Authentic Learning Experiences
As with the Primary and Intermediate levels, Middle School students are at the center of their own learning experience.
Faculty employ a philosophy that emphasizes collaborative, hands-on, and project-oriented learning, while emphasizing the ongoing need to maintain engagement in their learning process across content areas and grade levels.
In accordance with our Progressive roots, our curriculum is designed by the faculty to engage students in inquiry-based activities that build on earlier experiences while continuing to focus on learning by doing, collaboration, and student empowerment. Since our graduates enter at least a dozen different feeder schools, we work to develop agency, self-efficacy, and grit in our graduates so they can succeed in any new educational setting.
Awareness in the Self and World
We believe in the importance of self-knowledge. Middle School teachers regularly engage students on issues of identity, race, gender, and class. We strive to help students learn how to position themselves in the larger world by frequently incorporating current events into our curriculum. Instruction on awareness of self and world also comes from working as a middle school community in a variety of modes and capacities.
Connecting to the Student’s World
In response to their increasing abilities and independence, Middle School students at Falk enjoy greater opportunities to follow their own interests and connect with the broader community. Students can join one of Falk’s sports programs throughout the year, participate in music and theatre through a middle school band and annual end-of-year musical, engage with clubs organized around various student interests, explore student council, or join community service projects.
The Middle School schedule is created thoughtfully, based on the developmental needs of adolescents, and students continue to enjoy both structured time and unstructured time for play and socializing. Faculty and staff remain available to provide students with the structure and support to help them grow in all areas, and to prepare all students to continue on their learning journeys beyond Falk.
Program of Studies
In Language Arts courses at Falk Middle, students further hone their reading, writing, thinking, and speaking skills. With a strong focus on inquiry and critical analysis, the curriculum is designed to complicate students’ assumptions of the self and the world. Media literacy is a signature focus of the program, as is writing, which is seen as an act of naming: naming our lives as we live them, naming our understanding of new ideas, and naming who we are. Falk writers express themselves across a variety of modes including critical essays, personal essays, memoir, fiction, poetry, research writing, and various forms of creative nonfiction. And as readers and editors, Falk Middle School students are instrumental in producing A Little Gray Building, Falk's literary magazine of student writing and art.
Science education at the Middle level focuses on the idea that science is for all students, and that students should have ample opportunities to attain high levels of scientific literacy, building on their prior knowledge to become successful in the current scientific and technological society. Instruction is inquiry-based and hands-on, and students learn to work cooperatively with peers who have different styles, personalities, and backgrounds. Students gain familiarity with the scientific method, and practice observation, imagination, questioning, and reasoning while using all tools and materials available to attain their investigative goals. Areas of focus include chemistry, cell biology, physics, and environmental education.
Social Studies at the Middle School level covers regional, national, and global topics. The core of the curriculum is history and developing a facility with key concepts in historical understanding such as cause and effect, change and continuity, periodization, how to interrogate evidence, and how to construct and support an argument. Middle School students continue their exploration of the Big Eras of history from the 1400s to the present day. A two-year study of United States history marks the culmination of students’ Social Studies instruction, with an eighth-grade capstone course taught in conjunction with Language Arts.
The Middle School mathematics program at Falk is centered on inquiry and exploration, and encompasses pre-algebra, algebra, and geometry concepts. The emphasis at this level is on identifying, articulating, and using understandings about the mathematical properties that govern the world around us. Through analysis of challenging mathematical questions that arise out of real life, students have the opportunity to develop deep understandings of important topics. As they develop their mathematical abilities, students are encouraged to find more abstract and useful ways to represent those understandings. They also gain perspective on the broad world of mathematics by working with different approaches to familiar topics such as alternative number systems, algebraic representations, and logical proofs.
The Middle School Spanish curriculum builds upon students’ prior language learning, with thematic units focused on the cultures of Spanish-speaking countries. Spanish continues to be the primary language used in the classroom. Students work collaboratively on presentations, projects, and other activities, with an emphasis on understanding and appreciating cultures other than their own while continuing to develop their listening, speaking, and reading abilities.
In addition to these core subjects, Middle School students continue to engage regularly with humanities subjects including library, yoga and mindfulness classes, music and performing arts, physical education, WonderLab, technology, and the visual arts, as well as spending time in Falk Woods.