Middle School Transition

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Middle School Transition - Savvy School CounselorMy school counseling lesson for 5th grade this week is all about transitioning to middle school.  I really enjoy talking with my 5th grade friends about going to 6th grade.  There are many things they are excited to experience, but there are also some things they are unsure about.  This lesson simply serves as a time to discuss all the feelings they have about transitioning from elementary to middle school.

To start the lesson, I gave each student a copy of the Middle School Transition form I created for discussion.  The form has three feeling faces, and the students chose the one face that best describes how they feel about going to 6th grade.  Next, they explained why they feel that way.  The majority chose the smiley and straight face while very few chose the unhappy face.  I asked several of the students to share with the class.  Some of the reasons they stated were:

“I am excited to meet new friends.”

“I don’t have to stay in the same class all day.”

“I get to choose electives.”

“I’m excited about meeting new friends, but I am going to miss my old friends who aren’t going to my new school.”

The last statement is key for students in my district because it is very large.  My 107 or so 5th graders are going to 15 different middle schools.

Middle School Transition - Savvy School Counselor

After the students shared, I asked them to work with a partner to brainstorm lists of all the things they are excited about and all the things they are unsure about.  The conversations I heard while walking throughout the classroom were interesting and seemed to be sincere thoughts about how they are feeling.  After a few minutes, I asked them to share from their lists.  As they shared, I squashed any “myths” and explained some things in further detail.

Middle School Transition - Savvy School Counselor


Middle School Transition - Savvy School Counselor

Click the link below to print your copy of the sheet I’ve used in my classes.

Middle School Transition Sheet

Next, we watched a video I found on YouTube which was made at a school in Texas.  Even though the video mentions some specifics about their particular schools and district, it worked perfectly for my lesson.  It included both 5th graders and 6th graders.  There are lots of great tips shared by staff members as well as students.  The students in the video give advice and also share their fears about going to middle school.  There were times during the video where I would pause for more discussion or to restate comments as they would relate to our school district.

After the video, many of the students had thoughts to share about what they learned from watching the video such as how organization is important when it comes to keeping up with homework and assignments.  We used the remainder of our time to discuss open house dates for the different middle schools and our 6th grade registration night.

Over the next few weeks before our 6th grade registration night in April, I will hold lunch bunch groups for the individual middle schools.  During these sessions, we will talk about information that is specific to each school and look at elective forms.  I usually have about 6 groups for our 3 largest feeder schools and combine most of the rest into 1-2 more groups.  Students leave with copies of the elective forms so they have time to think things through with their parents before they complete and sign the official paperwork in April.

What are some activities you use for middle school transition lessons?

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25 thoughts on “Middle School Transition

  1. Ah! I actually use the same video with my students as well! We are all the way in Vietnam but the content of the video aligns with our school here. It especially helped that the teachers in the video mentioned the importance of homework. I am a big fan of your blog!

    • Thanks. I just did a search on YouTube for Elementary to Middle School Transition. The video is by Michael Hayes.

  2. Wow, thanks for providing such a great lesson for transitioning. You were so kind to provide your worksheet and lesson plans; it’s a gift when the “lesson package” is offered and available!

  3. One of my students biggest fear is using combination locks…so I purchased a bunch of them and have them watch a video on youtube and practice! They love it!

    • You are reading my mind! That is what I plan to do next. I wrote a request a few weeks ago for our PTA to fund the purchase of the locks.

  4. Thank you so much for this lesson. I am a new counselor and this lesson puts me on the road to a great transition lesson.

  5. Hi! Love the middle school transition form. Would you be willing to change the “middle” to “intermediate?” If so, would you share it with me? Thanks! 🙂

  6. I am so thankful that you shared this worksheet and information Vanessa. It is something that I can use with my very immature 5th graders this year. We are a K-8 School, so the transition is a little different. They move up to the second floor of the building into the 6-8 wing, but it can be a dramatic transition for them. In the past (and this year there was no time) I would go into my 5th grade classes starting in January to conduct classroom lessons on things such as learning styles, how to study, gossip and rumors , etc. Then I would set up a day for current 6th graders to visit them and tell them what their experience was moving up to 6th grade and have a q & a. Then in June, when 6-8 grade students were done, I ‘d have a “step-up day” where the get to run thru an abbreviated 6th grade schedule. Teachers would be in the rooms to tell them what to expect in Sept. I will still attempt the step-up day because of it’s value, but with lack of time, your sheet and suggestion of video would be great for me. Again, thanks for being willing to share with us.
    Angela in NY

    • Hi, Angela! Thanks for your comment. I hope the suggestions from the post work for your students as they did for mine.

  7. Hi vanessa
    so glad i found you today! i am getting ready to do a middle school transition lesson with 4th graders who will go to m.s. for 5th. the worksheet is GREAT! thank you so so much for sharing this and your lesson. i routinely like to jazz up my plans and this is just perfect. i plan to use the video as well. the students at my school love my “videos.” they roll their eyes in laughter but can’t get enough of them!

    • Thanks for your message! Wow! I’ve never heard of 5th grade being the start of middle school. That is very interesting to know.

  8. Hi, this has really helped me out a lot as a first time school counselor. However, I do not see the link for the worksheets. Can you give me the link or email them to me?

  9. Thank you so much for providing this worksheet Vanessa! It is awesome! I also pass around combo locks, which the kids love. The other thing I do is read the book “Yay, You!” by Sandra Boynton. They really enjoy this as well-
    thanks again!!

    • Hi, Meggan!
      Thanks for your comment, and you’re welcome for the worksheet! I haven’t read Sandra Boynton in years (since my baby was a baby–She’s 17 now!) I’ll have to check that one out. We are doing the combination locks also in a couple of weeks. Always fun!

  10. Pingback: Transition To Middle School Lessons | Lisakingcounselor.com

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