The Emerson Middle School program is based on research of best practices for middle level students ages 11-15. Our program promotes a sense of self-actualization, the realization of one’s own talent and potential that serve as a motivation for success. We promote this through the development of the whole child: physical development, cognitive-intellectual development, moral development, psychological development and social-emotional development.
Program highlights include:
Students hold student-led conferences with their guardians to share their growth three times per year. Conferences last from 30-45 minutes. Throughout the school year students build an electronic portfolio that consists of work in all classes. The work is evidence of their strengths, needs for refinement, growth and mastery. Their portfolios include short-term and long-term goals for high school and beyond. The process of student led-conferences develops a student’s cognitive-intellectual development by increasing authentic responsibility for their learning. Most importantly, the process of building the portfolio builds the capacity in students to be reflective about themselves as students, which traditionally was the role of the teacher. At Emerson, we prepare and empower our middle school students to organize, plan and facilitate these conferences themselves.
Five days a week students have a class called Advisory. The advisory period is an opportunity for students to establish a meaningful relationship with an adult at school in a different capacity than in an academic class. It is also a chance to build relationships with other students in our middle school community. Students have the same advisor for their two years in middle school. Their advisory teacher (advisor) will lead them in lessons and activities that address their transition to middle school (7th grade) and high school (8th grade), community building, and community and service learning projects. Advisors help students track their grades and academic progress and make plans for completing work. The Advisory period serves as a catalyst for many aspects of a student’s growth, particularly their moral and social-emotional development. Themes for advisory curriculum may include the following topics: identity, maintaining healthy relationships, peer-pressure, bullying, stress and anxiety, and how students fit into the school, local and global community.
The purposes of our advisory program:
Over the course of a student’s two years in middle school, they will be required to participate in all of the different non-core classes that we offer (i.e. art, choir, world drumming, physical education, coding). Research shows that middle level students need an opportunity to explore, as they may not know exactly what their passions and talents are. Students select one elective class for the full year and another elective class is assigned and they switch every trimester.
Also, in both 7th and 8th grade, middle school students participate in out of town fieldtrips that provide an opportunity to explore content as it applies to the real world.
The middle school teachers are committed to implementing project-based learning (PBL). PBL is a teaching methodology that allows students to acquire a deeper knowledge of content through exploration of real-world challenges and problems. This approach to teaching is very student-driven and promotes teaching and learning that crosses multiple content areas.
We are committed to block scheduling. This means that students will have their core classes (math, science, language arts and social studies) for two-hour blocks. The benefit of the block schedule is that it provides a more in-depth exploration of concepts. Additionally the blocks allow for projects, science experiments, social studies simulations and time for students to explore content and work independently. Our block schedule also includes a physical activity break daily to help students get active and jump-start their brains in the mid-morning.