Evaluations (and Grades) Help Students Transition Successfully

middle schooler choosing between grades and a evaluation

The debate over whether teachers should use grades or evaluations to assess their students is a big one in academic circles. Dozens of blogs and articles make strong arguments in both directions. Proponents of grades state they provide an objective and easily understandable system to compare student achievement. They are a sign of academic rigor […]

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Learning Unexpected Life Skills

middle schooler feeding turkeys

The lessons students take away from your classes aren’t always the ones you intend to teach. The most valuable lessons in the classroom may not even be academic. As Arthur Morgan School’s farmer, I have taught a similar biology course based on the school’s livestock program for several years. We have talked about the course […]

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How to Use Your School Garden Effectively throughout the Winter

middle schooler stirring broth

A recent trend in schools is to turn part of their campus into a garden and use it as a teaching tool.  Whether its a sensory garden, vegetable garden, or livestock program, integrating farm work into their classrooms provides teachers with a plethora of experiential learning opportunities. In the spring, students can use seeds and […]

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December Unit Rounds Out Critical Thinking Based Learning

middle schoolers and teacher reading philosophy

When I ask people what they remember learning in middle school, they often reminisce about specific activities they did, like the time they burned a gummy bear to see how many calories it contained.  They remember specific moments that struck them as fun or inspiring. Most people can’t remember the reasons for these lessons or […]

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Real Talk on Student Led Conferences

middle schoolers looking at a portfolio

Student led conferences are quickly replacing parent teacher conferences as a way of communicating students’ academic progress. The idea is that students do most of the talking, informing their parents about their academic goals and how they think they are doing in each class.  Teachers find that student led conferences often lead to empowerment and students taking ownership over their […]

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Why Failure Can Be a Good Thing

2 middle schoolers looking stressed

In seventh grade, I experienced my first real academic failure. My science teacher assigned us a large project. We had to research and present about the different organ systems of a specific animal. As an awkward seventh grader, I was not excited about this idea. Puberty and new social dynamics had hit me hard and […]

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Building School Community Partnerships Takes Work

middle schoolers working with people

Schools and their surrounding communities often share a symbiotic relationship. When a neighborhood flourishes, so does its local schools. In turn, those schools bring their community together through events and friendships amongst the students. For Arthur Morgan School, the partnership with its surrounding community runs deep. Two Halves of the Same Whole Arthur Morgan, himself, […]

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How to Teach Middle School Art with Studio Time

middle school girl sawing wood

As a middle school art teacher, I am often inspired by my students.  Middle schoolers are knee deep in the messy process of trying to figure out who they are, what they stand for, and what makes them unique as people.  They ask the big questions.  They begin to rebel against the constant adult monitoring […]

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Higher Self-Esteem through Positive Body Image

teachers and middle schoolers in fake mustaches

“Dumbo Melonhead!” My friends in seventh grade gave me this nickname after an unfortunate haircut showed off my very prominent ears and round scalp.  Even after my hair grew back and hid my ears once again, the nickname stuck. I lived with it for years. People who had never seen the haircut still called me […]

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High Peaks Makes For Great Community Service Idea for Middle Schoolers

group photo of middle school and adult volunteers

This past Saturday, Arthur Morgan School joined the NC High Peaks Trail Association to create  a new hiking trail at the Mayland Earth to Sky Park. It was a cold, wet miserable morning with harder rain on the approach.  The students and staff huddled in their rain jackets and used mattocks and shovels to clear a […]

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Life and Death Decisions Make for Effective Ways to Empower Students

middle schooler feeding turkeys

Thanksgiving week is fast approaching and that means it’s turkey season. Every year, Arthur Morgan School raises its own turkeys and processes them for our Thanksgiving feast.  In 2010 the online magazine Grist featured the school’s annual turkey harvest in an article which drew many mixed emotions. Some commenters felt teaching middle schoolers about processing turkeys was a […]

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Using Horror Writing Prompts for Middle Schoolers

middle schooler reading horror novel

‘Tis the season of spookiness. As Halloween approaches and days wane into darkness, people everywhere are embracing their desire to be scared. Horror movies fill the theaters, collections of ghost stories occupy shelf space, and almost everyone with a Netflix account is eagerly anticipating the second season of Stranger Things.  It is a time when […]

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