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

August 15, 2018

Avenues Adventure School Minimester

by Jessica Berkeley, Middle Grades Humanities Teacher


This spring, 8th grade students in the “Avenues Adventure School” Minimester course had an opportunity to experience some of the ways that New Yorkers can get out and explore our natural environment.  

August 8, 2018

Partner Walks in Small World

by Rita Truong, Head of Small World


In the Avenues Small World program for 2- and 3-year-old students, the children take partner walks with a teacher and one peer in the neighborhood as part of our regular spring curriculum. These walks encourage curiosity, friendship and adventure!  

August 2, 2018

SAMR Application Scope and Sequence

by Jacob Goren, Technology Integrator


We embarked on a months-long process to sort through every education app in our arsenal and categorize them.  

July 27, 2018

Designing and Building an Island in 8th Grade Spanish

by Olga Valeria, Middle Grades Spanish Teacher


As part of of their “City Life” topic, students in the Spanish 8D class worked on a hands-on project, “My City Life.” In collaboration with the iLab, students were to collectively reimagine and reinvent public spaces, paying particular attention to physical, cultural and social identities.  

July 19, 2018

An Exploration in Mixed-Media Self Portraits

by Dorine Yang, Nursery Teacher


As the children are becoming more representational in their drawings, we decided that it would be a excellent opportunity for them to create self portraits. These portraits were also a great way to review and teach new Chinese words related to the face while introducing a new way to do art.  


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