WE KNOW middle schoolers! THEY’RE curious, courageous, active, interactive, and perceptive.
What We Offer
Our small class sizes encourage personal relationships with teachers, rich discussions with classmates, hands-on problem solving, and plenty of time for reflection on one’s own learning process. Students’ intellectual, social, and emotional growth are developed through our core academic program, daily advisory, a full slate of core arts classes, robust outdoor education, as well as extracurricular and student leadership opportunities. Students are engaged in content and learning that is rigorous and relevant and seeks to link their ideas with their decisions. Our supportive learning environment ensures that each student can develop their unique potential to the fullest.
School starts promptly at 8:30am. Students are dismissed according to grade level according to a staggered schedule: Kindergarten-2nd Grade at 3:05pm, 3rd-5th at 3:15pm, 6th-8th at 3:35pm. We offer before-school care at no extra charge starting at 7:30am. After-school care is available until 6:00pm, and is included in the cost of Middls School tuition.
In 6th-8th grades, students have a humanities class that addresses English and cultural studies together, often in longer classes. Goals include strengthening reading comprehension and analysis skills, creative and expository writing for different purposes and audiences, and increasing word knowledge through explicit vocabulary work. Throughout the year students read texts from multiple genres including poetry, short story, historical and realistic fiction, and auto/biography. Students continue development of their writing, including organized, detailed paragraphs and multi-paragraph essays, using the six traits of writing as a framework.
6th Grade Humanities – The 6th grade humanities classes focus on the evolution of humankind, from hominids, to hunter-gatherers, to the early civilizations of Mesopotamia, Egypt, China, Greece, and Israel. Our yearlong throughlines–“What is culture?” “How does the past affect the present?” “How are modern cultures and ancient cultures different? How are they similar?” “How can I become a more active and thoughtful reader?” and “How do I communicate ideas effectively in writing and speech?”– serve as a frame for our learning throughout the year.
7th Grade Humanities – The 7th grade humanities classes encompass several themes, with guiding questions like “How is Middle School a Hero’s Journey?” “How does culture influence perspective, and perspective influence culture?” “What are the advantages and disadvantages of civilization?” “What are the causes of revolution?” “What makes a revolution successful?” and “What is social justice?” Students conduct a research project that includes written and oral presentations to the community.
8th Grade Humanities – Eighth grade Humanities focuses on US History. Students read primary and secondary sources to distinguish differences in purpose and audience among historians and to understand the value and points of view of different historical documents. Throughlines include, “How do we tell the story of the United States?” “What makes good writing?” “How does the past affect the present in the United States?” and “What does it mean to read well?”
Using a hands-on approach to discovery and building on children’s natural curiosity, we are moving our program in alignment with the best of the Next Generation Science Standards, an approach where students “figure out” actively rather than “learn about” science passively from teachers. We give students opportunities to build and deepen their understanding, by making connections, engaging in sensemaking discussion, learning from mistakes, and engaging with tools and technologies to further their scientific literacy.
Sixth grade students study earth science with the goal of understanding Earth’s systems, with a particular focus on the geology and topography of the Bay Area, and using that knowledge to make informed decisions about humans’ impact on the planet and sustainability. Concepts include Earth’s history, structure and dynamic processes, weather and atmosphere, energy resources and pollution and Earth’s place in the universe. Field trips, integrated throughout the year, include a visit to an active mineral mine, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, science museums and a week exploring sustainable farming and energy use. Seventh graders complete a laboratory-based life science course that introduces them to themes such as ecosystem concepts, cell biology, reproduction and heredity, DNA and biotechnology, and evolution and natural selection. The 7th grade science curriculum also integrates field trips that involve scientific study of local ecosystems along with science-related service learning opportunities. Eighth graders study physical science with a focus on chemistry and physics, in addition to a unit on sexuality education. The focus is on lab experiences and concepts that will be integral to their high school science learning. Design thinking comes to the forefront with a number of projects including mousetrap cars and egg drops. In addition, they continue some of the field-based projects that they started in the 7th grade.
The 6th and 7th grade math programs use the Illustrative Mathematics curriculum, which moves from concrete concepts toward abstract concepts and applications. The curriculum challenges students to justify and explain their answers, describe their processes, and approach problems in a variety of ways. Students improve their curiosity, flexibility, and ability to take risks in problem solving. They learn the importance of being reflective about their thinking, and focus on making their mathematical thinking and learning visible. The 7th grade pre-algebra curriculum engages students in problem solving that tackles graphing, geometry, proportional reasoning, number theory, and pattern recognition. Students use mathematical ideas and concepts to describe, analyze, and find solutions in our world. They hone the characteristics of successful problem-solvers: persistence, curiosity, flexibility, risk-taking, and reflection. Eighth grade students take a full course of first-year algebra, including writing, graphing, and solving linear and quadratic equations and inequalities. Students also get an introduction to more formal mathematical system.
Our MS Spanish program focuses on communication, using TPRS strategies, and strengthening student’s ability to speak, listen, read, and write in Spanish. Students study conjugation, pronouns, and sentence agreement. Vocabulary is taught and acquired through reading and cultural themes such as: families, identity, Día de los Muertos, and California as part of Mexico, and later, through research projects. Spoken language is used daily through greetings, conversation, skits, and presentations. In 7th grade, students move on to more complex grammatical topics such as irregular verbs, the preterite, the difference between Ser and Estar, and reflexive verbs and pronouns. In 8th grade students study the present progressive, the preterite, and imperfect, and spend the year preparing for a one-week immersion trip to a Spanish-speaking country, which takes place in the Spring.
The Middle School art program provides a process-based studio experience that allows students to explore the possibilities of their materials and concepts instead of focusing their efforts on only the final product. Middle school students investigate drawing, painting, printmaking, self-portraits, collage, sculpture, two-dimensional applied design, and media technology. Employing studio tools such as sketchbooks, thinking routines, and self/peer reflection, students increase their ability to look at and discuss art, they develop visual arts vocabulary, the ability to read and write about art and the skill to problem-solve while completing projects. Through global/social content they gain an understanding of how the arts connect to other disciplines. Past projects have included animated shorts and working lamps at the 6th grade level, fused glass at the 7th grade level, and a repurposed fashion show in 8th grade.
The Middle School drama program is based on two main ideas: that make-believe as a form of expression and storytelling are natural human endeavors, and that every Middle School student can benefit being exposed to the rigor, and clear expectations of drama training. Beginning in 6th grade, students work with basic improv games and activities. These basics are continued and built upon throughout 7th and 8th grade. The students focus on developing skills in movement, body awareness, observation, concentration, sensory awareness, and imitation. They learn to tell stories using tableaus and pantomime. They also work with basic characterization and role-playing skills, as well as giving and receiving offers in the pair and group improvs. Simple dramatic texts, such as monologues and poems, and small group scenes are introduced as they become more advanced. In December and March, Middle School students who go deeper with drama in the Exploratory and Ex Day program have the opportunity to appear in the annual The Berkeley School plays, often presented at local community theaters.
PE & Health
PE in our Middle School – The Middle School physical education curriculum centers around developing four physical skills and two social/emotional skills. The physical skills are overhead throwing, catching, striking and running to kick a ball, all of which focus on body mechanics, spatial awareness, effort/force, and the relationship between objects that are thrown, caught, struck, or kicked. The social/emotional skills are teamwork (listening, questioning, persuading, respecting, helping, sharing, and participating) and sportsmanship (which combine skills of honesty, fairness, respect, and graciousness in winning and losing). On a daily basis the students engage in stretching and calisthenics, to help improve cardio, flexibility, agility, and muscle development.
Health Education in our Middle School – Our comprehensive health education program addresses the physical, mental, emotional, and social aspects of health. Students keep an online health journal through the use of Google Classroom to explore their beliefs and understandings around subject matter content. Students also have ample time for group and partner discussion. 6th graders study drugs, decision making, bullying, and harassment. In the 7th grade, students learn about nutrition and physical activity, social media, and become certified in CPR and first aid. 8th graders study relationships, human diversity and social justice standards, and mental health.
At TBS, we use technology to facilitate interactive, collaborative learning experiences; connect students with information, communities, and organizations; and equip students with the tools they need to engage a changing world.
We have a “soft” one-on-one Chromebook program in the Middle School that provides students with technology as needed during the school day. Sixth graders learn basic technology skills, and all students receive digital citizenship lessons. Google Classroom is used extensively for teachers to assign homework and comment on student writing, and students learn to track their assignments with shared calendars and submit and share their work with teachers and peers for collaboration and feedback.
sized just right: small enough to ensure that each student feels seen and known…
Large enough to foster rich discussions, diverse points of view, and dynamic learning experiences.
responsible decision making
K – 8 Campus
1310 University Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94702
Early Childhood Campus
2030 Francisco Street
Berkeley, CA 94709