Posts Tagged ‘Middle School’

Unity Middle School Students Launch a News Show

Written by Deborah Marcus. Posted in Daily Life at Unity Charter School, Middle School, student post, Technology, Uncategorized, Whole Child Education

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For our PBL (Project Based Learning) project, we thought of ways to improve the middle school. First, we made a survey for the middle school students and staff. The results came in and many people said that they wanted a middle school news show. We film the news on Wednesdays and Fridays. The news plays on a large tv in the middle school hallway on Mondays, Wednesdays,and Fridays. The news consist of 4 parts; upcoming events, birthdays, weather and lunch. The members of the PBL Group include Lizzie, Desiree, Venya, Shamaya, Becky, and Veronika.

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Student & Teacher Reviews

“I think it’s very entertaining and the weather portion is very helpful.”

-Brynn Johnson


“The weather is a great addition to the Unity News! very helpful.”

-Sierra Gastelu


“I am very impressed with the production of the Unity News. The show elicits excitement from all of the students each morning and I look forward to seeing future episodes!”

– Lindsey, Social Studies & Project Based Learning teacher


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The opinions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Unity Charter School. Unity Charter School is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the author.

Arts Alive at Unity!

Written by Deborah Marcus. Posted in Daily Life at Unity Charter School, Field Trip, Middle School, Sustainability, Uncategorized, Whole Child Education

By Karen Bloch
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On Thursday April 30th, the Panda Learning Group hosted an Artists Cafe as the culmination of their project based learning. We had an amazing turn out and were so excited to see so much lovely art and so many talented performers come together for this special night. As a fundraiser for the Middle School overnight trips, we raised $798.69!

As a teacher, I often refer to myself as a guide or a coach. This project was born from a class brain storm about ways we could raise funds while doing something to bring the community together. The students organized into teams to handle art, food, talent and advertisement. Each team worked collaboratively to focus on their area as part of the larger picture.

It was wonderful to see the students so excited about owning this project and to witness them problem solving, collaborating and reaching out to the community with grace and professionalism. By the night of the event they had taken ownership of everything from food tables to art prices, from hosting the event to inspiring performers.

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I do believe we have created a new annual event as this brought out teachers, families, alumni and community members for a wonderful time. We truly hope you all enjoyed the night and we cannot wait to host it again as we go forward!

About the Author

Karen is in her thirteenth year as a teacher at Unity and her twenty third year of her teaching career. With a background in Theater, holding a BA in Theater Arts from Gettysburg College, she is enjoying her work as Unity’s Performing Arts teacher tremendously. She lives in Sussex County with her husband, daughter and a small menagerie of animals.

The opinions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Unity Charter School. Unity Charter School is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the author.

Toy and Book Drive a Huge Success!

Written by Deborah Marcus. Posted in Daily Life at Unity Charter School, Field Trip, Middle School, student post, Sustainability, Uncategorized

By Becky Donahue, Shamaya Fable, and Brynn Johnson
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On Saturday April 18, 2015, Teresa’s Project Based Learning Class hosted a toy and book sale in the Common Room of Unity. We collected toy and book donations for a few weeks. We priced and organized the toys and books for a few days and by Friday we were ready to go! It was a very successful day and we made over $550 for middle school class trips. We would like to thank all the people who donated and the people and teachers who came to support us at the sale.

Shamaya , Desiree , Brynn , Grace picture About the Authors

Becky Donahue is in 6th grade and enjoys dancing and playing with her dogs. Shamaya Fable is in 7th grade and enjoys cheer and gymnastics. Brynn Johnson is in 6th grade and she enjoys spending time with her friends and family and playing with her dog.

The opinions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Unity Charter School. Unity Charter School is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the author.

Criminology Interest Group Students Investigate CSI Through Field Trip

Written by Deborah Marcus. Posted in Daily Life at Unity Charter School, Education, Field Trip, Interest Groups, Middle School

by Michael Braverman IMG_4920

Officer Heather Glogolich is leading a Criminology elective in the Middle School and arranged a unique field trip for 7th and 8th grade students to visit the Public Safety Complex in Morris County on January 8th. The Criminology elective is focusing on dissecting a true-life case. To date, students have learned about the role of the police and investigators, investigative procedure, Miranda rights, the function of 911, and case review procedure.

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Before the field trip, Detective Sarah Weiler from the Criminal Investigation Division visited the class at Unity to field questions with regards to the case they are currently studying. Detective Weiler is familiar with the case the students are analyzing and shared her expertise in evidence analysis for the entire period.

Students joined Officer Heather, Middle School teacher Mike Braverman and parent Susan Ilias on the trip to The Public Safety Complex, which includes the Office of Emergency Management, the Communications Center – including 911 Operations, the Crime Lab, and the Bomb Squad. In addition, this complex houses the training facilities for police and fire.

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Upon arrival, students were welcomed into the situation room of the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) by OEM Coordinator Jeff Paul. Jeff spent close to an hour describing the room, the function of the room and the functions of the staff that work within the main management room. In addition, he fielded questions from the students and adults. Questions ranged from procedure and process to real life situations like Hurricane Sandy and school violence. A state trooper joined the group and was able to detail the characteristics and educational background a student would need to pursue a career in law enforcement. From there, Jeff brought the students to see the county 911 operations room and 911 operators in action. Students then bundled up and walked outside to get a tour of OEM vehicles including a mobile crime scene unit.

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The group then visited the Crime Labs with Detective Sarah Weiler and Detective Craig Brooks of the Morris County Sheriff’s Department Criminal Investigative Division. The detectives walked the students through the Crime Labs explaining evidence, fingerprints, and DNA. Students were able to see where the detectives do their crime lab work and were even able to walk through an evidence room. The students visited another part of the Labs where photographic evidence is analyzed. They met two civilian photo experts working within the OEM and learned about their backgrounds and how they could have a career within a crime lab without a law enforcement background.

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Aside from the obvious benefits from this trip such as experts sharing their expertise and watching adults inspire the students, this field trip hit upon many of the 21st Century Life and Career strands of the Common Core Standards. Students witnessed how the OEM needs to use collaboration, teamwork, intrapersonal communications, media fluency, accountability, ethics, critical thinking, problem solving and leadership. In addition, students were introduced to many different careers and learned what they needed to do in order to prepare for such a career. The careers touched on abilities in all core content subjects – language arts, mathematics, science, and social sciences.

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Students returned to school and had a Criminology class with Officer Heather. Officer Heather started the class with a video of the Junior Police Academy. In doing so, she provided the students with a tool to begin career exploration this summer as well as a link between their field trip and their future career planning. Several students in the class took applications.

The remaining four classes of Criminology will focus on the true-life case the students are studying. The class will culminate in a mock trial with half the class acting as the defense and the other half acting as the prosecution with Officer Heather playing the role of judge. Students will take their knowledge from the course, their independent research (which included a hands-on project of recreating the scene of the crime) and what they learned from this amazing field trip to present persuasive, evidence-based arguments in this simulation of a real life event.

About the Author

Michael Braverman was born and raised in the suburbs of Boston. He graduated from the University of Vermont with a bachelors in Sociology. He received his masters in elementary education from Wheelock College in Boston. He taught fifth grade for six years in Natick, MA and taught fourth grade for two years in Randolph, NJ. He is currently in his eighth year at Unity, where he has taught a 4/5 classroom, middle school Science and middle school Math. Michael is also the Positive Discipline mentor for the staff as well as the middle school team leader. He has recently begun a program to obtain his supervisors certificate.

Michael has been married to his wife Diana for 10 years. They have a daughter Beau (8), a son Ty (4) and another daughter Finn (3). He loves to play sports, watch sports and coach sports. When Michael grows up, he wants to be a professional athlete.

The opinions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Unity Charter School. Unity Charter School is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the author.

Project Based Learning in the Middle School

Written by Deborah Marcus. Posted in Education, Middle School

by Jillianne Steelman

This year, the Middle School transitioned from a Personalized Learning Plans to Project Based Learning. Project Based Learning (PBL) is a content driven guided inquiry leading to a culminating project. Personalized Learning Plans/Project Based Learning is outlined in the Unity Charter School Charter, meets the core standards for 21st century skills, and addresses standards in the content areas.

Teachers of Language Arts, Science and Social Studies each used their Core Content Standards to develop an overarching question around which they based their inquiry process. Each learning group has been afforded two periods a week to focus on Project Based Learning. In those ninety minutes a week, teachers have the opportunity to teach skill based mini lessons and content driven lessons as well as provide students with time to engage in individualized and group work which will eventually result in a culminating project.

The New Jersey Department of Education defines Project Based Learning as “a teacher-guided learning activity designed to assist students in understanding self as the curriculum/lesson relates to the following:

(1) Applying self as a learner to the situation;
(2) Framing questions;
(3) Tackling a project;
(4) Working as part of a team;
(5) Monitoring individual programs;
(6) Selecting a career; and
(7) Developing his/her skills and knowledge in order to be successful in a career choice.” (http://www.nj.gov/education/cte/sle/sle_man.htm#II)

This year, students will work with their learning group teachers to explore questions developed around content area. Students will have the opportunity to explore the following questions over the course of the year:

1. How can we communicate the greatness of our school community to our local community? (Teresa, Language Arts)
2. If you could choose to be a child in any historical period (that we are studying), which period would you choose and why? (Karen, Social Studies)
3. How can we market a healthy snack? (Marie, Science)
4. What impact does an invasive species have on an ecosystem? (Chris, Fifth Grade)

It is through the lens of the inquiry question that teachers create the skill based mini-lessons which create a framework of study students use to navigate the project. Nearly two months into school, projects are beginning to develop around the content-based inquiry questions. We are seeing amazing thinking beginning to develop such as:

-Developing a class blog highlighting the unique aspects of our school
-Imaging life as a 12 -year old in ancient Greece
-Creation of a healthy snack for Unity students and how to market it to them
-Determine how can we humanely build a trap and relocate an invasive species back to their natural environment

We hope you will join us at the celebrations of learning where we will present our culminating projects at the end of each trimester.