Core Curriculum lessons were designed to follow the Mindsets and Behaviors. Our Core Curriculum supports our mission and vision statements. From these lessons we selected three to analyze and determine their effectiveness.
In school year 2015-16, there were 47 incident reports in sixth grade relating to bullying. This year, our goal was to decrease that number by 10% through the introduction of a series of lessons on social skills. This particular lesson was focused on the definition of bullying v. mean v. rude and was delivered to 294 of our 310 sixth grade students. Our pre-test proved that students often used these terms interchangeably. By the end of the lesson 88% of students were able to use the word “bullying” correctly as demonstrated on our post test. At the end of the year, we tallied 33 incident reports relating to bullying noting a significant decrease of 30%. We encouraged teachers to reinforce the definition of each term. Coping skills were also addressed as to how to handle each situation. Our counseling program will use these terms and strategies to develop a restorative incident report to reflect the lesson taught which will reinforce the concepts and coping skills. Next year, we will expand the lesson by including other coping skills, which will include using kindness. The students will complete an experiment on how kindness affects your relationships.
After evaluating data for 3 years, we noticed a trend that seventh grade students at our school struggle with academics and work completion. Mid-year reports demonstrated that 41% of seventh graders earned one or more failing grades on report cards. Our goal was to reduce that number significantly through a series of academic focused lessons designed to improve study skills, group communication, and goal setting and reflection. This particular lesson was centered on how studying with and without music has an effect on learning, which was delivered to 344 of the 357 seventh grade students. Before the lesson, 47% of students felt that they learned by listening to music with words, 8% felt that listening to music without words helped them, and 45% stated that they needed to study in silence. After the lesson, which proved that studying with music with no words or silence produced better results, 12% said they would listen to music with words, 18% would listen to music with no words, and 70% would study in silence in order to raise their grades.
Grades improved 4 weeks post lesson going from 41% of students with a failing grade to 35%. By the end of the semester, the number of students with a failing grade dropped to 20%. Looking forward, we will continue to monitor grades of this particular group of students as they enter the 8th grade, implement more academic strategies, and assign each student a mentor teacher to check in with weekly. In future years of implementing this particular group of lessons to reinforce our AVID curriculum, it would be helpful to break down each of the habits presented and using similar methods prove or disprove each study skills theory.
Our counseling team layers in lessons on college and career information to all grades to increase academic ownership, and in turn hopefully increase grades. This particular lesson was designed for the eighth graders based on our vertical alignment and ICAP requirement, focused on college related vocabulary, and was delivered to all 313 8th grade students. At the end of the lesson 89% of students reported an increase in understanding post-secondary related vocabulary. 100% of our teachers also stated that their students were utilizing this new vocabulary in classroom conversations. 75% of 8th grade teachers stated that they had at least one student ask them for individual planning to increase grades directly following this lesson. The month following the delivery of this lesson 8th grade GPA’s, increased from 2.2 to 2.7, with the largest increase (2.2 to 2.9) occurring the week after this lesson was delivered. We will complete several other lessons in Naviance this year, and offer career day based off clusters, with the intent to increase a sense of educational purpose and belonging.
When we deliver this lesson again, we will allow 2 days, as he students really wanted to take time to work on their posters and conduct proper research. Many took their projects home to complete them. Additionally, we will discuss how we can improve the connection to current academic success, and increase our data collection to measure lesson success.