What is Middle School?
In fall of 2017, Northshore is transitioning from a grades 7-9 junior high model to a grades 6-8 middle school model.
This transition is about so much more than just shifting grade levels. Northshore’s six junior high principals and teachers have been researching and planning for years to ensure an optimal middle school experience.
They have designed programming and curriculum that reflects developmental stages:
Sixth-graders - more support and orientation, broader electives
Seventh-graders - deeper electives
Eighth-graders - coursework and leadership for high school prep
Families will notice changes designed to help our young adolescents feel safe and supported as they are challenged to grow and learn.
Block scheduling. Our middle schools will follow a block schedule to cover six periods, with alternating days of periods 1-3 and periods 4-6 (with all six periods on early release). Why?
- Stays closer to elementary use of instructional time
- Offers more time for teachers to connect with students
- Provides extended time for investigation, research and team activities
- Provides flexible time for instruction, remediation and differentiation
- Requires fewer transitions for a calmer campus, reducing student stress
- Reduces the number of classes that students need to focus on each day
Exploratory electives. Effective middle schools offer a brief taste of many electives to help students explore their interests so that they can pursue them in more depth later. Up to six 9-week-long electives will be offered for sixth-graders, depending on the student’s schedule. Even those who choose a full year of band, orchestra or choir will have time for two additional electives. Seventh- and eighth-graders may choose from semester-long electives.
Advisory or “Mascot Time.” An advisory period will be built into most school days so that every student’s academic and personal development is guided by a caring adult advocate. This time will be carefully scheduled to provide:
- Connections with peers and staff
- Social-emotional learning
- Academic enrichment and interventions
- Opportunities for physical movement
All of these structures are designed to fulfill our middle school mission statement to “provide a learning community that is challenging, equitable, empowering and developmentally responsive to prepare students for high school and beyond.”