The self is not something ready-made, but something in continuous formation through choice of action. -John Dewey
Presbyterian School sixth grade focuses helping each student assemble the “toolkit” necessary to become a successful learner for the years ahead. As John Dewey promotes in the quote above, students do not arrive at school ready-made. Rather, students engage in the learning process to gain understanding through exploration, learning from mistakes more than easily succeeding. Unique to our community, our sixth grade Innovations in Learning course facilitates executive function and logical thought, promoting a growth mindset for learning strategies while mixing in concepts from our Think.Make.Talk paradigm. The sixth grade program introduces each student to four main threads of neural development:
- Making Observations and Drawing Conclusions
- Planning and Organization
- Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving
Children thrive in our program because we provide a safe place to expand knowledge while taking risks on concepts that stretch perspective and processes. We share with each child an expectation for perseverance through the midst of challenging curricular goals rooted in observation and reflection.
Our 6th grade curriculum emphasizes the value a person can bring to a community as students explore the foundations of learning through a lens of personal and social identity. Students learn to step into the shoes of someone else, from a literary character to a historical civilization to a scientist, and even to a classmate. The Innovations in Learning class offers a unique experience for 6th graders to enhance their abilities in executive function and logical thought. Additionally, much of the curriculum, from math to vocabulary, focuses on individual challenge by allowing students to advance at their own pace.
Character Development: Advisory & Squads
All students are assigned to an advisor. The middle school promotes character development through daily connection to an advisor with reflection serving as a key to improvement. In addition to advisory, a fun, community, leadership-minded House System, called Squads, distributes all middle school students and teachers into four distinct Squads. Squads focus on collaboration, construction, competition, and fun with students across every grade level. Older kids counsel younger, and faculty guide teams towards creating a new identity as a Squad.
Place-Based Learning: Museum Partnerships
While our classrooms begin in the somewhat traditional sense, the School extends its boundaries into the incredible museum resources within walking distance of our main building. Presbyterian School transcends the “field trip” experience by integrating our curriculum into the exhibits and resources that spend time in our museums. The opportunity to deepen our learning develops with the partnership that museums offer our learning spaces.
The Power of Play: P.E., Fitness & Athletics
As a way to focus on the mind, body, and spirit of a middle school child, Presbyterian School facilitates intentional time for structured and unstructured play. 6th grade students attend P.E. and Fitness classes which include cross training to improve cardio and agility. Students participate in Flex Time which involves clubs, recess and other activities. Our no-cut athletics program after school is open to all 6th grade students and offers over 30 teams in 14 sports. Students develop social constructs through active learning and become better representatives of self and community.
Spiritual Growth: Bible & Chapel
We invest in each child’s spiritual development through daily Bible class and in the consistent message of sound character as supported by our school's core values of reflecting God's love, respect, perseverance, courage, compassion, gratitude, and integrity. Middle School students have opportunities to learn from God's word, talk about current issues, and dive into matters of the heart in Bible Class and lunchtime bible studies. Students also attend a weekly chapel to worship together as a Middle School.
Confidence in every Child
Middle School students at Presbyterian School are expected to demonstrate their learning by creating, collaborating, and presenting. Students grow as a result of intentional reflection and challenging goals for improvement. Our Classroom Learning Cycle focuses beyond “what we know” and challenges students to think about “what we do with what we know.”