Middle School

  1. Home
  2. »
  3. Middle School

North Side's Grand Center Middle School

The middle school opened its doors in August 2018 to welcome 75 excited and hopeful fifth and sixth graders. The first year was a whirlwind of new operational systems and curriculum offerings. The whole North Side community came together to make it a success.

Seventh grade began in Fall of 2019 and the first 8th grade class was inducted in Fall 2020. Housed in the beautiful and historic Third Baptist Church building, the middle school features spacious classrooms with abundant natural light. Students enjoy a performance space, a gymnasium, and a short walk to some of St. Louis’ most revered arts and culture institutions.

English Language Arts

North Side Community School will be adopting the Amplify ELA curriculum for 6th – 8th grade ELA  courses. North Side piloted one unit of Amplify ELA in 6th and 8th grade during the 2022-2023  school year. Teachers and district leaders found that students were more engaged during this unit than they had been with their previous curriculum. Teachers found that the robust package of resources helped them plan and execute more effective instruction as well. Amplify ELA is a blended English language arts curriculum designed specifically to support students in grades 6–8 and prepare them for high school and beyond. With Amplify ELA,  students learn to tackle any complex text and make observations, grapple with interesting ideas,  and find relevance for themselves. Students are engaged through dynamic texts, lively classroom discussions, and meaningful digital experiences. With text always at the center, students are  encouraged to make meaning for themselves. Rather than focusing on right or wrong answers, they develop ideas and opinions on relevant, real-world, texts. Multiple entry points and differentiated supports allow every student, regardless of fluency or ability level, to engage deeply with the same complex texts and rigorous curriculum. Amplify ELA Grades 6, 7, and 8 fully meet the expectations of alignment and usability. The materials include consistent, cohesive instruction that is not only grade-level appropriate but also provides connections across grade  levels. Similarly, rich texts build knowledge of the topic and theme and have connections across  grades. The materials include comprehensive implementation support for learners and provide  teacher guidance to utilize assessment and technology information.

By expanding to offer middle school grades, North Side is delivering quality education to more students who are most in need of it. The vast majority otherwise attended schools where positive academic outcomes are rare. Now, these students have the opportunity to continue succeeding academically in a culture of respect and high expectations where they are encouraged by the attention they receive in small classes. Like North Side’s elementary school, the middle school offers an extended day and school year that can be life-changing for many students. Classes are taught by highly-qualified teachers focusing on the same core subjects.


North Side Community School will be continuing the use of the Achievement First mathematics curriculum for middle-grade math courses during the 2023 – 2024 school year. However, the district will shift to a k-8th grade coherent and aligned mathematics curriculum for the next school year.  

The CCSSM requires a balance of:  

  • Solid conceptual understanding  
  • Procedural skill and fluency  
  • Application of skills in problem-solving situations  

Tenets of Achievement First’s Mathematics Program:  

Conceptual Understanding: comprehension of mathematical concepts, operations, and relations  • While developing conceptual understanding, students make meaning of mathematics and make connections across mathematical ideas which allows for rapid acquisition of new knowledge, greater retention, and ability to apply in novel contexts.  

  • Focus SMPs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 2.  

Procedural Fluency: skill in carrying out procedures flexibly, accurately, efficiently, and  appropriately

  • The development of procedural fluency allows students to focus mental energy on flexibly approaching and thinking through problems, rather than the steps to perform an accurate calculation.  
  • Focus SMPs 5, 6, 7 3.  

Strategic Competence & Adaptive Reasoning: ability to formulate, represent, and solve mathematical problems; capacity for logical thought, reflection, explanation, and justification  • The development of these habits of mind prepares students to solve mathematical problems that they may encounter throughout the rest of their academic and social lives.  • Focus SMPs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8 4.  

Productive Disposition: a habitual inclination to see mathematics as sensible, useful, and worthwhile, coupled with a belief in diligence and one’s efficacy.  

  • Students approach challenging situations as opportunities to learn and mistakes made along the way as times for feedback and reflection, not representations of personal failure. This productive disposition is the hallmark of having a growth mindset as opposed to one that is fixed.  
  • Focus SMPs: 1 5.  

Problem-Solving: the umbrella under which all the opportunities to increase proficiency and  expertise with mathematical practices fall  

  • While students engage in problem-solving they are making sense of problems, thinking strategically about concept and skill applications, planning and executing a viable approach,  and reflecting on processes and solutions.  
  • Focus SMPs: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 

The tenets and practices are in service of the three shifts demanded by the Common Core:  1. FOCUS: Focus strongly where the standards focus 

  • Significantly narrow the scope of content and deepen how time and energy are spent in the math classroom.  
  • Focus deeply on what is emphasized in the standards, so that students gain strong foundations. 
  1. COHERENCE: Across grades and linked to major topics  
  • Carefully connect the learning within and across grades so that students can build new  understanding on foundations built in previous years  
  • Begin to count on a solid conceptual understanding of core content and build on it. Each standard is not a new event, but an extension of previous learning. 
  1. RIGOR: In major topics, pursue conceptual understanding, procedural skill and fluency, and  application  

The materials reviewed for Achievement First Mathematics Grades 6-8 meet expectations for  Alignment to the CCSSM. In Gateway 1 the materials meet expectations for focus and coherence. In Gateway 2, the materials meet expectations for rigor and practice-content connections. In Gateway 3, the materials meet expectations for Usability.


North Side Community School will be shifting in the 2023-2024 school year from the MySci curriculum to Amplify Science for our K-8 science courses. North Side piloted one unit of Amplify  Science in 6th and 8th grade during the 2022-2023 school year. Teachers and district leaders found that students were more engaged during this unit than they had been with the MySci curriculum. Teachers found that the robust package of resources helped them plan and execute more effective instruction as well. 

Amplify Science is a K–8 science curriculum that blends hands-on investigations, literacy-rich activities, and interactive digital tools to empower students to think, read, write, and argue like  real scientists and engineers. In each Amplify Science unit, students inhabit the role of a  scientist or engineer to investigate a real-world problem. Amplify Science is rooted in  the Lawrence Hall of Science’s Do, Talk, Read, Write, Visualize model of learning. Gold standard  research shows that this pedagogical approach works, and our early efficacy research about  Amplify Science is promising, too. Amplify Science meets the criteria for Tier III-Promising  Evidence as an education intervention under ESSA.  

The instructional materials reviewed for Amplify Science Grades 6-8 meet expectations for  Alignment to NGSS, Gateways 1 and 2. In Gateway 1, the instructional materials incorporate and integrate the three dimensions and incorporate three-dimensional assessments for and of student learning. The materials also incorporate phenomena and problems that connect to grade-band appropriate DCIs, present phenomena and problems as directly as possible, and consistently include phenomena and problems that drive student learning and use of the three  dimensions within and across lessons. Further, the materials elicit but do not leverage, students prior knowledge and expertise related to phenomena and problems. In Gateway 2, the instructional materials ensure students are aware of how the dimensions connect from unit to  unit, incorporate a suggested sequence for the series, and incorporate student tasks related to  understanding and explaining phenomena that increase in sophistication across the series. The materials incorporate scientifically accurate use of the three dimensions. Further, the materials include all components and related elements of the DCIs for physical science, life science, engineering, technology, and applications of science; the earth and space science DCIs are  mostly included, with one element missing. The materials include all SEPs and nearly all elements, except are missing four elements of Asking Questions and Defining problems and missing one element from both Analyzing and Interpreting Data and Using Mathematics and  Computational Thinking. The materials include all Cs and nearly all elements, except missing one element from Scale, Proportion, and Quantity. Additionally, the materials incorporate multiple instances of the nature of science connections to SEPs and DCIs and  engineering connections to CCCs.

Social Studies

North Side Community School will be adopting the McGraw Hill Voices and Perspectives  curriculum for 6-8th grade social studies courses. The school did not have an adopted social  curriculum for the 2022-2023 school year. This curriculum is aligned with the social studies curriculum in k-5.  

The Voices and Perspectives curriculum empowers students to make connections between the past and present as they experience history through multiple lenses and inquiry while practicing civil discourse to become future-ready citizens. It inspires students to critically analyze the past  and discover how it relates to them today using primary and secondary sources that highlight  deep, thought-provoking questions. These sources feature a diverse range of perspectives and experiences while empowering students to explore their curiosities. 

The Student Experience 

  • Compelling questions for each topic that encourage deep thought and reflection.
  • Inquiry-infused content that incorporates a variety of perspectives.
  • Activities that help students engage with present-day issues and affect change locally through informed action.
  • A living library of updated program content that makes history relevant, including biweekly  current event articles that link what students are learning to today’s events.
  • Engaging multimedia content, including brand new videos and interactive maps, audio files, and  more create authentic and engaging ways for students to experience the lesson
  • Targeted, personalized learning that adapts to the needs of each student using SmartBook®