Middle School Program Grades 6 to 8
In middle school, we extend the project-and play-based approach of the younger elementary grades into a problem-based approach. This suits adolescents who are now concerned about questions such as Who am I? and How do I relate to this world?
The middle-level grades are organized around the distinct developmental needs of early adolescence. Our middle schoolers define questions or problems that they deem important, and teachers help them craft a skill-based, content-rich response. The response may include gathering and analyzing information (everything from a quick Internet search
to interviewing an expert to doing original field work) and taking action (everything from sharing results informally with classmates to writing a poem to spearheading a community-wide public awareness campaign). In this way
children's learning unfolds as they engage in purposeful activity around topics and issues that have meaning for them.
Consistent with our K-5 grade approach, our 6-8 grade curriculum integrates subject matter and weaves in grade level skills and concepts, rather than separating out disciplines of knowledge and teaching skills in isolation. We use a variety of teaching methods - direct instruction, skills practice, demonstration, discussion, collaborative learning, role-playing and games, multimedia, and others - to meet the unique needs of each learner.
As a community that defines itself as grounded in the progressive tradition of education, we make high school readiness an overt goal of the program. We believe that our middle-level students are naturally already thinking ahead, imagining themselves in high school and preparing for that transition. Instead of passively hoping for the best transition, we take a proactive approach and openly discuss, plan with, and instruct students on how each can maximally enjoy and benefit from his or her high school experience.
DLRC approach to Syllabi in Middle School:
We follow some guidelines from the Cambridge Learning Outcomes in English, Science & Mathematics but use a variety of textbooks after careful study of what works best. In most subjects, we have devised our own spiral syllabi and learning outcomes that align with our philosophy. All our textbooks are school library resources which are reused by students every year.
DLRC approach to Curriculum in the Middle School:
Theoretically, curriculum refers to what is offered by an educational institution as a complete program.
It contains the teaching methods, lessons, assignments, physical and mental exercises, activities, projects, study material, tutorials, presentations, assessments, learning objectives, and so on. Hence, Curriculum is the combination of the syllabus, the pedagogy and the assessments. It is also a loop system that helps to connect the results of assessments to new learning.
Pedagogy + Syllabus + Assessment = Curriculum
Facilitators create the curriculum each year, incorporating innovative teaching and learning practices. There is ample flexibility and space for each facilitator to implement new ideas.
The Middle School program is a wonderful transition phase from a newly formed bud to a fully grown flower with its petals basking in the sun. It is inspired towards inquiry through the following subjects of study:
Languages: Hindi, English and Marathi, focuses on listening, speaking, reading and writing (in this order). Equal emphasis on listening and telling stories, reading fluently and writing for purpose with accuracy and meaningfully.
Mathematics and Computational Thinking focuses on logical thinking, computation, problem-solving using estimation by employing concepts learned in the primary school.
Calisthenics, sports, games focuses on developing gross motor skills, non-competitive games, stamina, agility, balance and coordination. Weekly treks build body muscles and awareness of the surrounding environment.
Social Studies focuses on making the content relevant and relatable to the students. They should be able to make connections between what they learn in history, geography and civics to "real life" examples and in their daily interactions. The curriculum engages the students in an interdisciplinary and integrated approach through extensive research and analysis and it’s application through maps and infographics.
Science focuses on integrating the learnings that students bring in from different subjects and developing a scientific approach to solve the problems they encounter. We believe inquiry-based learning and lessons designed around students’ curiosity. Hands-on activities, story-telling and role play make Science lessons exciting and engaging. Student-led classes and peer-to-peer tasks help students strengthen their learning.
Design lab is integrated with various subjects and focuses on developing fine motor skill, working deftly, being solution oriented with the goal of innovating.
Sports in Middle School focuses on skill acquisition, technique refinement, physical fitness, structured training sessions, game-based learning and immersion through sports events
Enrichment clubs bring alive the visual arts, theater, music, dance, pottery, clay work and other forms of expression as children immerse into the culture and traditions of India
Environment literacy focuses on developing an immediate and holistic understanding of our environment
A Day in the Week of a Current DLRC Grade 6-8 Student
She stood at temperature-gun point, with the oximeter attached to her finger, waiting for both devices to indicate she could go and enjoy the nature-inspired learning on campus with her friends. She could only come to the campus 3 days a week, so she wanted to cherish those days. But she was thankful for the hybrid-lessons, as she got to interact with her peers, meet her facilitators, and absorb the campus life.
As she dashed for her sports lesson, today she was in the mood to play dodgeball. This is one among the many other games and activities that she and her classmates usually engage with. At DLRC, everyday, students enjoy a perfect amalgamation of head, heart and hand. Some of the games that were conducted in the lesson were football, basketball and volleyball, alongside strength training, rhythmic activities, and Yoga. And, for those interested, competitions are held annually as well, allowing them the chance to compete and win - both in school and Interschool: (online & offline too)!
After a wholesome meal, she ran to her classroom to attend a Hindi lesson. The facilitator, well that's what we call the teachers here, welcomed her to the lesson. It is held that each facilitator creates a conducive environment for all learners to flourish without coaxing concepts down their throats. Theater, therefore, is an essential component of any language and all languages are taught by employing the skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Not to forget through reciting couplets and poems and increasing one’s vocabulary.
As the bell rang, skit scripts & props were replaced with world maps, border lines, war heroes and modern-day settlement plans in SST. She sat, maintaining 6-feet social distance, and traveled through time to meet martyrs, solve problems with creative analysis and find avenues to implement these in squatter settlements across slums such as Dharavi. Once she received her homework, she hopped over to the Design Lab, to build a working model of lungs and the breathing process, from reused materials for her Science class. This was a group project that she had received in her science class, which involved being creative and innovating a unique method to display the respiratory system.
At DLRC, the Design Lab is where learning comes alive through hands-on activities, projects, toycathons, field visits and tinkering. Children carve and cut wood, build toys from trash, and be imaginative in exploring new horizons. She and her inquisitive group members went above and beyond the requirements and worked in the laboratory and collated research articles, to help peer-co-facilitation on their group topic 'Respiration'.
After a fulfilling lunch, she and her classmates sat in a circle and solved mathematical puzzles followed by projects to initiate self-practice and revise for their assessments. This week's topic was geometry, and through games and a small cohort, individualized attention was given to all. Once she got up, walked a bit and dusted herself, she sat on the basketball court with her friends for the student-led literature circle. Here, each child within their groups assumes an important role of being a Discussion Director, Passage Picker, Word Wizard, or Summarizer. They read the novel as part of this circle for an elaborate period of over six weeks. And as a culmination of this Literature Circle, display their learning through a Storyboard, Twist the Tale, Character Silhouettes and One-act plays.
At the end of the day, she packed up her bag, stood at temperature gun point, yet again, and then left the green and clean campus.