Cougar Middle School:
6th – 8th Grade
At Clariden, we believe in empowering our students to use their voice. It takes the right atmosphere with the right educators to help students love to learn and to feel empowered throughout their academic career. Our award-winning, project-based learning environment promotes creativity and academic excellence. Students engage in a variety of projects throughout the school year and content time that meet and exceed state standards aligning with TEKS. Projects are supported through content time which promote an application of learning. Middle School content time includes concentrated classes in Math, Language Arts, Philosophy, History, Life Science, Earth Science & Physical Science, Theater, Foreign Language, Community Outreach, STEM, and College Prep. Projects are tied to real life issues which enable students to understand the significance of what they are learning. Projects are supported through instruction from teachers, mentors, experts, field study, and travel.
Projects bring all our learning together around a common question with a real-world application. Project-based learning also simulates the way problems are solved in the workforce: through team effort, exploration, testing, analysis, and conclusions. Middle School students engage in 6-7 projects per school year. Projects provide for the application of concepts taught and acquisition of skills such as collaboration, creativity, oral communication, and critical analysis. Each project comes with what we call the “Project 411.” This document outlines the goals, methods, lessons, timeline and assessments associated with the project. This method of teaching allows us to provide something above and beyond what traditional models of education typically provide.
- Driving Question — What Are We Looking to Solve?
- Learning Outcomes
- Concepts Introduced
- Technology Introduced
- Field Study
- Work Product / Assessment
- Competition (when applicable)
What’s Inside: From the worm to a nurse shark, the inner workings of living things are a constant subject of exploration. Our students do a number of dissections in addition to their field study. Clariden middle school students are actively engaged in weekly labs, including dissections. This year, they traveled to the Florida Everglades to further extend their studies bringing them hands-on with the habitats they’ve studied.
Aviation: Students will explore the science and math behind flight, as well as how flight is used in technology today. From paper airplanes to drones, students will discover every facet and come away with a greater understanding of the advancement of aviation. Students will also gain an understanding of engineering while following specific guidelines to build, present, and launch a working rocket for a panel of experts.
Catch the Fever: Students will explore how communicable diseases emerge and their impact on our society. Students learn how medicine has evolved to prevent the spread of disease, how disease has impacted public health infrastructures, and study the evolution of microorganisms.
Graphic Novel: Does a picture really speak 1000 words? Students will study how graphic art spans across genres of design and will learn to identify which elements are used most effectively in specific materials to accomplish the purpose and reach the intended target audience.
Middle school students have daily “Content Time,” as we call it. This time is different than their project time. Content time gives the student focused time on single subjects like Math, Language Arts, Social Studies, and Science. All of our curriculum in these areas meets and exceeds State standards, known as TEKS. Students delve into STEAM works to develop their Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math skills. They learn about civilizations and the customs, laws, and arts that define a society’s contribution to humanity. They study the detailed parts of our language that enable us to communicate effectively through spoken and written words. The main difference in our approach is that our small class sizes enable us to go beyond the standard worksheet. Some lessons are given in group format, while others are given one-on-one with a student. The goal is to meet the student where they are and keep them constantly challenged. In our school, if a student quickly gains mastery of a lesson, they are encouraged to keep going to the next level — there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. When a student needs to stay with a lesson a little longer, we keep them fueled with a variety of ways of looking at the information: from visual, to hands-on, to reviewing face-to-face, because we know students have different learning styles.
- Art & Design
- Character Education
- English Language Arts
- Physical Education
- Social Studies
- STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math)
- Study Skills / Keyboarding
- National Junior Honor Society
- Student Council
- Odyssey of the Mind
- Drama / Theatre
- Film Club
STEAM Examples & Competitions
Middle School students have a daily STEAM class. STEAM is the acronym Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math — which goes beyond STEM to emphasize the design skills needed for real-world product development, packaging, marketing and more. This class combines students from 6th, 7th, and 8th grades onto project teams. This way, mentoring can occur and teams can make sure they have all the skills needed for each of the disciplines. STEAM is a graded class. Students spend weeks doing research, documentation, design, prototyping, testing and data analysis. The projects culminate in either a Presentation of Learning, where the teams present their research and their findings along with their report and build submissions, or in a Competition, in which their engineering notebooks, builds, etc are judged in Regional, State and National/International levels.
VEX IQ Robotics Competition
STEAM Project Example
VEX Robotics’ VEX IQ Squared Away Competition is designed to challenge students to build, program and compete with their robot to complete a number of challenges. “Two robots compete as an alliance in 60-second long teamwork challenge matches, working collaboratively to score points. Teams also compete in two additional challenges: The Driving Skills challenge, where one robot scores as many points as possible under driver control; and the Programming Skills Challenge where one robot scores as many points as possible autonomously, without any driver inputs.” Learn more about the challenge here
- 2019-2020 VEX IQ Excellence Award & State Finalist – Middle School Team
- 2018-2019 Clariden’s Middle School All-Girls Team Ranked 4th Place at VEX Robotics Competition.
United States Super STEM Competition (USSSC)
STEAM Project Example
The USSSC “is an educational non-profit organization running a yearly event to challenge the creative mind of all middle school, high school and college students.” The competition is open to both US and International students. There are multiple divisions in which teams can compete. Each year, Clariden selects one of the divisions and then students work to build their entry as part of their STEAM PBL. The project is graded as part of the STEAM class and entry in the competition follows.
For 2019, Clariden’s middle school team was awarded 1st place at the United States Super STEM Competition (USSSC). The team participated in the Clean Energy division where the goal was “to produce the fastest spinning wind turbine.” The middle school team won with a score of 12.44V, which beat the 2018 winner’s score. Clariden’s Past Results:
- 2019 National 1st Place Winner: Clean Energy Division – Super Wind Turbine
- 2018 National 1st Place Winner: Biomimicry Division – Super Umbrella
- 2017 National 1st Place Winner: Architecture Division – Tiny Houses
The American Rocketry Challenge (TARC)
STEAM Project Example
The America Rocketry Challenge (TARC) is an annual national competition. Clariden students work to build a rocket from scratch and have it complete a number of challenges laid out by the competition. Clariden’s Results:
Students experience a variety of art forms from theater, music, graphic design, to fine arts in our state of the art facilities.Read More
Students learn how to fuel their bodies in order to fuel their minds. Exercise, healthy habits, and safety training are all part of it.Read More
Our goal is to help our students find their voice and respect the voice of others. Our Cougar Pride is ingrained in all our curriculum.Read More
After School Clubs
Our extra-curricular activities expand upon the skills built in class and provide further opportunities for students to explore and try new things in a fun, social environment.Read More
We believe travel is an integral part of building independence, expanding our world view and deepening our knowledge through hands-on study.Read More
We offer personalized college prep counseling. This includes testing prep, scholarship research, application help & overall mentoring.Read More
We do not teach to the test. The Clariden School is a private school and does not receive State funding. Therefore, our school is not required to take the State standardized tests and we do not build our days and weeks around testing. Instead, we leverage a number of other national assessment tools. We work to keep a relaxed atmosphere around standardized testing so the students learn healthy approaches to assessment. At The Clariden School, we do not use one assessment tool to determine admissions. We are interested in knowing as much as we can about each student. It is our goal to create learning experiences and environments that promote the overall development of each student. Students receive report cards two times per year along with NWEA benchmark assessments to measure progress. This ensures grade level content is covered and mastered. Students also take the PSAT in 8th grade.