Williamsburg Academy’s middle school program (grades 6–8) prepares promising students for meaningful lives as principled leaders. We accomplish this through live and self-paced classes, an integrated, project-based curriculum that is incredibly well-suited to this special time of life, and caring and dynamic mentors. Students can take one course from Williamsburg, or a full schedule of courses.
In the beginning people thought I was crazy for pulling my kids out of the public school system. Now some of the same people are asking about it. It’s my kids’ behavior that makes them interested in the school. They can see a difference in their passion/zest for life, and they want it for their kids. -Lisa A., Landstuhl, Germany
LIVE AND SELF-PACED COURSES
Flexible and convenient options
In live courses, students and mentors meet together twice per week in our online classroom to discuss, debate, present, and learn together. Students can see their mentor and peers on webcam, and can participate orally and in a chat box. Live Williamsburg courses are highly interactive.
In self-paced courses, students complete learning sessions on their own. These courses have a minimum pace students must maintain, but students can move faster if they so desire. Most students take a blend of live and self-paced courses.
Adaptable for every student’s needs
Students go through rapid change during the middle school years. Most 6th graders start off wanting mom and dad’s help, and frequently asking for it. They laugh at goofy jokes, and find humor in everyday situations. By the 8th grade, self-awareness has set in; students no longer want help from mom or dad (or from anyone for that matter!) They want to go it alone, even if it means trying and failing, again and again. Eighth graders want more and deeper discussion and to develop more public skills like presenting and debating. Williamsburg’s curriculum is designed to match the unique needs of 6th, 7th and 8th graders. We do this through an integrated curriculum, mastery-based projects, personalized learning targets and Challenge Projects (read more about these below).
In grades 6-8 we offer a blended, project-based curriculum designed to meet the unique needs of middle school students. Our world is a vibrant amalgamation of many subjects, experiences, relationships, and events. It is often impossible to tell where one ends and another begins. This is why our curriculum is blended: to assist students in drawing connections across curricula in both class-time conversation and project-time application. Drawing connections between subjects helps create relevance and context for students. For example, we read of atoms and Democritus alongside each other, where history and science intuitively intersect. In that spirit, we integrate and combine subjects into our main courses: Leadership, STEM, Math, and Humanities. We encourage students to develop essential writing skills by enrolling in Writing 6/7 or Writing 8. Elective options of Typing, Middle School Photography, and Intro to Theater (new!) are also available. Each course is built around one or more projects, simulations, and/or field trips, and includes classical and engaging readings and class discussions.
For 6th and 7th graders in our Leadership, STEM, and Humanities courses, we offer a rotating two-year curriculum in which we focus on the A/B rotation one year and the C/D rotation the next. Students in 6th and 7th grades can be found in the same classroom, each being challenged at their own level. Our core classes cover all the key writing targets necessary for this age group. For students ready for and wanting more depth in and focus on writing, we offer a supplemental, self-paced writing program. The rigorous curriculum, as well as optional supplemental assignments, are designed to meet the needs of any 11 – 13 year old student who is ready for the Williamsburg Academy Middle School Program. If your student needs more than one year before being ready for high school, enrolling in the 6th/7th grade rotation is the best choice.
The 8th grade curriculum is designed specifically to help students successfully transition from middle school to high school. Students in this age group need increased academic rigor, with room for adjustment as they become accustomed to increased work loads. They need increased responsibility, with room to try and fail, and try again. They need to review and solidify concepts covered in grades six and seven before moving on, and they need to be introduced to common high-school level concepts and skills. Our curriculum is designed to meet those needs – to help students wrap up their education to this point, and successfully launch into high-school-level work. 8th grade courses are open to students planning to enter high school during the next academic year.
NOTE: Students are not required to complete our 6th/7th grade rotation to enter the 8th grade.
|LEADERSHIP COURSES||HUMANITIES COURSES||STEM COURSES|
|Education, Scholarship & Leadership||Social Studies||Science|
|Family & High School Leadership||*Language Arts||Technology|
|Attitude, Friendship & Leadership||Literature||Engineering|
|Crocodiles International Leadership Curriculum||Debate, Performance & Presentations||*Scientific Writing & Presentations|
*Keep in mind, all key writing targets are covered within STEM/Leadership/Humanities in 6th/7th grade, and a supplemental, self-paced writing course is offered for students ready to go deeper. Also, during the 8th grade year, Humanities (including Literature, Art and Memorization) is separate from our 8th grade Writing course.
Step into a Williamsburg Academy Middle School class and you’ll see a group of excited, engaged students. Today’s youth hear over and over in media messages that they are irresponsible, irreverent, immature and ill-suited to impact the world. Through hands-on, meaningful projects that meet real needs, students discover that they are not only important, but also influential, and that their choices matter. This knowledge in and of itself can go a long way towards pushing a student away from a mindless app or video game and toward a meaningful book or project. Projects are an important part of class and students’ study time. In every program we use the following six methods of learning.
EXPEDITIONS, COURSES, AND PODS
How students interact with others
The Williamsburg Academy Middle School Program has three main elements:
- Expeditions are big, inspiring projects that include smaller projects, encompass large topics and unify and focus learning.
- Courses are multiple subjects integrated and combined seamlessly into one harmonious learning experience. The STEM & Humanities courses have an expedition at their core, and the Leadership course supports the expeditionary learning process.
- Leadership pods are small groups of 12 – 15 students and one leadership coach, who meet together four days a week for friendship, accountability, learning,individual attention and fun. Students get to know their classmates and leadership coaches on a personal basis during pod meetings.
AUTHENTIC AUDIENCES, REAL NEEDS
How we bring real life into the classroom
A Williamsburg Academy student won’t be found writing a book report for her mentor. Students write book reviews for real literature websites, or customer reviews for real products; they interview a local city council members or gather data about traffic on hiking paths the city is considering closing; they interact with experts and try their hand at their own level of excellence. This makes for public audiences and public impact. Authentic work ensures that students have the necessary skills to be highly competent, successful adults in a rapidly changing world. This also means that students’ work typically goes through many revisions. Students learn to be excellent in what they do through repetition and refinement.
MENTORS, NOT JUST TEACHERS
Genuine mentorship with all students
We call our teachers mentors. A mentor does more than teach––she takes an interest in the individual student. She looks for the innate abilities that each student has, and helps the student cultivate them. Through regular professional development training, Williamsburg mentors learn how to employ the best methods, including:
- The Socratic Method: We ask the right kinds of questions at the right times, help students learn to ask the right questions, and nurture critical thinking.
- Connection: We relate to, inspire, challenge, and develop personal relationships with students. We fully engage students’ minds and hearts across diverse learning styles. We help students develop meaningful relationships with each other.
- Engaging Presentation: We use powerful hooks, visuals, stories, slides, techniques, and body language to entice learning. We deliver student-centered learning through flipping the classroom, strategically using Bloom’s taxonomy.
- Quality Feedback: We provide specific and meaningful feedback; we demand quality; we encourage creative approaches, solutions, and alternatives.
- Modeling: We teach skills and attributes by modeling them for students. Above all, we further our own liberal education and model exemplary lives.
- Project-Based Learning: We use engaging simulations and hands-on projects aimed towards authentic audiences meeting real needs.