MS Academics & Curriculum

Overview

The academic program at the Middle School is designed to prepare our students for success in High School, and to inspire a life-long love of learning. We offer a rigorous curriculum in English, Math, Spanish, Social Studies, and Science, and also give students the opportunity to pursue their interests through an electives program. During class, students are working to master academic content, but also build study skills that will help them in 9th-12th grades, college and beyond. We hope that when students leave 8th grade they are kind, confident, and competent learners.

At the Middle School we recognize that students have a variety of learning styles and needs, and therefore have programs in place to support struggling students, and push students who need an extra challenge. We offer co-teaching in almost all English and math classes, so students have access to two adults, including a special educator; we also run an Academic Lab after school for homework support.

Curriculum Components

Humanities
All Middle School students take English and Social Studies classes in which they build literacy skills while developing an understanding of the world around them. In English class, units are based around essential questions, which students explore through reading, writing, and discussion. Social Studies teachers support literacy instruction, while guiding students through thematic units of study. In 7th-8th grades, students build an understanding of World History by examining Oppression and Resistance, World Religions, and Global Progress.

Math
The Mathematics Department of the Middle School and High School offers a comprehensive six-year program aimed at ensuring all students learn and perform to the highest standard in a collaborative, supportive, and motivating environment. Grades and courses align to the instructional shifts called for by the Common Core State Standards and the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks: Focus, Coherence, and Rigor. Also embedded within each course are the eight Standards for Mathematical Practice. The mathematics department aims to be transparent with students and parents about the criteria for course placement. These criteria include the student’s course grade, performance on previous PARCC and MCAS exams, performance on grade-with common benchmark assessments, and teacher recommendations.

Science
Science at the Middle School aims to build students’ content knowledge, as well as their scientific thinking and practices, such as lab inquiry and design. In 7th and 8th grade, students are exposed to a variety of sciences: physical sciences, life sciences, earth and space sciences, and how human activities impact the earth.

 

Spanish
Students in grades 7-8 take Spanish. Spanish classes are leveled to meet students where they are in their language competencies, but all classes focus on developing proficiency in reading, writing, and speaking in Spanish. Students also explore the products, practices, and perspectives of the cultures of the Spanish-speaking world.

Electives
8th graders at the Middle School are able to choose from a catalog of electives. Students can choose to take Visual Arts, Theater, Improv, Choir, Guitar, Bese Saka, Sankofa, Engineering, Computer Science, or Journalism.

 

Physical Education
During physical education classes, students engage in movement, exercise, and activities that provide the opportunity to explore themselves and at the same time interact with others. Students also get a chance to recognize individual differences and how to establish group relationship through play. Students in the Middle School have the option to sign up for after-school sports including cross country, volleyball, soccer, basketball, track, baseball, and softball.