Middle School

MS Approach: Inspiring & Relevant

Mini-Deeper Learning Program by Mr. Andre De Koker

Embarking on a journey into familiar yet uncharted territory requires courage and the motivation to press on in order to reach the anticipated goal of addressing student growth in the area of transferable skill development. This journey began for Middle School on a cold day in January of 2020 when faculty gathered to ideate around questions posed by our administration: 

  • How might we expand student choice? 

  • How might we unleash the special talents and passions of our students and teachers? 

  • How might we create an environment where students can explore and build real life skills? 

The reason for this assignment presented itself when a block of time was made available due to a reworking of the daily schedule. After this initial session, work proceeded in a follow-up meeting where we scrutinized the ideas through the following lens: 

HMW use the “Open Space” to create shared authentic learning experiences for students and teachers? 

In order to ensure the validity of the process, students were invited to join a small design group consisting of administration and faculty members. During a half day “Design Sprint” facilitated on campus by a HS teacher, Ms. Anne Love, this small group ended up with prototype ideas that were shared with MS leadership for further consideration. 

At this point in the journey, the focus on student skill development became preeminent and a framework for Deeper Learning developed at Concordia was incorporated into the strategic planning phase. The framework focuses on relevant 21st century competencies categorized into three impact areas: Initiative, Agility & Purpose. Deeper learning is an intentional focus on developing competencies in students that prepare them for high school, college and life success. 

Since the beginning of this academic year, teachers in the middle school have been working on developing courses centered on a chosen set of skills. These courses will be offered over 12 sessions beginning later in October and students will have the opportunity to select from a menu of offerings they are interested in pursuing.  

This mini-Deeper Learning Program is a pilot project and will be reviewed and refined throughout this school year. That is why this learning journey is both familiar and uncharted, however the goal and our ambition remain set: Provide authentic learning experiences for our students that prepare them for future success. 

The week before the holiday break, students attended information sessions held by Mr. De Koker and Dr. Aldrich, to learn more about selecting their Deeper Learning courses for the year.