Middle Grades Curriculum

This curriculum is traditional in resting upon a foundation of vertical cohesion (skills taught in one grade will be built upon in the following grades) and the mastery of crucial academic skills. It is progressive in its emphasis on depth of learning over breadth of exposure, its project- and problem-based orientation and its interdisciplinary nature.

Core Curriculum

In the Upper Division’s middle grades program, grades six through eight, students start to move from studio to studio (classroom to classroom). Students acquire greater depth and proficiency in all their academic and co-curricular subjects, as well as an increasing emphasis on critical thinking. Assignments individualize opportunities for students to pursue their particular interests in depth, but within a common curriculum and skills base. Curricular emphasis is on building the core skills already mastered in earlier years.

  1. Reading: focus on awareness of argument and understanding of the different genres of literature
  2. Writing: building a three-paragraph essay
  3. Math: including Algebra I
  4. Science: earth science and ecology, biology, physics
  5. World Course

In the middle grades, the World Course is likely to overlap with standard offerings in history and science.

  1. History: an interdisciplinary approach. Topics could include American history and ancient or medieval civilizations
  2. Language: Chinese or Spanish, continuing the language studied in earlier grades, resulting in increasing proficiency
  3. Music
  4. Art
  5. Physical education and health and wellness; team sports at the Avenues gymnasium and at Chelsea Piers
  6. The school in the city: understanding Chelsea and New York

Students of this age do well working on projects with other students, so work in small teams on independent projects will be emphasized.

Older middle grades students will begin to have some of their classes, particularly in art and music, integrated with offerings in Chelsea and the city around the school.

A chart of the middle grades program curriculum is available here.

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Recent Articles from OPEN, our news and discussion blog

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Students Examine Identity in Class on Gender, Sexuality and Race

by Stephanie Shore, 11th and 12th Grade World Course Teacher


During the first few weeks of Gender, Sexuality, and Race, 11th and 12th grade students examined their own identity and how it may affect the way the learn, think, and speak about gender, sexuality, race and socioeconomic class 

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Buildling a Math Mindset

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