Patrick McQuillan, assistant professor of education, teaches a class on middle school philosophy and is a proponent of the approach. He believes the junior high school model tries to force children into a high school curriculum too early. The middle school approach is geared to the intellectual, social and physical development needs of young adolescents, he says. It emphasizes team teaching and an integrated approach to learning the subject matter and does require more planning time for teachers. "True" middle schools account for probably only 15 to 20 percent of those with the name, he says. "What generally happens is some sort of a compromise." He can be reached at 303-492-0773.
WHOLE LANGUAGE/WHOLE MATH
One of the hottest debates in education often is presented as a choice between two approaches to learning language and math. On one side is a holistic approach that stresses student interest and why students should care about these subjects. The other side views math and reading as the result of skills that require repeated drills, like phonetically sounding out words and memorizing multiplication tables. Assistant Professor Mitchell Nathan says the reality is that the vast majority of teachers use a combination of both. In fact, "the research on this is astoundingly clear that you need both." He can be reached at 303-492-6122.
MANUAL HIGH SCHOOL AFTER BUSING
This school year is one of great change at Denver's Manual High School. Last year's enrollment was about 40 percent black, 40 percent white and 20 percent Latino. After the end of mandatory school busing, this year's enrollment is about 45 percent black, 45 percent Latino and 10 percent white. Eighty percent of the students are performing below academic grade level and more than 80 percent of the school's incoming ninth graders come from households below the poverty line. The faculty is trying many new things to overcome these obstacles including smaller classes, Socratic seminars and team teaching -- many aspects of the middle school philosophy. Education Professor Patrick McQuillan is working with Manual's faculty and students throughout the year to learn how the changes are working and how they are affecting test scores, dropout and attendance rates. He can be reached at 303-492-0773.
COMPUTERS IN THE CLASSROOM
Classrooms across the country are putting in computers but what are the best educational uses of these new tools? Professor Mitchell Nathan is working with teachers at New Vista High School in Boulder to find out the best ways to integrate computers into their classes. Nathan, who holds degrees in electrical engineering and psychology and teaches a doctoral seminar on human learning and technology, is working with New Vista teachers throughout the year. A workshop will be held this summer to evaluate the results. He can be reached at 303-492-6122.