Benchmark’s Middle School (grades 6-8) helps students grow into self-regulated learners who know what they do well, what they need help to do, and how to get the help they need. Students are taught to reflect on their learning to increase their awareness and understanding of their personal approach to learning.
While the content taught in classes is important, equally important is the process of learning. Students are taught how to learn in the different classes with direct instruction in various aspects of learning that will enable the student to learn any content in the future.
They are taught:
- How to take notes
- How to study for tests and quizzes
- How to comprehend text
- A process approach to writing
- Ways to organize information
- How to write a research paper
- Ways to overcome challenges in executive function skills
The Middle School is designed around the research-proven Developmental Needs of Early Adolescents in an intentional and supportive manner, with an eye toward developing the whole child.
The Developmental Needs of Early Adolescents are:
- physical activity
- competence and achievement
- self definition
- creative expression
- positive social interactions
- structure and clear limits
- meaningful participation in a community of learners
The 6th grade year is about exploring different skills and strategies for learning, with a lot of guidance from teachers, as well as exploring their role in a group, and their role in the community.
In 7th grade, students experiment with individualizing their approach to learning and begin to narrow down which strategies are the most useful for them.
Our 8th graders are given more opportunities to implement what they have learned in order to be successful and self-regulated learners, thinkers, and problem solvers.
Across all classes, students reflect on their approach to learning, thinking about what worked and what they will try differently on the next task.
Benchmark Quest is a learning experience using design thinking to address a real-world, personally meaningful problem. Students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to an authentic, engaging, and complex question, problem, or challenge.
The projects use the 6 steps of design thinking: wonder & connect, describe & clarify, imagine possibilities, share, design & create, reflect & revise, to guide students and help them develop the skills and mindsets to face the unknown challenges of the future, by providing an opportunity to employ the 4C’s: critical thinking, creative problem solving, collaboration, and communication.