Middle School (Grades 6-9)

Welcome to Nishimachi Middle School

The middle school years are a time of transition, growth and development.

At Nishimachi, we build on the grounding of the elementary school and create a setting in which students can learn, grow and develop into knowledgeable, reflective, caring, ethical and involved citizens, both at school and in the wider community.

Our middle school caters for the social and emotional needs of young adolescents in a dynamic and changing world, while at the same time preparing the students for the rigours and demands of ongoing study. A caring and vibrant atmosphere encourages the students to develop strong relationships as well as take intellectual risks, thus creating lifelong learners who are confident and self-aware.

School wide curriculum standards provide a framework for the academic program. Students are engaged through inquiry-based learning and have opportunities to delve into each subject area. A focus on Japanese language and culture is a unique aspect of our academic program, and students’ benefit from small classes sizes within the language and social studies classes.

In addition to our core academic classes, students participate in art, drama, physical education, health, and music classes as well as co-curricular programs to enrich their learning experiences. As a member of the Kanto Plain Schools Association, our students participate in performing and visual arts festivals, academic competitions, and athletic events with other regional international schools.

The faculty work cooperatively with parents to give the students the confidence to meet challenges with enthusiasm, wisdom and resourcefulness and I encourage you to consider Nishimachi as a school for your daughter or son.

Sincerely yours, 

Meredith Lawson
Middle School Principal

Academic Programs

Class sizes generally vary from 12-18 students. Learning is inquiry-based and supported by one-to-one access to Apple laptops. The middle school schedule is divided into teaching periods of 60 minutes on a 10-day cycle. All students take the following courses from grades 6–9:

  1. English (10 hours per cycle)
  2. Mathematics (8 hours per cycle)
  3. Science (7 hours per cycle)
  4. Social studies (6 hours per cycle)
  5. Japanese language (8 hours per cycle)
  6. Japanese social studies (4 hours per cycle)
  7. Art (1 semester, 5 hours per cycle)
  8. Music (1 semester, 5 hours per cycle)
  9. Drama (2 hours per cycle)
  10. Physical education (4 hours per cycle)
  11. Health and wellness (1 hour per cycle)
  12. Exploratory classes (2 hours per cycle)

For all subjects, other than Japanese and Mathematics in grades 8 and 9, the core classes are mixed ability groups. Levels in the Japanese program are determined according to the language background and the student's Japanese language proficiency. Mathematics is taught at Honors or Standard levels in grades 8 and 9. Within all classes, differentiation allows for optimal student learning.

Approaches to Learning

MS Approaches to Learning, Assessment, and Reporting

Students are exposed to a wide range of learning strategies and assessment practices. Teachers use a combination of presentation, class discussion, collaborative group work, individual work, long and short-term projects, and closely monitored units. Students are actively encouraged to be aware of how they are learning. We adopt practices associated with the ‘reading and writing workshop’ model and inquiry-based learning.

Information and communication technology play a major role in twenty-first century student learning. Teachers use a variety of resources in designing their lessons including, but not limited to: subject textbooks, the media center (general reference and periodicals sources), the Internet, relevant computer applications and audio/video tools, and primary resources. Students are guided in developing metacognition and are encouraged to reflect upon their learning. There are no formal examination periods. Rather, teachers administer formative and summative classroom assessments at appropriate times during units of work.

Parents and students access subject content through our interactive web-based learning portal. This portal also serves as the primary communication tool for middle school students and parents. 

Advisor Program

The advisory program is an essential component of the middle school educational program and supports the aims and objectives of the health and wellness curriculum. Each grade level is subdivided into 'advisory groups' of about 8 to 10 students. These cohesive groups address social and emotional development, as well as day-to-day school business. Routines such as recording attendance and coordinating student information and communication occur during daily check-ins. Students develop awareness of personal and social skills through weekly 'circle solutions' activities. During circle solutions students develop their skills in empathy, inclusion, problem solving, reflection, creativity, and democracy. Students from advisory groups are elected to our student council, StuCo. This provides leadership opportunities and encourages responsibility within our community.

Homework

Homework is considered a necessary part of the overall middle school educational program. Homework assignments are formative work, designed to deepen student learning. Homework may also be used to support a "flipped classroom" approach to instruction. The amount of time spent on homework varies for each student. In general, the total time spent ranges from 90 minutes per day for grades 6 and 7, to up to 3 hours for grades 8 and 9. 

The Grade 9 Program

The grade 9 year at Nishimachi is a unique experience, designed for an intentionally small group of students. They receive supportive individualized attention and enjoy close partnerships with their teachers. Not only is the grade 9 year a rite of passage at Nishimachi, it affords students the time and support to become mature learners. Nishimachi graduates transition into their tenth grade year as confident and resilient learners.

The grade 9 program takes a holistic approach. Our students are academically challenged through course work, high learning expectations, the Grade 9 Challenge, Japanese graduation essay and their graduation speeches. Socially, the ninth grade class develops a strong bond as the result of being at the “top of the school”. Their lifelong friendships are a treasured product on the ninth grade year. They’re also the natural leaders and take important roles in service, student government, athletics, performing arts and school events. Additional benefits include their ninth grade privileges: expeditionary trips, a ninth grade hang out area, laptop privileges, graduation celebration party, etc.

Moving on from Nishimachi

Moving on from Nishimachi

Nishimachi middle school students are well prepared for the academic and social challenges that await them in their next school setting. Whether their choice is an international high school in Tokyo or a school in another country, our graduates routinely report that they are well-prepared for all that awaits them beyond the Nishimachi learning experience. Further information can be found in the following publication Reflections on a Nishimachi Education

Nishimachi graduates are the product of Tané Matsukata’s vision for an international school experience. Distinguished by their global outlook and experience as school leaders, Nishimachi graduates are noted for their eagerness to learn, preparedness for challenging academics, orientation towards service, and ability as leaders. We strive to graduate students with the skills, knowledge, and habits of mind to succeed throughout their high school years and into their university studies.

Nishimachi graduates are...

  • Academically prepared for rigorous studies in 10th grade and beyond;
  • Confident in English and Japanese;
  • Collaborative and independent learners;
  • Critical thinkers;
  • Compassionate and service-oriented;
  • Articulate communicators;
  • Skilled in independent research;
  • Experienced leaders.