6–8 Overview

Our Learning Model

Our learning model allows students to achieve their fullest potential by supporting their academic growth, emotional development and understanding the diversity around them.

At CWC, we focus on Academics, Social Emotional Development (often referred to as SED), and Difference & Inclusion. SED and Difference & Inclusion work is done with students, staff and parent community – that’s how deeply this work is embedded into our school.

CWC’s middle school model creates a rigorous, child-centered program tailored to the needs of adolescents. Staff development, caregiver workshops and student programming are all grounded in brain science and developmentally appropriate content and experiences for this specific age group.

In order for students to thrive, we set out to cultivate mindsets and skills to support their learning and development. Our ultimate outcomes for our students are our Graduate Dispositions that embody habits of character and mind. Success in these dispositions will empower students to flourish in a diverse and global society. 


These dispositions reflect the qualities our graduates will possess internally. 


These dispositions reflect the qualities our graduates will demonstrate in relationship with others, both one-on-one and within communities.


These dispositions reflect the qualities our graduates demonstrate as they engage in the world at large. 


Self-Understanding: Identifies and understands one’s own emotions, thoughts and behaviors. Understands one’s passions, strengths and limitations. Recognizes the impact of context and others’ perceptions, and uses self-awareness to respond thoughtfully. Engages in continuous self-reflection.
Self-Efficacy: Independent, disciplined and self-motivated. Consistently sets and achieves goals.
Critical Thinking: Analyzes, evaluates and applies information to ask questions, develop ideas, construct arguments and solve problems. Considers multiple perspectives, both from the past and present, when analyzing situations.
Adaptability: At ease with ambiguity and the unknown, knowing that it is an important step to finding clarity. Open-minded and able to manage rapid growth, change and disruption.


Connection: Expresses ideas and thoughts through verbal, nonverbal and written communication. Adjusts communication based on the purpose of the message, context and audience. Builds understanding by listening, asking questions, testing assumptions, and applying examples. Internalizes multiple viewpoints to inform communications.
Collaboration: Learns cooperatively with others to achieve a common or complementary goal. Encourages the contributions of others, through active listening, providing feedback and drawing on individual strengths. Responds to group dynamics, including issues of power and control.
Cultural Competency: Understands one’s own identity and story. Can initiate and build constructive relationships with others, across lines of difference. Understands issues of privilege and power, as well as one’s cultural norms and biases. Leads across diverse groups in different contexts, using an asset-based lens.
Empathy: Acts with kindness and compassion towards living and nonliving aspects of one’s environment. Senses how another person feels, and can take another’s perspective.


Systems Thinking: Sees the connections and relationships between things (people, places and ideas) over time. Identifies and predicts complex patterns of behavior. Connects seemingly unrelated ideas to solve problems, innovate, and imagine new ways.
Global Advocacy: Evaluates issues from multiple perspectives and identifies the role one can play to promote change locally and in the world. Acts courageously, making sacrifices for the greater good. Works alongside others as global citizens to pursue justice with shared respect for human dignity.
Lifelong Learning: Demonstrates curiosity and the desire to discover new things. Asks complex questions to develop understanding. Has deep and broad content knowledge.

Middle School Instructional Approach

In middle grades, we tailor learning experiences across our model to provide a rigorous academic experience, practice invaluable SED skills to prepare students for high school, foster students’ positive self identity and develop their social justice orientation. 

Our curriculum is grounded in rich educational theories of learning and realized through evidenced-based instructional practices. Our teachers use a variety of approaches and practices to plan lessons and engage students in rich and meaningful learning. 

The following components help us bring this theory to life in each classroom:


Constructivism is a theory of learning based on the premise that knowledge is built (or constructed) upon earlier knowledge.

We structure learning to build on what students already know and support them in revising and refining their understanding as they work toward mastery. In addition to content knowledge, our students engage in learning processes that develop conceptual understanding and self-knowledge.

Developing the Whole Child

CWC believes that learning experiences should give students the ability to engage in and make use of their multiple intelligences. This belief drives us to create rigorous, creative and joyful academic experiences that integrate across subjects.

Project-based learning may include both science and math concepts, and we also offer music, P.E. and visual and performing arts (varies by school) to develop musical, bodily-kinesthetic, and spatial intelligences to all students during their career at CWC. Across the school day, we believe our learning model helps children see invaluable connections between disciplines, all of which promotes their ability to creatively and critically think and problem-solve through complex real-world issues. Middle school students are also able to participate in clubs generated by student interests and competitive athletics.

Inquiry Learning

Project-based learning or “inquiry” facilitates the constructivist approach. ​Inquiry Learning integrates skills and knowledge through meaningful and engaging projects that make abstract learning concepts concrete.

As reflective learners, children connect what they learn to their own lives. Teachers strive to teach for understanding, ensuring that students deeply internalize what they learn and are, in turn, able to apply what they learn to new and different circumstances and contexts. Within the CWC learning model, Inquiry lives most fully within our science/social studies instructional blocks.

Standards Based Grading (6-8)

Standards-based grading is based on learning goals and performance standards. It is our firm belief that this system will provide our students with the explicit feedback and metacognitive practices that they need to become advocates on their learning path.

A core tenet of standards-based grading is that a student grade measures their progress towards skills called Learning Targets.  Students know their learning targets and spend time reflecting on their own progress using teacher-created rubrics.  In this system, grades are viewed as a tool to help students learn more.   Students are given MULTIPLE opportunities to demonstrate that they comprehend a learning target. Students receive a rubric grade from 1-4:

1 – Below Basic Comprehension (With our students we say, “Just Getting Started!”)
2 – Basic Comprehension (With our students we say, “On My Way”)
3 – Proficient (With our students we say, “Getting the Hang of It”)
4 – Advanced (With our students we say, “I get it! I really do!”)

It is generally understood that students will not score a 4 on their first encounter with a learning target which is the beauty of standards-based grading. It gives students explicit direction for their growth and progress.  We will continue to celebrate academic achievement by celebrating the growth of students. Report cards will look slightly different from traditional report cards, and standards-based grading can be used in high school applications. 

We firmly believe that with strong teaching in the classroom supported by targeted intervention as needed, every child can meet or exceed grade level expectations that are academic, social, or behavioral in nature. We recognize that students learn in different ways and we adjust our teaching to maximize the learning potential of every child.

CWC Los Angeles schools achieve strong academic performance and community engagement. Our data shows students who continue in our learning model, starting in early grades, improve in performance in Math and English Language Arts. Learn more about our Results and Data.

Grades 6-8 Curriculum

Developing Global Changemakers

CWC Mar Vista’s middle grades academic program reflects our broad objective of enabling our students to become self-motivated, competent, life-long learners. By putting our core beliefs about how learning best occurs into action, we establish the foundation for students’ current and future development as learners. Rigorous academics are critical to developing these skills. Inquiry-driven social justice projects are used throughout our curriculum, with content focus on Social Studies & Science, a culturally responsive approach & justice lens, and strong focus on topics that are relevant to students, educators and the world today.

ROOTS/Advisory Period

Students in grades 6-8 participate in ROOTS where they grow a set of enduring skills to navigate change and drive their own learning.  ROOTS is similar to an advisory program, and students have a ROOTS advisor for the entire year.

In ROOTS, students grow their sense of self & how to respond to their emotions, build meaningful relationships across lines of difference, and engage in projects that are grounded in an Anti-Bias, Anti-Racist approach. The ROOTS program aligns with our Graduate Dispositions and includes the following key components: mindfulness, artistic expression, restorative justice, identity projects.

Core Curriculum

All core curriculum is aligned with applicable Common Core, California State Board of Education Standards, and Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Curriculum planning ensures that units and lessons will be designed to ensure that state standards are taught to every student. In middle school, students are taught by content experts.

English Language Arts

The overarching goal for TK-8 English Language Arts instruction is to ensure that students are able to develop and utilize improved communication skills, vocabularies, and writing abilities in an authentic manner.

ELA in grades 6-8 build off of the strong program in elementary grades by incorporating a Reader’s Workshop approach to develop vocabulary and comprehension with both fiction and nonfiction. Specific attention focuses on teaching students to select and utilize specific evidence from text. Additionally, in the upper grades, ELA teachers devote considerable time to support students in developing argumentative and information pieces of writing that effectively link a student’s claim and supporting evidence with coherent reasoning. 

Beyond written works, students participate in lively debates utilizing the tools and approaches for speech and debate. ELA is taught in other content areas (Science, Social Studies, and Math) using an integrated and interdisciplinary approach.

    Science & Social Studies

    Our Science and Social Studies teachers plan project-based learning units that culminate in a final project each trimester, and lessons are integrated with social justice. The subject areas covered through the framework will offer students the opportunity to learn about the world and their place in it, think critically, and read, write, and communicate clearly.

    Projects may include: 

    • Climate and Justice (6th Gr.)
    • Genetics & The Future (7th Gr.)
    • The Statue in the Plaza: Should it Be Removed? (8th Gr.)

      Across grades K-8, CWC LA utilizes the Illustrative Mathematics curriculum, a nationally regarded, standards aligned program. These curriculum tools will provide opportunities for students to work together to develop understanding of mathematical concepts, connect concepts to prior knowledge and apply them to real-life situations. There will be a general progression of content skill development.

      For example, in sixth grade, students may apply and extend previous understandings of arithmetic to algebraic expressions and apply multiplication and division understanding to divide fractions. In seventh grade, students learn to analyze proportional relationships and use properties of operations to generate equivalent expressions and solve real-life and mathematical problems. In eighth grade, students may define, evaluate, and compare functions and then use functions to model relationships between quantities.

      Social Emotional Learning & Anti-Bias Anti-Racist Work

      Students participate in daily community building activities and ongoing Social Emotional Learning (SEL) lessons, mindfulness, and the daily ROOTS morning meetings. 

      As a part of our Anti-Bias Anti-Racist (ABAR) work, our staff have committed to exploring our own identities so that students and families can too. Throughout all of our lessons, we commit to creating an inclusive environment reflective of our community, engaging in conversations, embracing discomfort, and nurturing self expression. We examine and continue to re-examine our existing curriculum and practices.

      Teachers work with students to build and practice a Social Justice Vocabulary, based on the Teaching Tolerance Social Justice Standards and their domains: Identity, Diversity, Justice, and Action.

      Core Electives

      Core electives happen several times a week and course offerings vary by site. They are one trimester in length. 

      • Visual and Performing Arts (varies) – Art, both visual and performing/drama, at CWC is an exploratory journey where children not only learn about art but also about themselves, their world and each other. Children learn artistic perception and aesthetic valuing, i.e. how to look and respond to works of art, culture, nature and the environment.

      • Physical Education (PE) – In PE, students develop their confidence and skills with an emphasis on Body and Space awareness. Students learn personal versus shared space, fundamental locomotor, as well as non-locomotor, manipulative skills, and applications. The introduction of team lead-up and cooperative games and activities help to promote good sportsmanship and fair team play, and effective social skills.
      • STEM – Students will engage in innovative projects and problem solving with emphasis on real world application of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics concepts. They will also be introduced to career paths in STEM fields.
      • Multicultural Studies – CWC believes that children who learn about other cultures will be better able to function effectively in the 21st century and will view their neighborhood, city and world in a more informed, skillful and empathetic light. Many cultures and backgrounds are brought to students from outside the classroom through strategic choices of books, materials, and lessons, as well as specific classes offered like Spanish.
      Student Clubs

      Students also have the opportunity to select clubs of their choosing each trimester. The club program allows students to take a range of enrichment offerings – far more than at typical middle schools – which allows them to explore their various interests and get passionate about different subjects. 

      Past clubs include, but not limited to: 

      • Robotics (check out their club video!) 
      • Theatre and Performance
      • Sports Club
      • Black Student Affinity Club
      • Meditation Space
      • Mindful Journaling
      • Math Circle
      • Natural History of Social Insects
      • Chess 
      • Study Buddies
      • Community Service Game Club
      • Music Appreciation
      • Graphic Design
      • School Store Managers
      • Weekly Wolf (school newspaper)

      Middle School Extracurriculars

      At CWC, student programming outside of school hours helps enhance our learning model. The team’s mission is to encourage and inspire students to be lifelong learners of self, community, and the world.


      Student Programs

      Our menu of offerings are viewed as an opportunity to extend SEL practices. Student Programs are open to all students and have tiered fees (scholarships are also available). 


      • Flag Football
      • Basketball
      • Track and Field
      • Soccer


      Morning Care

      After School Program


      Camp Citizens

      What’s Our Impact?

      High School & College Acceptances

      Our graduating 8th graders are accepted into high schools all across LA that meet their individual needs. We are proud of our rigorous middle school program that prepares our students for their choice High School and the specialized counseling we provide to help students find their best-fit school. Our first class of graduating 8th graders are now heading to College! They have been accepted to some of the top higher education institutions across the country. Congratulations CWC Alumni!


      When our 8th graders graduate and enter high school, they’re comfortable in their own skin, and, thanks to our strong educational program, have the tools they need to not only thrive academically, but serve those around them as empathetic citizens of the world.

      Inclusion of all Learners (Special Education)

      CWC Mar Vista strives to meet the needs of all students. This incorporates, but is not limited to those with an Individualized Education Plan (“IEP”) and 504 Plan. CWC Mar Vista is open to all students and will not discriminate on the basis of disability. CWC Mar Vista’s approach to educational support services is one of inclusion for a full spectrum of distinct learners. 

      CWC Mar Vista provides special education instruction and related services in accordance with the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA), Education Code requirements, and applicable policies and procedures of the Los Angeles Unified School District.  Students with identified physical, emotional, learning, or developmental disabilities have the right to placement in the least restrictive environment and shall receive special education services according to a written IEP. We offer high quality educational programs and services for all our students in accordance with the assessed needs of each student. We collaborate with parents, the student, teachers, and other agencies, as may be indicated, in order to appropriately serve the educational needs of each student.

      A Parent’s Guide to Special Education Services
      Individualized Education Program Meeting Guide

      For more information, please contact CWC Mar Vista’s Director of Special Education. 

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