The Wesley Middle School program (6-8) is completely departmentalized. Core classes consist of: English, mathematics (Everyday Math, pre-algebra, algebra, mathematical concepts, and geometry), integrated science, history, and Spanish. Classes are limited to eighteen students, and there are two sections in each grade level.
Regularly scheduled music, art, technology, and physical education classes enrich the core curriculum. A great deal of emphasis is placed on those skills that help children make the transition into adolescence and high school. We work on giving students the ability to solve problems with their peers as part of the advisory program.
In addition to separate computer courses, the middle school includes a technology component within the individual subjects areas. For example, 7th grade science classes prepare PowerPoint presentations for the science fair, and electives, such as Media Arts, rely on technology components as a part of their core objectives.
We also use a system called Blackbaud, a computerized grade book for teachers. Every middle school family has immediate access to his/her child's grades.
In 6th grade, a transitional year, students follow a block schedule for their core academic courses. They are taught primarily by two teachers, who work closely to coordinate the program. Much of the year is spent in studies that integrate social studies with literature, as well as math and science. A great deal of time and focus are spent on writing. The 6th graders also receive regular instruction in music, art, Spanish, physical education, study skills, and public speaking.
The 7th grade program becomes one of true departmentalization. Teachers communicate with each other regularly, and frequently the literature in English ties directly to what is studied in social studies. Spanish increases from three days per week to four. In addition to physical education and the fine arts offerings of art and music, electives include yearbook, a legal systems class, and drama, which culminates in the 7th grade play. All 7th graders take a special class in the spring that begins preparing them for the process and transition to high school.
In the 8th grade, students continue with the same daily structure as they experienced in the 7th grade. Since the faculty for 8th grade is the same as that for 7th, students and teachers begin the year familiar with each other and with the expectations of the program. 8th graders have the opportunity to take either Mock Trial, Media Arts, or Theme Parks 101 as an elective. Mock Trial is a countywide program where students compete against legal defense teams from other schools. Media Arts is a class for students to explore and experiment with available media technology and to integrate technology with more traditional creative expressions to convey their ideas and stories. Theme Parks 101 allows students to explore the history and development of theme parks, investigate their creative engineering and design, discuss the sociological impact of theme parks, and examine and apply the elements of visual storytelling.
Advisories are led by teachers and administrators who serve as students’ mentors, advocates, and primary links between home and school. Advisory groups meet together twice a week, and each individual student has a standing scheduled one-on-one meeting with the advisor each week. Students develop close relationships with their peers and with adults they trust. Advisory is a safe, supportive forum in which students explore their own identities, enjoy bonding with their classmates, and engage in critical thinking. In the process, they develop a clear sense of self, academically, emotionally, and socially.