'School within a school' concept unveiled for B-B-E middle school grades (VIDEO)

At the Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa school open house on September 1, students in grades 4 through 7 and their families took in a presentation on the new concept dubbed 'School Within a School' middle school concept.

About the presentation, Gossen said, "You're going to really like this. We have a group of teachers who are very excited and probably a little anxious, because, as we all know, change is hard. In education, what we've been hearing for a long time is that change is needed. We need to do some things differently."

Also at the presentation were Mrs. Sheila Jaeger, Mr. Chris Moscho, Ms. Ann Hagen, Mrs. Mimi Knutson and Ms. Megan Amundson.

"When this first came up, the big question posed was: why would you even consider doing something like this? This normally does not happen in a public school, especially in a rural district," said Learning and Engagement Coordinator Janelle Field.

Field explained, "What stood out was how tired we were of kids just coming to school and checking off the boxes. They're sitting here and regurgitating information. They take the test, they forget about half the material, they do that again, and the cycle just keeps going. We didn't feel that empowerment and engagement there."

"We felt that if we're going to give kids the skills to go out in this complex world we live in, then school needs to be more than coming in and filling in the blanks, taking a test and moving on."

Gossen added, "Or in some cases, kids don't check the boxes and still move on."

Gossen said, "Many of you parents have had kids in the school, and sometimes it's a matter of just getting them to check off the boxes. The question comes up 'Why?' at times. That's a big thing sometimes. There's kids who learn to play the game of school very well. Some kids check those boxes off and jump through the hoops, but then there's many of them who say they don't want to play that game. So we're going to change that."

"We're changing the game," said Field.

"Our administration, our school board, our parents have given us the go-ahead with this, the green light culture, and that's what's so exciting about this."

"Too many schools think you can have this magic box that just does it all for everybody. It took hard work to get here, though."

Field posed a question to the teachers: why must we imagine rural schools differently?

Amundson replied, "It's not good for the kids. We know that not all of them are going to be engineers or rocket scientists or doctors. Some of them want to be welders or farmers and work in other types of industry."

Knutson said, "If we keep pushing them in a direction we think is best, they're not going to be engaged in the process. Kids won't retain what they learn if they're not involved."

Field said, " The world is complex right now. Kids need different skills than what were given to be successful. We want them to be critical thinkers. We want them to be critical problem solvers. We want them to be able to go out and solve things in our community and in the world."

"Many of our kids don't want to stay in B-B-E. They want to graduate and head to the Metro Area or elsewhere. That's where success is to them. If we can show them that they can make an impact right here and stay here, look at how we could flourish in this area."

In the early 1900s, information moved around the countryside and nation by pony, by telegraph or sometimes by telephone.

By the 1920s, the use of radio technology dramatically changed the movement of information on a greater scale.

The communication landscape changed in a dramatic way with the introduction of television to many American homes in the 1950s.

Field said, "Other industries have structurally changed and gotten better outcomes in the last 100 years. Think about the use of tele-health, not to mention all the other things we can do virtually now."

"We want education to take that next step as well. We want our learners to get ready for all the complex things in our world. We want you to be entrepreneurs and problem solvers."

"In the 2000s, we thought, 'Oh, let's put technology in the classrooms. That will make education look innovative and empower the kids. Well, that will if you use it correctly, but to this day, too much education on our devices is still basic consumption of information."

"If we continue on this same path, we'll just get the same outcomes. We want to empower and engage our learners and have them co-create with us."

The four pillars of the new middle school concept include:

1. Meaningful and complex experiences

2. Learners know why and how

3. Centered on relationships

4. Adapts to learners' personalized needs

Field said, "If learners can just take an assignment and look up the answers, then it's not considered complex."

"At the same time, if a learner doesn't know the why or the how with their school work, then we missed something."

"We still need knowledge. Kids need their reading, writing and math. But how it looks today is so much different than back when I was in school. I remember sitting in a math class and seeing everyone doing the same thing...that's not happening at B-B-E."

"Your age shouldn't determine all that you receive in terms of your education at B-B-E."


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