Special overview of middle school

We launched our unique middle-school curriculum in the Fall 2014 semester.  Middle-schoolers now have 15 classes each semester:


Unique to middle school:

  • Grades 6-8 Singapore math meets 10 times each week. Students work at their own level in the Singapore math books.  The teacher (Ellen Armitage since 2014) does not lecture but works with each student individually to add explanation to that in the book. Students complete 1, 1.5, or even 2 years’ books each year.  Additional detail is on the mathematics page.
  • Middle-school English reading meets 5 times each week. Students read assigned books, which are discussed in class.  The activity reaches into the next class, English writing, as students write reports and papers.  Teacher Elizabeth Brasher elevates the class to near-university level,  drawing on the experience teaching at that level and on her M.A. in Creative Writing.
  • Middle-school English writing meets 5 times each week. In addition to writing reports about books in the English reading class, students prepare papers in several styles of writing (e.g., discursive, argumentative).  They maintain writing journals.  Spelling lessons and tests reinforce good style.
  • Middle-school science meets 5 times each week. Students participate in discussions and experiments, each semester taking unique turns to follow current scientific events and student interests, while addressing core concepts.  Vince Gutschick teaches physics and chemistry, drawing on 53 years – and counting – of research in diverse fields at major institutions with colleagues from 8 nations.  Dr. Lou Ellen Kay teaches biology, drawing on a similarly long career in research and teaching, beginning in botany and expanding to anatomy and physiology.  Both class segments use the diverse equipment and supplies we have gathered.
  • Middle-school technology meets 2 times each week. Vince Gutschick engages students in discussions and projects, including the very large project of the light-up periodic table of the chemical elements.
  • Middle-school social science meets 3 times each week. Students learn about political processes, the selection of political leaders, the history of dominion over land, the writings of political philosphers, and more. Students have presentations by teacher Ellen Armitage and their own vigorous discussions.
  • Middle-school geography, a special focus in social science, meets once each week. Teacher Ellen Armitage extends the social science curriculum to give students the tools to use geographic information, as they learn map projections, coordinate systems, topographic and political maps, atlases, and indices.
  • Grades 6-8 tennis meets once each week. Vince Gutschick, though never a tennis team member, draws on 40 years of racquetball and on instructional help from the US Tennis Association.
  • A specialty class in history or culture meets 2 times each week. In the Fall 2016 semester, the course is biogeography, the study of the distribution of organisms and the consequences for the development of human cultures.  In AY 2015-16, the course was Chinese history and geography.  Teacher Lou Ellen Kay draws on deep research, her direct experience in China (and botany and 35 other nations, and more), and selected videos.
  • Computer programming meets 2 times each week. Students learn modern languages, particularly Java and javascript for Web applications, from volunteer teacher Mark Leisher. Mark has been the IT resource for NMSU’s math deparment, and, now, NMSU’s College of Business.

Shared with other age groups; some additional detail is found on pages for these specific subjects:

  • Grades 3-8 physical education gets everyone in these grades out 4 to 5 times each week on the courtyard or the blocked off area of our parking area for activities of free choice or, on occasion, teacher- or student-organized games. The activities range from tag to soccer to dome-climbing.
  • Grades 3-8 music meets 2 times each week. In the Fall 2016 semester, Elizabeth Brasher assumed the class, teaching students voice as they sing a variety of classic songs.
  • Spanish 3-8 meets 5 times each week. From formal grammar to contests to identify items or persons by student-written descriptions, students gain confidence in written and conversational Spanish under the guidance of teacher Elizabeth Brasher.
  • Chinese meets 5 times each week, with students in either of the two upper levels, red or gold. Students learn to read, write, and pronounce Chinese characters, construct sentences, sing, and more. Nanjing-born teacher Mei Dai holds award from the Chinese government for excellence in teaching non-native speakers.  She has led students to regional competitions sponsored by the cultural attache of the government of China.
  • Art 3-8 meets once each week. Students pursue their own projects under the guidance of teacher Lou Ellen Kay, herself accomplished in botanical drawing and in creating furniture in the shape of animals.