Middle School

MIDDLE SCHOOL CURRICULUM

Learn By Doing

Middle School topics are tailored toward the emerging adolescent capable of more abstract thinking. During these years, students become more self-conscious and critical and the teachers offer new boundaries, rules, and expectations as well as a stimulating experiential curriculum. The Middle School rotation and team teaching approach helps us to meet the needs of young adolescents.

MIDDLE SCHOOL CURRICULUM

Beyond the Books

The Middle School curriculum at The Waldorf School of San Diego is enriched by a multitude of experiences outside of the classroom work. Students are given opportunities to move into the new world of adolescence in a safe and secure environment, while taking on additional responsibilities as they develop new capacities.

WHAT WE STRIVE FOR

Middle School

Call For Inquiry

(619) 287 – 3054 x 200

Middle School

Email For Inquiry

In addition to deepening the work with previously encountered material, many new subjects are introduced, all with the goal of helping the student maintain a healthy interest in the world. The curriculum encourages pre-adolescents to direct their gaze enthusiastically and sympathetically out into the world and thereby come to a deeper understanding of self.

Grade

Sixth

By sixth grade, the methods of teaching change significantly to address new conceptual capacities that are awakening in children as they approach adolescence. 

Grade

Seventh

The seventh grade challenges the student with a demanding and stimulating curriculum.  

Grade

Eighth

In the eighth grade study of the American, French, and Industrial Revolutions, students meet an outer reflection of their inner struggles and upheavals.

Curriculum

Sixth Grade

d

Sixth Grade Curriculum

Main Lessons

The challenge of the three upper grades is particularly intense because of the increasing complexity of both the Waldorf Curriculum and the students’ needs. At this time the teacher is encouraged to review his or her goals, expectations, and standards to meet the newly, and often chaotically, emerging individuality of the pre-adolescent. The teacher emphasizes ways to nurture the child’s rising capacities for independent thinking and moral-ethical responsibility.

l

English and Language Arts

Introduction to:

  • Writing book reports and compositions
  • Oral presentations
  • Constructing strong sentences and paragraphs
Details

Students have a new increased responsibility for knowing deadlines for homework, projects, and weekly work as it is assigned. They are each given a binder to organize their work, and a copy of the block rotations that included homework, project, and book report due dates, as well as the dates of other special events. The students appreciate the new sense of responsibility, and most are diligent with this work, following deadlines and staying on task.

This year, five books are assigned as reading to supplement our curriculum studies. Four of them require written book reports and the other is used for class discussion, vocabulary, and spelling work.

Mathematics

Introduction to:

  • Interrelationship between division, fractions, decimals and percents
  • Business math
Details

Grade 6 Math skills include fraction-to-decimal conversion and vice versa, and decimal and fraction conversion to percent. We work with ideas of simple interest, principal, rate of interest, production, and consumption of goods. Students document how many hours they spent on various activities for seven days and do many calculations with this data. Students then enter this data into a pie chart at the end of the block.

Grade 6 math examines three types of economies: self-sufficient, barter and money. They review work-exchange system and practice double-entry bookkeeping. In addition they discover the origin of money and its three uses–buy/sell, lend/borrow, and give/receive.

Science

Introduction to:

  • World Geography and Geology
  • Fundamental Astronomy and Physics
  • Drawing, labelling and reading maps
Details

School year begins with the expansiveness of World Geography. Students identify differences in climate, plants, animals, and landscape features in the world, which leads us to the composition of land formations. The class studies the anatomy of a volcano and take a field trip to Anza Borrego. Students return from winter break to Astronomy and finish the year with Physics; looking into the properties of sound, light and heat.

History and Social Studies

Introduction to:

  • Ancient Rome
  • End of the Roman era to the Middle Age
  • Book reports and individual projects
Details

Students begin the year examining the Roman History era. Studies require a lot of reading and students get ample practice in basic grammar review, new sentence structure, sentence combing, and paragraph development. Students act out short drama scene from this historical time. Students learn about Romulus, Remus, the Seven Kings of Rome, Sabine women, the Etruscans, and then the first Republic of Rome. Students begin the second black with the life of Caesar and the Roman army. As students transition to the end of Rome times, they begin to learn about the Middle Ages, Migration of Peoples, rise of barbarianism, and the beginning of the feudal system. This block ended with a final book report, an individual project, and a completed summary of their Squire’s Challenge. The final culmination was our class play, King Arthur.

Subjects

In addition to Music, Foreign Language, Eurythmy, and Handwork, students also participate in Art, Physical Education, and Gardening.

Music

Introduction to: 

  • Exploration of music through history 
  • Performing different styles
Details

Sixth grade students continue to develop their musical skills in choir, band and orchestra.  They begin to explore how music developed throughout history by studying and performing music of different styles and eras.

Foreign Languages

Introduction to:

  • Conversational speaking
  • Country geography
  • Food, culture, crops, and industry
  • Advancement of conjugated verbs
Details

In Grade 6, the class works a lot with conversational French. Students practice conversational French for the first part of every class. The students enjoy the lively atmosphere and the quick pace of the class they were able to ask and answer some basic situational questions: What is your name? Where do you live? How old are you? Do you have siblings? What are their names? Ages? Do you have a pet? Do you play sports? Do you play an instrument? The students write and memorize their personal introduction and make an oral presentation to the class. Our Roman studies focus on the settlements and the many structures the Romans built in France–many of these structures are still in use today. Students study the history of Paris and learn about life in the Middle Ages. They studied the characteristics of a knight. The students were able to identify and use masculine and feminine nouns, their articles and adjectives, and the rules of subject-verb agreement. We worked a lot with verb conjugations, learning the rules and exceptions of Äúer, Äù verbs. 

They study the geography of France, where they review the topographical features learned in Grade 5. The students identify major rivers, mountain ranges, bordering countries, surrounding oceans and seas, and different regions of France. Many of the highlighted regions of France play a prominent role in the Grade 6 curriculum, for instance, Arthurian legends that took place in Brittany, France; the Roman arenas and aqueducts of the South of France; and the many French Gothic Cathedrals with their unique architecture, labyrinths, and allegorical stained glass windows built during the Middle Ages. In the geography block, they drew their own maps of France, done with great care and detail. At the end of the block, students could identify four major rivers, seven border countries, four large bodies of water, and five mountain ranges. We read about different regions of France learning about food and cultural festivals, specialty crops, and industry.

Grade 6 Spanish students are introduced to more courtesy phrases and greetings and basic introductory questions and answers. We review the alphabet and the numbers by playing different game challenges. Through poems, the students also review the seasons, months, weeks, days of the week, and colors. They also review the weather, the date and time, and food, among other basic vocabularies. We continue working on Spanish grammar and start getting familiar with conjugating regular verbs.

The students also learn about some festivals, cultural traditions, and Hispanic dances from Spain and other Spanish speaking countries. For instance, a dance block was taught during the main lesson, coordinated by a Grades teacher and the Spanish teacher. The students are introduced to Rueda de Casino, salsa suelta, and Cuban culture. During this block, the students experienced musicality, movement, culture, Spanish vocabulary, and artistic expression through dance.

Towards the end of the school year, the students learn about ‘El Quijote de la Mancha’ by reading an adaptation of the popular book written by the majestic Miguel de Cervantes in 1604-1605. This is a really important book in Spanish literature. The book tells the story of Don Quixote, a middle-aged gentleman from the region of La Mancha in central Spain and follows the adventures of a nobleman, named Alonso Quijano, who reads so many chivalric romances that he loses his sanity and decides to set out to revive chivalry, undo wrongs, and bring justice to the world under the name of Don Quixote de la Mancha. This book brings not only vocabulary about knights but also reinforces the knights’ values, that students discover and experience through their knighting ceremony, in a humorous way.

Eurythmy

Introduction to: 

  • Exploration of spatial orientation 
  • Inclusion of playing musical instruments
Details

Grade 6 class splits into two groups. Each group works on similar elements: spatial orientation exercises, clapping the upper voice of a piece while stepping the lower voice at the same time, as well as a series of copper rod exercises. For the Annual Eurythmy Concert, they prepare a Round in 4 parts. The challenge for them is to not only learn this piece in Eurythmy but also play it on our instruments while the other group moves. Rhythmical concentration and coordination exercises are an integral part of each lesson.

Handwork and Practical Arts

Introduction to:

  • Intricate stitching
  • Drafting patterns
  • Cultivate the feeling of life through artistic work
Details

Grade 6 Handwork students work on the creation of a single project. They create a stuffed animal, an elaborate soft sculpture brought to life through intricate stitching.

As a class, they focus on a single animal – the elephant. Through the exploration of form, the students draft patterns from their drawings. They discover the piece that transforms a two-dimensional image into three-dimensions. Students refine their sewing skills cultivated in Grade 4 and acquire new skills.

In sixth grade art, students explore a variety of media as they continue to build their skills in drawing, printmaking and sculpture. Students develop increasingly sophisticated creative strategies, skills, and habits of mind through artistic practices. Warm up drawing exercises are used to get students ready for still life drawing and other forms of art making. Students learn to give constructive feedback and expand their “art” vocabulary with our critiques. Students acquire increasing complex procedural knowledge, skill and craftsmanship in art making while exploring an expanded range of media. Students make mosaics using eggshells, make leather bound journals as well as watercolor covered journals. In between projects students made a few still life drawings and worked on drawing skills. Students also work in groups to come up with a drawing and decorate a class window using tissue paper to resemble stain glass. In the spring, students move into a printmaking block and come up with their own designs, draw it onto their linoleum blocks, carve and print.

Gardening

Introduction to: 

  • Increased responsibility and more detailed tasks
  • Deepening understanding of plant diversity 
  • Focus on service to others
Details

Grade 6 classes begin the year by gathering seeds and harvesting summer crops. They participate in harvesting the abundance of figs and bananas. They also clear garden beds and plant seeds. With the introduction of animals to our garden, students are responsible for feeding and cleaning chores. Students in Grade 6 are given much more responsibility and detailed tasks than younger grades.

In the Spring, students learn the basics of pruning stone fruit trees. The students tend to the compost heap, making sure to maintain the perfect balance of nitrogen, carbon, water, and heat. In addition to learning about composting, students learn how to make nettle tea as a spring fertilizer for the fruit trees and garden beds. Plant diversity, with its importance to a healthy farm, is the platform from which we discuss companion planting (how growing different plants together makes them healthy, strong, and tastier). Learning the relationships of the plants to one another mirrored the relationships students have with one another, guiding them to form healthy social relationships. Mulching, weeding, and watering are regular chores in Gardening class. The class discusses ways to conserve water and the importance of water conservation. As part of the water conservation movement, students build swales around fruit trees. Students learn that stewardship of the land, the importance of diversity, and service to others are the basis for almost all aspects of the garden work. 

In Grade 6‚ the final project is the construction of new corn terraces. This project entails clearing the land, leveling out the terrain, digging swales, and building the new garden boxes. After gardening for three years, the students are encouraged to engage in more self-motivated and directed work. Some students are more keen toward detailed and organizational jobs, such as organizing our seed bank, while others prefer the more laborious tasks of turning the compost pile and building swales. Students are given more freedom in their work but held to higher standards and challenged to step outside their comfort zone. Overall, gardening and spending time working together toward a common goal helps the class ground and channel their growing physical strength as well as feel more connected to each other.

Games

Introduction to:

  • Physical fitness evaluations
  • Working toward self improvement
  • Teamwork 
  • Game strategy
Details

In Grade 6, the games emphasize individual responsibility and individual improvement within group efforts. This is the first-year students can join the middle school sports program. Students are discovering and living in their strengths. Students are evaluated on their ability to take instructions, learn new skills, contribute to the class, as well their overall quality of participation and movement. They begin many of the classes with very specific and challenging exercises we attempted to master, such as balancing poses, handstands, and cartwheels. 

The three-to-four week blocks give them a great time-frame in which to try and improve, see their results. Students are given a modified physical fitness and skills “test” three times throughout the year, and the students are encouraged to improve on their personal best. The test measures how many sit-ups and push-ups each student could complete per minute, how many skips one could jump-rope in a minute, the highest number of consistent catches juggling three balls, a twenty-second arm hang, adeptness at doing a handstand and a right-handed and left-handed cartwheel, and a timed 50-meter dash. They also discuss how the evaluation is merely a measure of where their body is at that time. 

Team games are a big part of the curriculum now: having winners and losers, keeping score, and responding to winning and losing with dignity and respect. During this year, they play games working on teamwork, strategy, and endurance. Additionally they explore traditional sports such as football, basketball, and baseball. In preparation for the Medieval Games Tournament and keeping with the curriculum, students learn the sport of archery. The students learn the basics of shooting and keeping score.

Curriculum

Seventh Grade

d

Seventh Grade Curriculum

Main Lessons

One of the critical components is the understanding of the emergence of modern consciousness and scientific thought at the time of the Renaissance. For the students, it is a time of adventure. They learn about voyages to unknown lands, discover the substances of our earth, and observe the heavens. Plus, there is the challenge of trying to draw something that really looks like what they see.

l

English and Language Arts

Introduction to:

  • Developing poetic writing skills
  • Depth of expression through voice and mood
Details

The seventh grade students develop skills in reading and reciting poetry. They practice writing and use active and passive voice. Students begin to use sentence mood (indicative, imperative, or subjunctive) to deepen their writing. They start to develop an awareness of poetic style, as well as an awareness of the distinction between formal language, slang, and jargon. The students begin to discover their descriptive writing voice and learn how to evoke mood through words. 

Mathematics

Introduction to:

  • Fundamental algebra concepts
  • Three new formulas
  • Reviewing and expanding on conversions 
Details

The seventh graders’ introduction to positive and negative integers are presented in a number of ways (bank accounts, number lines, rules for combining). The students learn the rules for calculating with positive and negative in all four arithmetic processes; then they extensively practice solving equations. At the end of the block, students are introduced to the Golden Rule of Equations– learning that what is done to one side must be done to another, and show that the same is done to both sides, step-by-step.

Science

Introduction to:

  • Mathematical approach to physics and chemistry
  • First hand experience with labs and experiments
  • Developing a greater mode of critical thinking
  • Scientific drawing, diagrams, and illustrations
Details

Building on our Grade 6 physics studies, students explored acoustics, optics, heat, electricity, and magnetism, now on a deeper level. As the Grade 7 student develops, a greater mode of critical thinking emerges, and the sense of wonder and excitement begins to wane to a certain degree. The work of this block is aimed to refine students’ abilities of observation and to draw on the students’ capacities to form conclusions and judgments. Students are asked to quantify and measure in the process of drawing conclusions. Specific qualities of the forces of nature were explored. Their study of physics this year added a new focus on mechanics. They studied the use of simple machines: the lever, the pulley, the inclined plane, the wheel and axle, the wedge, and the screw. 

The focus of the chemistry block is on fire, the perfect transforming agent. The block began with combustion. Observations were made of the burning qualities of different materials and the discovery of the inner nature and transformation of matter. A lab focusing on candle flames had students working with partners to experience the power, beauty, and complexities of heat, fuel, and vapor. An exploration of the lime cycle followed and included the building of a lime kiln to transform limestone into quicklime for mortar. In this block, we also experienced the range of acids, bases, and salts. Each student had the opportunity to first-hand experience labs and experiments.

History and Social Studies

Introduction to:

  • Late Middle Ages through Renaissance
  • Developing note taking skill
  • Research project on an artist or inventor
  • Presentation skills and self-evaluations on projects
Details

In seventh grade the students study European history from the late Middle Ages through the Renaissance. Key biographies of either people who were forerunners of the times or individuals who particularly exemplified a character type from that time are studied in depth. In the Late Middle Ages, Marco Polo, Eleanor of Aquitaine, and Joan of Arc are typical biographies. As the curriculum moves towards the Reformation, the role of the Roman Catholic Church is explored with emphasis on the developments that took place within the church that contributed to the turbulence of the times. Martin Luther is typical of a key biography for this time period. Not only are the changes that took place in the religious/political life studied, but also the explorers in science, art, and world travel. Copernicus, Galileo, Columbus, Magellan, de Vinci, and Michelangelo are some of the fascinating biographies that tell the story of the times. The students deeply immerse themselves in the art of the times through their own reproductions of the work of “the renaissance masters.” The geography of Africa and Europe are covered in seventh grade. Typically, students write a report related to some aspect of a particular country. Some of the books related to history that are read in seventh grade include: Robin Hood, Adam of the Road, and Young Joan.

Subjects

In addition to Music, Foreign Language, Eurythmy, and Handwork, students also participate in Art, Physical Education, and Gardening.

Music

Introduction to: 

  • Continuing choir, band and orchestra
  • Music related to historical eras they are studying
Details

Students continue to participate in choir, band and orchestra classes, bringing musical concepts and skill acquisition together in rehearsing and performing. Seventh graders are introduced to music related to the historical and geographical eras they study—such as the Renaissance and Africa.

Foreign Languages

Introduction to:

  • Conversational French and Spanish
  • Customs and social mores
  • Interrogative pronouns
  • History of the countries where the language is spoken
Details

Grade 7 starts with learning about politeness and courtesy. Questions like how to be polite, and what is the proper way to speak to one another, were a springboard for class discussions on French customs and social mores that are deeply rooted in day-to-day interactions. The students learn how to introduce themselves to one another. They practice conversational French in each lesson. The students learn both physical descriptions and personality traits to describe themselves, their classmates, and the characters in the texts they read. They learn about where they live: in the city or the country, in a high-rise apartment, condo, single-story house, or two-story house. We reviewed the immediate family and extended family terms. We also covered interrogative pronouns and worked on the various ways to ask a question in French. They learn to answer in the negative. Students do lots of work on mastering the pillar verbs: to be, to have, to go, and to do. In looking at the history of France, they study the life of Joan of Arc and her role in French history. They read two plays: one about Joan of Arc, another about the Bourgeois de Calais, and both were acted out in class. They did a lot of work on fluency with the “er” verb group. In the last block, the students work on memorizing skits on the theme of meeting someone new. This was a good launchpad for cultural discussions around food, manners, and customs. This topic also brought up lively conversations about cultural stereotypes. They discuss how to move beyond stereotypes in an effort to better understand and embrace differences.

In Grade 7, Spanish students review the following topics, among others: courtesy phrases and greetings, basic introductory questions and answers, numbers through mental math, spelling games, vocabulary games, the seasons, months, weeks, and days of the week. Students learn poems and basic grammatical rules like, for example, accent marks, gender and number of articles, nouns, and adjectives, the weather, the date, and time, personal pronouns, the negative, interrogative, and exclamatory, adjectives, conjugation of regular verbs and irregular pillar verbs like, for instance, ‘Ser’ and ‘Estar’ (To be), cognates and false cognates. The students learn about some festivals and cultural traditions from Spain and other Spanish speaking countries. For instance, the Grade 7 students learn about the Dominican Republic, Cuba, and Latin America in general through our two dance blocks this year. The students learned the basic steps of merengue, bachata, cha cha cha, and Rueda de Casino or Timba (Cuban salsa). During this block, the students experienced musicality, movement, culture, Spanish vocabulary, and artistic expression through dance.

This school year, we continue having great discussions about grammatical and cultural differences, as well as pronunciation among diverse Spanish speaking countries. In addition, students become familiar with Spanish-English dictionaries and how to use them properly when translating; focusing on the value of context and interpretation.

Eurythmy

Introduction to: 

  • Exploring qualities and moods in language and in music
  • Choreographing their own pieces
  • Learning more complicated forms
Details

Grade 7 students explore qualities and moods, both in language and in music. They learn gestures for several moods of sadness, happiness, and knowledge. In music, they experience a very different quality of a Major or a Minor Chord. The students are tasked with creating their form for a piece by Chopin. Towards the end of the year, students learn a rather complicated form where one needs to switch back and forth between two different form principles. Rhythmical concentration and coordination exercises are an integral part of each lesson.

Handwork and Practical Arts

Introduction to:

  • Advanced techniques 
  • Attention to detail 
  • Precise execution
Details

Grade 7 Handwork students complete a project similar to the soft-sculpture project of the previous year. There are many components to this project which are not visible: hidden stitches, there is a brain inside the head, bones inside the limbs, and a heart inside the torso. Each of these steps requires great attention to detail and precise execution. This awareness for and building up of the inner self is another aspect of how this project meets the students in a meaningful way.

Woven throughout the year were artistic activities of various visual arts: painting, drawing, sculpting, singing, speech, and drama. Continued attention is paid to the organization of art, along with studies of style and form from the Renaissance artists. Art lessons were part of the Main Lesson but are also included as independent lessons. Accurate expression of exact observation rather than dissection was the goal of our activities in all disciplines, from drawing and painting to descriptive writing and diagramming. The class as a whole works to develop specific techniques that often includes pastel and charcoal drawing, sketching, use of color blending, taking away of color, and layering. The students continue to illustrate their Main Lesson pages with less copying and more original work or, for some, looking at books for ideas of what to draw.

Games

Introduction to:

  • Responsibility and accountability
  • Participation in organized competitive events
  • Strive for personal growth
Details

Grade 7 is the first-year students travel off-campus with the teacher for many of their classes to the Recreation Center. The fitness and skills test is given three times during the school year for measuring the same skills and fitness as in 6th grade with the addition of the timed mile. They are reminded that the evaluation merely measures what their body was capable of at that particular time and that the information learned from it was only for themselves to encourage them to strive for personal bests. 

Students may now have the strength and flexibility to strive for individual mastery of team sports and athletics. We continued with exercises to improve strength, balance, rhythm, and endurance. They play many games that incorporate these skills, such as spaceball, circus arts, and ultimate frisbee, as well as experienced traditional sports, such as volleyball, football, basketball, baseball, tennis, archery, and dancing.

Grade 7 is the first time students have the opportunity to participate in a spring track meet. They have the chance to experience their events with a proper track, field, and long jump pit. In preparation, many of the classes begin with running to the nearby rec center. They utilize the big field to train for sprint and distance running, hurdles, discus, javelin, and hammer throw. Students practice the long jump and the shot put on days they stay on campus. The students each choose a running, throwing, jumping, and have a free choice event.

Curriculum

Eighth Grade

d

Eighth Grade Curriculum

Main Lessons

 Studies in science and mathematics are fundamental to developing objectivity and rigor in thinking during this stage. In meteorology, the student experiences how weather phenomena can change quickly from calm to stormy just as quickly as an adolescent can shift moods. The study of drama and other arts provides opportunities for the young person to express his/her awakening feelings.

l

English and Language Arts

Introduction to:

  • Creative writing 
  • Formatting and organizing the process of writing a short story
  • Solidifying grammar skills
Details

Students explore mentor writers, both familiar and new, to learn their writing secrets. We read and discuss stories on a daily basis. We go over the main elements of short stories: setting, character, point of view, conflict, plot, and theme. We learn strategies for writing like sketching a character, creating realistic dialog, using a hook, providing sensory details, and including descriptive phrases and foreshadowing.

Mathematics

Introduction to:

  • Loci and Platonic Solids
  • Study and measurement of curves and three-dimensional forms
  • Conditions regarding distances to lines, points, and circles
Details

Loci (pronounced low sigh) is the study of curves. The material in this course works with the imagination through seeing curves in movement. This is the last course of study in Grade 8; the very first lesson of Grade 1 is “Straight line/Curved line.” We look at conditions that have to do with distances to lines, points, and circles. The locus of points, which satisfies given conditions, forms a particular curve or straight line. Constructions are made by locating some of the points that satisfy given conditions, then connecting the points. Platonic Solids: The study and measurement of polyhedra (three-dimensional forms) are mostly covered in weekly math classes. This block is reserved for a look at five perfect shapes. In each case, they look the same from any vertex (corner point); their faces are all made of the same regular shape, and every edge is identical. Their vertices are the most symmetrical distributions of four, six, eight, twelve, and twenty points on a sphere. This group of polyhedra, first described in Plato’s Timaeus, are often called the “Platonic Solids.”

Science

Introduction to:

  • Anatomy and physiology of human body
  • Muscular, skeletal, and nervous systems
  • Discover how human systems have interrelation to other systems
Details

Human skeletal bones are named and identified. Students assemble a replica of a life-sized, non-articulated skeleton as a class project. We explore the anatomy of the human body through art looking at proportion, form, and shape using various media. Shadow and light were emphasized with careful shading in charcoal and color pastel. Students continue to read Ka’iulani and complete an in-class bone project, which is prepared and presented to the class.

History and Social Studies

Introduction to:

  • Elizabethan England through Modern Times 
  • Basic economic concepts, such as supply and demand
  • Creating presentations and developing public speaking skills
  • Map making using drawings and clay
Details

The history lessons pick up where they left off at the end of the Elizabethan times. As power begins to shift from Spain and Portugal to England, new settlers travel to find a home in the new continent, North America. Students look at the dreams, ideals, and actions of those who struggled to build a new nation and the impact of these developments on those already living in the Americas and those brought as slaves to the New World. We looked at civics and the function of government. They explore history through the biographies of important figures. The block leads them up to the Revolutionary War in America. They worked with summaries of essential points and with writing conclusions. We learn to cite books for bibliographies.

In History block 2, students look at the French Revolution and the impact the Three Ideals–Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity–had on subsequent revolutions. They look at Marie Antoinette’s biography and how she became the scapegoat for the Revolution. Students read an excerpt from Martin Luther King, Jr.’s I Have a Dream speech. Students are given the challenge to read and summarize excerpts from The Constitution, and in pairs, discuss and take notes on the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments. Highlights of the Modern era are brought: Women’s rights, the Roaring Twenties, the Great Depression, and the World Wars. The biography of Anne Frank is considered as the voice of World War II. During the last week, students give presentations on historical figures they’ve researched. The block ends with a discussion of the class reader, Sounder, a block review, and a student presentation at Grandparent’s Day.

Subjects

In addition to Music, Foreign Language, Eurythmy, and Handwork, students also participate in Art, Physical Education, and Gardening.

Music

Introduction to: 

  • Creating music 
  • Study and performance of various styles 
  • Understanding effects music can have on people
Details

In their ongoing musical education, eighth grade students benefit from the opportunity to experience more intense and varied emotions through the music they create together. Study and performance of good music of various styles enhances their aesthetic development and helps them begin to develop musical judgment and an understanding of the profound effects music can have on human beings.

Foreign Languages

Introduction to:

  • Rules of conversation and expression 
  • Rules of grammar
  • Integration of homework
Details

Grade 8 French starts the year with conversation and expressions. They memorize several idiomatic expressions, and their task was to try to find ways to interject these expressions into conversations. The students learn the rules governing whether a noun is masculine or feminine by recognizing the endings of the word. In the French history block, the students learn about the royal family of Louis XIV, the Roi Soleil, the building of Versailles, and the French Revolution. While they learn about the history of the trade routes in the morning lesson, we took the opportunity to learn more about some of the important characters in the Haitian Revolution. This was also a year of focus on the rules of grammar and the system of verb conjugations. The students review the first group of French verbs known as the “er” verbs, then they learn the second group of verbs known as the “ir” verbs. They review and firmen their understanding and uses of the foundational pillar verbs. Additionally, idiomatic expressions with avoir and faire were covered. Finally, the students sang the French National Anthem, “La Marseillaise,” with joy! There are homework assignments for each block. As always, class participation was a very important part of each student’s progress. Participation in class helped the students engage in the process of their own learning. Showing an interest and making an effort demonstrated a willingness to learn about other people and other cultures.

In Grade 8 Spanish, the students review courtesy phrases and greetings, basic introductory questions and answers, numbers through mental math, spelling games, the seasons, months, weeks and days of the week through poems, basic grammatical rules, number of articles, nouns, and adjectives, the weather, the date, and time, personal pronouns, conjugation of regular verbs and irregular pillar verbs. In addition, the students became familiar with Spanish-English dictionaries and how to use them properly when translating, focusing on the value of context and interpretation. 

Students are also introduced to and experience festivals and cultural traditions from different Spanish speaking countries. For instance, Grade 8 students have the opportunity to sing and dance to Latino folk music. During ‘El Dia de los Muertos’ (the Day of the Death), they help build an altar to remember and honor those who are not physically with us anymore but are still part of our WSSD community. This year, two dance blocks were brought to the students: they learned the basic steps of merengue, bachata, cha cha cha, and Rueda de Casino or Timba (Cuban Salsa). During this block, students experience musicality, movement, culture, Spanish vocabulary and artistic expression through dance.

They are also expected to complete class activities as well as a final project. This final project consisted of choosing two of the twenty-one Spanish speaking countries, research about them following some guidelines the teacher provided, and create a poster to present in front of their classmates.

Eurythmy

Introduction to: 

  • Collaboration of all previous years’ work 
  • Introduction of the world of musical intervals
Details

In Grade 8, all the Eurythmy elements learned throughout all the previous years are worked in multiple ways. One new element is the world of musical intervals. Students explore the qualities and learn the gestures for the musical intervals (space between two notes). For the Annual Eurythmy Concert, the group chooses a piece to perform. Students also have the opportunity to perform their choreography during the performance. All the students get to wear Eurythmy veils for this event.  Rhythmical concentration and coordination exercises are an integral part of each lesson.

Handwork and Practical Arts

Introduction to:

  • Recreating a production of Shakespeare’s A Comedy of Errors
  • Sewing skills
  • Learning to maneuver the sewing machine
Details

The Grade 8 student arrives at the culmination of their journey through the elementary and middle school grades; poised, inquisitive, and capable, the students are ready to be challenged in new and exciting ways.

For the first time, their work begins with a brief history of the Industrial Revolution through the lens of garment manufacturing. Students share a discussion about the abysmal working conditions of many seamstresses and tailors and how these very conditions gave way to the establishment of the first labor unions. They also acquaint themselves with a revolutionary invention – the sewing machine. Seam allowances, tension, bobbins and spools, foot pedals, feed dogs, hem, inseam, gusset – these are just a few examples of the many skills and vocabulary acquired during their lessons. 

Through these new skills, the students made lined satchels with embellishments of their choosing, and a pair of pajama pants in a fabric they self-selected during our fun field trip to a fabric store.

Students are tasked with learning their lines before the month’s work begins. During the block, they are tasked with following directions: being brave, and being focused at all times.

Games

Introduction to:

  • Competition and teamwork
  • Accountability
  • Goal setting
Details

In Grade 8 games class, the students continue to strive for individual mastery in team sports and athletics. Competition is used and controlled to cultivate teamwork, to stimulate engagement, for pushing individuals to new levels of achievement, and for drawing the best out of all students by calling on their potential. The students were again given the fitness and skills tests three times during the school year in which they could measure their progress. The students write down strength, endurance, citizenship, and skill goals they hope to achieve by June.

The students continue to work with group and team games and the various skills involved. They experience traditional sports, such as football, basketball, and baseball, and tennis. The students return to the spring track meet with a year of added experience, strength, and for some, height, to strive and improve their statistics. In preparation, students continue training for sprints, hurdles, long jump, discus, javelin, hammer throw and shot put, as well as distance running.