Our school is a small, rural 6th to 8th-grade middle school in northern Idaho. We are several hours away from a 4-year university, and the nearest junior college live-on campus is 1.5 hours away. Middle school is the perfect opportunity for students to begin exploring possibilities for their futures. It is our responsibility as a school to expose them to a variety of options after they graduate from high school.
In February and March, I will be teaching a unit on careers, colleges, and other options after high school.
This unit will be important at this time of year for a few reasons. First, our school has already implemented “March Madness” where advisory classes are assigned a college who has been selected to participate in the NCAA basketball tournament. Students research their college, decorate doors and enjoy friendly competition as they follow their school throughout the tournament. Students have had some exposure in 6th and 7th grade, but as 8th graders it’s time to go a little deeper. During these weeks, we have daily college trivia contests and hand out prizes.
During the months leading up to March Madness, our 8th graders will be exploring and planning for possibilities after high school. They will participate in activities that cover who they are, where they are going, and how they will get there.
Since the closest four-year college is over two hours away from our town, we spend the month of March bringing the college experience close to home.
We jump on the spirit of March Madness and help students explore colleges in a fun, competitive way. All 14 of our advisory classes in grades 6-8 draw a college to "represent" in the NCAA March Madness tournament. The class is responsible for researching that college, and then they decorate the outside of their classroom hall area.
What began as a simple door contest, has evolved into literally an experience of amazing "Madness." Approximately 20 judges from the community (local School Board members, law enforcement, the city mayor, Boarder Patrol, U.S. Customs, retired teachers, business owners, etc.) score the doors on creativity, knowledge of the college, 3D elements, songs, presentation, and overall experience. Our school comes alive during these weeks, and kids really start to think about possibilities outside our small community.
I am requesting prizes (college shirts, water bottles, socks, and beanies from colleges) to help students get excited about college possibilities. Each day there is a college trivia contest, and daily prizes will be handed out to students. Having something new from a college just might be the starting point to get students thinking seriously that college might be a possibility for them.
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