Thomas Edison Charter Academy A public non-profit TK-8 school in San Francisco

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Overview of What Students Learn

English Language Arts

 

 

Students read and analyze a wide range of literature from different times and cultures, with an increasing emphasis on analyzing informational text on grade-level topics in middle grade subjects areas. The emphasis is on students' comprehension of complex narrative and informational texts. Students read two or more texts on a topic and use a variety of comprehension strategies to compare, contrast and integrate information from the texts. They analyze how structure, point of view, visual elements and figurative language contribute to the meaning or tone of texts. As their analysis skills deepen, students can identify key individual events and details and use them as evidence to support their analysis and to distinguish claims that are supported by an author from those that are not. Additional analysis skills call for students to compare and contrast one author's presentation of events with another interpretation. They learn academic language and domain-specify vocabulary through their reading and use it in their writing and speaking.

 

In their writing, students will develop more sophisticated skills, such as using evidence from a variety of sources to support their purpose or conclusion. They revise, edit and rewrite their compositions and learn to try new approaches and use technology to improve their writing product. Students conduct research projects that provide them with practice in gathering information, using print and digital sources, and paraphrasing or summarizing information. Integrating reading and writing across the different content areas is emphasized through the addition of the standards for literacy in history/social studies, science and technical subjects.

 

Students engage effectively in collaborative discussions with diverse partners and in different groupings on middle grade topics and texts. They can identify and analyze logical fallacies in speakers’ presentations or from media sources. They learn to present an argument and support it with a logical sequence of evidence. They also learn to use expression and nonverbal elements for effect and to engage the audience. To support their writing and speaking, they learn conventions of standard English grammar and usage, capitalization, spelling, and punctuation, such as using commas to set off parenthetical clauses. In middle grade, the proper use of pronouns is emphasized. Developing academic as well as domain-specific vocabulary is highlighted. Students learn to distinguish between words with similar meanings and to use common affixes and roots as clues to the meaning of words. They also use the relationships between certain words (e.g., cause/effect or part/whole) to help understand each word.

 

Students engage effectively in collaborative discussions with diverse partners and in different groupings on middle grade topics and texts. They can identify and analyze logical fallacies in speakers’ presentations or from media sources. They learn to present an argument and support it with a logical sequence of evidence. They also learn to use expression and nonverbal elements for effect and to engage the audience. To support their writing and speaking, they learn conventions of Standard English grammar and usage, capitalization, spelling, and punctuation, such as using commas to set off parenthetical clauses. In middle grade, the proper use of pronouns is emphasized. Developing academic as well as domain-specific vocabulary is highlighted. Students learn to distinguish between words with similar meanings and to use common affixes and roots as clues to the meaning of words. They also use the relationships between certain words (e.g., cause/effect or part/whole) to help understand each word.

 

Mathematics

 

Middle grade students develop an understanding of the concept of a ratio and use ratio reasoning to solve a variety of real-world and mathematical problems, including those involving unit pricing and constant speed. Students extend their understanding of operations with fractions to include dividing fractions by fractions. Middle graders compute fluently with multi-digit numbers and decimals and find the greatest common factor and least common multiples of certain whole numbers.

 

Students expand their scope of numbers to the system of rational numbers, which includes negative rational numbers and integers. They locate rational numbers on a number line, add and subtract negative numbers, and graph points in all four quadrants of the coordinate plane. Students write expressions and equations with variables and apply the properties of operations to generate equivalent expressions.

 

Students begin to think statistically as they summarize numerical data sets by quantitative measures of center and variability. They build upon the foundation of area to determine area and volume of more complex shapes.

 

Social Science

 

This curriculum unit aims to advance student understanding of the broad sweep of history from the beginning of tool making to the appearance of farming. The knowledge of this long era depends on evidence from material remains, especially from bones and stone tools, and, more recently, on research in human DNA and long-term climatic and geological changes.

 

Students in middle grade world history and geography classrooms learn about the lives of the earliest humans, the development of tools, the gathering way of life, agriculture, and the emergence of civilizations in Mesopotamia, Egypt, the Indus River valley, China, and the Mediterranean basin. With the guidance of their teachers, students review the geography of the ancient and contemporary worlds and recognize that these civilizations were not static societies but continually experienced change. In addition to developing basic geography skills, students are introduced to patterns, systems, and processes.

 

 

Science

 

The science curriculum in middle grade emphasizes the study of earth sciences. The standards in middle grade present many of the foundations of geology and geophysics, including plate tectonics and earth structure. topograhy and energy. The Material is linked to resource management and ecology, building on what students have learned in previous grade.

 

 

Middle grade science topics are organized into six standard sets: Plate Tectonics and Earth’s Structure, Shaping Earth’s Surface, Heat (Thermal Energy) (Physical Sciences), Energy in the Earth System, Ecology (Life Sciences), Resources, and Investigation and Experimentation. As students learn the content defined by the standards in the Life, Earth, and Physical Science strands, they are also practicing investigation and experimentation skills. That is, the investigation and experimentation standards should be infused throughout science instruction.

 

Visual and Performing Arts

 

Middle grade students are beginning to find their way in a wider setting. As they define their point of view through the arts, they also bring together basic concepts and skills learned throughout elementary school, determining how to apply those skills. Furthermore, they learn to link particular art forms to the communication of meaning. Becoming more responsible for their aesthetic choices, they want to learn the skills needed to express their individuality effectively because they are constantly comparing themselves to others. They continue to acquire skills that improve their self-confidence and increase their arts vocabulary and begin to understand how culture and the arts interact. And they are learning to be responsible to themselves and their classmates through participation in creative groups and ensembles. Through the arts, students achieve a balance leading to a healthy, creative transition to the increasingly complex academic life to come.

 

Students apply variations of force and energy in their dance movements, demonstrating physical control and coordination as they perform different types of movement. Their dances show a variety of movements that use the principles of contrast and unity. At the same time, students' movements and dances reveal deeper expressive intent and integrate the elements of dance in more complex ways.

 

Students use standard music symbols for pitch, meter and rhythm. They can improvise short, simple melodies and arrange favorite musical examples for different groups of voices or instruments. They are also able to relate why specific musical works of the past are considered exemplary and can explain how music can convey mental images, feelings and emotions. As they perform, they are able to move beyond rote performance of musical selections and employ deeper emotional subtleties.

 

Students use terms such as vocal projection and subtext as they describe their theatrical experiences. As they perform, they show effective vocal and facial expressions, gestures and timing. In writing plays and short theatrical scenes, they include monologues and dialogues showing a range of character types from a variety of cultures. Now students can use and evaluate with more confidence the makeup, lighting, props and costumes employed in theater.

 

 

Students analyze how balance is used in two- and three-dimensional works of art. Using artwork to express a mood, a feeling, or an idea, they demonstrate more complexity and technical skill in their drawings, paintings, and sculpture. Through the use of a variety of resources, they can research and discuss the visual arts throughout history. They are also able to recognize and use art as a metaphor for abstract ideas expressed in a variety of cultures and historical periods.

 

In middle grade, the focus of instruction is providing students with experiences that help them transition to sport-skill learning with an emphasis on the application of movement and motor skills in lead-up or modifies games. When students practice manipulative skills, they practice more often with partners than in earlier grade. For examples, middle grade students volley an object repeadtly with a partner instead of volleying a tossed ball to a target as they did in fifth grade. Students learn new skills and patterns in folk and line dancing, and new ways to combine movement skills to create and perform tumbling and rhytmic routines with attention to the aesthetics of physical activity. They learn how to recognize and correct their own errors and to provide feedback to peers to assist them in developing movement skills. Students continue to learn about health-related physical fitness, assess their own fitness level and develop a one-day personal fitness plan. Cooperative physical activity is another focus of instruction in middle grade, with students learning about their own and others' role and responsibilities in setting common goals and solving problems.

 

Physical Education

 

In middle grade, the focus of instruction is providing students with experiences that help them transition to sport-skill learning with an emphasis on the application of movement and motor skills in lead-up or modifies games. When students practice manipulative skills, they practice more often with partners than in earlier grade. For examples, middle grade students volley an object repeadtly with a partner instead of volleying a tossed ball to a target as they did in fifth grade. Students learn new skills and patterns in folk and line dancing, and new ways to combine movement skills to create and perform tumbling and rhytmic routines with attention to the aesthetics of physical activity. They learn how to recognize and correct their own errors and to provide feedback to peers to assist them in developing movement skills. Students continue to learn about health-related physical fitness, assess their own fitness level and develop a one-day personal fitness plan. Cooperative physical activity is another focus of instruction in middle grade, with students learning about their own and others' role and responsibilities in setting common goals and solving problems.