grade are assigned to one of two grade level pods. Students are also placed into a smaller Homeroom: Transformation & Discovery class which meets four times per week and focuses on the following themes
- Building community
- Developing life skills
- Inquiring minds
- Moral education
Ms. Mira, as the assigned Grade 6 counsellor next year, is working closely with the Elementary team to support the transition for our new Grade 6 students. The counselors are visiting these classes remotely over the next few weeks to welcome current Grade 5 students to Middle School and to answer their questions. At the start of the new school year we will have a special orientation for all our new Middle Schoolers whether moving up from the Elementary School @ DAA or joining us as new leopards to our community.
If you have any concerns in respect of your child’s placement, please contact the respective member of our wellbeing team.
Grade 5 into 6 Counselor Ms. Mira Nasr
Grade 6 into 7 Dean of Students Mr. Scott Macdonald
Grade 7 into 8 Counsellor Mr. Frank Becvar
A kind reminder if you have not yet re-enrolled we would ask you to prioritize this with our Admissions department in the next week. New students are currently being offered places and we want to prioritize the placement of existing students who are returning and ensure they are included in the elective allocations. As some of our grades are currently waitlisted if you have confirmation you are leaving the UAE, we would greatly appreciate if you would complete the TC form to enable another student to be accepted.
Enjoy the week ahead.
During our unit on Systems of Linear Equations and Linear Inequalities, our grade 8 students were assigned a real-world application project where they were required to form their own Mathemusical Band. These groups were required to go on a journey starting with receiving an interest free loan from their Mega millionaire teachers, Dr. Ajayi and Mr. Morales, based on the initial pitches of their album covers. Once they got started, they had to make decisions of who they would choose as their manager, promoter, producer, and more. Based on decisions made by the students, they had to create a cost equation for their expenditures and then a revenue equation. Once these were created, they delved into understanding when they would make a profit and reflected on the type of Rock Star lifestyle they chose. They learned about breaking even and finally had the opportunity to recreate a video where the lyrics helped them learn more about graphing linear inequalities.
Lauren, was late for class. That’s right folks, a moment in history that must be recorded. Lauren is a student who routinely strives to do her best, and is consistently on time...so what could have caused her to miss even a minute of this most enthralling lesson on colonization?
Pardon? Preparing for a live orchestra performance, you say?
Alright, as far as excuses go, this one is at the top of the charts, and I can assure you, I have heard them all!
Ping! A new email in my inbox. The invitation to the concert had arrived.
Friday night, a cacophony of sounds drifted in from my laptop set on the kitchen table. Warm up had begun as students, family members and friends drifted in from their homes around the globe. Soon, the virtual orchestra was set and ready to perform. As I looked around the screen, I saw connection.
We were joining in a Global Young Entrepreneurs Initiative by Explorer Hop, raising money and awareness for Music without Borders. A student orchestra in my house is a rare occurrence so the opportunity to tune in was one I was not going to pass up. What I didn’t realize before this experience, was what an amazing way this virtual event brought together the community. At a time where social distancing is the norm, grandparents tuned in from Holland, past DAA students who have moved on were there to support their friends, present DAA students (from this year and those who have moved up to highschool were performing), their families and a set of other international students and strangers united in their love of music.
Was the orchestra seamless? No, of course not. A violinist disappeared mid-song as wifi interrupted her access, a grandma cut in and started speaking in another language before they learned how to mute, and moments of lag created a space where some singers sang the last stanza of the song a moment after everyone else. Despite all of that, it didn’t take away from the experience. It actually made it more fun! I left the concert inspired. Just as these entrepreneurial musicians envisioned a way to take action for the common good, as educators we also need to re-think the way forward. It’s our job, to open doors that foster inquiry and support our learners in developing their passions while innovating pathways of opportunities for their lives to come.
Hosting on-line sessions every day has taught me that the energy of the group ebbs and flows, and some lessons are more amazing than others as I strive to innovate how and what I teach. Being in the audience during the performance, I felt an immense sense of joy and gratitude. Do my learners feel like this in my class? My dream is to fill hallways (virtual or not) of critical thinkers and life-long learners.
These past two months have been humbling to say the least. As we navigate new platforms, methods and environments, there have been many times where I have reflected on how I could approach teaching and learning differently to meet the diverse needs of our community. Throughout this process, I often wonder, did that lesson provide a spark? Thanks to the Together Apart Orchestra, who took a chance to try something new for a great cause, I was reminded that sometimes the most beautiful moments emerge from the simple question, what if…?
PowerSchool is our student information management system which houses grades and marks for middle and high school.