Middle School

Rooted in the joy and inquiry-based learning ideals of the preschool and elementary programs, the Middle School, which will launch in the fall of 2018, will continue to help students to find their voices as empathetic and active citizens of the world. In addition to a curriculum that strongly promotes student-based learning and academic rigor, the Middle School will strive to develop students into active members of the school as well as the local community. Families, students, and teachers will work together to establish a distinct and intentional learning atmosphere that they can be proud of.

The year following our launch (the 2019-2020 school year), we will open our new campus located at 644 Gates Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant. The three-story building will include classrooms for 250 students, a library, multi-purpose room, art and music rooms, a wood shop, and a rooftop recreational area with a garden. As the program grows, so will our staffing, and we will look to add dedicated counselors and learning specialists to work with our middle schoolers.

Listed below are some common questions we receive about our school. Brief answers to them are provided here for convenience. Please contact our middle school coordinator, Kerry Roeder at kerry@thecoopschool.org, to talk more about curriculum.

What makes The Co-op School’s middle school program unique?

Our commitment to a curriculum that is project-based, inclusive, and highly personalized will carry over to the middle school program and create graduates who can advocate for themselves, question the world around them, and collaborate with a diverse range of people. Projects will be structured to enable students to actively participate in their own learning and to plan, develop, and assess research to answer their own questions. Students who transition from elementary to middle school are ready for additional academic rigor and our program is developed to recognize that milestone and support it:

Science: Science will be taught daily by a dedicated middle school science teacher and supported by weekly STEM Design Challenges, which will allow students to apply what they are learning in the classroom to real world problems.

Math: Our math curriculum will be based on Connected Math, which is specifically focused on middle school teaching and learning practices. This is a natural extension from TERC, which is currently taught in our elementary grades. Math will also include a computer science component, allowing students to apply their math skills and make further connections to the world around them.

Advisory: Each student will be part of small multi-age group with a dedicated advisor, who will work with them throughout their time in the middle school to develop the tools and strategies they need to navigate both academic and social-emotional issues. Advisory groups will begin and end the day together to focus on organization, self-advocacy, community building, and metacognitive reflection.

Learning Lab: During these daily meetings, teachers will work with small groups of students on both remediation and enrichment by providing time to revisit topics, talk about them further, and go more in depth. Students will be challenged to identify what they need to work on, empowering them to take ownership over their own learning and promote equity in the curriculum. These small learning communities will be responsive to student needs, while also teaching time management and study skills.

Mindfulness: With dedicated time for mindfulness each day, students will work to create healthy habits of mind that they can utilize throughout their lives.

What are the Specials classes and how often are they taught?

Arts: Independence and agency are essential in middle school development and so students will be given the opportunity to choose from a series of electives each trimester. These electives will meet twice a week and may include Improvisation, Music Composition, Photography, Woodshop, and Ukulele for Beginners.

Reading: Students will have dedicated reading time each day in order to foster empathy, connections, and curiosity. They will also engage in regular conferencing, so that teachers can check for comprehension and be able to make meaningful recommendations.

Physical Education: This course will combine a traditional gym program and health studies. 

Genius Hour: Students will have the opportunity to explore their passions and be challenged to find, evaluate, and present information as they engage in the research process. They will work independently and with teachers on these projects every other day.

Community Action: With a continued dedication to improving the community and beyond, students will meet every other day to work on service learning projects. They will use this time to learn about identity, diversity, justice and action through a series of age-appropriate activities based on The Anti-bias Framework.

Is there homework?

Research suggests that homework is most beneficial when it is authentic, meaningful, and engaging. Thus, homework assignments will be an opportunity for reflection and differentiation, as well as to support flipped classroom instruction—a blended learning model that has students cover the “lecture” part of a class at home (usually by watching a brief video)—so that class time can be dedicated to active learning. The Middle School will follow the guidelines of the National Education Association and the National Parent-Teacher Association and offer no more than 10 minutes of homework per grade level per night (known as the “10 minute rule”).

Does the Co-op School administer standardized tests?

Beginning in third grade students are given the Comprehensive Testing Program standardized test standardized test. This test was developed by the Educational Records Bureau and is the most commonly administered standardized test used in national independent schools.

What about world language?

Spanish will be offered daily and will follow the national standards’ goals of communication, cultures, connections, comparisons, and community. Mandarin will be offered in the first year as an after school enrichment class.

Are there extracurricular community activities for my child?

We will expand upon our existing enrichment program by adding options focused on the needs and interests of middle schoolers. These classes will meet regularly to supplement our offerings throughout the day. Activities may include Mandarin, Intramural sports, Student Council, Newspaper, and Theater. A full schedule of programming will be announced in the summer of 2018 before the semester begins. As our school expands, we will look to add additional programming.

Will my child be ready for high school?

Absolutely. Our curriculum is aligned with New York State standards, but more importantly our students will leave prepared to strive in any environment. They will be confident to tackle new challenges, understand how they learn best, be able to advocate for themselves, and continue to see learning as joyful. A high school placement director will also be brought on to work with students and families individually, in order to navigate the high school admissions process together.

How can I provide comments or suggestions about the Middle School program?

All questions, comments, and ideas about the upcoming Middle School program are welcome and can be directed to our middle school coordinator, Kerry Roeder at kerry@thecoopschool.org.

Sign up here for our monthly inquiry and tour sessions, and RSVP here for our Middle School Open House on Tuesday, November 28, and hear from teachers, parents, and students about our program and what it has to offer your family.