Bloomington Public Schools - District #271

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Dimensions Academy Middle School Program

Dimensions Academy (DA) Middle School consists of a cohort of approximately 28 students at each grade level. DA students spend roughly 65% of their school day together with other DA students, traveling to 4 classes together as a group: Language Arts, Social Studies, Science, and Seminar (In 8th grade, Seminar changes to Health). For the remaining 35% of the day, DA students are integrated among their grade-level team for exploratory classes such as art, tech ed., music, band, and family and consumer science (FACS).

Dimensions Academy students are part of the greater school first. Then they are part of their team, and finally, they are DA students. The goal is for DA students and the program to be as integrated into the middle school structure and culture as possible.  

Deadline for DA Middle School online applications

Friday, December 9, 2016 by 4 p.m.

Transition to the DA Middle School Program

Current DA 5th graders automatically move into the DA Middle School program without reapplying. Parents of DA 5th graders will receive a form from their 5th grade teachers to indicate continuation in DA middle school.

  • Please plan to attend your DA Middle School's general open house in February to learn about your specific school.
  • DA Middle School information meeting are scheduled for March:
    March 16, 2017 - Olson Middle DA Middle School Transition meeting in the Media Center - 6:00-7:00 p.m.

    March 15, 2017 - Oak Grove DA Middle School Transition meeting in the Media Center - 6:00-7:00 p.m.

    DA Middle School Transition Meeting information
  • Disregard the Honors information meeting, as we will cover all pertinent information in the DA Middle School information meeting.

Dimensions Academy Middle School teachers

Dimensions Academy middle school teachers are highly qualified to teach gifted students. They receive ongoing training and support from the Bloomington Gifted and Talented Department. Many attend additional trainings, workshops and conferences, such as the National Association of Gifted Children conference. 


Academic and Behavior Expectations

In order to maintain a high level of academic rigor and a productive learning environment, participation in DA requires a high level of academic and behavioral standards. See specifics of these DA Academic and Behavior Standards.

William and Mary curriculum

The Dimensions Academy program infuses concept-based units from the College of William and Mary throughout its program, grades 4-8, so that the models of depth and complexity in these units become automatic ways of thinking and processing for DA students. The models may be the same, but the content is significantly different from year to year. The curriculum designers field-tested their curriculum on gifted students over many years and found that creating critical thinking processes and maps for gifted students leads to significant intellectual growth.

Dimensions Academy Seminar

Since gifted students don't need a traditional reading class, we created our own organic course for DA students in 6th and 7th grade called Seminar.

Seminar 6 is a humanities-based course, involving higher-level thinking and in-depth discussions. The theme,  "Great Minds," includes the study of Alfred Nobel and many Nobel Laureates, as well as mythology and philosophy.

Seminar 7's theme "Great Acts," includes the study of great acts of courage and philanthropy. The focus is on creative and critical thinking and giving the world something it didn't know it needed.

Dimensions Academy Language Arts 

DA language arts classes primarily use the William and Mary curriculum.

  • 6th graders study William & Mary's Persuasion, learn debate skills and study novels reflecting a variety of cultures and experiences.
  • 7th graders study William & Mary's Utopia and read novels about utopian and dystopian societies.
  • 8th graders study  William & Mary's The 1940s, A Decade of Change, which includes a study of The Greatest Generation by Tom Brokaw, The Diary of Anne Frank, and more.

Dimensions Academy Social Studies

DA social studies uses curricular units from the College of William and Mary as the primary curriculum. 

  • 6th graders study William & Mary's The Civil War and The Road to the White House.
  • 7th graders study William & Mary's The 1920s in America: A Decade of Tensions and The 1930s in America: Facing Depression.
  • 8th graders study William & Mary's Primary Sources and Post-Colonialism specific to India.  

National History Day

DA Middle School students study an in-depth history topic through their participation in the National History Day (NHD) competition. The 2- to 3-month unit culminates in a building-wide NHD competition. Winners at that level go on to compete in the Regional History Day competition, and some go on to compete at the state and national levels. Students learn valuable research and presentation skills that transfer to high school and college-level research and life-long learning.

Dimensions Academy Science 

DA science uses William and Mary, BPS curriculum, and college-level community resources. 

  • 6th grade Physical Science students study plasma, a NASA-inspired career unit involving a hovercraft, W & M's Nuclear Energy: Friend or Foe, and various other STEM units. 
  • 7th grade Life Science students conduct authentic research at the Richardson Nature Center, engage in a simulation to discover the dynamic nature of scientific research, and use cancer biology as a lense to see the interconnectedness of science to other disciplines.
  • 8th grade Earth Science students work in collaboration with U of M students and their professor to design experiments that will be carried in a payload by a high altitutude balloon. The year culminates in a balloon launch, retrieval, and data exploration. This atmospheric study creates an opportunity for discussing and debating the real life nature of competing  scientific theories. 

Middle School Math

There are several middle school math paths. Some DA students thrive in the two-year-advanced course, and some require the one-year-advanced course. To accomodate the needs of every learner, all students are assessed when they enter 6th grade and are placed exactly where they need to be in math.  See the math page for a more detailed overview. 

Honors Program

The middle school Honors Program is separate from DA Middle School. There are two Honors courses in the BPS middle school Honors Program: Honors Reading and Math in 6th grade and Honors Language Arts and Math in 7th and 8th grades. Students are placed into Honors courses based on testing history. No application is needed.

Click to see the Honors Overview handout.