SHA Middle School Re-Imagined!
The Middle School years are a time of significant change and development. Middle School students need to find relevance in their learning and begin to think about their role in society. Most Middle School students are passionate about their interests, care about others, and have the academic and organizational skills to make a difference in their world. Studies show that the most important skills today’s students need to be successful are collaboration, creativity, communication and critical thinking.
In an effort to grow these essential skills and to tap into adolescents’ innate ability to thrive when given choice in their learning, we are changing our schedule and approach to increase opportunities for students to experience learning which promotes these skills. Every Friday morning, students will participate in multi-grade interdisciplinary Project Based Learning—one session will have a Judaics focus and one a General Studies focus. This approach ensures that students have multiple ways to learn content that is relevant to their lives, multiple roles to play in the process, and multiple ways to demonstrate understanding. These projects have been developed to meet appropriate learning goals and extend content specific learning. Our project classes will be team-taught and infused with technology and art.
Additionally, we are adding in other opportunities for student choice—students will choose a Judaic focus course each trimester—courses include Conversational Hebrew, Advanced Talmud, Writing Divrei Torah, Modern Israeli History, the Holocaust, etc. These classes will meet twice a week in 60-minute blocks and enable deep learning and opportunities to experience and apply knowledge and skills. Lastly, Fridays will end with an elective—mostly in the Arts, but other areas as well, as determined by student interest. Students will choose an elective every trimester. Over the year, electives to be offered include: Drama, Drawing & Painting, Podcasting & Movie-making, Life Skills, Yearbook, Newspaper, Robotics, Computer Assisted Design, 3-D Printing, etc.
The Middle School, as a whole, is being revamped to provide for greater integration across content areas, integrate the use of Design Thinking and Project Based Learning.
Some initiatives in place in the Middle School for the 2016-2017 year include:
Multi-Grade Learning Opportunities:
- Friday Project Learning
- Elective Opportunities
- 5th and 6th Grade Joint Classes in the mornings
- Scheduling to enable mixed math groupings in 5th and 6th grades
Friday Projects: Integrated Experiential Learning —
- General Studies #1: Stewards of Citizenship–Students will explore about what it means to be a citizen of our community, country and beyond.
- General Studies #2: Engineering– rotation will focus on different types of engineering (civil, aeronautic) and will include hand on projects and learning about training for the different fields.
- Judaic Studies #1: Challenges of Jews of Tomorrow–students will be using multiple resources from ancient texts to current websites to investigate how Judaism might change depending on possible future scenarios.
- Judaic Studies #2: Judge Judaism–Creating a Bet Din, a Jewish court at SHA -Students will use Jewish sources to analyze, create arguments and participate in mock trials.
Partial Block: Students will have the ability to dig deep into content, enabling Project Based Learning across the curriculum
Arts Electives: Drama, Life Skills, Multi-Media Production, Art (printing)
Humanities: Integrated Social Studies and English Language Arts
Judaic Options: Students have the opportunity to choose a Judaic Study course of interest to them: International Bible Quiz, Adventures in Hebrew, Historical Happenings, Advanced Talmud Torah
Technology Class: Design Thinking and use of tech tools for solving design challenges (e.g. Laser Cutter, 3D Printer, Coding, and App Development)
Social Emotional Learning- Second Step K – 8 Social Skills curriculum integrated into P.E.