Middle School Curriculum
A time for growing and learning from new experiences... a time to expect more
Wakefield students take two English courses each year: one in Literature and Vocabulary, the other in Composition and Grammar. The teaching of writing as a separate course in the curriculum is one of Wakefield's founding principles, and reflects the fact that effective writing and communication is the most interdisciplinary skill a student can acquire. Cross-curricular connections are made throughout the Composition course.
The 6th Grade Literature and Vocabulary course continues to build on the skills developed in Lower School. Instruction exposes students to the complexities of familial, social, environmental, and ethical issues of their own lives in relation to those of other time periods. The goal is to show both the universality and individuality of the human condition, with some attention given to the characteristics of a hero in Western texts. Students begin to see literature as a component of all content areas as analytical skills are developed and applied across content areas. Enabling students to see a broader picture strengthens the learning experience.
Texts may include The Boy on the Wooden Box, Tangerine, The Outsiders, When You Reach Me, and various short stories and poems.
The 6th Grade Composition and Grammar course continues to develop the student’s ability to communicate effectively and creatively. Building on the understandings and questions from their Lower School experience, 6th grade students will develop their writing abilities to make an argument, tell a story, and synthesize information through research. They will have the opportunity to authentically express themselves through a variety of media. Essential to this is an understanding and implementation of correct written form and grammar. The grammar component of the course aims to refine students’ current knowledge of the English language for practical use in both written and oral communication.
In 7th Grade Literature and Vocabulary, students develop a deeper appreciation for literature by learning to identify basic elements and literary devices used in short stories, novels, plays, and poetry. Students improve their comprehension by developing an understanding of how authors use language to convey their thoughts and feelings. Students first examine the short story and its components and then examine the meaning and conventions of poetry. The students then apply what they have learned to novels and a play throughout the remainder of the school year. Throughout their study of literature, the students enhance their own sense of language by using the techniques and devices presented in class in their own writing. In addition, students explore the power of language by studying vocabulary in context.
Texts may include A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Seedfolks, To Kill a Mockingbird, The House on Mango Street, Lion: A Long Way Home, and various short stories and poems.
The 7th Grade Composition and Grammar course continues to develop the student’s ability to communicate effectively and creatively. Building on the understandings and questions from previous years, 7th grade students will continue to develop their writing abilities to make an argument, tell a story, and authentically express themselves through a variety of media. Essential to this is an understanding and implementation of correct written form and grammar.
In 8th Grade, we will delve into treasures of ancient Greek literature within a modern context. Wrestling with thought-provoking issues like fate vs. free will, the value of a human life, and public vs. private responsibility in society, we will continue to build a deeper understanding of how life is mirrored in literature. Additionally, identifying how literature connects across time and topic as well as how reading comprehension skills are applicable throughout all content areas allows us to be more balanced learners able to apply skills in a more consistent and effective manner. We will begin to truly examine our role in the world and how the pieces of that world fit together.
Texts may include Antigone, The Odyssey, Lord of the Flies, Of Mice and Men, The Pearl, Between Shades of Gray, and various short stories and poems.
In 8th Grade Composition and Grammar, students are provided the opportunity to explore personal interests through research and express creativity and personal voice through poetry and short stories, as well as develop their own ideas through descriptive and persuasive essays. Through the use of informal journal writing, students are able to examine various areas of interest before embarking on more in-depth research projects. Additionally, cross-curricular writing assignments are incorporated in order to address the importance of being able to write and communicate clearly in any field of study or area of interest. Students also employ analytical reading skills in order to help them learn to write more analytically. They practice the skills of paraphrasing, quoting, and citing information from texts in support of opinions and their side of an argument. Students also work on communication in a variety of formats - oral presentation skills, digital formats, written essays, and projects. The grammar component of the course aims to refine students’ current knowledge of the English language for practical use in both written and oral communication.
Middle School students are placed in a Mathematics class according to their abilities, which allows many paths to success and differentiation for speed and ability levels. Students are able to seek opportunities, explore options, discover passions, and lead their own learning. At all levels, Middle Schoolers' Mathematics courses encourage problem-solving, risk-taking, and the development of new ways of thinking and approaching math through encountering real-world math applications.
Integrated Math 6
The focus of this course is on rational numbers, their operations, and their algebraic representations in order to build a strong foundation in arithmetic and algebraic skills going forward. This foundation will be built through a process of practice, problem solving, and application of these skills to real-world situations. The first part of the course will emphasize the introduction of conceptual algebraic concepts and their relation to the rational numbers we already know. Then the latter portion of the course will focus on how these algebraic skills can be powerful problem solving tools in order to transition students to the higher mathematics they will be seeing in Algebra and beyond.
This course will review the basic operations on whole numbers, fractions and decimals when used in dealing with ratio, proportions, percent, simple geometry and algebra. As students display mastery of these concepts, they will move into basic algebra. Students will be expected to understand basic operations with integers, rational numbers, irrational numbers, and real numbers; the use of variables; properties of numbers and of equality; solving equations and inequalities; problem solving; relations and functions; and polynomials.
The primary focus of this course is to create a bridge from Lower School computational-based mathematics and Middle School transition mathematics to Upper School conceptual and applied mathematics. Algebra 1 introduces math terminology, procedures, methods, and symbols using critical thinking skills to solve real-life applications. Students explore the properties of real numbers and apply this knowledge to linear equations, inequalities, and multi-step equations. They also learn to solve systems of equations and inequalities both graphically and algebraically. This course also introduces the use of graphing calculators which serve as powerful tools.
Geometry includes an in-depth analysis of plane, solid, and coordinate geometry concepts. This course lays the foundation for further study of mathematics. It is an opportunity for students to extend and practice logical and complex thought processes.
Science 6--Earth Science
Earth Science focuses on how the Earth was formed and is continually changing. This branch of science addresses rock formation, the Earth’s layers, weathering and erosion, aquatic and terrestrial areas, weather and climate, biomes, humanity’s influences on the Earth, a tour of the solar system, astronomy, the Sun, stars, the Moon, and space exploration.
Each week our class will complete group activities, design challenges, experiments, and persuasive arguments to demonstrate the topics we have learned. Students will also engage in active learning through the use of Cornell style structured note-taking, creation of vocabulary illustration cards, and also attend a few field trips throughout the year! Our Earth Science class will be engaging, fun, and allow students to truly experience the many explorations of Earth Science!
science 7--Life Science
In this course we will investigate what life is: its possible origins; what it needs to be sustained; its variety; how living organisms interact with, and change, their biotic and abiotic environment; and how humans meet the characteristics of living things. Class time will be spent exploring life, at both a macroscopic and microscopic level, through discussions and activities. Understanding the scientific method and applying it to the concepts in class discussions and labs will be an important part of the course. Learning how to perform experiments and handle all equipment and materials is essential and a key component of class time as well.
Science 8--Physical science
The goal of the eighth grade science curriculum is to continue to integrate science topics by addressing material in the nature of science, chemistry, physics, earth science, and life science and preparing the student for Upper School. Students have several opportunities to do individual inquiry-based activities. Understanding the scientific method and applying it to the concepts in class discussions and labs will be an important part of the course. Learning how to perform experiments and handle all equipment and materials is essential and a key component of class time as well.
World geography 6
Who we are – what we like or dislike, the jobs we do, the societies we live in – are strongly related to our place in the world. The study of the earth and of the ways people live and work on it is called Geography. In this course we will look at how humans interact with our planet as well as with each other. We will examine the physical and cultural geography of all the major world regions. Every unit will include mapping activities and case studies that focus on key topics or cultural aspects of the region and special attention will be given to how these relate to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The goal is the help students see the world through a geographer's eyes. With those eyes, they will be able to make better sense of the world around them. Each element of the course is designed to help them not only reach this goal, but to have fun doing it.
History 7--US History
This course is designed to introduce students to the importance and role of the US Constitution in our society today. The course begins with a brief history of the founding of the United States. From there we leap back to Europe in order to examine some of the influences which acted upon the thinking of the Founding Fathers when they were crafting the Constitution. From there we discuss some of the causes that led people to consider independence from Britain. This leads us to look at the Declaration of Independence, the First and Second Continental Congresses, and finally the US Constitution. The rest of the course is taken up with looking at the roles of the various branches of the US Federal Government and the interpretations made by States and the Judiciary in applying the US Constitution to the lives of US citizens. The course concludes with an examination of the modern Civil Rights movement.
History 8--World Civilizations 1
World Civilizations 1 is designed to teach students the world's history from Prehistory to the dawn of the European Renaissance. Students are exposed to the continuum of civilizations and the diverse cultures that developed worldwide over time. They study images of artifacts to better discern the important concepts for those civilizations. Throughout the year, students are led to develop a style of historical essay writing so that by the end of the year they are able to write a competent historically critical essay. They are also given comparative history assignments using primary sources in order to develop critical analysis skills. CORE UNDERSTANDINGS: Past cultures and events have an impact on current and future civilizations. The study of history affords us the opportunity to understand the importance of multiple perspectives. People in the past wrestled with the same questions that challenge us today. Those who came before us have ideas worth applying to our lives today.
national history day in middle school
Middle School students complete History Day projects in alignment with the National History Day competition. They are required to work collaboratively on their research, which must include primary and secondary sources as well as print and digital formats. The projects offer the chance for cross-content collaboration. Citation skills are taught in Composition class, and the final product from the research is a formal presentation during History Night.
Conversation and Culture 6
This course is designed to expose students to French and Spanish culture as well as the vocabulary words required for basic conversation. Students spend one semester studying French culture and language and one semester studying Spanish culture and language. Students are exposed to language, food, geography, music, and art as they embrace the history and culture of various areas of the world.
Conversation and Culture 7
In this course, students build on the language skills from Sixth Grade while expanding their knowledge of the history and culture associated with the French and Spanish languages. Students receive an initial introduction to Latin and Ancient Roman traditions, which helps enhance their study of the Classics being taught in other subject areas. Throughout the year, students spend approximately one-third of the year in each language allowing them to make a more informed decision when they select their first year language credit in Eighth Grade.
Eighth graders choose between French 1, Spanish 1, or Latin 1. All three are high school credit courses.
French 1 introduces students to the language and culture of the French-speaking countries. Students learn the rules of pronunciation, spelling, sentence structure, conjugation of regular and irregular verbs primarily in the present tense, agreement of adjectives, and the formation of negative and interrogative sentences. Students develop listening, speaking, reading, and writing language skills through interpretive, interpersonal, and presentational communication using videos, audio texts, interaction with native and non-native speakers, reading a variety of written texts, and writing short dialogues and letters. Vocabulary is based on daily student life (town, home, school, animals, nature, clothing, etc.). Reading and writing short paragraphs as well as oral comprehension and expression is stressed. The goal in this level is to give the student a strong foundation for subsequent years. There will be constant review to assure correct assimilation of all material.
This course is designed for students who have little or no experience studying Spanish. In this course students will develop basic communicative skills in Spanish (speaking, listening, reading, and writing), daily in class, online, and at home. Students will obtain information gathered through readings, videos, Spanish books, newspapers, magazines, websites, songs, short films, TV programs, etc., to expose themselves to material created by native Spanish speakers. The class will be very practical. Students’ willingness to prepare for and participate in each class will greatly increase their skills and facilitate more variety of activities. Most of the class will be conducted in Spanish.
Latin 1 introduces students to the fundamentals of Latin forms, grammar, and reading in order to provide a sound basis for further study in the language. Throughout the year, class discussion includes aspects of Roman history, Latin literature, and the influence of the Latin language and ancient Roman culture. The further goal of the Latin sequence at Wakefield is to enable students to read and appreciate Latin literature in the original language, so reading Latin is emphasized.
Co-Curricular Rotation and "Winterim"
Over the course of the year, Middle School students will rotate through co-curricular courses in Health, Technology, Art, and Theater.
In addition, Wakefield Winterim (launching Jan. 2021) will be the reason Middle and Upper School students love returning to school from the holiday break. The Winterim is a two-week mini-semester that lets both faculty and students explore a subject in-depth, try new things, or view a familiar topic from a new angle. Students are provided a variety of interdisciplinary, experiential learning options that will stimulate new interests, provide platforms for personal growth, and deepen their experience of both our local and global communities.
From addressing different learning styles in the classroom to providing emotional and social support, our educators take a valuable and active role in their students’ lives. At an age where children are both inquisitive and independent, we capitalize on their potential by encouraging personal growth and responsibility while developing autonomy and empathy.
Middle school science challenges students to no longer take science at face value, as simply a series of facts and details to be remembered; instead they are encouraged to question, risk being wrong, and most importantly discover the “why” and the “how.”
Middle and Upper School Science teacher