A Week In The Life Of A Cedar Hill Student…
Being a middle school student means keeping active, engaged and involved in all aspects of school life. The following is a description of what students experience across a typical week at Cedar Hill Middle School:
Each student is assigned to an Advisory home room, and this group of students spends their day together while they rotate through various classes and activities. Each Advisory Class has an Advisory Teacher who acts as the main contact and coordinator for that class. This promotes a caring connection with a primary adult in the school who will oversee all aspects of each child’s education. Advisory Teachers take attendance, share daily information with students and parents, check student agendas, lead health, social responsibility and guidance activities with their Advisory group, and advocate for their students at team meetings. Each school day starts with 25 minutes of Advisory time where the Advisory Teacher and the class “take care of business”, and address different aspects of the “learning for living” part of middle school life. Each Advisory Class also belongs to a group or “pod” of other classes called “Advisory Teams”. The 3 or 4 Advisory teachers within a team work together to share instructional responsibilities, as well as arranging fun, team-building activities to promote greater social responsibility and connectedness among their group of students.
After Advisory, each class moves through a series of 5 different blocks of instruction per day, with breaks in between. These blocks can differ in length, and are flexible so that teachers can arrange activities suitable to their present unit of instruction. The following is an outline of the different types of learning activities each student will encounter across their week:
Core subjects: There are 6 main core subjects that make up the middle school curriculum:
- English Language Arts
- French Language Arts or French as a Second Language (depending on whether students are enrolled in the English or French Immersion Track)
- Social Studies
- Physical Education
Though each is listed separately, middle school philosophy promotes the blending and integrating of subjects in order to enhance learning, and make activities more meaningful for students.
Exploratory: A main focus in middle school is exposing students to a wide range of subjects, interests, concepts and activities, so that as they progress through high school and beyond, they have had time to explore and experience as many aspects of learning as possible. While high school offers “electives”, we believe Middle Schoolers are too young to have to choose, so each class will spend 3 hours a week for a block of time in: Home Economics (both cooking and sewing), Technology Ed. (woodworking and metalworking), and Visual Arts. Depending on the Advisory Team structures, classes will either have longer rotation blocks through these three Exploratories, or have shorter rotations in order to also enjoy a Performing Arts-Music Exploratory as well.
Enrichment Activities: Middle Schoolers have a hunger for trying new things and being immersed in hand-on learning activities. We work hard to get them out of the text books and into something that sparks their interest. Students have two options for experiencing these enrichment activities at Cedar Hill:
Music – Cedar Hill is known for having the largest and most comprehensive middle school music program on Vancouver Island. More than half our students participate in our bands, our strings groups, or our choirs. Some of the instruction happens outside the regular time table, but much of it occurs during the school day. It is not uncommon for our students to participate in multiple music ensembles! During 3 blocks a week, music students in each Advisory attend music program practices and activities.
Mini Exploratory ( or “Mini-X”) – While some students are attending their music programs, Advisory teachers in each Advisory Team plan interesting and innovative activities for small groups of those students who are not participating in the music program. Typically, these activities run for a couple of months each. Though they change frequently, some examples of past Mini-X sessions have included: outdoor pursuits, community service, leisure skills (e.g.: chess club, knitting, etc…), healthy lifestyles presentations, drug and alcohol awareness, project learning etc…
Daily Physical Activity: As mandated by the Ministry of Education, every day our students take either a PE class, or engage in some sort of physical activity. These sessions can take place either in our gymnasium, our weights room, our outdoor sports court, our sports fields, our adventure playground, or on walks or runs in the community.
Information Technology Education: Our school recognizes the importance of preparing students for the 21stcentury, and this involves promoting “technology literate” and “technology responsible” citizens. Students presently spend time in two fully equipped computer labs, and have access to computers and/or the internet in every classroom. We are steadily increasing our number of laptops for student use, and a third computer lab is in the works. Many of our Advisory classes access web-based tools and resources as a regular part of school life, and are exploring social media options for enhancing home-school communication and resource sharing. All teachers have access to projectors and document cameras to help bring activities and web-based resources to life on the big screen. Increasingly, our school website is moving from solely being an information and communication tool, to being an interactive educational resource.
Student Support Services: Cedar Hill is a fully inclusive school, and we offer a wide variety of supports for our students. Our Support Team offers the following services and opportunities:
- Learning Assistance;
- Special Education Case Management (individualizing programs for students with special needs);
- English and a Second Language (ESL) Support;
- Gifted Education;
- Guidance and Counseling Services;
- Aboriginal Education Support;
- Assessment and Programming Support from School District Specialists ;
- Integrated Case Management with Community Agencies.
Middle Schoolers are all about making social connections and Cedar Hill offers multiple opportunities for social recreation across the week:
Nutrition Break and Lunch Break: Each day, students have a 15 minute Nutrition Break where they can have a quick snack, and connect with friends in the hallways or outside on the playground. At 12:06 each day, students eat lunch in their Advisory homeroom classes, and then make their way outside for a 30 minute recess. Though we are a “closed campus”, meaning students are not to leave the school grounds for safety purposes (after all, they are not High Schoolers yet!), they are free to hang out with friends, play a variety of sports on our fields, or on our outdoor sports court, or use the adventure playground.
Athletics and Clubs: Our school offers a full complement of sports teams and clubs. Fitting with the middle school philosophy, they are open to all students and we do not conduct try-outs or make cuts. If you turn up, you participate – it’s as simple as that! Many practices or meetings happen before school, during lunch, or after school, and games and events are communicated through flyers, emails and the website.
Special Events and School Spirit Activities: Cedar Hill is one fun place learn! We work hard to balance work and play, and plan multiple opportunities for whole-school events. Some examples include: Celtic Clan Week, Spirit and Student Recognition assemblies, concerts, talent shows, staff vs. student sporting matches, “Operation Snowball” craft nights, food drives, coin collection competitions, Math Mania Day, pancake breakfasts, Beach Day, Fun Day… and the list goes on!