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Middle School

dynamic and multifaceted middle school curriculum

Throughout middle school, students progress, evolve, and grow in many ways, and gain academic skills, a love of learning, and a sense of global citizenship, preparing them to enter the wider world with confidence and enthusiasm.

Middle Schooler playing basketball

The need for imagination, a sense of truth, and a feeling of responsibility; these are the very nerve of education.

Rudolf Steiner

single green oak leaf

Overview

Subject and main lesson topics call upon the growing child to use their hands, heart, and head to deepen their studies of the natural world and the history of man, and are asked to use their budding observations and developing critical thinking skills to expand their knowledge and understanding of the world in which they live.

Main Lesson and Language Arts

The fifth grade is the golden year of childhood, a keystone year for the growing pre-adolescent. It is a time where the child has an inner balance, strength and confidence before the turbulence of adolescence arrives. The growing child is met with deep and meaningful subjects to provide a cradle for the development of their growing consciousness. Mythological stories of ancient Persia, Greece and India are woven throughout the curriculum, and in fifth grade, more formal, focused historical studies begin. Egyptian and North American cultures and customs are studied in many areas of the curriculum through stories and various activities. Along with the well-loved mythological stories, many aspects of Greek history are explored, including the Greek Games, city states, great heroes, and the origins of mathematics, history, and art. Science curriculum is enlivened with the study of the plant kingdom, and Botany studies include the exploration of fungi, algae, monocots, dicots, and photosynthesis.

Writing skills are further developed as the children learn to write in active and passive voice, and paragraph structure is further expanded and practiced. Compositions become more self-generated and complex in content, and students typically write a state report that requires research and a formal bibliography. Students deepen their study of grammar and mastery of spelling, and readers and individual reading assignments are given throughout the year.

Mathematics
In math, fifth graders focus on the study of decimals, and continue to reinforce and expand upon their basic skills learned in years prior. Particular reinforcement of fractions, mixed numbers, conversion of decimals to fractions and fractions to decimals is practiced. An introduction to plane geometry and discoveries made by Greek and Egyptian mathematicians are brought. Geometric forms found in nature and a concrete experience of the Pythagorean Theorem is introduced for the first time.

Subject Classes and Special Activities
Speech, poetry, singing, diatonic flute/recorder and drama continue with further mastery and more advanced exercises. Our subject classes in fifth grade include Handwork, Woodwork, Strings, Modeling, Painting, Games, Eurythmy, and Spanish. Students participate in the Pentathlon, a grade specific, special event that combines fifth grade Greek studies curriculum with their movement class.

Main Lesson and Language Arts
The sixth grade student is at the dawn of pre-adolescence. At this age, Waldorf curriculum is focused on the encouragement of healthy social dynamics, cultivating individuality and confidence, and providing challenging and engaging academics. In main lesson, the students study various subjects, including the rise and fall of ancient Rome, astronomy and geology, physics, economics and much more; throughout these subjects, the themes of order, polarites, and law are woven to meet the child at this complex developmental phase. Sixth grade curriculum becomes more focused, formed, and direct in many ways, but as in the lower grades, mathematics, science, and history are enlivened with movement, discussion, art, and dynamic activities.

In language arts, students are guided through intensive projects that require multi-paragraph, structured essays, and also learn to write persuasive, narrative, expository, and descriptive written pieces. Grammar rules are further reinforced and reviewed, and new topics, such as predicates, subjects, direct and indirect objects are introduced as well. Quality pieces of literature are read, recited and studied, including poetry, ballads, tales of chivalry, biographies and more. In general, the sixth grader self-generates a large portion of main lesson work, and often, different grading techniques are used by the teacher to bring a sense of order, expectation, and standard to class work.

Mathematics
Geometry and economics are brought in main lesson by the class teacher. For the first time, students use a compass and straightedge to construct different geometric forms, and in economics, classes explore the concepts of business math, including the origins of money, banking, and interest. In these blocks, vocabulary is expanded, and the curriculum is reinforced with the studies of cause and effect, order, and precision. In sixth grade at Davis Waldorf School, math classes are no longer taught by the main lesson teacher, but are instead taught by the math specialist throughout the week as a subject class. The sixth grader intensely studies the relationship and conversion between decimals, fractions, and percentages, the metric system, and more, leading into simple algebra.

Subject Classes and Activities
Art and music are an important and ever-present aspect of sixth grade. Charcoal, pastel, and watercolor painting are regularly incorporated into the curriculum. Individual style is developed, and teachers aim to include artistic activities that speak to the inner development of the budding pre-adolescent child. In music, recorder, both soprano and alto, are taught in main lesson, and students may choose to continue with their stringed instrument in the orchestra or join the band program. Our subject classes in sixth grade include Handwork, Woodwork, Strings or Beginning Band, Art, Games, Eurythmy, Math and Spanish. Students have the opportunity to participate in our athletics program, which includes Basketball and Flag Football.

Main Lesson and Language Arts
Seventh graders are eager to explore, debate, and be newly challenged in their academics. This time in development can be a tumultuous, as so much is changing and transforming for them physically, emotionally and spiritually. With all of this to consider, the class teacher aims to use the curriculum to meet the child at their place in development, and works to inspire, provoke critical thinking, and raise standards in an appropriately challenging and engaging manner. The Renaissance, Reformation, and Age of Exploration are studied in-depth, and these blocks provide ample opportunity for questions, debates, and discussions around how the consequences of these time periods have manifested today in the modern world. The vase continent of Africa is explored, and students are often assigned a country project that allows for deeper study into ancient cultures, customs, and language. Science blocks include chemistry, physiology, and physics, and students are stretched to use their observational and thinking skills to make conclusions about the laws of nature. Topics in these blocks include combustion, acids and bases, simple machines, and nutrition.

In language arts, formal research techniques are applied to multi-paragraph research papers, and creating bibliographies, using citations, and properly quoting is practiced regularly. The first formal creative writing block is included in the curriculum, where poetry, storytelling, and literary devices are introduced. Grammar and punctuation rules are continually reinforced, and students are expected to write multiple drafts, proofread, and incorporate peer and teacher edits into their writing. Works of Shakespeare, Arthurian legends, historical novels and other quality literature is brought throughout the year.

Mathematics
Seventh grade math continues to be taught by our math specialist as a subject class, and areas of study include area and perimeter of simple and complex polygons and circles, square roots, integers, and word problems. Students are continuously expected to exhibit neatness and care in their work, show and explain their thinking process, and develop and apply time management skills.

Subject Classes and Activities
In art, students study perspective drawing, and continue their work with different mediums, including watercolor painting, charcoal, pastel, pencil, and ink. Speech, poetry, singing, soprano/alto/tenor recorders and drama continue with more advanced exercises, and students are encouraged to participate in school athletics. Our subject classes in seventh grade include Handwork, Woodwork, Strings or Advanced Band, Art, Games, Eurythmy, Math and Spanish.

Main Lesson and Language Arts
Eighth grade is the culmination of many years of work, curriculum, and development, and students experience many milestones that are set aside for this special year. As always, Waldorf curriculum works to speak to the developmental experience of the child; in eighth grade, students are eager for transformation, change, challenge, and wish to enter the wide world in their uniquely individual way. In history, the eighth grader connects to the idea of revolution, and the American, Industrial, French, and Technological Revolutions are studied and discussed in complex and engaging ways. Throughout, biographies of key historical figures are introduced, including those of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Frederick Douglass, Marie Curie, Abraham Lincoln, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to name a few! The study of science in the eighth grade includes human anatomy, organic chemistry, physics, and meteorology. World economics and geography is studied by way of exploring common goods and their impacts in our everyday lives; students trace the history, trade routes, processing methods, and economics of items such as cacao, cotton, salt, or sugar.

In language arts, the eighth grader is assigned various writing assignments of length and subject, and proofreading, editing, and the many skills they have previously learned are practiced and reinforced continuously. Grammar and punctuation rules are further studied, and students incorporate literary devices and research techniques throughout the year. Short stories and other quality literature are read and explored together and assigned individually. The Eighth Grade Research Project remains a culminating milestone for the year as each student presents their topic of study and work to the school community, through an oral and visual presentation. As well, this project includes a significant research paper that includes reflections of personal experience, well chosen academic sources, and a bibliography formatted according to MLA guidelines.

Mathematics
Eighth grade math continues to be taught by our math specialist as a subject class, and topics include the study of platonic geometric solids, Pre-Algebra, and depending on the class and/or individual’s abilities, Algebra I. Students are continuously expected to exhibit neatness and care in their work, show and explain their thinking process, and develop and apply time management skills.

Subject Classes and Activities
Speech, poetry, singing, and soprano/alto/tenor recorder continue with more advanced exercises. Our subject classes in eighth grade include Handwork, Woodwork, Strings or Advanced Band, Art, Games, Math, and Spanish. Eighth graders enjoy connecting with their first grade buddies, and are often participate in special activities reserved for this final year at our school. They participate in the school-wide Halloween festival, present Eighth Grade Projects, and perform individual musical solos to the community. The eighth grade field trip is a special experience, and is often taken at the end of the school year. The students close the year with weaving the maypole ribbons during our May Faire Celebration, and are honored at our Closing Ceremony and Graduation.

In middle school, the art curriculum spans many mediums and techniques, and the teacher balances lessons with freedom and form throughout the grades. Teachers choose the artistic curriculum carefully, and incorporate developmentally appropriate and meaningful activities for their specific group of students. Watercolor, colored pencil, ink, charcoal, and pastel are worked with regularly. As well, clay modeling, figure drawing, calligraphy, perspective drawing, portraiture, and color studies are explored, and teachers work to cultivate a sense of personal style and confidence within their students. Drama and music are continuously incorporated into the school year, and poetry, speech, and public speaking skills are developed through the middle school grades.

 

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