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A progressive education for 12 months - grade 12


Caught in the Middle

No longer children, but not yet adults.

What a wonderful time of life, characterized by an unparalleled energy level and a motivation for learning in grades 6-8!  With these thoughts in mind, we welcome you to explore the Middle School at Barrie. You will find it to be a safe, warm, and inviting environment focused on providing a rich, challenging, and supportive learning experience for middle school-aged adolescents.

At the Core is Project-based Learning

At Barrie, we use a project-based learning approach in our curriculum for grades 6-8, which makes learning come alive for our students. Our teachers and students will attest that learning this way is much more engaging and fun. In each grade level, students work on a project over an extended period of time – from a week up to a semester – that engages them in solving a real-world problem or answering a complex question. This dynamic learning environment enables students to develop a deep understanding of core content and use that knowledge to solve problems, think critically, communicate effectively, and be self-reflective about their learning.

Our students are creative innovators who strive to make change in their worlds. Barrie students complete a number of projects during their time in middle school. A few examples include the following:

  • In grade 6, students study the causes and effects of the dust bowl and create a giant classroom map that overlays the various factors.
  • In grade 7 humanities, students complete an E is for Egypt project for which they choose a topic about ancient Egypt and create a children’s book about it while learning in-depth about illustration from a trained professional.
  • In Pre-Algebra or Math 7, students participate in the "Can Derby" where they learn in-depth about slope, slope-intercept form, and the standard form by constructing ramps and determining how fast and how far a can travels.
  • In grade 8 is the culmination of a student’s middle school experience, thus contains a number of meaningful projects, some of which have become rites of passage. Whether it’s racing cardboard boats in a swimming pool to learn about buoyancy, friction, and velocity, or traveling in the footsteps of the Freedom Riders, or performing their own slam poems in front of the entire school community, students finish out their middle school years putting what they have learned into practice. 

Curriculum at a Glance


Our interdisciplinary Humanities program for grades 6-8 combines English language arts, literature, history, and other social science disciplines. We believe deeply that one cannot understand the nuances of history without understanding the literature of a time period. Similarly, one cannot understand the intricacies of literature without knowing the history of what was written. 

World Language

Starting in grade 6, world language is required for all students; they have the opportunity to study Spanish or French. With the help of Total Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling (TPRS), students immerse themselves in the target language and learn by acting out or engaging in real world scenarios. Beyond the goal of mastery of the material, our students develop critical thinking skills and effective learning strategies that facilitate second language acquisition and use of the language outside of the school setting. Students develop skills in speaking, listening, reading, and writing as they gain an understanding of, appreciation for, and sensitivity to the cultures of the target language. 


With respect to the arts, they are an integral part of the Barrie experience, weaving together knowledge, skill development, and self-expression while enriching the cultural life of our community. Through an exploration of each arts discipline—music, drama, and studio art—students learn to be creators, collaborators, leaders, and risk takers. They have numerous opportunities to develop abilities, pursue passions, and put their best work on display during "Arts Night," an annual Middle School event that showcases their work, depending on which course they are taking at the time. In this sense, each arts class could be viewed as a trimester-long project.  Students take one trimester each of studio art, music, and drama in grades 6, 7,  and 8 for a total of one year for each discipline by the end of grade 8. 

Learning Beyond the Classroom

In all grade levels, not just in the Middle School, exploration and learning is encouraged outside of  the classroom. When Barrie first created its Commons Building in the early 1970s, each classroom intentionally had a door to the outdoors in order for our teachers to actively incorporate our 45-acre campus in their lesson plans. Today our teachers continue to treat the campus as an extension of the classroom, whether it’s examining water quality in our campus stream which connects to the Anacostia River watershed or creating man made beehives to help bees flourish. 

We also engage the greater DC area as a classroom,  a learning laboratory in which students and faculty learn together. The Smithsonian museums, Brookside Gardens, a fifty acre public display garden, the Supreme Court and Congress, and various other organizations are just a few of the places our students have frequented over the years either as off-campus field trips or as part of our Extended Study Week (ESW) program. 

Learn More about ESW


At Barrie, we understand that how middle schoolers learn is just as important as what they learn.

Teacher and student

Racing cardboard boats in a swimming pool to learn about buoyancy, friction, and velocity! 

Traveling in the footsteps of the Freedom Riders and visiting the Edmund Pettis Bridge in Selma, Alabama to learn about the Civil Rights movement!

If experiences like these sound interesting and  engaging, then Barrie Middle School is the place for you! 

Trimester Schedule

Please note: Students take a trimester each of studio art, music, and drama. By the end of grade 8, they will have taken a full year of each.  

Grade 6
Humanities 6
Math 6
Science 6
Spanish IA or French IA
Studio Art, Music or Drama


Grade 7
Humanities 7
Math 7 (Pre-Algebra)
Science 7
Spanish IB or French IB
Studio Art, Music or Drama



Grade 8
Humanities 8
Algebra I
Science 8
Spanish II or French II
Studio Art, Music or Drama


Middle School