Fifth grade marks the last year in elementary school and is a time when students draw on all the skills and strategies they have been learning since kindergarten. Students are encouraged to take ownership of their learning and challenge themselves across the disciplines with long-term projects that require planning and organization, collaborative group work based on a variety of novels, and thoughtful journaling on tâ€™fillah (prayer) and their Jewish experience. Writing skills are strengthened through personal narratives, persuasive pieces, pro/con essays, compare/contrast papers and exposure to expository writing connected to their other subject areas. In science, students investigate questions, connect to the world of science through online videos, collect data, analyze the results and draw conclusions through units on chromatography and forensics, sustainability, eco-friendly growth, photosynthesis and its relation to life processes, types of energy, and engineering. Parts of American History are highlighted and incorporated within Language Arts and range in studies from analyzing the Bill of Rights to performing plays, learning geography and writing personal narratives from the viewpoint of various people in colonial times. Students who are particularly advanced in math are assessed and may be moved to a sixth grade math class. In Hebrew, our goal is to develop oral and written fluency with emphasis on written language. The stories read are longer and are comprised of richer language and more advanced structures and are often taught using methods such as Total Physical Response/Storytelling (TPR/TPRS). In Jewish Studies, students participate in a yearlong in-depth study of Jewish history starting with Abraham and continuing through the Modern Age. From a historical approach many topics are explored including the early Israelites, the Greeks, Romans, Rabbinic Judaism, Christianity, the Golden Age of Spain and more. Students examine the world at these times and essentially learn how Jews adapted and changed while maintaining tradition. Students learn about the importance of healthy relationships and how to get along with others as their social lives become a priority.
At AJA, sixth and seventh grade students are grouped together for core classes. . All middle school math and Hebrew classes are offered at the same time so that students can take the appropriate class based on their demonstrated ability. Students have the opportunity to earn high school credit for Hebrew and math by the end of their eighth grade year. A Humanities model is used and is defined by an essential question that includes a social studies focus and a piece of core literature. Some examples of the types of questions students encounter are, â€œHow do groups and cultural interactions support the development of identity?â€ and â€œHow do people interact with the environment and what are the consequences?â€ Formal writing will focus on research, analysis, and persuasion. In Science, investigations, laboratory experiments, and demonstrations are an integral part of exploring, understanding, and appreciating the world. Some topics of study include experimental design, cell structure and function, human body systems, adaptations, and ecology. Hebrew lessons are centered on themes of interest to teenagers, ranging from computers and sports to friendship and freedom. Each theme is presented from three perspectives: Jewish tradition, modern Israeli culture and general world knowledge, including art, science, mathematics, literature and philosophy. In Jewish Studies, the students study Jewish texts more extensively. They focus on understanding and extrapolating meaning from traditional Jewish texts — including Mishnah, Talmud, and the Shulkhan Arukh (code of Jewish law). Students study some texts in the original Hebrew, translating the language and learning key technical terminology. Students also participate in a variety of electives, an executive functioning class, and a life skills class that uses the Council model.
Leadership opportunities are the hallmark of the eighth grade year at Austin Jewish Academy. These students lead the Knesset (Student Government), middle school tâ€™filla, and are considered â€œexpertsâ€ by younger students in the school. Eighth graders continue to learn in a Humanities model that is defined by an essential question and includes a social studies focus and a piece of core literature. Some questions students encounter are, â€œHow do beliefs translate into action?â€ and â€œHow do changes in the environment change people?â€ Formal writing focuses on research, analysis, and persuasion. In Science, investigations, laboratory experiments, and demonstrations are an integral part of exploring, understanding, and appreciating the world. Some topics of study include forces and motion, rocketry, oceanography, energy, astronomy, and inventions. Hebrew lessons are centered on themes of interest to teenagers, ranging from computers and sports to friendship and freedom. Each theme is presented from three perspectives: Jewish tradition, modern Israeli culture and general world knowledge, including art, science, mathematics, literature and philosophy. In Jewish Studies, the students partake in a richer and more challenging engagement with Jewish thought. They are able to analyze Rabbinic texts on a deeper level, working in chevruta (with study partners) to debate and interpret the essential pieces of our sacred tradition. Students also participate in a variety of electives, an executive functioning class, and a life skills class that uses the Council model. In their eighth grade year, students earn high school credit for Health and Speech in addition to the high school credits earned in Hebrew and Math.