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Corbett Prep Fifth Graders Preview Middle School

Corbett Prep helps with the transition to sixth grade by inviting fifth graders to meet teachers and attend classes.

Fifth graders cross the bridge to Middle School to meet their future teachers and learn what to expect next year.

Fifth graders cross the bridge to Middle School to meet their future teachers and learn what to expect next year.

Dec. 4, 2013 (TAMPA, Fla.) – Fifth graders recently had the chance to try out Middle School for the morning, crossing Orange Grove Drive to meet sixth-grade teachers, participate in hands-on lessons and learn about opportunities available to them next year.

The Middle School is a familiar building to Corbett Preparatory School of IDS students, but incoming sixth graders often have several questions about what life is like for the “big kids.” What classes will they take? How do electives and clubs differ? What’s it like to change classes? What are teachers’ expectations?

To help with the transition to sixth grade, Corbett Prep offers its current fifth graders an introduction to Middle School each fall. Students spend time in each of the core classes they will take as sixth graders, and their parents follow the next day for their own tour and open house.

Teachers had mini-lessons planned for the student groups, packed with brain-based activities designed to appeal to multiple learning styles. Fifth graders worked in teams to apply engineering concepts as they built straw vehicles using only nonverbal communication. In social studies, Chris Ochoa reviewed Egyptian architecture with the students and then passed out Play-Doh for them to sculpt replicas of famous monuments. English teacher Kat Quin encouraged students to tune in as she read a passage from Doug Wilhelm’s young adult novel The Revealers and guided them through a compelling conversation about it.

Students apply design and engineering concepts to build vehicles made of straws, test them and make improvements.

Students apply design and engineering concepts to build vehicles made of straws, test them and make improvements.

Fifth graders also had time to hear advice directly from sixth graders who wrote letters packed with words of wisdom. The letters shared how many of the sixth graders had questions when they started and what they had discovered — electives they loved, the “kind, friendly and intelligent teachers” and the balance between more independence and responsibility.
“I remember when I was a fifth grader reading this letter. It really helped me anticipate what I would do in middle school,” one boy wrote to the fifth graders. “Middle school will knock your socks off with all the responsibilities and choices they give you.”

Other letters advised the incoming class to always turn in homework promptly, to stay organized and to get to class on time. “Your agenda is your best friend in middle school,” one student wrote. “You should always have it with you when you go to class.”

Teacher Kat Quin reads a passage from Doug Wilhelm’s young adult novel The Revealers.

Teacher Kat Quin reads a passage from Doug Wilhelm’s young adult novel The Revealers.

At the parent open house, Headmaster Dr. Joyce Burick Swarzman and teachers gave parents an overview of the preparatory curriculum in all areas including the five major subjects — English, math, social studies, science and Spanish — and the wheel, which rotates art, music and drama classes. Want more? Students tap into specific interests with a plethora of graded electives that include Chinese, computer programming, photography, forensics, math and CSI. Their schedule permits time for clubs related to the arts, sciences, math and more. They also attend physical education class and can participate in competitive intramurals.

Parents sampled the academic side of Middle School as they toured classes as well as enjoyed the positive social interactions among current students.

“Middle School will challenge the students,” Dr. Swarzman said, “to reach for the stars in extraordinary ways.”

Students graduate from Corbett Prep’s middle school prepared for high school with compassion for others, a strong work ethic and the independence to succeed.

Fifth graders read letters from sixth graders about what to expect from Middle School and shared their thoughts and responses.

Fifth graders read letters from sixth graders about what to expect from Middle School and shared their thoughts and responses.

Teacher Chris Ochoa reviews ancient Egyptian architecture with fifth graders.

Teacher Chris Ochoa reviews ancient Egyptian architecture with fifth graders.


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Founded in 1968, Corbett Preparatory School of IDS (formerly Independent Day School - Corbett Campus) is a fully accredited, nonsectarian private school located in Tampa’s Carrollwood neighborhood. The school serves over 500 students from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade and offers the International Baccalaureate program of study for all students. Teachers are endorsed in gifted education through a master’s level grant with the University of South Florida College of Education. Corbett Prep balances a dynamic, nurturing and safe learning environment with high standards and high expectations to develop a positive approach to life and learning. Corbett Prep has become recognized as an exemplary school with over 7,000 visitors observing and learning from Corbett Prep teachers. For more information, visit www.corbettprep.com or contact the Admissions Office at (813) 961-3087.