Middle school is a time when students are engaged in developing their identities, building meaningful friendships and connections with their peers, and learning about their emotions and how to communicate. It is also a time when engagement in academics is crucial to success in high school, college, and beyond.
Our English Language Arts classes (ELA for short) are designed to support learners in their journey into adolescence and young adulthood. We focus on four core principles in our curriculum and pedagogy: Empowerment, Opportunity, Support for Strength, and Collaborative Engagement. Each one of these principles guides our instruction and intentional classroom design to bring out the very best in each and every student so that the classroom (both physical and digital) is a challenging, exciting, and inviting place to learn and grow.
Empowerment - Students are provided with the platform to know that the work they are doing matters, is acknowledged and is relevant to their identity and lives. The middle school ELA curriculum at Northern Light School is antiracist and highlights works by BIPoC authors. This curriculum, specially designed and created for Northern Light School's middle school students by Ms. C focuses on engagement through observation and interpretation of text so students can further refine their own ideas and understandings of a text. Students gain a sense of control over their own learning and begin to develop into critical, independent, courageous thinkers.
Opportunity - Designed to offer multiple entry points for diverse learners with different gifts, needs, and talents, the middle school ELA curriculum at Northern Light incorporates differentiated strategies, modified prompts, and daily practice and reinforcement of core skills. Every student has the opportunity to complete work and assignments that can be tailored and engineered to challenge them at their own unique level of proficiency.
Support for Strength - Middle schoolers are aware of their strengths and opportunities for growth. By providing resources that they can seek out when they're unsure or need extra support, true moments of engagement are established. Utilizing encouraging and actionable feedback, and working to build a classroom culture of positive, constructive critique benefits student growth and achievement.
Collaborative Engagement - All students learn differently--some read the text to understand; some need to hear it; some need to see it; some even need to act it out! By providing multiple ways for students to interact with the subject matter and text, language can be processed through many distinct pathways. The middle school ELA classroom at Northern Light uses drama, debate, and performance to motivate and engage students together. Each avenue of understanding a text demonstrates something special about language and words: with drama, students learn the importance of emotion and subtlety; with debate, the see the value in evidence and argument; and with performance, they can exercise the muscle of their brain that analyzes text, meaning, and purpose.
Service learning and civic engagement is central to Northern Light’s mission. Student Council is designed to to support youth-led leadership, problem solving, and activism at Northern Light School, and in our local and global communities. While some of Student Council will focus on dialogue, we will also engage in projects and activities that highlight the perspectives, realities, and stories of our fantastic students. Ultimately, we know that by empowering student voice, students will feel a greater sense of ownership over their own experiences in school – both virtually and in-person.