Originally Published: September 8, 2014 6 a.m.
As the new school year gets into full swing, both Granite Mountain and Mile High middle schools have introduced new and exciting approaches and choices to their respective curriculums.
Granite Mountain Middle School (GMMS) has instituted an innovative, collaborative approach to teaching students. This approach focuses on integrating science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM) within the core concepts each class teaches. GMMS teachers have had specific training on how to incorporate STEAM-based lessons into the curriculum.
STEAM-based curriculum reinforces critical analysis skills; improves problem-solving skills; practices higher-order thinking; provides a deeper understanding of subject matter; inspires creativity and innovation; develops interpersonal communication and collaboration skills; introduces flexible and adaptive thinking; and promotes understanding of societies and cultures.
In addition to STEAM, GMMS teachers also are receiving training in Project-Based Learning (PBL), a teaching method that allows students to gain knowledge and skills by working for extended periods investigating and responding to a complex question, problem or challenge. Together, STEAM and Project-Based Learning will result in collaborative projects, real-world problem solving, and a deeper understanding of concepts and skills taught in each grade.
Across town, Mile High Middle School officials are excited about the new "Seminar and Remediation" classes that they have added. As a result of these new classes, Mile High not only offers enrichment and remediation opportunities before and after school, but students now have an opportunity to engage in a large selection of new and exciting courses during the regular school day. Each of the more than 15 offerings are 40 minute classes, and students can choose which best suits their special areas of interest. If a child needs remediation for another class they are taking, this time period can be utilized for that purpose.
Over the summer, Mile High teachers proposed additional subjects beyond their core classes that they felt would be a great addition to the curriculum. These courses range from seventh-grade Survival Chemistry and Creative Writing to Robotics and Yearbook opportunities.
In addition, Ms. Tollefsen, a Language Arts teacher, is offering a class entitled "Project Citizen." Students in this class work together to identify a public policy issue in the community and then develop an action plan for local government leaders to use.
Seminar offerings in eighth grade include video production; American Sign Language and deaf culture; sociodrama, speech and communications; geography; game theory; practical physics; conversational Spanish and art. Students also have an opportunity to take a class entitled "Social Responsibility Training" (SRT) taught by Ms. Baker. It focuses on how students view themselves and their relationships, their decision to make positive choices and how to develop strategic problem solving skills. The program is designed to develop an enduring foundation of character. SRT helps students build self-respect, develop greater concern for others and learn the rewards that come from making positive choices.