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Seattle Girls’ School Curriculum Guide 5th-8th Grade

Inspiring and developing courageous leaders who think independently, work collaboratively, learn joyfully, and champion change.

Inspiring and developing courageous leaders who think independently, work collaboratively, learn joyfully, and champion change. Our Passion

Our Passion

»Empowering each girl to live to her potential.

Our Beliefs

»Empowering a girl changes the world. »It’s fundamental to understand and address issues of difference and oppression. »An integrated, collaborative curriculum challenges and engages students. »Middle school should be joyful, curiosity-filled, safe, and open to all voices.

Hallmarks of the SGS Approach »High expectations and support for critical thinking »Sensory-rich “being there” experiences »Inquiry-based learning projects »An emphasis on social justice and global citizenship »Opportunities for choice and collaboration »Frequent “stand and deliver” opportunities

Hands On

At Seattle Girls’ School, we believe that learning should be engaging and relevant to our students today, not just in the future. That’s why our students are constantly engaging with their learning in tactile ways; whether they are building go-carts, model homes, or imaginary cities, we know that middle schoolers love to create. Our students are engineers and artists. We know that the creative problem solving that they use in the classroom translates into the analytical thinking that drives innovation.

Being There

“Some of my favorite memories of SGS are…being able to get learning out of an experience—not just learning for a test or learning something so you can be quizzed on it and then totally forget it, which is how a lot of schools are. I think a lot of the information I learned at SGS really stuck with me because there was so much real-life application and it wasn’t just a multiplechoice test”. Caitlin Gaylord, SGS Alum Class of 2010 Pursuing B.A. Biochemistry, Scripps College


Science. Technology. Engineering. Art. Math. At SGS, STEAM is integrated into the curriculum across grade levels, throughout the year. Our students are assigned a laptop and technology curriculum is woven throughout every year at SGS. In addition to the regular and ongoing STEAM integration, our approach includes STEAM Surge, a two-week intensive period focused on cross-grade projects. This is a chance for SGS students to immerse themselves in a STEAM project that has been designed to specifically engage middle-school girls. Students may design custom homes for an Ewok Village, create tiles from bioluminescent mold, or build and program an art-making robot.


SGS has always provided opportunities for students to make purposeful work public, often in front of live, expert audiences. Culminations are a time for girls to “stand and deliver� and show us what they have been learning. It is a time for big ideas as our students work both independently and collaboratively to present coursework that ranges from creating video games to solving a crime. It is also a time of some healthy stress, as students experience the high stakes of working with a deadline and meeting the needs of an audience. Here are two examples:

More Than the Sum of My Parts

Mock Trial

After months spent laboring over self portraits, drafting poems, and developing expertise about the human body as medical students, 6th graders gather for their biggest culmination of the year. They present their scientific research in front of a panel of doctors, answering questions that challenge them about the body system they’ve specialized in. They also perform original poetry that offers a window into their cultural and emotional DNA. More Than the Sum of My Parts asks students to think deeply about who they are and where they come from, both physically and emotionally.

Every 7th grader at SGS goes to law school. Working with local lawyers and legal professionals, they learn the ins and outs of researching, drafting, and arguing a case. They take on multiple perspectives, analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the opposing arguments, and come to understand the legal and constitutional issues at stake. Then, they go to court! In front of a judge or justice at the King County Courthouse, students must follow legal procedures and use their sophisticated understanding of the Constitution to make their case. Mock Trial empowers students in a justice system that often intimidates adults.


»We see and treat each student as an artist, which is why every student takes art all year, every year. »From painting to photography to printmaking, students learn foundational art skills in a wide variety of materials, mediums, and processes. »Students develop their ability to creatively express themselves and their unique place in the world. »Our students know art is a powerful tool for communication, identity development, and social change as they grow to a place of individual artistic freedom. »Our art program culminates in 8th grade with a gallery exhibition highlighting each student’s unique voice and interests. Interdisciplinary Highlight: Art + Performance Studies + Humanities Part alien and part super-shero, each 6th grader creates a time-traveling Avatar who embodies her core values. While studying the pillars of culture, students write original vignettes exploring ideas of utopia and dystopia. They then use woodworking and sculpture skills to create a large and architectural avatar mask, and green screen technology to perform their original theatrical work.


th Students are exposed to a wide variety of media and projects, work to increase their confidence and skills in art, and begin to see mistakes and artistic challenges as opportunities for growth. Sample projects include book making, drawing skills, mixed media painting, cartooning, and more.


th Students engage with foundational skill building in drawing, painting, and sculture. Each project connects thematically to the overarching 6th grade theme of identity as they use art to learn more deeply about who they are as individuals. Students may create a realistic self-portrait, a symbolic abstraction, or a sculptural mask.


th Students create artwork in line with the theme of “Positive Change from the Ground Up” about themselves and their communities. They then move on to study the role of art in social change movements and create their own piece of activist art. Techniques include digital art and photography, encaustic painting, assemblage sculpture, and collage.


th Students create work for their “Realizing A Vision” exhibition, where they each present a series of interconnected pieces in a gallery. Students craft individual projects where they hone specific art techniques, find inspiration from artists, and express their unique connection to art. Projects range from video, painting, fashion, architecture, and beyond.


th In 5th grade, math students explore fraction and integer concepts such as place value, number theory, patterns and relationships, fractions and fraction operations, decimal and decimal operations, factoring, measurement, data collection and analysis.




th Students take th In 7th grade, math th Students continue on pre-algebra develops themes of building their concepts, developing equivalent expressions, understanding of linear confidence in various solving equations, and equations using multiple operations with making sense of linear representations and integers and rational growth in a variety of extend into topics such numbers in order to ways. Students justify as systems of equations, prepare for algebra their thinking both orally financial literacy, over the course of and in writing and build exponents, factoring and seventh and eighth an algebraic toolbox that multiplying binomials, and grade. Students are will be broadly applicable multiple representations also introduced to to their future math of quadratic functions. geometry concepts, courses. including area SGS students take Algebra I over their 7th formulas, surface area, + 8th grade years. This allows us to take volume, and scale. on the concepts of algebra in a greater degree of depth while also challenging and supporting students with a broad spectrum of math backgrounds and experiences.


»At SGS, students grapple with big ideas in number sense, algebra, and geometry, as they learn to use math as a tool to understand and communicate about the world in more powerful ways. »Students learn to justify their thinking, make and learn from mistakes, and ask critical questions as they do math together and apply their learning to relatable problems. »SGS helps students learn to use a variety of resources and advocate for themselves as math learners. They increase their math confidence and become experts at seeking out appropriate levels of challenge and support at SGS, in high school, and beyond.

Interdisciplinary Highlight: Math + Social Studies + Technology In their social studies and math classes, 8th graders study data as they discuss systems of institutional oppression that lead to a wealth gap based on race, gender, and education. They get into the details, as they explore the financial constraints and freedom that various populations in society face when balancing a budget. Students develop financial literacy skills and learn to use more advanced Excel functions. For 8th graders, it’s their math skills that provide the link between economic and sociological studies, and real-life problem solving.

Interdisciplinary Highlight: Science + Humanities Humanities and Science classes in the 6th grade pair together to learn about the multiple perspectives involved in bioethical issues such as stem cell research, xenotransplantation, and compulsory vaccination. Students research the science behind each technology, explore the viewpoints of various stakeholders, and write a multi-draft essay, relying on facts as well as their core values and identities to help guide their ethical decision-making.


th Worms, beetles, and spiders, oh my! Students learn about life cycles, adaptations, plants, and decomposers through long-term data collection and the classroom compost bin. They also delve into chemistry through the study of the scientific method Tip! while analyzing experiments of their own creation. 5th grade explores science through a local lens in order to make lasting connections with the environment.


th Students explore how their body’s structure is related to function, focusing on brain science, genetics, and body systems. This long-term study culminates in a Medical Board Exam, where students present an in-depth understanding of a medical specialty Tip! to experts. They also examine bioethical issues and design experiments with bacteria and flatworms as models for human systems.


th Students explore chemistry in the world around them. They engage in experiments that help model and bring to light temperature and molecular composition. Students connect the chemistry to environmental Tip! issues, including human impacts on the environment, culminating in an in-depth study of Climate Change.


th Students explore physics, space science, and forensics, culminating in a Mission to Space! Upon their return from Space, students enter the Idea Incubator— an invention and entrepreneurship unit that culminates with them pitching a product of their own design to a panel of female science and business leaders.

Science »At SGS we teach science using an experiential, hands-on, joy-filled, and inquiry-based approach. »Science is learned through the five senses, which is why every grade has extended science labs to perform experiments and get hands-on learning. »We expose our students to a variety of disciplines, including new and emerging sciences and technologies, so that all SGS graduates are confident in their science skills and knowledge, empowering them to sign up for any high school science course that they choose.

Social Studies

ÂťSocial Studies students learn from multiple perspectives, including those marginalized in more traditional historical narratives. ÂťWe bring history to life, often participating in role-plays, discussions, and engagements with community experts. This fosters some specific habits of mind: tolerance, curiosity, empathy, and independence. ÂťIn 5th and 6th grade, social studies and language arts are taught together in a humanities class, where units are often designed collaboratively. Interdisciplinary Highlight: Social Studies + Technology Our 5th graders become sociologists and study the history of toys and current marketing trends. Meanwhile, students are learning to code a variety of fun games and puzzles. Students are then challenged to create their own video game that confronts historical inequities in toys or a social issue that they are passionate about. From saving puppies to exploring space, these games empower each student to study or play whatever they want.


th In 5th grade, social studies is integrated into a humanities class throughout the year. Students analyze primary and secondary sources for a historical fiction writing project, study issues of injustice in our community, and use tools of ethnography and anthropology to analyze marketing trends for American toys.


th Students focus on understanding that every person is an amalgamation of multiple identities influenced by the cultural elements through which they experience the world. They examine the significance of economy, society, and environment in the sustainability of a civilization. Students study migration, ethics, geography, and investigate primary and secondary sources.


th Students study U.S. and Washington history and government. They examine the Constitution as a living document and the ways we have both lived up to and fallen short of our founding ideals. They participate in a mock trial as lawyers and witnesses. They then explore social movements in U.S. history. Students regularly form evidencebased conclusions about historical events and apply legal concepts to present-day issues.


th Through role playing, map interpretation, spoken word, and socratic seminars Global Studies explores the progression of the role of the U.S. in the world. Students then focus on the Middle East, examining past and present issues such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, revolution, and women and Islam. Finally, we explore the legacy of colonization in Africa and other contemporary world events.

Interdisciplinary Highlight: Language Arts + Social Studies + Science + Math The 7th grade Pay It Forward Project embraces the notion that our students are fully capable of becoming effective activists. Each 7th grader chooses an issue they find personally meaningful and then crafts an action plan to address it. Throughout the process, they apply their reading, writing and researching skills to support them as they each assume the role of change agents.


th Students develop reading goals and monitor their own reading progress, focusing on building stamina and comprehension. In writing workshop, they focus on writing personal narratives, persuasive essays, and historical fiction. Students learn craft techniques and write multiple drafts and make revisions using rubrics in both small groups and individually.


th In 6th grade, reading goals include reading for information, making connections, and linking symbols, themes, and voice to the writer’s perspective. Students learn to explain their thinking with specific evidence in paragraphs, presentations, and multidraft essays. Students write and submit poetry to publications, practicing rigorous editing and formal letter writing. Every year our students are published in magazines.


th Students explore themes of perspective, justice, and transformation. They read, discuss, and write fiction and nonfiction literature, essays, letters, and poetry. Through independent and all-class reading, they further develop and deepen reading and writing skills. In their writing workshop they prioritize collaboration, editing, and vocabulary.


th Students learn the foundations of more formal writing, from sentence structure to the five-paragraph essay. They use the writing process, including thesis development, outline organization, multiple drafts, and revisions. Language arts is an interdisciplinary subject, building skills for scientific, mathematical, and creative projects.

Language Arts »Students at SGS learn to use reading and writing to connect them to others and to the issues they care about most. »We demystify creative and critical writing skills through a workshop writing process. »Our students are part of a thoughtful community of thinkers and authors that extends beyond their school, we have published poets in every class! »SGS fosters a lifetime love of reading and writing. Through studying engaging literature, students develop strong analysis and discussion skills, growing as authors and researchers.


All 5th grade students learn to play ukulele, and then guitar in the 6th grade. 7th + 8th graders have the option to further develop music skills and ensemble performance through our Rock Band program. Students can also explore singing and songwriting in our Wednesday Workshops.

Performance Studies

Performance Studies combines an academically layered approach to the study of the arts, with an experience-based immersion in cross-genre performance. Students engage in improv, radio, spoken word, movement, and acting activities that build their leadership and confidence, collaboration, creativity, and sense of identity. Some highlights of the program include monologue performances, poetry slams, and a student-written and -produced dramatic film.


SGS students explore the Spanish language and Latino/Hispanic cultures with the goal of developing a solid foundation in the language, as well as an appreciation of the diversity of its native speakers. The classes are engaging and collaborative. At the end of the three-year learning experience, 8th graders have the option to attend a Spanish Immersion Trip.

Adventure + Wellness Our A+W program helps build a strong foundation for developing a life-long commitment to healthy living. Over all 4 years, students are exposed to physical activities, including team sports, hiking, tumbling, strength training, and self-defense. A+W also incorporates nutrition, emotional health, communication, and sexuality education.


The mission of the SGS Athletic Program is to promote a healthy relationship between a girl and her body. We do this by: »Building/developing sport-specific skills »Focusing on teamwork, school spirit, and healthy competition »Educating girls on health and positive self-image




Soccer Ultimate Frisbee Basketball Volleyball Track + Field Snow Bus Cross-Country (Skiing + Snowboarding)

Co-Curriculars Affinity Groups

Mentor Program Student Council

SGS students have the option of participating in school-based affinity groups to explore their ethnic, cultural, or sexual identity with the support of peers, faculty, and staff. Affinity and Alliance Groups meet monthly during school hours.

The goal of the Mentor Program is to make our students “strong from the inside out� by building a village around each girl. The unique experiences and insights that each student gains by having a mentor enhances her education at SGS.

Student Council plans and leads student activities such as dances, talent shows, and spirit week. While the elected officers are all 7th graders learning to lead both older and younger students, each advisory group elects its own representatives, and all students are welcome to attend meetings.

Wednesday Workshops We offer a range of classes in partnership with Coyote Central, including rock band, skateboarding, flameworking, choir, graphic design, robotics, woodworking, and cooking.


A Mission-Driven School At SGS, girls develop a sense of the big picture, connecting academic studies with current events, self-awareness, and collaboration, resulting in confident, highly qualified graduates who succeed in high school, college, and beyond. SGS combats the trend of girls’ losing confidence before competence, especially in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and math, with a transformative experience for girls in grades 5-8. At SGS, girls are challenged to discover who they are and who they want to become. Our project-based curriculum, grounded in real-world experiences, offers endless opportunities for leadership, collaboration, and problem solving.

“SGS gave me a truly interdisciplinary experience of education—one that I have continued to seek out since. When I began to study science in college, I found myself driven by the same curiosity that was cultivated at SGS.” - Anna Coronata, SGS Class of 2004 B.A. Neuroscience, Wellesley College

At SGS, we have never used letter grades. Instead, our in-depth progress reports, given three times a year, provide a rich picture of our students’ strengths, as well as their challenges. These reports are informed by both grade-level benchmarks and the evolving educational needs of girls today. Parents and students, as well as high school admissions offices, appreciate the clear picture these progress reports provide. Student-led conferences offer another opportunity to share information, set goals, and plan for success.

Empathy Social and emotional learning is woven into all academic subjects and interpersonal activities, and is a big part of our school culture.



We encourage students to take healthy risks, and we ask them to be open to experience and learn from failure.

Joy We celebrate spontaneous opportunities to be original, to be playful, to enjoy park trips and drama games and line dancing - all during school.

A Village for Each Child

Middle school life is complicated! As our students move through the tricky landscape of developing identities and shifting friendships, we build a network of support around each child to help them understand themselves and others and develop problem-solving, decision-making, and conflict-resolution strategies. Small faculty-led advisory groups provide a home base of support within the larger school community. Our Dean of Student Life coaches students to build healthy relationships and be their best selves in and out of the classroom. Our mentorship and affinity programs broaden the village, helping each student advocate for themselves and others. The strength of their village helps our students feel secure and confident in their own abilities and identities, so that they may take the healthy risks necessary to achieve their full potential.

Profile for Seattle Girls' School

Seattle Girls' School Curriculum Guide  

Seattle Girls' School Curriculum Guide

Seattle Girls' School Curriculum Guide  

Seattle Girls' School Curriculum Guide


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