FAQs for Current and Prospective King Families

 What are school hours? 

The regular school day begins at 8:45 am and ends at 3:05pm. Wednesdays are a short day ending at 2:12 pm.  Students may not enter the school until the first bell at 8:40 am unless they are enrolled in zero period (see below).  Students must leave campus within 15 minutes of the end of school unless they are enrolled in the after school program or getting academic support from a teacher.

What transportation options exist?

There are no district buses for middle school.  We encourage students to walk, bike, or roll to school and provide storage for bicycles on campus. Small skateboards and scooters will fit in student lockers. Many students are able to take an AC Transit bus to one of the nearby stops.

If you will be driving your student, the drop-off and pick-up zone on Rose in front of the school can be crowded, so arrive early and carpool if possible.  Some families drop off on Hopkins and enter by crossing the athletic field or at the entrance to the Edible Schoolyard on Berryman.

What is the daily schedule?

All students at King have six classes:  English language arts, social science, math, science, physical education and an elective. The sixth graders have each class every day, or six periods a day. The seventh and eighth graders have a “modified block schedule” where they have three double periods two days of the week and all six periods on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.  Periods 1, 3 and 5 are on Thursday, Periods 2, 4 and 6 on Friday.

In addition

  • Each grade progresses through a series of events midday—lunch, activity and advisory.
  • Students who wish to take music at King attend zero period beginning at 7:45 AM.  Options are available for band, orchestra (strings) and chorus. Music classes are separated by experience and, in some cases, instrument or grade.
  • Many after school options exist under the umbrella of King LEARNS, including dance, drama, sports, arts, and more music classes.

What is the Cohort Model?

The sixth grade class is assigned a vice principal, counselor, and two resource teachers at the start of the year. These individuals follow the group from 6th through 8th grade, supporting them academically, socially, and emotionally.

Are there any special accommodations for sixth graders?

Many sixth graders are apprehensive at the start of middle school. To ease them into the middle school years, sixth graders have all their classes as a cohort and most of them are located on the separate lower floor.  They are assigned to a class averaging 26 students (many are much smaller this year) and spend their entire academic day in this group. They have two primary teachers: one for science and math and one for English and social science, also referred to as humanities or “core.”

How does lunch work?

The midday schedule for each grade includes time for lunch, physical activity, and advisory. The grades move through these separately allowing each cohort to have the yard and dining commons to themselves.

  • Lunch takes place in the beautiful Dining Commons. Students may choose to eat school lunch or bring a meal from home. Students paying for lunch can do so on a daily basis or their parents can prepay through a Schoolbucks account online.  School lunch is prepared daily for the entire district in the Dining Commons kitchen. Lunchtime seating arrangements are determined by the students but remain stable for a 5 week period, after which students may choose to move to a new table for the next period.
  • The activity period is an opportunity to play on the yard.  Equipment and balls are available and the area is supervised by several safety officers and noon supervisors. Students may elect to use the library or the game room during activity time. Student Council meetings and many clubs also take place during this period. The mini-park is also open during this time .
  • The 30 minute advisory period takes place in a classroom and is an opportunity for independent reading (Accelerated Reader), math support, and other occasional activities such as assemblies.

What electives are available?

The sixth grade “elective” is actually a series of four prescribed subjects called the Wheel Program.  Students rotate to a different class each quarter. The classes include “Social Smarts,” Games, Drama, and an exploration of food and nutrition called “What’s on Your Plate?”

Seventh and eighth graders choose an elective at the end of the previous year.  Many students take a language (Spanish or French) as their elective for both years.  Two years of a language in middle school count as a year of high school language.  The elective choices vary from year to year.  Some of the choices have included Journalism (publishing the Yearbook and King Cobra newspaper), Leadership, several computer options, and choices in the arts.  The elective may also be used for extra language or math support (double period math) or for the AVID program.  A full description of elective options is available for 7th grade and 8th grade.

How is student performance evaluated?

Students receive two grades in each subject on a quarterly basis. The Habits of Work Grade (HOW) reflects the student’s effort in the class including homework, class participation, behavior and punctuality. The Standards Based Performance (SBP) grade reflects proficiency and is based on measured performance on tests, projects and papers.  Both grades are on a four point scale. The SBP grade mirrors the state assessment categories: advanced, proficient, basic and below basic.

Because the HOW grade measures the skills and attitude required for success, it is the basis for honor roll with a 3.3 average required. Students who make honor roll and have and average 3.5 SBP grade are recognized as Academic All Stars.

How can I keep track of my student’s progress?

You are encouraged to contact your child’s teacher with any concerns as soon as they arise.  In addition to checking in with your child you can monitor their progress in Illuminate (previously in Powerschool),  BUSD’s online portal for student information.  You will be provided with access to this system and are encouraged to check in frequently. Use of this system by teachers for tracking individual assignments and test results is optional.  Some teachers use it to keep detailed information others will only record quarterly grades.

Progress reports are mailed home at the mid-point in each quarter and report cards at the end of the quarter.  The grades on these reports should never be a surprise to you or your child.

How can I communicate with my child’s teachers?

You will have an opportunity to meet each of your child’s teacher at “Back to School Night” in the beginning of the year.  Your child’s teachers will tell you how best to communicate with them. Many use email as their preferred communication method. All are available to meet with parents as necessary.

Parent-Teacher-Student conferences are scheduled in November. Sixth grade students have an assigned one-on-one conference with both primary teachers together.  Seventh and eighth grade conferences are held in the gymnasium where each teacher is available for short, one-on-one conferences during your child’s assigned time.

What options are available after school?

The King Afterschool Program is part of the Berkeley LEARNS After School Program run by the BUSD. The program offers enrichment classes, academic support, and sports programs.  There are almost 30 available options for classes and academic support.

King is fortunate to have a popular and extensive sports program. Teams in twelve different sports are supported. Some sports are competitive and may have tryouts for positions, others are intramural, and some teams are co-ed. Nearly half of our students play for at least one sports team.

How does the Edible Schoolyard fit into the curriculum?

The Edible Schoolyard (ESY) provides an incredible and very popular learning experience for King students. Operated by the Chez Panisse Foundation, it includes an extensive and varied garden, a kitchen, and outdoor classrooms. The majority of garden maintenance is performed by ESY staff.

Students experience the garden as part of their science curriculum in sixth grade and as part of social science inseventh and eighth grade. The time in the garden and kitchen vary by grade level.  The 6th grade spends the most time in the garden and kitchen.  They have a garden/kitchen period once a week for half of each school year.  Students split into groups that cultivate, harvest or cook in the kitchen. The results of their efforts are eaten at the end of the period!

How is discipline handled?

Most discipline is handled in the classroom. Students who present a persistent or serious challenge are referred to “The Reflection Room” for out of class suspension, where they engage in school work and are closely supervised. The vice principal and counselor work with students and families to ensure that discipline is maintained in the classroom and on school grounds.

Instances of bullying are referred to the vice principal and counselor for immediate action. Parents should address any concerns in this area to them.

What options exist for advanced students?

Differentiated learning/instruction occurs in many, if not most, classrooms. Other opportunities for students seeking more of a challenge include:

  • Math – Challenge problems.  Most teachers offer challenging problems and resources to learn coding language.
  • Language Arts –Accelerated Reader allows for highly individualized reading goals.
  • AVID – The AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) program is a stepping stone to prepare students to become competitive for four-year colleges and universities. While not an honors program, AVID is designed to “push up the middle,” by identifying and nurturing students who have the potential to become high achievers.

What extra support is available for struggling students?

  • Students needing help in math have a number of options. They can get math support during advisory period, attend the math lab after school, and/or take double period math as an elective.
  • English Language Learners may choose from two electives to advance their skills: “English Language Development through Drama” and “Academic Language Development”.  All newcomers to the U.S. are assigned to King.  They receive instruction in classes specifically for newcomers except for math they are with the rest of the student body.
  • Seventh and eighth grade students who struggle with independent reading for any number of reasons may be selected for the King Readers. This program pairs adult volunteers with student readers during advisory period.   There are also two programs for students who are reading below grade level.  One is called Read 180 and it is taught as an elective class for students reading about 2 years below grade level.   The second class is called System 44 and is for students reading at a second or third grade level.
  • The homework center of King LEARNS is a great choice for students who need structure and support to complete their homework assignments.

 

 

 

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