Severn News

Transition to Teel Part Two: Guiding New Sixth Graders to Academic and Social Success

The first semester of our Middle School’s Transition to Teel program is all about helping  incoming 6th graders adjust to life on Teel Campus with new faces, new schedules, new freedoms ... and new responsibilities. As 6th graders move into the second semester of their first middle school year, the Transition to Teel curriculum teaches them the design thinking process and how to navigate social and academic situations with civility and respect.

Second Semester Schedule: Introduction to Design Thinking and Civility Seminar

Transition to Teel is a purposeful, structured series of classes that helps new sixth graders rise to high academic expectations, adjust to a new social structure and get the most out of their middle school experience. While the first semester focuses on the immediate needs of students as they move from 5th to 6th grade, the second semester offers a chance for students to think purposefully about solving problems, whether in the innovation lab or out in the halls.

Collaborative Solutions with Design Thinking and Innovation

Design Thinking and Innovation is a four and a half week enrichment course where students take on a collaborative design challenge: to create engaging, developmentally appropriate games for our prekindergarten and kindergarten students. Working in teams, 6th graders work with Middle School science teacher Ms. Carrie Ball and Graw Innovation Center Director Ms. Kelly Wilson through the design process using Tinkercad, the 3D printer and the laser cutting system to bring their digital designs to life. They learn not only how to use much of the technology in the GIC, but also how to work on a team and design creative solutions that have a real impact on their audience.

Watch Introduction to Design Thinking in action!

Social Problem Solving with Civility Seminar

The social environment in Middle School is vastly different from that in the Lower School. Expectations for behavior are high and in order to set our 6th graders up for success, Middle School Head Mr. Dan Keller created a four and a half week enrichment class where students can discuss real issues that happen in their lives and create solutions to deal with them effectively. Taught by Middle School history teacher and department chair Ms. Lisa Clarke, the class is a forum where students share their ideas and offer support to one another as they navigate the social and academic demands of middle school.

The class is set up seminar-style with chairs arranged in a circle to facilitate discussion. Each class focuses on a particular set of scenarios or case studies based on actual interactions among students. They talk about everything from how to enter a room and hold the door for others to how to acknowledge other students’ success even when feelings of envy or jealousy are involved. It’s an opportunity for them to discuss relevant issues and brainstorm solutions they can put into play if and when the real thing happens outside of class.

Watch 6th Grade Civility Seminar in action!

The Power of Choice

While Civility Seminars and Design Thinking and Innovation are required classes, second semester 6th graders are also offered a choice for one quarter during the semester. They can choose from several electives such as chess, current events and outdoor education. As students move from 6th grade to 7th and beyond, they have more and more choice regarding their classes and how to manage study time. This gradual transition ensures that they are emotionally, academically and socially ready to move on to the next grade level.

Why Create This Program?

We are here in the service of our students and their families. Our Middle School administration and faculty took the time to ask the important questions. “What are the things that kids need?” “What are some of the demands they are going to face in high school, college and the working world?” They spent months discussing these issues and developing a plan to intentionally serve our students and set them up for success in the best way possible. The result of that strategic planning is Transition to Teel.

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