In seventh-grade English, students begin the year by reviewing the elements of a narrative and analyzing them in several short stories, then engage in a book group unit about protagonists fighting for justice or navigating personal identity awakenings in challenging environments. Students read and analyze engaging non-fiction and poetry and discuss race and history in the United States, write poetry of their own, and work to master the literary analysis essay through many rounds of drafting, editing, and revising. The year ends with an analysis of utopian, Afrofuturist, dystopian, and contemporary YA sci-fi/fantasy by writers of color and a thematic essay drawing on evidence from multiple works they read over the year.
In seventh-grade Spanish, time spent in the target language increases as students continue to delve into grammar, build vocabulary and work on oral and written expression. Students study grammar and vocabulary, and they read and write about the Spanish and Latin American cultures. Students learn through various engaging, multi-modal experiences to develop listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills in Spanish, including creating multimedia presentations.
Middle School art provides students space to continue practicing, experimenting and reflecting on their creative expression both technically and conceptually. Students are introduced to and reacquainted with a variety of mediums as well as a diverse group of artists. They are asked to think about the impact of art on society as they become more aware of their own impacts on their communities. Seventh graders work on improving their understanding and application of the elements and principles of art throughout the year, starting with a charcoal still life and self-portrait using a grid. After, students work with wet media, both watercolor and acrylic paint, before moving on to ceramics, with an emphasis on glazing.
Seventh-grade history focuses on world history and religion from approximately 500 to 1500 CE. Picking up where they left off in sixth grade, students study Rome, European and Japanese feudalism, Islam, West African Kingdoms, and the Maya. Particular attention is given to the structures of power in each society. In the spring, students explore a relevant topic of personal interest during the multi-week Independent Research Project.
In seventh-grade Mandarin, students continue to develop a solid foundation in all essential areas of Mandarin language learning that includes an increasing knowledge of tones, character strokes, radical parts, and the structure of Chinese characters. Students build their comprehension by using Mandarin fluently in real-life conversations about family, pets, body parts, the weather, colors, preferences for food and drinks, description of appearances, room decor, and common Chinese foods. At this level, learners increase their fluency in listening and speaking and further develop their reading and writing skills in Mandarin to where students are able to write short paragraphs. Beyond language proficiency, students demonstrate an understanding of cultural topics through project-based learning experiences.
Seventh graders discuss male and female anatomy as it changes through puberty. Students also delve into conversations about personal character and relationships (that also includes communication, negotiation, and assertiveness role play. Body image and media literacy, along with internet safety and drugs and alcohol, are also central and related topics explored during the trimester.
Outdoor Education takes students outside of the familiarity of the classroom, encourages them to stretch, try something new, support their classmates, and connect to learning beyond school walls. In April, seventh-grade students go to Fortunate Farms in Casper, California. Students learn topics and skills that include stealth games, archery, fire making, blacksmithing, animal tracking, bird languages, textiles and weaving, bow making, wilderness survival, shelter building, safety and caring, and water conservation and purification. This experience is led by the Black Oak Wilderness School and chaperoned by the seventh-grade advisory team.
In seventh-grade math, students are immersed in a learning environment that encourages students to meet mathematical challenges head-on and where errors are viewed as learning opportunities. Through small groups, whole groups, and differentiated instruction, students apply mathematical concepts to a variety of real-world experiences. Students in 7th grade deepen and build on concepts introduced in 6th grade by applying knowledge of integers to fractions and decimals and expanding their understanding of ratios to proportions and of algebraic expressions and equations. Students delve into concepts relating to data and statistics, probability, and geometry.
In seventh-grade music, the ukulele curriculum is focused on playing and writing melodies. Starting by playing songs with just a few notes and rhythmic concepts, students are gradually introduced to more notes and rhythmic concepts until they are able to play fairly complex melodies. Once they can play the notes and rhythms, students begin to compose melodies using the ukulele and music notation software. They learn about melodic structure, lyric writing, and repetition, and apply these concepts to their original compositions. Students then play each others’ pieces and evaluate them based on specific aesthetic criteria. At the end of the year, students collaborate (in small groups) on the composition, rehearsal, and performance of original, full-length pop songs that they play on the ukulele and sing. In seventh grade, students learn about the history of the Blues through critical listening, discussion, and films about the tradition. In the fall, students choose a song democratically, rehearse it as a class, and then perform it at Generations Day and the Winter Concert.
Physical education focuses on refining techniques, introducing tactical and strategic practices, and having students apply these ideas in both group and team-based settings. Students have the opportunity to exercise their leadership skills and are encouraged to step out of their comfort zone. They learn to maintain a healthy lifestyle through individual and collaborative fitness components throughout the program. Class content and social emotional development is geared to help students prepare for high school and beyond.
Seventh graders continue in the same advising groups from sixth grade. Advisers have daily touch points with their students during Homeroom, and an advisory period twice an eight-day cycle. Grade-level deans lead advising teams to prepare a curriculum that supports social-emotional learning and helps students navigate through the years of middle school. In seventh grade, the program continues focusing on community building and social-emotional growth.
Seventh-grade science focuses on biology. The class explores cells, genetics, human body systems, ecology, and evolutionary theory. Across the year, students continue to expand their understanding and application of the Scientific Method, experimental design, and metric measurement.
In seventh grade DBi, the themes are Self Awareness (emotions, intentions, identity) and Service (home, school, community), which serve as contexts for students to develop a deeper design/build craft as they learn about themselves as a designer/builder in relationship with others and their school. Students develop a self-awareness of who they are as a designer to ensure that they are designing with purpose, joy, and craftsmanship, and they design and build objects, processes, or systems that meet the needs of their community.
In seventh grade drama, students get a deeper dive into public speaking as they research, prepare, and present persuasive speeches, as well as prepare presentations on Winter Holidays with an accompanying slideshow. Students get to take familiar scenes from Shakespeare and reinvent them for the 21st century as part of the Shakespeare Re-Imagined project. Throughout the year students rehearse and perform short scenes by local and national playwrights. Students develop skills such as character development, script analysis, and teamwork.
Improvisation and theatre games are infused throughout the year, allowing students to develop their skills in the core facets of "improv" (listening, creativity, and "yes, and..."). Our Superhero Unit allows students to create their own hero, sidekick, and villain, and write and present scenes and monologues featuring those original characters. The year culminates with students researching, rehearsing, and performing more advanced scenes from playwrights such as Neil Simon, Susan-Lori Parks, Edward Albee, Brandon Jacobs-Jenkins, and others.
In seventh grade, Equity and Inclusion groups are centered around race and gender identity. In addition to schoolwide assemblies, students engage in intentional, facilitated discussions for 6-8 sessions throughout the school year. Working towards the goal of creating a safe, inclusive school for people of all identities, students will:
Examine their own racial and gender identities
Understand how their identities may impact their experiences
Gain empathy for people with different identities
Learn how to be allies around issues of race and gender