During the last week of January, fifth grade students were excited to participate in a “Step Up Day” and experience first-hand what Middle Grades at TCS is all about. For three hours, fifth graders were immersed in everything TCS Middle Grades – from lockers, to using “hard fun” to solve math problems, to taking notes on “The Odyssey,” as they “stepped up” into the Middle Grades and got a glimpse of what it’s like to be a leader of the Pack!
Current Middle Grades students acted as guides and mentors to the soon-to-be sixth graders to answer questions and create an exciting, welcoming environment.
“The purpose of the event was to demystify what often feels like a major transition point both socially and academically, and for fifth graders to begin to form relationships in the community they’ll be part of next year. Sixth and seventh grade students served as chaperones, who picked up and escorted students to classrooms each morning, and as partners who could answer questions fifth graders may have about Middle Grades,” said Erin Joyner, TCS upper school director of student life and high school counseling.
During their time in the Middle Grades, fifth grade students stepped into a math class, a language arts class, and fruit break.
They spent the rest of the day buzzing about the following:
- Tully: “I enjoyed the way things were done [in Middle Grades]. It was all new, exciting, and exhilarating. You take on responsibilities that you would take on in everyday life [such as] being responsible with devices and having deadlines. You get more guidelines and leadership in sixth grade. I want to be in sixth grade to find out what it’s really like!”
- Kanaan: “I enjoyed math! I quickly learned how to do ratios.”
- Joanna: “I like that if you feel you’re advanced in math, that you can take a higher level of math and no one will tell you that you can’t just because you’re in sixth grade.”
- Benjie: “I like how the teachers explain things. We were reading this book called ‘The Odyssey.’ [Seventh-grade teacher Carl] showed us a map of where it was taking place and [told us] what it’s like there today.”
“The fifth graders really seemed to enjoy what we were doing,” said seventh-grade teacher Carl. “They enjoyed the opportunity to come up and see what Middle Grades is like. They jumped in, they were answering questions, and they were asking questions. They were digging a little deeper in regard to some of the things we were talking about in class. So that was really nice to see them embrace this opportunity to move up for a little time.”
Want a bigger peek behind the curtain of Middle Grades at TCS?
In math class, sixth graders are mastering new math concepts and skills with Math In Focus and/or College Preparatory Mathematics. TCS math curriculum includes three rigorous math track options in grades 4 – 8, which culminate in students having a strong grasp of pre-algebra, algebra, and/or geometry by the end of eighth grade. Students in the accelerated math track options will graduate from TCS having completed ninth grade-level algebra or tenth grade-level geometry (and tenth grade-level math credit). All three tracks focus on problem-solving skills and require students to apply complex mathematical concepts.
In English Language Arts class, seventh graders are reading “The Odyssey.” But, this isn’t the traditional reading of the Greek epic poem you may remember from high school! “I thought it was cool that they were reading it as a graphic novel in class,” said fifth grader Carly.
“What we’re doing with mythology is looking at the Greeks’ eight-part definition of a hero,” said seventh-grade teacher Carl. “As we’ve talked about Odysseus, the one female character in Greek mythology Atlanta, Perseus, Hercules, etc., we ask are they heroic or are they a hero? And once they’re done, they’ll write their own myth!”
Carl added: “The seventh graders did a really nice job getting their fifth grade buddy and [explaining] what we’re reading and why. If [the fifth graders] had never been exposed to it before, they had a good feel for what we were talking about so that they didn’t feel lost. They really seemed to enjoy it and we enjoyed having them! It gave them a good taste of what Middle Grades ELA is like — reading literature, talking about it, looking for common themes, etc.”
Overall, our Middle Grades program embeds a challenging academic program within a nurturing environment so that our students develop a strong sense of self and confidence and see the relevance and impact of their learning. With a curriculum structure that supports social-emotional development through engaged learning, small group advisories, and expert teachers who care for our students’ minds AND hearts, students thrive socially and academically during this critical time of growth.
As the leaders of the Wolf Pack, students advance socially, emotionally, and academically with increased responsibility and leadership opportunities. Student ambassadors, “Step Up” day student guides, student clubs, social dances, lockers, and laptops are just a few of the leadership opportunities and privileges current fifth graders can look forward to next year. They’ll even have their own chance next year to guide a class of fifth graders through Middle Grades at TCS!
So, what about life beyond TCS?
Because of our focus on childhood, play and diversity from age 3 through grade 8, our students experience these benefits throughout their entire TCS journey and leave TCS grounded, generous, and compassionate.
Our graduates are known within and outside of the Atlanta area as strong, adaptive learners and community-minded global citizens who are accepted into their top choice schools where they thrive in high school and beyond.
Research shows that children who are allowed to be children are not only healthier, happier, socially stronger, and more resilient, they also better develop critical core competencies that lay the groundwork for academic success. As just one of many measures of academic success, TCS students take a rigorous, annual standardized test commonly administered in independent schools known as the ERB (CTP-V). We are proud that our students consistently score in the top 10-20% compared to all students at their grade level who take the test.
“I owe all of my academic success to The Children’s School. (There are) specific things that I learned here that I use every day – my love of reading, writing, my creativity, my curiosity, my imagination – all of that is a product of being a student here,” said TCS alum Jessica (Class of 2005). Jessica is currently working on her Ph.D. in sports administration at the University of Louisville, and is just one example of the passion-driven, curious student TCS graduates.
Middle Grades at TCS is an intentional extension of our diverse, joyful, and nurturing environment that encourages risk-taking and challenges our learners to academic excellence, noble character, and emotional maturity, preparing adolescents to make an impact on an ever-changing world. After experiencing a day in the life of Middle Grades, fifth graders are ready for an exciting transition to Middle Grades next year!