Middle School Program Overview
The Cloverleaf Middle School program serves to prepare students for their next destination—high school—by scaffolding opportunities to demonstrate independence and self-determination. Students graduate our program with strengthened academic and executive functioning skills, as well as physical, social, and emotional self-regulation strategies.
Beginning in 5th grade, middle school students are co-taught in multi-grade learning spaces with a maximum student-to-teacher ratio of 6:1. This design gives students the opportunity to navigate the challenges of learning in a larger group setting while still receiving instruction at their level. Fifth and sixth grades will be grouped together beginning in August 2015. The following August, Cloverleaf will add a 7th /8th grade class.
Each school day includes morning meeting, rigorous academics, social skills class, enrichment activities, and opportunities for students to practice organizational and critical thinking skills. Every two weeks, middle school students spend one afternoon out in the community working on a service project, hiking, or taking a field trip.
Following a brief time for students to self-regulate after drop-off is morning meeting. At this time, all middle school students come together to greet one another, share, participate in a team-building activity, make announcements, address any concerns, and give feedback to each other. In addition to giving them a predictable routine, these daily meetings help students build trust and develop a strong and safe learning community.
Middle school students receive 120 minutes of daily language arts instruction and 60 minutes of daily math instruction and practice, in addition to classes in social studies and science. Students are challenged to meet grade level expectations while receiving support as needed. Our common core standards-based curriculum is paced to put students on track for high school, and instruction is multi-sensory and differentiated.
Students engage in learning cycles for each unit of study, during which they collectively create goals, set criteria, and receive feedback from both teachers and peers. Throughout this process, students also self-reflect to monitor their own academic and social progress.
Inquiry and Project-Based Learning
While students tackle various independent and collaborative projects in each unit of academic study, every week there is a class dedicated to inquiry and project-based learning. During this class period, students develop the planning, organizational, critical thinking, and problem solving skills necessary to complete projects independently, all with teacher guidance and support.
Each day in social skills class, middle school students work to develop the complex social thinking skills needed to work collaboratively with others. Students work on concepts such as flexible thinking, reciprocal conversation, emotional regulation, positive thinking, maintaining friendships, perspective taking, disagreeing, responding to feedback, and identifying general strategies that work best for them.
Executive Functioning & Study Skills
Developing executive functioning and study skills are critical to success in middle school, high school and beyond. Students hone executive functioning skills by keeping an agenda, completing and returning homework, using their lockers effectively, planning and prioritizing when working on independent projects, managing time effectively, and setting goals then reflecting on their progress. Students learn these skills, along with helpful self-management strategies, through a combination of direct instruction and supported practice.
Every two weeks students attend a study skills class. During this class, students brainstorm and apply a variety of strategies to help them retain information, such as note taking skills, test preparation skills, and information and materials organization. The goal is for students to gain the tools necessary to successfully study on their own.
Students deepen connections to the community by participating in community projects every two weeks. Outings include service projects, hiking and nature study, and field trips related to a current unit of study.
Each middle school student has a designated laptop for daily use at school and at home. Students learn to use digital information technology safely, and they also begin learning how to evaluate quality sources and use them correctly. Technological literacy is a critical 21st century skill that prepares our students to access today’s digital world with confidence and proficiency.
Students have a variety of enrichment opportunities throughout the school year. Enrichment classes rotate every 6-8 weeks and include courses in art, drama, music, gardening, and technology. We strive to provide enrichment classes connected to student interests.