As students progress into the higher grades at Sage, the goal of our program is to inform and inspire, to allow students to find their voice and passion, to help students demonstrate the mastery of their skills and attributes, to celebrate the interdisciplinary connections, and to gain ownership of their learning. Our advanced curriculum is typically a few years ahead of other middle school programs. Students learn in either small flexible groups that offer support and provide challenge, and they have weekly opportunities to debate, design, experiment, or present in front of their whole class. Starting in Grade 6, students begin taking Latin, as well as study computer science (programming, circuitry, web design, digital citizenship). In the arts, fifth and sixth graders participate in weekly grade-level classes of visual and performing arts and music, as well as choose elective courses to take twice a week. All students use portable technology in our 1:1 program. We focus on the development of skills and habits necessary for success in secondary school and beyond while consistently engaging our students in a challenging curriculum.
Through shared engagement with peers in a challenging, yet developmentally-appropriate setting, early adolescents at Sage feel comfortable with their talents at a vulnerable time in their development. The Sage School’s thoughtful advisory program, travel away from campus, small student-teacher ratio, afterschool programming, inherent opportunities for leadership. Indeed, our graduates attend some of the most prestigious independent schools in New England and outstanding public high schools.
In these years, students are encouraged to think systematically and to draw connections within a given discipline or across disciplines. While there are many opportunities to practice these skills daily, our pride is the STEAM Expo, an interdisciplinary long-term project, planned and executed by faculty from all the departments – STEM, Humanities, Arts and Languages. Throughout two tri-mesters, students build upon the experiences and the skills acquired during their earlier years at Sage.
The teaching of reading, writing, and history is integrated at The Sage School in the interdisciplinary teaching of humanities. Students read literature that was written during or connecting to the historical period about which they are learning, bringing both literature and history alive and reflecting the reality that literature both emanates from and influences the time period in which it was written. We realize that teaching is most powerful when “good teachers join self and subject and students in the fabric of life.” Thus, a caring, skilled, passionate teacher remains the essential component of humanities teaching.
The reading instruction at Sage uses the Teachers College Reading and Writing program Units of Study as its foundation. All students’ reading is assessed at least three times during the year using the Fountas and Pinnell running records. Reading instruction is given through Reader’s Workshop in which reading strategies are explicitly taught, students engage immediately in practicing those strategies, and then students transfer the use of those strategies to their own independent reading through immediate practice. Benchmarks for writing are from the three writing rubrics in the Units of study: narrative, informational, and argumentative. Our writing curriculum spirals from basic skills to advanced.
Our social studies program combines the study of civics, geography, and history. Students are challenged to view themselves in relation to their peers, their communities, society, and the global community. Learning standards guide the progression of skills.
 Palmer, Parker. The Courage to Teach.
Students in Grades 5-8 work with the artificial intelligence web-based learning system, ALEKS, to supplement, inform, and support the traditional math instruction; this program enables each student to move at an individualized pace. ALEKS (McGraw-Hill Education) provides data for each child through online work, and this data determines student groupings and topics for small-group instruction. Students continue to receive teacher-based instruction and are required to put pencil to paper. Skills-based teaching will focus on closing identified gaps, and concept-based instruction will help students place skills in context. They will be challenged to develop their own algorithms to algebraic problems and use technology to explore higher level mathematics.
Projects such as the creation of geometric solids, mathematical modeling, and science related math, allow students to connect mathematics to other disciplines. Contest-based learning includes Noetic Learning Math Contest (Grades 5-8), American Math Competition (Grades 7 and 8), New England Math League (Grades 5-8), and Mathcounts! (Grades 5-8 after school).
The Middle School curriculum builds on skills and content that were acquired in the early years. The goal is that by the end of the 8th grade students are able to demonstrate independence in the science class and in the steps of the scientific, design, and engineering processes.
These are years full of connections to timely global problems, with the goal to identify some solutions and to be able to have a personal influence in the world.
Other specific goals are:
- To be able to connect several scientific disciplines (life science, environmental science, physics and chemistry) and to recognize key concepts that transect them (form fits function, matter and energy conversion, systems, etc).
- To continue and develop passion and interest in STEAM and other interdisciplinary areas through passion projects, independent reading, and interaction with professionals.
Each year has a thematic driving question that allows us to teach all scientific disciplines in a given year and connects to crosses other disciplines, such as arts, social studies, Spanish and math. Often, professionals are brought into the classroom (live or virtually), either as guests or as mentors on research projects, and case studies. In these years the students are exposed weekly to a spiraling computer science and programming curriculum.
¡De parte de los profesores de Español, bienvenidos a La Escuela Sage!
On behalf of the Spanish faculty, welcome to The Sage School.
At Sage we aim to create learners who not only enjoy language study, but who are also well prepared to actively apply their Spanish skills to communicate with others in real-world situations. Languages were developed, after all, for the primary purpose of communication.
From Grade 6 onward, Spanish classes meet daily with a dual emphasis on both proficiency and accuracy. Our middle-school-aged students are comfortable navigating (near-) immersion language classes to not only learn new content, but to communicate their needs and interests.
This emphasis on using the target language for communication and seeking to connect with other cultures and people are important to Spanish study at Sage and the skills we aim to foster in our students. When individuals study a second (or third, or fourth) language, they are learning much more than simply vocabulary and verb conjugations. At its core, language study aims to develop habits and skills as tolerance of ambiguity, empathy, critical thinking, persistence, perspective, risk-taking, and intercultural competence – all skills that today’s youth will need as they set off to change the world.
. . . ubi autem humilitas, ibi et sapientia.
. . . but where humility is, there also is wisdom.
We have three main reasons for teaching Latin at Sage:
(1) To help put students in touch with their roots (as speakers of English, Spanish, and other modern languages; as students of the arts and sciences; as U.S. citizens, etc.)
(2) To help them become better listeners and readers (more attentive to linguistic detail, willing to take greater pains to hear what another person has to say, etc.)
(3) To provide them with another outlet for disciplined, creative self-expression.
Students at Sage begin their formal study of Latin in Grade 6. Our three-year curriculum covers most of the material presented in a standard first-semester college course, or first-year high school course, though we depart from standard introductions to Latin in our emphasis on poetry and original composition. We also use our own textbook, The Sage School Latin Album, printed in-house and available to every student online.
Graduates of our Latin program are expected to enter high school with the motivation and confidence to “branch out” as language learners (see family tree below). Whether this means learning another Romance language (in addition to Spanish), exploring another classical language (such as Ancient Greek or Sanskrit), or becoming more sophisticated readers of Latin literature, their three years of Latin at Sage should serve as an excellent foundation. Latin classes meet twice a week.
The Arts Department at Sage believes in the importance of constructivism and the application of real world influences. Simply put, art is a representation of an opinion, an expression, and is personal to the artist. We want our students to experience all forms of the arts and techniques found in each discipline and apply these tools to their work. This is particularly of importance to gifted students because they are continuously making connections between their world and the world around them. The arts also provide a safe space for gifted children to step outside of their comfort zone and try something new. They learn to embrace “mistakes” and turn an idea that at first doesn’t seem like a good one into an explosion of possibility.
We teach about the importance of process over product and how to navigate through the creative process. By focusing on the eight Artist Habits of Mind (Engage and Persist, Develop Craft, Stretch and Explore, Envision, Observe, Express, Reflect, and Understand the Art World) they are able to build personal connections to their work while intrinsically making interdisciplinary and collaborative connections.
As students enter the fifth grade they are introduced to the arts elective program and, along with the sixth grade, take one arts elective each term in addition to their general music, performing and visual art classes. Some of these electives include, Acting, Garageband, and Jewelry Design.
Grades 7-8 choose two arts electives. Past elective choices include:
Performing Arts – Acting, Improvisation, Musical Production Design, Method Acting, Directing, Playwriting, Dance, Movie Trailers, Musical Theater
Music – Music in Movies, Chorus, Audio Remixing and DJing, Chamber Music, Creating a Radio Show, Acoustical Physics, Instrument Building, Music History, Songwriting
Visual Art – Drawing, Painting, Yearbook, 3D Art, Printmaking, Digital Photography, Ceramics, Graphic Design
The overarching philosophy in physical education in grades 5-8 is:
- Learn how to be a productive member of a group or team when working in competitive and cooperative environments
- Develop an understanding of fundamental sports concepts and implement these concepts in a multitude of games
- Refine sports skills and implement the skills during small- and large-sided games
- Develop an appreciation of being physically active and how this contributes to a person’s well-being
Be able to partake in a variety of different physical activities
Each unit will combine locomotor movements, movement patterns, spatial skills, and sport skills and tactics.