Southwest offering new courses to middle school students

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Hermansen: ‘Learning has to have relevance to the lives of our students’

With the new 2020-2021 school year, Southwest decided to put into its curriculum more options for its middle school students.

Christy Hermansen, Southwest middle school principal, said she emailed her teachers last spring and asked them, “If you could teach anything, what would it be?

“We wanted to give our students more of a selection when it came to elective classes,” she said. “I asked them to describe what the new classes would look like.”

From that list, the middle school counselor, Lauren Lumpkins, surveyed students to gauge interest in the classes.

“Learning has to have relevance to the lives of our students,” she said. “When we were able to match the interest of teachers and students the enrichment classes came to life.

“Students were thrilled to have a choice and teachers were excited to take learning to a new level based on their own expertise.” 

This also changed the day from a seven-hour day to an eight-hour day.

“This has enabled numbers to come down in the core classes,” Hermansen said. “In turn, this has been beneficial to meeting the needs of all of our students in the Math, Communication Arts, Science and Social Studies classes.”

The following courses were added to the master schedule:

• Art for All of Us (this is in addition to regular art classes)

This art class focuses on Math skills and is a hands-on experience where students experiment with a variety of art materials that may include drawing, painting, mixed media, printmaking, sculpture, photography, digital media and more. 

• ASL: American Sign Language

Students will be learning the basics of ASL with the goal to have short conversations by the end of this enrichment.

• Current Events

Current Events is the study of the world around us. Each day we will be gathering and discussing newsworthy events. We will utilize different media outlets including the internet, television news, and of course, the newspaper. Students will be expected to participate in daily classroom discussions as we analyze major topics.

• Exploring Life Skills

This class is designed to increase student knowledge and skills necessary for everyday living. The course emphasizes goal-setting, decision making and problem solving, communication, healthy lifestyles and relationships, nutrition, personal safety, citizenship and consumerism.

• Book Club

Students will get to choose a book to read and complete a digital book report. Students will also learn the basics to cursive writing and use the class time to complete assignments for other classes as needed.

• Coding

Students will play some games (board games, strategy games, and social games) and then work in small groups to create, design, and build our own games. Finally, we’ll spend some time playing our own newly created games.

• The 3 R’s of Environment Science

We are quickly running out of space. It's time to learn the three R's of the environment: reduce, reuse, recycle. Then practice what you preach: don't buy things you don't need or items that come in wasteful packaging or that cannot be recycled. Reuse and recycle whatever you can.

• Sports Officiating Sports 

Officiating class for football, basketball, baseball, and softball. This class will include introduction on what being an official includes, the rules/mechanics and philosophies, finding positions available in officiating. This class will be based on MSHSAA and NFHS Access Sites and Guidelines. 

• Medical Detectives

Explores the biomedical sciences through hands-on projects and labs that require students to solve a variety of medical mysteries. Students investigate medical careers, vital signs, diagnosis and treatment of diseases, as well as human body systems such as the nervous system.

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