Middle School Curriculum
The fall of 2007 marked the inaugural year of CVIMS. Our curriculum choices have continued to be true to the educational philosophy that has guided CVIS these past 19 years. Our multi-age classroom incorporates an integrated curriculum with lots of interactive, hands-on activities, and the different styles of learning each child uniquely exhibits.
Below, is a brief sketch of what we have worked on this school year and a sampling of what’s in store for 2011-2012. We truly believe it will challenge our students, foster a love of learning and equip them with the needed skills and tools for success.
We feel the Middle School years are a time when students need to take more ownership of their academic and personal development and in doing so, education becomes more pertinent and alive for them. Also, in assuming more control of their learning, students assume more responsibility.
Consequently, at the onset of the year, each student meets with the instructor and parent(s) to establish their own goals. These include academic, social, and behavioral goals, giving consideration to each student’s unique strengths, weaknesses, and interests, state and national academic standards, and curricular components. These will be revisited at the beginning of the second semester to evaluate whether they have succeeded in meeting their goals. If a student’s goals have been met, new goals will be made, or old ones expanded upon. If goals have not been met, establishing new means to attain those goals will be developed.
Each semester, the Middle School class embarks upon a project that will incorporate most (though probably not all) of the various academic disciplines. This project is the center around which much of what we learn revolves. Similar to the CVIS Themes of the past in that it involves the language arts, science, history, etc., it is also wider in scope, drawing upon the individual talents of each student to ensure the success of the entire project.
Past fall projects have included the plays Inherit the Wind, And a Child Shall Lead, Tibet Through the Red Box, and In a Grove: Four Japanese Ghost Stories. The students discussed some other interesting possibilities, but decided to present plays for the Chelan community. These productions provided a springboard into investigating the history of a specific era, other literature of that time period, and the nuts and bolts of presenting a dramatic production, from sets to props, from advertising to budgeting, lighting to sound etc. They were in charge of every element of the production as well as exploring the context in which the plays were written and performed.
Other spring semester projects have included a science fair (at least once every 3 years), a world fair, and presenting an extensive research project on a topic of interest.
Students at CVIMS investigate Earth Science through the It’s About Time curriculum, physical science through Capsela and other hands-on experimentation, and the human body by using microscopes and performing dissections. Our curriculum is based in student inquiry, developing a hypothesis, exploring possibilities, experimentation and discussion. Students are engaged in lab and field-based applications. In years past we have looked at water, its uses, properties, how we can conserve it, and how each of us, our school, and our community uses it. We have also worked in the fields of electricity, explored the elements, compounds and their properties and the human cell. Various “toys” have allowed us to see the advantages of simple machines, and we have also done numerous experiments to discover the mysteries of light.
We build upon the basic math skills and conceptual knowledge already learned through the 5th grade. In both group and individualized settings, all sixth, seventh, and eighth graders use the Connected Math series developed by Michigan State University. It highlights hands-on activities as a means for students to develop the necessary algorithms for the various mathematical processes we are studying. We occasionally supplement our studies with the TAI series of workbooks developed by Johns Hopkins to enhance computation skills. If students work beyond the 8th level they are then promoted to the geometry text used by Chelan High School.
Writing is taught separately as well as integrated into specifically targeted areas throughout the curriculum. We feel that developing as a writer is of paramount importance. Consequently we explore many different types of writing — especially creative, persuasive, the personal narrative, and essays, — not only to expose the student to the various forms, but also to challenge and stretch their ability, and enhance their talents. We have enhanced the Lucy Calkins writing curriculum for grades 6 through 8 as we feel its elements are essential to improving those skills students have acquired in the earlier grades. Technical writing is an important element in math and science, asking students to write how they have arrived at their outcomes.
The reading we do definitely plays an important role in the project we take on each semester. It provides background, fills in holes in our knowledge, gives more depth to the project, or provides a human element. It is also a source of many writing exercises we embark upon.
Spelling is a continuation of the Rebecca Sitton curriculum already in place at CVIS. It has been quite effective in making spellers out of every student.
History is studied within the context of the semester project and the literature we are reading. Extensive use of primary sources provides a backdrop to the specific time/event we are studying, helps us understand people’s actions during the time period in question, and the consequences of what took place. We consider U.S., world, and Pacific Northwest history within each time period studied, seeing if/how they impacted one another.
Our world is getting smaller, yet our knowledge of it seems to be diminishing. To bridge the gap, we will be Mapping the World by Heart to make the world more real and vital. Studying Current Events assists us in making connections with different parts of the world as well as between historical and emergent events.
Every three years we embark upon the study of government, the branches, and their responsibilities, the Bill of Rights, how a bill becomes a low, etc.
The arts are an integral part of the CVIS curriculum and they continue to be as important at CVIMS. Ample opportunity is given for the performing arts (drama) and visual arts (with Wendy Schramm) as well as in movement and music.
We continue to widen our knowledge of the language through more intensive study of verb tenses and their conjugation, through reading and conversing in Spanish, and by expanding vocabulary and verb usage in dialogue skits.
P.E. is two times weekly, averaging 45 minutes per session, and focuses on how to maintain a lifetime of good health.
We hope to expose students to a variety of occupational skills by having them participate in various work areas with friends of CVIMS in and around Chelan in the form of a mentorship program. Students will choose from fields that interest them, and spend time observing, participating, and sharing in the experience.
Weekly, students volunteer in or around Chelan as a means to give back to the community that supports them so generously. Presently, the students assist in the stocking of the shelves at the Chelan Food Bank. For an hour each Monday the class walks to the Food Bank and bags rice, fruit, and barley, stocks canned food onto shelves and unloads orders that arrive from the Food Banks various suppliers. It has become a great way to say thank you to the Lake Chelan community.
Although we feel that middle school is the time where students begin to expand their independence, at the same time it is important for parents to continue their involvement in their children’s education. It is imperative that parents take an active role in our goal setting exercises at the beginning of each semester and occasionally check up with their student in that regard. Also, we really appreciate parents’ help in the classroom when needed. Whether we need drivers for a field trip, or refreshments provided for an event or assistance in our semester project in some capacity, it is appreciated when parents lend a hand.