Since October, students at Wood Middle School have been learning how to play competitive chess. They meet once a week to learn the rules and strategy of play. One sixth grade student said he joined the club because his brother learned how to play at Lowrie Primary School, and he was instrigued by the game. At the club's first meeting, he was already learning how to gain an advantage. "The first thing we learned was how to take down an opponent in two moves. That was amazing! I'd never learned anything like that!" After Thanksgiving, players were introduced to the game clocks. "You have to finish a game in five minutes, so you really have to think fast! That's the best part. It's exciting to have to move fast and still make a good move." A huge "thank you" goes out to the Wilsonvile Rotary for starting and supporting the chess club at IWMS, and to our volunteer coaches who are teaching a lifelong love of the game!
Seventh graders at Wood Middle School recently participated in a ropes challenge course to learn about grit, perseverance, and team work. Students harnessed themselves to safety wires, and with the help of experienced guides, climbed, crawled, and jumped through the trees and around obstacles as they learned about facing their fears, collaborating, and supporting each other. One boy wrote about his experience, "It was one of the scariest things I have ever done in a long time." As he paused and prepared to leap from a climbing pole, he heard his fellow students encouraging him from below. That gave him the courage he needed. "It felt like I was flying. It was one of the best feelings in the world. My whole team cheered as I was lowered to the ground." The ropes course kicks off a year of teambuilding and community service that will be the focus of 7th grade character development at Wood Middle School.
Students at Inza R. Wood Middle School know how to show evidence of their learning. For years, they have engaged in student-led conferences. These meetings give them the opportunity to discuss their academic progress with their families by showing samples of their work related to the learning targets in their classes. Teachers stop by to meet family members and answer any questions, but the power of middle school conferences lies in the students' ability to articulate where they are headed, where they are now, and how they plan to move forward.
If you wandered through the southwest porch at Wood Middle School today, you most likely saw seventh grade social scientists working in teams and using their mapping skills and their knowledge of the five themes of geography to create "The Eighth Continent". The porches at Wood Middle School have been redesigned to include "makerspace" tables -- places that give students options for gathering around a project and moving around to build, create, and engineer solutions to a question or problem.
Every Fall, sixth grade girls have a fun and festive opportunity to meet new friends and build community as they enter middle school. Girls Night Out is a tradition at Wood Middle School that kicks off a year of new experiences and lasting friendships. Thanks to many parent volunteers, and with the help of our Wood Ambassadors, the sixth graders at Wood Middle School play charades, dress up in the photo booth, eat pizza, and make art for their lockers -- all while getting to know each other. It's an evening of merriment that invites our sixth graders into our close and caring community of learners. One student claimed, "This is the best Girls Night Out ever!" Thank you to our PTSA and parent volunteers for hosting this important event in our students' lives.
Last Thursday, Ms. Kembell Schnell received the 2014 Oregon Middle Level Consortium Outstanding Cooperating Teacher Award for her dedication to both students and future teachers. The Middle Level Consortium, educators who meet to advocate for excellence in middle level teacher preparation, has the privilege each year of recognizing an outstanding middle level teacher. The recipient is someone who not only brings excellent teaching to students in her or his care but also provides exceptional experiences for teachers in training.
In the nomination process this year, Ms. Schnell was described as an outstanding cooperating teacher whose practices include “a range of instructional strategies for supporting students in learning to articulate and justify their thinking.” It was noted that her classroom environment values students because she “understands the power of relationships.” Additionally, she mentors teacher candidates in a positive and safe atmosphere that fosters growth. University supervisors note that Ms. Schell is determined to bring out the best in a pre-service teachers.