In Middle School, X-Block is an opportunity to further our mission and core values by innovating new courses designed to inspire student interests and build a specific set of skills. Students will be engaged through an experiential learning opportunity provided by a collaboration of faculty and staff across teams, grades, and the campus. Students will reflect on the development of their skills along the way and be assessed on the mastery of their learning through demonstration, and project and performance-based tasks.
Chinese calligraphy opens the door to students who are interested in learning Chinese characters and culture. It practices students' attention-to-detail skills as well as patience. Calligraphy is a unique art which deviates students from a busy study environment to a peaceful mindset. In this course, students will study calligraphy, practice writing Chinese characters, and finish the course by placing their finished works around our campus for others to enjoy.
Students will critically analyze children's books and think about their role in the elementary classroom in this course. Students will discuss how these books help children gain respect and understanding of diversity from multiple perspectives, represent a more just, equitable, interconnected world, and can be used to understand themselves and their own lived experiences better. Students will then have the opportunity to create their own children's book and present it to others.
About 300 hours of videos are uploaded to YouTube every minute! Many of these videos allow one to learn a new skill and, with practice, master that skill. In this course, students will learn one or more new skills and then determine how to share a skill with others on YouTube. Students will reflect on what made learning videos more helpful and what techniques to avoid.
If you need a break from going to class or reading a book, there's nothing better than learning a language by watching a movie or listening to music. Watching a film is a fantastic way to learn a language. Listening to music can massively improve your vocabulary and grammar because it puts the new words and sentences you’re learning into context. You can hear the language in real-time, usually in the form of casual, conversational speech, so you're far more likely to remember words if you learn them in a song. And besides, it’s fun! Students will explore different cultures and languages through several media formats and keep a blog or journal to record their experience, learning, and enjoyment. They may find news articles, as well. As they learn more about a culture and language, students will eventually create a newscast, review, or short movie based on their reflections.
Do you like to challenge individuals on their views? Do you object to injustices in your community? Are you looking to adjudicate a trial? Then Mock Trial is for you! Mock Trial will provide students with the opportunity to learn public speaking skills through a concentrated focus on the American judicial system. In addition to developing public speaking skills, students will seek to build well-reasoned arguments and persuasive speaking skills as they start to study the field of law. Students will experience this through a trial simulation and interactions with law professionals. This X-Block course provides students with an exciting and challenging medium to develop speaking, reasoning, and persuasive skills.
American teenagers spend more than $90 billion each year! How much of that $90 billion do you spend? Where does your money come from? Some teenagers have jobs; some get money from adults at home; others do both. Have you ever wondered how banks and credit cards work or what checking accounts are? Where does all that money come from?! In this class, students will learn the answer to all of these questions and more. Students will learn money management skills that will help them navigate spending in their teenage years and set them up for financial success in the future.
Pittsburgh has a vast number of boaters and options to get on the water. Kayaks are one type of boat that allows the paddler to investigate shorelines while also stable enough to be on open water. In this class, we will continue building a Chesapeake Light Craft wooden kayak (the kayak was started last year and was put on pause due to the pandemic). In the spring, we will plan a launch gathering to witness someone paddle the boat away!
Do you love theater? Have you ever imagined the “perfect” play? Is there a show that you would love to create? Why not write it yourself? City Theatre’s Young Playwrights program offers students the opportunity to write original scripts under the guidance of an award-winning playwright from the company. Not only will you learn about playwriting from an acclaimed playwright, but you will also learn how to receive constructive criticism and use it to improve your work. Students in Grades 7 and 8 may enter their scripts into the Young Playwrights Contest.
The world has an abundance of exciting career possibilities. It is essential to know how to budget so one can live within their means. In the Real Life Math course, students will start by randomly picking a career path. Next, they will complete a guided worksheet to calculate their monthly income after taxes. Using this data, they will use their income to decide what type of house and car they can afford and consider food and shopping needs to estimate the cost of living for one month. The final product will be a budget that they create for their monthly expenses.
Art takes many forms and can induce strong feelings or creative perspectives of the world around us. Art from different cultures certainly gives insights to other points of view. In this course, students will start a collection of such art on our campus and give students experience in how art is curated and purchased for a display. Once a piece of art is acquired, the class will be tasked with choosing a location and getting approval for it to be installed somewhere on our campus!
Physics and chemistry principles are the basis for many toys, which students may find surprising and intriguing. This course will analyze many different toys focused on their relationship with various chemistry or physics principles. Students will create videos to share their discoveries and explain their findings with our Lower School classes.
Ryan Baxter, Head of Lower School
In the Lower School, experiential learning means engaging students in deeper learning through play and project-based processes, all while feeling safe, included, and emotionally supported.