English teachers on the Bolles Middle School Bartram Campus are advancing students’ comprehension of the School’s motto through a new schoolwide initiative. The goal is to add curricular and literary context to the words most students know by heart: “The Bolles Way: Pursuing excellence through courage, integrity and compassion.”
Deborah Carney, English Lead Teacher on the Bartram Campus, wanted to better incorporate The Bolles Way into the middle school English curriculum. Her department was inspired to seek ideas while attending a National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) convention in Atlanta last year.
“Joy Griffin, Laura Lane and I were looking at developing alternative assessments and project-based learning ideas and realized that our motto would fit in well as thematic ideas in our curriculum,” Carney said.
The teachers divided the three core values in The Bolles Way – courage, integrity and compassion – and assigned one to each grade level. Grade 6 students have been assigned compassion, Grade 7 students are talking about courage and Grade 8 students are contemplating integrity.
“Our hope is for students who complete all three grade levels here at Bartram to have an in-depth understanding of what these core values are by finding them in literature, recognizing them in real life situations, and applying them to their lives,” Carney said.
To launch the program, English teachers integrated the motto themes into summer reading essays.Sixth graders, for example, are writing about how a character from their novel either showed or did not show compassion. In Grade 7, students are contemplating characters who demonstrated courage. Eighth graders are analyzing how a lack of integrity impacted the characters’ behavior and choices.
Carney said English teachers will revisit the themes with each piece of literature, use them as the focus for nonfiction and informational articles, and incorporate them into a final project.