The beginning of the 2014-2015 school year is fast approaching! In just over three weeks, Merton Williams will be filled with the sounds of teaching and learning as students get back into the routine of school. The beginning of the school year promises to be an exciting one with the roll-out of our 1:1 student i-Pad initiative for 7th graders, a new 10-day class schedule that mirrors the High School’s current schedule, and our official authorization visit by the International Baccalaureate in October.
This school year will be the 3rdfull year of implementation of the IB’s Middle Years Programme and the implementation process is right on target. Teachers have continued to transform curriculum into the MYP planner format. Last year, 50% of what students experienced in the classroom was taught in the IB format. After each unit, teachers met to reflect on how the planner worked and made revisions to better meet the needs of our students. By the end of this year, close to two-thirds of all content will be taught through the IB format!
Last year, 6th and 7th grade classroom teachers incorporated the IB Learner Profile into learning activities. Students did a great job mastering the ten characteristics of the Learner Profile and using them to become better learners. This year, all teachers district-wide in the Middle Years Programme will explicitly teach students what is known as approaches to learning (ATL). I want to introduce you to what ATL is and explain why we will be using them.
Through ATL, students develop skills that have relevance across the curriculum that help them “learn how to learn”. ATL skills are a set of tools that can be learned and taught and improved upon with practice. They provide students a solid foundation for learning independently and with others. The focus of ATL in the MYP is to help students develop the self-knowledge and skills they need to enjoy a lifetime of learning. ATL skills empower students to succeed in meeting the challenging objectives of MYP subject groups and the Common Core State Standards. From a middle-level philosophical perspective, 7th and 8th grade students are in the process of developing independence, and ATL skills are completely aligned to this stage of adolescent development. There are five ATL skill categories that are each divided into skill clusters.
Throughout the year, I will provide you with more information about the skill clusters. Teachers will receive training on ATL this fall and begin explicitly incorporating them into instruction as the year progresses.
I encourage you to carefully read this newsletter as it contains information about the opening of school including the day calendar, lunch menu and athletics. 7th grade parents will receive a separate mailing explaining the distribution process for iPads. Enjoy the rest of your summer!
Tim Dobbertin, Principal
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