Grade VII Central Subject: The Early American Experience
Naturally embedded in any academic curriculum are human themes. In keeping with Shady Hill School’s traditions, we aim to integrate within all subjects themes regarding character, values, respect for self and others, and the responsibility children have as members of the community.
The Grade VII
Central Subject focuses on early American history, weaving together instruction in English, history, and world geography. We explore throughline questions around the concepts of leadership, responsibility, and groups. Students work in several class structures: whole group, small cooperative groups, pairs, and individually. We emphasize the processes of inquiry, research, and analysis, with students contributing their findings in writing and orally to the shared classroom community. Throughlines:
- How do groups come together? How do they fall apart?
- How do we balance individual needs with group responsibility?
- Do groups need leaders? Do they need followers?
Mathematics in Grade VII
(Five periods/250 minutes per cycle)
The middle school mathematics program at Shady Hill School guides students in constructing new mathematical knowledge built upon deep understanding and prior learning. The program provides students with meaningful learning experiences through discovery and exploration, complemented by the formalization of requisite algorithms and skill work. Students work both independently and collaboratively in class. They develop skills in problem–solving, and further their ability to communicate and justify their reasoning. They are encouraged to represent their thinking in both oral and written form. Students make connections to mathematical ideas and to real-world experiences. The use of manipulatives and technology allows students to move from concrete to abstract thinking in the ongoing development of mathematical ideas.
The Seventh Grade math curriculum solidifies arithmetic skills and concepts and requires application of those skills throughout content areas of study. These include a review of number and operations (whole numbers, fractions, decimals, percents, exponents and ratio and proportion); geometry (two and three dimensional figures); data analysis; probability and operations with negative numbers. Throughout, students are asked to apply these skills to solve rigorous problems that model real-world situations. In the third term, students begin their formal study of algebra with the exploration of linear equations and word problems. There is one enriched section that demands more independent study of the same curriculum.
Science In Grade VII
(Five periods/250 minutes per cycle)
In Grade VII science, students develop an understanding of the human body and how it works, through the study of various organ systems, including the reproductive system. In conjunction with each system, students explore topics of health and wellness including mindful nutrition, diseases and disorders, and the effects of drugs and alcohol on the body within the context of the relevant systems. Laboratory work is an integral part of the course. Experimental and engineering design, careful observation, record keeping, study skills, and data analysis are emphasized. Students will also complete several creative and collaborative projects that allow them to pursue areas of interest. We use the texts Human Biology and Health, published by Prentice Hall and It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robie Harris in addition to many supplemental materials.
World Languages In Grade VII
(Five periods/250 minutes per cycle)
In Grade VII, students choose to study French, Mandarin, or Spanish.
Visual & Performing Arts In Grade VII
(Electives: Two periods/160 minutes per cycle)
The Arts are presented in seventh and eighth Grade as a three-term program taught by Shady Hill School music, studio, and shop teachers, other Middle School faculty, and several professional artists and musicians from outside the school community. Students are expected to enroll in a variety of courses in both visual and performing arts before leaving Shady Hill. In 2016-2017, the courses offered include: Intro to Guitar, Pottery, Photography, Design, Shop, Jewelry, Oil Painting, Drawing, Animation, Hip-Hop Dance, Comedy, Filmmaking, Knitting, Jazz Band, Rock Band, and Hip-Hop Songwriting.
Ensembles: One Period/45-60 minutes per cycle)
Gold Chorusand Gold Orchestra meet during one academic period per week. These ensembles perform several times during the school year at school assemblies, evening concerts, and some off-campus venues. Students in Grades VII and VIII who are a part of the school ensemble program may audition for the MMEA Eastern Division Junior District honors Band, Chorus, or Orchestra in January.
The Gold Jazz Band, for experienced seventh and eighth grade musicians, meets once weekly for rehearsal after dismissal for one hour. These students also perform several times during the school year at school assemblies, evening concerts, and some off-campus venues.
Sports in Grades VII & VIII
(Three 90-minute periods per week, plus games)
Students in Grades VII and VIII have opportunities to compete in a full interscholastic athletic program. Shady Hill offers ten interscholastic sports (cross country, field hockey, soccer, basketball, ice hockey, lacrosse, tennis, track and field, ultimate Frisbee, and touch football), fielding approximately 24 teams. Students in Grades VII and VIII are required to participate in an activity each season, with physical education and intramural tennis offered as alternatives to the interscholastic offerings. Each student is required to participate on at least one Shady Hill interscholastic team per year. Students who participate seriously in physical activities not offered by the school may apply for athletic exemptions. We believe strongly that the natural progression provides our students with a rich athletic experience. In all parts of the program, there is a three-pronged emphasis: the pursuit of fitness, cognitive understanding of concepts, and the development of self-confidence. The ultimate goal is team and personal success while modeling Shady Hill’s core values.
Library In Grade VII
(One 50-minute period per cycle)
Library time for seventh graders includes librarian book recommendations, book discussions, research instruction, and quiet reading, an independent reading program supported by the librarians but overseen by the gradehead. Students also meet with a librarian on a flexible basis for research support and instruction using both print and online resources.
Technology In Grade VII
Today’s technology is well suited to support Shady Hill’s emphasis on creative, student-centered, project-based learning. Using the shared laptop cart, class sets of iPads and campus-wide wireless network, Seventh Grade students employ a range of software and internet-based programs that enable collaboration, research, data collection, digital storytelling, and mastery of skills. Examples of the types of software that students use over the course of the year include: Google Docs, Inspiration, iMovie, Garage Band, Comic Life, Keynote, Google Earth and Google SketchUp; as well as Internet-based programs such as Voicethread, Quizlet, and Sheppard Software. By integrating technology into the classroom and the existing curriculum, as opposed to teaching it as a stand-alone course, students are able to learn new ways to demonstrate their knowledge while gaining an understanding of the practical application of the tools themselves.
Middle School Community
(One 50-minute assembly per cycle)
Middle School Assembly is a regular time designated for Middle School students, faculty, and staff to build and maintain community. A variety of activities are scheduled during this time, from large group games and icebreakers, to classroom sharing and performances by visiting artists, and outside speakers. Each assembly includes community singing.
Morning Meetings: Tuesday & Thursday 8:10-8:20 AM
Weekly meetings of Grades V-VIII, led by Grade VIII students, provide opportunities for school and division-related announcements, class sharing and brief performances. This informal blend of news, information, and entertainment builds community spirit and Middle School unity. In addition, these meetings feature Grade VIII “declamations” of original written compositions.