Acera BlogCourtney's CornerGifted Education

Theme exploration in core classrooms

By February 8, 2024No Comments

Building on last week’s blog topic sharing information about Acera’s upper school program, we want to share more about core classroom themes and give examples. What questions and themes catalyze inquiry, experiences, and growth in Acera classrooms? 

Rich dialogue, rigorous content and ideas, use of primary source materials, and making interconnections between disciplines are constants when exploring classroom themes. Writing skill growth, projects, quality literature, and simulations create unique experiences of discovery throughout a school year!  

Examples? Pulling from teachers’ narrative report cards, we have so many high engagement examples of classroom themes that simultaneously grow skills, teach content and develop core capacities such as complex thinking and perspective taking! Read more of myriad core and specialist class descriptions across all ages, using the links below; it is intellectually delicious, I promise!  

Gr. K & 1

Gr. 2 & 3

Gr. 3 & 4

Gr. 4 & 5

Gr. 6 & 7

Gr. 7 & 8

Here are highlights of two specific core classroom themes: 

Culture – Over one year in Vered’s grade 6 & 7 classroom, students looked at their own culture, at tenets of culture which are promoted through education, and how a more perfect culture and society could be created. I pull from her descriptions … 

  • Literature: Where do cultural assumptions come from? If our education system often includes books like these – The Great Gatsby; To Kill a Mockingbird; Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry; and The Outsiders.  – what does their inclusion in standard curricula tell us about our culture?   
  • Simulation:  What would make a more perfect society?  Discuss social contract theory and read excerpts from John Rawls’ Theory of Justice to better imagine how to develop a contract under a veil of ignorance. To practice these ideas, the class designed a colony on Mars, a place where a society would face sufficiently different constraints that a whole new culture would surely form there. The students broke into groups to design various elements of the society, pondering people’s roles, safety concerns, scientific goals, and designing how to live and work in space. This culminated in a simulation to test out the structure they had created, and included an overnight at the school.   Research, perspective taking, and collaboration skills were developed. 
  • Research Paper: Looking into the past, What are influential innovations of ancient civilizations, an inquiry which culminated in a research project.  

Law – What are some facets of the theme for this year’s grade 7 & 8 class, designed and led by Ruma & Bob in Room 2?  

Why do societies have systems of law, and why do they differ?  How does law evolve over time, and how does that affect people’s lives?  How do competing legal interests get balanced?  Students study the Salem Witch Trial and also modern day cases, across intellectual property, contract, immigration, property, and civil rights law topics.  

Want to hear more about themes and other facets of Acera’s upper school program?  Join us Feb 8th from 7-8:30 for a Zoom Teacher Panel & Info Session about Acera’s Middle School! Link can be found in my email to the school community on Jan. 31st with subject “Zoom link – Feb 8 (Thu) Middle School @ Acera”

All the best, 

Courtney Dickinson is Acera’s Founder & Head of School.

Join us Feb 8th from 7-8:30 for a Zoom Teacher Panel & Info Session about Acera’s Middle School!

To access the Zoom link, please refer to my email of Jan 31 titled “Feb 8 Middle School @ Acera” or contact me at