Monday, May 27, 2013

Easing Into Middle School One Group At a Time

We have a large group of 5th graders anxiously and nervously thinking about their next big step, which for them is middle school.  As we begin our middle school registration process,  I came up with a great idea to help ease some stresses and answer some questions that our students may have about moving up to middle school.

We (counselor intern & I) decided to do small lunch groups (of 10 students) so that each 5th grade student has the opportunity to meet and ask questions about being a 6th grader.  We grouped the students together by which middle school they would be attending (JYJ is a magnet school which means we have students going to 20 different middle schools) so that we could discuss specifics about each school easier and so that they would be familiar with who from our school would be "moving up" with them.  Some middle school groups were combined due to there being just 1 or 2 students going. 

To let the students know about their lunch group, I made invitations using Word and copied them on colored paper.  4 copies of the invitation fit onto one page. 
Original and copied versions of invitation

After copying and cutting the invitations, I wrote the student's names and lunch date on their invitation (gives it a personal touch).  The invitations were delivered to each class.  During the "delivery" we briefly spoke to each class about what was going to happen during the lunch groups and that one group would meet with me and another group would meet with the counselor intern (since there are 2 of us, we could each take a group).  We also made a daily list of which students would be at lunch with us for the teachers (& ourselves).

Finished Invitations!

During our meetings we discussed how to choose electives, how middle school is different from elementary school, changing classes, etc.  These things we discussed a few months ago on our 5th grade classroom visit on going to middle school.  We encouraged the students to use this time to ask questions about middle school and that we would try our best to answer them or contact the counselor from their middle school and get an answer.  In some cases, they were able to ask the questions themselves to other 6th graders at their new school!  Thanks to the magic of FaceTime on my iPad, we were able to connect with other students.  To do this, I contacted the counselors at the school prior to our lunch to schedule a time when we would "connect".

The lunch groups were quite successful!  Over the two week time frame it took to meet with everyone I could tell that the students were really excited about going to 6th grade and having lunch with the counselors didn't hurt much either!  We had lots of questions and discussions which we hope were helpful.  Their favorite part of the lunch was being able to practice opening locks.  I have a class set of locks that the PTA got for me for this activity.  This was a great and fun way for us to spend the last few weeks of school with students who are graduating from 5th grade.  This is something that I plan to continue each year with my 5th grade students.

Practicing with the locks

Lock practice over lunch

What other ways do you address middle school transition questions?

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  1. I just ran into your blog and it is so awesome!! This entry is so creative and useful! I'm also in the Raleigh area (small world!). I'm really enjoying reading all this. What a lucky intern you have!!!

    1. Yes it is a small world, I love Raleigh! Thanks so much for your kind words, I really appreciate it. The students loved their "meetings" and so did we!

  2. I do a couple of the things you talked about-lunch bunches and practicing locks. I also have a video, yes, VHS, How to Succeed in Middle School through Sunburst. It is a little outdated, but get the different important points across. I hope to call and find out if I can trade in all my VHS videos and get DVDs for them. Thank you for all your wonderful ideas, activities and info.

    1. Thanks for sharing Judy. I've heard great things about that sunburst video. Thanks so much for reading!