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Middle School Innovates Grade 6 Enrichment Courses for New Interdisciplinary Possibilities

The rotation of enrichment topics is divided into two semester-long subjects—health and well-being, and art and technology.
St. Margaret’s grade 6 students are in the opening weeks of a reimagined approach to enrichment courses, where core academic classes like reading, writing, pre-algebra, earth science and world history are complemented by a rotation of enrichment topics divided into two semester-long subjects—health and well-being, and art and technology.
The idea is to synergize similar enrichment topics together to introduce interdisciplinary possibilities. The curriculum was developed by six Middle School teachers over the summer through an innovation summer grant — a St. Margaret’s program that supports the creation of new forward-thinking curricula created in-house by the school’s professional community.
“All grade 6 students will have both of these enrichment courses this school year,” Middle School assistant principal Mike Allison said. “We are really excited about this new format and all of the opportunities for learning that it brings.”
Technology and Art
Students in the technology and art enrichment class divide their time between three topics taught by three different teachers—3D design and fabrication, taught by Angela Mackenzie; visual arts, taught by Phillip Griswold; and coding, taught by Nathan Valdez.
The students will rotate their class time between the three topics for the first part of the semester. After that, the remaining classes will be dedicated to the final project, which will allow students to apply concepts learned in each class and explore the connections between them. 
“We are really excited about the opportunity to introduce our students to these courses and show them how art and technology integrate with each other seamlessly and can be found in our everyday lives,” Mrs. Mackenzie said.
Health and Well-Being
The health and well-being class is also divided into three specific paths of study—spiritual health, taught by Father Earl Gibson; personal health, taught by Leslie Pacheco-Manning; and digital health, taught by Darla Magana.
“Through our individual lenses, we will all cover topics such as identity, mindfulness, communication, growth and development, influence, peer pressure, safety, healthy choices, and decision-making,” Mrs. Magana said. “Additionally, students throughout the semester will have opportunities to further explore a topic of interest through a choice of projects and activities.”
As an example, recent class time explored the concept of identity, where spiritual health students shared what made them special, personal health students created a visual representation of their personal identity, and digital health class examined their screentime to begin understanding their digital identity.
“The creativity of these faculty members in weaving their context areas together is exactly why we created the Summer Innovation Grant program,” said Assistant Head of School for Strategic Initiatives Ryan Dahlem. “We are grateful to support the internal expertise of the professional community as they design innovative curricula to enhance the student learning experience.” 
Other 2021 Summer Innovation Grants supported interdisciplinary explorations across the fields of visual arts, performing arts, English, science and religion. Learn more about past Summer Innovation Grants at these links from 2019 and 2018.
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