Journeys School

Learn. Think. Act.

Curriculum

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International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program
Journeys School was authorized to offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) Middle Years Program (MYP) in 2013. The MYP is designed for students in grades 6-10. It provides a framework of learning which encourages students to become creative, critical and reflective thinkers. The MYP emphasizes intellectual challenge, encouraging students to make connections between their studies in traditional subjects and to the real world. It fosters the development of skills for communication, intercultural understanding and global engagement, qualities that are essential for life in the 21st century. The MYP prepares students to meet the academic challenges of the IB Diploma Program (grades 11-12), in college and beyond. Learn more about an IB education here:  http://bit.ly/T8QhTR. For more information, visit the official IB website. You can also contact Journeys School's MYP Coordinator with any questions.

Curriculum Framework

Students are required to study at least two languages (as part of their multilingual profile), humanities, sciences, mathematics, arts, physical education and technology. The MYP’s curriculum core features five contexts for learning that provide powerful opportunities to engage in the study of issues that affect students today. Teachers organize the curriculum through the following areas of interaction:

  • Approaches to learning represents learning skills that students will develop and apply during the program and beyond.
  • Community and service considers how students can learn about their place within communities and be motivated to  act in new contexts.  
  • Health and social education is designed to help students identify and develop skills that will enable them to function as effective members of societies. They also learn about how they are changing and how to make informed decisions that relate to their welfare.
  • Environments explores how humans interact with the world at large and the parts we play in our virtual, natural and built environments.
  • Human ingenuity deals with the way in which human minds have influenced the world and considers the consequences of human thought and action.

In addition, the curriculum is built upon the following constructs that are the hallmarks of a Journeys School education:

  • Depth of Thinking: Students are challenged to develop ideas, analyze content, and make connections in all classes. 
  • Experiential: Students learn best when they are able to "do"; rather than just see or hear. This hands-on learning helps students develop creativity, resourcefulness and critical thinking skills.
  • Multi-aged: Students are often excellent teachers. Some of our classes and experiences are multi-aged where students learn from each other, have older and younger peers, and assume leadership roles. We have found that a multi-age environment encourages a community of collaboration and caring rather than of exclusivity and competition.
  • Interdisciplinary: By looking at an idea, person, or event through a variety of lenses, students are able to see rich connections which are often missed in a narrow examination. Using curricular themes and projects, traditional disciplinary boundaries are often dissolved so that students can explore a topic from many directions. In this way students are able to better appreciate the context, complexity and importance of ideas.
  • Project based: By imbedding learning within a project, a student learns that skills, topics and concepts do not exist by themselves. Through interdisciplinary projects, a student is challenged to apply and use knowledge in relevant and meaningful ways. A student learns from experience that cooperation, teamwork, communication and conflict resolution within a group setting often produces a higher quality product or solution than working alone.
  • Place based: Students learn best when they are able to place learning in context. By relating learning to a student's place in the world, a student better understands why knowledge and skills are important.

Themes
The MYP is flexible enough to accommodate the demands of most national or local curriculums. Curricular content for the middle school is based on national standards for each subject area organized around themes which focus and integrate middle school curriculum. Below is a brief outline of themes and topics in our three year curriculum cycle.

Foundations of Place:  Earth, Existence, Weather, and Water 
Curriculum may include topics related to:

  • Energy transfer, Chemical interactions
  • Climate change, Meteorology
  • Nature of water, Stream ecology
  • Major weather events of the 20th century and effects on human life
  • Geology of Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
  • Tectonic plates, Volcanoes, Erosion
  • Maps, Land use, Biomes
  • Vegetation, Wildlife
  • Various banned and challenged books
  • Creation myths/Nonfiction weather stories
  • Poetry, Reflective writing

Cultures:   Ancient and Modern Cultures 
Curriculum may include topics related to:

  • Birth of civilization - Mesopotamia, Egypt, China
  • Astronomy, Religion, Anthropology
  • Early Latin American Cultures, Native American tribes
  • Introduction to Greek and Latin vocabulary
  • Medieval Europe, The Crusades
  • The Renaissance and Reformation, Islamic empire
  • Infectious disease, Cellular biology, Human physiology
  • Population characteristics
  • Electricity, Engineering
  • “This I Believe” manifestos
  • Introduction to interpreting art, world religions
  • Entertainment/ media
  • Rhetoric/propaganda
  • Economics, Political science/ governments
  • Various banned and challenged books
  • Latinos in our community

Conflict and Cooperation:  Conflict and Cooperation 
Curriculum may include topics related to:

  • Genetics and Evolution
  • Ecological systems
  • Dynamics of flight, Simple machines
  • Mexican Revolution, American Revolution
  • Documents of democracy, Patterns of revolutions
  • Economics
  • Civil War, WWII, Spanish Civil War 
  • Civil Rights/Women’s movement, Immigration, Diversity
  • Various banned and challenged books
  • Poetry

Mathematics 
The math program prioritizes students experiencing enjoyment of and success in math while advancing their understanding of and facility with important and challenging mathematical concepts. Over the course of the three-year program, these concepts range from fraction operations to quadratic functions and introductory trigonometry. The curriculum is aligned with the first three levels of the IB Middle Years Program, and it is connected to the curriculum used by the Journeys High School in grades 9-10, allowing for a smooth transition in mathematics to the fourth and fifth levels of the Middle Years Program and the IB Diploma Program. The curriculum focuses on five areas: number, algebra, geometry and trigonometry, statistics and probability, and discrete mathematics. In class, students not only thoroughly practice the skills and concepts emphasized in the curriculum, but also complete projects and problem sets that place the concepts and skills in real-world contexts. Doing so allows students to see the applications of the mathematics they study. The texts are supplemented by other items, including open-ended problem sets and units integrated with other disciplines. When possible, problems and projects presented in the texts are adapted to be relevant to Jackson and curricular themes. Students are placed in an appropriate ability-level class and work both independently and with other students. Ultimately, students develop a strong mathematical foundation and discover and practice how to be effective mathematical learners.

Language Arts 

English focuses on reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills to develop communication skills and to promote personal expression. In accordance with current education research, emphasis is placed on the frequency and fluency of reading and writing in order to cultivate broad and solid writing skills. Students practice spelling and vocabulary, grammar, reading comprehension, and the mechanics of the English language within the context of various literary works, spanning all middle school curricula. Mastery in these areas is achieved through traditional as well as project-based means. Reading outside of the classroom is compulsory to increase literature appreciation and fluency. Students occasionally work with Teton County Library for reading materials and to complete research. Memorization of eminent speeches, poetry, and prose enhances students’ learning in all subjects and is pivotal in brain development. Students keep a journal to improve writing skills, encourage reflection, and to provide a safe venue for creative expression. 

Science 

The processes of scientific inquiry are central to the curriculum, and experience is favored over rote learning. These habits of mind help students to not only understand the scientific ideas they study, but also how to more consciously live in the world around them. The science program follows National Science Education standards and covers many of the same topics traditionally taught in middle schools. Unlike other programs, however, ours is organized to support yearly themes and to maximize integration with other subject areas. Learning about scientific processes, concepts, and discoveries in context of other disciplines allows students to understand the role of science in the world today as well as throughout history. In addition to making science relevant to other classes, the natural and human communities of Jackson are used as examples and foci for lessons.  

Individuals and Societies 

The Individuals and Societies curriculum is designed with two goals to provide the middle school student with: 1) an awareness and knowledge of the physical world and the interactions humans have with that world and with each other and, 2) a firm foundation in various social sciences in preparation for a more in-depth high school curriculum. This transitional step between the elementary school and the high school is accomplished through the introduction of more complex yet still age-appropriate topics in, for example, world history, current events, political science, economics, geography, and cartography. The individuals and societies curriculum is designed around a three year rotating cycle of annual themes. These annual themes are closely integrated with math, science, English, and Spanish. Art and music integration opportunities also arise throughout the year. The courses taught during this curriculum cycle are steeped in human and physical geography, world cultures and American history. 

Spanish

This course focuses on Spanish language and Latino culture. Middle school students are required to take three years of Spanish. Students practice skills of speaking, listening, reading and writing within the American Council of Teachers of Foreign Languages’ national standards of communities, communication, cultures, connection and comparisons. Classes focus on vocabulary building, language structure, pronunciation, and listening skills. Students engage in a variety of activities such as writing and producing plays, creating a Spanish market where students sell products to their classmates, and broadcasting the weather report form various Spanish speaking countries. These activities and other interactive classes simulate real life scenarios, requiring students to use their language skills in diverse and realistic settings. Class work is integrated with essential questions as well as other core classes. Spanish at Journeys School is designed to expose students to a new language and culture in an innovative and interactive way.

Fine Arts 

Students participate in a variety of arts, from performing and fine arts to crafts and music. The arts program focuses on providing a comfortable space for expression and is used as a vehicle to integrate subjects across curricula. Learning and practicing art from a particular period in time or from a particular culture help students to more deeply understand the era or group being studied. Students practice various techniques and use different tools, gaining confidence in their creativity, knowledge and expression. The arts are an important way in which we get to know our social and ecological community; thus, focus is placed on sensory awareness, journaling and phenological studies, as well as collaborative projects with the National Museum of Wildlife Art, Dancers’ Workshop, Center for the Arts and pARTners

Physical Education and Health

The mission of the Physical Education program is to develop students who possess the motivation and intellect to make healthy choices and the physical competence to participate in a variety of active pursuits for a lifetime. Thus sportsmanship, leadership, fitness concepts, and healthy student attitudes towards physical activity are weaved into fitness activities, competitive sports and psychomotor skill development. Journeys School’s physical education is standards based, deliberately sequenced, accessible to all students, and focused on lifetime skills and physical fitness. FitnessGram assessments are interlaced into this program, which assess students in the five areas of health-related fitness: aerobic capacity, flexibility, muscular strength, muscular endurance, and body composition. Through this assessment, students become self-aware of their personal fitness in comparison to the “healthy fitness zone” for their age and gender. Additionally, Journeys School partners with community organizations to teach all students healthy relationships, dance, gymnastics, and mixed martial arts. The annual Winter Sports Program consists of alpine skiing or snowboarding at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. 

Design Technology

Journeys Middle School students do not just use technology, they create it. To cultivate the spirit of innovation—and develop the leading innovators of their generation—middle school students create products and solutions in response to needs that arise. The technology design cycle is a tool used to help with this. It consists of four stages: investigate, plan, create, and evaluate. Technology class meets once per week to complete integrated projects in collaboration with the other core disciplines. Technology use is also intentionally embedded in coursework to develop communication skills, discernment regarding the credibility of information, and promote responsible and respectful online conduct. Students gain the necessary skills to effectively work with a wide variety of programs and tools. In these ways, the Journeys Middle School curriculum builds innovative and technologically savvy students.

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