A DAY AT NEW LA
The morning begins with helping hands. Parent volunteers greet Emma as she arrives to carline. A parent volunteer opens the car door and wishes her a good morning. Emma is acknowledged by her principal, who knows her by name and greets her at the school gate. She enters the building, and goes to her advisory classroom, where she is welcomed by her advisor, Ms. Murphy, and several of her new friends.
Emma is a seventh grader this year, and last year, she made many friends in her traveling group as a sixth grader. To help her with the transition to middle school, sixth graders follow the same group of students to Humanities class and their joint math and science class. The program is designed to introduce her to middle school and to minimize transitions.
This year, Emma follows a typical middle school schedule. She has also formed new friendships with students in her advisory after a week of orientation and team building upon returning from summer. She had met many of the students last year in lunch or at the annual Outdoor Education Trip to Temescal Canyon, but has enjoyed getting to know her peers in advisory on a deeper level. This year, they will travel to Catalina Island together!
She has also formed a strong relationship with Ms. Murphy, who knows her so well that she even checks in on her when she comes to school in a bad mood after arguing with her little brother in the morning. Ms. Murphy starts advisory by asking students to get out their planners. They check the calendar and discuss the projects coming up for the week. Emma is reminded that the Cell City project is due in Science on Friday, and she puts time in her schedule to work on this throughout the week. The class then circles up, and prepares for Community Circle. Students are asked to share on a scale of one to ten how they are feeling. They have an option of sharing or not. Emma shares that she is an eight today because her birthday is this week and her family is having dinner at her favorite restaurant. One of the other students shares that he is a three today because one of his family members is ill. Ms. Murphy takes note of this, as she will follow up with him later, and stops community circle to see if any of the other students would like to give him supportive feedback. Emma shares that she hopes his family member gets well soon. The bell rings, and Emma is off to Humanities class.
Emma’s class is studying World Civilizations, and is currently reading the book Catherine Called Birdie, about a girl growing up in 13th Century England. The Humanities class is an integrated language arts and social studies program that is project-based, and this book fits perfectly with the history content they are learning. Emma begins class with daily oral language, and then moves into an active reading activity. Later that period, the class participates in a history simulation to learn about the caste system. After Humanities, which is a double block, Emma is excited for her nutrition break, where she can socialize with her friends.
After nutrition, Emma is off to science class, where they are doing a biology lab on cell membranes. Emma loves biology because she gets to perform experiments with lab equipment. For this lab, Emma and her collaborative table group use an egg to observe how liquid moves through a cell membrane. This will inform her Cell City project, where she is creating a model of a cell. Each part of the cell will connect to the different jobs that each part of the cell have.
After science, Emma goes to lunch. She participates in the lunch program by Revolution Foods. Emma likes most (but not all!) of the lunches, and she has learned about foods that are healthy for her. As a sixth grader in Revolution Food’s nutrition education class, she learned how sugars, corn syrup and triglycerides negatively impact the body. She knows that those ingredients will not be in her lunch today, and is excited because today’s lunch is her favorite—tamales!
Next, Emma goes to her elective class. Each day, she has a different elective activity. Today, she will be participating in her favorite class, dance, where they are learning a new hip-hop routine. Three times a week, she participates in CrossFit, which is a personal training program that is based on personal goals, or a sports class. One day per week, she has arts. Last year, she took visual arts, this year she is in performing arts, and next year, she gets to take video production. After perfecting her dance routine, Emma goes back to the café for enrichment.
Enrichment is a small class with 15 other students. Currently, her class is working on a school newspaper and on the Middlebury Languages Program. Emma is learning Chinese, which she does through the on-line language program. Although all of her classes are small (26 students), this class is particularly small because intervention classes are also held during this time. Intervention classes are groups of ten students who work closely with a core academic teacher on skill development because they have scored below or far-below basic on the California Standards Test.
Emma ends her school day in pre-algebra. By the time she reaches high school, Emma will have taken Algebra 1 and will be able to pass into Geometry. In class today, she is learning about variable expressions. Emma is looking forward to the end of the unit, which is when they usually do a group project. The bell rings at the end of the day, and Emma heads off to the After School Program. She likes the program because she has an opportunity to work on the Cell City project, and then she gets to take an enrichment class. This trimester, Emma is taking cooking, where she is learning how to make healthy snacks at home! She is looking forward to taking student leadership and art later this year. When Emma’s mother arrives to pick her up, she is exhausted, but she’s had a great day.