Grades 5-9
The Experience
Middle School: Grades 5-6

Academics: Grades 5-6

What sets Fessenden’s Middle School apart? We don’t just teach content; we teach boys how to learn. We equip boys with the tools they need to effectively explore, ask questions, find answers, and pursue their intellectual passions throughout their lives.

We help boys build a strong foundation in English, math, science, social studies, and foreign language. Faculty nurture the head and the heart, giving boys the freedom to build projects around their own academic passions.

We recognize that boys learn best when they are active participants in interdisciplinary learning. So we don’t just study habitats in science class, we build bird feeders in the Ciongoli Center for Innovation using our 3D printers. In math class, we chart the birds’ nesting habits. And in English class, we write persuasive essays on the issues involved in ecosystem preservation.

Upon graduating from Middle School, boys are able to think critically and problem-solve; communicate effectively in writing and speech; gain and apply knowledge; effectively manage time and projects; self-advocate; and stand on a strong foundation for future learning.

View our Full Curriculum or browse the Middle School Curriculum at a Glance below.

Middle School Curriculum at a Glance

List of 11 items.

  • English

    Middle School English classes use a collaborative teaching style to help students become strong communicators. The boys are given the tools and structures to further develop their critical reading, expressive writing, and public speaking skills.
  • Mathematics

    Math in Focus is an authentic Singapore Math® curriculum—with problem solving as the center of math learning and concepts taught with a concrete–pictorial–abstract learning progression through real-world, hands-on experiences. Teachers make math fun by challenging boys to figure out if a billion, one dollar bills, could fit in the classroom, or asking them to calculate how much rain fell on our 41-acre campus if we got two inches of rain.
  • Science

    Middle School science uses a hands-on approach to encourage students’ curiosity and wonder about the world around them, while introducing them to a scientific way of understanding the phenomena they observe. An introductory level science curriculum employs a hands-on approach that builds upon and fosters the student's natural curiosity while offering an introduction to scientific thought, observation, analysis, and reporting. Over the course of the year, students are asked to contemplate their "Place in the World." Covering topics such as ecology, birds, magnetism and electricity, students will develop the skills required to conduct their own investigations, analyze the data collected while developing and sharpening the critical thinking skills necessary to formulate their own hypothesis. Students will develop projects and lead discussions designed to hone their communication and organizational skills. Students demonstrate their understanding of the content areas by collaboratively producing cumulative projects, participation in class activities, and oral presentations.
  • Foreign Language

    Students study Spanish or Latin, and use the target language for written and/or verbal expression, interweaving culture and history with language, and building vocabulary.
  • Life and Leadership

    Middle School Life and Leadership is a course that is based on social emotional learning. As our boys transition into a new school, a new division, and a new way of navigating through their daily lives at the middle school/upper elementary stage, there are different and similar expectations from lower school, This class is a bridge into this new stage of development with a lens on their social emotional development. Using the 6 C's of education (citizenship, character education, collaboration, communication, critical thinking, creativity), the boys will role play real life scenarios, experience critical thinking activities, and reflect both verbally and in journal form. The goals for this course are for the boys to be more aware of their surroundings, to be self aware of their connections with classmates and teachers, and to have the tools and skills to make sound decisions.
  • Social Studies - Grade 5

    The title of this course, The Evolution of Civilization, refers to the variety of ways in which civilizations have adapted to meet the needs of their citizens over time. Through an exploration of unintended consequences, students reckon with mistakes civilizations and countries have made across generations and how they dealt with these consequences, perhaps tying these lessons to experiences of their own. We spend time studying how civilizations across the world have used natural resources, formed different types of government, and engaged in diplomacy and warfare. This study culminates in two year-end projects: Build Your Own Country, and Diplomacy: a geopolitical simulation designed to give students the experience to "run" a country in nation-teams.
  • Cultural Geography - Grade 6

    During the sixth grade year, students are exposed to a wide variety of both physical and cultural geographical information, all while attempting to answer the question, “How does geography play a role in cultural development?” Viewing the world through the Five Themes of geography, we will explore the Middle East, Africa, and East Asia. Throughout these units, students investigate how imperialism and colonization have historically shaped these regions, while simultaneously looking at current events which highlight each area in order to gain a better appreciation for what is going on in the world around them today. By taking this approach to cultural geography, students will become more familiar with each region’s successes and difficulties using up to the minute information gathered from reputable reporting agencies. Other areas of emphasis will focus on study skills, public speaking, writing and a focus on project based learning, including the annual “NGO” project, where students study, analyze, and create their own NGOs based on real world problems that are impacting the world today.
  • Performing Arts

    Students can fine-tune their musical skills by studying voice, individual instruments, band, orchestra, and musical theatre.
  • Visual Arts

    All students have the ability to create art. Through hands-on assignments that explore art fundamentals, boys gain confidence and technical skill while tapping into their imagination and creativity. They also study digital photography and woodworking, and can spend time in the iLab creating projects and learning programming.
  • Technology

    While technology is appropriately woven into the fabric of our entire Middle School curriculum, we also offer the following courses: ​Ciongoli Center for Innovation Bootcamp and Middle Makers.
  • Academic Support

    Learning Resources

    Lapin Skills Center: Provides remediation and individualized support in language arts or math skills. 

    Academic Tutoring: Provides individualized support in study and organizational skills and/or a specific academic subject area. 

    Student Advisors:
    Advisors and homeroom teachers play an important role in guiding the academic performance of their students. They provide help with course selection when students have choices to make, assist students when interpreting grades and comments from teachers, and may even provide a level of organizational support. In addition to academic advising, a student’s advisor/homeroom teacher oversees his social and athletic development and helps him make good choices in all areas of his life. The quality and depth of this relationship between adults and students are what makes Fessenden a unique school community.

    Help and Work:  Help and Work is available to all students in Grades 7-9. Help and Work provides a daily opportunity for boys to acquire help with lessons or make-up work. Students may schedule time with faculty using a daily sign-up or teachers may schedule time with individual students if they think students need extra help. Help and Work is held during the last period of the day for all students. Boys who are not involved in Help and Work attend study hall or early sports during this time.
© 2015 The Fessenden School. All Rights Reserved.
The Fessenden School
250 Waltham Street
West Newton, MA 02465
(617) 964-5350

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