Monday, January 23, 2017

Dear Families in the Middle,

I'm wondering whether most people prefer warm and wet or cold and dry weather. Everything in life has benefits and challenges, doesn't it? I find it much easier to navigate and think when I'm not trying to get warm; however, wet feet or the smells associated with wet boots and socks tend to impact my productivity as well.

Our HMS Learning Community is anticipating significant change in the coming year - expanded space, an added House to each grade level, likely re-location of grade-level houses, and re-embracing our team members who have been at Prairie for a few years. While we eagerly anticipate the benefits of these changes, we also anticipate the challenges. Working with new teammates, scheduling program changes to meet the needs of our students, and re-envigorating our interdisciplinary efforts means dedicating time and energy to collaboration, flexible thinking and multiple and varied perspectives.

We've begun studying personalization in teaching and learning, and meaningful ways to use the Habits of Mind to know ourselves and our students, and alternative scheduling frameworks. As we embark on this journey, we ask our HMS families to be attentive to the changes, supportive of our efforts, and open with your feedback.

One of the innovative interdisciplinary projects our sixth grade team of learners (students and teachers) tackled this year is an authentic project with the Minnesota Zoo. I describe the project as "authentic" because the students have been researching the habitats and habits of specific animals housed at the zoo to solve a dilemma or challenge the zoo staff have identified. Some students are learning more about providing grizzly bears with enrichment opportunities while others are looking for ways to enhance the Snow Monkey exhibit. Our sixth grade students will be sharing their learning and proposing solutions to MN Zoo staff over the next few weeks.

We look forward to seeing many of you at the January Parent Group meeting Monday, January 30 at 6:30 PM in our Media Center. Your input on conferences, parent seminar topics, sixth grade orientation and registration days will help us continue to improve our efforts! You'll also hear about a couple of student-initiated projects planned for this spring!


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