Upper Grades (6-8)
ENGLISH LANGUAGE ARTS
During this period in their academic career, students build upon their fundamental skills and information. Emphasis is placed on the utilization of writing to connect and address the world around the students via narrative, persuasive, descriptive, and all other forms of writing styles. The continuing development and strengthening of overall literacy skills continues through exercises and practices in grammar, spelling, reading comprehension, writing mechanics, and critical thinking.
We also focus on establishing and developing executive functioning skills through the use of graphic organizers, brainstorming stories, and connecting past experiences to the work done in the classroom at present.
One of the main focuses for the Upper grade levels is the use of writing as a medium for questioning, a forum for thoughts, and a key to unlocking our voices as writers, readers, and human beings. Different literary exercises are used to offer students opportunities to discuss events happening in their world as well as in worlds they create within their minds.
Our mathematics program promotes the ability to solve problems and build mathematics within the context of everyday experiences. The curriculum offers opportunities for self-discovery and exploration of concepts and personal strategies as well as exploring and understanding traditional algorithms. Manipulatives are used at every level as models to provide concrete examples of abstract concepts.
In the sixth to eighth grade classroom, we start the year with defining rational numbers, converting between them, and depicting them in various ways. We utilize these skills to solve more complex problems involving the multiplication of fractions and mixed numbers. In general, the mathematical topics follow the official 2011 Massachusetts grade 8 math standards, but the order in which we address these topics depends on many factors, including the strengths and weaknesses of the students.
Our small class size allows for meaningful and ample opportunities to differentiate instruction and to provide all students with access to standards-based instruction.
Students in Upper school delve more deeply into life science, physical science, earth and space science, and engineering. The science curriculum has a hands-on focus based on the scientific method. Students frequently use technology to explore topics, participate in labs and write lab reports. Their projects allow them to use multiple intelligence sources to present informationin in creative formats including news broadcasts, songs, online posters (Glogster EDU), slide shows, and skits. Students engage in field experiences throughout the year to support what is being taught and what they are learning in the classroom.
Upper school students study ancient civilizations, world geography, and American history from the Civil War onward. They write and perform their own skits based on history they are learning, participate in simulations and use interactive web sites. Project-based learning is one of many approaches used to teach upper school students. Throughout the Social Studies curriculum, students take part in debates based on a variety of topics during the year.
In a recent study of ancient Egypt, students were given several tasks to get done as a group including, figuring out a way to move heavy blocks, planning and building a pyramid and making artifacts to put in a tomb. Students wrote a skit to explain to the younger students in the school why the Egyptians mummified their dead. The skit included both an adaptation of an Egyptian myth and factual information about beliefs of the ancient Egyptians.