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Published on Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Five Reasons Why the NEW Second Step Middle School Curriculum is Magnificent

Middle School Program

I must admit that since Committee for Children made the announcement that a NEW Second Step Middle School curriculum will be coming out in August of 2017, I’ve been feeling a bit impatient and restless. I’m ready to dig in, so I have to keep reminding myself of what some of the Second Step elementary lessons teach: use strategies to wait patiently. But that is so hard to do! Knowing all the time and energy that has gone into the program’s development, from gathering others’ feedback and reviewing the research to pilot trials of lessons, I just know it is going to be good. 

I did take advantage of Committee for Children’s opportunity to preview a few lessons, review the lesson scope and sequence, and look at the research. Then I talked to friends to find out what they like best about it after they had done the same. These are five of our favorite things about the new curriculum from what we know so far:

  1. Lessons are Engaging
    The lessons are only 25 minutes long. Plus, no two lessons are exactly the same, which keeps things exciting. The varying lesson elements include surveys, class discussions, videos, activities, think-turn-tell and think-share components, writing, and more. Some lessons have one video while others have more than one. All the videos are short. The variety in activities and format fosters student engagement because no single element takes more than 10 minutes. The graphics are also captivating.

  2. ‘Real Voices’ of Middle School Students are Represented
    For the new curriculum, 250 students from 10 different locations were asked about life in middle school. They provided feedback in a video kiosk that included a mounted tablet system with a camera. The kiosks were in private locations so students could talk openly about their thoughts, feelings, and experiences using their own words. Information from the Real Voices experiences was used to create videos for the curriculum. This means students hear about the real experiences of other middle school students, helping them to know they are not alone.

  3. Students Have Regular Opportunities to Personally Connect with Learnings
    Students have many opportunities for self-reflection, which fosters self-awareness, one of the BIG 5 social-emotional learning (SEL) competencies. They are asked to think about how to apply the skills in their own lives. For example, within the Starting Middle School lesson, students are asked to share one thing that makes them nervous about starting middle school, and then to identify one person at school they could go to for help if they are feeling nervous or having a problem. In the Grow Your Brain lesson, students are asked to list all the things they do to make their brains stronger. These opportunities for making a personal connection to the lessons are fostered in many ways, including thinking, sharing, writing, or discussing.

  4. There are Ongoing Opportunities for Giving Feedback About the Lessons
    Adults who teach the lessons can provide Committee for Children with feedback about each lesson, including what they liked best and how the lesson could be improved. The feedback option is at the end of each lesson and is optional. There are only two questions, so the process is quick and easy. It is nice to know that Committee for Children values feedback from those of us who are out in the field, implementing the lessons.

  5. No More Need for Paper Copies of Handouts
    This may be especially exciting for those of you on a limited copying budget. Because the curriculum is digital, handout examples are provided on the screen, so although printed handouts remain an option, they are not needed. Everything can be shown on a screen for the students and teacher to engage in and interact with together, at one time.

There will be much more to share about the NEW Second Step Middle School curriculum as things continue to unfold, so keep following my posts to hear more about it


«July 2017»

Meet the Makers of Our New Middle School Program

Curious. Active. Egocentric. Argumentative. Inconsistent. Restless. Moody. Optimistic. Rebellious. Hopeful. Introspective. At-risk. Idealistic.

Sound like someone you know?

Read more

What SEL and Academics Look Like Together: The New Second Step Middle School Curriculum

Social-emotional skills are essential for academic success. For example, there are many connections between social-emotional learning (SEL) competencies and mathematics. To solve mathematical problems, students need skills such as perseverance and determination. They need to self-evaluate, communicate arguments, stay calm when facing challenging problems, recognize when they lack knowledge to solve a problem, and seek help from others in tough situations. Useful skills for any subject!
Read more

Summer Sanity Series - Part 2 Keeping Your Summer Fun On Track

Summer is in full swing now and everyone is embracing the sunshine and the warm weather. With all the fun summer activities, parents tend to get a little more relaxed in their parenting. Being a bit more flexible and going with the flow can be wonderful and liberating, unless you are undoing the habits you worked so hard to maintain the rest of the year.
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Meet the Makers of Our New Middle School Program

Committee for Children takes great pride in how we develop our Second Step program. We not only take the most current research in the field and translate it into lessons that use best practices in pedagogy, but we take pains in designing those lessons to be user-friendly. The melding of these components results in a program that is effective, well received, and reaches millions of children each year.
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ISTE 2017 Conference & Expo Recap

A few members of the Committee for Children (CFC) team had the privilege of attending the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Conference and Expo in San Antonio, Texas June 25-28. Rachel Kamb, a Product Manager here at CFC, also presented a session with Gary Goldberger and Leigh Hallisey of FableVision Studios titled ‘Empathy Empowers: Digital Learning Strategies’.

Read Kamb’s review of ISTE 2017 as well as a summary of the session, below.  

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The Bully Pulpit

Fifteen years ago, few states had explicit legislation aimed to reduce bullying. Today every state in the country has adopted policies to minimize bullying. Overall, 28% of students reported victimization in 2005 (when statistics were first collected) while 22% reported being victimized in 2015 (U.S. Department of Education).
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Teacher Health and Wellness: Fostering Student Achievement by Supporting Teachers’ Mental and Physical Well-being

On June 14, 2017, Committee for Children and the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) held a briefing on teacher health and wellness that was attended by over 30 people from congressional offices, national nonprofits, and academia.
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Middle School Students and Teachers Reveal How the Second Step Middle School Program Fosters Academic Success

Students and teachers from diverse classrooms across the country reported connections between social and emotional learning (SEL) and academics during their interviews about the new Second Step Middle School curriculum after piloting it in their classrooms. They shared many different examples of how the social skills learned in the new Second Step Middle School curriculum contributed to academic success.
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Meet the Makers of Our New Middle School Program

An exciting part of the early design work we did on our new Second Step Middle School Program was traveling around the country speaking to educators about what they needed from us. One thing we learned is there is tremendous diversity in the students we’re reaching, tremendous diversity in how the program is delivered, and that whatever we create needs to be flexible enough to work in many different situations.
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