Seventh Grade Curriculum
Seventh grade is an exciting time for students at St. John’s Episcopal School, in which they are allowed more independence. They are increasingly called upon to serve as role models to the rest of the school, as they begin to set their sights on eighth grade and beyond.
The seventh-grade English curriculum integrates several areas of language arts into its six weekly classes. The main focus is on reading and analyzing literature, writing, grammar, and vocabulary. The course is designed to build upon the skills developed in the sixth grade.
The students read a variety of genres that represent both the traditional canon of literature and modern classics of young adult and adolescent literature. The students draw deeper connections between the literature, their own lives, and the world around them. They closely examine the elements of literature represented in each work. At least one novel a year is integrated with the students’ study of world governments in social studies class — in seventh grade, George Orwell’s Animal Farm coincides with the study of twentieth-century governments.
The St. John’s writing program emphasizes the six traits of writing: ideas, organization, style, word choice, voice, and conventions. Students are guided throughout the writing process as they pre-write, draft, revise, edit, and publish pieces. In seventh grade, students write a variety of types of compositions including short stories, literary analysis, persuasive, and expository pieces.
Direct grammar instruction takes place throughout the year with an emphasis on parts of the sentence and the use of different kinds of phrases. The students complete Daily Grams to reinforce basic grammar rules, usage, mechanics, and effective sentence-combining techniques.
The students build their vocabulary by deciphering the meanings of words in context of the literature they read. Additionally, we use Wordly Wise to enhance vocabulary acquisition.
During seventh grade, all students study Pre-Algebra. They have daily experiences that build competence through practice, repetition, problem solving, and real life applications as the students develop disciplined mathematical thinking skills. The seventh grade classes are offered on two levels of instruction based on ability and learning style. Dividing the seventh grade into two groups allows for more individualized attention, customized pacing, and cooperative learning. Seventh grade students become proficient in the following areas: evaluation and simplification of numerical and algebraic expressions, using the order of operations, including absolute value; solving and graphing multi-step linear equations; solving problems using ratio, proportion and percent; performing arithmetic operations using negative numbers, including negative fractions; calculating perimeter, area, volume and surface area of two and three dimensional figures; evaluating square roots and understanding the Pythagorean Theorem; and applying properties of polygons, including understanding of sine, cosine, and tangent. Students are continually challenged to apply conceptual understanding in order to solve more difficult and unique problems. Ongoing assessment and feedback enables teachers and students to pinpoint weaknesses and to extend learning to greater depths.
Seventh grade science students deepen their understanding of the life sciences. In this inquiry-based course, students explore fundamental biological concepts and the basic principles of life science. By practically applying scientific skills in labs and other hands-on activities, students learn critical thinking and problem solving skills. We discuss cellular structures and functions, the cell cycle and links to cancer, genetics and heredity, and evolution and adaptation. The final unit is devoted to the study of the systems of the body and the amazing amount of specialization, organization, and cooperation that goes into making a complex organism function properly. During this unit, the students perform various organ and full organism dissections. Throughout the year, students also explore and discuss current bioethics controversies that relate to the topics being as they are covered.
Social Studies: World Geography
In seventh grade, students build on their geographic knowledge acquired from sixth grade. The course begins with a review of basic geographic concepts, themes of geography, mapping skills, physical geography, and human geography. These core concepts are then applied to the study of the geography of specific regions in the world. Within each region, students not only learn about the physical landscape, but also what each area offers in its unique historical, social, political, and economic characteristics. Specific regions covered include Latin America, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. In addition to using the textbook as a resource and reference guide, students also use, create, and analyze maps, pictures, stories, diagrams, charts, chronology, inquiry/research, and technological skills. Course work includes lectures, video presentations, interactive class activities and projects, and tests. Students regularly follow current events to foster understanding of contemporary events and how they relate to history and world geography.
Students in seventh grade continue developing their skills in listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Students differentiate between statements, questions, and exclamations. Students practice command forms, demonstrative adjectives, ordinal numbers, prepositions, and the passive voice. The past and imperfect tenses are also compared in seventh grade. Students learn how to describe themselves and others and how to identify people and things. Students comprehend oral messages, such as advertisements. Students are assessed on their participation in class, homework, short essays, projects, quizzes, and tests.
In the seventh grade year students are offered a choice to continue with Spanish or begin the study of Latin.
Following the Jenney’s First Year Latin I (a high school level textbook) curriculum and its accompanying workbook, seventh and eighth grade Latin students study Latin vocabulary, the first three Latin noun declensions, active and passive verb conjugations, and English grammar and derivatives. Roman culture and mythology are a focus of the course, as well as Latin’s influence on our everyday life. Every December the students enjoy the celebration of the feast of Saturnalia at a local restaurant.
Christian values and ethics are two of the cornerstones of education at St. John’s Episcopal School, which is exemplified in the Religion program. Throughout their career at St. John’s, students have been exposed to all aspects of the Bible. In seventh grade, students utilize the Bible as a text book. Through the study of the Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles, students examine the life, ministry, message, and significance of Jesus and the early Christian church.
Upper School Performing and Fine Arts
The arts serve a two-fold purpose in education; academic and aesthetic. Students gain a foundational academic understanding of arts through general instruction and, when appropriate, focused creation and performance opportunities. Students also study the arts to provide an opportunity for social-emotional connections to general academic subject matter as well as to create an outlet for artistic expression. Intentional arts instruction is fundamental to a well balanced education.
The students of St. John’s experience and gain understanding of the role of the Arts throughout the world and in their own lives through the acquisition of artistic vocabulary and skills and the exposure to a diverse range of artistic mediums. Students build character and faith through participation in and appreciation of artistic performances both in the school and the community.
Upper School Performing Arts
All Upper School students sing in Chorus and play an instrument in the Concert Band. Students rehearse as a group and study instruments in sectionals led by an adjunct faculty of professional teacher-artists. All students perform in the Winter Christmas Celebration concert and the Spring Festival of the Arts concert.
Advanced performing arts students have opportunities to participate by audition in groups like our OASIS Theatre Ensemble and OASIS Jazz Ensemble. These groups focus on building skills for competitive high school arts auditions and experiences.
The seventh grade art curriculum focuses on advancing the artistic abilities and developing the creative minds of students. Students engage in and explore various artistic mediums which can include: graphite and ink drawing, acrylic painting, watercolor painting, ceramics, and more. Seventh grade art continues the study of observational drawing, compositional balance, and graphic design. Visual art demonstrations and step-by-step verbal explanations are given to students for each art lesson and project to promote comprehension. The Upper School visual arts curriculum includes cross-curricular projects to promote further understanding and connections between subjects, as well as weekly art sketches that focus on creative design and technical drawing.
The goal of St. John’s Physical Education program is to facilitate the development of skills to enable students to safely and successfully participate in team, individual and life sports. Students learn the traits for success while participating in a variety of cross curriculum-integrated activities. Continuing to build on the planned activities completed in fifth and sixth grade, seventh grade students advance to an intermediate level of understanding. More game play is incorporated into units with emphasis on cooperation and communication skills to work as a member of a team. At all levels, physical fitness activities encourage the children to challenge themselves to set individual goals in order to lead a healthy lifestyle.
As part of the annual International Festival, students are assigned a different country each year; in physical education they learn a traditional dance from this country which they perform in the festival.
Every seventh grade student is assigned an advisor with whom they meet in weekly small groups. The advisor is a teacher or administrator who is an advocate for the student and offers academic, social, and emotional support. Advisory reinforces our traits of success, organization and study skills, and gives students an intimate forum in which to have discussions regarding academics, character, and faith.