Middle Schoolers are brimming with energy and exuberance. Their curiosity is contagious. They have a deep sense of wonder and are excited for this journey to the future.
The Journey Begins in Middle School
Chris Schoberl, Head of Middle School
At Crystal, we encourage Middle Schoolers to be truly themselves By giving them a space of their very own, we encourage Middle Schoolers to be themselves. We understand that in sixth, seventh, and eighth grades, the best learning happens when students’ social and emotional needs are being met.
Our teachers open doors to a whole new world The CSUS Middle School team develops curriculum and experiences designed for a middle school student, allowing them to forge a deeper understanding of subject content and greater engagement with their peers and teachers. From an egg drop and Rube Goldberg Machine Contest to learning about inertia and energy transfer, our approach to learning enhances our students’ natural curiosity.
Skills and Content The team of Middle School teachers works to develop both subject-specific content knowledge while also teaching fundamental study and organization skills. The Middle School program encourages students to explore all the academic disciplines. In this way, the scientist discovers a passion for French and the historian masters the quadratic formula. After three years in the middle school, our students are fully prepared for the challenges of high school.
And rather than Or At Crystal, the middle school schedule allows students to be scholars, athletes and artists. We not only encourage students to delve into all three realms, we require them to do so through the fine arts rotation program and the athletics/PE period which is built into the school day. Our students discover that they are capable of learning and achieving more than they ever imagined. They discover they can be a star on the stage and a star athlete as well.
Teaching with technology rather than about technology With a 1:1 iPad program and mobile laptop carts, our students have access to powerful learning tools. Our faculty work with the Technology Integrator to use these devices as a platform for innovation in each discipline.
Matt Akers’ 7th grade English class staged two mock trials for Of Mice and Men. On trial was George Milton for the murder of Lennie Small. The students served as the witnesses, prosecution, and the defense while Mr. Akers played the role of the judge. It was the role of the jury—all volunteer teachers--to determine if George Milton was guilty of murder or voluntary manslaughter.
English teacher Heidi Gruber brought our vision of One Crystal to life in her Middle School classroom this spring. She invited faculty and staff from both the Upper and Middle Schools to read portions of the timeless yet highly complex novel, To Kill A Mockingbird, aloud to the class and share their personal experiences with the novel.
While the 8th graders are away (on world language trips to Quebec and Costa Rica), the 6th and 7th graders play! PoP Week is a favorite tradition that allows our youngest students to delve deeply into a topic, develop new skills, and have a blast with experiential, hands-on learning opportunities.
The award-winning author Thi Bui visited Crystal's Upper and Middle School campuses in early March to talk about her graphic memoir, The Best We Could Do, and to work with students in telling their own stories. Her book, which centers on her family's compelling story of immigrating to and setting up a life in the United States...
In early March, 6th grade students visited the Second Harvest Food Bank’s facility in San Carlos where they made reusable tote bags from t-shirts. They were also given a tour of the facility and learned more about hunger in our community. The visit was part of Crystal’s Human Development programming.
Ms. Player's 7th grade dance class shared a series of multicultural dance presentations that both educated and entertained the Middle School while giving us a reason to celebrate dance traditions from around the world. From Hula, to Chinese Fan Dancing, to the Virginia Reel (the official state dance of 13 states in the United States)...
The 6th graders are deeply immersed in a Voice as Power unit, a study of poetry. Drawing inspiration from poems such as Eve Merriam's "How to Eat a Poem," Langston Hughes' "Mother to Son," and Kwame Alexander's "Dribbling" (part of his book, The Crossover), students have already crafted seven poems, not including the ones created during our Found Poetry project in the Maker Space.
The Crystal community celebrated the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with events on both campuses led by student and faculty leaders of the Diversity Committee, Keep it Real Club, and the Multicultural Leadership Team. View photos here
Crystal middle schoolers (and teachers) had a Silicon-Valley-worthy morning on December 7 as they coded up a storm. While the rest of the world participated in Hour of Code, students sipped hot chocolate while clad in cuddly PJ's for an hour of Cozy Coding. Our Crystal coders are well on their way to becoming the Valley's next generation of engineers.
As a capstone to reading A Midsummer Night's Dream, 7th grade English students plan, memorize, rehearse, and act out a scene from the play in small groups. Using recycled and/or recyclable materials from the middle school IRC (Information Resource Center), they design and craft costumes, props, and sets.
Sixth grade scientists stepped into the shoes of a biologist, geologist, hydrologist or atmospheric scientist and used models to communicate expert information to their peers. Their goal is to construct a collective understanding of how the parts of Earth function as a system.
Five graduate students from Stanford's Nanotechnology department visited teacher Rob Kashima's 8th grade science classes in mid-October. They discussed nanotechnology and where it is applied in our everyday lives, and then conducted a lesson on liquid nitrogen ice cream for Crystal students. View more photos
Identity and voice are major themes in the Middle School humanities classrooms, combining academic, personal and creative exploration. Librarian Amy Geriak brought the concept of an “Identity Tapestry” to the Middle School for a recent 7th grade Human Development activity. She was inspired by...
Under the leadership of music teacher Danna Mitchell-Carter, the MS Band took first place at the Music in the Parks Festival with a Superior rating in their division ("A" division for schools with 750 students or fewer). They also received the first place overall award for all concert bands with a Superior rating.
Crystal's 6th grade drama students have been rehearsing a comedic reenactment of Dr. Seuss’s famous book, adapted by Michelle Berti, the Middle School’s drama teacher. The Sneetches is a lighthearted production that features themes and morals that teach the power of equality and kindness.
While 8th graders explore Quebec and Nicaragua, the 6th and 7th graders get to experience SHARQ week. Previously known as PoP week, SHARQ (Students Have a Real Question) week is five action-packed days of deep learning, team-building, design thinking challenges, adventures off-campus, and lots of Gryphon-style fun.
As part of their leadership experience in the Middle School, 8th graders give a single five-minute, theme-based “Hall” or speech to the assembled community in Expansion Hall, at some point during their final year of Middle School. Students can choose their topic, based upon the a few themes.
Celebrating Scholarship is one of Crystal's Core Values and often manifests in unique ways. Middle School Librarian, Amy Geriak, is a beacon of creativity who makes learning whimsical in the Information Resource Center (IRC) with different mash-ups of making, interacting and imagining. Click headline to read more.
Class began with "Write Now" during which students described a few of their favorite things and explained their reasoning for each. Next, students crafted creative representations of themselves through these favorite things, or personal artifacts.