Academic Innovations

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There are a variety of course options:

Quarter: The basic course is designed to be delivered in 45 class sessions.  Details
  • This can be accomplished by integrating the activities into an academic course, such as English/Language Arts, or a unit at the end of the spring semester.
  • If you have a dedicated career exploration unit, this could become the coursework for that unit. 

Semester: Expand your 45-hour course to a 90-hour course using one of these options:
  1. Implement the various energizers and enhancements outlined in the Instructor’s Guide to expand and enrich delivery of the course material Details
    Each of the activities includes suggestions for extensions and enhancements that you may have time to incorporate into a 90-hour (semester) course. Once you study the lesson suggestions in the instructor’s manual, you can expand your course to include these additions.

    If the muse strikes, you may come up with additional ideas for meeting the learning objective.  Include those ideas on your pacing plan, providing as much detail as possible so when you execute your plan, you have your ideas right there.
  2. Integrate real-world math by incorporating the Lifestyle Math workbook Details
    One way to expand the material for a semester course would be to include the optional Lifestyle Math workbook and online correction key. The first 45 to 60 hours of the course, students would complete, under your tutelage, their work in their Building a Bridge to Your Future workbook.  Then for the remaining 30 to 45 hours, they would complete the work in their Lifestyle Math workbook.

    Over the years, when we ask instructors about the activities that are favorites and most motivational, it is the budget exercise from Chapter 4 of Career Choices that is mentioned time and again.  Lifestyle Math takes this budget project to a new level.

    Upon completion of their Bridge to the Future workbook and their Lifestyle Math budget, and students will have reviewed the salaries of potential careers that will provide the funds required for their envisioned lifestyle. This leaves students with an understanding of why they have to work hard in school to attain a job that will support their family.  If your students transition into high school with this experience, their motivation to succeed will carry weight in a concrete number—the cost of their future lifestyle and the corresponding income their need to earn to meet that lifestyle.  They’ll understand that, in most cases, the more you learn, the more you earn.
  3. Integrate an English/Language Arts project detailed in the workbook and Instructor’s Guide Details
    Instead of just talking about how to find authoritative books on a topic, allow students to find a book about one of the passions they listed or the career that seems most intriguing to them right now.  They will purchase the book and practice the study skills of self-directed learners, reading deeply and then reporting out on what they learned.

    Personalized learning is achieved when students read a book about an identified passion or a career they find intriguing. Because the content is of great interest to them, they will be motivated to go “deeper” through close reading, which is what the Common Core State Standards espouse. Instructors have the opportunity not only to help improve students’ reading and writing skills, but also to infuse lessons about study skills and presentation skills in this context.
Year-long: A 160- to 180-hour course option.
By combining the work in the middle school workbook with both the math enhancement and the English Language Arts project described above, you can easily create a dynamic, interdisciplinary course and provide a bridge for students' transition to high school. Your students will be able to learn sophisticated personal management strategies, practice math and English skills, and explore what makes them unique. Details
If you choose to create a year-long course, you will provide students with a “double dose” of high-quality English and math assignments that meet the Common Core State Standards, supporting the academic goals of your English and math programs with this new course.

The course instructor for this 8th grade bridge class will need to be comfortable teaching both English and math.  This is within the reach of most middle school instructors, because the math required to teach Lifestyle Math is the math used in most people’s everyday lives: addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division of whole numbers, fractions, and decimals, along with simple algebra and statistics.

With careful planning, you’ll have a fast-paced course where no one (especially you!) will be bored.  Your students will quickly understand that this course is all about them and, for the early adolescent, that is their key developmental task: identity formation and consolidation.

Upon completion of this coursework, students will be exposed to real-world applications for both English and math. Additionally, their reading and math work will offer an opportunity to present instruction and provide practice in both study skills and presentation skills. For entering high school freshmen, these are vital for student success.  Why?  Because they’ll arrive on their high school campus with an understanding of what their next steps should be in order to become self-sufficient adults—both emotionally and financially.

Daily Advisory Sessions: 25- to 30-minute segments Details
As you go through both the student workbook and Section 4 of the instructor's guide, you’ll note that most of the individual activities could be completed in a 25- to 30-minute time span.  If your school has a daily advisory period, you can use the workbook as the foundation material for those periods, completing an activity in each session. 

Summer Bridge Program: 3 to 4 hours per day over 3 to 4 weeks Details
If you follow the 45-hour pacing guide, you’ll see that you can easily complete the coursework during a summer school session of 3 to 4 weeks that includes a minimum of 3 hours per day of work devoted to the course content. During a summer session, you’ll want to include as many of the energizers in Section 4 of the instructor's guide as possible. For that reason, you’ll want to develop lessons for a total of 60 hours.

Integrate into an Academic Class Details
If you are an English/Language Arts instructor, you’ll quickly see how the work in the course can easily support your standards and academic goals for your students.   Integrating the coursework throughout your school year for two lessons per week, you can build a course that helps students learn English Language Arts content in context.  For instance, if you deliver these lessons, woven throughout the year, they would constitute 45 class sessions out of your total 180 hour sessions. You could also deliver the lessons as a unit all during the third quarter or last quarter of the year.

Integrate across a Variety of Disciplines Details
Share the different curriculum pieces with the other academic instructors on your campus, particularly those you know are innovators and pioneers.  They are sure to find a variety of ways to integrate with your coursework.  Consider holding a meeting of these select academic instructors to share what you are doing and solicit their advice and their help.

Keeping your whole school informed with what you are doing is vital. As the content from your course starts impacting their students, they’ll see the metamorphic changes in students and you’ll recruit more champions who want to support this project.

Deliver Coursework across 7th and 8th Grades Details
The coursework can also be divided so the first four chapters of the workbook are presented in the 7th grade, and the last eight chapters are presented in the 8th grade.

If you choose this strategy, there are a couple of key points to address in your planning strategies:
  • It is important that the instructors in the 7th and 8th grades have the same motivation to deliver the course material in a consistent manner, or the students will lose the scope and sequence of the material. 
  • Both teams should meet together to finalize the pacing guides for both grades, which would assure consistent delivery.

This coursework gives students additional exposure to  English and math skills as it, most importantly, helps them understand the value of education—creating the intrinsic motivation to succeed in both high school and post-secondary educational settings.

When classroom material validates a student’s interest and their future, you’ll find their work increases in both quality and quantity. When students experience this level of success, the confidence and experience they gain translates to their academic work in high school.

If your school is interested in creating a standards-based course for your 8th grade students that gets them academically and emotionally ready for their decade of transition (middle school to high school to post-secondary education and career), please contact us at (800) 967-8016.


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