Our Schools & Faculty
Middle School is a crucial time in a student’s life - the years of foundational education provided in primary school culminate in three years of more focused preparation for high school and higher education. At Next Generation, students experience this important time in their lives in small classes with teachers who know them well, both academically and personally. The atmosphere and academic nature of our program has a profound effect on the lives of our students. Being continually challenged to think critically and explore limitless possibilities, our students are well prepared for the challenges that await them in higher education and beyond.
Our Middle School faculty consists of dedicated, experienced teachers. They understand and appreciate the unique complexities of middle school students and are passionate about encouraging and teaching students who are progressing through this stage of life. They teach classes within their own areas of specialization and work collaboratively to integrate the curriculum and maximize student potential and learning.
Students in Middle School experience:
The goals of the Middle School Mathematics Program are to empower our students to think logically about solving problems, to develop their organization and communication skills and to prepare them for higher-level mathematics. To accomplish these goals, our curriculum exceeds state and national content standards, while also being largely process-oriented and focused on problem-solving strategies.
The program is organized around the following sequence of courses: Math in Focus: The Singapore Approach Level 6, Pre-Algebra, Algebra and Advanced Mathematics.
At Next Generation our belief is that middle school mathematics should help students learn to value mathematics and become more confident in their ability to do mathematics. It should also help foster better problem solvers and provide students with the tools to be able to communicate mathematically and to reason mathematically. Emphasis is placed on developing a solid understanding of concepts and applying them in meaningful contexts. We recognize that students differ in terms of their conceptual development and that development is not an even process for all individuals. To meet all students where they are, we incorporate a variety of methods, including hands-on activities, cooperative learning tasks, problem solving, projects and technology.
Being adept in the fields of science and engineering is critical. Because of the content, curricular goals, and investigative nature of our Middle School Science Program, our students are challenged to explore and excel in these areas.
The Department of Education recently reviewed curriculum materials and identified seven as exemplary or promising. At Next Generation School, we utilize and integrate portions from each set of these materials in addition to experimental lab-based curriculum. The caliber and maturity of our students enables us to cover a school-year's worth of material in about half a year. This leaves time to explore topics in greater depth. For example, after completing an in-depth study of electricity, students further explored electronics and created an autonomous robot, which involved soldering a circuit board, programming an EPROM chip using a BASIC compiler, and cutting, bending, and fabricating a metal chassis.
ENGLISH AND LANGUAGE ARTS
In the Middle School, students are immersed more deeply into literature, writing, grammar, and research. To meet the individual needs of our students, we provide direct instruction of skills and strategies to improve comprehension and writing. Application of these skills occurs through literature groups and writing assignments. Our flexible curriculum continuously evolves as we assess the needs and interests of our students. Challenging and enriching assignments engage students at every level, leaving them well-prepared to meet the demands of the most rigorous secondary school curricula.
Students will learn about people and explore events that helped shaped our world into what it is today. They engage in critical thinking activities and inquiry exercises designed to help them learn how to form opinions about important issues and apply their understanding of the past to modern-day topics. Within the courses, units are centered around a series of essential questions so students learn how to organize their thinking and evaluate what is important to understand about each era. Sixth grade focuses on world history, seventh grade explores the beginning of United States history through 1876, and eighth grade studies modern American history from 1876 to the present.
The curriculum for students at Next Generation integrates the visual arts with history, social sciences, literature, math and science. Each art lesson is intended to enhance curricular learning objectives through a creative, hands-on approach. Students will explore different media, including, but not limited to: sculpture, textiles, watercolor, acrylic paint, printmaking, drawing, and collage.
The focus of the Fine Arts Program is to concentrate on creative expression more than the actual art product. We encourage the students to find their ideas in the world around them and to interpret those ideas through experimentation with media and tools in the classroom.
FRENCH AND SPANISH: LEVELS I, II, and III
The goals and objectives of the Foreign Language Program are to develop proficiency skills in reading, writing, listening, and speaking, as well as to develop cultural sensitivity. Students will also explore different aspects of French or Spanish cultures through various activities such as cooking, watching film, and virtual trips to Spanish and French-speaking countries. Children flourish under the instruction of our foreign language instructors and are able to rise to the challenge presented in these high school level courses.
The goals of the Performing Arts Program embody the Next Generation School philosophy that education in music and dance is essential to nurturing the cognitive, physical, social and emotional growth of children. Through musical and movement activities, students are empowered with a sense of joy, creative independence, self-worth, openness and confidence.
Our yearly goals significantly exceed Illinois state curricular goals. Students learn the elements of music and music theory; they also develop an understanding of rhythm, coordination and melody by participating in percussion studies, choreography, and voice instruction.
The physical education program provides a kinesthetic learning environment in which students can develop their physical, social, and cognitive skills. For the benefits of exercise and physical activity to be fully realized, students have daily physical education classes. Students are introduced to a range of individual and team sports and fitness activities.
Our program is based on the National Standards for Physical Development, emphasizing three learning areas: fitness and wellness, basic movement skills and concepts, and movement forms. Fitness concepts are presented in each unit, with fitness tests conducted at the beginning and end of the school year. These concepts are presented through both physical activity and classroom projects. Movement skills, concepts, and forms are presented simultaneously and through a variety of teaching styles. We also emphasize the importance of life-long fitness and wellness. Our curricular goals include teaching students the components of fitness and their relationship to physical activity and wellness.