Adolescents need to feel cared about and connected, to be creative and joyful, to have a sense of purpose, and to believe they can exceed the expectations of others. Their learning is enhanced when individual differences are acknowledged, respected, and accommodated; when students are motivated through challenge, relevance, choice, and a sense of accomplishment; and when they feel comfortable to express, create, explore, experiment, take risks, and make mistakes.

Running River Middle School integrates academics, real-life learning, community living, and meaningful, useful work. Students learn how to learn by studying topics both in-depth and from many different angles.

At Running River, adolescents develop skills through a challenging academic curriculum and the pursuit of personal passions; this combination allows them to use their passions as levers for building competency in all subject areas.

Our curriculum balances core academics, the arts, life skills, and outdoor education with our foundational social/emotional and contemplative practices. Students leave Running River fully prepared and confident to pursue the next step in their education, both academically and with a deeper knowledge of themselves: what is important to them as human beings and how to care for their bodies, minds, and spirits.

We know that students learn best when they use all their resources to both create and problem solve. We use the Common Core Standards to build basic academic skills, but we go far beyond these basic skills in how and what we include in our comprehensive curriculum. Our middle school students pursue personal interests, working with a teacher to set goals and create a curriculum to explore in depth their area of interest.  They participate in collaborative projects, developing skills to become responsible, contributing team members.  We include physical fitness and health, contemplative practices, communication skills, and outdoor education with our academic work on a daily basis.

We encourage you to find out how meaningful school can be for students at this age.  Running River’s approach is very different from regular public school.  Our multi-generational community keeps adolescents from being swept up in a peer culture that consumes their intellectual and emotional energy. Running River honors the unique needs of adolescents – understanding that they thrive on belonging and being useful and contributing what they know in meaningful ways. Developing inner values and experiencing their new place in the world is crucial at this stage of a child’s growth.

Middle School Curriculum Map

This year our first project is an Elder Biography.  Each student is paired with an elder and through a series of 6 interviews explores their life through the lens of, "How did you come to discover who you are?"  They will be writing biographies, poetry and producing a portrait, which will be presented to the community in December.

This year our first project is an Elder Biography.  Each student is paired with an elder and through a series of 6 interviews explores their life through the lens of, "How did you come to discover who you are?"  They will be writing biographies, poetry and producing a portrait, which will be presented to the community in December.

Middle School Math

“In the 21st century, a vibrant democracy depends on the full, informed participation of all people. We have a vast and rapidly growing trove of information available at any moment. However, being informed means, in part, using one’s sense of number, shape, data and symbols to organize, interpret, make and assess the validity of claims about quantitative information. In short, informed members of society know and do mathematics.

Mathematics is indispensable for understanding our world. In addition to providing the tools of arithmetic, algebra, geometry and statistics, it offers a way of thinking about patterns and relationships of quantity and space and the connections among them. Mathematical reasoning allows us to devise and evaluate methods for solving problems, make and test conjectures about properties and relationships, and model the world around us.” ~Colorado Department of Education

“Pure mathematics is, in its way, the poetry of logical ideas.” ~Albert Einstein

The Running River School Middle School Math Curriculum follows our philosophy of experiential and real life learning while also recognizing the importance of a solid background in number sense and continued practice for retention and support of mathematical operations. In the past few years, with the adaption of Common Core Standards, there has been more focus of the depth of learning rather than the breadth. This has always been our focus, thus aligning ourselves with the Common Core Standards, while working within our philosophy connects well with our curriculum. It also means that students are well prepared to tackle high school math programs. Unlike some interpretations of the Common Core Standards, we do not continue to move students forward without ensuring that they have a solid understanding in the number sense behind the operations and concepts. We work with students where they are, addressing their strengths and challenges.

In addition, we are exploring "Math Vitamins."  The Math Vitamin is a multi-disciplinary approach that allows each student to enter a math task from an area of strength and requires them to work in areas of challenge. Working in one's area of strength as well as in one's areas of challenge is the key to the Math Vitamin process as it builds actual understanding for each math concept that appears in the curriculum.

The Math Vitamin approach begins with students working on a task rather than the teacher delivering a lesson. Students and teachers then debrief their ideas, process and strategize as a class at the close of the math session. This format allows students to do the initial thinking about the steps required for solving the problem and lets the teacher see the entry points each student prefers, follow their thinking, coach each student individually and assess their understanding as they work.

“An expert problem solver must be endowed with two incompatible quantities: a restless imagination and a patient pertinacity.” ~Howard W. Even