We all are born with the urge and ability to learn, to relate to a new environment and the people in it, to move our bodies, to communicate. As we develop, our instinct to observe those around us and notice differences and similarities continues to serve us well at home, in the community, and in school.
Learning in school draws on that natural ability, but as subjects grow more complex and abstract, other skills and tools are required for mastery in the classroom. As students progress through elementary and middle school, they are taught much of what they need to succeed, but there is more to learn about how to learn.
That’s where Ninth-Grade Seminar comes into play. The course is designed to guide our incoming freshmen through the transition to high school and the new expectations that come with it.
At the start of each class, students are taught a 15- to 20-minute unit on a variety of topics that follow the natural progression of information and skills that students need as they move through the semester in all of their classes. After the completion of that unit, the class becomes an academic learning center for the remainder of the class time.
The curriculum is designed to build on what the students know, detect gaps, and teach skills and develop awareness about themselves and academics. The teacher also serves as an academic coach, aware and sensitive to the needs and progress of each student.
In addition, this year we are implementing The Master Notebook system. This system gives students an understanding of how to organize their academic materials logically and systematically.
Each ninth-grader has the opportunity to “graduate” to study hall for the second semester. Students who benefit from staying in a structured coaching environment move into the Learning Center.