The objective in grades 6-8 is to develop student fluency in the basic skills through the exploration of rich and relevant subject matter. The curriculum, teaching strategies, assessments, daily schedule, class size, and student-teacher ratios are based on research-proven developmental guidelines, and our faculty’s collective experience.
Cliff Valley is set apart by the way we turn our philosophy into action, the things we do every day with all students.
Assessment of students in grade 6-8 is ongoing and performance-based, assuring that each student can apply new knowledge and skills independently and with mastery. Results are used in formative ways to provide insight to current progress and guidance for future learning and growth. Teachers assess student learning through observation, projects, writing, and program assessments such as unit quizzes and tests. In addition, student growth is measured using outside assessments such as independent reading inventories and standardized testing. Standardized tests are used to assess student achievement and our educational programs. Results of all assessments are communicated regularly with parents.
Our students in grades 6-8 take team-building trips that challenge them individually and bring them together as a class. They serve on steering committees to organize blood drives and other school-wide events. They work with younger students on environmental education projects and literacy activities, giving them the opportunity to act as mentors and role models.
Communication with Parents
Parents receive regular feedback from teachers regarding their child’s classes and progress. Weekly updates from teachers let parents know what has happened and what to expect in terms of academics and curriculum, while a weekly individualized progress update lets parents know how their child has done in class. All of this information is communicated via my Cliff Valley, our secure school website, and there through the Friday Folder which travels between the school and home each week to serve as a communication tool between parents and teachers.
Student Community and School Spirit
Students develop bonds and build community within their classrooms throughout the year, but they also have opportunities to participate in, contribute to, and build the community and school spirit throughout the entire school. Friday assemblies bring all students K-8 together for cheering, sharing, presenting, singing, and acknowledging one another – a special time to build community and school spirit. There are reading buddies and lunch buddies between classes at all levels. This allows older students to act as mentors and role models for younger students, while giving the younger students some special “big kid” friendships.
While each classroom at Cliff Valley is unique, the teaching teams establish a daily class schedule. In general, morning activities include warm-up activities and/or centers, language arts, math, a snack break, and recess. Following lunch, afternoon activities include science, social studies, and enrichment classes.
Cliff Valley School uses differentiated instruction to meet the variety of students’ academic needs that exist in every classroom. Differentiated instruction is a process by which teachers assess and identify students’ readiness, interests, and learning preferences in order to tailor instruction to meet those needs. Through small group instruction, teachers use differentiation by adjusting the content – what they are teaching, the process – how they are teaching, pacing, and assessments in order to challenge students appropriately and allow them to demonstrate their learning in a variety of ways.
Field Trips and other Education Experiences
Throughout the school year, students have many opportunities to enrich their studies by taking field trips. Teachers thoughtfully seek out museums, performances, exhibits, and locations that relate to the topic of study and enhance students’ learning by providing a meaningful field experience. Guest speakers, workshops, visiting poets and authors are other interesting and engaging educational experiences for students that help them make connections between their background knowledge, what they are learning in class, and the real world applications of their learning. In the spring students take overnight trips - past locations include Georgia barrier islands, Puerto Rico, Spain, and Washington D.C.
Cliff Valley’s 6-8 program, based on research and best practices, is designed to meet the academic, social, and emotional needs of adolescent learners. Structurally, the model of two to three teachers per class and small group instruction continue in grades 6-8, and all teachers in grades 6-8 work as a team to plan learning activities. Teachers at this level are also content area specialists for the subjects they teach.