Lesson 1 "Dear Middle Schooler"
I contacted the 3 sixth grade language arts teachers at the middle school and asked if they would be willing to have their students answer letters from my fifth graders. Two out of three responded yes and were quite thankful to have an activity for their students to do while the middle school was still involved in state testing. I had no idea letter writing was no longer taught in language arts, only expository and narrative writing, so we began our class lesson with a brief lesson in letter writing. I created a template on a PowerPoint slide for their reference and they began to write. And write! It is amazing what students can write when they want information. Some didn't care who answered their letter, but some want specifically to have a boy or a girl answer their questions. There were the usual questions about lockers, bullying, fights, the difficulty of the teachers, dating, and "girl stuff."
With the letters completed, I put them in our county mail and we waited for our responses. Within about 2 weeks, I had numerous responses to each letter. A few were silly, but for the most part they were the thoughtful letters of an "older and wiser" student who was sharing their wisdom and advice. Some even created Q and A lists, and others made pamphlets and brochures about the middle school experience. I can't tell you how excited my students were to receive these responses and how much these letters reduced their anxiety.
Lesson 2 SCOOTIN' Off to Middle School
There were so many questions my students did not get to ask at our registration session. Afterwards, I emailed the sixth grade counselor with their questions and for some information on basic facts about the school I was sure my students would not think to ask, but would need to know. Then, I took my questions and turned with into a game of SCOOT. If you have never played SCOOT with your students it is awesome! Basically there are a series of cards with questions posted around the room and students rotate from card to card recording their answers within a specified period of time.
At the end of the game I asked for their answers and shared the correct answers for each question. It was a great way to evaluate how much they knew versus what they thought they knew. It was interesting to see how much confidence it gave them to be able to correctly answer many of the questions. They were excited to discover they knew more than they thought they did.
Interested in playing my SCOOTIN' Off to Middle School game with your students? This game comes with lesson plan, detailed instructions for playing SCOOT, game cards, and student answer sheets. The link is HERE.
Lesson 3 Responses from Middle School and Learning to Open a Combination Lock
I started this lesson by passing back the answers to the letters my students had written to the middle school. The excitement was unbelievable. A real person in middle school had actually taken the time to read and answer their letter! After reading their personal letters they shared them with the students at their table and then those who wanted, shared with the class. It was amazing. Why didn't I do this years ago?
Now they were ready to tackle the locks. In previous years I had purchased combination locks at the Dollar Tree. With only 12, it was difficult for my students to get the practice they wanted when sharing with a partner. Plus, I had those students who really struggled with the right, left, right thing and spent nearly the entire class period trying to open their lock. This year my Principal sprang for 12 more locks. I found them at Wal Mart for about $1.57 each in the hardware section. A real bargain.
I showed the following YouTube video about how to open locks, passed them out, and let the students start practicing. If they were able to open one successfully, I suggested they trade with another person and see if they could open a different lock. My "lock-sperts" then went around the room helping the others who were struggling to get their lock open. Once everyone was successful we had individual time trials. Using my phone to track the time, I had the students line up in front of me with a lock. When I said go, I stared timing and they started opening their locks. When they got it open they held up the lock and said, "Done!" It was awesome to see them perform under pressure and most could open the lock in way less than a minute and my fastest was 7 seconds. This helped with allaying their fears about not having enough time between classes to open their locker and get to class on time.
We've had a great time learning about middle school and some of the challenges the students might face. But armed with information from our SCOOT game, encouraging words from the sixth graders who have lived it, and their new found lock skills my students are ready to "scoot on off" to middle school.
Are you interested in winning one of my SCOOTIN' Off to Middle School Games? If so, just follow my TPT store and type in your follower number in the comments section on the School Counselor Store Facebook page below this post or on my Facebook page. If you are already a follower, just type in "already following." I will announce the 3 winners Monday evening, June 12 at 10:00 pm eastern time.