This is my first post in over a year. I’ve been away on maternity leave since July 2014, and although I’m pleased to be back, let’s just say that actually coming back to work has been quite an adjustment. At the time of writing (Labor Day), school *still* hasn’t started, so this is more of a ‘this is what’s coming this year’ post. Although I teach grades one through twelve, this year I was asked to blog about the middle division; they are a group I know well! I am also a grade seven homeroom advisor, so I definitely have a renewed middle school focus for this academic session. At my school, middle school refers to grades seven, eight and nine, skewing somewhat older than most US ‘middle schools’. Although we have grades one through twelve in the same building, the jump from grade six (junior school) to seven (middle school) is perceived as huge by the students, even though the students simply move upstairs to the next floor. It’s probably the biggest transition in the school. Grade seven and nine are also key intake years, so the focus in these years for us in the libary is the re-teaching and reinforcing of research and library skills.
During the year I was on leave, grade seven and eight students at my school started an Integrated Studies program. As this continues this year, I am really looking forward to working with these teachers and new curriculum. The middle school curriculum has always been very cross-disciplinary, and this new approach lends itself particularly well to inquiry and 21st century learning. I’ve had already had some great conversations about assignments and learning opportunities with my colleagues, and my assistant librarian is reading zombie YA fiction in preparation for a unit about settlements. Who could fail to be inspired?
This year we also have dedicated library periods for most of our middle school students, to focus on literacy, reading promotion, and book selection. I will be offering some great opportunities to our middle schoolers, such as the chance to participate in Kids’ Lit Quiz (a worldwide competition which tests participants on their knowledge of children’s literature), and Red Reads, our annual books and reading contest, similar to Battle of the Books (watch this space for more on this later in the year). I’m the staff advisor for Anime Club, a co-curricular group that’s popular with middle schoolers. We will also participate in Red Maple, which is a province-wide reading award for students in grades seven through nine, showcasing the best of Canadian fiction and non-fiction for younger teens. We’ll also be bringing the pop-up library (aka the library cart and an iPad) along to the middle school floor at lunchtime for book sign out and reading promotion. It promises to be a busy year!