Middle School - Language Arts and Social Studies
Middle School equips students as they begin to become independent thinkers and learners. A wealth of organizational and study skills are modeled across the curriculum. With this independence comes responsibility. Students prepare for leadership roles through their interactions with faculty, their support of younger students and their coordination of the school recycling program.
In Language Arts, students use Writer’s Workshop to move through the process of drafting, self-editing, peer-editing, revising and finally completing a polished piece. The Language Arts curriculum focuses on the study of grammar and punctuation and everyday application of these skills. Oral and written communications are taught in tandem and prepare students to speak and write for a variety of audiences and using a number of genres.
The Social Studies curriculum focuses on a variety of topics in American History. Students study the Colonial Period during first trimester, the American Revolution during second trimester, and the Civil War during third trimester. During the alternate year, the focus shifts to early civilizations of the world and the birth of Western ideas. Students practice seeking critical information from various sources as they learn the basis for world civilizations and explore the birth of Western ideas.
Brian Herbert, an American author, once wrote: "The capacity to learn is a gift; the ability to learn is a skill; the willingness to learn is a choice."
In our middle school classroom, we often find this to be true. There are so many bright minds at work. But, I would also add that the presence of choices nurtures the willingness to learn. Therefore, in middle school, choices frequently become the order of the day!
First we gain the ability to create a successful outcome: the acquisition of many note-taking techniques, the framework of a problem-solving technique, the anatomy of an expository paragraph, etc.
Once many options for success are taught and mastered, then the students are given the choice. They decide which version, which choice, works for them and makes them feel successful. For example, students can choose to log their English notes on the computer. For many, the written form is perfectly acceptable to them.
During Project, students choose their path based on their type of interest in the Project-at-hand. For many, they want to collaborate on Project. Some prefer an individual endeavor. Some prefer to work in pairs. Working in a study group is yet another preference for others. In any case, the success is the individual student's. The willingness to learn is a result of the choice.