Ever wonder what the middle school teachers receiving your graduates really want? Not sure how best to help your 4th, 5th, and 6th graders transition from primary to secondary grades? I’ll let you in on a secret: We middle school teachers are equally concerned about helping kids learn how to “be students” as we are with the content knowledge that they have when they arrive.
- Students entering junior high are learning how to deal with higher volumes of homework, more long-term projects, and their first experiences with midterm and final exams.
- Students going into high school are dealing with higher frequencies of tests and quizzes, even harder content, and higher stakes.
- Students preparing for college often don’t know how to adequately prepare for the SAT/ACT, how to write an essay that will appeal to the admissions audience, and how to get everything done in addition to their regular homework from school.
#5: Calendar Skills
Planners, assignment books, and calendars need to be completed daily and independently by students, and they are the fastest way to help parents know what their children should be doing. Using your calendar method of choice, please help them learn how to record not just when something is due, but what they could do TONIGHT to work ahead, study, or prepare. Breaking down bigger tasks into smaller pieces is one of the toughest skills that we have to work on in middle school, and we appreciate if you fight the good fight along with us!
#4: A Healthy Fear of the Final Draft
This is particularly true if your students will be transitioning from a mastery grading scale to one with points and percentages.
(Go ahead and forewarn your students that I might take off points for formatting, grammar and spelling errors, or not following directions/prompts. Feel free to make me the bad guy.)
#3: A Love of INDEPENDENT Reading
I’m so blessed to have talented K-6th grade teachers who send me passionate readers! However, with all of the competing demands of grades 7-12, students will have increasingly less free time to read for pleasure at home.
Encourage students to read at home AND at school so they don’t become dependent on solely in-class reading minutes. Help them break down longer books into page-per-night goals so their goals seem more manageable and have the accountability of smaller deadlines. (We find that page/day goals work better than just minutes-per-night goals.) Talk openly about when and how you read books, or let other students share how they pencil in reading minutes at night.
#2: Self-Advocating Skills
#1: One Solid Study Method for Tests and Quizzes
My students love different the features of Quizlet to study vocabulary!
…OTHER than just blankly rereading the notes.
The easiest way you could help is to tell students at least two ways to study before any test or quiz.
I know one innovative 5th grade teacher who does skits and verbal sharing during class to teach kids what studying “looks” like; another uses logs and checklists so that students must prove that they have studied at least three ways before a test takes place. I use the various features of Quizlet‘s online flash cards extensively when I teach vocabulary and Greek & Latin roots!
When my team starts preparing 7th graders for their first-ever midterm exams, we help them to:
- Read and understand a provided study guide
- Gather the correct papers/handouts/notes to study
- Read those notes more than once
- Start studying more than one day in advance
- Rewrite notes or convert them into flashcards
- Redo practice problems, homework pages, or already-completed questions
- Repeatedly use paper or online flashcards (like Quizlet)
- Find a friend or parent to quiz them on the material
- Practice writing short answer responses in advance
- Invent and answer questions that COULD be on the test
- Get enough sleep and avoid panicking
A Parting Note of Thanks
Middle of Lit says
I teach 7th grade in a K-8 building too! It definitely gives me a great perspective on the transition that middle school students go through 🙂 These are great tips. I can see myself reviewing some of these skills with students at the beginning of the year as a "survival guide to middle school". Thanks!
Brain Waves Instruction says
Love these ideas Sara! Thanks for sharing!
Marcy Howe says
Thanks for reminding me about Quizlet..skips my mind. Fabulous post, and so relevant. Thank you.
This is great. I teach fifth grade at a middle school, so we are in a unique position of transitioning the students to middle school while still maintaining a lot of elementary methods. My students are going to be sixth graders in just a few short weeks and so many of them are still ill-prepared to be fifth graders. I'll be sharing this!
5th Grade Happenings says
I also teach 5th grade but in a pre K – 8 building. We are using planners daily. I like the idea of teaching children how to write an email to a teacher. Great ideas. Thanks for sharing.
davina williams says
I’m an Induction Coach for Elementary and Middle schools, and I want to give my teachers information to prepare the 5th and 8th graders for transition into Middle and High schools. Thanks, this article was very helpful!
Michelle Catapang says
Great content. It will surely help, thank you!
Michelle Catapang says
This content is a must-read for parents! Thank you for sharing your ideas.