For teachers who are wondering if Bloomz is suitable for middle school, the answer is an emphatic, "YES!" It definitely is. Middle school students are asking questions like What is our relationship and responsibility to our global community? To our Earth? How can we create art as a means to social justice? Adolescents are getting out there in the world, coming up with incredible solutions to these questions, and creating the future of technology right before our eyes. Their families need to be involved and know about the amazing work these students are doing during the school day.
In the transition from childhood to adulthood there are changes happening in the body and mind. Students are developing hypothetical reasoning skills as well as logic and abstract thought. Adolescents can imagine situations they haven't experienced which allows for the capacity to love and pondering of spirituality. One physical challenge that is happening at this time is the natural body rhythm of an adolescent doesn't coincide with the middle school schedule. Often these students aren't getting enough sleep which creates a situation where they get home from school and have no interest in sharing details about their learning experiences because they are exhausted. Parents can worry a LOT during this stage of growth. They frequently fear risky behavior and poor choices during the stage of adolescence. The lack of communication between parents and adolescents stokes the fire of fear when most of the time everything is fine, it's just that adolescents don't have the capacity to engage in long dialogue at the end of their school day. This is why it is more important than ever to utilize Bloomz for parent teacher communication in middle school.
Parents won't feel so in the dark when it comes to knowing what their child is doing. For adolescents bodies are changing, identities are forming, friend groups are so important, and the injustices of social structures are being felt on a deep and personal level. It's just too much to talk about with parents. I think DJ Jazzy Jeff and Will Smith said it best in 1988 with their hit single, "Parents Just Don't Understand". Let's help them understand.
If a parent knows just one positive thing about what their child did in school, they can give a compliment or a high five at the end of the day which will go a long way during this challenging growth stage. The behavior award system included in Bloomz has a new feature with Mystery Monsterz that are reminiscent of Pokemon. Adolescents at my school love this type of animation. Create behavior goals that are specific and personal to your middle school class and give your students positive reinforcement. As they gain points the egg will crack and a Mystery Monster will be born! I administer behavior awards with my class which provides for a nice little break in the academic day to build ourselves up by acknowledging our strengths and accomplishments. It might feel a little forced at first but you just don't know what is going on in these students lives and that aknowledgement they receive in your class could be the best part of their day.
Teachers at my school shared moments from middle school on the Bloomz newsfeed last year. I was able to check out the phenomenal work they were engaged in. For me, an elementary school teacher in the building, I was able to know more about the adolescents in our school. After I saw a photo or video I would say hello to the student in the hall and acknowledge their work. This helped me cultivate a deeper relationship with students outside of my class. When students feel supported by teachers throughout the building it makes their experience at school more meaningful. The community is built up and students are even more empowered. Additionally, just knowing what the teachers at my school do in middle school helps me prepare my elementary students for what is to come in their academic future. Some middle school moments I learned about through Bloomz at my school last year were:
- A "Shark Tank" project where students designed inventions
- Video of a student singing and playing a science song about caterpillers on guitar for her free choice homework assignment
- Informative Science Fair boards such as Electromagnetism, Burning Calories, and The Placebo Effect
- Sno-King Ice Arena PE Field Trip
- Visit to the Gates Foundation
- Documentation of the Washington State Regional Future Cities Competition
Do you have ideas on how middle school teachers can use Bloomz to enhance their classroom community? Please post them in the comment section below.