EDMONDS SCHOOL DISTRICT
CHALLENGE MIDDLE SCHOOL TASK FORCE
May 18, 2009 Minutes
Present: Tony Byrd, Mary Freitas, Kevin Allen, Carol Rypkema, Elizabeth Donnelly, Jon Howeiler,
Kristin Merrill, Mary Phan, Michelle Toshima, Nancy Gilbertson
Absent: Sue Venable, Ken Limon, Vicki Birchfield, Kim Newman, Kevin Judd, Ken Batali, Pidgie
DISTRICT HIGHLY CAPABLE MIDDLE LEVEL TASK FORCE GOAL:
Explore options to meet the needs of gifted middle school students
Budget changes are still a big focus of the district and superintendents. Three public budget meetings are
being held during the month of May. Due to the budget reductions next year, Sue Venable will become the
Family School Support Administrator instead of Assistant Superintendent.
Gifted Middle Level and Ninth/Tenth Grade Students Sharing Their Middle School Experiences –
Gifted students were asked to share with the task force what they thought of middle school and how it had
prepared them for high school. Are gifted students needs being met in middle school. Students in
Tobias Osterhaug – Grade 10 – EWH/IB – TP 7-8 Honors – Challenge
Ylan Phan – Grade 10 – EWH/IB – CPM Honors 8th gr./MM Honors 7th gr. – Challenge
Lisa Hysa – Grade 9 – EWH/IB – TP 7-8 Honors – Challenge (emailed written answers)
Sarina Lim – Grade 9 – EWH/IB – CPM Honors – Challenge
Estella Jung – Grade 9 – EWH/IB – CPM Honors – Challenge
Victoria Phan – Grade 7 – CPM Honors – Challenge
Liyala Dickens – Grade 7 – CPM Honors – Challenge
1. Tell us about your experiences in middle school.
TP K-8 not a connection in curriculum between 6th/7th grade, gaps in math knowledge, needed more
teaching of fractions.
TP K-8 was pleasant, friendly, learned a lot, good relationships with teachers, science prepared me for
high school, english/social studies experiences were good, classes’ fun and not boring, faster paced.
CPM/MM – More independence, variety of people/cultures, more choices, good teachers, not
academically challenged, overlap in curriculum like science by doing some of the same science
projects as 3rd/4th grade Challenge, some math concepts same, used same version of math book
already done in TP Challenge, pacing issues – too slow a progression through the materials, not
2. In a perfect world, what would you like in middle school?
a. Need more challenging classes than in elementary, faster paced.
b. No busy work particularly the homework and it needs to be relevant to material.
c. No repeating of assignments that were done in Challenge science/math.
d. Better progression of curriculum between 6 th/7th grade.
e. Want higher expectations of the students and classes should contain peers that share a desire
f. Work load is much lighter than Challenge – all students were in agreement that this should
3. What is the best academic experience you’ve had in middle school and why?
a. Science – one big science project per trimester, procedures for formal lab and instructions on
how to write a good procedure, self selection of topic and complexity, current events, science
debates, concrete experiments.
b. 8th Grade Humanities (English/Social Studies) – first class you really had to do actual work to
maintain a good grade, essay emphasis on format and analysis in writing and oral
presentations helped prepare for IB. In class essays need to be done more quickly.
c. Accelerated Reading - all agreed this was a good program to promote reading of classics and
prepared them for high school, liked the giving of points when reached certain levels.
4. What is the worst academic experience you’ve had in middle school and why?
a. Math – Integrated Math TP – 5th/6th grade not much learned, divided into four groups, when
changed groups there were gaps in knowledge, not prepared for 7 th grade math and algebra.
b. Each middle school seemed to have had a different curriculum.
c. Too much time on review of math because of gaps, kids struggled, teachers frustrated. Math
by skills was better, go at own pace and learn same thing.
d. Time Usage – wasted time catching peers up to level, lot of time wasted daily, from taking
attendance to reviewing material, when absent there was only about 20 minutes of makeup
work and could still get good grades. All students were in agreement on all of these points.
5. Do you feel middle school is preparing/or prepared you for high school? Please explain.
a. Science – yes it prepared us by teaching how to write a formal lab and quickly identify
b. 8th Grade Humanities – yes, block form helpful, learned to write better essays. English 7th
learned same things, just books were different. History did not prepare us for the note taking
which is a big part of the grade in high school for in class work and homework.
c. Teachers – learned more from teachers who were enthusiastic and specialize in their subjects.
d. Geometry and Trig – yes this helped prepare us; line formulas good.
e. Challenge – yes it helped prepare us better by teaching time management/project
management, handle seemingly overwhelming assignments and concepts, do anything if you
set your mind to it.
f. 7th Grade – no did not help prepare us, too much busy work.
g. Homework – lack of homework didn’t prepare for the level of effort needed in IB.
6. What did you find interesting or engaging?
a. Socratic seminars
b. Fishbowl discussions – open ended, more interactive and required higher level thinking and
c. English – saw layers of information
d. Science labs – interactive and hands on
e. Learning to do research and plan projects
f. Foreign language classes
7. Was there anything you wish had been done to help prepare yourself for high school?
a. More lecture-based note taking in middle school – hard to keep up with high school teachers
who talk fast.
b. More opportunity with peers.
c. Small school great for emotional support, but also shelters you when you get in with the larger
groups in high school.
d. Test prep to help prepare for high school.
8. Did middle school prepare you for the WASL? Please explain.
a. Some students felt it was waste of time – way ahead of WASL in knowledge.
b. Need to recollect material from past – take earlier?
c. The warm ups for WASL helps with focus/concentration on exams for periods of time.
d. There’s a purpose for everything we are learning – ingrained in Challenge.
e. Be all that you can be also ingrained in Challenge. Middle school made you feel like not
doing 110% to get “A” so you might slack off and maybe lose some study habits.
9. What advice do you have for adults who are creating a middle school gifted program?
a. Real gifted program, not just an empty title like honors – need breadth and depth, more
b. Need more work that challenges you, not necessarily more homework.
c. Experienced teachers, not new teachers who don’t know what gifted is about. Teachers need
a level of experience and curricular breadth and know how middle school fits into curricular
continuum. Teachers need to communicate often with each other. Teachers need to have high
expectations for students and a balanced work load that would require higher quality work
d. Teachers at TP cared about the students and gave them individual attention and expected
higher quality work.
e. CPM – Questions from teachers about why did you do such thorough work? Higher quality
or extra detail is not an expectation. The students agreed with this point.
f. Students in the gifted program who want to learn and are willing to work hard versus students
who aren’t willing to do these things, but parents push them into the program anyway.
g. Honors - no understanding of what gifted kids have already learned and what needs to be
learned next. More communication about what gifted kids really need to learn for their social
and mental growth.
10. Do you have any other comments?
a. Wish we had a “challenge program” in middle school.
b. Common curriculum across middle school.
c. Hold students to higher standards.
d. Develop relationships between teachers and students.
e. Teachers need an understanding of Challenge students past work and capabilities.
f. Teacher important – enthusiastic, prepared to teach the subject.
g. If teaches gifted only one period a day, the teacher isn’t as invested in the subject as a teacher
who has multiple gifted classes.
h. English/History in block better – can do English one day History next day.
Email sup. staff
Thank you cards
Next Meeting – June 1, 4:30-6:00pm, room 201