Assignment

Character and Community in Assignment

Whether in a classroom, an art, music, or dance studio, or on an athletic field, Dalton middle school students are asked to consider their personal choices within a greater communal framework.
Themes of character and community are woven into the academic curriculum through the assignment portion of the Dalton Plan. Though all assignments push students to develop their academic skills, they are also designed to ask students to engage in a relevant and purposeful intellectual discussion. Thus, every assignment in every grade is also an opportunity to explore themes of character.

The examples below are only a glimpse of how character and community is woven into the academic curriculum in the Middle School:
  • 4th grade - In social studies, the experience of moving from the First Program to the Middle School provides the engaging metaphor of “migration” for the social studies curriculum in the fourth grade: Immigration to the United States. Essential questions guide the study are: Why do people immigrate? What are their journeys like? What are their initial impressions of the new country? In what ways do they assimilate? What parts of their culture do they keep? How are they treated by those who came before them?
  • 5th grade - Students make a modern-connection to their study of ancient river-valley civilizations by collaborating with a school in Tanzania through the School Fund organization. Through blogs and Skype sessions, students discuss issues such as water conservation and equity with their Tanzanian “classmates.” In addition, High School clubs that focus on environmental topics have run workshops for 5th grade students. 
  • 6th grade - The “Greek Festival” is one of the highlights of the academic year. Students participate in a truly interdisciplinary experience which combines art, history, theater, music, math, English, and dance, culminating in an evening performance showcasing all of these aspects. Many students note that what makes this experience memorable and rewarding is the feeling of playing a part within a greater whole. Students are able to view their own contributions to the festival within the greater framework of the entire grade. The final performance is a truly grade-wide team effort.
  • 7th grade - In Science, students focus on a comprehensive study of human biology. Students cover a wide range of topics including all systems of the body, as well as nutrition, behavior, diseases, sexually transmitted infections, AIDS, and substance abuse (including smoking and alcohol abuse). Student conversation and self-reflection about these topics is encouraged throughout the assignments.
  • 8th grade - In social studies, students extend their study of the US Constitution into a Model Congress Assignment. Each student writes a bill about a current topic, which is then debated and amended in class. Bills have focused on topics such as climate change, alternative transportation methods, universal pre-school, and access to health care.
Whether in a classroom, an art, music, or dance studio, or on an athletic field, Dalton middle school students are asked to consider their personal choices within a greater communal framework.
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