Middle School Course Descriptions
Adventure Education is an opportunity for Middle School students to learn to safely explore and enjoy our natural world. The school's 550-acre campus is the setting for most of our activities which include hiking, games, construction projects, map reading, orienteering, farming, and more. Students use their imaginations and hone their sense of adventure as we work on team building, communication conflict resolution, and problem solving skills. As the students progress through Middle School, they progress from exploratory activities to more advanced wilderness and farming skills.
Middle School music classes introduce students to sight singing, rhythms, vocal production, ensemble performance, music theory, and history. Students learn key signatures, time signatures, and an in depth musical vocabulary. Sixth graders learn to sing in two part harmony. By the 8th grade three-part harmonies and change bells are introduced. Emphasis is placed on exposing the student to a variety of music and encouraging an appreciation of all styles of music.
Middle School theatre introduces students to the exciting world of the stage. By using improvisation, collaboration, theatre games, and other fun activities, they learn to perform and to support others while they are performing.
Learning self-expression through the visual arts is an important part of the curriculum at SAS. The middle school art courses allow students to experiment with a variety of media including drawing, painting, printing, photography, digital design, architecture, sculpture, and clay. Teachers emphasize the correlation between the creative process and the student’s final art piece. In 6th grade, students explore our campus as studio and place-based art. In 7th grade, students enter into a dialogue about their art, the art of others, and the role of design in our contemporary culture and in history. In 8th grade, students further their understanding of the relationship between form and design through two distinct semester-long courses: 2-D design and Clay. Most middle school art courses incorporate a service component which provides students experiences that connect their art with the wider community.
The Humanities courses are writing intensive at each grade level, building sequentially on reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills through the exploration of literature and the study of ancient civilizations and world and U.S. history. All middle school students read and write in a variety of genres, with writing skills taught through a workshop approach, emphasizing process equally with product. At each grade level, critical thinking skills and cooperative learning are central.
Technology classes in grades 6 and 7 encourage students to understand both the personal and worldly uses of technology, encourage them to be safe and responsible computer and Internet users, and unleash the creative potential of computers, imaging, and programming. IDE8, gives 8th graders the opportunity to pursue yearlong independent research and creative projects with the gentle guidance of faculty members.
Students in the 6th grade take a trimester each of Latin, Spanish, and Chinese as an introduction to the study of foreign languages and cultures. Beginning in seventh grade, students choose between Chinese, Latin, and Spanish as their primary course of language study and commit to two years of the same language (7th and 8th grade). The middle school years are an excellent time to introduce a second language to young people and SAS is committed to making language available to students in the middle school in a way that is both meaningful and fun.
The Middle School math curriculum is designed to strengthen students basic math skills in preparation for higher level math courses. In addition to focusing on content, the preparation includes helping students to overcome any pre-existing math phobias and to see the real-life value and fun of math. The emphasis is jointly on learning how to “do" math and striving to understand why it's done that way. A solid understanding of the math fundamentals are designed to prepare students for explorations in algebra, geometry, and beyond. Eighth graders have a choice of Pre-Algebra or Algebra I. Students with a passion for mathematics are encouraged to participate in American Math Competitions and Math League Contests.
The SAS Middle School students assume the role of scientists as they explore the life, physical, and earth sciences and their interconnections. The entire campus is their laboratory as they pursue many hands-on lab and outdoor projects, culminating in an independent research project. Students learn accurate data recording procedures by maintaining detailed lab notebooks, learning to write formal lab reports by the end of 8th grade science. Students are challenged to look for the “why" behind the facts and gain critical thinking skills.
The Physical Education course is designed to increase students' stamina, endurance and overall fitness. Students are taught ways to deal positively with their mistakes as well as the mistakes of their classmates. Age-appropriate activities are designed to improve fundamental skills while promoting self-esteem and a sense of well being. Lead up games, hand-eye coordination activities, and the concept of "fierce and friendly" play are emphasized.
Just like playing a violin or learning to play soccer, students learn to read if they are given many opportunities to practice reading. ~ Tracy Randolph, Humanities Teacher