Middle
School

FPO

At Nueva, the middle school years are an exciting time, when students in grades 5–8 find their voice and discover how they can impact the world. This is a gangly, growing, gleeful time. This is a period of their lives characterized by enormous expansion of their view of themselves and their place in the world.

Middle School is an important transitional time for any student, and we understand and embrace gifted learners who are curious, thoughtful, and adaptable.

Nueva provides them with an experience that meets them where they are, turning the forces at work on their bodies and minds into creative energy that unleashes ideas, passions, and most importantly, the confidence to become resourceful thinkers, problem-solvers, and intellectual risk-takers. This occurs in a community that values inclusion, empathic collaboration, and supportive care of all members.

The Nueva Way at the Middle School

The Nueva Way — Nueva’s constructivist, project-based approach — engages Middle School students with authentic, real-world, and interesting problems to solve. Teachers collaborate extensively across subject areas to deliver rigorous intellectual challenges that students crave. As the semester unfolds, Nueva faculty are always adding or amending lines of inquiry or projects in response to students’ interests, passions, and needs.

Concepts deliberately span traditional academic disciplines, offering students opportunities to make connections. Students have flexibility to shape their hands-on projects and choose how they will demonstrate their learning. Instead of final exams, students participate in culminating events throughout the year where they share their knowledge and expertise with the Nueva community.

Projects are explored through open-ended, essential questions:

  • How might the world sustainably feed itself by 2050?

  • What are the ways we come to understand the world? What constitutes evidence?

  • How do we determine objectivity and subjectivity?

  • What is justice and how does a community uphold it?

Lissey McAlvey

Middle School Math Teacher and Advisor

"The power of student choice in learning leaves a lasting impact and, at Nueva, Middle School is a time to expand one’s experiences, think big, and have a voice in one’s intellectual pursuits."

 

Students Learn Best When
They Are Given Choices

Choices abound for Nueva Middle School students, and as they grow, they take increasing ownership of their academic experience. Our extensive offerings give them a lot of freedom to explore topics that interest them.

Interdisciplinary project work allows students to develop their own topics and projects in humanities, writing, math, science, art, and world languages. Design Thinking, engineering, and computer science offer flexibility in project creation and expression, as do open hours of unstructured I-Lab access. All Middle School students also participate in Academies that meet for 90 minutes every Friday.

Beginning in seventh grade, students choose two electives each semester from a wide range of topics — music, visual, performing, and literary arts, programming, robotics, and innovative courses spanning disciplines such as Science Rap Academy and Light, Sound, and Motion with Arduinos. The eighth-grade Recital Project is a six-month capstone project in a passion of their choosing.

During lunch and after school, students can choose to take part in student-created clubs, extracurricular activities, or athletics.

 

Alex S.

Nueva Student

“Nueva isn’t just a school — it is a place of growth. During middle school, I was pushed outside my academic comfort zone more times than I can count. I made friends who supported me through thick and thin, and I also became a better friend myself. I traveled to places that challenged me to redefine my worldview and also helped me discover my own place in our community. I know the curiosity and spirit I gained here will follow me through everything I do in the future.”

Supporting Students’ Transition from Childhood to Adolescence

Middle School students thrive in community. We believe it is essential for them to feel connected to and valued by their peers and adults, and to practice kindness and care for others. Within this support network, they can enjoy the freedom to follow their passions and try new things.

A rich advisory program serves as the backbone of the Middle School community structure. It is uniquely suited to adolescents and allows them time to develop their identities in small groups with an advisor who serves as advocate and mentor. During the year, advisories spend time together each week building friendships, working through challenges, and sharing experiences such as camping trips and Community Service Learning projects. In addition, time is set aside for entire grades to gather, learn together, and build community.

Middle School is an especially important time for students to participate in the social-emotional learning program, as they navigate the transition between childhood and adolescence. To meet students’ need for increased independence as well as to grow their increased capacities for metacognition and self-direction, Middle School SEL provides a balance of structure and exploration. Using caring and support, SEL specialists and Middle School faculty encourage students to step outside their comfort zones to stretch their academic and SEL skills and to reflect on themselves and their actions as they mature.

 

 

design thinking

Design Thinking, Engineering, and Computer Science

Nueva Middle School students take Design Thinking, Engineering, and Computer Science each year. In this year-long class, held in the Hillsborough campus I-Lab, students practice all the elements of Design Thinking by completing projects — tackling problems and transforming their ideas into solutions. At each step, students are challenged to improve their skills with new engineering concepts, tools, or components, and to further refine their design process as they build.

Students are also exposed to increasingly complex programming languages, development environments, and digital resources. With continued practice and problem-solving, students become facile at integrating their computer, engineering, and Design Thinking skills. In many cases, projects integrate concepts from other classes, reinforcing the use of design, engineering, and programming as tools for interdisciplinary work.

Eighth-grade students further explore their passions utilizing the Design Thinking process while working on their Recital Project, their six-month deep dive into a topic or passion of their choosing.

Learn more

 

Global Citizenship

Global Citizenship is a core pillar at Nueva — we want all Nueva students to positively and profoundly impact the world. In and out of the classroom, we foster good citizenship, service, and community building. Students use Design Thinking and draw upon their SEL skills in their role as community stewards.

In Middle School, they discover how different disciplines come together in life. Here, vital to developing their view of themselves as being part of the larger world, is the integration of humanities, world languages, trips, and community service learning days. From studying the Silk Road and globalization to defining their own cultural identity, they begin to expand their comfort zones as they address real-world, compelling issues.

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The Great Wall of China

 

Through inquiry and authentic research projects that span multiple disciplines, Middle School students develop a keen understanding of exactly how connected the world has become.

In advisory, in grade-level meetings, and across disciplines in their classrooms, students will prepare for their culminating trips. They practice teamwork and conflict resolution skills in SEL, and they explore historical topics in humanities, writing, and art.

We believe there is much students can learn and gain from traveling outside school. Area field trips to parks, museums, and universities throughout the year provide students with rich hands-on learning experiences. In the spring, their experiential learning culminates in trips to various destinations, as they participate in deep-dive investigations on the ground.

 

Cynthia Kosut

Humanities Teacher

“We challenge our students with complex interdisciplinary experiences. They come to understand that reading, writing, literature, and music are infused in science, math, and language so that in their adult lives, they bring forth all their resources to solve problems. We want them to see the world, and their place in it, as an interconnected whole. They are not just taking a trip or practicing a language — during the year, we are setting the stage for them to notice and fully grasp why there are differences, customs, practices, behaviors. They see academic disciplines come together vividly on their travels and they're ready for it.”

One-to-One Laptop Program

Every Nueva student in sixth grade and older will receive a laptop during each school year. Use of laptops will not be new to these students; technology is integrated into the curriculum by teachers in all grades in age-appropriate ways to support inquiry, creation, collaboration, and in-depth learning. Launched in 2007, the One-to-One Laptop program provides access to powerful computing and creative tools.

While our technology platform provides great opportunities, Nueva’s social-emotional learning faculty use this environment to educate students to become knowledgeable and discerning digital citizens. The SEL team developed a multiyear approach to educating students regarding online behavior to help them establish both a code of ethics and sense of self-control.

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Drama Conservatory

Each year, seventh graders experience the Drama Conservatory, a treasured part of the Nueva Middle School experience. Beginning in February, students study twice a week with professional directors and actors from around the Bay Area. After rigorous work honing thespian skills ranging from character study to stage combat, students divide up and dive into various productions including improvisation, Shakespeare, or contemporary and classic works. After performing for the Nueva community, the grade travels together to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, where they experience professional performances of shows they just completed.

Middle School Stories

Eighth graders dressed in suits meet with their friends on graduation day

On Friday, 86 eighth graders and their families gathered at Nueva's Hillsborough campus for one final celebration before advancing to high school (and beyond!).

The eighth-grade class of 2018 worked tirelessly to present, rhyme, and sing their appreciations of Nueva in 100 words or less. Together they reminisced over their completed STARPAP projects, painted exquisite literary memories of the Yosemite trip, and delivered clever, pithy speeches in true Nueva fashion.

Middle School Head Liza Raynal concluded her own 100-word address with, "Each student's speech will centuplicate the reasons why we are so proud to be the adults in their lives."

Middle School Students Host Nueva's First-Ever Hackathon

On Saturday, April 28, two Nueva middle school students hosted the first-ever Nueva Hackathon, a design event where people interested in computer programming and software development collaborate intensively to create usable software over a short period of time. This all-inclusive event was the brainchild of middle-schoolers Yash N. and Taher V., who organized the Hackathon with Twitter co-creator Dom Sagolla, who was one of the presenters amongst the 60 participants and attendees.

GoBabyGo! Students Engineer Vehicles to Mobilize Toddlers

Nueva middle school students learn by caring in Christine Braun's robotics class. In December 2017, Chris, the shop manager & I-Lab engineer, met with the Los Angeles chapter of GoBabyGo! — a University of Delaware-based program dedicated to mobilizing young children with cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy is a congenital disorder of movement, muscle tone, and posture affecting more than 200,000 children each year, and there is no known cure. Chris brought her inspiration to Nueva and recently led a team of middle school students in the design, construction, and delivery of the school’s first car to a GoBabyGo! family.

Middle School student sharing his culmination projects with family

Fifth- and sixth-grade students and faculty gathered in the Hillsborough GCC on Friday, January 19, to celebrate a culmination of work they completed in the fall. One hallmark of the evening was how the arts were integrated across disciplines. From fifth-grade math projects to sixth-grade writing, students shared work that drew on skills, habits of mind, and content addressed in all of their classes.  

Commodities and Conflict: Biennial World's Fair Inspires Conversation

What do salt, chocolate, gold, and tobacco have in common? Each commodity is both treasured by the western world, and is often found at the center of conflict within its place of origin. Every two years, Nueva’s seventh- and eighth-grade students present the World’s Fair, the pinnacle of a semester–long dive into an issues of globalization. This year, students researched the international conflicts that arise as a result of sourcing high-demand commodities.

Culminations Showcase Students' Creativity

Students shared various creative projects during the recent arts and electives culminations on both campuses. Nueva students led family members and friends on tours of their coursework and shared musical performances, designs, robotics projects, chemistry experiments, and more.