Teton Valley Community School is excited to be offering 7th grade for the 2016-17 school year in anticipation for a 7th/8th grade class in the future. This grade level will follow the same curricular structure and project based philosophy as the rest of TVCS, however it will be aligned with national 7th grade standards.
A 7th grade experience at TVCS will provide the following:
- High level, authentic project-based learning
- In depth curricular studies in the areas of math, reading, writing, science, studies, current events
- Continued enrichment through strong Spanish, Art, Music, Farm & Garden and Outdoor Education programs
- Character development appropriate to adolescent and early-teen years
- A strong focus on community both at school and in the greater region
- Direct leadership instruction and plenty of hands-on experience
- Small class sizes that foster close relationships small group instruction with a lead teacher
What is a K-8 Model?
The addition of 7/8 will complete the vision for a K-8 program at TVCS. This model is different from a Middle School where students move to various teachers throughout the day. K-8 programs are defined by the following values:
- K-8 programs foster a sense of community and family among students that builds up through 8th grade
- Each grade level offers challenging, developmentally appropriate and thematic curriculum that builds as students progress
- 7/8 is not an extension of elementary school, but is a continuation of curricula that promotes deeper thinking and academic growth
- Older students in K-8 programs tend to build confidence, maturity and strong leadership skills – instruction on these topics is built into the curriculum
Want to know more?
If you want to learn more about the K-8 model, what this will look like at TVCS, the differences between a Middle School and a K-8 program, and some of the benefits, check out these resources compiled from various Educational research periodicals:
Tamer, Mary. “Do Middle Schools Make Sense?” Harvard Ed Magazine 5 Sept. 2012. Online.
Pierson Yecke, Cheri. “Mayhem in the Middle: Why We Should Shift to K-8.” Teaching the Tweens, Volume 63, Number 7, April 2006: Pages 20 – 25. Online.
Pardini, Priscilla. “Revival of the K-8 School.” AASA: The School Superintendents Association. Web.
Education World. "Is the time right for ‘Elemiddles’.” Web.
Upon entering the fifth grade, students begin the gradual transition from inter-dependent learning to becoming fully responsible independent thinkers in sixth grade. Student inquiry continues to drive the projects at this level, but the projects are more comprehensive and cover all the subject areas. Students learn their key academic content through the rigorous projects that explore real-world problems and challenges.
Teachers continue to function as experts in the classroom but lead students to construct their own understanding, rather than receive it from the front of the room. Students must learn how to ask good questions and explain the answers using higher reasoning. Therefore, teachers use a variety of curriculum and academic tools to support students in their projects while ensuring the acquisition of core content.
Project-based learning also means hands-on learning and with greater maturity, students are encouraged to seek answers to their questions farther away from the school’s campus. Projects in the past have taken students to places such as the Glen Canyon Dam in Arizona to learn about electricity and water usage, Panama to witness tropical bio-diversity, and Dinosaur National Monument in Utah to examine fossil evidence in geological formations.
Because students are evaluated on the basis of their projects, rather than on the comparatively narrow rubrics defined by exams and written reports, assessment of project-based work is often more meaningful to them.
In the final grades at TVCS, students are encouraged to further develop independent inquiry, thought and projects, and are encouraged to take on larger leadership roles.
Projects at this level are completely student driven and delve deeply into topics of student interest. Teachers strive to ensure projects cover grade-appropriate standards and prepare these oldest students with the skills necessary for high school and beyond. Through projects, students quickly see how academic work can connect to real-life problems and may even be inspired to pursue a career or engage in activism that relates to the project they developed.
Teachers guide students toward greater understanding of topics, however older students are given the freedom to explore as far into a concept as they can. Students further build upon their deep questioning skills and analytical/deductive reasoning. Students are also held to a high standard of presentation both through writing and verbal public speaking skills.
Projects will inevitably take students even further into the community, both close and far, to seek answers to project-driven questions. Students will travel throughout our valley, our state, and even our country to learn about local and global issues. At this greater level of maturity, students will begin to see themselves as global citizens—fostered by the teachers intentional guidance.
Teachers will use authentic assessments both through projects and in core academic areas to determine skill acquisition. Students will be key participants in these assessments as self and peer reflection play large roles in growing maturity and self-awareness.
Leadership is also a pillar of education in 7/8th grade and as the oldest students on campus, they will serve as role models for the younger elementary students. All students benefit from cross grade friendships as it holds both younger and older students to a high standard of behavior.