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MIDDLE LEVEL EDUCATION (GRADES 4-8)

Mission Statement  

The Middle Level Education Program honors the exceptional power and possibilities of middle grades (Grades 4 – 8) students. As described by the World Health Organization, early adolescence represents a “time of tremendous growth and potential” and simultaneously, “a time of considerable risk during which social contexts exert powerful influences” (1). Middle grades students undergo processes of transformation in identity, independence, and interdependence. With guidance, they build more equitable school communities and contribute to a more socially just, inclusive and equitable future for all. Our aim is to prepare teacher candidates to provide such guidance.   

Responsive middle schools require teachers with knowledge and preparation to skillfully leverage the unique developmental affordances of early adolescence. We believe young adolescents deserve teachers and school communities who value and affirm them, while cultivating high expectations for learning. While middle grades classrooms are sites of important transitions, middle schools and the middle years shall not be defined nor limited by this transitional role. Rather, middle school education has its own history and body of research-based knowledge and practices, including unshakeable commitments to democracy, inclusivity, collaboration, and critical literacies within and across academic subject areas. 

Middle grades teachers require and deserve a pre-service education that is led by faculty, supervisors, and mentors who share these commitments. At Penn State University, we have designed our Middle Level Education program so that teacher candidates learn through and are supported in their own development of equity and justice-oriented pedagogical practices alongside deep competencies in content knowledge. 

MIDDLE LEVEL EDUCATION MAJOR (MLVED)

The Middle Level Education major is grounded in the belief that every young adolescent has the capacity to learn, grow and develop into a knowledgeable, reflective, caring, ethical, and contributing citizen. Penn State students studying to be middle level educators focus on the developmental and educational needs specific to this age group and on how to teach young adolescents in engaging, challenging, and exploratory ways that attend to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

 

The Middle Level Education major prepares graduates to teach all subjects in grades 4-6 and English, Mathematics, or Social Studies in grades 7-8. Coursework in this major supports teacher candidates' understandings of subject-specific content as well as methods of teaching appropriate for young adolescents in grades 4-8. Upon graduation, students will have met all

A strong linkage between campus courses and area schools. Once admitted to the major, our students start spending time in middle level (grades 4-8) classrooms, interacting with students and experiencing theory-in-practice first-hand. The content of their professional coursework is strongly linked to real classrooms in the surrounding schools. By the time students graduate, they will have spent quality time in middle level classrooms, practicing what they are learning from their courses and bringing what they learn in the schools back to campus.

 

The integrated nature of professional coursework in mathematics, science, and social studies. In their final year, students take a block of courses on teaching methods for mathematics, science, and social studies. In the Penn State program, these courses are integrated, which allows students to learn about teaching methods that connect the three content areas – mirroring the middle school practices of teaming, collaborative planning, and flexible scheduling to support the kinds of teaching that happen in 4th-8th grade classrooms.

 

A social justice orientation that prepares middle level teachers who can address the unique needs of early adolescents. Integrated coursework and field experiences are designed to prepare teacher candidates to teach middle level learners through instruction that is developmentally responsive, appropriately challenging, and inclusive of learners with a wide range of support needs.

 

Our set of professional courses is highly interactive and designed to reflect the most current research on teaching and learning, with many faculty members conducting research on the topics they teach. Course experiences are designed to help students connect research-based theory about teaching and learning to the practical work of teaching. Students in our courses connect to middle level learners in a number of ways and across 4th-8th grades. PSU students might work with a group of 5th-grade students on reading and writing strategies or with 4th-grade students learning about fractions. Or they might teach a lesson to 7th graders that integrates science and social studies.

Our program is aligned with recommendations from the Association of Middle Level Educators (AMLE), and MLVED students often join AMLE and its state level organization, Pennsylvania Association for Middle Level Education (PAMLE). In addition, MLVED students are encouraged to be active members in any of a number of College of Education clubs and service organizations: e.g., Education Ambassadors, Pennsylvania Future Educators Association (PAFEA), College of Education Student Council, Future Educators Association – Multicultural Education Student Association (FEA-MESA), Student Pennsylvania State Education Association (Student SPSEA) as well as national professional associations such as the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), National Science Teaching Association (NSTA), the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS). 

Our programs of study offer the flexibility for students to spend a semester studying abroad. Specifics about PSU study abroad can be found at: http://admissions.psu.edu/academics/studyabroad/

 

MLVED students also have the opportunity to spend part of the semester that they student teach abroad. Specifics about student teaching abroad can be found here

Middle Level Math Education, B.S. (4-8)

The Middle Level Math option is designed to support your growth and content understanding as an educator. This program helps you prepare to teach children in all subjects in grades four through six and Math in grades seven through eight. 

See a sample Semester Plan.

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Middle Level English Education, B.S. (4-8)

The Middle Level English option is designed to support your growth and content understanding as an educator. This program helps you prepare to teach children in all subjects in grades four through six and English Language Arts in grades seven through eight. The option was developed using guidelines recommended by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) and the Association for Middle Level Education (AMLE).

See a sample Semester Plan.

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Middle Level Social Studies Education, B.S. (4-8)

The Social Studies option is designed to support your growth and content understanding as an educator. This program helps you prepare to teach children in all subjects in grades four through six and Social Studies in grades six through eight. The Middle Level Social Studies option is informed by guidelines recommended by the National Council for the Social Studies

See a sample Semester Plan.

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This program undergoes accreditation by the Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) with a Specialized Professional Association (SPA) review conducted by the American Middle Level Association (AMLE).