Middle School Electives

Art

The Branch School Middle School Art Program emphasizes exploration. Using the elements of art and the principles of design as a framework, students investigate a variety of experiences and concepts. Students explore various two-dimensional and three-dimensional art media using a variety of expressive and technical approaches. Students begin to understand the factors that distinguish artistic styles which clarify the role of art in American culture. Through critical examination, the students will determine how artists convey meaning using forms, media, and symbols. Students will test and develop their own ideas regarding the nature of art and will encounter philosophical and ethical questions. Upon the successful completion of our visual arts curriculum, students will possess the skills that will allow them to evaluate the effects of various influences on the discipline of the visual arts:

  • Create original works of art.
  • Look at, critique, and respond to works of art.
  • Demonstrate self-expression.
  • Identify spatial relationships.
  • Identify and use primary and secondary colors and natural and man-made color.
  • Classify objects by using color, texture, line, shape and pattern.

Coding

Students develop an introductory level in coding. They learn how to create webpages using HTML. They also learn the basics in JavaScript, Python and CSS, along with using Scratch. Students learn different programming languages such as binary and ASCII code. Students investigate and engage in the coding behind everyday programming including Windows, Mac, tablet and IOS devices. Students examine code on websites and create and modify their own websites using ideas from current sites.

Engineering Everywhere/Robotics

Engineering Everywhere is a program of the Boston Museum of Science.It includes lessons in Agricultural, Biomechanical, Chemical, Mechanical, Environmental and Green Engineering. Engineering is found all around us. Students investigate topics including:

  • Vertical Farms
  • Prosthetic Tails
  • Bioplastics
  • Insulated Homes
  • Safety Helmets
  • Ice Cream
  • Urban Landscapes

In robotics, guided by National Standards for Robotics Engineering Technology Education and the Next Generation Science Standards, students experience STEM education using an inquiry approach to problem solving with robotics. Mission challenges require students to use and develop skills in:

  • Inquiry, Observing, Measuring
  • Personal and Social Consciousness involving Science and Technology.
  • Teamwork and Problem Solving
  • Time Management
  • Programming

Students are provided with interactive learning through Lego Mindstorms NXT robotics kits. Developed at MIT, the Mindstorms are one of the best teaching tools for programming and engineering concepts available for children. These exciting robots feature state-of-the-art ultrasonic sensors, servo motors, Bluetooth technology, and more. Children explore the fundamentals of programming and engineering while using technology, mathematics, science, teamwork, and problem-solving skills.

Public Speaking

Public Speaking class gives students an opportunity to practice and feel comfortable speaking in front of an audience. Through practical application and classroom simulations students will demonstrate greater ease, confidence, and skill when engaging with an audience. Students learn practical implications for speaking in public, as well as learning to communicate a clear and concise thought process and message in a natural manner.

 

General types of Speeches students will use to express themselves include:

          Informative

          Persuasive

          Entertainment

          Special Occasions

 

Using traditional and creative means, students will explore the Why and How’s in preparation of speech making.

Technology

Middle school students learn best when they are actively engaged with the content. Lessons that include technology applications provide teachers with ways to motivate students into becoming active, real-world learners. Computer-based strategies help students develop higher-order thinking and problem-solving skills. Participation in real-life applications included in technology-rich teaching environments promotes the ability to draw analogies, infer relationships, predict outcomes, and analyze data. In the middle school, students have one formal technology class per week and learn skills that are used in cross-curricular classes. Each student also has their own laptop which they use daily.

Some of our technology class highlights include:

  • ·         Online safety and how to be a good digital citizen
  • ·         Keyboarding
  • ·         Website creation: Weebly, HTML, CSS
  • ·         3D modeling and printing
  • ·         Publishing podcasts
  • ·         Databases
  • ·         Microsoft Office
  • ·         Film production: Students learn how to understand demographics of a target audience and industry basics.
  • ·         Stop motion animation
  • ·         Marketing: Students also learn to market and brand a product.
  • ·         Graphic design
  • ·         Adobe Photoshop
  • ·         Sound projects
  • ·         Robotics

Theater

In our Theater class, students participate in the process of a full theatrical production. Students gain a greater understanding and awareness of the integral components of theater, its history, stage components, types of stages, and terminology.

 

Through various theater games and exercises, acting techniques, demonstrations, discussions, and lectures, students acquire skills and abilities not only specific to theatre and acting, but also to life skills that can be used throughout their life time in whatever career choice they make.  These skills include, but are not exclusive to: greater confidence, the ability to think on one’s feet, see things from another person’s point of view or perspective, and engage in critical thinking and problem solving, as well as learn to work with others (collaboration).  Other important skills involve vocal projection, diction, pace, and intonation. Through learning all of these abilities, students are able to present themselves before an audience with confidence.

Yearbook

Students in our Yearbook class work with Jostens to create a beautiful Yearbook presentation. This is a project-based class where students work collaboratively to create our school yearbook. They use technology such as digital cameras, iPads, photo editing software and Adobe InDesign to produce the Yearbook. Students learn how to use graphic design to put together a pleasing layout. Each student needs to use their writing skills, communication skills and artistic skills to tell a story about our school and how we all work together as a community. Students are given assignments that need to be completed in a timely manner, so they learn essential time-management skills.  They map out a timeline for the project, set and meet deadlines, track goals and communicate well with team members to ensure that goals are met.                  

Collaboration is very important to the success of a creative Yearbook. This project requires a team that works well together in order to accomplish the finished product. Students learn communication skills in order to get their ideas across. They learn to express their thoughts and make compromises in order to achieve their goals. So that all students understand each process, individuals learn how to inform and persuade others to see their point of view and keep team members aware of progress that has been made and places where deadlines still need to be met. Being on the Yearbook staff promotes innovation, creative thinking and risk taking. Creating layouts, taking photos, problem solving, researching, and brainstorming creative ideas are some of the many activities that students participate in when working on the Yearbook team.