Middle School (6th-8th)
Focusing on collaboration and interdisciplinary learning, the Gilkey International Middle School follows the International (IB) Middle Years Programme to deliver one core curriculum in five different languages.
Students with high-level second-language skills enter immersion tracks in French, German, Mandarin Chinese, or Spanish. Students who are not already bilingual enter an English-focused track (International Track) and begin a second language of their choice.
All middle school students learn a new language from native-speaking teachers, who collaborate to develop units of study that are consistent across all languages. After graduating from middle school, students leave FAIS well-prepared for high school and beyond with solid grounding in the traditional disciplines, the ability to communicate in multiple languages, and an appreciation for the diversity of world cultures.
In 6th grade, students grow accustomed to a new schedule, interact with multiple teachers who all have different sets of expectations, and face increased homework and more formal assessments.
Students also leave their roles as the oldest in their elementary school and are introduced to a new and different middle school community. As teachers, administrators, and parents, we want to ease this transition. We strive to challenge our students to embrace a wider, more complex world while providing a supervised and nurturing atmosphere. This transition between childhood and young adulthood illustrates the mystery and beauty of early adolescence.
Our curriculum for 6th grade emphasizes work habits and skills within inquiry-based content, so that children gain independence and efficiency in their learning and improve their organizational skills. Time is allotted for independent study and development of study skills, during which teachers supervise homework and reinforce good study habits. Our intellectually challenging 6th grade curriculum also includes many opportunities for creativity.
Just as 6th grade is the year of novelty, 7th grade is the year of independence and assertion. Socially, independence reveals itself in the need for deeper, more meaningful friendships. Academically, independence takes the form of questioning the limits and of not taking anything for granted.
The energy 7th grade students demonstrate is a great asset in the classroom, leading to interactive projects and increased discussion. They are becoming capable of independent thinking and thrive on exploring the limits of their ideas. This strong desire for self-sufficiency is fostered and directed positively by our teaching team. 7th graders suddenly seem able to organize themselves better, and can handle more complex research assignments; they usually enjoy group projects and conduct such projects with enthusiasm.
In the 7th grade, we continue to provide a stimulating and caring academic environment, challenging our students to think critically and thoroughly. In a climate of confidence, our students express, support, and respect each other’s ideas and differences.
Academically, 8th grade is a challenging year, during which expectations are higher. It is our students’ last chance before high school to develop more autonomy, and gain confidence in themselves and their abilities.
Eighth grade students no longer require as much parental involvement with homework. Debating skills are becoming more refined, and opinions are better formed and more personal. Eighth graders are also better able to hear other people’s points of view. Socially, eighth graders highly value their friendships. Social groups get larger, and social activities take a wider amplitude. It is a time when their friends become the people they rely on the most.
Courses demand greater personal responsibility, encompass a broader range of knowledge, and require dense personal reflection by the student. We trust that eighth grade students are able to embrace both an intense social life and still thrive academically. We want to give them a chance to prove that they can handle the responsibilities of young adulthood, yet still feel that they are all important members of a nurturing and supportive community.
Language immersion is more than learning another language. FAIS uses language as a lens to help students understand other cultures, think with a global perspective, and navigate the broader world around us.
The IB is a worldwide network of schools committed to creating a better and more peaceful world by developing inquiring, knowledgeable, and caring young people. FAIS uses the IB as a framework for delivering our French-based curriculum in a language immersion setting.
The reasons our families love FAIS are as broad as their backgrounds. We hope these firsthand experiences help capture what it’s like to be a member of our community, from parents and grandparents to students and alumni.