Middle school years can be challenging for students as they face intellectual, emotional and physical shifts during this time. At Kirby Hall, we provide a safe and nurturing environment in which to learn while developing and growing in so many other aspects of life. We encourage asking questions, delving into intellectual curiosities, and continue our work on being kind and respecting others in preparation for Upper School and young adulthood.
Literary studies build empathy, understanding, and compassion for others, exposing them to life experiences and cultures different from their own. Pre-AP close reading and annotation strategies provide the framework for engaged discourse. In Socratic seminars, students voice their interpretations of the text, literary devices used, author’s intent, and more. The hero’s quest and what defines a heroic life are themes for sixth-grade literary studies.Coming of age and civil rights are the seventh grade literary themes. Eighth grade readings investigate the capacity for the individual to experience freedom in relation to society.
Effective communication is essential to a successful career, across all fields. The writing program at Kirby Hall is exceptional. Writing is taught as a process, with individual guidance from thesis statement to final draft. Because our average class size is twelve students, our faculty can give in-depth feedback, individually motivating students to improve their content, structure, and grammar. Thus, students learn the value of a thoughtful approach to writing and the importance of allocating the time necessary to produce quality work. Such time management skills prepare students for their extended research project. Research is conducted at The University of Texas’s main library for a multi-draft paper and multi-media presentation.
Grammar instruction is fifty minutes a day for sixth and seventh grades. All too often explicit grammar instruction is neglected, with students’ speech and writing skills suffering the consequences. Eighth grade maintains and sharpens students’ skill sets through weekly targeted grammar lessons. Our program gives them a toolbox to grasp the interplay of words and phrases. When students understand how the English language works, they wield it masterfully. A knowledge rich vocabulary supports their writing, their ability to analyze texts, and their verbal acumen. Teaching a year above grade level, we continue Wordly Wise. Weekly exercises require students use higher-order thinking skills such as analysis, synthesis, and inferential thinking.
We continue to utilize the Saxon Math Program, teaching a year above grade level. Truly gifted math students advance yet another year in grade and take either Algebra I or Geometry for high school credit. This math program stays with our students through Algebra II. It is a spiral-based curriculum, meaning that concepts are introduced in their most elementary fashion and constantly re-enforced. In middle school, approximately fifty percent of the math curriculum comes from sources outside of Saxon, including Khan Academy, number sense, or a number of websites that allow students to compete with others from across the world. When our second through eighth grade students compete academically, they typically sweep the math competition placing first, second, and third across all grade levels.
- We continue to teach science with a very hands-on approach in middle school, emphasizing that there is as much to be learned from a failed experiment as a successful one
- Topics are explored across four disciplinary core subjects: physical sciences; life sciences; earth and space sciences; and STEM
- Students also enjoy participating in our MakerSpace program where they can apply science, math, and engineering concepts in a fun, creative and collaborative project-based manner
- In middle school, we survey significant experiences and how they shaped ancient and global civilizations (6th grade), Texas history (7th grade), and U.S. history (8th grade)
- We typically enjoy a variety of field trips in middle school to observe up-close some of the things we’ve studied, including past visits to Fredericksburg’s War in the Pacific Museum, the LBJ Ranch, and an expedition to the beautiful Davis Mountains in west Texas
- In middle school, we are dedicated to shaping truly bilingual students
- Our instruction fosters appreciation and respect for the history and rich cultures of the Spanish-speaking world by stressing the Five C’s of Foreign Language Learning (communication, cultures, connections, comparisons, communities)
- Because we begin Spanish instruction at age four, by middle school, students are often earning high school credit
We inspire students to see the positive side of being physically active. Students learn traditional and non-traditional sports through engaging in activities that promote cognitive development. Our program builds gross and fine motor skills, teaches safe behaviors, and fosters awareness of personal space. Structured physical activities are an excellent avenue for the development of social skills.
- We focus on continuing to learn about play production and all that entails including costuming and makeup, stage lighting, set design, and directing
- Students are also tasked with becoming playwrights themselves and work on creating a story, setting the scene, and developing characters
- Middle school typically stages at least one theater production during the school year to for the entertainment of the Kirby Hall community
- Middle school students continue to enhance their understanding of music history, theory and instruments as well as increase their knowledge of past and more current composers
- Artists are encouraged to explore their self-expression and creativity through hands-on studio projects while studying key figures in art history and techniques which inspire them
- We also continually take in happenings around the vibrant and contemporary local art scene here in Austin
Plan A Visit
We would love to get to know you better and discuss the future of your child. Come visit Kirby Hall and see what makes our environment special for yourself!