Academics

Middle School

The Middle School division includes grades five through eight.

The Sycamore Middle School program serves academically gifted young adolescents and provides them opportunities to branch out from their experiences in the lower grades. Students move from class to class and receive instruction from many teachers.
The program is rigorous and both accelerated and enriched in a manner specifically differentiated for gifted learners. A main focus of the program is learning to develop personal responsibility and find a balance between independence and reliance upon adults for guidance and limits.

The Middle School curriculum is designed to meet the special needs of gifted and talented adolescents as they develop their increasing ability for complex thought. In a more typical middle school environment with a broader mission, curriculum and academic requirements may not be sufficiently challenging to provide for intellectual growth and the development of effective study skills and habits. Sycamore’s Middle School curriculum is designed to give students a solid foundation for further study and enables them to function as autonomous learners. At Sycamore, subjects do not exist as completely separate entities, but overlap and interrelate as the student begins to make greater sense of the larger world. In addition to laying the foundation for future learning, the curriculum develops students’ abilities to think critically, evaluate, communicate effectively, reason, solve problems, and value the diverse viewpoints, heritages, and experiences of others.

Students receive daily instruction in history, language arts, mathematics, and science. Math classes are grouped across grade levels according to students’ level of skill and concept development. All students are expected to complete a year of high school algebra. Advanced students have the opportunity to take geometry and algebra II. Special classes meet between one to three periods per week and include art, computer technology, physical education, and Spanish. Students may choose to participate in instrumental music and/or choir. Sycamore Middle School students may participate in many after school activities, including a full range of sports, drama, and various academic competitions.

Service projects, speakers, trips, and other enrichment opportunities enhance the educational program. In the 2014-2015 school year, Middle School students will take overnight trips to Chicago, Culver, the Florida Keys, the Smoky Mountains, and Washington D.C., as well as day trips to various sites within the state of Indiana.

FLEX Classes

Built into the academic week are three 20-minute FLEX periods in which students may participate in a variety of activities of their choice. Students may choose two FLEX activities five times a year. Offerings have included academic competition, board games, board games, boys/girls sports, bridge, chess, euchre, Jazz Band, math help, poetry, recess, Science Olympiad, juggling, study hall, video announcements, and yearbook.

Goals

Sycamore’s goals for its Middle School students are an extension of the goals for the Lower School. In order to address the needs of the gifted adolescent, the Sycamore Middle School program also seeks to provide:

  • A rigorous academic curriculum in all disciplines, specifically designed for academically gifted students, which leads to the development of a strong knowledge base and mastery of basic academic skills as well as critical and creative thinking abilities 
  • Integration of subject matter in a stimulating, dynamic curriculum that is responsive to the needs of academically gifted students 
  • Opportunities for choice of activity and/or area of study through the overall curriculum, instrumental and vocal music programs, flex-time activities, athletic teams, and extracurricular activities 
  • An opportunity for students to be with gifted peers in an atmosphere where being smart and interested in learning is the norm 
  • Supportive contact with staff members who have experience working with adolescents and meet regularly to coordinate programs for students 
  • A nurturing environment that guarantees that no child is anonymous or “slips through the cracks” 
  • Appropriate behavioral guidelines that promote the feeling of security needed by all adolescents and increase opportunity for the development of personal responsibility and independence 
  • An opportunity for the development of leadership skills, ethical behavior, understanding of adolescence, and tolerance of diversity 
  • Frequent communication between teachers and parents

Middle School Class Hours

Monday – Thursday: 8:05AM – 3:20PM
Friday: 8:05 – 2:20PM

Library Hours

Monday – Thursday: Library closes at 4:30PM
Friday: Library closes at 3:30PM

For more information, contact Jamie Macdougall, Head of Middle School.

Advisory Groups

The purpose of the Sycamore Advisor/Advisee program is to make connections and build meaningful relationships with students. Advisors are charged with being champions for their advisees, possessing a holistic understanding of how each advisee operates and serving as a mentor.

Each student is assigned to an advisor, who is typically a full-time facutly member in the Middle School. That advisor works with a particular student over the entire course of the student’s experience in Middle School. In all, each adult has 7-10 advisees that they meet with in varying iterations: every morning from 8:05-8:12, every Monday from 11:50-12:10, and three times a year for 20-minute one-on-one meetings. The extended meetings are used to discuss individual goals and plans. During the morning and Mondays meetings, the entire advisory group meets to discuss topics and work on projects. The groups are single grade level and will, barring any major need for change, remain in tact for grades 5-8.

  • Give students practice articulating their feelings and concerns thus improving communication and social skills
  • Help students gain self-awareness to help them make better decisions, solve problems, and cope more effectively with their environment, strengths, and limitations
  • Help students learn that while everyone is unique, gifted adolescents have much in common with each other
Among the topics discussed include organization skills, study habits, decision-making, friendships, behavior in social settings, peer groups, leadership, service, coping with stress, conflict resolution, goal setting, high school selection, Internet usage, reducing stress, and time management.