The Grammar School
Seventh Grade Curriculum
As new members of the Upper School, seventh graders take on increased responsibility and independence in their daily activities. They serve as role models for the younger students and contribute positively to the daily operation of the school. They learn to balance their increased involvement with peers with their academic responsibilities. The curriculum in seventh grade encourages students to think analytically as they practice and improve their basic skills in different subject areas. Seventh graders begin to think more abstractly. Students learn to study independently, work in small groups, and share their knowledge with peers.
The English program emphasizes the reading of good literature, creative and expository writing, and language skill development. Literature is selected from different genres including nonfiction, drama, poetry, essays, the short story, and the novel. Each selection serves as a model of expression and as a base for writing assignments and vocabulary development. In choosing literary selections, consideration is given to the reading comprehension skill, vocabulary level, and maturity of the group. Each student memorizes a poem to present to the class. Students complete Vocabulary Energizers I, by D. Popkin. Spelling will be directly connected to the vocabulary work and writing assignments. Reading selections will draw from The Miracle Worker (Gibson), The Old Man and The Sea (Hemingway), Lyddie (Patterson), The Cay (Taylor) The Shakespeare Stealer (Gary Blackwood), I Am the Cheese (Cormier), Our Town (Thornton Wilder), Much Ado About Nothing or Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare), A Book of Poetry: Perspectives in Literature and Short Stories I: Perspectives in Literature.
The main themes in seventh grade math are rational numbers and exponents, proportionality and linear relationships, statistics, probability, and geometry. Students build on their mathematical understanding through finding and making connections between arithmetic, algebra, and geometry. Pre-algebra work is explored through simple linear equations and properties of equality. Problem solving, working real applications, and communicating mathematical understanding are emphasized in addition to maintaining basic arithmetic skills. The students, as mathematicians, are asked to participate actively through whole group discussion, sharing work at the board, small-group work, and projects. They are required to read math texts, take notes, and explain their mathematical thinking clearly in writing. The graphing calculator is introduced in seventh grade. Easch student keeps a math binder that contains all his or her notes and homework. Texts used in this course include, but are not limited to, UCSMP Transition Mathematics and Harold Jacobs Mathematics A Human Endeavor.
Students in the seventh grade meet two to three times a week to study topics related to environmental science, physics, and experimental design. The goals of the year are for students to become familiar with collecting and organizing data in the context of fieldwork, expand their use of the scientific method, and identify physical forces in daily life. Information is gathered through fieldwork, lab experiments, and research. Sources of information include selected readings from the Prentice Hall series of science texts, books from TGS’s extensive library, the Internet, and popular media.
The sequence of the science program is:
- Trees (inventory and identification of local species, plant anatomy, forest zones)
- Science fair (experimental design, use of the scientific method, presentation)
- Physics (forces, motion, pendulums, rockets)
- Soils (creation, components, types, zones, testing)
In seventh grade, students begin a two-year study of American Studies. The text on civics teaches them why and how governments are formed. It focuses on the ideals that culminated in the founding of The United States and the philosophical thinking that went into the writing of The Constitution. As they learn about The United States, seventh graders will discuss current events and read relevant magazine and newspaper articles and complete mapping exercises. While U.S. Government is the overarching theme for the year, we will also read books about people from different places and discuss political situations around the globe. A goal for the course is for students to develop an awareness of the United States and their own relationships to the rest of the world. There is an ongoing study of The Civil Rights Movement. We The People is the primary text. The New York Times magazine Upfront arrives twice a month, and we read Martin Luther King’s essay “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” as well as his “I Have A Dream” speech.
This year, the schoolwide Global Educational Theme focuses on South Africa. Food, customs, climate, geography, and schooling are some of the areas that we will explore. We will study Nelson Mandela and the end of the Apartheid government. Examining similarities and differences between our cultures fosters greater understanding and appreciation of people from different areas of the world. This unit will create an opportunity for a community service project that will benefit a nonprofit in South Africa.
In the Upper School, study skills are taught and reinforced throughout the curriculum on an ongoing basis. Each student is encouraged to find the most effective method of overseeing her or his school materials and assignments. Best practices in time management are introduced and reinforced. Students have a planning period every day where they are helped with organization and given an opportunity to begin their homework in a structure that includes teacher assistance. Additionally, students use Google Classroom to keep track of assignments from home.
The social curriculum at TGS is designed to complement the academic curriculum and help maintain a healthy social and learning environment. In this setting, students offer respect and support for each other as they learn and grow. Growth opportunities include time on the TGS ropes course, cooperative games during PSD, and service learning projects. The theme of the seventh grade social curriculum is the concept of anticipation, including the practices of preparation, organization, and conscious interactions with fellow citizens.
In the seventh grade, the students take a more focused look at the work of a variety of artists from throughout history, with an eye toward self-expression and how our unique identities inform our work. The curriculum builds and refines more complex skills and concepts, with a focus on creating concise expression of ideas in artwork and working toward a longer term idea/goal. Students complete weekly reading assignments about contemporary artists and issues in the art world, with some emphasis on our GET region. Often research done as homework informs classroom projects. Students complete projects related to the work of Joseph Cornell, Jim Dine, and Roy Lichtenstein. Seventh graders look to new media, learn to use it in their work, and to see it critically as they would other media. As an interesting lens, students use Photoshop and pixlr.com to create album sleeves for 45rpm records for fictitious bands.
Fall Chorus and Studio
Seventh and eighth graders begin the year with one session of 7-8 Chorus and one session of Instrumental Studio, with instrumental offerings and ensemble groups designed according to the interests of the individual students. Offered this year are: Guitar, Ukulele, Electric Bass, Drums, Percussion and Keyboard. We begin with like instruments grouped together for rehearsals. Several weeks into the term, bands or ensemble groups are formed, mentored by a teacher. Drummers may switch to a full drum kit. Performance at the Studio Concert in December is expected.
Interested students may choose to participate on their own in the fall Opus 29 and spring Opus 30 competitions, with support from music faculty.
Auditions, casting and rehearsals for the musical take place when we return from December break. The rehearsal period includes six weeks of rehearsals, with two rehearsal blocks per week, two Intensive Weeks, where two thirds of each day is devoted to musical rehearsals, followed by one production week which includes daytime dress rehearsals on Monday and Tuesday and four nightly performances on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The Spring Musical completes the seventh grade music program.
Seventh graders learn French primarily through storytelling. Targeted vocabulary is incorporated into each story, drawn either from a reader or from our textbook, Amis et co. These books foster development of the four skill sets: speaking, listening comprehension, reading, and writing. Topics include descriptions of people, clothing and holidays, the house, feelings, meals, weather, and much more. There will be regular homework. Class meets three times a week in the French room.
In seventh grade, students participate with enthusiasm from a foundation built in the earlier years. As Spanish skills develop, the teacher draws attention to grammatical details in spelling rules and syntax. Students are introduced to irregular verbs through projects, writing, stories, and games. Students learn poetry and complex grammar though literature and interactive class work. They also have the opportunity to learn about Spain and its profound culture through Skyping with Spaniards and reading “La Adventura de Alejandro.” Students also learn about important cultural issues in the United States. Students review how adjectives work with nouns in a unit that revolves around the Chicano student activist movement in the 1960s. We also have the opportunity to meet Spanish-speaking people in our classrooms. By the end of the year, students are inspired to communicate in Spanish and to continue expanding their knowledge of the Spanish language. The class meets three times a week.
Seventh graders use the upperschool and main libraries to support class work and reading for pleasure. During the winter, the librarian will facilitate a unit using the current Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award nominees. Other planned activities include a Banned Books presentation and a demonstration on how to do a proper citation review.
Basic computer skills and an introduction to music technology are important components of the seventh grade program. Students work in groups, individually, and with several faculty members throughout the year in different learning situations.
Physical Skills Development (PSD)
The seventh grade program is designed to help students to develop physically through play, games, and tasks that target specific physical skills. Activities are planned to emphasize the underlying themes of the program: strength, endurance (both muscular and cardiovascular), coordination, game skills, sportsmanship, and establishing physical activity as a lifelong endeavor. Each student also uses the activities as a way to meet physical goals in other areas of her or his life. The fall curriculum includes one class each week focusing on the Presidential Fitness guidelines, one working on challenge-course activities, and one for general aerobic fitness. In the winter, the students cross-country ski on the TGS trails, ice skate at the Vermont Academy rink, and choose between cross-country skiing at Grafton Ponds or downhill skiing or snowboarding instruction at Okemo. Spring activities include team sports, cooperative games, and track and field.