The middle school at SWWFS follows a Pre-Advanced Placement (Pre-AP) curricula of instruction led by experienced instructors who specialize in the respective content areas.
Advanced Placement courses in high school are college level curriculums that often grant placement and course credit to students who obtain high scores above a certain number on the examinations. The AP curriculum for the various subjects is created for the College Board by a panel of experts and college-level educators in each subject. SWWFS middle students are exposed to pre-AP curricula that prepares them for taking the AP courses at college preparatory high schools that offer advanced courses.
The middle school math program entails Math I, Math II, Pre-Algebra and Algebra I classes. These courses are taught in alignment with the Common Core Standards adopted by DCPS. Thinking about mathematical problems in a critical way enhances students’ abilities to see mathematics as a life skill to solve real-world problems.
The sciences are taught through the philosophy that scientific progress is made by asking relevant questions and conducting careful investigations. As a basis for understanding this concept, and to address the content in any grade, students develop their own questions and perform investigations. Additionally, students are encouraged to explain why accuracy and openness in record keeping and replication are essential for maintaining an investigator’s credibility with other scientists and society and participate in group discussions on specific topics.
Following the philosophy of preparing our middle school students for AP classes in high school, the Language Arts Program is designed to meet the needs of students at their individual levels of instruction, and, in so doing, provide for greater depth and complexity in the literacy curriculum. Instruction may include compacting curricula so that individual students’ needs may move through a fast or above grade level pace. The writing process, a complex skill in and of itself, is also elevated in terms of its complexity and output.
This year students at School Without Walls at Francis-Stevens will participate in an integrated Early American History and English course called “America: The Experience.” In social studies, students will study early American history based on the 8th grade District of Columbia learning standards. These learning standards explore American history from colonization through reconstruction. In English, students will read historical fiction, poems, and short stories based on the same themes that the students are learning about in social studies.
Each unit in both English and social studies is based on a shared thematic question that students will respond to in class discussions, formal writing assessments and unit projects. Examples of the shared thematic questions include: What happens when different societies meet? What are the different perspectives of liberty during the American Revolution? How do you build a government? Which events have the biggest impact on identity? What is the impact of change? Do the ends justify the means? What divides people? How do you reconstruct the American experience?
In addition to following the 8th grade District of Columbia learning standards for social studies, the social studies curriculum supports the common core standards in English. The English and Social Studies instructor is part of small cohort of teachers working with the Center for Inspired Teachers to implement literacy and writing into the social studies curriculum. With the support of this program, students will respond to challenging essay prompts supported with evidence from primary source documents.
Students will also participate in a pilot program with Discovery Education where they will be using a digital techbook in addition to their traditional textbook.
More information can be found here.