|Sixth, Seventh & Eighth Grades
| The Stanley BPS 6-7-8 program opened in the fall of 1995 in newly renovated classroom space on a spectacular eight-acre campus at Lowry. After an inaugural year of sixth grade, Stanley welcomed seventh graders in 1996 and eighth graders in 1997.
The 6-7-8 program retains the whole-child focus central to Stanley’s educational philosophy. A student-centered approach, as opposed to a subject-centered approach traditionally found in junior-high schools, places a premium on meeting the specific needs of young adolescents. We seek to help students develop to their fullest potential intellectually, emotionally, socially, creatively, and physically. Towards this end, we believe that learning best occurs within a supportive and nurturing environment that holds students to high academic and personal standards. Teachers strive to make learning exciting and relevant to students’ lives. To the extent that education is meaningful to young people, it becomes a lifelong passion. In response to adolescents’ need for connection, we seek to build a mutually respectful community, characterized by close personal relationships between students, teachers, parents, and staff. We aim to help students be responsive and contributing members of their society.
The 6-7-8 curriculum builds on foundations set in Kindergarten through fifth grade. In close collaboration with teachers in a 14-1 ratio, students develop ambitious learning goals that draw on curricular objectives and individual interests. Curriculum is designed to appeal to the interests of middle schoolers while addressing state content standards and promoting skill development in a logical sequence. When possible, topics and concepts are integrated across subjects. In addition, teachers use an integrative model for designing lessons and units to draw on cross-disciplinary skills. Multi-age homeroom/ advisory classes are team taught by a pair of teachers, and academic subjects are taught by grade level.
Middle school faculty members are trained in, and are attentive to, the specific developmental needs of young adolescents. Understanding that adolescence can be a time of widely fluctuating performance, teachers seek to maintain a sense of humor and warmth while continuing to hold high expectations for students. Teachers work as a team to develop the homeroom curriculum and are responsible for a core subject area for their individual classes- language arts, history, math, science, Spanish, or visual art.
The weekly schedule includes an arts rotation- visual arts, music, and drama - for all middle schoolers. Sixth graders participate in an annual Shakespeare production that is integrated with their Humanities studies. Students may choose to be a cast member in the annual middle school musical. For a portion of the winter term, all students participate in producing the show, with some performing supporting roles such as tech crew and set designing.
Each classroom teacher works with a small group of approximately twelve advisees. Advisors develop a deep knowledge of their advisees, having worked with them in numerous academic and non-academic settings. Strong communication between school and home is a top priority, as is assisting students in setting learning goals and developing solid study skills.
Multi-Age Grouping Students from each grade level meet for morning homeroom time, social studies classes, and advisory periods. Electives are also taught in a multi-age format, while language arts, math, foreign language, science, and art classes meet by grade level. Cross-grade groupings give older students the opportunity to serve as mentors for younger members of the class, providing an active learning environment for all.
Middle school students are encouraged to participate in an after-school competitive sports program. Students may choose from a number of sports offered over three athletic seasons, fall, winter, and spring, and are expected to play on at least one team each year. Students also participate in physical education classes and electives which promote less- or non-competitive sports. Team sport offerings include soccer, volleyball, field hockey, basketball, and lacrosse.
6-7-8 students receive regular homework assignments, some to be completed for the next day and others to be completed over a longer period. Homework provides reinforcement and extension of material covered during the school day and also assists in developing the critical skill of personal time management. Sixth graders can expect on average an hour and a half of homework per night, with an increased time commitment for older students.
As students advance through sixth, seventh, and eighth grade, they become accustomed to taking a variety of tests within each subject area. Testing helps students and teachers alike to monitor academic progress. The skills of preparing for and taking a test are practiced in the middle school, and students develop the habit of producing their best effort in a testing situation. Students at each grade level practice with traditional multiple-choice, bubble exams in simulated testing situations. These tests are similar to ones students will likely encounter in their high school careers and beyond. Students practice time management, direction following, and multiple-choice strategies such as applying process of elimination. In the spring, sixth, seventh, and eighth graders take the Educational Resources Bureau (ERB) tests in math, reading and vocabulary and the ERB Writing Assessment. These nationally-normed tests provide percentile scores for individual performance relative to other students taking the test.
Community outreach is an integral part of the middle school program. Working from a “service learning” model, students further curricular goals through active participation in the community. Past and current projects include campus maintenance, working with younger Stanley students, tutoring at local elementary schools, developing a General Store with residents at Allied Jewish Apartments, preparing boxes and reading to children at the Food for Thought Program, volunteering with Rainbow Bridge organization, and volunteering at Denver Children’s Hospital.
The middle school views the Denver community as a wonderful classroom resource and incorporates numerous field trips into the curriculum. All students participate in fall backpacking trips with their homerooms and spring grade-level trips: a sixth grade overnight retreat and a seventh grade three-day excursion to Moab. These required overnight trips integrate topics in environmental science with physical challenge and community-building activities. The middle school trip program culminates in the annual eighth grade journey to England, a week-long adventure to the land of our British Primary roots. We spend several days enjoying educational and recreational opportunities in London and then retreat to the bucolic English countryside for the remainder of the stay. Students are responsible for organizing and implementing a fund-raising campaign to make the trip possible.