The middle school years are an important time in students’ intellectual and social development with unique needs. At CFS, 6th through 8th grade students deepen their study of academic subjects through thematic units that incorporate hands-on learning, projects, and research and writing skills.
Math class focuses on solving problems and collaborating with each other, giving students the chance to work at their own pace. Students have worked on everything from integer operations to the type of algebra and geometry that most students typically wouldn’t see until high school. By incorporating games and a variety of problem types and texts, students gain confidence in their mathematical skills and learn to experiment and “play” with numbers.
In literacy, students write articles, editorials, comics and much more for the school newspaper. They think of problems in the world, such as climate change and violence in the city, and do the research to explain the problem and propose solutions. Students also have wide latitude in choosing reading topics, covering many genres and styles. Classes regularly invite students to analyze poems and write their own to share. Students also enjoy playing word games to expand their vocabulary and practice their spelling. The middle school class typically spends Tuesday morning browsing books and using computers at the local library.
Science Group meets to study topics agreed upon by the group. Student created a guide to identify neighborhood trees. Student practiced using a microscope to examine different types of cells. Another unit included discussions of what happened in the Big Bang. Again we see students proposing their own topics to study and then using available resources such as books from the school library, books from the local branch library, internet resources, and expert volunteers to pursue answers to their questions.
The social studies group similarly gives students the opportunity to propose topics to study in detail, such as the beginning of written history, or more specific topics such as the events, personalities, and continued relevance of the Reconstruction period. Students use a variety of resources and are able to explore history interactively, such as in mock trials.