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ESE504 : The Class : Elementary : ROC


Portrait of the Intermediate Student

J'Anne Ellsworth

At this level, the students seek justice - a fairness that needs definition.

The educational program for this level is based on developing and acknowledging need for and power of peer esteem while strengthening student self-worth and developing a sense of community. We begin the child's journey in a just system of self-authority grounded in a universally established value system of natural and logical consequences as is evidenced through human logic.

Example of Classroom Rules
Be Fair
Give Your Best

Democratic governance is the basis of the "just community approach" whereby students learn to democratically share decision making responsibility. -Kohlberg

Keys to Utilizing the energy and developmental opportunities

    Teacher serves as care giver, model and mentor
    Teacher works to describe, explain and carry out equity of treatment
    Teacher believes in the whole child
    Students are instructed with kindness, patience and acceptance of limitations
    Students are viewed in an individual and social context
    Students are assisted in the development and carrying out of a healthy social community, developed from fairness, honor and respect of self and others
    Democratic process is taught and modeled, then used as a social climate
    Natural and logical consequences & laws are utilized to enhance choices, actions
    Social process skills are intertwined in the teaching of content - e.g. Communication skills, negotiations, conflict resolution, self monitoring, self discipline, coping with disappointments, reframing problems to see alternatives, making restitution, sharing, respecting, affirming
    Group and social power is understood and utilized as a cooperative experience
    Cooperative Learning and Group learning is highlighted
    Hands-on activities are strong components in the program

    Role of the Youth

The Intermediate school child was once referred to as being in a latent period. For the purposes of more clearly explaining, this is a time for consolidating the gains of childhood, of having an innate sense of wonderment and competence. The greatest changes are social rather than the physical changes of earlier years, or the years ahead. A new way of looking at the world comes quietly, a new feeling of control over self and body solidifies, a more through, less frantic way of approaching problems seems to settle, and a grand self assurance that peaks in the 12 and 13 year old marks a middle ground. The bumper sticker that suggests hiring a child while they still know everything may have been written by a parent of a youngster in this age group.

P Physical development large muscle control is a source of joy, while small muscle control and ability to work with small pieces contributes to a sense of mastery.
E Emotional development a work ethic and a sense of status from accomplishing goals and ideas balances with a new feeling of guilt for things not done and for ways that rules and adult expectations were circumvented
P Philosophical development the child's moral reasoning is moving forward. The ability to see the viewpoint of others and a strong internal feeling of correctness provides a new world view for the student
S Social development the referent changes dramatically for many youngsters and a new interest in peer approval, the desire for best friends and sense of invincibility give a different role to parents and adult models
I Intellectual development the consolidation of concrete conceptualization occurs and students learn a great deal through hands-on and interactive work.


This is a wonderful time for model building, puzzles, stamp collections, sports. The list of pastimes is almost endless and provides a sense of competence and well-being. Hobbies, sports, scouting, outdoor activities, provide a wealth of opportunities for the youngster to express individuality, to compete with peers and to cooperate in projects and social activities. Video games, Nintendo and computer work are almost addictive in their pull on youngsters. Television viewing can compete with more activities pastimes and rob the student of gaining a feeling of being competent in sports and social gatherings. TV and video play also compete with activities for gaining experience. The youngster needs help making good choices and spending time in a diversity of activities. This is also the age when youngsters will choose involvement beyond capacity. It is helpful to assist with time management issues of belonging to too many organizations, taking too many lessons, talking too long on the phone, staying too long with a newly developed skill. The excitement and thrill of being good at life will disappear if the child tries too much and then tires.

Many girls begin puberty at this point, but it is not unusual for the majority to be thinking about an adult body rather than dealing with the advert. Few boys are involved in adolescent growth. This is a time when girls tend to be larger than boys, taller, more coordinated. The sexual interest tends to be addressed in extremes, from disgust and talk of germs and cooties to boy crazy tittering and note writing. Boys are generally more interested in androgynous grouping.


Self esteem and a sense of competence are at an all time high. But this is a dramatic age, so students who "don't fit" or who don't get called upon the end can see themselves as tragically affected. Secretiveness begins in earnest during the fourth through sixth grade. Girls wear make-up that's forbidden, sneak toys from home to share with friends, and may steal or shoplift for the excitement and for one special shade of lipstick or nail polish that Mom won't buy. Some girls keep a diary for the first time and write to fantasies with other youngsters or pour out dreams and future goals.

Boys may try a cigarette or a drink for the first time, grab hold of a moving truck while biking, go beyond the limits in ranging from home or hiking. Club houses are beloved and much love and strength comes from the companionship of a pet. Boys talk of the future as well. They dream of being with a Star Ship, or under the sea, they spit like Pop eye, whistle like Davy Crockett, play drums like Def Leppard and rap like the Crue. Some may begin to lift weights to build muscles or practice pitching like Brett Saaberhagen.

In another ten years three youngsters will be putting dreams to the test. This is an outstanding time to give them a sense of personal possibility as part of the curriculum. Perhaps students might try underwater diving or staying in an small enclosure if they think they want to be a marine biologist, to dig a few holes and ditches if they want to be a construction worker, to help younger children during recess if they want to be teacher, to fly in a plane if being a pilot seems appealing.


The emergence of an internal understanding of right and wrong occur during this age span.

The desire to break rules and to have one's own way is mitigated by a concern about getting caught, an anxiety about saving face, a worry about inferiority. Also, for the first time, the child develops an ability to truly see how another might feel. Until this point, the average child viewed from a very egocentric perspective. The child moved from us - me and MOM as an unconscious thought to me - my family. Now, there is a recognition that all families are not the same, that people don't just look different, they are different. They eat different food, have different dreams, want different rewards.

All of this may translate into a lot of talk about fairness and getting even. It may mean enhanced sensitivity to others, a desire to help the world, feed hungry people, ask others about opinions and needs. It will mean that justice is seen as black and white, that mercy has little room except when "I am in trouble." And it signals the likelihood that truth is seen as on and off switch.

This is a great time for patriotism, loyalty to country, to group or gang, to team and favorite movie star. This is a great time to teach straight forward ideas. It is not a great time to explore ethical issues or ask for reflection about perspectives. It is a great time to teach alternatives as choice, but not necessary a great time to impress the recognition that for some things there are no right or wrong answers, poor or better choices.

This is an excellent opportunity to teach students how to say no, but not necessarily a great time to get promises that have deep ethical meaning. This is an excerpt from a recent D.A.R.E. Graduation essay. The child had been present for every class meeting during an eleven week series teaching the students to abstain from alcohol and drugs. Her award winning essay stated: "I will say "no" to beer. I don't like the taste." When the student was asked it she would say "no" to a rum and coke, she replied. "I like the taste of that. Why would I say no?"


As mentioned before, the child's referent changes dramatically. If a child has learned to trust others, then there will be a great respect for adults - a parent, a teacher, a coach. However, the great weight comes from peers. This is also the beginning of best friends, sleepovers, special clothes "like the other kids" and doing the popular thing. Since youngsters are so compelled by these development, it is wise to use the impetus and energy to teach better social interaction, the process of being more fully social, appropriate, kind, ethical in practices.


Learning styles become more apparent as do areas of interest and specialization. Since the student is working at conversation of matter, needs concrete experiences to understand abstractions, the more active and constructive the classroom is, the more successful and exciting the outcomes will be. This is also the age when students have excellent success thinking about alternatives and options. It is an fine time to teach about natural and logical consequences since there is a trend to see things in black and white, to cast mistakes in "Eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth" parameters. And it is an ideal time to set self monitoring in motion. The child of this age can do an outstanding job of developing objectives, measuring outcomes and keeping a chart on self behaviors. Self evaluation is actually safer than peer evaluation during this transition in ego development, since mercy and personal exceptions are readily provided for the self but seldom valued in others.

You should now:

Go on to Critical Thinking
Go back to Elementary

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