Academics and the School Day

What are our school hours?

School hours for all students are from 8:20am to 2:50pm, except on Wednesdays when school dismisses early at 2:05pm.

Being on time for school sets students up for success.  We also know mornings can be one of the most stressful times of the day for you and your children.  Taking time over the next few weeks to begin preparing for “the morning routine” will help the transition. Here is a video from “Confident Parents, Confident Kids” that you may find helpful.  It replicates much of the work we do at Brown when we help students build routines in the classroom such as proactive planning, positive reminders, and reinforcing feedback.  While it is geared toward elementary aged students, the main ideas contained in it still hold true for middle schoolers.

What is the 6-day cycle I heard about? What are blocks, periods and extensions?

All Newton middle schools run on a six-day schedule in an effort to avoid missing lessons on a Monday no-school holiday. Though it may be confusing to parents, students easily adapt to this schedule. Just in case, the “day #” is also listed on the board in the office. The Brown Rotating Schedule calendar shows both the actual calendar date and the numbered day of the cycle.

Students at Brown are enrolled in six classes: Math, Science, Social Studies, English, FAA (Fine & Applied Arts), and World Language. Each class will be assigned to a “Block” in your student’s schedule. These “Blocks” rotate during the time “Periods” during the school day. “Block A” is “Period 1” on “Day 1”, “Block A” is then “Period 2” on “Day 2, and so on. This allows for subjects to be taught at different times of the school day depending on which “Day” it is. The 2019-2020 Daily Schedule shows the block rotation through the 6-day schedule.

Each school day consists of 6 class periods. Period 4, called Extension Time, is broken into 3 segments and includes the lunch break. Each day, students have lunch by grade during one of the Extension time segments.  One of the remaining extension segments is spent in their Home Base classroom, meeting with other teachers, or in elective classes such as Chorus or Band. The other is set aside for independent reading. The remaining 5 class periods of the students’ academic day are filled with 5 of their 6 classes. Each day they will not have one class.

On Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, students begin their day with their Advisory group. On Tuesdays, the school day ends at 2:15pm instead of 3pm and therefore there is no Advisory meeting and the class periods are shorter.

Still confused? Ask to look at your child’s schedule. In most cases they will quickly explain it to you. If they are confused, feel free to contact your child’s Home Base teacher.

Does my child’s class schedule stay the same throughout the year?

The core subjects remain consistent per trimester. The FAA subjects (Drama, Art, Health, Technical Education and Music) rotate per trimester.

Is Brown on semesters or trimesters?

Brown’s academic year is divided into Trimesters with three progress reports.

What school supplies are needed?

For the first day of school, your child will only need to bring a writing utensil, some paper and a folder. During the first week of school, teachers will tell students what is required for their particular class including the color of the 1″ three-ring binder (each subject uses a different color depending on grade to store class work).

Though the lessons are standardized in each grade, approaches may vary so one team may require additional supplies, and you may find you need to do another run to get a binder or calculator. These extra items are not necessary the first week, so no need to rush out to the store on the first day of school.

When will I find out which team my child is on? Can I request he/she be on a certain team or with a friend?

At the end of August, your student’s home base room and team assignment will be posted in Aspen, the Newton Public Schools’ Parent Portal. You will receive an email from the school telling you that the assignments have been posted, and how to access them.

Given the complexities involved in creating student schedules, student placement requests cannot be honored. Though this may be disappointing to students, the school staff strive to mix student team assignment to give students new learning and social environments. Students can still meet up with friends during lunch and electives.

When will I receive progress reports and grades during the year?

Progress reports are issued three times a year, in the middle of each term. Conferences between parents and teachers are scheduled after the first term progress report though they may take place at any time at the parent’s or teacher’s request.

Are math classes different in 7th and 8th grade?

Yes, 7th grade follows a “Flexible Grouping Model”. Students take a pre-assessment on the upcoming topic/unit. Students are then sorted into groups based on their current understanding and skills for that topic/unit. These groups move at a pace appropriate for the students placed in it. Each group is taught by one of the 7th grade math teachers. After the topic/unit is done, all students return to their team math teacher for preview of the next unit, pre-assessment, and the cycle repeats. It is not uncommon for a student to place in one group for a particular unit and another group for a different unit. This model is designed to allow for variations in student’s understanding in the topic.

At the end of 7th grade, students are assessed for 8th grade. A letter is sent home designating which level of math a student will be taking in for the 8th grade year.