CRCS Middle School Program Guide – Fall, 2023

Students at CRCS Middle School are a part of an educational community where rigorous curriculum is made engaging and accessible. Our classrooms are places of enthusiastic collaboration and personal reflection. Students meet our high academic and behavioral expectations by being given the support they need and deserve. Our educational model addresses the individual needs of students and ensures that all students have the opportunity to meet their potential.

Core Academic Program


At Community Roots, we integrate Social Studies and English Language Arts into one class called Humanities. The Humanities structure creates opportunities for authentic connections between skills and content traditionally taught separately in the ELA and Social Studies classroom. We believe this leads to deeper understanding for students in both skills and content.

A key focus of the Humanities classrooms is the development of students’ reading skills. At the beginning of the year, each student takes a reading assessment to determine their reading level. This assessment is given two more times over the course of the year so that we can continue to track student progress. We then teach reading strategies through mini-lessons that are then followed up on in shared class texts, or student book clubs. In addition, students receive small group instruction, inside or outside of the classroom, based on their reading needs. We also emphasize independent reading for all students. It is essential students in middle school read as much as possible, especially books of their choosing. During daily independent reading in the classroom, we hold individual teacher conferences, focused on reading habits. We also hold students accountable for the number of books read. All of these instructional structures are in place to ensure that every student continues to develop as a reader and is prepared for high school.

When thinking about writing instruction, we believe that practice in both fiction and nonfiction writing is critical to students’ development as writers. We want students to write frequently. We want them to write on demand. And we want them to write polished pieces that they work on for a period of time. Throughout 6th, 7th, and 8th grade, students write informational, argumentative and creative pieces. With each major writing project students go through the writing process (drafting, revising, editing and publishing) and learn crafting strategies specific to the genre in which they are writing. We also have students complete on demand writing assessment over the course of the year. This allows us to assess how students write independently, without teacher feedback and revisions based on that feedback. We use these writing assessments to inform and adjust our instruction according to student needs.

In our approach to teaching social studies, teachers work hard to create a space where students have tough conversations about history and current events, make connections between what they are learning and who they are, and are empowered to be social change agents for issues they care about. We teach our students to be critical researchers who seek out reliable sources and multiple perspectives. Each grade begins with an identity launch before focusing on historical themes or periods. The 6th grade social studies units are: Identity, Immigration, Belief Systems, Immigration, and Critical Geography. The 7th grade units are A More Perfect Union, This Land is Their Land, a Dream Deferred, and Industrialization. The 8th grade year units are: World War 2, the Root Cause Study and Bend the Arc: Time for Change.

Eighth grade Humanities ends with an independent research project that is a culmination of the Humanities education at Community Roots. Inspired by the models of changemakers in history, students begin to grapple with the idea that sometimes, social change takes time and the continued efforts of multiple generations. With this understanding, they research a current day issue they care about and complete a project for change that culminates into a roundtable discussion where they educate others and share their plan for change for furthering equity and justice for their cause.


The CRCS Math Department operates under a philosophy that math is a coherent system that invites wonder, is illuminated through connections, and is eminently knowable. Children and adults find these connections by working in a community in which they communicate their ideas, hear the ideas of others and have ample time and space to reflect on both. Our math courses are guided by the Illustrative Math Curriculum. The program emphasizes student-centered collaborative exploration of real-life math applications to support deep understanding of critical math concepts and skills. In addition, students are given a math assessment three times over the course of the year. This helps us to assess student development of skills and to provide targeted support. Based on these assessments, students receive small group instruction within the classroom and/or additional support outside of the classroom.

In 6th grade, students learn how to independently problem solve, perform all of the basic mathematical operations, use math manipulatives to solve complex problems, construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others, as well as get exposure to real-world math problems that have relevant meaning to their daily lives.

In 7th grade, students work to gain fluency using the four operations with integers and rational numbers. Students are asked to make comparisons of quantitative information (using ratios, fractions, decimals, rates, unit rates, and percents) and to use quantitative information to make scale models. Students also identify and generate equivalent algebraic expressions and solve two-step linear equations and inequalities.

In 8th Grade, students are introduced to the concept of mathematical models and applications in problem solving. Some algebra is used to model real situations and answer questions. This use of algebra requires the ability to represent data using tables, pictures, graphs, equations or inequalities, and rules. Students will be exposed to scientific notation, simplifying expressions and performing operations. Students also begin to develop an understanding of congruence and similarity of geometric figures, and the mathematical techniques for finding and applying those relationships of shapes. Students will write and interpret equivalent expressions, combine expressions to form new expressions, predict patterns of change represented by an equation or expression, and solve equations. This manipulation of symbolic expressions is explored using the properties of equality and the Distributive and Commutative Properties.

Algebra I is offered as an option for students in 8th grade and is aligned to the Common Core Standards to prepare students for the Algebra I Common Core Regents Exam, offered in the Spring every year.


CRMS students learn that science is an active, exploratory and evolving process based upon principles of inquiry and driven by curiosity. Our classes teach students that the study of science provides us with the tools to make sense of, bring order to, and facilitate change in the world around us.

The CRMS science curriculum incorporates a 3-dimensional approach to student learning. Students are exposed to core concepts in each scientific discipline through practicing scientific skills and connecting to broader themes. At each grade level, students design and conduct investigations, write scientific explanations, develop and use models, engage in analytical and mathematical thinking and share their work with others. Small group work and partner work is foundational to our approach as we mimic real-world scientific collaboration. By the end of 8th grade, students gain skills in posing scientific questions, developing and executing science investigations, analyzing and visualizing data, reading and applying informational texts, maintaining laboratory notebooks, writing lab reports, and crafting scientific explanations in order to prepare for high school science courses.

6th grade science consists of the following units: Neuroscience: The Science of Me, Thermal Energy, Weather and Climate, and Human Impact of Climate Change. In The Science of Me unit, students learn basic brain structures and functions as well as how outside factors, such as food and sleep affect the brain and body. In the Thermal Energy unit, students investigate temperature as a measure of thermal energy, particle movement and heat transfer. During the Weather and Climate unit, students explore phenomena related to weather and storms to help them understand weather at local, regional, and global scales. Lastly, students continue to build their understanding of weather and global phenomena as they explore human impact pertaining to climate change in the final unit Human Impact of Climate Change.

7th grade science consists of the following units: Ecosystems, Germs, Geology and Human Impact, Colossal Collisions, and Astronomy and Magnetism. The Ecosystems unit uses local and global case studies to guide students in understanding the delicate balance of living and nonliving factors in any habitat. In the Germs unit, students explore disease transmission, communicable and non-communicable disease, bacteria and viruses via the phenomena of current disease outbreaks. During the Geology unit, students learn about the composition of the earth and earth structures and explore the processes that continue to shape the surface of the earth. Students investigate the physics of forces and Newton’s Laws through modeling collisions of celestial bodies in the Colossal Collisions unit. Finally, in the Astronomy and Magnetism unit students recognize patterns in order to identify and explain seasons, orbits, and gravitational forces and thus come to better comprehend the scale of the universe.

8th grade science consists of the following units: Electricity (mini-unit), Drugs and the Adolescent Brain, MUTATION!, Shark Evolution and Adaptation, and Waves. Students begin the year exploring the potato light phenomena to gain an understanding of circuits, atomic theory, and subatomic particles in the Electricity mini unit. The Drugs and the Adolescent Brain unit teaches students why adolescent brains are unique and offers opportunities for hands-on investigations to explore the effects of stimulants and depressants on the brain and body. In our genetics and reproduction unit, MUTATION!, students become geneticists to debate if humans could one day become mutants like the science fiction characters the X-Men. A highlight of the Shark Evolution and Adaptation unit is a dissection of a spiny dogfish shark during which students identify physical adaptations that have helped sharks survive in the ocean for over 400 million years. Finally, we end the year exploring mechanical and electromagnetic waves and information transfer in the Waves unit.


All CRMS students take Spanish in the 7th grade. The curriculum emphasizes the National Standards for Foreign Language Education’s 5 C’s: Communication (listening, speaking, reading and writing); Culture (exploring similarities and differences among Spanish-speaking cultures); Connections (to other learning and students’ lives); Comparisons (between languages and cultures); and Communities (exploring and connecting with Spanish-speaking communities). In the 8th grade, students who would like to continue Spanish may do so in a year-long elective, which culminates with the option to take the New York City’s Spanish Proficiency Exam to receive high school credit and placement into an advanced Spanish class. In 7th grade Spanish, the units are the school community, food and celebrations, and family. In 8th grade Spanish, the units are shopping, health, and travel.

Visual Arts and Theatre

At Community Roots, the art curriculum has been designed to be both a discipline within itself with its own set of learning targets as well as to be integrated into other disciplines. In 6th grade Visual Arts class our two units are Collage and Printmaking. In the Collage unit, students explore how to create a new whole while using different materials. During the Printmaking unit, students explore shape and marks while designing their own prints. During 7th grade students also study painting, learning about color theory, lights and shadows.

The other half of each year, students take a Theatre class. At CRCS, Theatre is taught through the lens of developing critical thinkers, collaborators and theatre artists, giving young people a voice. Students gain significant experience in improvisation and in devising (creating original pieces of theatre based on the ideas of a group). Because theatre is a collaborative art form they also learn different ways to work together and how to give and take focus both within a scene and as an audience member. In 8th grade, students have the option of selecting Visual Arts and Theatre as electives, with the fall classes focused on preparing students for high school auditions. 8th grade Theatre students can also take Scene Study and Physical Theatre in addition to the Monologue/Audition class.

Physical Education

The Physical Education program provides students with the knowledge and skills they need to form healthy lifelong habits. Students have fun while learning a wide range of fitness exercises, athletic skills, team, and individual sports. Throughout the three year physical education sequence, classes emphasize the importance of sportsmanship while students learn to balance competition with cooperation. Physical education is also a time for students to learn and practice gross motor skills, to learn how to actively participate in large group games and to develop habits that lead to staying physically fit. The class includes a blend of health and fitness, cooperative challenges, and sports activities. All students have physical education at least twice weekly.

Sexual Health

At CRCS, every 8th grade student takes a 12 week long course called Sexual Health. The course includes four units: healthy relationships, adolescence and identity, sex and contraception and sexually-transmitted diseases/infections. Students learn, practice and reflect on steps to making healthy decisions around their sexual health and relationships. This course was designed collaboratively by CRCS faculty and our social work team, with the support of materials from Planned Parenthood.

In the 6th and 7th grade, students participate in a series of Health Initiative lessons during Crew. The lessons cover puberty, healthy friendships and relationships, boundaries, consent, and health decision making around high risk behaviors.

Crew and Academic Advisors:


Each student is a member of a Crew of 12 – 15 students led by two staff members. These Crews meet each morning. The purpose of Crew is to create community and to support students’ social emotional development. In addition, each student has an Academic Advisor whose role is to ensure that students have a strong school-based relationship with an adult who knows them well and can support their growth academically, socially, and emotionally. Advisors meet with their advisees individually at least once per week. They also establish and maintain close contact with their advisees families, updating them regularly on academic progress, attendance, and general life at school.

Family Conferences

Family conferences occur twice during the school year to instill student ownership of their learning and to strengthen school-family relationships. During family conferences, students and their families attend formal conferences with student’s teachers. Students participate in the meeting by sharing their reflections on their academic and social-emotional progress and to articulate their goals for moving forward.



All students have the opportunity to fully immerse themselves in unique content for several days in the Spring through non-traditional, hands-on learning experiences that include fieldwork, adventure, and work with experts/professionals. Past intensives have included: biking, cooking, sand sculpting, knitting and crochet, photography, hiking, camping, fitness and textile arts. Intensives are led by CRMS faculty members. Student groups are formed across grade levels with input from students regarding their interest.

Brooklyn College at Community Roots – After School Program

In association with the New York City Department of Youth and Development, Brooklyn College at Community Roots is an after school program offered five days a week from 4:00pm-6:00pm. Students have the opportunity to participate in a variety of enrichment activities. Enrichment activities are confirmed each year. Past activities have included Dance, Jazz Band, STEM club, and Literary Magazine!

Team Sports

Community Roots offers competitive team sports to all students. We currently offer volleyball, basketball, track and soccer teams. Each sport includes a tryout, practices and competitive games against teams in the Charter School Athletic League .


In addition to Theatre Arts classes for all students, Middle School students can audition for school wide productions. Students may also be part of these productions off stage by joining our stagecraft /stage crew club. Past productions include: Into the Woods, James and the Giant Peach, the Green Snake and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Student Leadership Opportunities

CB Mentors

Students have the chance to intern in Kindergarten and 1st grade classrooms during the morning twice a week. Middle School students commit to participating for a six-week period. The program is aimed at encouraging our Middle School students to build relationships with their younger community counterparts and develop leadership skills.

CB Ambassador Program

Members of the Ambassador Program act as liaisons between the school and visitors to the school. They help to facilitate tours for families, new students and visitors. They also participate in new student orientations and represent our school in a variety of ways.