The Middle School Experience

Inquiry: The Best Educational Method for the 21st Century
Inquiry-based learning is a student-centered teaching approach. First developed in the 1960s, this new approach entered classrooms as a reaction to the traditional "drill and kill" style of teaching which lead to rote or memorization-based learning.
Today, many teachers use projects to assess student learning. But just because you see students doing projects doesn’t mean they are doing inquiry-based learning. In most classrooms, “projects” are just another assessment method.
How is the education at Bosque School different?
At Bosque School, teachers develop learning experiences.

Students construct knowledge using a combination of information that they gather from various resources, including the teacher or their own research. Students’ prior knowledge and natural curiosity drive the direction of student learning.

With inquiry-based learning, students ignite the spark of curiosity about topics they never knew they would be excited about!
Humanities Curriculum: Example of Inquiry in Action
For example, the curriculum in middle school humanities is organized around themes taught across multiple disciplines. It might be as “simple” as studying world religions in social studies, and students developing inquiry questions for research in English. Students might study a culture, such as Asian culture, across English, social studies, and music classes.

Or, it might be as complex as studying beliefs about knowledge. In other words, the study of epistemology.

What is misinformation? What are stereotypes? How do we form our beliefs and opinions about topics as diverse as:
  • The rights of women in Saudi Arabia
  • How people are portrayed in natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina
  • The role of CVS and Walgreens in the opioid epidemic

Learn about inquiry in action in science classes on our Uniquely Bosque page!

What courses do middle school students take?
All middle school students take:
  • Core classes, including math, science, English, and social studies
  • Visual art
  • Spanish (or Heritage Spanish)
  • PE
  • Students choose a performing arts class: strings, band, choir, or theater. In 8th grade, students might also choose Technical Theater.
How are students assessed?
One of Bosque School’s core values is Inspiring Academic Excellence. Bosque Middle School teachers set learning goals each year which they use to measure student progress.
Sample Learning Goals for Middle School
How do learning assessments work?
With Learning Goals Based Assessment, students receive a score between 1 and 3 to indicate their learning progress. Teachers write thorough comments on any scores from 2.0 or lower.

A misperception about inquiry-based learning is that students are in groups all day, or they are in charge of their own learning. This is actually not how inquiry-based learning works. However, students are more involved in reflecting upon their learning goals and progress.

In addition, each spring, students take a standardized test (STAR) to measure their progress on a standardized scale, as they move from grade to grade. Teachers take and use the information to plan for the upcoming year.
What is the middle school community like?
Whether it’s morning meetings where students gather for announcements and activities, or in athletics, clubs, and extracurriculars such as tennis or math competitions—students feel part of a supportive and friendly community. Ask any Bobcat, and they will say that in their first days at the school, they were made to feel like they belonged.

In classroom settings, the inquiry-based teaching approach, by nature, helps develop social interaction skills and community bonds.
Because Bosque School has made a significant commitment to equity, community, and culture, we have cultivated an environment where we treat one another with respect, compassion, and empathy to create a community whose members feel valued and empowered as multifaceted human beings.

Participation in fun events such as Fall Fiesta, as well as grade-level retreats are examples of ways students find their place in the community.
Intentional Learning Outside the Classroom
At Bosque School, learning isn't limited to the four walls of a classroom. From day one, our students get out into the community to experience education.

6th grade starts the year with a “takeover” event where they take over the campus and Albuquerque with different fun bonding and learning activities.

7th grade goes on an activity-filled, two-night retreat to Hummingbird Music Camp.
Other field trips in the middle school have included visits to:
  • Albuquerque Museum
  • National Hispanic Cultural Center
  • Indian Pueblo Cultural Center
  • Bosque del Apache
  • Las Huertas
  • Battleship Rock in Jemez Springs
  • Reading Buddies at a local elementary school
  • Manzano Mountains
  • Maxwell Museum of Anthropology

The Most Helpful Mindset
In addition to learning skills that students will use their entire lives, such as social-emotional skills, and skills that support an equitable society, students develop healthy mindsets for success as learners.

When describing the mindset as observed in 7th and 8th-grade science class, Mr. Daly says:

“Students are always hesitant to share their ideas because they don’t want to be wrong. It’s not just ok to be wrong in science class—you have to be wrong in science class. That’s what it’s about—that’s how you make progress.”

Overall, the best mindset is to “be brave.”