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  •  Seventh and eighth grades at Sidwell (0+ / 0-)

    The basic organizational structure in the seventh and eighth grade is the team. There are three teams of approximately sixty-four students and six advisors in the Middle School, and they are named Land, Sea, and Sky in the spirit of our new green building. English and Social Studies classes take place in the team, and the team plans a number of activities together over the course of the year.

    Each advisor in the team is responsible for about ten - eleven students.

    The Social Studies program for 7th grade covers issues in United States history. Topics to be studied include, but are not limited to, Native Americans, the Colonial Era, the American Revolution, the Constitution, the causes of the Civil War, Immigration, the Civil Rights Movement, and 20th Century Foreign Policy. Eighth graders begin a two-year study of world history. The 8th grade portion of the course examines the rise of civilizations in the Eastern Mediterranean, Africa, China, Europe, the Islamic world, and the Americas. They complete the year with a study of medieval Europe
    Skills such as reading, critical thinking, writing, and study skills are reinforced throughout the Social Studies curriculum.  Geography is reviewed, and students are required to read the newspaper for current events discussions and quizzes.  All students will also complete a research project each year.  Instead of reporting on a topic as 5th and 6th graders do, 7th and 8th graders are asked to write and to prove a thesis statement and to formulate a conclusion.  The research project teaches the use of notecards, and for the first time, citations are required in addition to the more familiar bibliography.

    The English program in 7th and 8th grades concentrates on developing skills of close textual analysis, written expression, grammar, and vocabulary.  Students are introduced to the genres of the short story, the novel, poetry, and drama.  Major texts in the 7th grade currently include To Kill a Mockingbird, The Miracle Worker, A Raisin in the Sun,Twelve Angry Men, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, as well as works by Edgar Allan Poe, O.Henry, Langston Hughes, and others.  In eighth grade students currently read Brave New World, The Tempest, Things Fall Apart, Lord of the Flies, and The Odyssey, among other works.

    In both years there is a particular emphasis on writing, both analytical and creative.  Students learn to plan, draft, and revise paragraphs, essays, and imaginative pieces
    Seventh graders take a series of courses in Studio Art, Choral and Instrumental Music,  and Quakerism and the Arts.  Eighth graders may choose among Arts courses in Studio Art, Choral or Instrumental Music, or Drama
    Seventh Grade Studio Art instruction is based around periods in American art which are reflected in the seventh grade English and History curricula.  The Hudson River School, the Harlem Renaissance, and themes in contemporary art are examples of American art periods which we explore.  Drawing, painting, clay sculpture, and collage are worked with in conjunction with questions and ideas generated by study of themes discovered in these periods.  

    Eighth grade instruction includes drawing, watercolor and acrylic painting, working with clay, architectural design, and printmaking.  Also included in the course are art history, art criticism and aesthetics.  Assignments such as designing a house and having a house designed for you by another student combine drawing skills, design skills, discussions about aesthetics, math skills, and a sensitivity to and appreciation of advertising.  Digital design is addressed in a photo self-portrait assignment in which the students manipulate a digital photograph of themselves using the application Photoshop.

    The Vocal Music program includes instruction in music theory, sight reading, and vocal technique that is specifically designed to meet the needs of the young singer.  In seventh and eighth grades, students participate in more advanced vocal music classes and can elect to join  Boys Ensemble or Girls Ensemble.  These groups participate in two formal concerts during the school year.

    Instrumental Music teaches students how to read, write, play, and analyze music.  Students learn notation, solfege, rhythmic and melodic transcription, theory, and analysis.  Technology is integrated into the composition lessons through the use of FINALE music notation software.  No previous musical experience is required.  Students may also audition for String Ensemble, Band, or Handbell Choir.  These groups participate in two formal concernts during the school year.

    Advanced Instrumental Music offers students who are proficient with their instrument the opportunity to rehearse and perform with students more frequently. Different styles of music are presented. Students also continue studying music theory. They learn triads, inversions, minor scales, and modes.

    Quakerism and the Arts provides an opportunity for seventh grade students to reflect on their own ethical and spiritual beliefs or disbeliefs while learning about some of the guiding testimonies and practices of the Religious Society of Friends.  Personal stories are the theme of this class, and Playback Theater is the central method taught and used for reflecting on individual stories.

    In 8th grade Drama, students learn to demonstrate the ability to prepare and execute a role, as well as gaining the necessary vocabulary to clearly and artfully express their beliefs to an audience.  Students are exposed to arts administration, advocacy, and fundraising, as well as work with digital video technology.  This creative process is explored through theater games and improvisations, readings, lectures, group projects and discussions.                

    Seventh grade students choose to study one of four Modern or Classical Languages  for seventh and eighth grades.  We offer Chinese, French, Latin, and Spanish.  Instruction in all four languages attempts to encourage and build confidence in speaking, reading, and writing.  There is also a strong component of cultural education in Middle School language courses; the foreign language teachers try to encourage not only a proficiency in the language but also an open-minded attitude about other cultures and an ability to view the student’s own culture more objectively.

    The Chinese, French and Spanish programs may utilize text and audiovisual materials to emphasize situational vocabulary.  Students also study the basic language structures, and where possible, comparisons are established with English language structures. Chinese students learn character writing.  Through films, singing and listening to music and reading newspapers and magazines that reflect the way of life in Latin America, Spain, the Francophone world or Asia, students are exposed to the culture of those countries.  Festival days that celebrate food, music, and dance are part of the program in these classes.

    The Latin program emphasizes the ability to read Latin, the building of English vocabulary through word study and etymology, and a study of the cultural and historical contributions of the ancient world.  The work with Latin grammar provides a structural foundation to all language study.  Activities include skits, games, stories, and a Ben Hur/Spartacus Day in the spring
    Seventh and eighth grade students continue to be grouped for Math. Depending on the students’ skill levels, independence, and comfort with abstract ideas, seventh graders cover topics selected from the following areas:  number patterns; matrices; properties of groups; logic; operations and applications with signed numbers; geometry; ratio, proportion, and rates; percents; relations and functions; probability; statistics; transformations; and math history.  Students also learn to use scientific and graphing calculators, spreadsheets, and other computer applications.  Seventh graders who need to review computational skills receive instruction in those areas.

    Eighth graders begin an algebra program and are placed in introductory, regular, or accelerated algebra.  In both regular and accelerated algebra students formally develop algebraic concepts and skills.  In introductory algebra students take a more exploratory approach, preparing them for formal algebra in 9th grade.

    Students in seventh grade take a life Science course which emphasizes human biology
    Eighth graders study Physical Science and Ecology.

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