All students in Grades 7 and 8 take a 360° class intended to provide them with the knowledge, skills, and strategies necessary to successfully maneuver both the social-emotional and the academic realms of adolescence. Our goal is to provide students the tools for middle and high school success. 360° meets once a week, alternating between the two realms: Middle School Counselor Nicci King teaches the social-emotional, and Grade 4-8 Learning Specialist Liz West Swiatkowski teaches the academic. Both teachers explore topics using a variety of active learning approaches including role plays, interactive PowerPoint presentations, brainstorming, discussion and games.
The Grade 7 social-emotional curriculum engages students in both structured activities and open-discussions aimed at increasing the social comfort, emotional consideration, and personal confidence of each child. Students learn to survey their “internal audio,” to give themselves and those around them the space to evolve in their identities, and to really consider what it takes to be a good friend.
The Grade 8 social-emotional curriculum, focuses on enhancing students’ emotional intelligence and giving them the tools to understand themselves and each other. Topics include: adolescent brain development, goal-setting, expressing gratitude, and choice and accountability. Understanding how the brain works, particularly how it grows and evolves during the adolescent years, underpins our inquiry. The setting of personal goals and the systematic working toward those goals provides a real-life application to the work of the class. Finally, as we prepare students for their last months in Middle School, our discussion has turned toward learning to gather information, and explore choices and consequences prior to making difficult decisions.
The Grade 7 academic curriculum begins with a discussion of individual learning styles, the importance of organization, and time management. Prior to assessment week, we discuss how to study for tests, memory remedies for rote memorization, and how to actually take a test.
The Grade 8 academic curriculum begins with a discussion of Dweck’s theory of growth mindset, which allows us to view mistakes as opportunities to grow as learners. We explore Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligences theory and students create “Learning Styles Portraits” that express both their learning styles and their multiple intelligences. Prior to assessment week, we discuss study strategies a second time and create study schedules.