The mission of our middle school is to nurture the development of responsible, thoughtful citizens for life in an increasingly interdependent global society by creating environments in which students are challenged to explore, to create, to make decisions and to actively participate in and be accountable for their learning.
CHEC’s middle school provides an environment that allows transition for the students as they move from elementary into high school years. Middle school education builds upon skills acquired in previous learning experiences and provides an opportunity to explore new areas of interest that will give direction for future choices. Middle school students are emerging adolescents who are experiencing profound changes in the intellectual, physical, social and emotional areas of their lives. These changes call for unique learning environments where students can mature, achieve success and be challenged at their own developmental rate.
Intellectually, middle school students are maturing in their thinking and need stimulating activities that develop their problem solving and critical thinking abilities.
Physically, middle school students need to understand and to accept the changes in their bodies while assuming responsibility for their own wellbeing.
Socially, middle school students must be provided an environment in which they can positively interact with peers and adults.
Emotionally, middle school students are seeking their identity. Positive self-esteem, the need for recognition and the need for success in both academic and social situations are imperative.
MIDDLE SCHOOL PHILOSOPHY
CHEC has just been accepted as part of the network of schools that belong to the International Spanish Academy (ISA). The ISA initiative is a bilingual, Spanish/English educational model that the Spanish Ministry of Education and Science promotes in collaboration with American and Canadian educational authorities. Broadly defined, it is a teaching model based on a shared curriculum of both languages used for primary as well as secondary education with a vision and mission that:
Encourage students’ academic success in all subjects of the curriculum.
Educate students in the values of multicultural education to foster international communication and respect among different cultures.
Train students to express themselves and effectively communicate in English and Spanish in their personal relationships and in an academic setting.
Facilitate and promote the access of students to prestigious centers of higher education throughout the U.S., Spain/Europe and Latin America.
Prepare the students for their professional development in an international context.
Promote the participation of distinct groups and social sectors of the community in an integrative, educational project.
CHEC is part of this network of strongly language committed schools in the U.S. and Canada that implement Spanish immersion programs.
The Ministry of Education and Science of Spain makes the following resources and programs available to ISAs throughout the world:
Access to double academic certification for high school graduates completing a full ISA program.
Specialized visiting teachers, teacher and student exchange programs with Spain
Language and Culture assistants as well as partnerships with Spanish schools
Teacher training courses in Spanish universities
Participation in a North American network of ISAs
Pedagogical advice and curriculum support via an assigned area director
The ISAs embody an integrated curriculum that will prepare the students to later participate in international programs of recognized prestige to complete their higher education degrees. The language of instruction is English and Spanish, the exact proportion determined by the school, bearing in mind that the objective is to obtain written and oral competency in both languages. To this end, all language classes are conducted solely in the target language, Spanish. In addition, all middle school grades take a science and a social studies class in Spanish. A ninth grade cohort will be participating in the Spanish academy.
INTERNATIONAL SPANISH ACADEMY
The middle school program at CHEC is rooted in the principles of inquiry, creativity, and sound habits of work and mind. Inquiry and creativity is support throughout the science and social studies programming allows students to explore and make sense of natural and social phenomena. Students explore life, physical, and earth sciences and also ancient, world, and U.S. histories. They develop the mathematical and language skills to explain these phenomena to each other, their families, communities and world. Studies in both the performing and visual arts provide a second lens through which students can ask questions and generate hypotheses as they make sense of the world. The development of sound habits of work and mind is carried throughout the physical education curriculum where students learn about their own physical development. The middle years are filled with promise for all students.
SMALLER LEARNING COMMUNITIES
In order to make sure each student receives personal attention, CHEC has been divided into five Small Learning Communities (SLC’s). The goal of these SLCs is to provide clear focus, strong student teacher relationships, and attention to the needs of students at different points in their middle and high school careers. Each SLC has its own floor in the building, along with its own administrator, counselor, teachers, and support staff. SLCs also have themes and chants to build their sense of belonging to their SLC.
The Lower Division consists of the 6th/7th and 8th grade Small Learning Communities (SLC). During their time in the lower division, students must meet rigorous content and performance standards in all courses. Completion of the lower division standards verifies that the student has acquired knowledge and skills for high school and early college. Upon meeting the standards in the 8th Grade, and presenting their portfolios to community members, students exit the Lower Division and continue their education in the Upper Division.
MIDDLE SCHOOL DESIGN PRINCIPLES
PERSONALIZED LEARNING PLATFORM
In the fall of 2015, CHEC launched DC Public School’s first cloud-based Personalized Learning Platform (PLP) across all 8th grade classes, as part of a multifaceted effort to increase student engagement by empowering students to “take control” and design learning experiences that are meaningful to them. The initiative put laptops in the hands of 150 students who are now responsible for prioritizing the learning path that they wish to pursue during a structured personalized learning time.
The PLP curriculum is designed to assess every student’s unique, personal strengths as well as determine areas for growth in order to tailor instruction to address specific needs. This newly redesigned model dramatically changes the structure and flow of the school day and allows master teachers to spend increased one-on-one time with students, while associate teachers are used to help students build proficiency across all subject areas.
This data-driven approach will help CHEC maintain its 85% college attendance rate, while continuing to improve student proficiency. CHEC also integrates an international perspective to its curricula through emphasis on global citizenship. Students engage with a variety of cultures through language immersion courses, internships, and study abroad programs.
DUAL LANGUAGE PROGRAM
Columbia Heights Education Campus is a dual immersion school supported by the Quality Schools Initiative Grant. This program is designed to enrich the education of native English speakers as well as native world language speakers. Students will take Spanish Language Arts and further develop their language skills while taking key content courses in Spanish (currently science and social studies). The goal is for all students to become proficient in Spanish while developing cultural awareness in order to promote high levels of academic achievement. Students will be supported through active learning strategies in class, after school and summer support.
The dual immersion program begins for all students in 6th grade and continues for all students through 8th grade. Students can then opt into our dual language program at the high school. Students will continue to develop their language skills in Spanish courses in language and literature, including advanced placement courses and also in key content courses. Students will have opportunities to continue to develop through our rigorous course work and through strategic partnerships with local universities in order to earn course credit in language and translation.