Middle school is a time of extreme physical, mental and emotional changes for the adolescents involved -- a time when students are determining their skills and talents as well as likes and dislikes. Most middle school models offer exploratory courses for students to help them hone their talents and skills. These courses often fall into four main departments: business courses, the arts, foreign language and physical education.
Business exploratory classes in middle schools range from basic to elaborate. As students progress into more demanding levels of writing and publishing, it is important that they master typing skills. A basic keyboarding class is appropriate for these students, and in some middle schools a keyboarding class is mandatory. Advanced keyboarders can move on to higher levels of business marketing and computer design. In these courses, they can learn how to create blogs, interact with wikis, create brochures and use more advanced software.
If a student lacks interest in business marketing or computer courses, most middle schools offer extensive arts programs including band, chorus, dancing and art. Within these larger categories, some schools offer more specific coursework. Schools with the resources may be able to offer jazz band and drum line in addition to band. Students interested in music but not in performing may be able to take music appreciation. Art instructors often enter into strong collaborative efforts with core teachers, creating dynamic and interactive integrated units that allow for students' creativity while solidifying content knowledge.
Some middle schools are able to provide students with a strong foreign language department. Exploratory programs can give students a head start on foreign language study. With site based instructors and online courses, schools can often provide coursework in several languages.
Physical Education and Health
In many middle schools, students are required to take both physical education and health for at least one quarter of the year. During their time in physical education, students learn the rules and are able to experiment with different sports such as football, basketball, volleyball and badminton. They also complete challenges such as running the mile. In health class, students learn about the dangers of smoking, drugs and alcohol. This is often the course in which students also receive sex education.
Based in Haw River, N.C., Sara Richmond-Walls has been writing articles since 2000. She holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English from the University of Mary Washington and received her Middle Grades Language Arts teaching certification through the University of North Carolina Greensboro.