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Middle Grades Success Videos

A rich collection of video vignettes of school practices that illustrate one or more aspects of the California Department of Education's (CDE) 12 Recommendations for Middle Grades Success.

Many of the video vignettes (accessible below) are an integral part of one or more of the professional learning activities developed to support the implementation of the CDE’s 12 Recommendations for Middle Grades Success. Recommendations-aligned content, checklists, documents, as well as the professional learning activities may be accessed on the Taking Center Stage Act II: Middle Grades Success Web page.

Professional Learning Series Video Presentations

Video: Engaging Middle Grades Learners with Dr. Kate Kinsella External link opens in new window or tab. (33:36)

Description: Dr. Kate Kinsella, an expert on the instruction of adolescent English learners, provides practical, research-based strategies and recommendations for promoting student engagement in understanding lesson content. Dr. Kinsella shares exemplary teaching models from California’s middle grades classrooms and provides tools and directions to help educators implement the practices in their own classrooms.

Video: Teaching Vocabulary in the Middle Grades External link opens in new window or tab. (36:59)

Description: In this Professional Learning Activity, Dr. Kinsella presents an instructional approach that bolsters students’ expressive vocabulary knowledge, outlines key steps for teaching a word, and explains the pivotal role of vocabulary in literacy and learning.

Video: Building Language and Literacy Skills Through Structured Tasks External link opens in new window or tab. (25:26)

Description: In this Professional Learning Activity, Dr. Kinsella demonstrates strategies that enable students to engage in discussion tasks.

Video: Enhancing Students' Academic Discussion Skills, Part 1 External link opens in new window or tab. (27:14)

Description: In this Professional Learning Activity, Dr. Kinsella explores steps in effectively setting up discussion tasks for students.

Video: Enhancing Students' Academic Discussion Skills, Part 2 External link opens in new window or tab. (29:30)

Description: In this Professional Learning Activity, Dr. Kinsella explores steps in effectively setting up discussion tasks for students.

Video: Rigor in the Classroom with Dr. Douglas Reeves External link opens in new window or tab. (23:08)

Description: In Dr. Douglas Reeves' first video presentation, this noted expert on educational issues talks about Rigor in the Classroom. He leads viewers through four significant topics: student socioeconomic status and achievement, power standards, feedback and grading, and the importance of establishing a culture of student achievement.

Video: Making Assessment Work in the Real World External link opens in new window or tab. (18:35)

Description: In Dr. Reeves' second presentation, Making Assessment Work in the Real World, he shares tips on how to make common formative and summative assessments work, discusses the difference between objective and subjective assessment, explores the leadership and learning matrix, and advocates the power of nonfiction writing.

Video: Accountability in a Learning Organization External link opens in new window or tab. (15:49)

Description: In his third presentation, Accountability in a Learning Organization, Dr. Reeves explores the pros and cons of current school accountability practices and introduces a new concept — holistic accountability.

Video: Teacher Leadership: Making a Difference External link opens in new window or tab. (25:42)

Description: In his fourth presentation titled Teacher Leadership: Making a Difference, Dr. Reeves discusses the importance of teacher leadership and why it makes such a difference, the teacher leadership imperative, and the power of teacher networks. He also shares four teacher leadership strategies and considers the question, "What's in it for me?"

Video: Brain Matters: Research on Learning with Dr. Janet Zadina External link opens in new window or tab. (18:48)

Description: In her first presentation, “Brain Matters: Research on Learning,” Dr. Janet Zadina correlates brain research with how to improve instruction in the classroom for young adolescents. She first explains the difference between thinking and learning, and then she leads viewers through the three principles by which the brain learns: “Learning involves making connections,” “Use it or lose it,” “It’s not enough to fire it, you have to wire it!”

Video: Adolescent Characteristics (Part I): The Survival Instinct and the Development of the Brain External link opens in new window or tab. (23:27)

Description: Learn how to apply new research on adolescent brain development from Dr. Janet Zadina, an experienced high school and community college instructor and reading specialist now engaged in neuroscience research. In this professional learning presentation, you and your school team members will find that middle grades is an ideal time to develop critical thinking because of rapid brain growth that is occurring in young adolescents. This assists the development of the frontal lobe which is essential to student success. Dr. Zadina's suggestions for improving instruction for young adolescents connect to CDE’s 12 Recommendations for middle grades success.

Video: Adolescent Characteristics (Part II): The Social Nature of the Brain and the Role of Emotion External link opens in new window or tab. (24:19)

Description: Learn how to apply new research on adolescent brain development from Dr. Janet Zadina, an experienced high school and community college instructor and reading specialist now engaged in neuroscience research. In this video and accompanying professional learning activity, you and your school team members will consider how to apply new findings on how the brain functions as young adolescents think and learn. As you discuss Dr. Zadina's suggestions on improving instruction for young adolescents, you will also find connections to the CDE’s 12 Recommendations for helping young adolescents succeed.

Video: Multiple Methods for Learning and Assessment External link opens in new window or tab. (20:36)

Description: Learn how to apply new research on adolescent brain development from Dr. Janet Zadina, an experienced high school and community college instructor and reading specialist now engaged in neuroscience research. In this video and accompanying professional learning activity, you and your school team members will consider how to apply new findings on how the brain functions as young adolescents think and learn. As you discuss Dr. Zadina's suggestions on improving instruction for young adolescents, you will also find connections to the CDE’s 12 recommendations for helping young adolescents succeed.

Recommendations-Aligned Video Presentations

Recommendation 1 - Rigor

Video: Leading the Way to Academic Excellence External link opens in new window or tab. (6:50)

Abstract: Educators at Toby Johnson Middle School and Rio Norte Junior High School design and deliver rigorous curricula, assess how well students are meeting California’s content standards, and collaboratively adjust teaching to improve student learning.

Recommendation 2 - Instruction, Assessment and Intervention

Video: Kinesthetic Learning, Part I External link opens in new window or tab. (5:37)

Description: A science teacher at Rio Norte Junior High School in Santa Clarita differentiates instruction using a creative and fun approach to teach the properties of the three states of matter.

Video: Kinesthetic Learning, Part II External link opens in new window or tab. (5:05)

Description: A science teacher at Rio Norte Junior High School in Santa Clarita differentiates instruction using a creative and fun approach to teach the properties of the three states of matter.

Video: Positive Intervention Team (POINTE) External link opens in new window or tab. (5:02)

Description: School staff (administrators, teachers, and counselor) at Silverado Middle School in Roseville gather for a POINTE (Positive Intervention Team) meeting to discuss issues faced by a struggling student and identify ways to help him succeed academically and socially.

Video: Strategies for Success External link opens in new window or tab. (10:11)

Description: With an unshakable belief that all children can learn, a middle grades math teacher uses AVID strategies to help struggling math and science students. Over time, students move from Below Basic and Far Below Basic to Basic, Proficient, or Advanced on state tests.

Recommendation 3 - Time

Video: Scheduling for Success External link opens in new window or tab. (6:06)

Description: At Toby Johnson Middle School in Elk Grove, an innovative four-by-four block schedule gives students extra time for reading and math and nearly two dozen elective choices, while affording teachers time to collaborate, plan, and meet the daily needs of students.

Recommendation 4 - Relevance

Video: Enhancing Science Instruction with Technology External link opens in new window or tab. (5:02)

Description: By tapping into the wireless and w.i.r.e.d world of young adolescents, educators at Holmes International Middle School in Northridge, California, engage students by infusing state-of-the-art technology into science classes. As a result, students view science in a positive light, have the confidence to tackle the rigors of advanced courses, and gain a glimpse of science as a potential career goal.

Video: Portfolio Day External link opens in new window or tab. (9:46)

Description: Eighth graders at Castaic Middle School in the Santa Clarita Valley make a positive impression on community members by presenting standards-based portfolios of their best school work and discussing their career aspirations, interests, talents, and hobbies.

Recommendation 5 - Relationships

Video: Making Connections, Part I External link opens in new window or tab. (5:20)

Description: In Santa Clarita, teachers form close relationships with each other and with students as part of Rio Norte Junior High School’s organizational structure and interdisciplinary teaming approach. Each team is a close-knit community that fosters the social, emotional, and academic success of young adolescents.

Video: Making Connections, Part II External link opens in new window or tab. (4:22)

Description: In Santa Clarita, teachers form close relationships with each other and with students as part of Rio Norte Junior High School’s organizational structure and interdisciplinary teaming approach. Each team is a close-knit community that fosters the social, emotional, and academic success of young adolescents.

Recommendation 6 - Transitions

Video: A Jump Start into Middle School External link opens in new window or tab. (8:19)

Description: Teachers and administrators at Toby Johnson Middle School in Elk Grove help ease the transition from elementary school for incoming seventh graders through JumpStart. The three-day, summer program offers students academic “tune up” time, the chance to meet teachers and other students (including the eighth grade members of the leadership team), and an opportunity to become comfortable with middle school expectations.

Recommendation 7 - Access

Video: Making it Happen For Every Student! Part I External link opens in new window or tab. (6:00)

Abstract: During and after-school activities allow students to demonstrate their personal bests, artistically express themselves, and exhibit leadership potential. R.H. Dana Middle School’s AVID class uses motivational and teambuilding activities to improve academic achievement. Dana’s Arts Alive program gives students fun time to socialize while beautifying the campus and promoting school events. In Rio Norte Junior High School’s Yes-I-Can program, student mentors are paired with disabled students resulting in unexpected friendships and appreciation of students' unique qualities.

Video: Making It Happen For Every Student! Part II External link opens in new window or tab. (6:04)

Abstract: During and after-school activities allow students to demonstrate their personal bests, artistically express themselves, and exhibit leadership potential. R.H. Dana Middle School’s AVID class uses motivational and teambuilding activities to improve academic achievement. Dana’s Arts Alive program gives students fun time to socialize while beautifying the campus and promoting school events. In Rio Norte Junior High School’s Yes-I-Can program, student mentors are paired with disabled students resulting in unexpected friendships and appreciation of students' unique qualities.

Questions:   Peter Callas | pcallas@cde.ca.gov | 916-319-0669
Last Reviewed: Monday, June 25, 2018
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