The middle school we attend is big (1000+ kids or so for grades 6 through 9) and scores a solid 'B' in state rankings year after year. In other words, it is a pretty average school with a large and diverse student body.
But I am extremely pleased with it. Just one of the many recent lessons in 7th grade social studies was a study of Africa - the physical continent, political countries (the kids memorized the 40 countries), ancient history and current status. They are assigned to make a mini 'National Geographic' report on a country of their choice (pictures, articles, cover etc.)
A couple of the days was spent learning, watching and discussing the Lost Boys of Sudan. Remember this? Practically a whole generation of kids were orphaned as a result of civil war. Here is the teacher's guide on their official website http://www.lostboysfilm.com/learn.html. As a mother, I am overwhelmed by problems like this and am nearly paralyzed with inaction.
But my son came home with a huge positive attitude about the issue. He learned the kids initially were desperate, but it wasn't long before there was structure in place to take care of things. Not only was international aid present, but the kids themselves were able to make routines and better their situations.
A reminder to me that youth instinctively is positive in outlook. The video my son's class watched showed the kids dancing and singing on Christmas, as well as some of the experiences of those who immigrated to the West.
The teacher of this class has made a fantastic impression on my son. He is funny, but relays serious learning. He relates to their age (boys still an arm's length from girls, girls in stratified cliques). Right now social studies is his favorite subject!
Score: Middle School , a resounding BIG POINT
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The 5th grade in my daughter's school has decided the community service project for the holidays is a toy drive. OK, it was the parent organization that decided, not the school.
The catch is they want only items of $10 value or more for donations. New, of course, nothing second hand. I am very unhappy. The statement from the organizers emphasized they want the kids to understand what it means to donate. PLEASE. Plenty of understanding about charity can be made with out a $10 price tag. My kids and I heartily donate every year to Toys for Tots, local charity and volunteer plenty.
Without further ranting, and though I am tempted to write the contact person a piece of my mind, I have an idea!!
I am going to beat this thing at their own game. Simply go to Michaels with a 40 or 50% off coupon in hand and get a GREAT gift which will cost me $5 out of pocket.
Score: Grade School , a resounding BIG DISAPPOINTMENT