Below is a letter from Mr. Bates explaining the next set of lessons that he is delivering to your 5th graders.

April 2012

Can it really be happening? Is it truly possible that 6 years have gone by since you brought your small children to kindergarten? Look at them now in 5th grade – not grown up yet (thank goodness) but certainly not small children anymore. It has been a fun ride so far, and there is much more to come. Next up -  adolescence. How are you feeling? Excited? A little scared? That’s exactly how the 5th graders are feeling about going to middle school. So this is the perfect time for students and parents to learn more about making transitions, adolescence, and the fascinating teenage brain.

Starting this week and continuing until near the end of school, (with a break in the middle for MSP) I will come to all 5th grade classrooms once or twice a week to teach a variety of lessons under the general topic of “transition to middle school”. As a long time middle school teacher (15 years) before coming to Opstad, I bring some useful insights to the instruction. We will use discussion, role plays, skill practice, videos, and more to make the lessons interactive and effective. In addition to the classroom lessons, I am also inviting a group of current 6th grade students to come back to Opstad to tell about their experiences at Twin Falls.

Students are not the only ones who can benefit from learning about adolescence and middle school. We parents need information and tools to help us guide our “tweens” into and through their teen years. With that in mind, I am organizing a weekly “Parent Partnership Plan” (PPP) that includes watching short (7-10 minutes) videos (the same ones kids will see in school), practicing some skills, and engaging your kids in ongoing conversations. While participation is definitely optional, I hope that you take the time and make an effort to check it out and enjoy the conversations with your kids. I will send paper and e-mail updates through the next two months. I would appreciate your feedback.

The videos are segments of a PBS special from 2002 entitled Inside the Teenage Brain. Follow these steps:

1.      Go to and click on PBS Programs on the bar near the top.

2.      Then click on the red FRONTLINE box when it comes up.

3.      Type “1/31/02” in the Search Box at the top right.

4.      Scroll down to the only link entitled Credits/inside the teenage brain/Frontline/PBS.

5.      Click on that link and you will go to a list of credits. Look at the top just above the credits.

6.      Click on the second link entitled View the full program online. There you will find the 6 video segments. Start with the first video this week and follow the Lesson Schedule for the other videos.

Carve time out to talk about the videos. Dinner may be a good time. I will send (e-mail or hard copy) materials to support your discussions with your kids. If you run into any problem finding the videos, e-mail or call if you still cannot find it.

Parent Schedule

4/23-27            Video 1 (Teenagers’ Inexplicable Behavior)

4/30-5/4           Video 2 (Wiring of Brain)

5/21-25            Video 3 (Mood Swings)

5/28-6/1           Video 4 (You Just Don’t Understand)

6/4-8                Video 5 (From Zzzz’s to A’s)

Please feel free to contact me with any comments or questions. I also want to invite you to call me to talk about the transition to middle school of your child. If you have some worries or doubts or concerns, please call or stop in to see me. It is not an imposition. I am looking forward to spending some class time with your wonderful kids one more time before they are off. Keep up the great job you do as parents!

  Student Lessons - Making Transitions
 1.         Introduction, Opstad memories from K-5

2.         Twin Falls Jeopardy  

3.         Introduction to adolescence – Video 1 - Teens’ changing brains; Taking a stand

4.         Video 2- Teen Brains (Who am I? Acceptance/Rejection)

5.         Video 3 – Moods & Emotions; Friendship opportunities

6.         Bullying – Middle School myths and realities; Cyber Bullying

7.         Video 4 - Communicating with Parents in a changing world

8.         Video 5 - Recipes for Academic Success – Organization/Work Completion

9.         Healthy Youth Survey Data – what it says about us

10.       Refusal Skills

11.       Middle School Wrap-up – Locks, Teachers, Final Farewell

Steve Bates

Opstad Counselor (831-8319)


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