Our Middle School
6th through 8th Grade
The Art of Living and Learning
At Oak Grove we approach teaching, learning, and living as an art form – The Art of Living and Learning. Middle School (Junior High) is an exciting transitional journey from childhood to young adulthood, and our dedicated faculty will help you navigate these important times and prepare you for the path ahead. Oak Grove Middle School offers a rich, balanced experience that taps into your interests and natural creativity. We pursue deep academic inquiry, social-emotional growth, and joy, giving strength to our students’ inner lives and to enrich our lives together in community.
Our Middle School faculty team consists of three core homeroom teachers in humanities and science/math, a dedicated Advisory teacher, and specialists in Spanish, art, music, horticulture, and physical education.
Discussion · Deep Inquiry · Hands-on Learning Opportunities
Our Middle School academics embodies our progressive approach to education by striving to create an environment of intrinsic motivation and learning. Without the rewards, punishments, and pressures of grades, we foster a love for learning and a drive for self-knowledge. Our core academic classes — math, science, English, and history — challenge and support students to develop intellectually, ethically, and socially. The small class sizes and personal relationships between students and teachers encourage invigorating discussion, deep inquiry, and hands-on learning opportunities in and out of the classroom. These classes are then balanced with Advisory, exploratory courses, Mindfulness, service projects, and outdoor education to emotionally, artistically, and physically stimulate our growing adolescents.
Outdoor Education & Travel
Camping · Hiking Local Trails · Moab, Utah · Teton Science Schools, Wyoming
Oak Grove’s Outdoor Education and Travel Program at the Middle School level offers opportunities to learn from nature, build lasting friendships, feel comfortable and secure in the outdoors, and become active stewards of the environment. Students learn the skills of increasing independence, cooperation, and teamwork, and the ability to spend time in nature without the stimulus of electronics.Students participate in two signature trips per year. One of these trips is a week of outdoor learning and exploration at the Jackson Campus of the Teton Science Schools. Led by instructors, the students ski, snowshoe, and hike through Grand Teton National Park while studying the ecology and natural history of the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem. This immersion provides hands-on scientific inquiry and connection to the natural world.
Fostering Supportive Relationships
Advisory for 7th and 8th grades is a two-year program whose primary intent is to provide opportunities for students to delve into questions about their relationship to themselves, each other, their community, and the earth. Students develop supportive relationships with adults they trust, as well as with their peers. These strongly established connections and relationships are foundational to moving ahead with ease, in anticipation of increasing academic rigor and evolving social networks. The small Advisory group setting is a natural incubator where norms are established and kids can try out new ideas and explore their own identities. Driven by three essential questions — Who am I? How do I relate to others? What will I contribute to the world? — students cultivate a sense of self — academically, emotionally, and socially.
Music · Art · Athletics · Horticulture · Spanish
Oak Grove’s core academic program is balanced with a rich array of extracurricular opportunities. All Middle School students take courses in vocal and instrumental music, fine and practical arts (drawing, painting, ceramics, weaving, and more), drama, horticulture, and library science. Students also participate in a variety of athletics, helping introduce the importance of physical vitality, caring for their body, making healthy life choices, developing understanding, respect, and compassion for others, and instilling a sense of responsibility to the whole. Personal excellence, sportsmanship, self-reflection, and joy in the game are emphasized over competition.
Student-led Community Service Projects
Middle School students develop community service projects in collaboration with their teachers. These are often tied to curriculum and tap into the many resources and partnerships Oak Grove School has established in Ojai. Some of the projects have been: rehabilitation of local habitat, recycling projects, meal preparation for the homeless, awareness and fundraising for various causes, including the Rural Education Project in India.
Middle School to High School
Completion of Middle School is an important time to pause and reflect on the experiences that have culminated in this significant milestone. The 8th grade students are honored each year at the 8th Grade Gateway exhibition and ceremony, in which students present exhibitions of their learning over the previous two years and give a speech that demonstrates their readiness for High School. Parents, friends, faculty, and members of the community are invited to look at student exhibitions and enjoy a formal ceremony for issuing diplomas. In this way, those of us who are fortunate to be a part of their lives can celebrate their transition to High School.
Led by Teachers as Well as Outside Professionals
The faculty of the Oak Grove Secondary School provides a well-rounded Parent Ed program, whereby parents can become informed on subjects related to teen and young adult development. Parent Ed events are led by teachers as well as outside professionals, covering topics like social media wellness, college readiness, teen sexuality, inquiry-based dialogue, and more. The program’s mission is to support parents in raising teenagers through workshops on adolescent development, communication strategies, college readiness, and harm prevention. In addition, the program emphasizes building relationships and support networks among parents, teachers, and community members.
Middle School Curriculum
Algebra I uses problem situations, physical models, and appropriate technology to extend algebraic thinking and engage student reasoning. Problem-solving situations will provide all students an environment that promotes communication and fosters connections within mathematics to other disciplines, and to the real world. Students will use physical models to represent, explore, and develop abstract concepts. The use of appropriate technology will help students apply mathematics in an increasingly technological world. The concepts emphasized in the course include functions, solving equations, slope as rates of change, and proportionality.
This Pre-Algebra course will emphasize understanding of the basic concepts in Pre-Algebra and the application of these concepts to real world situations. This includes working with concepts related to algebraic expressions, integers, equations, decimals, inequalities, factors, fractions, exponents, ratios, proportions, and percents. Students will learn to recognize and use vocabulary to communicate their ideas. Emphasis will be placed on using the textbook and other support materials in an efficient way to reference information. Study skills such as note-taking, test-taking strategies, and organization will be developed to aid each student.
This year’s study in Science will be focused around specific themes: scientific method, energy, motion, friction, Newton’s laws, ecosystems, heredity, genetics, and evolution.
MS Science through the Arts of Living and Learning
Art of Engagement: Learners engage with an activity that captures their attention, stimulates their thinking, and helps them access prior knowledge. Engagement activities will reveal existing misconceptions to the teacher and leave the learner wanting to know more about how the problem or issue relates to their own world.
Art of Inquiry: Learners explore common, hands-on experiences that help them begin constructing concepts and developing skills related to the learning target. The learner will gather, organize, interpret, analyze, and evaluate data. Learners elaborate and solidify their understanding of the concept and/or apply it to a real-world situation resulting in a deeper understanding. Teachers facilitate activities that help the learner correct remaining misconceptions and generalize concepts in a broader context.
Art of Communication: Learners communicate through analysis of their exploration so that their understanding is clarified and modified with reflective activities. Learners use science terminology to connect their explanations to the experiences they had in the engage-and-explore phases.
The goal of this year’s Junior High Humanities class from a historical perspective is to explore medieval world history, focusing on the rise of Islam, Medieval Europe, West Africa, The Americas, and Asia. We will be analyzing historical documents, reading texts, and looking at rich documentary footage. From the Language Arts perspective, we will learn to be effective writers in many forms, from poetry to research reports, and be able to communicate our ideas to our peers through discussion, presentation and digital media. Also, we will be tackling the novels Things Fall Apart, and House on Mango Street, along with many short stories, folktales, poems and nonfiction texts. I believe that the Humanities, especially in the middle grades, when young people are struggling with all the challenges that adolescence presents, are absolutely critical for developing and strengthening their voices. This course will challenge the students to do just that, to find their voices and confidently express themselves. This year in particular the challenges brought by the pandemic and remote learning start will necessitate all of us to be flexible as learners and to hold support for one another.
Oak Grove approaches all learning as an art form through The Art of Living & Learning. One of these arts – The Art of Aesthetics – particularly speaks to developing within each student sensitivity to and appreciation of beauty in all its manifestations. All students, regardless of their self-perception, are encouraged and supported to find the artist within by participating in a rich array of extracurricular opportunities available in fine arts, music, and drama.
Outdoor Education & Travel
Oak Grove’s Outdoor Education and Travel Program at the Middle School level offers opportunities to learn from nature, build lasting friendships, feel comfortable and secure in the outdoors, and become active stewards of the environment. Students learn the skills of increasing independence, cooperation, and teamwork, and the ability to spend time in nature without the stimulus of electronics. Students participate in two trips per year, one in the fall and one in the spring.