"Anything is possible. Anything can be." – Shel Silverstein
Students are immersed in their Middle School career by seventh grade. Some seventh graders are already making abstract connections and thinking critically, while most are still concrete in their understanding of the world around them. We enjoy spending time with seventh graders, helping them with their time management and organization skills; we also recognize our need to guide them with their social and emotional growth. We are there to help them assume an increased role in taking charge of their own academic success and in campus activities. Leadership opportunities continue to exist within the School’s robust Student Council, and our second grade buddies continue to look up to their seventh grade role models.
The class trip to Echo Hill Outdoor School on the Chesapeake Bay every fall really sets the tone for this class. Through a variety of team building and group bonding experiences (as well as hands-on learning about the watershed and the various ecosystems), seventh graders come back ready to assert their presence in the classroom, on the athletic fields, and in the hallways.
Seventh grade language arts focuses on the development of students thinking inferentially and deductively through the reading of various novels. We are immersed in the following pieces of literature through the year:
- I Am the Cheese, by Robert Cormier
- Freak the Mighty, by Rodman Philbrick
- Shakespeare Stealer, by Gary Blackwood
- The Compound, by S.A. Bodeen
This literature is approached largely through group discussion and character study. Students develop a proficient understanding of literary devices as demonstrated by each author. Comprehension is continually challenged through reflective thinking with direct reference to the text for support. Thought provoking questions reinforce the main ideas and themes of each work and students develop both skill and confidence in supporting their observations through textual support. Students build upon their prior skill in recording active reader response notes throughout the novels. Cooperative groups will progress through myriad activities within the literature.
English grammar is reinforced through written expression, using transitional sentences and phrasing. Students will demonstrate consistent verb tense in all written work with attention to editing skills for punctuation, capitalization, and pronoun usage.
Language Arts also includes vocabulary study with words drawn both from the literature and from the Vocabulary Workshop series that is used throughout the Middle School. SAT words are incorporated into instruction as well.
Writing assignments vary from responding to weekly writing prompts, generating essays and creative pieces of work. Through the Disability Project, assigned mid-year, students select a notable, conduct research, write a paper, and create a six-panel brochure. An oral presentation of their findings is the culminating activity.
Numerous hands-on projects are assigned in conjunction with novel studies as well as creative assignments. For instance, students are asked to create a 3D die with all faces of the die representing various literary elements found in Freak the Mighty. The Peeps Diorama Project challenges students to replicate a themed event using marshmallow Peeps. A written synopsis and oral presentation are also part of the requirement for this assignment.
Seventh grade language arts is about exploring, reading, writing, talking, and creating.
Here at Barnesville, Algebra I is considered a critical area of mathematical development, and is taught over a two-year period, with seventh graders taking the first half of the course, and eighth graders taking the second half. This course uses the Prentice Hall Algebra I textbook and the Glencoe workbooks, as well as supplementary material when needed.
Our program assumes mastery of the facts and skills of arithmetic, and emphasizes the development of abstract concepts, logical reasoning, and problem solving. The course reviews concepts from Pre-Algebra and expands upon them, requiring students to solidify their understanding by modeling and investigating real world problems. As the year progresses, more advanced concepts are introduced and explored. Throughout the course, students are encouraged to look for more than one solution to a given problem and to explore different strategies. A key component of this is to allow students to explore their own personal strategic preferences and strengths. Students are encouraged, through class discussions and cooperative grouping, to articulate their mathematical reasoning processes.
Seventh grade social studies is essentially a continuation of the study of ancient civilizations begun in sixth grade. Students in seventh grade explore the various calendars of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism (Rosh Hashanah is often a holiday observed in September). We then briefly review the general topics covered in Sixth Grade (five themes of geography, archeology, prehistory, ancient Mesopotamia, ancient Egypt, ancient China & India). Students create colorful timelines in order to place these various events into their proper place in history.
Students then excitedly jump right into our study of ancient Greece and ancient Rome. Seventh graders really enjoy reading myths or becoming an expert on their favorite god or goddess. The architecture of the times sometimes merits our taking the time to build some historic structures or, at least, take pictures of modern buildings that have borrowed from these brilliant civilizations. Debates often arise between those students who prefer Spartan ways over the more artistic and philosophical Athenian ways. Immersion into the various Greek and Roman philosophers, scientists, and mathematicians often results in vibrant presentations in the form of pamphlets, obituaries, slideshows, or iPad generated creations.
After examining the fall of the Roman Empire, we explore the Middle Ages, especially as they relate to Europe. The Reformation and Renaissance are central to our studies during the second trimester, and seventh graders typically end this unit with an immersion into Shakespeare by studying and performing A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Macbeth, or Romeo and Juliet. The year ends with a general survey of modern Africa, China, and India using European imperialism as the common thread. Students typically enjoy their study of Mohandas Gandhi and his travels to South Africa, or the transition from emperors living in The Forbidden City to Mao's Little Red Book and the emergence of modern China. Students begin to become more analytical in their thought, using their creativity and love of learning to develop more critical written work and elaborate oral presentations.
By the end of the year, students have explored the modern day maps of Europe, Asia, and Africa and they have a sound understanding of the various belief systems and cultures of many parts of the world. In coordination with the art teacher and the belief systems and ethics focus, they also have the chance to really integrate what they learn in social studies with their overall worldview.
The seventh grade science curriculum focuses on the study of life. The year begins with a review of the scientific method.
Our study of life begins with the traits of living organisms and the study of cells and their organelles. Students learn about the scientists who worked to formulate modern Cell Theory. Their investigation of cells continues through the study of cellular processes such as osmosis, photosynthesis, and respiration.
The last unit of the year involves an investigation of some major infectious diseases that affect human and animal populations around the world. They also learn about the socio economic, infrastructural, and cultural factors that influence overall impact of an epidemic on a population.
Seventh graders meet four times for 45 minutes and use the Santillana workbook to structure their learning of the grammar. They also learn through collaborative art projects, filming of original videos, interactions with their art classes and outdoor activities.
A major milestone in their growth as Spanish speakers comes toward the end of the year as students prepare to take the National Spanish Exam. In class, students derive grammatical rules from exercises created for their level and with their needs in mind. They write and read in Spanish, and practice speaking through oral presentations, spontaneous descriptions of art, oral exams, dynamic performances and collaborations with the school´s art program. Their growth from sixth grade depends on the complexity of the projects; the number of written and oral evaluations; the skill level required for the reading and writing assignments; leadership in the creation of original activities for the lower grades; exposure to images that demand a level of oral description superior to the previous years´; and their tackling of the first level of the National Spanish Exam.
Seventh grade students enjoy a variety of team sports as well as life-time adventure activities. Favorite games include: capture the flag, ultimate Frisbee, floor hockey, and team-building challenges. Concentration is also on life-long recreational activities and demonstrating skills and safety per the units of field hockey, soccer, cooperative games, basketball, rhythms, fitness, softball, floor hockey, dance, volleyball, outdoor games, indoor games, gymnastics, and flag football. Each unit begins with fundamental skills, then lead-ups, small games, and finally large games.
Seventh grade art is largely informed by the social studies and science curriculums. In the first half of the year, students focus on Greek and Roman art, architecture, and mythology. This leads into a complex and multi-part unit on ceramics, in which we examine the vessel as form and subject matter; Students look at examples from the Nazca and Greek civilizations all the way through contemporary vessels that utilize 3-D printing technology. In the last half of the year, students integrate their study of biology into the art making process. We look at a variety of artists whose work is inspired by the body, and for the first time, students are introduced to more contemporary art practices including performance and video. Art is scheduled twice a week for 45 minutes.
Seventh grade marks a transitional period to a “voice and choice” level of independence in music. Students are challenged to select and execute their own choreographed dances based on their song selections.
The seventh grade student is an independent library user who enjoys the full range of electronic and print resources in the library and through subscription databases. Seventh graders meet with the librarian as needed for research and completion of a brochure on a notable person with a disability. Students are instructed in using note cards—electronic or paper—to record information. They learn to distinguish between material that is relevant or irrelevant, evaluate Internet sites, and to integrate materials from many sources to complete the Disability Project.
Seventh grade students can choose to participate in the Maryland Black-Eyed Susan Reading program. Students are encouraged to select and checkout books from the library’s print or ebook collections.