Last Thursday, the Prep School English department held its annual Summer Reading Symposium for 11th and 12th grade students.
Seventh graders are the leaders of the Middle School, modeling empathy, maturity and responsibility to the younger students.
They complete capstone projects in their classes that demonstrate their mastery of increasingly challenging material as well as their readiness for the Prep School. They problem-solve, analyze and advocate for themselves across the curriculum. Having sampled five different languages in sixth grade, seventh graders choose one language to focus on for the year.
- English 7
- Mathematics 7
- Science 7
- History 7
- STEAM/Technology 7
- World Languages 7
- Current International Issues (CII)
- Studio Art 7
- Arts Integration 7
- Library 7
- Drama 7
- Music 7
- Physical Education 7
- Meeting 7
Seventh graders prepare for the increased independence and intellectual rigor of the Prep School. The curriculum includes both contemporary and classical works from a diverse group of authors. Literature is the starting point for writing, conversations and projects that engage and challenge students and reward careful attention to detail. Building on skills honed in sixth grade, seventh graders continue to write in many forms with increased emphasis placed on analytical essays. Students master the essential skill of crafting organized, clear and well-reasoned arguments. Students work on strategies to help deepen their thinking and refine their ideas as they write. The seventh grade speech and debate unit challenges students to enhance their argumentative reasoning and public speaking skills.
Students continue to learn math through an inquiry-based approach. Units are comprised of investigations that offer students the opportunity to explore problems in groups and then solidify their understanding through smaller, teacher-guided class discussions. Seventh grade students master integer operations and deepen their understanding of equations. They also explore linear relationships by considering their associated equations and graphs, complete units on plane and 3-D geometry and close the year with a unit on solving linear systems of equations.
In seventh grade, students learn the fundamental physical and chemical properties of matter. Students engage through hands-on, problem-based projects that foster independent thinking, inquiry, communication and procedural skills. They learn to distinguish among mixtures, elements and compounds and recognize the underlying principles governing physical and chemical changes. Atomic theory is examined and applied as students learn their way around the Periodic Table of Elements. Students hone their communication skills in science through written and oral presentations. They collaborate with classmates as they interpret data and form substantiated conclusions. Students culminate their seventh grade science exploration by learning how to write a formal laboratory report, paying close attention to the purpose and intent of the various steps involved.
Using religion and human geography as overarching themes, students examine the ancient and pre-modern civilizations of Greece, Rome, the Americas, the Islamic world, Western Africa and the European Middle Ages. Using both primary and secondary sources, students explore the connections among different aspects of each civilization; including connections between culture and religion, social and political life and each civilization’s relationship to its natural environment. Teachers expand on students’ note-taking, research and mapping skills. By completing expository and creative works and preparing for debates and presentations, students enhance their critical thinking, writing and public speaking skills. Through study, research, collaborative projects and class discussions, students refine their ability to evaluate the past from multiple perspectives.
In seventh grade science class, students create life-size cardboard boats and test their seaworthiness in our full-size swimming pool. In technology class, students use 3D design software to create a virtual model of their boat, use photo-editing software to create a logo and create a blog with photos to keep a running record of their entire project. In another STEAM interdisciplinary project, seventh graders create pinhole cameras to observe the behavior of light. To edit their pinhole camera photos, students use photo-editing software and build a website using HTML and CSS to showcase their work. In addition to building upon and applying real-world mathematics and science skills during both of these projects, students learn how to create websites using HTML, edit photographs using various programs, create 3D models on SketchUp and create elaborate virtual reality environments.
The Middle School world languages program develops confident communicators with a critical understanding of language, and a deep appreciation for culture. The Language 7 program includes courses in Chinese, French, Japanese, Latin and Spanish. This class engages students in meaningful activities which foster interpersonal, interpretive and presentational skills. Lessons are crafted around thematic vocabulary units and designed to expose students to a wide variety of cultural practices and perspectives. Students make comparisons between the target language and English and acquire a solid foundation of knowledge and skills which will be further developed the Prep School program.
Current International Issues is designed to introduce students to international issues that profoundly impact our lives while imparting core skill sets that will serve as building blocks for future academic success. It is more important than ever before for students to engage in meaningful debate, to be able to objectively consider facts and to learn and grow as a result of connecting and communicating with one another in a positive and constructive manner. Issues covered in class include the North Korean nuclear crisis, climate change, the global refugee crisis, the emerging role of China on the world stage, the European Union and Brexit, global poverty and resource scarcity, the reemerging rivalry between the United States and Russia, Venezuela’s economic and political challenges, the conflict between the United States and Iran, Pakistan and India's conflict over the Kashmir region, Hong Kong and Taiwan’s quest for greater autonomy and challenges facing the African Continent (civil wars, disease, poverty, malnutrition).
The Middle School art program introduces students to a wide range of media and techniques while encouraging individual expression and artistic growth. Over the course of three years, students participate in a variety of disciplines including drawing, painting, printmaking, ceramics, mixed media, sculpture, digital art and photography and stop-motion animation. Students follow the benchmarks for scope and sequence curriculum in general art. By seventh grade, students experience smaller class sizes and semester-long art classes providing them with the opportunity to master specific art skills and techniques each semester.
Middle School students participate in an art integrated curriculum with other core content subject areas. It is an approach to teaching in which students construct and demonstrate understanding through an art form. Students engage in a creative process which connects an art form to another subject area and achieves evolving objectives in both. Based on a standard in seventh grade science, students learn the concept of matter and compounds through the work of American glass sculptor, Dale Chihuly. His works of blown glass are explored as students study the chemical compound of glass and notice the physical change which occurs in the process. Students have the opportunity to create their own interpretation of Chihuly’s art as they experiment with plastic shapes and forms creating their own hand-blown, deconstructed art work
Library in seventh grade is officially called Research and Digital Literacy, and students learn research skills and to be critical users of information. The curriculum focuses on online information literacy, intellectual curiosity and responsible information use. Library is integrated into English, history, science, math, art and language classes to support a deeper understanding of how all subjects are connected as well as a love of reading across all genres and topics. The library collection is regularly updated, based on the needs and interests of students, to reflect current issues and information, and to best support learning in and out of the classroom.
For one semester during their sixth or seventh grade year, students take drama. Participating in drama helps students gain self-confidence, imagination, empathy, cooperation, memory and communication skills. The curriculum is divided into four units: developing the actor’s instrument through voice and movement; introduction to basic acting with exercises focused on concentration, listening and motivation; storytelling as a solo performer using freestyle rap and moth storytelling; and collaborating to write and perform a two-person scene using a location as a foundation.
All CGPS Middle School students at every skill level take music three times per cycle, a class focusing on active music making and creation. In addition, students have the option to participate in band, chorus, or orchestra during the school day. All instrumental students receive a small group lesson on their chosen instrument once per cycle. Extracurricular opportunities for highly motivated instrumentalists include Big Band and Sunrise Orchestra. Students begin the program by using their personal instruments: their voices. Through singing games, folk dance, recorder, percussion instruments, and interactive technology, students learn to sing in tune both individually and as an ensemble. The curriculum develops an understanding of ensemble and musicianship through experiential learning with drums, xylophones, recorders, ukuleles, and technology. Building on prior music literacy skills, students learn how to perform and compose their own music. Students develop music technology skills including electronic notation, recording and editing so that their creative work can be mixed and produced to share with others. Music teachers work collaboratively with classroom teachers to create interdisciplinary and cross-curricular lessons, integrating text and concepts from English, history and STEAM classes.
The Middle School physical education curriculum focuses on a variety of team sports activities with a strong emphasis on fitness concepts to improve students’ individual health and athletic skills. In addition to various fitness challenges, some of the sports units and games covered throughout the year are soccer, volleyball, football, basketball, diamond games and badminton. The program is designed to expose students to a level of functional fitness training and gameplay that encourages them to collaborate, increase sports knowledge, develop leadership skills and lead healthy lifestyles.
Our Middle Schoolers use their Meeting class time to discuss issues related to their social, emotional and physical development, as well as to share thoughts about the various academic challenges and triumphs they experience day to day. Discussion activities are designed to build self-awareness and a sense of community help students work on their listening, planning, communication, collaboration and problem solving skills. In an open circle forum, our students are provided with consistent opportunities to contribute, reflect and take responsibility for how their group feels and operates.