Middle School

Integrated Learning

Our curriculum uses essential themes and questions to create a framework for learning. Essential themes are big ideas, and the essential questions, which are generated from the themes, have no easy answers. They provide a deep and rich context for inquiry and learning across disciplines and allow students to examine issues through many different lenses.

When learning is connected, it opens up a world of possibilities for students—layer-by-layer, year-to-year. For example, the patterns Kindergartners discover in nature lead into the relationships 1st graders explore between animals, plants, and the environment. The conceptual connections continue as 2nd graders examine how people and cultures adapt and as 3rd graders unpack the ways people initiate and react to change—and so on. Learning spirals, so students delve deeper and deeper into concepts and skills.

Essential Themes and Questions by Grade

List of 9 items.

  • K = Patterns

    • What is a pattern?
    • How do people use patterns in their everyday lives?
    • How can patterns help us learn?
  • 1 = Relationships

    • How does where you live affect how you live?
    • How does what we do affect others—in both positive and negative ways?
    • What do living things need to survive and thrive in their environment?
  • 2 = Adaptation

    • Why do people need to adapt?
    • How do groups adapt to their natural surroundings?
    • How does modernization and a changing environment present challenges to culture groups?
  • 3 = Change

    • What is change?
    • What causes change?
    • What is a change agent?
  • 4 = Systems

    • What is a system?
    • How can we keep a system in balance?
    • How can we learn from systems?
  • 5 = Structures

    • What is a structure?
    • What happens when structures are altered?
    • What are the costs and benefits of structure?
  • 6 = Diversity

    • What is diversity?
    • What is the value of diversity in the world?
    • How are diverse cultures shaped by the forces of nature?
  • 7 = Identity

    • How does identity shape an individual?
    • How do I maintain my identity in society?
    • What role does genetics play in creating our individual identities?
  • 8 = Community

    • What is community?
    • What are the characteristics of strong communities?
    • How do identity and diversity impact community?

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