Middle School Curriculum Guide

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middle school

mission Statememt GFA engages students as partners in an innovative, inclusive, and globally minded community to prepare them for lives of purpose.

Philosophy Partners We believe the relationship between teacher and student is pivotal to their success, and that students learn best when they are known and loved. With trust built in partnership, our students develop ownership over their learning, gain confidence in their abilities and ideas, and find the courage to do hard things. Innovative We commit to enhancing our dynamic curriculum to transform the learning for our students into meaningful and impactful experiences. We support the understanding that imagination can be made real and that ideas are embraced by people in the world. Inclusive We make time and space for students to share their stories, passions, and identities with others, developing their own narrative and the curiosity and wonder for learning the stories and perspectives of others. Globally Minded We help students recognize their place within the GFA community and beyond by developing an understanding of their connection to something larger than themselves. We empower them with a sense of responsibility for our community and the spaces around us.

Core Values Passion Integrity Empathy Curiosity Excellence


Middle school Honor Code, contacts


Course Offerings English








World Languages




Research at GFA


Co-curricular Offerings


Advisory, Health, The gfa Writing Center, The gfa Math Center Athletics


School Counseling



Middle School Honor Code To take full ownership of my efforts with pride and integrity, I pledge that I will complete all of my own academic work independently and without assistance. I pledge that I will be honest in all my encounters and noble in my intentions. I pledge that I will show respect for individuals and their property and that I will treat others’ belongings with care and consideration. I make these pledges to ensure that I always make good decisions which validate my own honor and my commitment to the Greens Farms Academy Middle School community. I understand that this Honor Code is an extension to the guidelines set forth in the GFA Code of Conduct and Acceptable Technology Use Policy. Students will read and sign this pledge at the beginning of the academic year. Students will write this statement on all tests, quizzes, essays, and projects: I will abide by the letter and spirit of the GFA Honor Code.

Middle SCHOOL CONTACTS: Drew K. Meyer Head of Middle School, 203-256-7569, ameyer@gfacademy.org Carolyn Skiba Administrative Assistant to the Head of Middle School 203-256-7512, cskiba@gfacademy.org


course Offerings

English Through courses designed to help students explore a rich and diverse collection of genres and voices, the Middle School English program develops students’ passion, skills, and habits of mind as readers and writers. Their literary journey begins with the inner world and identity of a character in fifth grade, examines the individual in relation to society in sixth grade, expands to consider rights and challenges based on group identities within American society in seventh grade, and explores cultural identity and the struggle for power in eighth grade. In all Middle School English classes, close reading and Harkness-style discussions serve as the foundation for helping students ask essential questions, stake bold claims, provide strong textual evidence, and engage the opinions of others. Personal, creative, and analytical writing assignments challenge students to take greater risks as critical thinkers and to write with greater power and purpose. Essential skills in grammar, vocabulary, and technology, honed through in-class exercises, online resources, and homework assignments, help to ensure that students develop the necessary tools to communicate effectively. The Haiku learning management system reinforces classroom learning through online discussions and peer-reviewed work. In order to offer personal choice, expose students to other perspectives, and develop individual responsibility, students at each grade level work independently in small groups for one unit each spring, exploring texts while making their own discoveries related to vocabulary, writer’s craft, and character and theme development. Outside the classroom, the Visiting Writers Program provides inspiration and hands-on instruction from professional writers, while the Spoken Word Poetry workshop in April provides a valuable interactive experience with performance poetry. Pendragon (the Middle School literary publication), the Middle School Coffeehouse, and regional and national contests enable students to share their voices outside the classroom and GFA community. In all areas of the English curriculum, the overarching goal is to inspire enthusiasm for reading and discussing great literature while strengthening students’ voices as writers. 3

English 5

English 6

The fifth-grade course serves as an introduction to Middle School English and is designed to help students develop a love for reading and writing and sharpen their critical thinking skills. Students are exposed to a range of texts and formats, including historical fiction, novels in verse, and graphic novels; through those texts, they learn reading strategies that help them comprehend, connect, and question. Students also read independently, with a goal to finish one or two books a month. The curriculum is designed so that reading and writing intertwine seamlessly. As students read fiction, they also write stories with conflict, characterization, and setting details. As they read poetry, they write their own poems, paying attention to word choice and cadence. In addition to creative pieces, students write book recommendations, structured responses to literature, and a research paper. They experience the complete writing process, from idea generation through drafting, revising, and editing. Along the way, students discover that the best writing happens during revision. Grammatical concepts are also taught in the context of their writing to help them effectively use what they learn about sentence structure in their own writing.

The sixth-grade English course builds upon the appreciation for literature fostered in fifth grade while helping students develop a solid foundation of skills and a passion for reading, writing, and discussion. The overarching themes of identity formation and the bridge between childhood and adulthood help students understand themselves and their relation to others through reading and film analysis. Our focus on both shorter texts (such as poetry and short stories) and longer novels allows students to develop critical reading, writing, and discussion skills. During the winter term, students work together in self-selected book groups to develop meaningful questions, explore the elements of a story, draw connections to other disciplines, and complete fun projects. Sixth-graders also read independently throughout the year, choosing appealing titles that foster a lifelong love of reading. Weekly writing workshops introduce students to the writing process and the art of editing; units include persuasive writing and creative writing (reviews, poetry, humor, and much more). Students review and expand their knowledge of grammar and writing mechanics through engaging grammar scavenger hunts and writing challenges. They also use Membean, an interactive online learning system, to practice vocabulary and spelling, and explore language through Wordle competitions and other group activities. Finally, student-led class discussions allow students to engage with the material and develop their own unique voices. Required course texts include Flying Lessons and Other Stories, The Outsiders, and Locomotion; in-depth study of film, television, and songwriting; and discussions of the work of poets including Gary Soto, Robert Frost, Naomi Shihab Nye, Brenda Hillman, Langston Hughes, Jack Ridl, Joshua Bennett, Mary Cornish, Donika Kelly, William Carlos Williams, and many more.


English 7

English 8

The seventh-grade English curriculum engages students in both reading and writing workshops that emphasize discussion, analytical thinking and writing, and curiosity. We focus on exploring identity and how understanding our own identities can help us to better understand and engage with character identities in the books we read. In the fall, students begin to explore this theme by learning about “windows” and “mirrors” in the literature they read. Identifying “windows” help readers to practice empathy by learning about new perspectives. On the other hand, “mirrors” help students to find reflections of themselves in these stories. Students continue to practice this throughout the various novels they engage with, such as Harbor Me by Jaqueline Woodson, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespseare, and several others. Students will also explore titles in book groups later in the fall, where they have the opportunity to read from a selected list of books in the dystopian genre, helping them to work on collaboration and discussion, while also challenging them to consider how dystopian societies can sometimes reflect parts of our own lives. Throughout reading units, students will practice their analytical writing skills by exploring topics such as identifying character traits, and being able to support their thoughts with evidence from the text. Through these literature based assignments (shorter responses and longer analytical essays), students learn to organize, develop, and support their ideas in writing. In addition to analytical writing, students will also engage with narrative writing, where they will work on using various writing prompts, outlining story arcs, and reading examples of short stories to help guide their exploration in this genre. Aside from the reading and writing workshops, we also dive into various grammar, spelling, and vocabulary units. Students engage in weekly vocabulary packets that help them to practice using those words in context, while also practicing spelling. Grammar topics are covered with weekly lessons that will help students in applying those grammar skills in their own writing.

The eighth-grade English course focuses on the themes of power and revolution, both personal and political. In the fall, the students begin with an exploration of power and corruption in society and are introduced to the idea of effecting change through art. This belief in the power of the pen to illuminate truths and shape the individual’s relationship with society undergirds the fall semester short story unit, which explores key questions about morality, revenge, the costs of technology, and the use of satire. Students also engage in ongoing independent reading projects of their choosing aimed at providing agency over their education and fostering genuine engagement with the act of reading. Thereafter, students build upon their ability to draw connections between texts and ask meaningful questions as they read. All students end the year with a student-choice unit based on recent revolutions in Africa, Asia, and South America. In all cases, students are asked to examine the complex nature of power—how it is pursued, protected, manipulated, and maintained—and the human costs of these dynamics. The goal of the course is to hone students’ critical voices and cultivate the rhetorical skills required to effect change in themselves, their communities, and their world. This focus on the structure of sound argument begins in daily discussions and extends to students’ writing through theme responses (one-page textual explications) and position papers (longer, thesis-driven arguments related to course themes) to synthesize the personal voice used in the sixth and seventh-grade curriculum with the more detached, analytical lens needed in later years. In addition to these analytical pieces, each student writes a fictional short story in the fall and a culminating personal essay in the spring. As in all Middle School English classes, grammar and vocabulary skills are taught contextually as a means of enhancing students’ writing throughout the year.


History The Middle School history program develops core skills in reading, writing, and study techniques through courses focused on American and World History. Instructional approaches emphasize round-table discussion and student involvement through frequent simulations and activities. Study skills include note-taking, highlighting, outlining, and test preparation. Writing skills are fostered through largely student directed assignments that increase in scale and sophistication,and include ample opportunity for feedback and revision. Research skills broaden through frequent exercises and a major project at each level, culminating in the Capstone Project in eighth grade.

Fifth-Grade American History This engaging American History course provides a comprehensive exploration of America’s past, tracing its roots from the indigenous peoples to the era of a new nation. By examining the multifaceted lenses of history, students gain a profound understanding of the forces that have shaped America into what it is today. The course begins with the Age of Exploration, colonization of the Americas, and the creation of the Thirteen Colonies. While exploring the 17th and 18th centuries, students view life in America through the eyes and experiences of Native Americans, African Americans, women, colonists, immigrants, and youth. Expanding westward toward the frontier, students study our colonies’ move towards independence and the relationship with British colonizers. Students dive into the American Revolution and examine how our fight for independence laid the tracks for the United States. We discuss forming a new nation, what we accomplished, and what was and is still yet to be achieved. As governments, policies, and confront social structures are formed, we discuss regional identities and the causes that led to the American Civil War. The course concludes with the Emancipation and reconstruction of our nation. Along the way students explore critical themes in history such as governments, social structures, geographical significance, resources, technology, change, perseverance and the progression of human civilization. Students engage in this work in a variety of ways, including student-centered projects that place them in the driver’s seat of their own learning. Students immerse themselves in the lives of historical figures and groups through simulated activities such as debates, forming governments and councils, acting as lawmakers, and negotiating peace treaties and partnerships. Throughout the course, students exercise and further develop essential skills such as note-taking, active-listening, writing, reading-comprehension, teamwork, critical-thinking, research, public speaking, empathy, and curiosity. 6

Sixth-Grade World Explorations

are developed. Public speaking and presentation skills are emphasized and include regular engagement with current events. Students take part in a range of project-based asThis ancient civilizations course delves into the rich history sessments to demonstrate the skills they have acquired, of Mesopotamia, Egypt, India, and China. Beyond the text- the understanding they have gained, and the meaning they book, hands-on and project-based learning ignites students’ have made from the study of history. curiosity and brings history to life. GFA’s mission of global-mindedness threads through the curriculum, fostering cultural empathy and interconnectedness. Studying world history provides a vehicle for students to further devel- Eighth-Grade United op their reading comprehension, note-taking, test-taking, States and Comparative and organizational skills while learning how to articulate their historical insights in writing and speech effectively. Government Students step into the shoes of social scientists and act as detectives, uncovering the pivotal decisions and events that shaped early civilizations. Unveiling the rise and fall of societies, students grasp the forces behind their successes and declines, while also unraveling cultural customs through an anthropological lens. The course also integrates social justice exploration, linking past dynamics to contemporary issues. Students undertake individual and group projects each semester, using their creativity to showcase their understanding of the civilizations studied. The second semester spotlights an inquiry-based research project. Guided by their curiosity, students select a topic within the studied civilizations, delve into research, analyze sources, write an essay, create an artifact, and present their findings. This endeavor is a testament to their academic growth and the investigative skills developed over the school year.

Leading up to a curriculum-based trip to Washington, D.C., and using a wide-variety of projects, this class studies the structure and workings of the three branches of the United States Federal Government. Through an in-depth study of the foundations of the U.S. Government and its Constitution, students learn how the U.S. system works through both in-class study and interactive projects. Incorporating student-led discussions of current events on a daily basis, the mechanisms of our government come to life. With this firm knowledge, the students look beyond the borders of their own nation to explore how other types of governments around the world work. In addition to current events, other projects and activities integral to this course include world geography, formal and impromptu debates, mock trials, simulated elections, Mock Congresses, and Model United Nations. As in sixth and seventh grades, a research paper is a central skill-building component of this course, but is done in association with the Capstone Project.

Seventh-Grade American Studies The seventh-grade American Studies course explores changes in the United States from 1850 through the end of the Cold War and includes a review of government structures, rights, and responsibilities as expressed in the Constitution. Students explore how the U.S. sought to live up to the ideals of the founding documents through the challenges of the Civil War, Reconstruction, industrialization, expansion, world wars, and dynamic political and social change in the 20th century. Primary source analysis is a foundational part of the course, and the voices of Indigenous people, Black Americans, women, and youth are centered in many units. This leads to the understanding that during the 20th century, America established itself as a world power whose adherence to its ideals continues to be tested by domestic and global forces. Throughout the year, reading comprehension, note-taking, synthesis of information, directed research, and written and oral expression 7

Mathematics The mathematics curriculum provides an integrated treatment of mathematical content, including significant exposure to algebra, geometry, and probability at all levels. Both skills and appropriate applications are emphasized in an effort to prepare students for future substantive coursework while helping them understand how mathematical ideas interconnect and build on one another. Thus, our goal is not only to ensure a basic working knowledge of mathematical procedures, but also to foster an interest in mathematics and a problem-solving attitude that will benefit and sustain students beyond the classroom. In addition, laptops are used within the classes on various projects throughout the year. Math 5 The fifth-grade math course aims to help students develop a strong foundation in math concepts, improve fluency, learn appropriate mathematical language, and master fundamental skills. Students will have daily opportunities to acquire and apply concepts and skills in various situations, including non-routine, open-ended, and real-world problems. The course will continue using the Math in Focus curriculum with the Singapore Math approach, focusing on computational fluency in all four operations with whole numbers, decimals, and fractions. Additionally, students will work on developing proportional reasoning skills and problem-solving strategies and learn how to communicate their ideas effectively.


Mastering the Fundamentals This course builds on the foundation created in Math 5. Because the fundamentals are essential to building students’ confidence in their math ability as well as in constructing a foundation for future challenges in math, the basic skills of arithmetic are reinforced and solidified during the year with a goal of mastery of skills with basic operations using whole numbers, fractions, and decimals. Additional algebraic skills are studied, including an introduction to integers, solving and graphing equations and inequalities, working with percentages and proportions, data analysis, and more complex word problems. The maturity to work independently and the abstract ability to understand more complex geometric problems are also developed. Appropriate study skills (test-taking skills, note-taking, and organizational skills) are integrated into the curriculum. Foundations of Algebraic Thinking This course is an in-depth and comprehensive exploration of the ideas, concepts, and tools necessary for success in Algebra. Mastery of basic skills, achieved through extensive practice, transitions toward more abstract concepts. Students are introduced to the foundational operations within the real number system, which they must utilize across a broad spectrum of mathematical concepts. Percents, ratios, proportions, and basic number theory also play an important role. As a primary focus of the class, students explore the general concepts in Algebra: understanding variables,

the evaluation of expressions, writing and solving equations, graphing, as well as the writing and analysis of linear functions. In addition, exponential expressions, polynomials, and geometric concepts including volume of 30 solids are all undertaken. Algebra 1 This is a comprehensive first-year algebra course. Students will explore the complexities of algebra and apply their new skills in various settings. Topics include solving linear equations, quadratic equations, inequalities and systems of equations; linear and nonlinear functions; polynomials; factoring; rational expressions; and radicals. Students are introduced to advanced graphing tools and will utilize website programs for application activities to further enhance their learning. Algebra 1 Honors This honors-level course is a student-led exploration of the complexities of algebra through a problem-oriented, inquiry-based approach. Students collaborate to deepen their understanding of the concepts, and the teacher facilitates class discussions to help synthesize their ideas and solidify their methods. Topics include the ones previously stated in the Algebra 1 course description, and supplementary topics may be introduced at the discretion of the teacher. Students are introduced to advanced graphing tools and will utilize website programs for application activities to further enhance their learning. Departmental permission is required for admission into this course. Geometry Honors This honors-level course introduces the students to the study of geometric objects and their properties such as parallel lines, symmetry, congruence and similarity of triangles and polygons, properties of secants and tangents to circles, area and volume of various shapes, right triangles (including trigonometric ratios), and vectors. Occasional investigations utilizing dynamic geometry software such as The Geometer’s Sketchpad or GeoGebra will introduce a new topic, while rigorous proof of geometric statements (including analytical methods) and the development of strong communication skills will be emphasized. Prerequisite: Algebra 1; departmental permission: a Ti Nspire CAS graphing calculator.



year. With the completion of the course, students will have reinforced lab protocol with attention to lab safety and data collection (tables and graphs), as well as the importance of procedures. Students will understand the technical significance of the six characteristics of life and how they relate to the world around them. This course will address many of their naturally curious questions, which we will investigate and answer. Students will be assessed by quizzes, labs, classwork, and participation.

Middle School science introduces students to what it means to be a scientist through a coordinated curriculum that builds skills, encourages curiosity, and connects students with the outside world. Throughout their middle school years students take classes in earth, biological, physical, and chemical science. This exposure allows student curiosity to be piqued, while building skills that will allow them to succeed in future science classes. The heart of the middle school science experience is student connection with the environment. We use the GFA campus as a classroom, in- Sixth-grade Earth and cluding the marsh, the Audubon trails, Burying Hill beach, Environmental Science and other aspects of the GFA campus. As students in an ever-changing world, the sixth-grade science program will explore the earth, its environment, Fifth-grade Science and the interactions with its human inhabitants. Topics will The fifth-grade science curriculum is organized around include: geology, meteorology, oceanography, astronomy, the essential question: “What is Life?” Students will follow ecology, and conservation of global resources. There will a spiral approach in answering this question, exploring be a focus on the collecting and recording of scientific data. chemistry, biology, physics, ecology and more. There is an Studying topographic maps, analyzing the salt marsh and emphasis on hands-on laboratory investigations and proj- orienteering are just a few of the real-world skills students ects that will take place both outside in the field and in our will develop in this course. Students will also design and lab. The course will utilize and reference many reputable conduct a science fair research project to be presented at texts and provide resources and handouts throughout the the GFA Science Fair. 10



Life Science

Physical Science

The seventh-grade science course is a theory, laboratory, and research-based course that explores the characteristics and diversity of life. Our units include: cellular structure, function, and processes, anatomy and physiology, genetics, and topics in evolution, ecology, plant and animal biology. All units have a laboratory exploration and research component, including extensive microscopy, project-based explorations, and dissections. Assessment methods include unit exams, formal lab reports, and performance-based assessments. Critical thinking, collaboration, and argumentation skills (claim, evidence, reasoning) are emphasized. Students may opt to design and conduct a science research project, which will be presented at the GFA STEAM expo. This is a hands-on course with extensive lab work and inquiry-based activities.

Eighth-grade science focuses on the physical sciences. Chemistry is the topic for the fall semester and focuses on the question, “What makes up the world around us?” The question is explored with emphasis on the periodic table, physical and chemical properties, chemical bonding and reactions, states of matter and atomic structure. In addition, phases of matter, and solutions will be covered. After winter break, students will spend a month on inquiry based projects utilizing their understanding of chemistry. This project will have students researching an environmental problem and its impact on human and environmental wellness. For the spring, students will dive into the question, “Why do we experience the world the way we do?” The focus is on physics and takes students through the study of motion, heat, light, and sound. There is a specific focus on further developing science skills such as conducting valid science experiments, analyzing data, and evaluating hypotheses. Students learn how to work independently as well as part of a lab team. Students demonstrate their understanding through a variety of assessments including lab reports, tests, short answer reflections, presentations, and task-orientated challenges. 11

World Language

Seventh-grade French, The World Language Program exposes students to diverse Spanish or Mandarin cultures and aims to nurture creative learning and risk Students in the seventh grade continue with French, taking within an age-appropriate, rigorous curriculum. Spanish, or Mandarin. Seventh-grade Spanish and French At each level, students are expected to increase language students are ready for a more formal and fast-paced prodevelopment as well as cultural awareness. While the gram that places equal value and emphasis on all four bamain objective of the department is to increase both sic skills of learning a world language: speaking, listening, comprehension and communication, other objectives reading, and writing. Basic structures and vocabulary are include increasing exposure to Spanish, French, and Man- taught in the target language and through communicative darin-speaking countries, vocabulary acquisition, reading activities. Mandarin students will continue to cover the and writing, and the development of a general interest in first part of a Mandarin I course in seventh grade using other languages and cultures. Students will learn gram- the same communicative activities, while learning pinyin mar points that will help them both in acquiring the tar- and simplified characters. get language and by reinforcing their understanding of English grammar. Eighth-grade French, Spanish, or Mandarin Fifth-grade French, Students in eighth grade continue with French, Spanish, Spanish or Mandarin

World language in fifth-grade allows students to practice four communicative skills in their weekly classes; listening, speaking, reading and writing. This progression mimics the students’ development to acquiring their first language. Students will be encouraged to ask questions about the culture and to discover the language through games, songs and primary source videos. This will allow students to familiarize themselves with the sounds, structures, and cultures connected to each language. The focus will be to develop essential transferable skills and study habits associated with age-appropriate language learning. Classes will emphasize speaking, listening, reading and writing in the target language and will be based on the study of thematic units. Sixth-grade French, Spanish, or Mandarin Sixth-grade introductory courses, taught in the target language, focus on the linguistic foundations, and cultural aspects of each language with an emphasis on oral and aural skills. Through skits, projects, games, texts, and technology students acquire and practice the four basic language skills: speaking, listening, reading, and writing. These skills are practiced daily, but at the sixth grade level, there is more emphasis placed on speaking, listening, and writing. Highly communicative and interactive in design, these classes lay the foundation for the completion of either French I, Spanish I, or Mandarin I by the end of eighth grade. 12

or Mandarin. Emphasis is placed on communication in the target language on a daily basis. The amount of grammar and related vocabulary increases significantly as students continue to practice the four basic skills of speaking, listening, reading, and writing. Students develop skills through reading comprehension, mastery of grammar fundamentals, and increased vocabulary. All of our course offerings support the basic texts and workbooks with a variety of authentic materials. These include magazines, short stories, and grammar readers, video clips, movies and music, and computer/technology activities.


The Arts at GFA

Eighth-grade Art

A key component of a GFA student’s education is a connection to the Arts. Our Arts electives are Studio Art, Band, Chorus, Orchestra, and Theatre. Each of these electives meets at least three times over a two week cycle. All fifth and sixth graders are enrolled in Studio Art and are required to select one additional music elective, but may do two if they wish. Seventh and eighth-graders are required to select one of the electives, although they may select more if the schedule permits.

Building on previous experiences in drawing, painting, printmaking and sculpture, this course allows students to further develop their skills, work more independently and problem solve. We expand upon perspective, color theory, design and self-expression. The fundamental elements and principles of art are continuously explored through drawing in sketchbooks, multi-step projects and critiques.

Visual Arts

The courses are designed to teach students the skills needed to express themselves visually. Students work to develop their ideas and creative aspirations. Students are encouraged to create from their imaginations, as well as from observation. Students are exposed to a variety of 2D and 3D media and use physical and digital technologies to produce their work. Many of our projects are inspired by artists of the past and present from around the world. In fifth and sixth grades we explore various media which include drawing, painting, sculpture, and printmaking. Each semester, students are required to complete a series of drawings investigating different elements of the medium. All students are encouraged to use their imagination and creativity with each project.

The Performing Arts Department offers excellent opportunities to Middle School students for regularly scheduled participation in choral music, instrumental music, and theater. GFA strongly encourages students to explore their passions for singing, playing their instruments, and acting. Most students in Middle School take advantage of these opportunities every year. Concerts are given two times per year, smaller performances are presented throughout the year, and there is a Broadway-style musical every spring. Virtually every instrument is represented in the GFA Middle School band and orchestra, and students are invited to continue to develop their talents, or to find new instruments. All of the choral and instrumental ensembles provide excellent preparation for students to continue performing as they move from Middle School to Upper School, and the Introduction to Theatre course for seventh-graders similarly offers excellent training for students who wish to pursue acting beyond Middle School. In music, students receive both large ensemble and small group instruction, and have rehearsals three times per week. The music and theater instructors at GFA are recognized artists in their fields, and GFA students are fortunate to be able to experience their passion and commitment. The Performing Arts at GFA contribute immensely to the educational development of students, and GFA is fully committed to the Arts as an integral part of a well-rounded education.

Seventh-grade Art

Choral Music

This course begins to examine perspective and the use of materials a little more intensely. Students are asked to see the aesthetics of art and formulate their own opinions. Using artists and various cultures to inspire their projects, students begin to see the importance of the process while they work. Learning the various disciplines of the arts, students are encouraged to find their own individual style. The course encompasses drawing, painting, printmaking, and sculpture. The fundamental elements and principles are explored in all projects as well as in daily sketchbook assignments.

Choral music is taught at two levels in Middle School: Fifth and Sixth-Grade Chorus, and Seventh and EighthGrade Chorus. Both ensembles perform a variety of popular and classical music, and experience accompanied and a cappella singing. All middle school students are encouraged to audition for the Middle School musical even if they are not a member of the chorus. Music becomes increasingly demanding throughout the four years of Middle School, and during these years, part-singing is the expectation for both groups. Students are taught to sight-read music, produce a pleasing characteristic choral tone, and perform with enthusiasm and poise.

The Middle School Art program provides an atmosphere that encourages the development of the imagination, skills, and understanding of the visual arts. Students learn to express their ideas using various materials, tools, techniques, and technologies. Various artists and local exhibitions are introduced to inspire projects. As they progress through Middle School, students are challenged to use their creativity and develop artistically. Fifth and Sixth-grade Art


Performing Arts

Instrumental Music

Introduction to Theater

The instrumental music program at GFA offers the following ensembles in which students may perform: Fifth and Sixth-Grade Band, Seventh and Eighth-Grade Band, Fifth and Sixth-Grade Orchestra, and Seventh and EighthGrade Orchestra. The bands and the orchestra perform a broad repertoire of popular, traditional, and classical music, arranged and chosen appropriately for the level of the ensembles. Bands also offer opportunities for guitar, electric bass, and keyboard players in addition to all of the woodwind, brass, and percussion instruments. Students are taught to play with fine characteristic tone quality, accurate and independent rhythm, and good intonation. Many instrumental students study privately, and there is a high expectation of individual practice outside of school.

Introduction to Theater serves as the initial offering in theater at GFA, and is open only to seventh-graders. Students explore a wide variety of acting techniques including: improvisation and theater games. Students participate in exercises aimed at opening them to creatively expressing themselves in a group setting. Public speaking is a major unit of the class in the hope that the students find more confidence and power in the act of presenting themselves before others. Proper voice projection, diction, and breathing are emphasized, as well as stage presence, focus, listening skills, and respect for the performer.


Research at GFA One of the critical elements of the GFA experience is our emphasis on research. With the huge expansion of information at the disposal of our students, it is critical to give them the tools necessary to assess the quality of the material with which they are presented. It is our goal to teach students basic research skills during their Middle School years and then give the students the opportunity to use those skills to learn more about topics which they are passionate about. We do this through a systematic approach, with these skills being taught in the core academic classes, specific research seminars in seventh and eighth grades, and then culminating in extensive scientific research opportunities and the Capstone project in eighth grade. Research Papers Starting in fifth grade, basic research techniques are taught in a student’s history class. During sixth grade, learning the foundational aspects of research is the primary focus of the curriculum. Students conduct a variety of research projects during the year in which they learn to distinguish between different types of research materials. Students learn how to write note cards, outline material, write a paper, and develop a bibliography. In seventh grade, students build upon these skills and are introduced to using and defending a thesis statement and attributing their research through the use of footnotes.

In seventh grade, students engage in a human body bioSTEAM project. They select a body system to research and present. They then design and execute a lab experiment or organ dissection to further understand their system. Finally they focus on a problem or challenge they’ve exposed along the way, and design an authentic solution using STEAM tools. This entire project culminates with a presentation poster documenting the entire process, and a pitch video detailing their final product. In seventh and eighth grade, students have the option to do authentic research by designing and conducting their own experiments and designing and engineering their own solutions. These projects culminate in a school-wide science exposition where students can present their work, and most students exhibit their work at the Connecticut State Science and Engineering Fair. Capstone Project

The Capstone Project is designed as an opportunity for the students to become passionate about a particular topic and to use the research skills learned in their other classes. Eighth-grade students spend the year researching a topic of their choosing under the guidance of a Mentor teacher, during their weekly double period Capstone class. The students finish a formal research paper during the first half of the year, complete with note card checks, outlines, and a graded rough draft as part of the process. After the completion of the research paper, students prepare for a defense of their thesis. Students work with their mentor teacher to refine their argument and connect their topic Science & Engineering to broader questions at the heart of the project (scientific, Projects social/ political, artistic/athletic). These students then In fifth-grade science, students gain exposure to some of deliver their thesis defense before a panel of faculty and the foundational scientific skills. Starting in sixth grade, students. students conduct research at varying levels. Science labs are a major component of every science class. Students learn to use scientific equipment to gather and analyze data, including questions of bias and data error. In sixth grade, all students select a product to test. They design and conduct original scientific tests on a consumer item. 16

Co-curricular Offerings In addition to the extensive offerings through the curriculum, we believe that learning outside of those core classes is just as critical. When students are challenged in a variety of areas, they are positioned to grow as students and individuals.

been a hallmark of the Middle School. We believe it is important for our students to connect with the world outside our campus in order to prepare them for lives of purpose and to be globally minded citizens. All students work on these critical topics through division-wide programs, often related to major holidays.

Advisory One of the main roles a Middle School teacher plays is as Advisor to approximately ten Middle School students. The Advisor provides academic and social support, and is the point person and liaison between student, home, and school. Advisory groups meet daily in their homeroom to help provide the academic and social support that is necessary for each child to feel connected at school. Additionally, the grade’s Advisors meet weekly with their Dean to communicate common issues within the grade. The fifth grade will also have weekly class meetings with their respective homeroom teacher. The work in Advisory, developed through a discrete curriculum that runs throughout their middle school years, leads to a Student-Led Family Conference in April where the students lead an evidence-based discussion with their Advisor and Parents/Guardians on their goals for the year and progress in achieving them.

Over a third of our middle schoolers opt into a weekly service learning experience throughout the year either on campus or within the broader community. For those on campus, they work to support families through sandwich making and other activities. Our students who travel off campus either go to a food pantry, an elder care facility to connect with residents, or tutor elementary school students at local schools. The consistency of these connections foster true relationships between our students and those in the community. Speech During their eighth grade year, every student delivers a speech to the middle school community. We believe these speeches are an important part of the middle school experience as our eighth-graders demonstrate leadership to our younger students. The students take a weekly class where they go through the process of writing a speech about a value they believe in. Through the drafting, revision, and speech practice process, students become confident in their ability to deliver a thoughtful speech in the Middle School Forum.

Enrichment Every Friday middle school students opt into one of our Enrichment opportunities. A number of students participate in our various service learning options during this period. Other students might be involved with Model UN, The gfa Writing Center Chess Club, Math or Robotics Teams, Newspaper, Creative The Writing Center supports students in grades 5-12 by providing one-on-one writing feedback and guidance Writing, Anime, or other possibilities. from trained student writing advisers on a drop-in basis or scheduled in advance. It is a place for students who Health All middle school students meet every week for health lack confidence in the writing process as well as for class. The GFA Health education program is designed to writers looking to further develop their writing stratedevelop comprehensive health knowledge and skills in a gies and tools. Students in grades 8-12, selected for their developmentally appropriate environment. Health Semi- leadership, as well as writing skills, provide help with nar covers a variety of topics pertaining to health and well- brainstorming, outlining, drafting, revising, and proofness and concentrates on providing students with strate- reading. gies and practices to promote positive health behaviors. The topics covered differ from grade to grade and include The gfa Math Center such topics as: life skills, stress reduction, nutrition, phys- The Math Center exists to support students in fifth grade ical fitness, media influence, substance abuse, and human math through Geometry by providing one-on-one and sexuality. Students are always encouraged to express their small group tutoring with faculty and/or trained student opinions and incorporate their personal experiences and mentors. Students in grades 8-12 are given the ability to values into class discussions. Our goal is to prepare and assist the younger students in building the skills and conempower our students to appreciate and engage in lifelong fidence needed to be successful in math. While students should still initially approach their own teacher for extra wellness: physically, mentally, and socially. help, The Math Center serves as an extra resource for the students. Appointments are available on a drop-in or Service Learning GFA’s support and engagement in Service Learning has scheduled basis. 17

Athletics at GFA The Greens Farms Academy Middle School athletic program is designed to develop strong bodies as well as strong minds, and to develop and maintain physical well-being at a level that is appropriate for the individual. Our goal is to help students become comfortable with and cognizant of their physical abilities and potential by providing opportunities for the development of sport-specific skills, coordination, self-confidence, and sportsmanship at a time of significant physical growth. Fifth and Sixth Grades In fifth and sixth grades, all students are required to participate in the athletic program all three seasons, and are given the opportunity to develop their skills and to learn about the rules and strategies in the majority of the sports offered at GFA. Students are rotated through each offering for two to three weeks, helping them develop a deeper understanding of each sport. This supports students making a more informed decision when choosing an interscholastic sport as they enter seventh grade. The fifth and sixth-graders will rotate seasonally through: Fall Girls - Cross Country, Field Hockey, Fitness, Soccer, Volleyball Boys - Cross Country, Flag Football, Fitness, Soccer, Team Handball Winter Girls - Basketball, Fitness, Floor Hockey, Squash, Wrestling Boys - Basketball, Fitness, Floor Hockey, Squash, Wrestling Spring Girls - Fitness, Frisbee, Lacrosse, Softball, Tennis Boys - Fitness, Frisbee, Lacrosse, Baseball, Tennis Seventh and Eighth Grades An important part of the Middle School program is an increased emphasis on interscholastic competition. Our teams compete regularly with our neighboring schools, always mindful of sportsmanship and the appropriate challenge for all students. Each student is required to participate in the GFA athletic program all three seasons. Moreover, the Middle School adheres to a “no cut” policy whenever possible. Fall Girls Teams - Cross Country, Field Hockey, Soccer, Volleyball Boys Teams - Cross Country, Flag Football, Soccer Recreational - Fitness (co-ed) Winter Girls Teams - Basketball, Squash, Wrestling Boys Teams - Basketball, Squash, Wrestling Recreational - Fitness (co-ed), Yoga (co-ed) Spring Girls Teams - Lacrosse, Softball, Tennis, Track & Field Boys Teams - Baseball, Lacrosse, Tennis, Track & Field Recreational - Fitness (co-ed) Teams in each sport play a schedule of interscholastic games with area schools. Students are expected to attend all practices and games, for the integrity of the program and for the quality of the students’ experience. Games generally occur on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday after 3:00 pm. 18


School Counseling School Counselors are a supportive resource for both students and parents. It is helpful for students to know that there is an opportunity to sort through their experiences with a caring professional who is objective and non-judgmental. Issues commonly addressed by School Counselors are peer relationships, self-esteem, and other social/emotional challenges for children and teens. Both students and parents are invited to drop by the respective counselor’s office or to give one of our counselors a call to simply get acquainted or to discuss a matter of concern.


Greens Farms Academy 35 Beachside Avenue, Westport, CT www.gfacademy.org Greens Farms Academy does not discriminate against any person in admission, financial aid, program involvement, employment, or otherwise because of sexual orientation, race, religion, age, gender, national origin, or disability.

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