Academics

Middle School

The Middle School provides an environment that is sensitive to the emotional and academic needs of the adolescent. Emphasis is placed on helping the student understand him/herself as a learner and using this information to further develop the mind. Knowing that this can be a vulnerable period in a child’s life, teachers and students work together to constantly strengthen their community with the values of respect and kindness. The low student teacher ratio allows for individualized instruction, a natural work pace for mastery and emotional understanding, ample time for project-based work and time to study art, music, business and other topics. Students are guided through time management exercises to help them balance the expectations and requirements of school and those from their personal lives. Acquiring this life skill during these years sets a strong foundation for personal and professional success. Visit our Secondary School Placement page to see where our graduates continue their educational journey.


Humanities

The Middle School Humanities program takes an interdisciplinary approach to the study of ancient and modern history, literature, western and non-western cultures and geography. Through exposure to literature, poetry, oral history and the Arts, our students develop an appreciation and understanding of the attitudes, beliefs and struggles of people during different time periods. Attention is given to comparing and contrasting various cultures, governments and philosophical ideals. Emphasis is placed on conducting research and analysis. Students synthesize information and think critically, expressing ideas both orally and in writing.

Literature Circle

In Middle School, students meet regularly to discuss literary works within a variety of genres. Guided discussions allow students to express their understanding of themes, plots, characters and settings. Students are encouraged to develop their own style of expression with a voice that reflects their personal opinion; to identify words and concepts that challenge their understanding; to listen to and respond to their peers’ evaluations; and to connect what they see in literature to their own experiences.

Writer's Workshop

Over a two year period, Middle School students compose various pieces of polished work such as expository, descriptive and persuasive essays. Students explore the writer’s craft by sharing exemplars and experimenting with required pre-writing exercises and drafting before they present final pieces of work. Students work together as peer editors and meet with their teacher to evaluate work and to engage in dialogue about content. Through lessons and practice, students apply grammar skills to their speaking and writing.

Pre-Algebra

The Middle School Pre-Algebra curriculum focuses on developing students’ proportional reasoning skills. The investigations in each unit of the curriculum provide opportunities for students to develop and test conjectures. Students apply their understanding of proportions in their study of similarity and scaling of length, width and volume. ASM’s small class sizes allow for individualized instruction and ample opportunities for students to discuss concepts and share ideas and strategies. This is important in the development of the students’ thorough understanding of concepts.

The math curriculum at the Middle School level is aligned with and often exceeds the Massachusetts state and national frameworks for math instruction.

Algebra

The Middle School Algebra curriculum develops students’ understanding of functions from linear to quadratic and exponential. ASM’s small class sizes allow for individualized instruction. Discussions and sharing of ideas and strategies are important in the development of the students’ understanding of the concepts. The curriculum introduces topics through an intuitive and contextually based approach. Concepts are revisited throughout the course, allowing students the opportunity to master them at different times depending on their level of understanding and to review and maintain their skills. Emphasis is placed on helping students formulate or develop the rule for a particular problem rather than use a given rule to find a solution, allowing them to understand why the rule works rather than just when it works. Students learn to use the graphing calculator to enhance their understanding of various functions and statistical methods.

The math curriculum at the Middle School level is aligned with and often exceeds the Massachusetts state and national frameworks for math instruction.

Science

Middle School science encompasses the study of physical, earth and life sciences. Through discussion, research, and hands-on activities, students learn and appreciate the conventions of science, vocabulary used in scientific discovery, the goals and impact of current scientific research and the vast expanse of unanswered questions that would explain the universe in which we live. Students build their scientific knowledge by observing the natural world, learning the history of discovery, critical thinking, organization, collaboration, research, writing lab reports and public speaking.

Students work independently to design an experiment in which they utilize the scientific method and present their findings at our annual school-wide Science Fair. At this event, area scientists and engineers judge projects; based on the results, ten students in grades 6, 7 and 8 advance to compete in the Massachusetts Regional State Science and Engineering Fair.

 

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math)

The Middle School STEM curriculum cultivates intellectual creativity with challenges such as building a Rube Goldberg machine and building programmable robots. The Engineering Design Process is used throughout the curriculum as students are presented with real life problems that require them to explore, design, build and test their solutions. Using more sophisticated mathematics in the process is required at this level.

STEM Lab provides opportunities for students to apply the engineering design process (EDP) in order to solve problems.

Students continue to hone their presentation and communication skills, sharing the results of their work with the community. Students are exposed to the different fields of STEM by visiting various labs in the Greater Boston Area, including the biotechnology company, Biogen in Cambridge and Beyond Benign, a green chemistry education company in Wilmington.

 

Spanish

At the Middle School level, Spanish is a major academic subject and is equivalent to level one high school Spanish. The classes are spoken entirely in Spanish and fluency in listening and speaking become well-developed. Learning activities include paragraph and report writing, in-depth readings, grammar practices, frequent homework and daily speaking opportunities. Long-term projects allow students to express their creativity through designing children’s literature, art projects and travel brochures.

Students will:

  • Apply correct grammatical structures to their writing and speaking
  • Continue to develop proper pronunciation and spelling
  • Expand their knowledge of vocabulary
  • Achieve a higher level of written expression
  • Research Hispanic cultures and present projects to the ASM community

Art

Middle School students have Art class weekly. Through class discussion and engaging projects, they develop a deeper understanding of the Elements of Art (line, value, color, shape, form, space and texture) and the Principles of Design (balance, emphasis, movement, pattern, rhythm and unity).  The Middle School students create a wide variety of 2-D and 3-D works of art that are inspired by the work of 19th and 20th century artists as well as the historical cultures that they are studying in Humanities class. Each spring, students select several works for display in the annual Student Art Show.

Open Art Studio allows students to spend additional time in the Art Room on creative projects they are working on in within their academic curriculum.

Students will:

  • Explore works by trailblazing artists such as: Henri Matisse, Gustav Klimt, Jim Dine, John Constable, Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso, Joan Miro, and Salvador Dali
  • Develop the ability to create sophisticated works of representational art as well as art influenced by prominent movements such as Pop Art, Dada, Abstraction, Romanticism, and Surrealism
  • Use a variety of art materials to create 2-D and 3-D works of art, such as: charcoal, acrylic paints, watercolor, clay, collage, wood, and embroidery floss

Library, Media and Technology

Middle School students apply and master research and synthesis skills, which are essential for success in secondary school. The program challenges students to apply skills acquired in previous years to produce well-developed research papers. In addition to weekly lessons, there are ample opportunities to seek individualized instruction and guidance to support ongoing project work. The Middle School is a one-to-one computing environment where students use Chromebooks®, in addition to having access to a variety of other computing devices.  

Students will:

  • Formulate and refine research questions and strategies
  • Craft and support a thesis statement
  • Identify and use print, online and human resources
  • Evaluate web and print resources for bias, authority, currency and relevance
  • Search and use resources from paid online databases such as peer reviewed journals, digitized periodical articles, and topic-specific collections
  • Distinguish primary and secondary source documents
  • Take notes and cite sources using the Easybib® application
  • Differentiate between paraphrasing and in-text citation
  • Demonstrate sound ethics and digital citizenship skills

Music

Students have several performance opportunities in a variety of contexts: All School Meetings, First Friday Coffee, formal concerts, and in-class presentations.

Using the self-knowledge gained from experiences in and out of school, Middle School students work with the music teacher to shape the course of study for the year. 

When a student graduates from ASM’s music program, they will:

  •         Have basic fluency reading standard Western notation
  •         Know rudimentary decoding methods for reading music at sight
  •         Know how to read a score
  •         Be able to play basic chords on a guitar
  •         Be able to play simple tunes on the piano
  •         Sing in tune in the range of an octave or greater
  •         Know their vocal range (soprano, alto, etc.)
  •         Be aware of their changing voice (males)
  •         Know their interests and strengths in music and dance
  •         Have mentored others in their strengths
  •         Have sought and received mentoring help from peers
  •         Know a varied repertoire of music
  •         Associate music with joy

Although all Middle School students sing, dance, compose, and play instruments, their music classes tend to reflect their musical interests, many of which are pursued outside of school. Students in bands and youth orchestras bring in their instruments and contribute to the class ensemble. Serious dancers take the lead in choreography. Pianists accompany songs from lead sheets. The musical taste of the students is respected and expanded.

Physical Education

The mission of our physical education program is to provide students with a safe and positive physical environment while promoting a healthy and active lifestyle.

Middle School students pursue a variety of cooperative activities and team oriented games which will develop athletic ability and overall fitness. The students will regularly take initiative, act as leaders, and contribute effectively within a team. In middle school, physical education classes meet twice a week and students learn effective strategy and play sports such as football, soccer, basketball, volleyball, floor hockey, frisbee, wiffle ball, tennis, and engage in running, dance and personal fitness. Students will perform a variety of strength endurance exercises, improve cardiovascular endurance, participate in agility drills, and understand proper flexibility routines.

Health

ASM’s Health Program engages students in thinking critically about health and healthy behaviors. Students set individual health goals and track their progress. Topics such as the value of good nutrition, positive decision-making and predicting consequences, and Internet safety are discussed. ASM’s Health Program is taught in collaboration with the Physical Education teacher the School Nurse, and guest speakers.

The  curriculum is based upon the Great Body Shop ®. Teaching methods include lecture, demonstration, projects, discussions, and role playing, among others.  We acknowledge that you are your child’s primary health educator and we value your partnership. Your child will bring home materials so that you are aware of the lessons being presented and be involved in their class work.

The Middle School students discuss drug and alcohol use, violence prevention and preventing diseases. Students complete a long-term project each year. On a global scale, students study the relationship between environment, disease and public health.

Interested in learning more? Contact us or view a class demo.

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