Seminar Grades 6-8
ALP Seminar Program Goals
The ALP Seminar Program seeks to:
•Foster independent and self-directed learning
•Develop intellectual and scholarly habits of mind
•Promote critical, creative and divergent thinking skills
•Provide experience in gathering ideas from various disciplines and sources to arrive at new ideas through discussion and analysis.
The overarching theme that connects the sixth, seventh, and eighth grade interdisciplinary units is: “What does it mean to be human?” Students examine this theme in each grade, focusing on different aspects of the question. In sixth grade, the focus is on evolutionary change - its impact on the human species, cultures and civilizations, philosophy, and technology. In seventh grade, the focus is on the concept of systems. Seventh graders learn about social systems - families, communities, governments and legal systems, among others. In eighth grade, the focus is on public health systems. Students learn about humanity’s current systems for addressing health problems that affect communities’ social, economic and political organizations. Students apply skills they have learned in the sixth and seventh grade units to classroom-based simulations of real-world problems.
The program is a continuum that allows reasoning models and approaches to problem solving to be revisited, practiced and refined over a three-year period. At all grade levels, Seminar students frame their own questions, engage in research, analyze and discuss ideas, and apply what they have learned to social problems. The curriculum is complex, and standards for written and oral work are demanding. The interdisciplinary approach reinforces the idea that intellectual/academic inquiry is not limited to neatly separated academic disciplines. Interdisciplinary studies also give students experience in gathering ideas from a wide range of sources and then arriving at new ideas through discussions and analysis. By eighth grade, Seminar students are well prepared to try their hand at solving compelling, real-world problems through classroom-based simulations.
Technology is integrated into the Seminar Program. Students conduct research, using both Internet and CD-ROM resources. They are encouraged to use word processing for writing assignments, in the interest of facilitating more in-depth revising and editing. Students also have opportunities to create multimedia presentations.
Finally, the Seminar Program provides a mix of group projects and individual work, which allows teachers to individualize instruction to provide both challenge and support in response to individual needs. Superior performance is required for continued enrollment.