What If We Give Choices?

 

During the 4th quarter in 6th grade, summer is calling. After a long school day, many students play sports, practice instruments, meet with clubs, get outside, create new things, and hang out with friends. What about homework?

In Language Arts, students are expected to read each night and do a short independent practice assignment. I never assign homework on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. Assignments are often posted on Monday for the week so if someone needs some flexibility, they can request it.

What if you have a choice? For the past two weeks, we are choosing what we want to do for homework as long as it’s related to our studies. We brainstormed a list of possible choices and then document what we do each day. At first, some people felt like having a choice was a bit overwhelming. As the first week progressed, more people began to realize that they were getting more work completed, they were enjoying the freedom of selecting an activity, and they felt a bit more relaxed about balancing the workload throughout the week.

Here are some slices of some of our reflections:

“Choice homework was a very different experience for me though in a positive manner. Each day forced me to ask myself: What do I need to do? What do I want to do? What will benefit me?”

“I loved choice homework because we could pick what we felt like doing. At least for me, it unlocked many different learning tools. Being able to choose something motivates people to actually do it.”

“When I do choice homework, it is a different, more free experience. Choosing what to do was the hardest part for me. I had to consider what was going to happen after school, what I would benefit from, and if I wanted to do that. Even though this is hard to weigh out, it proved to be very fun, interesting, and beneficial.”

“This also helped me really start reading and I advanced in the book. I also feel like I am older and I have more freedom. I really liked the experience.”

“I could work at my own pace and be more productive. I like these assignments because I had more flexibility to either change the homework or do more than was written.”

“I wrote a chapter each day for a book I started on Monday. I really enjoyed the nonspecificness of being able to choose homework assignments. I liked how a chapter could be anything. It was MY book and MY homework assignment. Some nights I would write my chapter first thing when I got home. On other nights, I would write before I went to bed. This shows that choice homework wasn’t in any way a burden to me. I usually have an order to the completion of my homework assignments. The fact that I wrote whenever I could is why I like choice homework so much.”

 

Creativity

It’s so much more than 6th grade. It’s so much more than Language Arts. One can consume all the knowledge in the universe but what good is that if one cannot create? Read more about what we value at Durham Academy Middle School ~

https://www.thedagraduate.org/blog/2018/3/20/creativity-by-patti-donnelly

Camp Cheerio 2014

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Why Camp Cheerio? We venture to Glade Valley, North Carolina every August with almost 100 sixth graders to connect, strive, and extend. It is a chance to bond with our advisory groups, learn from each other, and experience new things.

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 6th Grade Team

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From geocaching to ziplining….

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From climbing challenges to group problem solving….

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To hiking and canoeing….

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We LOVE Camp Cheerio!

Last Day 2014

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We began the year with Camp Cheerio in western, North Carolina where we explored, challenged ourselves, and pushed limits. On the last day of school, facilitators from Triangle Training Center came to do some collaborative closing activities with our advisory groups. Most of you are a little taller, a whole lot smarter, and of course all of you are ready for summer!

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Remember that practice makes permanent and when things are tough, smile and say, “How fascinating!” Spend some time this summer reading what YOU want to read, write down your crazy ideas, add to your Life List, and try something new. Most importantly, enjoy being in the moment with those you love. Finally, take time to be still and see what you notice.

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Sixth Grade! by Lana K.

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To wrap up the school year, I’d like to write this blog post on my sixth grade year. It has been a blast! There would be too much I would have to write to tell you about the entire school year, but I’ll tell you about the major events and highlights.

It started off with Cheerio, the camp that everyone was ecstatic about going to. I had an amazing time getting to know my classmates and participating in cool things, like zip lining. Another thing I remember around that time was getting elected as a 6th grade representative for student council. I had been elected for the same position in 5th grade, but I was still very excited to be chosen by my peers. Then came Christmas break…yes! I was so looking forward to this well deserved break since the beginning of winter. I was very happy and grateful for all of the gifts I received, but was ready to see my friends again. The next major event was my 12th birthday. I threw a party at my Gigi’s lake house with some close friends and had an amazing time. After that, my soccer team won the Julian Brown Memorial Cup and the Seaside Classic Tournament. Next, the event I had been looking forward to the whole year. The end of the year school dance!! I had been planning it in student council and was very excited. That Friday came around and I had the best time. Ever. I danced the whole night with my friends to my favorite songs! That dance ended the 6th grade school year on an amazing note!

Sixth grade has probably been my most enjoyable and I will never forget it!

iPads by Nathan G.

This year, as you probably know, was the first year of our middle school issuing everyone an iPad! First off, I would like to say that it was an awesome experience! It was so cool to have iPads in my everyday life at school!!

In previous years, I didn’t really like using pen and paper because it was a lot harder to keep up with 300 sheets of paper than one lightweight iPad! The class we use it the most is by far Language Arts. You can kind of tell because all these posts have been from the iPads! It saves a ton of time by not having to go down to the computer lab. It also enables us to use websites and apps in the classroom which makes learning a lot more fun than just sitting in a classroom listening to a teacher talk!! So it has definitely been the best learning tool I have ever used!

 

6th Grade Memories by Alex P.

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This was my first year at Durham Academy. Being a “newbie” was not bad AT ALL. The students were very friendly and supporting (perhaps in their own way) and I made lots of friends. However, moving away from my old home was hard. I left behind my home, friends, all the places I knew and considered home, and my old school. During the experience of moving I realized how important family was. I also noticed things that I had taken for granted in my old home and school that I didn’t have here. 6th grade was more challenging, but I still had lots of fun! All my classes were great and my teachers were amazing! I look forward to seventh grade!

 

Membean by Nathan G.

This year the 6th graders tried out a program called Membean. It’s a program that teaches and tests you in vocabulary. Now since it’s on the Internet it has a lot more sections and questions on each word! So much that when you learn and restudy words it has a whole page of different pieces of information! This includes cool features such as short video to help you understand the word.

I have really enjoyed Membean this year a lot more than normal everyday vocabulary on paper! Your teacher can just send you a quiz and it takes two seconds!! My friend and I have little contests to see who can answer the most correct questions so it actually makes learning vocabulary fun!

 

My Brain by: Sam G.

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In Language Arts we drew our version of our own brain. There were lots of creative brain drawings. In most of the brain drawings there were some short blurbs about highlights in 6th Grade. It was really fun drawing my brain in class because no one can critique you on what your brain looks like. In the end it came out pretty awesome. Take a look!

 

My Highlights From 6th Grade by Sheridan

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Overall, I have loved my 6th grade experience because of all the new friends that I have made as well as how I am doing academically. With iPads, I think that I have done very well because I can study a lot as well as practice things that I need to do. I loved using Membean because I can expand my vocabulary. I really enjoyed going to Camp Cheerio as well because of all the great food as well as the great acitivities. I think that this has been a very successful year and I really enjoyed it.