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Middle Schoolers Meet in Virtual Clubs

Friday, October 23, 2020

As of this writing, the CDS middle school community has been learning from home for nearly two months. As with every school that’s had to adapt to a virtual learning program during the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve faced our share of challenges. However, our families and teachers have shown their resilience, embracing the “new normal” with enthusiasm and a willingness to try new things. And, in fact, we’ve found that some parts of our online curriculum are more fulfilling than they would have been in person!

A great example of this is our virtual club program, a new addition to the middle schoolers’ online schedule. Early in the year, our fifth through eighth grade teachers led group discussions with their students about their interests and hobbies, with an eye towards finding out what activities they would like to share with others. Noticing some patterns, the teachers created a list of clubs for the students to choose from: cooking/baking, art, dance, news, math, sports fandom, music, and books/creative writing. Then the adults stepped back, offering only a small amount of guidance as the older members of each club planned activities and led the weekly meetings.

Not all of the middle school students are members of clubs (most of the core academic teachers also are not involved with the clubs, so they can be on hand to help kids who prefer to catch up on their work during club time), but about 70% of our 5th-8th graders have joined in. And, as it’s turned out, the online nature of the clubs has been a help instead of a hindrance! “Having a cooking club for 34 kids is something we would never be able to pull off were we on campus and constrained by the size of the school kitchen,” said Middle School Learning Resources teacher Laura Wolfram, who was involved in setting up the clubs. “With everyone at home in their own kitchens, however, it's very manageable.” The same goes for the 31 members of the art club, who can each work in their own space rather than having to share the art studio with each other. It’s the perfect balance between coming together and staying apart, and it’s helped make club meetings one of the middle schoolers’ favorite activities.