Acera’s Middle School Program focuses on developing a sense of identity, voice and confidence in its middle years students. Student inquiry drives the middle school community’s learning direction. Ability based STEM and humanities opportunities abound, as students seek and apply knowledge to solve meaningful problems while developing their creativity and leadership.
Acera’s Middle School Program is designed as a community of learners; the community becomes a microcosm in which students learn to understand who they are, how they affect others, and develop skills and accountability for the impact they have in their world. Teachers serve as coaches and guides to support students’ growth and development in accountability and emotional intelligence. Students grow to become more independent, self-directed learners who can make decisions for themselves about what they are interested in learning,
Learning Focus: Academic focus areas include a rich emphasis in analytical writing, organization, time management, and self advocacy in which students are expected to get what they need to be successful. Academically, analysis of primary texts and accelerated STEM content areas align with individuals’ capacity and rate of learning.
Core capacities for development include systems thinking, perspective taking, collaboration, emotional intelligence and leadership, moral and ethical decision-making, complex thinking, critical problem solving, and creativity and innovation. Sample middle school electives have included Philosophy & Contemporary Issues, Signal Processing, Spoken Word Poetry Creation, Church History, and Experiment Design.
▪ Science centered themes that link to humanities, facilitating interdisciplinary learning; organized around essential questions.
▪ Inquiry-based learning, rich in student discovery. Space to pose, ask and engage in questions that have multiple answers or no answer, rather than a focus on “knowing” the “right” answer. Regular inquiry & discussions about conceptual ideas, themes, current events, and other topics generated by students which can turn into meaningful learning.
▪ Student driven “IMP” Projects, (inquiry, maker, passion projects) in which students identify an interest or a need in the community and solve the problem or address the opportunity they see, often by galvanizing other classmates to be part of the project.
▪ Adaptive learning approach, which is differentiated to map to student interests and needs
▪ Meaningful learning in which what students discuss and do is about something which matters to them
▪ Pedagogy includes hands on and project based learning, cooperative and independent learning, self paced and untimed opportunities, case based learning methods, integration with national programs and area experts for inspiration, occasional competition, service learning, and linking learning to real world needs and opportunities.
▪ Ability-based math block
▪ Book Groups focused on award winning classic and modern literature
▪ Model UN / Political Science Club or Debate Club as two different optional after school program offerings
▪ Computer Science
▪ Weekly Creativity Morning with stations in art, theatre, film making, stop animation, music, theatre and more. Stations are led by practicing artists and educators with expertise and depth of knowledge in their subject areas.
▪ Integrated technology tools, using MacBooks with wireless internet access
▪ Health education, focused on identity and voice, adapted from Our Whole Lives curriculum