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Middle School Blog

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Mark's Middle School Mind Meld

List of 10 news stories.

  • Putting New Ideas to Work

    As faculty continue to develop their Exploration mini-courses for next year, some faculty have also created opportunities to teach in longer blocks. Sixth grade team members Tracy Blaisdell and Rick Zeller recently combined class periods on consecutive days to create extended class time....
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  • Xploration Courses Bring Choice to Middle School

    It has been exciting to share the structure and features of our upcoming new schedule with students and parents this past month. As a member of the scheduling committee, I welcomed the opportunity to address a number of issues that exist in our current schedule. Some of these issues included the general “pace” of the day, the need for conflict-free regular extra help time, the irregular teaching blocks, and the amount of time demanded for homework each night. The structural changes we made to move to fewer but longer teaching blocks on an every other day rotation will address each of these issues. Another issue that emerged, however, required us thinking about more than structure. That issue is choice - a component of education that is receiving valuable attention in 21st century education....
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  • The Spirit of the Holidays

    I have written in the past about how the holidays can be a paradoxical time for many middle schoolers. Many find themselves somewhere between the “magic” of the season and the concept of sacrifice and the joys of gift giving that is the hallmark of seasonal religious traditions from Christmas to Hannukah to Kwanzaa to Ramadan to Yule. Teens and tweens can be a bit self-centered around the holidays....
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  • Design Thinking - Round 2!

    This month’s Communication Meetings in both the middle and upper schools gave us an opportunity to share the emerging vision of a fully integrated academic program that focuses on best teaching and learning practices of the 21st century. Through research and collaboration we are honing in on some key recommendations just in time for the consultants who will be coming to help us rethink and redesign our schedule....
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  • New Year, Fresh Goals

    Happy new year, everyone! Earlier this month I talked to students during a middle school assembly about the new year traditionally being a time to take stock of where you are and to set some goals aimed at where you would like to be. I led the presentation with a quick video about growth mindsets that included lots of sayings about our never-ending possibility to change. My personal favorite was a meme that used the word “fail” as an acronym that stands for First Attempt In Learning. We followed up the presentation with two activities...
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  • Social Media and Giving Thanks

    We devoted a lot of energy this month to teens and social media. It was terrific to see a good number of parents attend Laura Tierney’s talk. Building on her meeting with parents, faculty, and the kids, the November module of the online parenting course seeks to answer a few big questions: How can we, as adults, help our teens/tweens navigate social media safely and responsibly? How can we "stay on top" of how social media is being used? What responsibilities should I assume as a parent in the digital age?...
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  • Supporting Your Derryfield Student

    No time left on the clock. Score tied. Seventh grade goalkeeper Connor readies himself to face either a game-saving or game-losing penalty kick. Aware of what’s at stake, he’s clearly nervous. All of a sudden Connor’s father sprints out of the stands to the goal. He gives his son a hug then promptly removes his son’s goalie gloves, puts them on, and takes Connor’s place in goal. Connor turns and begins to walk off the field...
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  • Building a Strong Community

    Welcome to my first blog of the season! As in the past, "Mark's Middle School Mind Meld" gives me a chance to share some ideas, observations, musings, questions, etc., each week with all of you. This year I have coordinated my communication into an online course for all parents entitled “Parenting Your 21st Century Middle Schooler.” I am inviting all MS parents to enroll in the course and become engaged in an ongoing community learning/sharing environment...
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  • Middle School Community Letter - Summer 2017

    Hello from Derryfield!
    I hope you are enjoying a healthy and happy summer so far. I have often described my job here as being split into two modes: a school-year mode and a summer mode. My school-year mode experience is characterized by my attempts to stay immersed in the action and energy of our dynamic middle school community. My very centralized and open office - affectionately known as the fishbowl - is the perfect vantage point for me to be the kind of educational leader that I hope to be when school is in session. In contrast, summer mode is a very different experience. To allow the same advantages I have as a school leader during the year, I welcome our Breakthrough leaders to use my office, and I move up to a room in the Upper School where I always begin the summer with reflection about the past year before starting to get into the details of next year. I have come to rely on this time, although I know that when August gets underway I will start to grow impatient about getting the students and faculty back to begin another year’s journey of discovery and growth. However, I am fortunate that when I want to get a taste of the magic that happens in high quality learning communities, I only need to walk around campus....
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  • The June Rollercoaster!

    Though schools have changed in so many ways with the integration of technology and in a landscape where being knowledgeable is less important than being “knowledge-able,” one aspect that remains is that the end of the academic year requires a lot of work and energy for everyone. You have undoubtedly seen the busy schedule for our last days of school which include both academic and social activities ranging from cumulative final exams/projects to advisory, grade-level, and school-wide social events. Then, right as all the activities reach a crescendo, the start of summer vacation typically offers up a totally different pace. Once the novelty of no school wears off, students will go through an adjustment of not having days that are filled with lots of activity and different adventures. I have talked often about how “busy” our schedule is, but I also know that middle schoolers function best when their natural propensity for movement, discovery, and social interaction is fostered....
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The Derryfield School

2108 River Road, Manchester, NH 03104     p: 603.669.4524     f: 603.625.9715