Middle School

OVERVIEW

We encourage our middle schoolers to make practical connections between their studies and the real world as they grow into themselves and fine tune their interests, skills, and talents.

The middle school years are a time of rapid growth and change for students. Along with this comes the capacity for increased independence and critical thinking. Students are encouraged to inquire and reflect on their own learning process and social interactions, and take charge of their own progress. The middle school team strives to teach and learn in a way that recognizes the unique challenges and joys of being a middle schooler.

Academic skills that were acquired throughout lower school are refined and deepened in middle school. Through inquiry and project oriented learning, students make connections to their earlier studies, to their personal experiences, and to the real world. Our middle school program prepares students to meet the challenges of our Upper School/IB curriculum.

Our middle school program fosters independence and responsibility as the academic sequence gets more challenging and the learning expectations increase. Our advisory program helps students develop time management skills and set measured goals as they grow academically and socially.

Additionally, close attention is paid to the social/emotional growth of our students. Middle school is often a period where students discover who they are, what they believe, and how they’d like to express themselves. We expose students to many ways of living in the world and support their identity development over the years. Throughout the school day and also in our advisory sessions, we help students develop the ability to communicate well as their peer group becomes increasingly important and their curiosity about the world deepens.

MIDDLE SCHOOL CURRICULUM

The middle school curriculum reflects an increasing emphasis on critical thinking, problem-solving, and real world connections. Assignments, projects and longer writing pieces individualize opportunities for students to pursue their particular interests in depth.

LANGUAGES

German Language and Literature

German lessons develop reading, writing, speaking and listening skills in the German language. We study and practice writing in a wide range of genres including fiction such as short stories, novels, poems, fables and fairy tales as well as nonfiction texts such as newspaper articles. Beginning with an overview of three major areas: poetry, epics and plays, we will explore sample texts of each of these genres.

There is always space for creativity and individualized learning. Our students learn to independently write argumentative and other types of comprehensive essays. Grammar and writing conventions are integrated into every unit. At a higher level, students develop the ability to understand German-language literature as well as translated world literature. Throughout our learning, students develop presentation and communication skills, often using technology to enhance their work.

English Language and Literature

In our reading program, students are exposed to a wide variety of genres including novels, news articles, informational books, short stories, plays, and poetry. Discussions and close readings of selected passages are used to enhance vocabulary development, comprehension skills, the development of opinions/conclusions based on evidence in the text, and identifying literary devices.

Our writing program focuses on opinion/argument, informational, and narrative writing, which develops the ability to write both academically and creatively. Within this process, students develop their knowledge of grammar, sentence structure, writer’s voice, audience, and overall organization.

Spanish

The main focus is for students to improve their conversation skills as well as discover new grammatical structures and verb conjugations through lyrics, movies, and book excerpts. Students then apply these skills to properly pronounce words, form their own sentences, and practice conversing comfortably in Spanish. Vocabulary development is a common thread throughout the entire program. To further enhance their understanding, students learn about various Spanish speaking cultures and countries.

MATHEMATICS AND SCIENCES

Math (German & English)

The mathematics program aims to develop each student’s mathematical skill set for success along an educational path as well as to fully participate as a global citizen in today’s world. Students learn to model situations mathematically, apply analytical reasoning and problem solving skills, analyze graphs and statistics, interpret numerical and 3D conclusions, solve problems mentally/on paper/digitally, and communicate effectively in mathematical language.

Science (English)

Following Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), middle school focuses on topics in Physical Science (atoms/molecules, forces, energy transfer, and wave technology), Life Science (inheritance and variation of traits, ecosystem interactions, and evolution), and Earth Science (astronomy, plate tectonics, role of water on Earth, natural resources, human impacts and global climate change). Skills include illustrating concepts using a model, interpreting data from graphs, planning and conducting an investigation, and undertaking an engineering-design project.

Biology (German)

The Biology lessons convey basic principles and laws on various levels from the cells and tissues to the ecosystem and biosphere. Students start with an exact observation of certain phenomena, then further investigate the concepts by hypothesis-led experimentation. The application and development of models are used by students to present or explain insights.

Physics

Physics is about asking fundamental questions about how the physical world works, and discovering the essential principles and processes that guide the world around us. Topics include the basic concepts of motion, energy, forces, electricity, heat, magnetism, atomic structure, and the structure of the universe.

Chemistry

Students explore the fundamental principles of chemistry and acquire the skills to relate abstract knowledge to our universe. The main goal of our chemistry program is to provide a solid foundation in the study of matter and its changes. Topics include electron configuration, atomic structure, the periodic table, bonding, gas laws, properties of liquids and solids, solutions, reactions, and acids/bases.

HUMANITIES

Social Studies (English)

Our Social Studies curriculum includes the study of history, geography, economics, government and civics — really it is the study of humanity, the people and events that have collectively shaped our nation and our world. Topics of study include The Western Hemisphere, The Eastern Hemisphere, as well as elements of United States and New York State History.
We strive to foster thinking and process skills, and encourage our middle schoolers to investigate important issues in the world around them. Inquiry based units of study incorporate various skills throughout the year including thinking skills, research and writing skills, interpersonal and group relations skills, sequencing and chronology skills, map and globe skills, and graph and image analysis skills.

History (German)

Similar to the U.S. Social Studies lessons, the history lessons taught in German examine and analyze the actions of people in the past. Students learn about the emergence of human societies and their development up to the present and develop independent historical thinking. Students examine and reflect on historical events to learn from them, in an effort to help make sound decisions for our collective future.

Geography

We start with the question, “How does Geography affect us and others?” and investigate various answers to the question. Students are introduced to concepts of geography by studying and making maps, which serves as a springboard for helping them think geographically. Topics in geography include the earth, the atmosphere and climates, landforms, different cultures / cultural regions, and economics.

THE ARTS

Visual Art

Through close observation and sustained investigation, students develop individual and global perspectives of art, utilize the principles of art, solve design problems, and explore perspective, scale, and point of view. Students work toward learning goals in all media such as painting, drawing, printmaking, collage, sculpture, and applied design.

Music

The middle school music curriculum is designed to enable students to use their musical knowledge and skills to synthesize information and, most importantly, create music! They will sing a wide repertoire of songs with an emphasis on intonation and expression. Students continue to read, write, and compose music, using increasingly complex rhythms and meters. Students explore and perform a variety of musical styles. In addition, they develop personal criteria for describing musical performances and compositions, using music terminology.

Dance

In Middle School the focus is on Social Dance and Dances from the African Diaspora. Students learn partnering and social dances including: West African, Hip-Hop, Salsa, Waltz, Swing and Salsa.

OTHER SUBJECTS

Physical Education and Health

Students have an opportunity to explore various sports such as team handball, soccer, and flag football, along with other physical activities and health related topics. Students participate in activities that will encourage them to stay active throughout their lives, learn to set and achieve health related goals, work with others in multiple situations, and learn positive decision making skills.

Advisory

During a weekly advisory period, advisors lead activities and discussions on a series of topics important to adolescents including social skills, learning strategies, happenings at school, or events in the larger community. These sessions provide a system of support for our middle schoolers, and include whole/small group activities plus one-on-one time with each student. The focus is on building rapport and making sure each student has an adult that they can turn to with questions or concerns.

TECHNOLOGY – DIGITAL CITIZENSHIP – MEDIA LITERACY

To help our students use technology and online tools effectively, our middle school curriculum includes essential elements of digital citizenship and media literacy. We educate our students about the benefits of responsible online activity, and also about the risks of irresponsible internet use. It’s important that our middle school families support at home to ensure that our students are safe and responsible digital citizens.
Our mission is to work together to provide tools to adolescents that will best prepare them for communicating effectively in the academic and professional worlds, while understanding that online communication is often an important means of socializing among friends.

RESEARCH BASED PROJECTS

At GSB, we start in Kindergarten with the building blocks of research, writing and presentation skills. We build on these skills each year, and in middle school our students are ready to take on more independent research based projects and presentations, which enhance our school curriculum, encourage student choice, and spark creativity.

 Grade Weekly Presentations Projects Research Paper
Individual posters & oral presentations Group work, folders & oral presentations Extended research during one school year
5 Famous Artists & Musicians The 7 Wonders of the World
(poster)
6 Geographic wonders & Natural disasters Egypt
(poster)
7 Famous Athletes & Scientists World Religions
(Powerpoint or similar)
8 Inventions & Inventors Indigenous Peoples of the World
(Powerpoint or similar)
Individually chosen topics

 

 

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EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES

Field Trips/Overnight Stays

Middle school curriculum includes a variety of field trips and overnight stays to enhance academic content in a real world setting, build community, and develop responsibility among our learners. Students will have the opportunity to take part in the planning process such as mapping out where to go and deciding which exhibits seem the most interesting or relevant to their learning.

Throughout the school year, each grade will go on at least 3 field trips, which could include:

  • Art Museums, such as the Whitney, the MoMa, or the MET
  • Religious/cultural institutions such as St. John the Divine
  • the 9/11 Memorial
  • Brooklyn Historical Society
  • Statue of Liberty/Liberty Island
  • A visit to a farm
  • Other teacher + class selected trips

For our overnight stays, the following excursions are planned:

Grade 5: Museum of Natural History (Sleepover)

Students participate in a variety of activities led by museum educators, and explore the museum with flashlights after hours. They even sleep in one of the amazing exhibition rooms, possibly next to dinosaurs or under the Great Blue Whale!

Grade 6: Frost Valley, Upstate New York (two nights)

Students participate in a team building program upstate, stay in a cabin, and spend plenty of time outdoors. Students have fun and build community during the cooperative/trust building activities and problem-solving challenges with their peers.

Grade 7: Philadelphia, PA (two nights)

This cross-curricular program is integrated into our Social Studies and History curricula as students explore sites such as the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, Franklin Square, Betsy Ross House, the African American Museum, and the National Constitution Center.

Grade 8: Washington, D.C. (two nights)

GSB students step inside history through the sites and sounds of Washington, D.C. Visits will be coordinated with the kids, but could include the National Museum of American History, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the National Mall, Arlington National Cemetery, Library of Congress, U.S. Supreme Court, tours of various monuments and memorials, and other options.

 

School Events

School events build community and foster students’ diverse interests. These include:

  • Winter project week and performance
  • Spring project week and performance
  • Summer art exhibition and dance performance

In addition to our school-wide events, GSB offers special events just for grades 5-8:

  • Grade 5, Ice-skating
  • Grade 6, Movie night at school
  • Grade 7, Walk along High Line with dinner afterwards
  • Grade 8, Broadway show
  • In June, all middle school grades will have a joint picnic with sports activities in the park.

Service Learning

Service-learning refers to learning which develops civic responsibility and actively involves students in a broad range of experiences that benefit others and the community. Students will guide the decision making on which type of community service to pursue, but could include supporting homeless shelters, cleaning up the park/neighborhood, or collecting funds for a charitable organization. 7th graders will participate in a 1-day service learning experience and 8th graders will participate in a 3-day service learning experience.