Draper Park Middle School is a highly successful 6-8 middle school in Canyons School District. Our school adheres to the principles of “middle level philosophy,” which includes a system of interdisciplinary teaming to provide teachers with time to collaborate, an emphasis on high-quality tier-1 instruction, along with intentional, data-driven academic interventions, and a focus on positive behavior interventions. We believe middle school is a time for students to explore many different subjects and topics and determine what interests they want to continue exploring when they reach high school or college. Our educational program is governed by four key values: student achievement, teaming, interventions, and elective class options. We believe these values help prepare all of our students for success in high school, college, and a future career.
The systems Draper Park Middle School implements are based on our aforementioned core values and the effective practices defined by the research Flowers et al. (2000) published in their canonical article on effective classroom practices at the middle level. Those classroom practices include: high levels of academic rigor; meaningful, relevant, and integrated curriculum; opportunities for active learning; and a positive climate based on respect (p. 53). Furthermore, Flowers et al. found that these practices were more likely to have an amplified affect within the context of interdisciplinary teaming (p. 54-55).
WHY DOES DPMS USE INTERDISCIPLINARY TEAMING?
Perhaps the best place to start is with a description of what “interdisciplinary teaming” is. Each team at DPMS is comprised of the four core subjects, or disciplines. For example, Team Balder has a math, science, ELA, and social studies teacher, as do all of the other teams at DPMS. Teaming also works among the grade-levels, with all of the 6th grade subjects sharing a common preparation period in order to facilitate collaboration and planning efforts.
Teaming a not just a convenient arrangement for teachers and students; it’s a research-based best practice. The Association for Middle Level Education (AMLE) is an organization comprised of scholars that supports and publishes research relevant to improving the educational programming in middle schools throughout the United States and world. In a document AMLE published in 2010, the researchers concluded when schools employ “Effective interdisciplinary teams [it] lead to improved student achievement, increased parental contacts, an enhanced school climate, and positive attitudes (This We Believe, 2010, p. 31).
In keeping with our core values at Draper Park Middle School, we want to create an academically rigorous, meaningful, engaging, and positive experience for all students. Teaming is one of the systems we use to achieve that.
The biggest driving factor for Draper Park is student achievement. In an effort to ensure all students are successful, we believe our students must receive focused, high-quality tier-1 instruction and when that tier-1 instruction isn’t enough, they receive targeted interventions designed to help students reach mastery on core concepts. In our teaming system, core subject teachers work closely together to plan lessons, develop assessments, monitor student achievement data, and design effective interventions to help students who have not yet reached mastery.
Additionally, teachers who work in interdisciplinary teams have an opportunity to help support each student. It’s no secret that Draper Park is a huge school, with over 1,500 students. Teaming allows students to be grouped into smaller teams (usually between 160-175 students). With all four core teachers working with the same smaller group of students, teachers are able to better support students academically, behaviorally, and emotionally. Furthermore, with a decreased number of students, teachers are more empowered to create and maintain clear avenues of communication with families about a child’s performance at school. Middle school can be a difficult time for many children as they learn to navigate more rigorous classes with increased expectations and more complex social situations. DPMS aims to support all students by placing them on a team of teachers who can work closely with each individual to ensure they are reaching mastery on their lessons as well as thriving socially in middle school.
WHY DOES DPMS HAVE A 6-PERIOD DAY?
Below is further discussion on the core values that shape our rationale for a 6-period day: student achievement, teaming, interventions, and elective class options.
I. STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT AND CORE CLASS INSTRUCTIONAL TIME
There are many scheduling models employed in schools throughout the state and nation. These schedules are often based on an individual school’s core values, student achievement goals, and staffing resources. Draper Park Middle School uses a 6-period day because we value instructional time in all classes. A 6-period day allows teachers to build in both extension and intervention exercises during the 60-minute class period. Another advantage to a 6-period day is the consistent learning environment every day – students go to the same 6 classes every day, so there aren’t gaps in their learning from going every other day, like in an A/B day 4×4 schedule. And finally, another advantage to a 6-period day is that students only have 6 classes worth of work, homework, projects, etc. to worry about. Even in high school, when students are juggling the work of 8 class periods, sometimes assignments or projects get overlooked or forgotten until the last minute.Comparison of Instructional Time
|Length of class periods|
Instructional time throughout the school year
Core teachers get 162.88 hours of instructional time per year.
Core teachers would get 139.42 hours of instruction per year
SAGE data from 7 period day to 6 period day
II. TEAMING AND COLLABORATION
While the benefits and scholarly research of teaming has already been discussed in detail on this page, another reason why DPMS uses a 6-period day is because that scheduling structure supports interdisciplinary teaming. Our teaming structure creates a “school within a school” at DPMS, minimizing the effects of our 1,500 student population, and ensuring that every student has a close-knit group of teachers working with them and attending to their academic and behavioral needs.
While some schools employ what they term teaming, DPMS uses a “true teaming” model where a group of students (~160) are all placed with the same math, English, science and social studies teachers. This model creates the conditions for effective collaboration among teachers to address the academic, behavior, and social needs of our students.
III. REMEDIATION & ACCELERATION DURING THE SCHOOL DAY
Draper Park Middle aims to individualize instruction when it comes to providing both extension activities for learners who reach mastery as well as remediation lessons for learners who need more instruction to reach mastery. In traditional scheduling models, this extensions and remediation takes place before or after school. However, DPMS has made it part of the school culture that teachers ought to reserve the last 10 minutes of each class period and/or the entire period on Friday’s for re-teaching & interventions. By utilizing the full 60 minutes to provide targeted feedback and support for all learners, DPMS feels other scheduling models would limit teachers’ ability to provide this support during class time.
IV. CHOICE OF ELECTIVES
Draper Park Middle offers a total of 56 different elective courses. Most students at DPMS take between 2-4 electives per year, based on the programs they have chosen to participate in. Click the link for a List of elective choices. In keeping with our “middle level philosophy,” middle school is a time for exploratory learning and schools should offer opportunities for students to experience a wide-variety of different subjects and topics.