Our Middle Schoolers receive the same supportive, joyful, inquiry-based approach taken in our preschool and lower school programs. At the same time, Middle School students are ready for additional academic rigor, and our program recognizes and supports that milestone. During this exciting time of rapid growth, students find their voices as empathetic and active citizens of the world. In addition to a curriculum that promotes student-based learning, teachers also emphasize social-emotional skills, independence, and learning how to learn. Our graduates advocate for themselves and others, question the world around them, and collaborate with a diverse range of people. These essential tools continue to serve them in the years to come as they become global citizens in an interdependent world.
Our sixth, seventh, and eighth-grade students explore the following subjects, guided by specialized teachers. Each subject’s curriculum is interdisciplinary, and students gain independence as they transition between academic classes and teachers. Students use Chromebooks and Google Classroom throughout the day to build technology skills and enhance their learning.
English Language Arts
Humanities are the stories, thoughts, and language that help us make sense of our world. The Co-op School blends literature, history, writing, and the arts in order to explore and learn about our diverse and ever-changing world. In sixth grade, we explore World Geography and Cultures with an emphasis on storytelling and how it shapes identity. In seventh grade, students study the foundations of democracy and advocacy. In eighth grade, students explore concepts of justice, change, and leadership.
Our Global Studies program explores cultures, ideas, and people of the past and present around the globe. Students develop their abilities to think critically and solve authentic, complex, non-standard, cross-disciplinary problems.
In 6th grade, students explore geography and are immersed in the rich history and achievements of people from Africa, Eastern Europe, and Russia, Asia, the Middle East, and Southern Europe.
In 7th grade, students focus on the study of Democracy with an emphasis on citizenship (including rights and responsibilities), federal and state government, civics and economics, the right to vote, and political systems around the world.
In 8th grade, students look at the period of Reconstruction in the United States, proceed to how our nation became a world power, and conclude with an examination of issues facing us today.
Our math curriculum focuses on giving students the tools to complete integrated projects, see math all around them, and establish a positive mathematical mindset. Math also includes an investigation component, allowing students to apply their math skills and make further connections to the world. Instead of calculating the sides of a triangle using the Pythagorean theorem on paper, students might go to the park and see how the concept is applied to a tree and its shadow. Students also build a math portfolio with various types of projects that highlight the new skills they’ve learned.
Following Next Generation standards, this course teaches the nature of science as well as its direct real-world applications. Students learn concepts through active investigations, practices of inquiry, and meaningful problem-solving. Just a few examples of this include our 6th graders constructing a hydraulic lift system to explore the properties of the states of matter, 7th graders working in teams to design a sensory museum exhibit on plant and animal cells, and 8th graders analyzing available data about the carbon footprint of their school and presenting a plan of action. Engineering challenges also help students become adept in the iterative design process.
This class approaches language acquisition with a focus on communication, cultures, connections, comparisons, and community. Students learn to express themselves in a variety of ways and use specialized online resources to practice their speaking and listening skills.
In this class, students study health and wellness topics related to adolescent development in a safe and supportive classroom setting. Through empowerment-based discussions and activities, the class explores a variety of physical, social, and emotional changes and challenges. Topics include puberty and physical health, body image, gender identity, human sexuality and consent, drugs (including alcohol), healthy relationships, and online safety.
Schedules and Class Structure
Each student is part of a small multi-age group with a dedicated advisor who works with them throughout their time in middle school. Together they develop the tools and strategies they need to navigate academic and social-emotional issues. Students begin and end the day together as they work on organization, self-advocacy, and study skills. In these gatherings, students and teachers identify goals and challenges, plan for the day, and witness their growth as learners throughout the year. They also have the opportunity to engage in deeper conversations and self-reflection. The advisory program allows students to work on group projects, community building, and activities that are important for social-emotional learning.
Advisory and Academic Support
Student-driven academic support is provided through a structured learning lab known as SOAR: (Skills, Organization, Achievement, & Responsibility). Teachers work with groups of students who have self-identified as needing additional help. Students work on both remediation and enrichment by revisiting topics, talking about them further, and going into greater depth. Students are challenged to identify what they need to work on, while building time management and study skills.
Homework is most beneficial when it is authentic, meaningful, and engaging. Homework assignments in middle school are an opportunity for reflection and differentiation that helps students understand their own unique responses to the subject matter. With the time allotted in the day to S.O.A.R, students are given one-on-one teacher support which allows them to reach their highest potential.
We believe that learning should include more than academic subjects. Through our Specials programs, students explore the world, discover new passions, develop lifelong hobbies and athletic skills, and get lost in the joy of play! Specials vary from year to year, and may include the following programs:
- Physical Education: This course expands on the elementary school movement program, and incorporates age-appropriate health concepts.
- Creative Making
- Reading: Students have dedicated independent reading time each day to foster empathy, connections, and curiosity. They also engage in regular dialogues so that teachers can gauge comprehension and make recommendations.
To make meaningful community contributions, all middle school students meet once a week in groups to learn about identity, diversity, justice and action through a series of age-appropriate activities based on The Anti-bias Framework. Middle schoolers also help to develop and lead our monthly schoolwide Town Hall Meetings where we focus on The Co-op School’s values.
High School Readiness
We work to ensure that each Co-op graduate is ready to meet and exceed high school expectations. Our curriculum is aligned with New York State standards, and graduates leave with the confidence and skills to thrive in any environment. Graduates are ready to tackle new challenges, understand how they learn best, advocate for themselves, and continue to see learning as a joyful process. A high school placement consultant works closely with our team of teachers to support students and families as they navigate the high school admissions process. We are committed to finding the best fit for each student.
The Co-op School uses Northwestern Evaluation Association (NWEA) MAP Growth as a part of our assessment process. This adaptive computerized standardized assessment measures growth and proficiency. MAP is used in addition to other formal and informal assessments that take place in the classroom, and results are submitted as part of High School application materials.
We believe that it is important to consider the whole student throughout the assessment process. While it can provide a “snapshot” view of the moment, testing doesn’t show the student’s whole set of strengths and abilities. However, assessments do help us chart student progress over time, pinpoint specific areas of strength and weakness, make needed changes to curricula, and create class groupings. Standardized test results are considered as one piece of data along with other performance evaluations, including teacher-made tests, projects, and creative assessments.