Winter Middle School Curriculum Highlights

Carl Vallely, Head of Middle School
With the new quarter came new units of study across the Middle School.
Students in Science 6 have been studying the physics and engineering of bridges. After learning about various types of bridges from around the world, students selected a famous bridge to research. In their research, students explored the design of their bridge, as well as its cultural significance as a landmark. The class also learned how to represent three dimensional objects in orthographic or blueprint style drawings in preparation for drafting a design of their own truss bridge next week. After their designs are finalized, students will build their bridges our of pasta and then test how much their bridge can hold before collapsing. This work will be displayed in an exhibition in March.

As an introduction to the third novel study of the year, One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia, Mrs. Seltzer and Mrs. U-C teamed up to teach about Black Power and Black Joy in 6th grade English. The story explores the life of a teenage girl and her sisters who spend the summer with their mother who is a member of the Black Panther Party. With an overview of historical fiction, historical events, symbolism, and music of the 1960s students will explore the importance of different themes.

In Grade 7 Visual Art, students are beginning a project in tandem with their current science unit on Biomimicry Design. Using recyclable materials, they will be building kinetic, wearable sculptures of animals the students chose for their science projects. They are exploring references such as artists using recycled materials, Bread and Puppet Theatre, The Lion King musical puppets and costumes, and Theo Jansen's Strandbeests. These projects will be displayed with an exhibition of the project in April.

In Grade 7 Drama, students are learning about Shakespeare, iambic pentameter, and drama in Elizabethan times. Students have played with Shakespearean insults and are looking at snippets of texts and scenes and trying them out on stage. In Grade 7 music, students are learning about the origins of hip-hop, beginning with an exploration of the musical landscape in 1960s New York City. Students have listened their way through rap history, from Grandmaster Flash and Queen Latifah, to Outkast and the hip-hop scene of 2000s Atlanta. Students are preparing to collaborate in writing their own raps using hip-hop icon Rakim's method, to be performed to student-made grooves and beats. Delivering their lyrics in time will see them applying rhythmic fundamentals we learned earlier in the year in our bucket drumming lessons. 

In English 8, students are reading Internment by Samira Ahmed. Students presented close readings of the book, which is a dystopian novel set in a horrifying near-future United States, where 17-year-old Layla Amin and her parents are forced into an internment camp for Muslim American citizens. With the help of others, Layla begins a journey to fight for freedom, leading a revolution against the internment camp's director and his guards. In their close readings, students explored themes of community, communication, being an upstander, and the effects of “othering.”
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