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Middle School (Gr. 6 - Gr. 8)

Middle School is a unique time in the development of a child. The adolescent brain is continuously evolving and changing and children are riding a roller coaster of emotions every day. At Dunecrest, we provide a stable and caring environment for Middle School children so that they may safely take risks, explore, and discover themselves as individuals.

Our Middle School program is designed to inspire students to achieve their academic goals and to develop their abilities as self-directed learners. It acknowledges the power of their ideas, develops their ability to collaborate and to think independently, and challenges them to find solutions to problems in order to build a better future for themselves and their communities.

At Dunecrest, we don’t believe that worksheets foster a curious mind, or that textbooks alone can inspire creativity and enthusiasm. Through the integration of project and problem based learning, including ideas from the “Maker” movement, we will connect what we want to see in the world with what we do in school every day.

In addition to the wide range of academic courses, Dunecrest’s Middle School offers an extensive range of athletic and co-curricular options. Through participation in sports, clubs and activities, students have many opportunities to grow and learn beyond the classroom.

Academic Programs

The Middle School program at Dunecrest follows the AERO Common Core Plus Curricular Standards for Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies, World Languages, Music and Art, the SHAPE standards for Physical Education, and the ISTE standards for technology.

Middle School students participate in year-long courses in language arts, math, social studies, science, Arabic, Islamic Studies, and physical education. In addition, students are encouraged to try out a variety of electives to determine where their passions lie. Many electives are offered as semester-long courses so that students have the opportunity to pursue a broader range of subjects. Electives include options in the arts, computer programming, robotics and world languages.

The curriculum is designed in interdisciplinary, project based units that challenge students to become critical thinkers and problem solvers.

Students are given time during the week to engage in independent inquiry based on the model of what is known as ”Genius Hour.” During this time students have access to the school's maker spaces, where they engage in experimentation to develop their own solutions to real world problems. Several options for projects are provided, or students can choose to bring their own ideas to develop. Students are encouraged to enter their ideas and designs into local competitions.

Mathematics

The Middle School mathematics curriculum is based on the AERO Common Core Plus Curricular Standards.

These standards are divided into the mathematical domains of: counting, numbers in base ten, operations and algebraic thinking, measurement and data, and geometry. In addition, students are immersed in learning developmentally appropriate mathematical practices.

As stated in the official literature of the Common Core State Standards, ”The Standards for Mathematical Practice describe ways in which developing student practitioners of the discipline of mathematics increasingly ought to engage with the subject matter as they grow in mathematical maturity and expertise throughout the elementary, middle and high school years.”

The eight Standards for Mathematical Practice are:

1. Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them
2. Reason abstractly and quantitatively
3. Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others
4. Model with mathematics
5. Use appropriate tools strategically
6. Attend to precision
7. Look for and make use of structure
8. Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning

Science

The Middle School science curriculum is based on the AERO/NGSS Curricular Standards.

AERO Common Core Plus have adopted the Next Generation Science Standards. These standards will be taught through hands on experiments and a collaborative, project based learning approach.

The NGSS standards approach learning in a cyclical format. Ideas are introduced in earlier stages and built upon at more advanced levels in the later stages of a child’s education.

The standards are written to provide a three-tiered approach to learning through acquisition of cross cutting concepts, science and engineering practices and disciplinary core ideas.

The Middle School Standards fall under these broad subject area headings:

• Matter and its interactions
• Forces and Motion
• Energy
• Waves and Their Application
• From Molecules to Organisms, Structures and Processes
• Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy and Dynamics
• Hereditary Inheritance and Variance of Traits
• Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity
• Earth’s place in the universe
• Earth’s systems
• Earth and Human Activity
• Engineering and Design

Language Arts

The Middle School Language Arts curriculum provides a balanced literacy approach to the teaching of Reading, Writing and Word Study. The curriculum is constructed from the Aero Common Core Plus, English Language Arts Curricular Framework and shaped by the Teachers College Reading and Writing units of study.

The standards are divided across the following areas:

• Reading Literature
• Reading Informational Text
• Writing
• Listening & Speaking
• Language Foundations

Social Studies

The Middle School Social Studies curriculum is based on the AERO Common Core Plus Social Studies Framework, Literacy in Social Studies Standards and the UAE Ministry of Education Social Studies Standards.

The AERO Social Studies framework is developed around eight key learning standards:

• Standard 1 (Time, Continuity, and Change) Students will understand patterns of change and continuity, relationships between people and events through time, and various interpretations of these relationships.

• Standard 2 (Connections and Conflict) Students will understand causes and effects of interaction among societies, including trade, systems of international exchange, war, and diplomacy.

• Standard 3 (Geography) Students will understand the interactions and relationship between human societies and their physical environment.

• Standard 4 (Culture) Students will understand cultural and intellectual developments and interactions among societies.

• Standard 5 (Society and Identity) Students will understand social systems and structures and how these influence individuals.

• Standard 6 (Government) Students will understand why societies create and adopt systems of governance and how they address human needs, rights, responsibilities and citizenship. Standard 7 (Production, Distribution, and Consumption) Students will understand fundamental economic principles and ways in which economies are shaped by geographic and human factors.

• Standard 8 (Science, Technology, and Society) Students will understand how societies have influenced and been influenced by scientific developments and technological developments.

In addition to the AERO standards, Dunecrest’s Social Studies curriculum covers the content knowledge, skills and additional understandings prescribed by the Ministry of Education standards for Social Studies.

Arabic Language

The primary goal of Dunecrest’s Arabic language program is to enable students to communicate effectively in the Arabic language, whether as a first language or as an additional language.

The Middle School Arabic curriculum will follow the learning standards provided by the Ministry of Education in Dubai for AFL (Arabic as a first language) and AAL (Arabic as an additional language).

Students at this age are placed in language classes based on their mother tongue language as well as their level of language acquisition.

Islamic Studies

At Dunecrest, Islamic Studies is part of our learning curriculum for our Muslim student body. Dunecrest’s Islamic Studies curriculum meets the expectations for learning established by the UAE Ministry of Education for Islamic Education. The Islamic studies curriculum is developed around the following core program goals:

• To make students more aware of Allah and their responsibility to serve Him and propagate his message.

• To teach students how to prepare for their ultimate objective: success in the life hereafter.

• To help establish in students a firm commitment and dedication to Islam as the eternal source of guidance.

• To make students aware of their responsibilities as Muslims.

• To teach students how to think, analyze, and solve problems based on Islamic rules.

• To encourage students to acquire positive attitudes, develop balanced personalities and appreciate knowledge.

• To work closely with parents to provide a secure, nurturing, and motivational environment for children to grow and prosper in.

• To expand students’ reading vocabulary and improve their understanding of words and their meanings.

Music

The music curriculum is standards based and aligned to the AERO Common Core Plus curricular standards and the National Core Arts Standards.

Learning is divided into four conceptual areas:

• Creating
• Performing/ Presenting/Producing
• Responding
• Connecting


Choir
This course explores choral music from a wide variety of cultures and time periods through study and performance. The course emphasizes the basics of vocal technique, performances skills, sight-reading, and music theory.

Band
The Music Department provides a performing outlet for motivated and dedicated students interested in becoming more involved with instrumental music. Band students will perform in their grade’s band. Class activities will include performing, listening to music from many different styles and time periods, music theory, and sight-reading. Performances will occur periodically throughout the school year. Students are expected to practice outside of class.

Drama

Drama class in Middle School is not focused on developing artists but on providing a fun learning environment which supports students to step outside of their comfort zone and discover their potential. Drama class helps them to develop life-long skills, such as collaborative work, expanding their minds to allow creativity to flow, body and spatial awareness; and to improve their sense of self-worth.

The drama curriculum is standards based and aligned to the National Core Arts Standards. Learning is divided into four conceptual areas:

• Creating
• Performing/ Presenting/Producing
• Responding
• Connecting

Visual Arts

Students in Visual Arts use the elements of art and the principles of design as a framework through which to explore a variety of experiences and concepts. Using expressive and technical approaches, students investigate and create various two-dimensional and three-dimensional works of art. Students learn to create artistic meaning, focusing on their use of forms, media, and symbols. Students develop an increased awareness of the nature of art and of their relationship to it as they explore the meaning and value of works of art as a means of personal and cultural expression.

The art curriculum is standards based and aligned to the AERO Common Core Plus curricular standards and shaped with the concepts found in the National Core Arts Standards.

Learning is divided into five conceptual areas:

• Creating
• Performing/Presenting/Producing
• Responding
• Connecting
• Historical and Cultural Context

Physical Education

SHAPE America's National Standards & Grade-Level Outcomes for K-12 Physical Education define what a student should know and be able to do as result of a highly effective physical education program. Shape America defines physical literacy through these five key ideas:

Standard 1: The physically literate individual demonstrates competency in a variety of motor skills and movement patterns.

Standard 2: The physically literate individual applies knowledge of concepts, principles, strategies and tactics related to movement and performance.

Standard 3: The physically literate individual demonstrates the knowledge and skills to achieve and maintain a health-enhancing level of physical activity and fitness.

Standard 4: The physically literate individual exhibits responsible personal and social behavior that respects self and others.

Standard 5: The physically literate individual recognizes the value of physical activity for health, enjoyment, challenge.

World Languages

Dunecrest offers both Spanish and French as options for students in their learning of World Languages. The program will be based on the AERO Common Core Plus World Language standards. The standards have been adopted from the American Council of Teachers of Foreign Language (ACTFL) and support students in the acquisition of language by exploring five key concepts:

• Communication
• Communities
• Cultures
• Comparisons
• Connections

Guidance Counseling

Students in the Middle School program will be supported by a Counselor who implements a guidance program based on the standards of ”The International Model for school Counselling Programs.” The Guidance curriculum follows learning standards which are aligned from Pre-K to Grade 12 and are developmentally appropriate.

The guidance curriculum is implemented during advisory periods and focuses on supporting the development of students in four key areas:

1. Social and Emotional Support
2. Academic Skills
3. Global Perspectives
4. Life skills/transitions

ELL Support

English Language Learning Support uses a co-teaching inclusion model to meet the needs of students in the classroom.

ELL support is developed through the use of the WIDA instructional model. The WIDA program provides a program of rich standards, learning materials and assessments that teachers draw upon and use. These include the ”can do” assessment statements that are used to measure students’ levels of language acquisition on admission to the school, as well as monitor their support throughout the program. The school has chosen to use the WIDA model as the WIDA vision matches the school’s vision of learning. WIDA’s core values are:
• Innovation: Drawing upon research and practice to create the best resources for children, youth and educators.

• Service: Exceeding expectations with trusted and knowledgeable support of our clients and stakeholders. Can Do Philosophy: Recognizing and building upon the assets, contributions, and potential of culturally and linguistically diverse children and youth.

• Collaboration: Facilitating interaction among educators, state and local educational agencies, researchers, policy-makers, and experts worldwide.

Support for Students with Additional Needs (SEND)

Dunecrest utilizes the response to intervention (RTI) approach to support students with special educational needs. The school uses the tiered approach to provide interventions for those students that need additional support through a co-teaching model. Diagnostic testing during the admissions process identifies the needs of individual students entering the school and if necessary, a support plan is developed for them ready for their first day of classes.

Dunecrest ensures that learning environments and teaching strategies are modified to be inclusive of all children and that all children are included as a part of the community and feel that they belong.