“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” – 1 Timothy 4:12
During the middle school years, students experience a period of intense growth in many areas: physical, intellectual, emotional, and social. With that in mind, we have designed a middle school program which addresses the developmental needs of our students. Students in grades six through eight have some relatively similar characteristics in various areas. These include the following:
Physical: increased concern about physical appearance, accelerated physical development, fluctuations in metabolism that result in periods of both high energy and listlessness, rapid brain growth.
Intellectual: intense curiosity, short attention span, need for relevance in learning, independent and critical thinkers, respond to choice, able to think abstractly (questioning ideas, establishing goals, thinking about how they learn).
Emotional: fluctuating emotions, high anxiety, extreme sensitivity, ambivalence , extreme self-consciousness, searching for identity and acceptance.
Social: desire for independence, sensitivity to peer pressure, changing behavior/needs/interests/priorities, challenging authority while needing guidance, fiercely loyal to peer groups.
It is our desire to support our middle school students during this often confusing and overwhelming time in their lives by providing them with a safe haven for learning and growth. Our teachers are sensitive to the needs of students, attempting to provide both the emotional support they need as well as the best academic environment capable of supporting their changing intellectual capacity. Our program is designed to focus on the National Middle School Association’s “Fourteen Characteristics Crucial for Effective Middle Level Schools.” These include…
- Educators who value working with this age group and are prepared to do so
- Courageous, collaborative leadership
- A shared vision that guides decisions
- An inviting, supportive, and safe environment
- High expectations for every member of the learning community
- Students and teacher engaged in active learning
- An adult advocate for every student
- School-initiated family and community partnerships
- Curriculum that is relevant, challenging, integrative, and exploratory
- Multiple learning and teaching approaches that respond to their diversity
- Assessment and evaluation programs that promote quality learning
- Organizational structures that support meaningful relationships and learning
- School-wide efforts and policies that foster health, wellness, and safety
- Multifaceted guidance and support services
As NMSA executive director Sue Swaim insists, “When all of these 14 characteristics are in place in middle level schools, young adolescents have the best possibility of reaching their full potential.”
Middle School iPad Program
Alta Loma Christian School recognizes that access to technology in school gives students greater opportunities to learn, engage, communicate, and develop skills that will prepare them for work, life, and citizenship. In addition to our commitment to help students develop 21st century technology and communication skills, we also acknowledge that our evolving technology can be a powerful tool in teaching students with different learning styles and in a variety of methods that will keep them engaged in ever-evolving ways.
In 2012, ALCS implemented a one-to-one iPad program in middle school. Every enrolled sixth through eighth grade student receives an iPad at the beginning of the year; students bring their iPads to school and take them home each day, and check them back in to the school at the end of the school year, as with any textbook. All middle school teachers also have their own iPads that they use in class with their students, taking advantage of a number of different applications (“apps”) that reinforce the school curriculum. Because children today – especially at the middle school level and older –are more commonly using their own electronic devices at home to interact with the world, ALCS feels it is important and ultimately a great advantage to use the same innovations in the classroom to present the curriculum in much more personal, interactive, and engaging ways. The video to the right is a project created for a regional technology fair in 2015 by a 7th grader, using his iPad and the StopMotion app.