The Beech Hill School provides a rigorous, challenging curriculum taught using a student-centered approach. Teachers incorporate students' interests into lessons and make adjustments for students' strengths or challenges. The curriculum and its delivery is a compilation of the best practices of the “traditional” with the best of the “progressive.” As many schools and districts are facing greater demands, some topics or teaching strategies are inevitably being abandoned. However, with the variety of interests and learning styles middle school students possess, it is important to provide them various entry points to understanding and success. Through exposure to different methods, students will be able to develop stronger understandings that are meaningful to them.
Students have spent the bulk of elementary school learning and mastering general facts and procedures. Middle school is a time when this elementary knowledge is now garnered to move students from concrete thought to more abstract reasoning. This progression is not linear or sequential. Depending on the topic or situation, a student can be at different points on the concrete-abstract continuum. To guide students towards more abstract thinking, teachers will provide appropriate scaffolding, building upon whatever concrete understandings the student already possesses. Teachers will guide students to make connections, explain their thinking and their solutions, and to understand the value of struggling through a difficult problem or question.
In order to help students see connections among and between different disciplines, all faculty members stress five foci common to all content areas: communication, analysis, critical thinking, problem-solving, and representation. Our small size and streamlined schedule provide us flexibility and opportunity. Teachers can work together to integrate topics easily, and they can swap classtimes or rooms to help facilitate a lesson or project. Teachers are expected and encouraged to deviate from their pre-determined lesson plan if a teachable moment is present, and the students are curious. Similarly, current events can be included whenever possible. This flexibility allows for more enriching, relevant instruction.