In Middle School, technology exposure and experience increases as students learn specific application skills within the classroom as part of preparing for a unit, whether it is learning how to use NoodleTools for bibliographies in humanities, Geometer SketchPad for math, or Finale NotePad in music.
Fifth grade still has its technology class, which focuses on building computing skills and deepening the integration of these skills into the learning experience. However, in grades 6–8, interaction with the technology specialist is reduced, though technology exposure and experience does not diminish.
In fifth grade, deeper analysis, synthesis, and incorporation are focal themes that drive the interdisciplinary curriculum. The class aims to integrate technology into all core disciplines of fifth grade and to equip students with the technology skills they need to succeed and thrive in Middle School.
The fifth-grade curriculum also acquaints students with patterns of procedural thinking necessary for more advanced work. Skills emphasized include research, organization, email/Internet safety and ethics, advanced word processing, spreadsheet creation and graphing, programming, and the creation of multimedia projects for audiences other than oneself.
Students also learn keys to effective Internet research and hone their ability to discern reliable (and unreliable) Web sources. Fifth graders also make extensive use of the iLife suite (iPhoto, iMovie, GarageBand) to create their own podcasts and videos.
Students complete several multimedia projects, both individually and collaboratively. In the Dream Vacation project, students research the culture and geography of their dream vacation spot while learning Adobe photo-editing tools. In the Mystery Adjective project, students choose an adjective and create a soundtrack and video that conveys its meaning.
In the With Great Power assignment, the class brainstorms both positive and negative uses of electronic-communications technology. After posting their brainstormed ideas, students work with partners to create a brief presentation, detailing the positives and negatives of each communications technology, and present their findings to the class.
Students work with Scratch to create interactive games and animations and learn about programming concepts such as iteration, conditionals, and variables. They use Animation-ish to create animations that illustrate the Nueva experience from a student's point of view. After posting a first version of their animation, students iterate their animation based on peer feedback.
Students use Microsoft Excel for an integrated math and technology lesson in which they create budgets for future estimated expenses and make pie charts to graphically illustrate their results.
Within each class in grades 6–8, computing-technology proficiency is an expected outcome as a result of the different projects and units students are engaged in. For example, within programming classes, expectations for student learning are that
- students are proficient in both descriptive and imperative programming languages.
- students can produce Web pages and Web applications from scratch.
- students recognize the central role of simulation in computer programming, understanding that almost all disciplines now rely on computer models.
- students understand limitations of computer programs and programming languages.
- students are able to think algorithmically and understand how algorithmic thinking is central to computer programming.
- all nontrivial algorithms require alternate paths of execution depending on the value of Boolean expressions.
Middle School students are also expected to create digital portfolios of work as part of their normal classroom experience. Examples of digital work include the following:
- Composing a similarity and difference analysis in writing class between two characters in Word or Pages.
- Using Geometer SketchPad in math to explore geometric shapes, patterns, and measurements.
- Recording frame-by-frame movements of clay figures in art class using iStop Motion Pro to create a stop-motion-animation film.
- Capturing time-lapse photographs for seedling experiments in biology.
- Using Rosetta Stone to practice Spanish.
- Editing video presentations regarding a Shakespearean play in humanities.
- Reviewing code in the Java Programming elective to ensure games work as expected.
Teachers assess progress through numerous programming projects and summative tests to determine whether they have mastered the concepts and lexicon of computer programming. For a capstone project in programming class, children identify a problem to solve, or task to accomplish in the real world, and write an application to aid in the solution or task completion.