Middle School

The Dalton Plan in the Middle School

The Dalton Middle School has developed a program to address the unique academic and social needs of young students during this crucial stage in their development.

It provides a transition from the protective, self-contained classrooms of the First Program to the departmentalized High School. It is a program designed to foster the growing independence of Middle School students. The hallmarks of the Middle School Program include:

A home base within the school community guided by caring, experienced adults. It provides a social environment that is warm, secure, and student-centered (House). 

Opportunities for the exploration, development, and expansion of knowledge, skills, and critical thinking capacities while providing for individual interests and talents (Assignment). 

Personalized, specific assessment, and evaluation of student work and regular student-teacher conversation ensuring support and feedback (Lab).

List of 3 items.

  • House

    The House is central to the Middle School program. House Advisors guide students through the school year by carefully following progress in all disciplines, by mentoring young students, and by functioning as the primary liaison with parents.
     
    Middle School teachers serve as House Advisors. This special role as an advocate and mentor assists teachers in building special partnerships with students. The greatest benefit of the House system in the Middle School is that it provides adequate time and space as well as a forum for students to learn life skills and to engage in cooperative discussion. House is a time for dialogue, learning, reflection, and problem-solving. It is an important time of the day when students learn about community and a place where they are able to share their perspectives on important issues. This learning and sharing is guided by the House Advisors in a warm and supportive environment where students can take risks, share their ideas, discuss, mediate and resolve issues, and learn and model civic responsibility.
     
    In the fourth and fifth grades, students work and learn in largely self-contained classrooms where much of their instruction takes place. They come to think of themselves as members of a classroom community working to build relationships within the grade. Guided by House Advisors who provide support and caring, students become confident learners, expand their knowledge, and refine their social skills.
     
    In the sixth, seventh, and eighth grades, when the academic program is fully departmentalized, the House Advisor's role as advocate and mentor is crucial. Each House meets at the beginning and end of every day, as well as for two additional periods, each week.
  • Assignment

    The Assignment provides an organized plan for teaching and learning. When Assignments are presented and discussed in any discipline, teachers help students identify what skills are needed to complete the various tasks, where the resources might be located to research a topic or advance a level of learning, and what timetable should be followed to meet the expectations of the Assignment. As students progress through the grades, Assignments increase in complexity and grow to encompass up to six-week units, providing greater opportunities for students to select options for learning within each assigned topic and area.
  • Lab

    Lab provides students with time during the weekly schedule to work with their teachers individually or in small groups. The Laboratory also provides time to use the libraries and to locate other specialized resources to pursue topics, complete assignments, and enrich or remediate student learning.
     
    Classes are grouped heterogeneously in most areas throughout the Middle School. Individual learning styles and skill levels are recognized by grouping within the classrooms, by expanding upon the Assignment to augment learning, and by providing enrichment and support through the Laboratory.
     
    The Dalton Plan - particularly Lab and Assignment - helps students learn skills that include:
     
    The ability to set goals and to determine priorities consistent with the stated course objectives and the student's own progress; to establish habits conducive to learning independently or with others; and to follow a schedule that meets expectations for both short and long term projects.
     
    The ability to define, locate, and use resources external to the classroom (e.g. library, studio, and laboratory materials and methods, primary and secondary documents, visual materials, and information available through various information systems including computers and digital displays); and to combine data obtained from such sources with information shared in the classroom.