Rooted in the joy and inquiry-based learning ideals of the preschool and elementary programs, our Middle School continues 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, there is also an increased emphasis on social-emotional skills, independence, and learning how to learn.
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 director, Kerry Roeder, with any additional questions.
What makes The Co-op School’s middle school program unique?
Our commitment to a curriculum that is project-based, inclusive, and highly personalized extends to our middle school program and we seek to create graduates who can advocate for themselves, question the world around them, and collaborate with a diverse range of people. Our projects enable students to actively participate in their own learning and to plan, develop and assess research to answer their own questions. Students transitioning from elementary to middle school are are ready for additional academic rigor and our program is developed to recognize that milestone and support it. Having a middle school in a K – 8 environment also provides a plethora of unique learning and leadership opportunities for our students.
What are the academic classes?
Academic teaching in the middle school is departmentalized with passionate middle school instructors who are highly trained in their academic fields. Curriculum continues to be interdisciplinary and students gain additional independence as they transition between academic classes and teachers. Students use Chromebooks and Google Classroom throughout the day to enhance their learning.
Humanities: An integrated course with a Social Studies and English framework that focuses on reading, writing, and communication, Humanities meets as a double period to allow students more time to engage in active learning. Inquiry in 6th grade explores World Geography & Cultures with an emphasis on storytelling around the world.
Math: Math instruction pulls from the CMP3 curriculum and focuses on giving students the tools to complete STEM projects, see math all around them, and establish a positive mathematical mindset. Math also includes a computer science component, allowing students to apply their math skills and make further connections to the world around them.
Science: Following NGSS 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. STEM design challenges also help students become experts in the engineering design process.
Spanish: 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.
Health: In this class, student’s study health and wellness topics related to adolescent development in a safe and supportive classroom setting. Through empowerment-based discussions and activities, students explore a variety of physical, social, and emotional changes and challenges that affect them as adolescents and as members of society. Topics include puberty and physical health, healthy body image, gender identity, human sexuality and consent, drugs (including alcohol), healthy relationships, and digital literacy.
Research suggests that homework is most beneficial when it is authentic, meaningful, and engaging. Homework assignments in the middle school are an opportunity for reflection and differentiation, as well as to support flipped classroom instruction so that class time can be dedicated to active learning. The Middle School follows the guidelines of the National Education Association and the National Parent-Teacher Association and offer 10 minutes of homework per grade level per night (know as the “10 minute rule”).
What kind of skill development and support will be provided?
Advisory: Each student is part of small multi-age group with a dedicated advisor, who works 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.
- Students begin and end the day together as they work on organization, self-advocacy, and study skills. With a focus on metacognition, they work to deepen their understanding of material, identify goals and challenges, plan for the day, and witness their growth as learners throughout the year.
- Extended advisory periods allow students to work on group projects, community building, and activities that are import for social-emotional learning. They also have the opportunity to engage in deeper conversations and self reflection using both the Open Session Model and Restorative Practices
Mindfulness: All students and teachers in the middle school take time each day to center themselves by learning relaxation and awareness techniques that will help them with self monitoring and habits of mind throughout the day.
What I Need (WIN): Middle School is truly a time for students to learn how to learn and begin advocating for themselves. This student driven academic support is run as a structured learning lab and allow teachers to work with small self-selected groups. Students are able to work on both remediation and enrichment by providing time to revisit topics, talk about them further, and to go more in depth. Students are challenged to identify what they need to work on, while building up their time management and study skills. These small learning communities are responsive to student needs, empower students to take ownership over their learning, and promote equity in the curriculum.
What are the Specials classes and how often are they taught?
Electives: Independence and agency are essential in middle school development and so students are given the opportunity to choose from a series of electives each trimester. These electives meet twice a week and may include: Creative Writing, Music Composition, Photography, Woodshop, and Ukulele for Beginners.
Physical Education: This course expands upon the movement program in the elementary school, as well as incorporate health concepts that are developmentally appropriate at this age.
Drama: Drama games, improvisation, and participation in scenes help our students work on cooperation, empathy, and self-confidence. All students participate in a drama class once a week where they learn to express themselves creatively, practice active listening, and have fun.
Reading: Students have dedicated independent reading time each day in order to foster empathy, connections, and curiosity. They also engage in regular conferencing, so that teachers can check for comprehension and be able to make meaningful recommendations.
Genius Hour: Students have the opportunity to explore their passions and be challenged to find, evaluate, and present information as they engage in the research process. They work independently and with teachers on these long term projects throughout each trimester.
Community Action: With a continued dedication to improving the community and beyond, students meet weekly 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.
Are there extracurricular community activities for my child?
Expanding upon our strong enrichment program, we have added options focused on the needs and interests of our middle schoolers. These classes meet regularly to supplement our offerings throughout the day. Activities may include Mandarin, Intramurals, Student Council, Newspaper, and Theater. A full schedule of programming is announced before the Fall and Spring sessions.
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. We are dedicated to meeting students where they are and challenging them to grow. Our graduates 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.
Does the Co-op School administer standardized tests?
Beginning in third grade students are given the Comprehensive Testing Program standardized test. This test was developed by the Educational Records Bureau and is the most commonly administered standardized test used in national independent schools.
How can I find out more about the Middle School program?
All questions, comments, and ideas about the upcoming Middle School program are welcome and can be directed to the coordinator, Kerry Roeder at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Join us on our monthly inquiry and tour sessions, which you can sign up for here.