Grades 5-8

Our Curriculum

Akiba-Schechter Jewish Day School

At Akiba-Schechter, we teach children–not subjects–giving them the skills of life-long learning.

In Middle School, the focus is on independence. Students take seven courses in addition to music, art, and physical education, and any extra-curricular clubs they may choose to participate in. General Studies subjects include Humanities, Math, and Science; Judaic classes include Hebrew, Tanakh, and a choice of either Talmud, Jewish Thought or Jewish History. Utilizing original biblical texts, courses are designed to challenge the students to think critically, while encouraging them to explore who they are as Jews and as human beings.

Through hands-on activities, problem-based learning, and seminar-like discussions, students learn to ask good questions and find meaningful answers. National programs like History and Science Fair promote independent research skills and the confidence that comes from defending one’s findings to an audience. Subject matter often transcends the classroom through large-scale projects like debates, mock trials, and historical re-enactments. High standardized test scores, awards in statewide competitions, and other scholastic achievements bear out the success of our approach.

At Akiba-Schechter, we teach children–not subjects–giving them the skills of life-long learning.

In Middle School, the focus is on independence. Students take seven courses in addition to music, art, and physical education, and any extra-curricular clubs they may choose to participate in.

General Studies subjects include Humanities, Math, and Science; Judaic classes include Hebrew, Tanakh, and a choice of either Talmud, Jewish Thought or Jewish History. Utilizing original biblical texts, courses are designed to challenge the students to think critically, while encouraging them to explore who they are as Jews and as human beings.

Through hands-on activities, problem-based learning, and seminar-like discussions, students learn to ask good questions and find meaningful answers. National programs like History and Science Fair promote independent research skills and the confidence that comes from defending one’s findings to an audience. Subject matter often transcends the classroom through large-scale projects like debates, mock trials, and historical re-enactments. High standardized test scores, awards in statewide competitions, and other scholastic achievements bear out the success of our approach.

“You inspired me to figure out who I really am, challenged me to examine instead of reject ideas. Because of you, I will continue to question, but I will do so as I accept my Judaism as a deep and central part of who I am”
Polly Hochman
Class of 2012 (Walter Payton College Prep)

Interdisciplinary Learning (IDL)

At Akiba-Schechter we have used the IDL approach in 7th/8th grade Humanities for a number of years. We have found it so effective that we are expanding it to the entire middle school this year.

Interdisciplinary learning provides us with a valuable opportunity to delve into our existing preconceptions and the underlying frameworks that shape our understanding of the world. It aligns seamlessly with the latest progress in learning science, enabling us to facilitate effective learning experiences, especially when students come with their own profound pre-existing ideas. By embracing an interdisciplinary approach, we encourage a comprehensive exploration of knowledge and create a conducive environment for students to build upon their existing knowledge and foster deeper understanding.

What is Interdisciplinary Learning (IDL)?
Student learning built around a Big Question that brings together multiple content areas in a meaningful way.

Why IDL?
IDL supports:

Authentic, real-world learning
Student ownership of learning
Student choice
Critical thinking skills
Problem-solving skills
Integration of skills across disciplines

What does IDL look like?
IDL is student-led learning. With teacher support, students will build their skills and understanding in each of the content areas in order to develop their answer to the Big Question.

Each IDL is 4-8 weeks long, culminating in an authentic final project that requires students to demonstrate their mastery of the skills and understandings of the unit.

Students will work independently, in small groups, and with each content area expert teacher.

Developing Skills

Developing learning, communication, reading, writing, and math skills at Akiba-Schechter Jewish School is essential to provide students with a well-rounded education. These skills are fundamental for academic success, enabling students to engage with Jewish texts, express their thoughts effectively, think critically, and analyze information.

By fostering these abilities, the school empowers students to become lifelong learners, active participants in Jewish traditions, and effective communicators, preparing them for future academic pursuits and contributing meaningfully to the Jewish community and beyond.

We will work on developing the following skills:

Citizenship

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  • Advocate for self and on behalf of others
  • Demonstrate active care for one another

Learning

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  • Take full ownership of learning process and work product
  • Chunk big tasks and assignments to better manage them
  • Independently manage time and workload
  • Effectively use technology

Communicating

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  • Discuss respectfully with others by clearly expressing ideas and building on others’
  • Actively listen with empathy and effort to understand
  • Recognize different audiences and adapt tone and mode
  • Present claims, findings, and/or original ideas confidently

Reading

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  • Decode and read with understanding texts in English, and in Modern, Biblical, and Rabbinic Hebrew
  • Closely read to derive literal, inferential, and critical meaning
  • Draw conclusions from text, both in writing and in discussion, based on specific supporting evidence
  • Intentionally choose text to push thinking and understanding

Writing

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  • Develop complex and reasoned arguments from evidence, including data and textual support
  • Express original ideas through narrative, creative, technical, expository and more writing
  • Thoughtfully plan for, reflect on, and revise written work

Inquiry/Research

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  • Construct critical and compelling research questions about a topic that can deepen understanding of self and world
  • Find and evaluate high quality sources that provide evidence or claims relevant to a compelling question
  • Synthesize information from a variety of sources to develop an independent and evidence-based response to a question
  • Explain how an author uses reasons and evidence to support particular points in a text
  • Effectively take notes on a variety of sources

Experimentation

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  • Recognize, explain, and draw conclusions about patterns in data’
  • Extend thinking to apply concepts and skills to new problems
  • Reflect on processes and work product to identify successes and opportunities for improvement

Mathematics

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  • Develop number sense and intuitions through repeated exposure and attention to mathematical relationships
  • Recognize, extend, and utilize patterns
  • Notice, describe, and utilize spatial relationships
  • Create visual representations of concepts
  • Reason abstractly and quantitatively
  • Revisit and improve problem solving techniques
  • Attend to precision and develop automaticity