According to the National Middle School Association - Characteristics of successful middle schools:
“Exploratory programs capitalize on the innate curiosity of young adolescents, exposing them to a range of academic, vocational, and recreational subjects for career options, community service, enrichment, and enjoyment. Exploratory topics include foreign languages, intramural sports, health, clubs, student government, home economics, technological arts, independent study projects, music, art, speech, drama, careers, consumer education, creative writing, and several other special areas.”
Sixth graders are enrolled in two cycles of a World Language and each of the three cycles described below. Please see the World Language course description page for additional information.
Art exploration attempts to provide a sampling of experiences in the fine arts at the middle school level. Students explore the elements of design (line, shape, color, texture, space, value, and form) through various art projects. Students will be creating a variety of projects from watercolor paintings, optical illusion drawings, and sculptural forms. Throughout the cycle, cultural art and art history will be introduced as well as vocabulary and art theory.
Students increase their knowledge and skill using Microsoft Word and PowerPoint in individual and group projects. Students are also introduced to simple spreadsheets in Excel. Students learn how to develop effective slides, notes, and presentation techniques using PowerPoint. Students are taught how to use Inspiration to organize their thoughts for better pre-writing and project planning. All projects involve using Internet resources and 21st Century Skills.
The purpose of this course is to provide sixth grade students with the necessary 21st century skills to be successful learners. Students will examine themes and initiatives such as problem solving, critical thinking, organizational and productivity skills, communication, and collaboration. The skills and strategies learned in this course will provide students the opportunity to infuse these new skills into all content areas. Students will learn about such topics as how planning impacts learning, managing time, breaking down test preparation and projects, as well as note taking and active listening.
Art exploration attempts to provide a sampling of experiences in the fine arts at the middle school level. Students explore the principles of design (emphasis, rhythm, movement, pattern, unity, contrast and balance) through various art projects. Clay whistles are created into miniature sculptures. Drawing & painting are studied, and each student will create his/her own drawing & painting exercise in a specific style while exploring a variety of media which may include watercolors, tempera, pencil, marker or pastels. Cultural art and art history will be explored throughout the cycle, and we will touch on art theory.
Computers / Robotics
This unit of study is designed to introduce students to the basics of Robotics as it teaches science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Working in pairs, students will create a real robot from a Lego Mindstorms kit of 431 parts. In a six-week segment of time, students will learn how to use feedback from sensors, applied mathematics and measurement to program their robot to navigate in its environment. They will have the opportunity to complete multiple investigations involving partial inquiry and guided research, problem solve, work in teams, and document the what they’ve learned as they investigate how robots make decisions to navigate their environment.
This exciting course will give all students the opportunity to understand that effective communication can be conscious, reality-based, and highly enjoyable. It will prepare our students to research the necessary materials for various types of speech experiences including demonstration, informative, and persuasive speeches. The students will be able to express themselves by using proper public speaking techniques and will be able to develop appropriate presentational techniques for platform delivery. The class will help each student increase his or her awareness of skills in everyday formal and informal communication behaviors.
In Internet Research, students will discover techniques to find information efficiently on the Internet. They will explore various search engines, meta-search engines, directories and databases to create a project on an endangered species. Students will also learn how to evaluate websites for authenticity, credibility, and usefulness of content.
Character Education / Service Learning
Building Citizenship through Character and Service Learning seeks to combine the skills and objectives of character education and service learning. Character education is designed to raise the self-esteem and tolerance of students with the overarching goal of becoming a compassionate, active member of the school community. Service Learning is designed to teach students about different current issues and how to take action to address those issues in the community. Through their participation in a student driven service project, students will learn more about their role in the world. Students will learn how they can make a positive impact in their community, and ultimately how to become more knowledgeable and engaged citizens.
Art exploration attempts to provide a sampling of experiences in the fine arts at the middle school level. Students explore the principles of design (emphasis, rhythm, movement, pattern, unity, contrast and balance) through various art projects. Students complete two to three main projects including a three dimensional clay sculptural piece, and a two dimensional painting or drawing. Cultural art and art history will also be explored throughout the cycle.
Using careerdimension.com, an online program, students complete surveys which relate to their interests, values, skills and personalities. These surveys are assessed by each student and four occupations are chosen for further exploration. This program is an integral tool in defining job descriptions, skills needed, training and education, job outlook, earnings, and what students have learned. Students summarize their career choices, create graphs in Excel to compare education needed, hours worked, and salaries earned for each, and then create a PowerPoint, Publisher newsletters, and Prezi presentations for the class. High school course requirements, post-secondary options and current part-time jobs are discussed. Students write resumes and also write and role-play interview techniques. All projects involve using Internet resources and 21st Century Skills.
**Parents who wish to speak the students about their careers please contact Mrs. Wall.
Computers 8 – The Teen Entrepreneur
Students will sharpen their 21 Century problem solving skills in this project based course as they experience a realistic scenario of creating their own teen based business. This course incorporates a series of integrated hands-on projects that combine the concepts of entrepreneurship and computer skills. Students will create a business portfolio containing a Marketing Plan, Customer Prospect Database, Schedule of Startup Funds, letterheads, business cards, and well as many other products found in any successful portfolio. Students will sharpen the skills learned in previous classes as well as use a range of programs including Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Publisher, Microsoft FrontPage and Adobe Photoshop.
Research in the 21st Century
This course will provide students the opportunity to explore academic topics beyond the curriculum taught in the classroom using essential research and critical thinking skills. Students will demonstrate the ability to craft an original thesis statement within the context of a fully developed research paper, effectively document their resources and present a final paper that supports the thesis. While progressing through the research process, students will become discriminating consumers of academic information that is available in a variety of sources. The topics will build upon the students’ prior knowledge from the core subjects of social studies, science, literature and mathematics. Upon completion of the course, students will be prepared for the rigors of researching and writing in the 21st century at the high school level.
As part of the New Jersey 21st Century Life and Careers initiative, Personal Financial Literacy will be addressed in this course. As such, students will develop skills and strategies that promote personal and financial responsibility related to financial planning, savings, investment and charitable giving in the global economy. Money management, becoming a critical consumer, credit and debt management as well as financial responsibility will be addressed in this course.
Brian P. Cory