The Middle School offers our sixth, seventh, and eighth graders a challenging yet supportive environment – one that gives them a solid background in the skills and study habits that will allow them to succeed in high school and beyond.
The comprehensive curriculum in the Middle School emphasizes – in addition to the basic skills of reading, writing, language, math, and science – responsibility, hard work, and the benefits of a college education.
Special programs in reading and the environmental sciences broaden our students' understanding of the world they will soon inherit.
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Eastside's Middle School Reading Program compliments the social studies and English curriculum. All sixth, seventh and eighth grade students participate in the program, which meets daily for an hour and a half. Students are divided into small groups, each managed by a community volunteer reading tutor.
In addition to reading, vocabulary and general comprehension work, each book they read has a concurrent activity that focuses on a particular literary or social studies concept. For example, students examine the literary element "perspective," assuming a character's point of view, then writing diary entries from that perspective using a two-draft process.
By the end of the eighth grade, Eastside students are expected to be reading at or above grade level. Teachers and tutors use various measures to track student progress, including writing assignments, oral presentations, vocabulary quizzes, reading comprehension tests, and group projects and presentations.
Our Middle School partners with Stanford University's Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve to introduce our sixth-grade students to the concepts of environmental preservation, species' interdependency, and the importance of recycling and conservation.
Every spring, the class is divided into small groups and assigned one of four ecosystems: redwoods, creeks and streams, oak woodlands, and chaparral. Each group, lead by a docent of the Jasper Ridge Preserve, learns to graph their ecosystem over time and compare the graphs with their own experiences outdoors. They identify plants and animals using field guides, take soil cores, collect bugs, identify tracks and scat, and record weekly measurements of the ecosystem's change and growth. At the end of the course, our students prepare a report to share what they have learned.
This hands-on approach teaches our students to better analyze data and apply theoretical concepts of ecology to the real world. More importantly, our students' curiosity about the natural world increases dramatically over the eight-week program.