In education, time is a commodity. Educators need time to teach, plan, and connect and engage with students. Our time impacts lives; therefore, it must be managed well. Time invested in the Texas OnCourse Academy is truly an investment worth making, because the strategies and resources presented allow educators to save LOTS of time later.
To my middle school colleagues, if you’re new to the Academy or haven’t checked it out in a while, you’ll find a new module designed specifically for you. “Starting Early: College and Career Readiness in Middle School” has been of tremendous benefit to my colleagues and me. This module is not just for middle school college and career teachers. Every middle school teacher, counselor, and administrator can benefit from it.
Here’s what I like most about the module:
Texas OnCourse Middle School Curriculum Guide (or, as I like to call it, “the insider’s guide to college and career curricula”)
The Curriculum Guide section walks you through each unit of this guide and provides tips for implementation. If you’re like me and you get overwhelmed when you’re handed a thick curriculum guide, this curriculum guide is perfect for you. It includes over 30 TEKS-aligned college and career readiness lesson plans (designed by Texas educators like you!) that are ready to go. It provides you with strategies and tips on ways to adjust pacing to fit the time you’re allotted at your school. There are also extension activities, which I love! These activities are a great way to enrich the experience of students who quickly grasp the concept and are ready for more in-depth college and career exploration.
High Yield/High Student Engagement Strategies refresher course
We all know that student engagement is key to student learning. However, this doesn’t mean you have to come to class as an entertainer every day. The Engagement Strategies section includes a number of techniques you can incorporate to help your students stay engaged. This section of the Academy module reminded me of strategies I had forgotten. It showed me a new twist on my old go-to strategies and even taught me a few new strategies.
Overview of Texas OnCourse resources
The middle school module also highlights Texas OnCourse student- and parent-oriented resources, including MiddleGalaxy (a space-themed career exploration game), MapMyGrad (a course planner beginning with a fun quiz that leads students to an endorsement suggestion), and the Family Guide (a collection of tools and resources for parents and middle schoolers to use together at home). I love combining these resources! I usually have my students take the MapMyGrad quiz to identify a potential best-fit endorsement, explore the endorsement section of the website to learn about possible career pathways, and then point them to the Share Your Road database to read about careers in those pathways.
Technology in the classroom
I have been an educator for a long time. Technology has changed exponentially over my career. We now live in a technologically driven world. In order to make sure our students are prepared for the future, our classrooms need to reflect this. The middle school module shares educational technology methodologies and resources, and even addresses digital equity.
“Starting Early: College and Career Readiness in Middle School” is a must for any middle school educator. It not only addresses college and career at the middle school level but offers an abundance of teaching resources and strategies that will help anyone working with middle school students. Most importantly, the resources provided will save you time by giving you tools and strategies to plan time with students more efficiently.