What I learned at intersession: Day 2

Students and teachers work together in small group and one-on-one tutoring. Students are into a little bit of everything at Bailey STEM Magnet Middle. During a visit this morning, moving from classroom to classroom, I saw only a small glimpse of it.

About 25% of Bailey’s students are there for intersession this week. Each morning most of them meet with teachers and Vanderbilt student-teachers for one-on-one and small group tutoring. Walking into a room labeled “The Learning Center,” I saw four students paired up with four teachers, each going over different areas of need in reading and writing. They didn’t let visitors stop them. They plowed right through writing short stories and analyzing brief passages of reading.

In each room I visited, I saw small groups of students working closely with a teacher. They were grouped together by areas of need, not by skill level. So if a student performs very well overall, but has been struggling with one particular math standard, she is put together with other students who have the same need. They hammer away at that skill all morning, making sure they all understand it and can demonstrate it.

Bailey students get a lesson in editing from News Channel 5' Aundrea Cline-Thomas

Downstairs was a different view. In a science lab, the Scientist in Residence from Vanderbilt University was working with a larger group of students on testing water. They were learning about how our behavior affects the water supply and how to test it for different contaminants. Later that afternoon they put those skills into practical use by testing water at Shelby Bottoms Park. On Friday they’ll go even further (literally) with a trip to Mammoth Cave for hands-on environmental activities with National Park Rangers.

It was amazing to see enrichment and remediation happening side-by-side, and in some cases at the same time.

After lunch there was yet another perspective. Principal Dr. Christian Sawyer called it experiential learning. More than one student I spoke with called it fun.

The Bailey STEM Magnet Middle TV studio.

One group was building tours of Nashville – mansion tours, college tours, restaurant tours – working on research skills, presentations and public speaking. Another group was outside, elbow-deep in the dirt working on a community garden. Several students were busy starting up the school’s new TV station (thanks to help from Nashville Public Television) and interviewing their new School Resource Officer for an upcoming news program.

One-act plays. Music programs. Culinary classes. For a school with a STEM focus, Bailey sure does have a lot to offer its students.

It was impressive to see. Jumping from 10% participation at Bailey in the fall to around 25% in the spring is a mighty big leap. Dr. Sawyer attributes this in large part to the students themselves. He told me many of the students convinced their friends to come to intersession this semester.

It’s working at Bailey.


What did I learn on day 1?