Curriculum > Middle School

List of 1 items.

  • For a Lifetime of Discovery and Learning

    A rigorous educational program promotes academic excellence and teaches students to think and learn both independently and cooperatively. The curriculum is demanding, but flexible enough to accommodate individual learning styles and interests. Teachers are innovative and creative inside and outside the classroom, and students are encouraged to strive to reach their full potential in all that they do. 

Grade 6

List of 7 items.

  • English & Language Arts

    The Grade 6 English curriculum is designed to harness our students’ curiosity and creativity, inspiring them to become lifelong readers and writers. Using a wide variety of texts, often chosen by the students, classes explore how authors purposefully craft stories to convey specific messages about how to live a full and meaningful life. During units such as Social Issues Book Clubs, Narrative Nonfiction, and Memoir Writing, students discuss how understanding different perspectives make books- and life- richer and more robust. Self-reflection about their reading and writing growth helps students develop a clear sense of who they are and who they want to be. Students learn how to use effective communication, including speaking and writing, to make themselves heard and to effect change.
  • Health

    The Grade 6 health curriculum is designed to meet students where they are developmentally, to fully engage their hearts, hands, and minds through project-based and collaborative learning, and to provide a safe space where students can ask and answer questions, at an often confusing time in their life, Preparing to live a healthy lifestyle and develop healthy relationships, personal identity, awareness, and social dynamics, as well as online safety and conduct are central tenets of the course. Students will learn how to navigate life in Middle School as they grow in their ability to identify and set meaningful goals and manage their time to provide balance in their lives.
  • History & Social Science

    Students in Grade 6 history broaden their knowledge, perspective, and appreciation for geography, world cultures, and history. Inquiry, investigation, and research skills are strengthened as students are guided to recognize issues of global importance. Each global issue is examined through case studies in various regions of the world. Students investigate the historic and contemporary challenges of Migration, Standard of Living, Globalization, and Human Rights. Through their investigations, students develop skills for discussion, research, inquiry, writing arguments, and reading informational text.​ The year ends by shifting to the United States, setting the stage for Grade 7 coursework.
  • Mathematics

    MISSION STATEMENT
    The Mathematics Department seeks to engage students by fostering in them a self-reflective, collaborative, creative, and resilient spirit while inspiring students to make sense of the complex world around them by becoming critical thinkers, problem-solvers, and ethical mathematicians.

    Middle School is a time for students to build their academic skills as well as their skills for learning, both equally important, to prepare them for vigorous academic and competitive work environments. We expect and understand that each child has particular areas of strength and growth during their middle years, and we work hard to place them in a course each year that will challenge and inspire them as well as promote their success. Therefore, placement in Middle School math courses is determined by a number of important developmental criteria instead of by grade level alone. Teaching teams work together to make recommendations for placement in math based on the following criteria, each considered equally:
    • Academic readiness
    • Past mastery within the content area
    • Executive functioning skills as observed by their teacher
      • Consistency of homework completion
      • Ability to work independently
      • Ability to self-monitor
      • A demonstrated interest and motivation
    A profile is created for each student using the criteria above to determine the most appropriate placement in a math course. The same criteria are used in subsequent years throughout Middle School to confirm the appropriate placement for your child. The following courses comprise the Middle School math offerings for a student in Grades 6 to 8.
     
    Math 6 and Honors Math 6

    Students in Math 6 build foundational skills and a math vocabulary that will prepare them to understand and solve complex problems in a challenging curriculum. As students work with fractions, whole numbers, decimals, and percents they begin to connect their learning to everyday life and develop an appreciation for mastering the skills. Building on those skills, students are introduced to algebra as they solve algebraic equations and work with exponents and square roots. In the geometry unit, students explore different geometrical shapes, angles, triangles, and circles. 

    Pre-Algebra and Honors Pre-Algebra

    Pre-Algebra is designed as a bridge between foundational math and algebra. Students work to strengthen their problem-solving skills by building competencies in the following areas:  principles of algebra, rational numbers, graphs and functions, exponents and roots, ratios, proportions and similarity, percent, geometry, perimeter, area, and volume, data, and statistics, and multi-step equations and inequalities, graphing lines, polynomials, and solving one and two-step equations students become familiar with the content necessary to support success in upper-level math courses. Making connections between the math they learn in the classroom with the math used in everyday life is an essential way of learning Pre-Algebra. Students in Pre-Algebra also develop their self-monitoring skills. In collaboration with their peers and the teacher, students are prompted to take their time to think and solve problems, reflect on their steps and process, and make revisions before submitting final answers. 

    Algebra 1 and Honors Algebra 1

    Algebra I establishes the vocabulary and symbolism of algebra and includes evaluating expressions, properties of real numbers, rational and irrational numbers, square roots, function theory, solving and graphing linear equations and systems, solving and graphing linear inequalities and systems, applying exponent properties, scientific notation, simplifying polynomial expressions, solving polynomial equations, basic factoring, solving and graphing quadratic functions, exponential growth and decay, and word problems. Students are introduced to matrices, probability, data analysis, and simplifying and solving rational expressions and equations.
     
    Honors Geometry

    Algebra, inductive and deductive reasoning, constructions, measurement, and coordinate geometry are the foundations for examining the properties of two and three-dimensional figures in Honors Geometry. Geometry courses require mastery of the concepts of algebra including quadratics and radical expressions. Students explore both Euclidean and solid geometries with a particular emphasis on plane geometry. Topics of study include an introduction to logic and proofs, triangles, special quadrilaterals, polygons, perimeter and area of figures, surface area and volume of solids, similar shapes (ratio and proportion), circles, and trigonometry, indirect proofs, sequences, pattern recognition, vectors, volumes of revolution, equations of lines in three space and planes. Applications of these topics are incorporated into the lessons and assignments as students are inspired to connect learning principles of geometry with future fields of study such as art, architecture, and engineering, as well as understand how angles, arches, shapes, and speed relate to sports and automobiles.
  • Physical Education

    Students choose each trimester to either play an interscholastic sport or participate in physical education. Overall fitness, teamwork, sportsmanship, non-traditional games are the focus of the physical education classes in the Middle School.  

    Independent Physical Education
    The Independent Physical Education program is an alternative to in-school PE and is offered to those students who are eligible. This program recognizes the student who participates in an off campus sport or activity that takes place under the direction of an instructor and a physical education advisor. The program must be intensive and must be an activity that is not offered during that season at Sewickley Academy. Eligibility is determined by a committee comprised of Director of Teaching and Learning, the Director of Athletics, and the Health/Physical Education Department Chair.
  • Science

    Essential questions guide the students in Grade 6 science as they apply scientific principles to build their skills of investigating and questioning. While studying ecology and population students are tasked to answer, “Where have all the creatures gone?” Application of basic chemistry is demonstrated when answering, “How can I smell from a distance?” The question, “What can individuals, communities, and countries do to respond to environmental challenges?” guides the students to think critically about the impact of human population on the Earth’s systems. Students conduct experiments and engage in collaborative activities in order to make claims, produce evidence to support their claims, and report their findings. Student-claims evolve and change as new evidence is observed or concepts are learned. Teachers work collaboratively to support students in tapping into their creativity, research, and presentation skills to prepare for their culminating activity, the Science Bazaar.
  • World Languages

    Completing three years of language study is required as part of the diverse curriculum in Middle School. Students entering in Grade 6 select to study Chinese, French, or Spanish. It is our philosophy that students will grow in their appreciation and mastery of a language if they remain in the same language for three years. Students may not add or drop a language after the first day of school but movement, while not recommended, is possible if the schedule permits following the Grade 6 year only. Regardless of the language choice, students finishing three years of study in Middle School should be ready for a Level II or Level III course in Grade 9. Teachers make a recommendation for the next level based on academic readiness, current mastery in the language course, evidence of executive functioning skills (i.e., planning, time management, and ability to work independently), interest, and motivation.

    The first two introductory years of language study are described as Novice 1A and B, while the third year moves to a Novice 2 level.

    Novice 1A level courses run in response to interest, therefore, a course with fewer than five students may not run. New students in Grades 7 and 8 with previous language experience will take a skills assessment to establish their readiness for the grade level language. Those with no previous experience will enter an introductory course. 

    Novice 1A Chinese, French, and Spanish
    Students fully engage their hearts, hands, and minds in the Novice 1A course. With an emphasis on project-based learning, students develop an appreciation for people and cultures through active roleplay, songs, and recreation of cultural traditions helping them to broaden their understanding of varying perspectives, practices, and values from other parts of the world. Language study is engaging and meaningful when students learn the skills needed to communicate in the target language by engaging in miming, drawing, singing, improvising a scene, collaborating with peers, and playing a variety of games. Simultaneously, students work to build the foundation for reading, writing, speaking, and listening to the target language. 

    In Novice 1A courses students build their introductory linguistic skills through short stories. In Novice 1A Chinese, students will learn how to recognize and draw Chinese characters by understanding how they were developed through images and stories. The stories promote learning within a communicative context and allow students to use text evidence to support their answers to comprehension questions. By emphasizing, expanding, or promoting lexical terms, grammatical patterns, and recognizing characters, the stories prepare students to be successful at the next level. They develop their writing skills through simple compositions or guided narratives, partake in interactive guided and unrehearsed conversations in the target language as they are expected to participate in diverse class activities. 

    Novice 1B Chinese, French, and Spanish
    Novice 1B world language courses allow students to further immerse themselves in the language and culture as they expand their communication skills. With a continued focus on the development of listening, speaking, reading, and writing students expand their vocabulary in the target language and are prepared to have a conversational dialogue with a peer or practice at home with a family member. Students grow in their appreciation for the culture by collaborating with a peer on a research project, watching movies, singing songs, or preparing food, crafts, or artwork that are common in the culture. 

    Novice 2 Chinese, French, and Spanish
    In Novice 2 courses in Middle School students end their three-year sequence of focused study and are able to understand and communicate in the target language using more complex sentence structures. Students engage their hands and minds by participating in interactive exercises, short plays, videos, short stories, and reading novels, helping them to build a fundamental capability of oral communication through real-life situations that explore new cultural, lexical, and grammatical themes. They develop their writing skills through more elaborate compositions or guided narratives, partake in guided and unrehearsed conversations with peers in the target language. Finally, students engage their hearts by developing cultural sensitivity and global awareness while they are introduced to Hispanophone, Francophone, and Chinese cultures. They expand their horizons through exploring real estate (houses and their architectures), fashion, the automobile industry, neighborhoods, hobbies, weather, food, and travel in the region. A community of respect is elevated as students acquaint themselves with a variety of perspectives on society as they practice their four linguistic competencies: reading and listening comprehension, speaking and writing skills.

Grade 8

List of 7 items.

  • English & Language Arts

    In English, Grade 8 students deepen their creativity, curiosity, and independence through self-selecting texts. Students engage with literature that presents multiple perspectives allowing them to consider which voices are represented and which are silenced. They are empowered to debate how lens and varying perspective affect their understanding of an author’s portrayal of challenging subject matter including social issues, war, and genocide. Debates, book clubs, discussion groups, and one-on-one conferences with the teacher help students hone their speaking and listening skills. Writing, a daily activity, emphasizes choice and creativity, with direct instruction on rhetorical structures, persuasive techniques, grammar, and voice. Using their growing ability to self-reflect, students choose, monitor, and modify individual goals for progress as readers, writers, and thinkers.
  • Health

    The Grade 8 health curriculum prepares students to apply what they’ve learned in previous years and to become their own advocate for a healthy lifestyle. Through a variety of hands-on activities, class discussions, writing, and creating exercises students focus on mental health, avenues for getting help for themselves or others in need, dating and romantic relationships, as well as an in-depth look at body systems. As students begin their final year in Middle School, they are in a unique position as they begin to navigate the many challenges that come with adolescence. Making connections about the systems within their body and how they are affected by the choices they make, students will consider the effects of stress on the body, explore which stress management techniques work the best for them, and implement plans to create their own solutions to daily stresses.
  • History & Social Science

    The Grade 8 civics course inspires students to generate solutions to social problems of personal interest to them,  through which they construct their understanding of the dynamic relationships between governments and the governed. Much of the coursework is driven by students’ capstone studies; after selecting a theme for the year, students develop portfolios of research projects that illustrate this relationship. At year’s end, students with shared interests collectively produce a museum exhibit that addresses a contemporary manifestation of their theme. Throughout the year, students develop robust understandings of political elections, the three branches of government, and citizen participation. The course curriculum is responsive to current events, giving students ample opportunity to apply foundational knowledge to real-world circumstances. They craft their skills as writers of evidence-based arguments and regularly receive coaching on their abilities to engage in civil discourse.
  • Mathematics

    MISSION STATEMENT
    The Mathematics Department seeks to engage students by fostering in them a self-reflective, collaborative, creative, and resilient spirit while inspiring students to make sense of the complex world around them by becoming critical thinkers, problem-solvers, and ethical mathematicians.

    Middle School is a time for students to build their academic skills as well as their skills for learning, both equally important, to prepare them for vigorous academic and competitive work environments. We expect and understand that each child has particular areas of strength and growth during their middle years and we work hard to place them in a course each year that will challenge and inspire them as well as promote their success. Therefore, placement in Middle School math courses is determined by a number of important developmental criteria instead of by grade level alone. Teaching teams work together to make recommendations for placement in math based on the following criteria, each considered equally:
    • Academic readiness
    • Past mastery within the content area
    • Executive functioning skills as observed by their teacher
      • Consistency of homework completion '
      • Ability to work independently
      • Ability to self-monitor
      • A demonstrated interest and motivation
    A profile is created for each student using the criteria above to determine the most appropriate placement in a math course. The same criteria are used in subsequent years throughout Middle School to confirm the appropriate placement for your child. The following courses comprise the Middle School math offerings for a student in Grades 6 to 8.
     
    Math 6 and Honors Math 6

    Students in Math 6 build foundational skills and a math vocabulary that will prepare them to understand and solve complex problems in a challenging curriculum. As students work with fractions, whole numbers, decimals, and percents they begin to connect their learning to everyday life and develop an appreciation for mastering the skills. Building on those skills , students are introduced to algebra as they solve algebraic equations and work with exponents and square roots. In the geometry unit, students explore different geometrical shapes, angles, triangles, and circles. 

    Pre-Algebra and Honors Pre-Algebra

    Pre-Algebra is designed as a bridge between foundational math and algebra. Students work to strengthen their problem-solving skills by building competencies in the following areas:  principles of algebra, rational numbers, graphs and functions, exponents and roots, ratios, proportions and similarity, percent, geometry, perimeter, area, and volume, data, and statistics, and multi-step equations and inequalities, graphing lines, polynomials, and solving one and two-step equations students become familiar with the content necessary to support success in upper-level math courses. Making connections between the math they learn in the classroom with math that is used in everyday life is an essential way of learning Pre-Algebra. Students in Pre-Algebra also develop their self-monitoring skills. In collaboration with their peers and the teacher, students are prompted to take their time to think and solve problems, reflect on their steps and process, and make revisions before submitting final answers. 

    Algebra 1 and Honors Algebra 1

    Algebra I establishes the vocabulary and symbolism of algebra and includes evaluating expressions, properties of real numbers, rational and irrational numbers, square roots, function theory, solving and graphing linear equations and systems, solving and graphing linear inequalities and systems, applying exponent properties, scientific notation, simplifying polynomial expressions, solving polynomial equations, basic factoring, solving and graphing quadratic functions, exponential growth and decay, and word problems. Students are introduced to matrices, probability, data analysis, and simplifying and solving rational expressions and equations.
     
    Honors Geometry

    Algebra, inductive and deductive reasoning, constructions, measurement, and coordinate geometry are the foundations for examining the properties of two and three-dimensional figures in Honors Geometry. Geometry courses require mastery of the concepts of algebra including quadratics and radical expressions. Students explore both Euclidean and solid geometries with a particular emphasis on plane geometry. Topics of study include an introduction to logic and proofs, triangles, special quadrilaterals, polygons, perimeter and area of figures, surface area and volume of solids, similar shapes (ratio and proportion), circles, and trigonometry, indirect proofs, sequences, pattern recognition, vectors, volumes of revolution, equations of lines in three space and planes. Applications of these topics are incorporated into the lessons and assignments as students are inspired to connect learning principles of geometry with future fields of study such as art, architecture, and engineering, as well as understand how angles, arches, shapes, and speed relate to sports and automobiles.
  • Physical Education

    Students choose each trimester to either play an interscholastic sport or participate in physical education. Overall fitness, teamwork, sportsmanship, non-traditional games are the focus of the physical education classes in the Middle School.  

    Independent Physical Education
    The Independent Physical Education program is an alternative to in-school PE and is offered to those students who are eligible. This program recognizes the student who participates in an off campus sport or activity that takes place under the direction of an instructor and a physical education advisor. The program must be intensive and must be an activity that is not offered during that season at Sewickley Academy. Eligibility is determined by a committee comprised of Director of Teaching and Learning, the Director of Athletics, and the Health/Physical Education Department Chair.
  • Science

    Grade 8 students in science are in search of evidence to support scientific principles allowing them to better understand their world. Students study plate tectonics and force as they grapple with the question, “how is the earth changing?” The periodic table and understanding chemical reactions are central to student’s recognizing how chemistry is used in everyday life. In an effort to explore heredity and genetics students focus on explaining why organisms look the way they do.  Grade 8 science is about doing science; experimenting, thinking, discussing, and discovering evidence to support an idea along with the development of skills such as measurement, graphing, and equipment usage. Sharpening their ability to think critically, problem-solve independently, run experiments, and collect and analyze data, students work individually and with their peers in order to develop solid scientific conclusions that will relate to observations throughout their life.
  • World Languages

    Completing three years of language study is required as part of the diverse curriculum in Middle School. Students entering in Grade 6 select to study Chinese, French, or Spanish. It is our philosophy that students will grow in their appreciation and mastery of a language if they remain in the same language for three years. Students may not add or drop a language after the first day of school but movement, while not recommended, is possible if the schedule permits following the Grade 6 year only. Regardless of the language choice, students finishing three years of study in Middle School should be ready for a Level II or Level III course in Grade 9. Teachers make a recommendation for the next level based on academic readiness, current mastery in the language course, evidence of executive functioning skills (i.e., planning, time management, and ability to work independently), interest, and motivation.

    The first two introductory years of language study are described as Novice 1A and B, while the third year moves to a Novice 2 level.

    Novice 1A level courses run in response to interest, therefore, a course with fewer than five students may not run. New students in Grades 7 and 8 with previous language experience will take a skills assessment to establish their readiness for the grade level language. Those with no previous experience will enter an introductory course. 

    Novice 1A Chinese, French, and Spanish
    Students fully engage their hearts, hands, and minds in the Novice 1A course. With an emphasis on project-based learning, students develop an appreciation for people and cultures through active roleplay, songs, and recreation of cultural traditions helping them to broaden their understanding of varying perspectives, practices, and values from other parts of the world. Language study is engaging and meaningful when students learn the skills needed to communicate in the target language by engaging in miming, drawing, singing, improvising a scene, collaborating with peers, and playing a variety of games. Simultaneously, students work to build the foundation for reading, writing, speaking, and listening to the target language. 

    In Novice 1A courses students build their introductory linguistic skills through short stories. In Novice 1A Chinese, students will learn how to recognize and draw Chinese characters by understanding how they were developed through images and stories. The stories promote learning within a communicative context and allow students to use text evidence to support their answers to comprehension questions. By emphasizing, expanding, or promoting lexical terms, grammatical patterns, and recognizing characters, the stories prepare students to be successful at the next level. They develop their writing skills through simple compositions or guided narratives, partake in interactive guided and unrehearsed conversations in the target language as they are expected to participate in diverse class activities. 

    Novice 1B Chinese, French, and Spanish
    Novice 1B world language courses allow students to further immerse themselves in the language and culture as they expand their communication skills. With a continued focus on the development of listening, speaking, reading, and writing students expand their vocabulary in the target language and are prepared to have a conversational dialogue with a peer or practice at home with a family member. Students grow in their appreciation for the culture by collaborating with a peer on a research project, watching movies, singing songs, or preparing food, crafts, or artwork that are common in the culture. 

    Novice 2 Chinese, French, and Spanish
    In Novice 2 courses in Middle School students end their three-year sequence of focused study and are able to understand and communicate in the target language using more complex sentence structures. Students engage their hands and minds by participating in interactive exercises, short plays, videos, short stories, and reading novels, helping them to build a fundamental capability of oral communication through real-life situations that explore new cultural, lexical, and grammatical themes. They develop their writing skills through more elaborate compositions or guided narratives, partake in guided and unrehearsed conversations with peers in the target language. Finally, students engage their hearts by developing cultural sensitivity and global awareness while they are introduced to Hispanophone, Francophone, and Chinese cultures. They expand their horizons through exploring real estate (houses and their architectures), fashion, the automobile industry, neighborhoods, hobbies, weather, food, and travel in the region. A community of respect is elevated as students acquaint themselves with a variety of perspectives on society as they practice their four linguistic competencies: reading and listening comprehension, speaking and writing skills.

Grade 7

List of 7 items.

  • English & Language Arts

    Students are working to develop and effectively share their voice in Grade 7 English by exercising and refining their skills for reading, writing, and speaking. Inspired to think deeply, analyze, and interpret their own understanding of the texts, students work in collaboration with their peers by solving a classroom mystery using elements of a genre, preparing an argument of fact versus fiction during the historical fiction unit, and preparing presentations that draw on their understanding of dystopian fiction to create a dystopian world based on existing social issues.
  • Health

    As students in Grade 7 build their autonomy and independence, the Grade 7 health course is designed to assist each student in developing and maintaining a lifestyle that promotes wellness by providing accurate and up-to-date health-related information as the foundation for making educated, responsible, and healthy personal decisions. With project-based learning and peer collaboration as a framework, students learn to design their own plans for establishing healthy nutrition and physical fitness. Solving conflicts socially and tackling meaningful work around building healthy relationships and bullying, including becoming an upstander are also appropriate topics in the Grade 7 health curriculum.
  • History & Social Science

    Grade 7 history is an extensive study of American history beginning with early migration to the Americas and culminating with the Civil Rights Movement. Students are challenged to think critically about their place in America, America’s place in the world, and the ability of the individual to affect change. American history is viewed through various lenses to provide students with multiple perspectives, new ideas, and a diverse approach to our past. Through literature, primary source documents, and film students better understand the historical experience of African Americans, Chinese Americans, European immigrants, women, and the working class. Preparing to contribute to the world in the service of a greater good, students focus on stimulating themes throughout the year such as expansion and globalization,
  • Mathematics

    MISSION STATEMENT
    The Mathematics Department seeks to engage students by fostering in them a self-reflective, collaborative, creative, and resilient spirit while inspiring students to make sense of the complex world around them by becoming critical thinkers, problem-solvers, and ethical mathematicians.

    Middle School is a time for students to build their academic skills as well as their skills for learning, both equally important, to prepare them for vigorous academic and competitive work environments. We expect and understand that each child has particular areas of strength and growth during their middle years and we work hard to place them in a course each year that will challenge and inspire them as well as promote their success. Therefore, placement in Middle School math courses is determined by a number of important developmental criteria instead of by grade level alone. Teaching teams work together to make recommendations for placement in math based on the following criteria, each considered equally:
    • Academic readiness
    • Past mastery within the content area
    • Executive functioning skills as observed by their teacher
      • Consistency of homework completion '
      • Ability to work independently
      • Ability to self-monitor
      • A demonstrated interest and motivation
    A profile is created for each student using the criteria above to determine the most appropriate placement in a math course. The same criteria are used in subsequent years throughout Middle School to confirm the appropriate placement for your child. The following courses comprise the Middle School math offerings for a student in Grades 6 to 8.
     
    Math 6 and Honors Math 6

    Students in Math 6 build foundational skills and a math vocabulary that will prepare them to understand and solve complex problems in a challenging curriculum. As students work with fractions, whole numbers, decimals, and percents they begin to connect their learning to everyday life and develop an appreciation for mastering the skills. Building on those skills , students are introduced to algebra as they solve algebraic equations and work with exponents and square roots. In the geometry unit, students explore different geometrical shapes, angles, triangles, and circles. 

    Pre-Algebra and Honors Pre-Algebra

    Pre-Algebra is designed as a bridge between foundational math and algebra. Students work to strengthen their problem-solving skills by building competencies in the following areas:  principles of algebra, rational numbers, graphs and functions, exponents and roots, ratios, proportions and similarity, percent, geometry, perimeter, area, and volume, data, and statistics, and multi-step equations and inequalities, graphing lines, polynomials, and solving one and two-step equations students become familiar with the content necessary to support success in upper-level math courses. Making connections between the math they learn in the classroom with math that is used in everyday life is an essential way of learning Pre-Algebra. Students in Pre-Algebra also develop their self-monitoring skills. In collaboration with their peers and the teacher, students are prompted to take their time to think and solve problems, reflect on their steps and process, and make revisions before submitting final answers. 

    Algebra 1 and Honors Algebra 1

    Algebra I establishes the vocabulary and symbolism of algebra and includes evaluating expressions, properties of real numbers, rational and irrational numbers, square roots, function theory, solving and graphing linear equations and systems, solving and graphing linear inequalities and systems, applying exponent properties, scientific notation, simplifying polynomial expressions, solving polynomial equations, basic factoring, solving and graphing quadratic functions, exponential growth and decay, and word problems. Students are introduced to matrices, probability, data analysis, and simplifying and solving rational expressions and equations.
     
    Honors Geometry

    Algebra, inductive and deductive reasoning, constructions, measurement, and coordinate geometry are the foundations for examining the properties of two and three-dimensional figures in Honors Geometry. Geometry courses require mastery of the concepts of algebra including quadratics and radical expressions. Students explore both Euclidean and solid geometries with a particular emphasis on plane geometry. Topics of study include an introduction to logic and proofs, triangles, special quadrilaterals, polygons, perimeter and area of figures, surface area and volume of solids, similar shapes (ratio and proportion), circles, and trigonometry, indirect proofs, sequences, pattern recognition, vectors, volumes of revolution, equations of lines in three space and planes. Applications of these topics are incorporated into the lessons and assignments as students are inspired to connect learning principles of geometry with future fields of study such as art, architecture, and engineering, as well as understand how angles, arches, shapes, and speed relate to sports and automobiles.
  • Physical Education

    Students choose each trimester to either play an interscholastic sport or participate in physical education. Overall fitness, teamwork, sportsmanship, non-traditional games are the focus of the physical education classes in the Middle School.  

    Independent Physical Education
    The Independent Physical Education program is an alternative to in-school PE and is offered to those students who are eligible. This program recognizes the student who participates in an off campus sport or activity that takes place under the direction of an instructor and a physical education advisor. The program must be intensive and must be an activity that is not offered during that season at Sewickley Academy. Eligibility is determined by a committee comprised of Director of Teaching and Learning, the Director of Athletics, and the Health/Physical Education Department Chair.
  • Science

    Investigating & Questioning our World through Science & Technology (IQWST) inspires the Grade 7 science curriculum.  Grade 7 science is designed to nurture the creation of meaning through knowledge as opposed to rote memorization. Chemical reactions and conservation of matter are explored as students answer the question, “How can I make new stuff from old stuff?” Inquiry-based learning allows students to bring prior knowledge and experiences from a variety of backgrounds to enhance the learning environment. Transformation and conservation of energy can be understood better when students explain why some things stop while others keep going. “What’s going on inside me?” becomes a critical question in the discovery of body systems and the cellular process. Throughout the year, students engage in scientific practices as they experience and investigate these scientific phenomena, critical concepts and connect the curriculum to themselves and their world. Establishing authentic relationships for learning, recognizing cultural differences, commonalities, and acknowledging a variety of approaches to learning become critical to supporting students’ success in the classroom.
  • World Languages

    Completing three years of language study is required as part of the diverse curriculum in Middle School. Students entering in Grade 6 select to study Chinese, French, or Spanish. It is our philosophy that students will grow in their appreciation and mastery of a language if they remain in the same language for three years. Students may not add or drop a language after the first day of school but movement, while not recommended, is possible if the schedule permits following the Grade 6 year only. Regardless of the language choice, students finishing three years of study in Middle School should be ready for a Level II or Level III course in Grade 9. Teachers make a recommendation for the next level based on academic readiness, current mastery in the language course, evidence of executive functioning skills (i.e., planning, time management, and ability to work independently), interest, and motivation.

    The first two introductory years of language study are described as Novice 1A and B, while the third year moves to a Novice 2 level.

    Novice 1A level courses run in response to interest, therefore, a course with fewer than five students may not run. New students in Grades 7 and 8 with previous language experience will take a skills assessment to establish their readiness for the grade level language. Those with no previous experience will enter an introductory course. 

    Novice 1A Chinese, French, and Spanish
    Students fully engage their hearts, hands, and minds in the Novice 1A course. With an emphasis on project-based learning, students develop an appreciation for people and cultures through active roleplay, songs, and recreation of cultural traditions helping them to broaden their understanding of varying perspectives, practices, and values from other parts of the world. Language study is engaging and meaningful when students learn the skills needed to communicate in the target language by engaging in miming, drawing, singing, improvising a scene, collaborating with peers, and playing a variety of games. Simultaneously, students work to build the foundation for reading, writing, speaking, and listening to the target language. 

    In Novice 1A courses students build their introductory linguistic skills through short stories. In Novice 1A Chinese, students will learn how to recognize and draw Chinese characters by understanding how they were developed through images and stories. The stories promote learning within a communicative context and allow students to use text evidence to support their answers to comprehension questions. By emphasizing, expanding, or promoting lexical terms, grammatical patterns, and recognizing characters, the stories prepare students to be successful at the next level. They develop their writing skills through simple compositions or guided narratives, partake in interactive guided and unrehearsed conversations in the target language as they are expected to participate in diverse class activities. 

    Novice 1B Chinese, French, and Spanish
    Novice 1B world language courses allow students to further immerse themselves in the language and culture as they expand their communication skills. With a continued focus on the development of listening, speaking, reading, and writing students expand their vocabulary in the target language and are prepared to have a conversational dialogue with a peer or practice at home with a family member. Students grow in their appreciation for the culture by collaborating with a peer on a research project, watching movies, singing songs, or preparing food, crafts, or artwork that are common in the culture. 

    Novice 2 Chinese, French, and Spanish
    In Novice 2 courses in Middle School students end their three-year sequence of focused study and are able to understand and communicate in the target language using more complex sentence structures. Students engage their hands and minds by participating in interactive exercises, short plays, videos, short stories, and reading novels, helping them to build a fundamental capability of oral communication through real-life situations that explore new cultural, lexical, and grammatical themes. They develop their writing skills through more elaborate compositions or guided narratives, partake in guided and unrehearsed conversations with peers in the target language. Finally, students engage their hearts by developing cultural sensitivity and global awareness while they are introduced to Hispanophone, Francophone, and Chinese cultures. They expand their horizons through exploring real estate (houses and their architectures), fashion, the automobile industry, neighborhoods, hobbies, weather, food, and travel in the region. A community of respect is elevated as students acquaint themselves with a variety of perspectives on society as they practice their four linguistic competencies: reading and listening comprehension, speaking and writing skills.

Grade 6-8 Electives

List of 5 items.

  • Computer Science and Technology

    Robotics 1 
    Students in Robotics will learn how to build and program a Lego Mindstorms EV3 robot using various Lego parts, motors, and sensors. Students will enhance their problem-solving skills as they work to get their robot to perform certain tasks and find solutions to real-world problems. 

    Robotics 2
    After completion of the Robotics 1 course in Middle School students are eligible to enroll in Robotics 2 to further their knowledge and experience. Students complete missions using the EV3 robot but will be introduced to new sensors, advanced techniques, and new programming languages.  Prerequisite: Robotics 1 

    Arts & Bots 
    Students in Arts & Bots will combine craft materials and a Hummingbird Robotics kit to create a unique robot that they will animate by programming sensors, motors, servos, and LEDs. Students will also use various digital tools to help them brainstorm and design components of their robot. 

    Digital Game Design
    Students in Digital Game Design will design, create, play, and evaluate various games. Students in the course will construct a board game using fabrication tools, program an original digital game, and build their own video game controller using a Makey Makey. 

    Programming Virtual Worlds
    Students in Programming Virtual Worlds will design and program 3D environments to create virtual experiences, animations, and games. Students will use cameras to create their own backgrounds and objects, programming to animate their worlds, and VR equipment to view their creations. 

    Digital Art 
    Students in Digital Art will use various digital tools to create and edit photos, audio, and videos to express their creativity. Tools students may use throughout the course include digital cameras and camcorders, photo & video editing software, virtual reality, and green screen technology. 

    SketchUp 
    In this in-depth, hands-on class, students will learn to use Google SketchUp, a powerful 3D drafting and design program. Projects will harness a student’s creativity and explore various disciplines, from theatre to carpentry, to interior design and architecture.  SketchUp can also be used to create things in the real world, by designing objects in SketchUp to be 3D printed in our MakerSpace.
  • Music

    Ukulele Fun-damentals!
    This course is designed for beginners who would like to experience the fundamentals of instrumental music within a fun and collaborative learning environment. Topics include basic chords, strumming, reading notation, posture, tuning, and learning to play several popular songs. There are no prerequisites for this course. An instrument will be provided for you, or you may bring your own.

    MS General Music 
    Discover the expressive and thought-provoking qualities of formal music by exploring both familiar and unfamiliar repertoire! Expect to take a deep dive into musical works learning about renowned masterpieces, composers recent and of the distant past, and encounter a sure-fire method of relieving stress through music. This course will inspire students to relinquish any preconceived notions of what constitutes "good" music and provide practical guidance for seeking out more inspirational music individually. 

    Bang-on-a-Bucket 
    Got rhythm? Who could ask for anything more? If you are looking for a safe space to channel your inner drummer, come explore the world of rhythm through bucket drumming, drum circles, and the percussion instruments of the world in this class dedicated to the percussive arts.
  • Performance Ensemblies

    Ensemble classes meet two times in the rotating schedule. Students may participate in Band, Chorus, or Orchestra, and are required to pick one to participate in during the Grade 6 year.
  • Performing Arts

    Musical 
    Students will learn, rehearse, and produce the Middle School Musical which will be performed at the end of the trimester. The show will consist of acting, singing, and dancing, and will utilize everyone in the class. Auditions will be scheduled before the end of the school year, and the show will be announced upon arrival in September. Participation in this course includes some required attendance outside of school hours, including two Saturday rehearsals, four after-school rehearsals, and two evening performances. There is no maximum class size. Students will be required to provide for themselves appropriate attire, including footwear, for moving on stage.

    Stage Combat 
    Have you ever watched a fight on stage or screen and wondered, “how did they do that?” Or are you an aspiring actor who wants to prepare for their next staged fight scene? No matter your intent or experience, this course will prove to be a blast as you learn how to safely execute stage combat. From upper-cuts to dive rolls and caged knaps to hair pulls, this course teaches students how to safely participate in and create a fully choreographed fight sequence. Designed for the beginner, this course focuses on hand-to-hand combat, and provides a foundation for more advanced courses in Senior School. 

    Technical Theatre 
    In this collaborative lab course, students will learn the principles of producing the sets, props, costumes, and lighting for a theatrical production. Important skills include: construction, reading a script for technical needs, stage lighting, props, costumes, rigging, and how to operate as a backstage crew. This will culminate in the students producing the technical needs for the Middle School musical and serving as the crew during the rehearsals and performances. Participation in this course includes some required attendance outside of school hours, including two Saturday rehearsals, four after-school rehearsals, and two evening performances.

    MS Stage Makeup 
    Introduction to the art of theatrical make-up design and application. Techniques for producing character, old age, fantasy, and special effects makeup. Through demonstration and discussion of various design and application styles, students will create original designs based on the needs of productions. Join this exciting class, and enter a world of animals, fairies, terrifying zombies, and much more!

    MS Story Drama 
    Starting with inspiration from beloved children’s books, parables, and historical tales, students will venture on a brand new dramatic adventure of their own making. They will work with classmates to create new characters, dramatic situations, and opportunities for creative and heroic problem-solving. The emphasis of this course is to build a strong collaborative company where all talents are explored and utilized. This could be in the form of a musical instrument, an imaginative painting ability, or even somersaults. Along the way, we encounter costumes and props that engage the senses. The result being: students learn the collaborative process of storytelling and the vital role dramatic arts play in our society.

    MS Theatre
     
    In this course, students further develop their acting skills, with an increased focus on the use of language and characterization. Students will explore expressive physicality, character qualities, line interpretation, subtext, and playing intention. Students will write and perform their own monologues, as well as collaborate with their peers during scene work.

    Comedy in Action 
    Comedy in Action combines an in-depth exploration of comedic theatrical styles. Starting with improvisation, students learn how to take risks and support a scene partner; all while creating a safe and encouraging environment. The course then transitions into physical comedy, where students learn how to safely execute pratfalls and slapstick. With a solid foundation built, the course concludes with a focus on comedic scene work, as students apply their improvisational and physical comedy skills to script scenes. Come join this hilarious and fun class!

    MS Dance 
    The Middle School dance course inspires students to create, perform, respond, and connect through movement studies. Students will physically engage with movement in each class through dance technique practices, solving movement problems, and sharing movement ideas. Acknowledging that dance is a personal journey, much of the coursework is driven by the students’ individual movement goals, empowering students to self-identify through dance and take ownership of their growth.
  • Visual Arts

    Drawing & Painting 
    In this class, we explore a wide variety of drawing and painting techniques, such as charcoal, pastel, watercolor paint, and acrylic paint. Students will develop artistic behaviors that support inquiry and problem solving while pursuing independent projects and taking creative risks. In addition, we will look at, talk about, and reflect on both our own artwork and the work of artists in a historical context as well.  

    Found Object Art
    The course examines the perspective and work of the following outsider artists or non–mainstream artists who are self-taught and therefore not formally trained: Thornton Dial, Lonny Holly, Bill Traylor, and Madge Gill. Paint and objects found in the environment are assembled in this type of art to express the artist’s message.  

    Printmaking
    In this class we will investigate several printmaking techniques, from screen-printing and stamping, to block printing. Students will develop artistic behaviors that support inquiry and problem solving while pursuing independent projects and taking creative risks. In addition, we will look at, talk about, and reflect on both our own artwork, and the work of artists in a historical context as well.  

    Sculpture & 3D Art
    Students produce pieces that come alive as they are introduced to working in three dimensions. Students will discover a variety of tools, techniques, such as carving, molding, and attaching. Emphasis will be placed on the process of creating work, making mistakes, and learning from those mistakes. Students will be asked to reflect on their process through writing and discussion, as well as engage in peer-reviews and critiques.

    Ceramics: Hand Building 
    Projects in this class include: research and create an African mask employing soft and hard slab construction techniques;  create an aquatic animal of your choice by utilizing pinching techniques; craft a “replica” of an ancient Grecian vessel using the coil method and sgraffito decorating, and combine all introduced techniques and create a “personal” art piece as a final project. Maximum Enrollment: 14

    Ceramics: Wheel Throwing 
    Students will concentrate their studio work on the wheel. Units include: an introduction of basic throwing techniques (center, enter, open, raise, and form); rudimentary thrown vessels will be created focusing on proportion and wall thickness; a variety of glazing applications will be introduced (dip, pour, trail, brush, stain, and spray); and composite pieces will be presented toward the end of the trimester (lids, handles, and spouts). Priority registration is given to students in Grade 8. Maximum Enrollment: 14

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