Giving Middle School Students a BOOST

Giving Middle School Students a BOOST
Posted on 12/31/2015

By Jenifer Heimer, Curriculum Resource Teacher at Snow Hill Middle School and Cassidy Hamborsky, Reading Coach at Snow Hill Middle School and the 2015 Worcester County Teacher of the Year

From the highest achiever to the struggling learner, everyone needs a BOOST! At Snow Hill Middle School (SHMS), it is our commitment to our students to provide learning opportunities which prepare them pathways to college and career.  BOOST block is one way that we ensure that students are equipped with the tools they need to become world class citizens, who are qualified to compete in a global workforce.

B - Build on strengths and remediate weaknesses.  Using student data and classroom observations, students' strengths and weaknesses are identified. Student groups are then differentiated based on skills, not grade level. The availability of sixth, seventh, and eighth grade staff, as well as administrators, electives staff, and counselors during the same time block, enables a multitude of potential groupings. This all-hands-on-deck approach has been a powerful tool in meeting the diverse needs of all students in a small group setting.

O - Optimal targeted academic and social/emotional learning.  At SHMS the staff understands the complex nature of adolescence. While academic growth is a priority, some students need support in the area of social/ emotional development in order to be available to learn. Through the innovative use of guidance counselors and research-based practices, identified students have an opportunity to build essential relationship and coping skills.

O - Options to increase student buy-in.  Flex Friday presents a weekly opportunity for students to gather in interest based groups and clubs. These clubs, while essentially teacher facilitated, are student driven and led. Examples include Student Government, Chorus, Glee, and Students Against Destructive Decisions.

S - Study skills are explicitly taught.  Identified students that struggle with study and organizational skills will get specific, targeted instruction in these areas. Building organizational strategies within struggling students may be the kind of boost they need to succeed in academic areas.

T - Technology enhanced learning environments.  SHMS is proud to say that we currently have a 1:1 student to device ratio. During BOOST Block, students have the choice to work with robotics, visit the Makerspace in the Library Media Center, and even participate in website creation.    

The BOOST Block at Snow Hill Middle School takes the place of the traditional differentiated enrichment time where the academic and social/emotional needs of all students are met at an individual level.  A key to the success of BOOST, is the use of research-based initiatives, innovative use of staff, and skill-based groups.  During Flex Friday students are involved in clubs or assigned additional BOOST periods in order to increase buy-in.  This BOOST period is designed to move every student to the next level of achievement regardless of their ability.  BOOST Block is one example of SHMS's new motto: One Team...One Goal...Success for ALL.

To find out more about the BOOST block, please contact us at Snow Hill Middle School by calling (410) 632-5240.