The Middle School
In Middle School, educators provide students with the skills to adapt to their changing minds and bodies, and to the ever-expanding academic workload. The school offers a strong foundation in the humanities, math, science, foreign languages, the visual and performing arts, and music.
Recognizing the ever-expanding developmental issues surrounding pre-adolescence, the Middle School offers tremendous opportunities for each student to flourish. Our goal is for middle school students to view themselves as writers, orators, scientists, musicians, artists, athletes, mathematicians, and historians who are poised to enter the dynamic global society of this century. Students are expected to become increasingly independent in applying the strategies and skills learned as they move through the Middle School division. Students encounter more rigorous challenges in all their courses and develop their ability to think abstractly.
Emphasis is placed on project-oriented, hands-on, and minds-on activities which challenge students to: think critically; develop excellent written and spoken expression; reinforce and master mathematical concepts and skills; become scientifically and technologically literate individuals; move towards proficiency in other languages and gain appreciation for new cultures and peoples; understand the importance of embracing a lifestyle which promotes sound physical and emotional health; work cooperatively and collaboratively, and express themselves through the arts.
In Middle School (and also the Upper School), the term Humanities is used to describe the intertwined disciplines of literature and history. Students develop a deeper understanding of the human experience by encountering vivid examples of people in the past feeling, thinking and writing about the same questions they deal with today. Students are encouraged to formulate and express informed individual ideas and opinions.
The Language Arts program has as its main focus the reading and analysis of various genres of literature and the techniques involved in the writing process. Literature discussions and close readings of selected passages occur throughout the program. Developing sound writing skills continues to be emphasized throughout the curriculum. In addition to the organization and development of ideas on paper, attention is given to use of appropriate and descriptive vocabulary, the use of literary devices, variety of style, and mechanics. Our Math program aims to engage students critically and creatively in rigorous challenges that call upon them to develop intellectual, analytical, research, and communications skills. Math concepts are initially presented in concrete form. As students become more comfortable with the concepts, they are asked to think and work at more abstract levels. Lessons are developed to promote critical thinking, cooperative learning, and communication. The Science program is committed to developing scientifically literate individuals who are knowledgeable about important scientific ideas and have an awareness of the nature of science’s connections to mathematics and technology and its relation to society. RCDS acknowledges education for scientific literacy will create a larger and more diverse pool of young people who will seek further education in scientific fields. The program’s method of instruction draws as much upon real-world experiences as the abstract, with students actively exploring the world around them in ways that resemble the ways scientists go about their work. Independent Studies in the Middle School is an elective, with class periods devoted to building on the understanding of the evaluative criteria through focused discussion and demonstration. Students work with their advisors to identify potential mentors who have subject area expertise in their area of interest.
Organization and study skills are addressed throughout the Middle School years within the context of each student’s content area classes. Focus shifts to acquiring new skills such as note-taking, outlining, research and study techniques, creating good research questions, evaluating resources, generating alternative strategies to solve problems, and developing tools for self-evaluation. Specific steps are taught regarding organizing and maintaining a notebook, effective use of textbooks and other resources, how to highlight and take notes from a text or classroom lecture/discussion, how to prepare for a test, conducting research, and organizing a thesis or research paper.