Middle School: Academics
“Rigor is also a goal of developing students’ capacity to engage in challenging, complex, and real-world content.”
— Teaching What Matters Most: Standards and Strategies for Raising Student Achievement by Strong, Silver, & Perini, 2001
A rigorous curriculum in math, science, language arts and humanities prepares IMS students to be successful at the most competitive high schools in the city and around the world. One advantage of the bilingual and multicultural nature of our school is that our students become more agile learners. As they simultaneously master two “cultures” of education, they acquire essential skills that will help them navigate multicultural societies, and the tools to be successful in a wide range of educational and professional environments.
EINY provides an intimate and nurturing environment where a collaborative and caring faculty can focus on each student as an individual. Small classes allow regular communication among students, teachers, and parents to assess and assist students’ progress. French and American teachers work together to carefully construct curricula, projects, and enrichment activities tailored to the different learning needs and styles of each student. A spirit of inquiry and collaboration results from the opportunities offered by the IMS’s bilingual, dual-curriculum program.
As bilingual educators, the middle school faculty understands the importance of transferring skills and knowledge from one language to the other. If students are to take full advantage of our bilingual program, it is essential that they integrate skills acquired in one language well enough to “translate” them not only into another language but also into new contexts in useful and meaningful ways. For example, in the sixth grade, students may read the story of Ulysses and study the history of Greece in French, but are expected to use their understanding of the tale and the culture when writing an essay on the definition of a hero for their English Language Arts class.
The carefully defined French national curriculum lends an important element of structure to our middle school program while still permitting teachers to choose topics and texts appropriate to their classes. The flexible nature of the American curriculum, in turn, enables our faculty to tailor the curriculum in English to the unique needs of our students, complementing and capitalizing on the more traditional French curriculum. Themes and structures that transgress linguistic and cultural boundaries serve as points of discussion in classes in both languages, and students are expected to make interdisciplinary connections in their work.
English: Language Arts and Social Sciences
In English, students study folklore, myths, and short stories, with particular emphasis on Native American, African, and Asian cultures. Their work in social studies lend context to their literary studies by providing the historical and cultural background to these texts. Sixth-grade students begin studying the history of colonial and revolutionary America and Native Americans. They also explore poetry and theater, drawing on their knowledge of ancient cultures acquired in their French courses to read excerpts from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. Other possible texts include: Holes (Sachar), The Giver (Lowry), Favorite Folktales from Around the World (Yolen), American Indian Myths and Legends (Erdoes and Ortiz), Fever 1793 (Anderson), and My Brother Sam is Dead (Collier).
French: Language and Literature, History, and Geography
The French national curriculum in Language and Literature is closely aligned with that in History and Geography. In the sixth grade, students examine the literature and culture of the ancient world, including Greece, Rome, China, and India. They also begin an exploration of different forms of poetry and theater. Fables, folk, and fairy tales serve as models for literary elements and structures students will encounter in more advanced texts later in middle school. Possible texts include: L’Odyssée (Homère), Contes (Charles Perrault, Madame d’Aulnoy), Fables (Jean de La Fontaine), Le Médecin malgré lui (Molière). Please refer to the French National Curricula in French Language and Literature and History and Geography for more details.
English: Math and Science
The math and science program at IMS develops students’ critical thinking abilities. The rigorous and inquiry-based curricula cultivate in-depth conceptual understanding and pragmatic procedural proficiency. In mathematics and science, students are actively engaged and acquire the ability to analyze, evaluate various strategies and apply mathematical and scientific reasoning to questions, investigate patterns and relationships, and communicate solutions and conclusions.
French: Math and Science
Within the common core, mathematics is closely tied with science and technology, and mathematical language is used to describe and interpret natural phenomena. Yet these subjects also each form an autonomous intellectual discipline. The importance of factual evidence, established by reasoning, is essential and cannot be limited to mathematical formulas. The teaching of mathematics leads the pleasure of discovering for yourself the truth. Practicing mathematics encourages the use of the imagination, research, and problem-solving skills in the rigor of logic and the pleasure of discovery.
To know and understand the natural world is to observe with curiosity and critical thinking causes and effects, learn reasoning, and feel the resistance of the ever-changing world around us. This understanding allows us to act, so that science and technology move forward together. A scientific education gradually introduces major questions of ethics, including: What actions are right? And according to what criteria? What should our attitude be when we face the living world, the environment, and the health of ourselves and each other?
For further details on the French curriculum, please consult the French government site for links to the French National Curriculum at http://www.education.gouv.fr/.
Third Language: Mandarin or Spanish
IMS students spend three hours each week studying a third language. Students with a minimum of three years of Mandarin may continue their studies at the intermediate level. Other students may choose to begin Spanish. The inclusion of a third language in our curriculum reflects the IMS’s commitment to providing students with a wide range of perspectives through which to see the world. We also want students to take full advantage of their developmental stage in which their ability to learn other languages remains robust.
Students at the IMS devote two hours of class time a week to visual arts, music, and theater. These courses are taught in both French and English, and, wherever possible, integrated with the curriculum in the core subject areas. Students also have a variety of after-school enrichment activities to choose from that extend and enhance their education in these areas.
IMS students receive four hours of physical education per week. Activities may include soccer, basketball, Hip-hop dance, Zumba, or swimming. Schedule-permitting, the IMS may also organize sporting events involving other middle schools.
Support and Enrichment
At the IMS, we understand that students come to us with varied needs and interests. As a small school, we have the luxury of providing support and enrichment activities that specifically reflect our students’ diversity.
In-School ESL and FLE (Français langue étrangère, or French as a Foreign Language)
Our students come to us with varying levels of proficiency in English and French, so the IMS provides some extra support to students in either language during school hours. Depending on the child’s skill level, he/she may be pulled out of a regular class to work individually or in small groups with an ESL or FLE teacher to focus on particular skills or structures or acquire background knowledge. An ESL or FLE teacher may also join a class to provide extra support to students during a regular lesson.
The IMS encourages those parents who desire extra assistance for their child to enroll him/her in extracurricular or summer activities that complement the work done in school. New York City offers a wide variety of summer camps, both language-based and otherwise, that can help prepare students for the school year. For a list of summer language camps, click here. For a list of general day camps, click here.
After School Enrichment and Support Programs
IMS students may select from a range of after-school activities that will allow them to support their academic work or focus on extra-curricular interests. Possibilities include Robotics, Drama, Literary Magazine, Fencing, Debate, Chess, Guided Study Hall, and Standardized Test Preparation (for NYC high school entrance exams).
Weekly Advisory/Vie de classe
A bi-weekly Advisory period allows students to focus on their sense of community and self as they take part in student government. It also provides forum to address the concerns and issues specific to emerging adolescents.
Our sixth graders enhance their community spirit through various volunteer activities. IMS encourages students to work together to create a plan of action in order to implement a service project in the neighborhood under faculty direction.
A typical school day runs from 8:10 am to 3:25 pm with a 45-minute break for lunch. All periods are 50 minutes long. Twice weekly, there is an additional hour added for Physical Education, when classes end at 4:25pm. This equals up to 37 periods of class time per week for each IMS student.
The Co-founders have agreed with our IMS faculty that work completed independently outside of class time is essential to the success our students. Homework allows students to practice, prepare, and extend their learning, and is mandatory for all students attending the IMS at EINY.