Middle School: Grades 6 – 8
Adolescents have enormous potential for courageous and creative work. In the middle school years, the human brain changes at a rate matched only by the first three years of life, and children's capacities are naturally strengthened. Blue School's middle school program is designed to harness the potential of adolescents to act on their ideas, pursue high levels of scholarship, and become more fully realized as people and learners. Middle schoolers participate in a variety of courses that combine the individualized, inquiry-based approach of our primary program with an intentional shift to greater depth of knowledge and research in core content areas. In grades 6 – 8, all courses are organized around "Ways of Thinking" and our dynamic balance between academic mastery, creative thinking, and self and social learning. Students in grades 6 – 8 take required courses in Mathematics, Integrated Studies (team taught Science & World History), Novels and Nonfiction (language arts), and a variety of arts disciplines. Additionally, students take STEAM, language, collective, and media literacy courses, as well as choosing electives and attending weekly office hours. A sample list of electives is included with our course descriptions and program offerings. All students will take module-based health and wellness and physical education courses throughout grades 6 – 8.
All curriculum is organized by Blue School’s 'Ways of Thinking', which include:
The Middle School Ways of Thinking is an organizing framework that guides teachers and students as they plan for and approach learning. The Ways of Thinking are arranged into five different categories -- establishing voice, asking questions, perspective taking, using evidence, and promoting reflection. Each category is clarified through essential questions and corresponding academic and social-emotional characteristics, with the intention of providing a guide to help students demonstrate, deepen, and revise their thinking as a primary focus of their learning. Our academic program and instructional approach is inquiry-based and focused on the ideas and questions of our students. Using the Ways of Thinking is an important part of the learning process, encouraging students toward a more nuanced understanding of the content they are considering and helping students develop habits to make sense of complex ideas.
Middle School Courses:
Novels & Nonfiction
Collective and Advisory
Health and Wellness
Presentations of Learning
At Blue School, student-led Presentations of Learning are an opportunity for students to share, discuss, reflect on, and celebrate the work and learning they have done in Math, Integrated Studies, Novels & Nonfiction, and STEAM with an authentic audience of parents, educators, and content specialists. Presentations of Learning provide students with an opportunity to build and strengthen public speaking and presentation skills.
During the presentations each student presents one or more pieces of work, teaches the guests content from their classes, demonstrates skills they have learned, and responds to questions from peers, teachers and guests. Through the work shared in Presentations of Learning students speak to a process of feedback and revision. Audience members are expected to carefully examine the work presented by students, ask questions that push their thinking, and provide kind, specific, honest, and helpful feedback.
Community Meeting is a weekly ritual in which grades 4-8 come together to recognize one another, strengthen community bonds, and live out the school's values. Students and teachers sit together in a circle and follow the same routine each week, beginning with a song that is often chosen by a student. We spend several minutes sharing out gratitudes and reflections, which is an opportunity for individual students to recognize and appreciate another person's positive actions. We frame these actions as evidence of one of six possible "lenses" - hero, group member, artist, scientist, innocent, and trickster. A person is not just a singular lens--we have any combination of these "lenses" within us at any time--but community meeting is a time to reflect on which parts of others are contributing to building a positive learning community. We close community meeting with a moment of mindfulness to help center ourselves as we move into the day. A few times a year, Community Meeting takes other forms, such as joke day and Winter Celebration, and in recent years, it has been home to an annual Oratorical Festival, in which we honor the oratory and activism of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with individual student speakers and class presentations of speeches and poems by inspiring activists, writers, politicians, philosophers, artists, and thinkers.