Creative Science School

Mid-Level Grades

 

We’re proud of our K-8 status here at Creative Science School. Our students, teachers, and families value the continuity of educational approach and the social-emotional benefits of a tight-knit community that extends through the mid-level years.

Our mid-level program is unique in that we have blended classrooms for a large part of the day. This model allows students to move beyond their grade level when they are ready and offers these older students leadership opportunities and the chance to be role models and mentor the younger students. A blended classroom reinforces the idea of the K-8 model. Our students are not isolated; they are part of a smaller 6-8 community and the larger K-8 community.

Our small 6-8 community allows the teachers to have personal relationships with students and help them make the difficult mid-level transition. This strong sense of place and recognition results in a greater sense of belonging and empowerment that can serve students well into their high school careers. Our students leave CSS with a solid foundation in creative critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and cooperation—all identified as crucial for self-motivated success in high school, higher education, and the 21st century workplace.

As with the elementary grades at CSS, our mid-level classrooms are taught with the storyline method, a thematic teaching method that integrates most subject areas around a central story. Curriculum is on a three-year rotation.

Topics of Study

  • Ancient civilizations (early humans and cave dwellers, Greece, Egypt, China, Aztec, Inca, and Maya)
  • Life science (characteristics of life, photosynthesis, plants, animals, cell structure and function, genetics, heredity, natural selection, adaptation, population and community, and food webs)
  • The Medieval World and beyond (also including current world geography and global awareness and consciousness)
  • Physical science (force, motion/mass, energy, changes in matter, chemical building blocks, magnetism, and electricity)
  • Earth science (weather and water, planetary science, and earth history)
  • US history from 1800-1900 (focusing on the Civil War)
  • Alegbra and Geometry classes are offered for high school credit, and they follow the school model to allow students to acclimate to the routines and demands of high school.

Each year, mid-level students have an opportunity to participate in a week-long outdoor experiential education trip. Previous trips have included OMSI Outdoor Science School and Olympic Park Institute in Washington. Students also have a variety of arts enrichment opportunities throughout the year and run the Student Council. In addition, community service is an integral part of the mid-level curriculum.

In the winter of 2011, the mid-level students participated in a project with the Buckman Film Academy. The students read a variety of fables, folk tales, and nursery rhymes and then wrote their own stories, using elements from their readings. The students turned their stories into four stop motion animated films, which you can view here.

Featured Unit: World Affairs

One example of a storyline was a book topic based on Deborah Ellis’ book, The Breadwinner, which immersed students in the life of Parvana, a twelve-year-old girl living in Afghanistan right after Russia left and before the Taliban fully took over.

Students began by creating the characters and the setting. Throughout this storyline, students did a lot of writing, thinking about why the author dedicated this book to the “children of war,” contrasting Parvana’s life to that of their own, and putting themselves in Parvana’s shoes. The story is very emotional, and students had several opportunities to transfer their emotions into artwork. They listened to Afghani music selections and used various media to create examples of what they were hearing.

Students painted pictures of themselves and then cut out representations of things that both freed them and imprisoned them, and then they added those items to their paintings in a surrealist style. Students also used drama and theater to represent how the characters were feeling. They acted out scenes and practiced their writing and dramatic skills as they created skits and dialogs to accompany pieces of text with great action and no spoken language. Technology was interwoven as students worked in teams to research current humanitarian issues and then wrote expository reports about their findings.

The Breadwinner, the first of a trilogy, leaves the audience wondering what will happen next. Students brainstormed ideas about future events and connected them with current text. At the culmination of the storyline, students shared all of their writing and ideas with their families.

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