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Pre K - 8th
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1200 West 26th St.
Minneapolis 55405
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7:30 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Monday - Friday

Developmental Designs

The Developmental Designs for Middle School helps teachers:

Meet middle level students' needs

Developmental Designs structures are designed to meet adolescents' needs for autonomy, competence, relationship, and fun. Students genuinely enjoy school. They feel connected, heard, empowered, and safe, and academic engagement increases.

Use developmentally appropriate practices and content

Intellectual, physical, social-emotional, and identity elements of adolescent development frame theDevelopmental Designs approach and bolster the effectiveness of its implementation.

Build social-emotional skills

Students practice seven key social-emotional skills every day: Cooperation, Communication, Assertion, Responsibility, Empathy, Engagement, and Self-control.

Rigorously respond to rule-breaking

Structures are introduced to students early in the year and carefully maintained, reducing misbehavior. When students break rules,Developmental Designs helps teachers notice and understand what's happening and use appropriate language andDevelopmental Designs structures to address the situation.

Motivate students to achieve academically

Students are motivated to learn when they have choices, when their learning is scaffolded and varied, and when they see the point.Developmental Designs uses reflection to involve students in assessment for learning.

Intervene with struggling students

When a student begins to falter, teachers look for solutions across each of the three big focus areas: community-building, social and emotional skills-building, and motivating instructional practices, improving the chances of successful intervention.

Create inclusive learning communities

In a Developmental Designs classroom, all voices are heard. Balanced participation by all students is encouraged at all social and academic learning times. Daily practices help break down cliques and eliminate bullying through emphasis on knowing and valuing all students in all classes, and through problem-solving structures.

Build a strong, healthy adult community

Staffs that know and trust each other are critical to academic success for students. DD practices extend beyond the classroom to staff meetings, team meetings, and peer coaching.

Find many pathways toDevelopmental Designs implementation

Several entrance points and pathways to successful implementation exist within theDevelopmental Designs approach. Educators can use scheduled workshops, books, customized on-site workshops, consultation, newsletter articles, a Facebook community, and abundant free online community-building and instructional resources.

Developmental Designs practices build skills and engagement in three key areas of school life:


2)relationship and community


Self-management and Other Social-emotional Skill Building

Students thrive in an environment that embeds knowledge of self, self-control, self-assessment, and appreciation for others within their daily school responsibilities. Here are sampleDevelopmental Designs structures that give teachers the tools they need to steadily build student self-management and peer and teacher relationship skills. 


Goal setting takes several forms in theDevelopmental Designs approach, like having students set long-term and daily academic and social goals for themselves, and periodically assessing how well they have met those goals, as well as goals set by the teacher.


The Social Contract process brings staff and students together to create a set of behavioral guidelines that they use to tend to the health of the community throughout the year.


Modeling and practicing allows teachers and students to work together to create and become adept at specific protocols for classroom and school-wide routines.


Pathways to Self-control give teachers and students clear responsibilities for responding to and changing misbehavior, and help students get back on track as quickly as possible.

Relationship and Community Building

Students respect others and learn better in community when they get to know each other and practice, practice, practice listening and contributing to each other. Here are someDevelopmental Designs practices that create and maintain healthy relationships in the context of advisory and class hours.


Circle of Power and Respect advisory meetings bring students together in a fun, lively, safe, respectful meeting format that includes a greeting, sharing, activity, and daily news message.


Activity Plus advisory meetings allow for more activity time and flexibility while preserving a sense of community during advisory.


Power of Play emphasizes group games that provide inclusive fun. Teachers build a repertoire of activities that can be used during advisory and all day long to bring movement, teamwork, friendly competition, and enjoyment into students' scholarly lives.

Academic Skill Building

Teachers learn practical approaches to help students be more motivated, focused, and hard-working. They pay particular attention to five research-based assets that can be built into daily academic lessons to increase student motivation: STARS.

STARS Assets for Optimal Instruction


Task orientation

Active construction


Social Interaction

Learn more aboutSTARS Assets for Optimal Instruction

In both the social and academic realms,Developmental Designs practices utilize these assets. (Consider the self-determination involved in playing a role in setting the rules and defining them in the specific daily routines.) Here are two practices that when applied to the academic realm specifically, bring the assets to daily lessons.


Student motivation increases when students determine some aspects of their learning: assessing their own growth, choosing a topic to research, how to study for a test, how to present their work to the class, what game the group will play in advisory. A structure to support effective self-determination pays off in student empowerment and school connectedness.


Teachers can take advantage of the two prime learning times -- the beginning and the end of the class hour. Using them for content introduction and reflection, respectively, leverages learning. The time in between is energized for learning when it is designed to be active and interactive, sometimes even lightened with playful moments.

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1200 West 26th St.
Minneapolis 55405
Main Office
fax 612.668.2730
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