6th grade = No longer middle school!

Discussion in 'Debate & Marathon Threads Archive' started by YoungTeacherGuy, Dec 20, 2014.

  1. Go Blue!

    Go Blue! Connoisseur

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    Dec 22, 2014

    I see. I work in a large district (over 80,000 students) with lots of MS and a strong Union. I could not see somethng like this getting past the Union especially if they expected the 6th grade teachers not to switch classes all day.
     
  2. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    Here's the other issue.

    6th grade is not what it used to be. A lot of sixth graders should be on track to take Algebra I in seventh grade. I know many seventh graders at my school do.

    Those kids need a MATH teacher. Are they going to get that in a self contained elementary setting? I doubt it.

    You can argue all day as to whether it's better socially for sixth graders to be at a middle school or elementary school. If you ask me, a sixth grader has more in common with a seventh grader than a fifth grader.

    But the modern sixth grader has academic needs that simply cannot be met by one teacher all day long.
     
  3. orangetea

    orangetea Connoisseur

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    I've very rarely heard of a student taking Algebra 1 in 7th grade. Most 6th graders take some form of pre-algebra in 7th grade. I've heard of advanced 8th graders taking Algebra 1 in 8th grade. I don't think Algebra 1 is appropriate for most 7th graders.

    I do think it's possible for a 6th grade teacher to teach all subjects well, but it is very difficult to start teaching a subject that you have never taught before.
     
  4. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Is it possible to organize those sixth grade teachers by and group one teacher per specialty (ies) despite their being in the elementary schools? That's what my childhood district began when my younger brother was a student. It prepared those students to deal with different teachers during the day, and it allowed teachers to specialize their subject matter.
     
  5. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    This is simply not true. The sixth grade teachers at my school are easily able to teach the content.

    Sarge, why do you think that a teacher with a multiple subject credential is able to properly teach 2 core subjects in middle school, but NOT able to teach all the subjects in 6th grade?

    I think it is sloppy to allow multiple subject teachers teach single subjects in 7-8 in California, this is where students really begin to need single subject teachers. Multiple subject credentialed teachers are fully qualified to teach 6th grade content, however are they really qualified for the 8th grade algebra 1?
     
  6. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    In my district, Algebra I is offered to a very limited number of 8th graders (via placement tests and teacher recommendation). It's not offered to any 7th graders--even if they're GATE students.
     
  7. Go Blue!

    Go Blue! Connoisseur

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    Same here. 6th and 7th graders do not take Algebra I - it is only offered to the advanced 8th graders.

    I also agree with the bolded part. Not to mention, as would be the case with me, some people may not be equipped to teach the same group of 6th graders all day long and keep their sanity.
     
  8. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    I'd say that a majority of our 8th graders take Algebra I. Some also take geometry, and will likely be taking Algebra II as freshmen.

    The reason those kids were able to do that was because they had access pre-algebra when they were in sixth grade.

    Any kid who does not take Algebra I in 8th grade runs a risk of having to take additional coursework before they can take the college calculus sequence needed or science and engineering majors.

    EVERY student does not need to take algebra in middle school. But ANY student who shows the potential for advanced math courses in sixth grade should be allowed access to MATH teachers who can teach the coursework.
     
  9. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    So this would be single subject credentialed math teachers correct?

    So what you are saying is we have a HUGE problem in California. Allowing multiple subject teachers to teach core classes in 7-8 is a problem. A much bigger problem than allowing multiple subject credentialed teachers teach k-6 as designed by the credential.
     
  10. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    Our 6th graders are in an elementary building but they switch teachers for core classes, as do our 5th graders. For example, we have a teacher who teaches 5th and 6th grade math.

    Most of our 8th graders take Algebra I A (half a year of Algebra spread out over one year so they can really understand it). About 1/3 take Algebra I as most of us know it.
     
  11. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    I don't think 6th grade teachers HAVE to departmentalize. I think it's possible to be perfectly capable at teaching all subjects. I do, however, think that you'd probably be a better 6th grade teacher if you could just focus on one or two subjects though.

    My district is moving towards all 8th graders taking Algebra I. Right now, GT kiddos take 7th grade math in 6th grade and can either take 8th grade honors, or can take the entrance test for Algebra I. I think there are definite benefits to putting students on track to take Calculus in high school if they can handle it.
     
  12. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    What about 5th, 4th, 3rd...etc?

    I think you may be better at designing content, but I think there are huge negatives when it comes to relationships, inspiring learners,...etc.
     
  13. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    With my third graders, I teach science to two classes, and my teammate teaches social studies to my class and hers. I consider this an ideal situation. We build good relationships with our own classes, but still have somewhat less planning (and can focus more on the planning we do have). There's also a second set of eyes and ears on kids, and helps put a face and context whenever we bring up a kid for kid talk, etc. There's no perfect formula, but by 6th grade, I think the advantages of at least partial departmentalization outweigh the drawbacks. It also makes the transition to middle/junior high school a little less drastic.
     
  14. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    Yeah, it is personal for sure.
    I just think it is funny the prep to prep to prep.
    I am willing to bet back in the day, middle school departementalization was to prepare students for high school, now it is 6th grade, soon 3rd..etc.
    At our school when we started AVID, which at the time was 5th grade and up, our principal wanted to do it in 4th..to prepare them.
    It is just silly to me.
     
  15. Froreal3

    Froreal3 Companion

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    Dec 22, 2014

    In my state growing up, elementary was K-6, junior high was 7&8, high school 9-12. They changed it while I was still growing up to 6-8 junior high/middle school. It's still this way today.

    Good luck because that sounds like a nightmare waiting to happen.
     
  16. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    Dec 23, 2014

    Actually, in California we do have a big problem. There is no degree here in "elementary education." And if there is, you won't get a teaching job with it. A few teachers might have the "liberal studies" degree that CSU offers, but most have a degree in a single academic subject, and then satisfied the content knowledge requirement through testing, as I did.

    The problem is that most elementary teachers I know have degrees in English, history, art, music, etc. and only a small number have degrees in math or science. These teachers may be experts at teaching number concepts in primary grades, but teaching pre-algebra or upper grade science is going to be a struggle. I know that for me it would - even though I'm credentialed to teach those subjects in a self contained or core setting.

    With core classes - math/science or ELA/social studies there is enough overlap that a teacher with a science degree could probably teach pre-algebra or even algebra without much difficulty. And a person like me with a history degree would have no trouble teaching an ELA social studies core.

    Now, technically, I'm credentialed to teach a math/science core in middle school according to the California Education code. However, I would hope that no intelligent administrator would ever hire or place me in such a position.

    As for sixth grade, the one year that I taught it, I got by because my students were so far behind that they needed tons of work in basic computation skills before they could even think about pre-algebra.

    The other issue is the amount of time a teacher has to dedicate to a subject. The purpose of departmentalization in middle school is not, as you say, to prepare them for high school. Rather it is because the subject matter becomes more complex and students need teachers who can dedicate the time to that specific subject. You can spend 2 hours planning a one hour lesson if you are going to teach that lesson 3 or 4 times in a day. But if you teach 6 very unique lessons every day, then spending 2 hours to plan one lessons is not possible.

    THAT is why the higher you go in grade levels, the more departmentalized things become. At minimum, grades 6 through 8 should be core classes. But if I had my way, you would start doing core classes much earlier than that.
     
  17. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    Spending two hours to plan one lesson is not very feasible at any level. I have four preps and only a 44 minute plan each day. I don't have 8 hours a day to plan lessons.

    Even with just one prep, it still wouldn't be feasible. You need that time to do other things like grade, contact parents, etc...
     
  18. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    So is this what is required in Caliornia Sarge? In order for a teacher with a multiple subject credential to teach a math/science core, they are required to have a degree in math or science? I am under the impression ANY multiple subject teacher can teach EITHER math/science or ELA/ social studies.
     
  19. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    Dec 23, 2014

    You are correct!
     
  20. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    Sarge, if the subject matter in middle school requires teachers with more advanced knowledge, then why is a single subject credential not required for core?

    I do not understand why you think designing a lesson in middle school takes more time than in 3rd grade. Why would designing a ocial studies lesson in 9th grade be more time consuuming than 4th?
     
  21. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    The elementary & middle school teachers around my age (in their 30s) all have a Liberal Studies degree from CSU.
     
  22. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    Ok, so then like I was thinking before, the problem is not your 6th grade teachers not being prepared to go back to a self contained classroom and not be prepared to teach 6th grade math. The problem is allowing them to teach 7-8th grade core all along.

    If middle school requires teacheres with more content knowledge of their subjects, then they should have to have a single subject credential.
     

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