Students entering sixth grade take an important and exciting leap by moving to our Middle School campus, choosing elective courses they will share with seventh and eighth grade students, and gaining more independence and responsibility. Our program is designed to help students transition with ease into this next important phase of their development.
The ACDS Middle School curriculum presents demanding academic core classes, balanced by a broad selection of high-interest elective courses.
The school day consists of seven 50-minute periods with five core subjects — English language and literature, mathematics, social studies, science and physical education — along with two elective courses.
Character education and service learning and leadership time is integrated into the weekly schedule for all Middle School students.
English language & literature
- Daily writing workshop, from brainstorm to publication, that develops clear written communications.
- Mastery of research through writing a 3-5 page research paper each year.
- Study of grammar and mechanics.
- Spelling based on Greek and Latin roots.
- Genres include memoir, fiction, poetry and non-fiction.
- Novels focus on historical fiction, many chosen to connect with the World Cultures curriculum. These include: "Letters from Rifka" by Karen Hesse, "Blood Red Horse" by K.M. Grant, "The Bronze Bow" by Elizabeth George Speare. "The Samurai's Tale" by Erik Haugaard, and a selection of novels about Ancient Egypt are also included, such as: "The Golden Goblet" by Eloise Jarvis McGraw, "Maia of Thebes" by Ann Turner, "The Wadjet Eye" by Jill Rubalcaba, or "Casting the Gods Adrift" by Geraldine McCaughrean.
- "College Preparatory Math" Core Connections, Course 1.
- Mastery of four operations with decimals and fractions.
- Explore averages, ratios, exponents, patterns, percentages, proportions and statistics.
- Introduction to integers, algebraic equations, formulas for perimeter, area, circumference and volume.
- Thinking, talking and writing clearly about math.
- Challenge and extension opportunities are available to students who show mastery of a unit or skill.
- Focus on world cultures, from early humans to the Roman Empire.
- "History Alive" textbook as a foundation for simulations and small-group projects.
- Integrated and interactive lessons encourage students to investigate the elements of civilization: Geography, Beliefs, Economics, Aesthetics, Politics, and Society.
- Focus on scientific method and lab skills, earth science and weather and climate.
- Weekly STEAM/STEM-based science labs in dedicated Middle School laboratory.
- Annual 6th grade Design Fair, which involves students answering real life engineering problems by working in a group to create a design to solve the problem.
- Use of "CPO Science Middle School Earth Science" textbook as main resource.
- Visit Science in Middle School for more information on specific activities.
Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)
Social and emotional learning in the sixth grade is focused on team-building. Each week, students are presented a challenge that needs to be solved in variously sized groups. One week the challenge could be a physical test and another week an engineering problem. Students experience conflicts and successes, and then debrief each challenge to investigate topics such as how they applied the Mission Skills, how their actions affect others, traits of a good leader, and the importance of clear communication. This hands-on, experiential learning is crucial to developing confident leaders and collaborative team players, which are hallmarks of ACS graduates.
Each sixth grade student gets to choose two different elective courses per trimester.
The ACDS Yosemite trip gives our sixth grade students hands-on life and earth science lessons unlike any they could get from a textbook or classroom lecture. Chaperoned by ACDS faculty members and led by Yosemite field guides, students spend five days exploring the park’s magnificent winter landscape, applying their science lessons to geology and wildlife topics while implementing social and emotional learning goals for developing leadership, confidence and social skills.
Our All School Student Exhibition and Talent Showcase (ASSETS) has been a popular ACDS tradition for more than a decade. This three-day event is a lively celebration of student success and skills in a wide variety of activities and exhibits.
Free Dress Fridays
Our Middle School students have the opportunity to earn a Free Dress Friday if they are properly dressed in uniform all week. This perk for Middle School students is a treasured tradition and helps distinguish the older students on campus.
Middle School Socials
There are four Middle School socials throughout the year, supervised by ACDS faculty: Halloween, Winter Holidays, Valentine's Day and Graduation. The focus is on having fun with friends outside an academic setting.