Seventh Grade Curriculum
Seventh grade is an exciting time for students at St. John’s School. This year the students may choose Latin as their foreign language, instead of Spanish, the study of which they will continue through their eighth grade year. This year also includes a trip to Wallop’s Island to complement their science class. Students also take a more active role in several St. John’s traditions, including the Christmas luncheon and the Graduation Dance. Students also complete a significant world mapping project during the course of this year.
The seventh grade English course is intended to continue improving the skills developed in the sixth grade. Students read a variety of literary genres including short stories, poetry, and novels such as Single Shard by Linda Sue Park, Sword in the Stone by T.H. White and Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan. Each trimester is organized around a thematic unit such as justice, power, a sense of place and identity and students explore essential questions related to those themes. As in sixth grade, vocabulary is studied through the literary works read in class. Throughout the year reading remains a core aspect of the program, as students are encouraged to be active and conscientious readers.
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 grade seven, students write a variety of types of compositions, including narrative, poetry, persuasive, and expository pieces. Students learn to develop a standard five-paragraph essay through instruction, modeling and practice. Rubrics are handed out with each writing assignment so that expectations and evaluation of those criteria are clear. Student’s written work for the year is collected in a portfolio. Punctuation skills are taught in context through teacher-student conferences and will be individualized for each student. The grammar focus for grade seven is on the parts of speech and students study two to three grammar units each trimester.
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, using the classic Pre-Algebra, An Accelerated Course, by Dolciani or Pre-Algebra, published by Glencoe. The seventh grade classes are offered on three levels of instruction based on ability and learning style. Each class has an average of 12 students, which allows for more individualized attention, customized pacing and cooperative learning. To show math usage in the real world, a guest speaker presents a two day workshop mid year demonstrating the use of percents in the real estate market to accompany our unit on percentage.
Seventh grade students become proficient in the following areas:
- Evaluation and simplification 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.
- Applying properties of polygons, including understanding of sine, cosine and tangent.
The focus of seventh grade science is on the life sciences. The Holt Science and Technology Life Science program incorporates web sites and activities to be used in conjunction with each unit of study. A Science project is a requirement for each student and is usually due in March. It is the last such requirement in Upper School.
In addition to the Environmental Science class, the students also prepare for the Wallops Island trip during Science class. They study the interactions among organisms, Nature cycles, biomes and marine and freshwater ecosystems. To enhance the learning of the predator/prey interaction, they dissected an owl pellet. This allows them to better understand the food chain. After they count the different bones from the various prey, they record their results as part of a study conducted by the Carolina Biological Company.
The study of cells includes the topics of mitosis, meiosis and cell theory. The students look at the live bacteria in yogurt and prepared slides of mitosis and meiosis under the microscopes. A study of heredity, evolution and the classification of living things follow. Darwin’s voyage on the Beagle and the organisms found in the Galapagos Islands are highlighted. The students construct Punnett squares, create a creature using a combination of dominant and recessive traits and then design a DNA molecule using wire, pipe cleaners and candy.
Once a foundation for the study of cells and the classification of organisms are learned, the six kingdoms were are reviewed. There is a particular emphasis on bacteria and viruses. At this time the study of AIDS, its symptoms and transmission are introduced. A Weekly Reader publication is used to supplement the instruction. The main lab for this unit allowed the students to observe the transmission of a contagious disease throughout the class.
The final unit is devoted to the study of the systems of the body and the particular organs that make up the system. During this unit, the students dissect a chicken wing, and a frog. At the end of the unit, a team of doctors comes with real human body organs and they explain how they work and fit together to form a system.
Social Studies: 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 also 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.
Seventh graders have an opportunity to participate in the St. John’s Model United Nations. MUN is a simulation of the United Nations General Assembly and other joint bodies. In MUN, students represent UN member states and debate current issues on the organization’s agenda. While playing their roles as ambassadors, student delegates make speeches, prepare draft resolutions, negotiate with allies and adversaries, resolve conflicts and navigate the MUN conference rules of procedure. MUN students travel to the Pan American Health Organization and State Department in Washington D.C for fall and spring conferences.
Upper school students participate in a variety of programs designed to engage and enhance their involvement in global education. During our annual multicultural immersion week, fifth through eighth grade students represent a variety of countries. In addition, our World Village program has components in the upper school. Students engage in pen pal activities with students from Spain, Mexico, and Argentina. Seventh grade French students have E-pal relationships with students in Quebec.
The Environmental Studies program in seventh grade is supplemental to their regular Life Science curriculum. This curriculum encompasses species found on land, in the air and in the water ways of Assateague. In addition, students learn the theoretical processes of island rollover as it directly relates to the barrier islands.
Wallops Island is the culminating field trip for this seventh grade environmental unit of study. Here, students study the Barrier Island System, the ecosystems and food chains associated with life in Assateague, Virginia. The various biomes and their locations are an integral part of this unit. Students experience the coastal plains, inter-tidal water ways, the maritime forests, and dune formation. On the research vessels students are immersed in 4 stations filled with practical hands on activities.
In seventh grade, students expand their verbal, auditory, and written communication skills. Students practice command forms, demonstrative adjectives, ordinal numbers, prepositions, and the passive voice. The future tense is introduced and reinforced. The past and imperfect tenses are also compared in seventh grade. Students learn to shop, plan activities, ask for directions, take public transportation, and use numbers 70-99. They talk about the weather, dining in, dining out, social events, and going on vacation. In the classroom, a variety of instructional Powerpoints, handouts, and worksheets complement the curriculum. Seventh grade class meets for four, forty-five minute periods each week.
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 voice Latin verb conjunctions, and English grammar and derivatives. The first 8 lessons are completed by the end of seventh grade, and the next 8 lessons by the end of eighth grade. Roman culture is also a part of the curriculum and is taught as a two-year cycle and includes two individual projects per student per year. The first trimester is either a study of the development of Roman towns, the layout of ancient Rome, the structure of typical Roman forums, or a study of Roman mythology. The second trimester culture curriculum is either a study of Roman dress, foods, houses and baths, or a continuation of the mythology unit. The third trimester culture curriculum is either the study of an English version of the Aeneid, Troy, and the founding of Rome; or it is a brief study of the history of Rome, a reading of an abbreviated version of Julius Caesar, and a study of Augustus Caesar and the major emperors of Rome. Every December the students enjoy the celebration of the feast of Saturnalia at a local restaurant, and every two years a trip to Italy is offered during the summer as an enrichment opportunity for students and their families.
As an Episcopal school, Christian values and ethics are two of the cornerstones of life at St. John’s. As such, the religion program is of significant importance in a student’s life. Throughout their career at St. John’s, students have been exposed to all aspects of the Bible. The concept and practice of religious tolerance, toward all personally held beliefs and religions, will be academic and spiritual open-minded inquiry and investigation.
By seventh grade, students utilize, as a textbook, the ESV Action Bible for class assignments. The course provides a clear presentation of the life, ministry, message, and significance of Jesus, gathered from diverse sources such as theologians, historians, and archaeologists.
The Arts at St. John’s
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 will 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 will build character and faith through participation in and appreciation of artistic performances both in the school and the community.
Upper School Visual and Performing Arts Rotation
The visual and performing arts program provides a broad spectrum of learning, performing, and appreciation experiences encompassing visual art, drama, instrumental and choral music, movement, and audio/visual production. Students in grades six to eight receive specialized instruction on a rotational basis in art, music, drama, and a/v production while having the opportunity to create and perform at high levels through band, private instrumental lessons, and chamber chorus. Arts instruction is also genuinely connected to the general academic subjects through collaborative projects, cross-discipline experience.
Students participate in a trimester long survey of drama exploring world history of the art, storytelling and playwriting exercises, improvisation, Shakespeare and musical theatre. The students will gain a global perspective of the arts and develop confidence to perform in front of an audience.
The seventh grade art curriculum provides opportunity for students to continue to learn and develop skills in drawing, painting, composition and crafting. Students will be working in variety of media and techniques which include: pencils, pastel, ink, watercolor, tempera, acrylic, etc. Special attention is paid to observation and perspective drawing, proportions, balance and design. Demonstration and step by step instruction are used to ensure students understand the assignment and how to complete the project.
Students who participate in Band will continue to develop their technical and musical skills in individual lessons and group rehearsals. They are encouraged to expand their comfort level by reaching for the possibilities through solo and ensemble performances throughout the year. In addition, they are given more opportunities for leadership as they earn first chair positions and responsibilities in the Middle School Band.
The learning tasks in Upper School Physical Education emphasize and teach problem-solving and decision-making skills. The students participate in learning tasks that are organized from a strong and broad curriculum that include, invasions sports, net or wall sports, and personal development activities. The goal of the Upper School Physical Education curriculum is to help prepare students in a variety of activities for high school and beyond. The faculty at St. John’s makes a concerted effort, when possible, to provide co-curricular experiences. For example, when teaching percentages in Mathematics class is occurring, the students in Physical Education classes may reinforce the skill by determining their free throw percentage during basketball skill sessions.
St. John’s students are exposed to and experience a wide range of activities that encompass shared experiences. The Physical Education department organizes and supervises school events such as Community Building Week, International Festival, Blue-Gold events and Field Day. Students are also introduced to the knowledge necessary to lead a healthy lifestyle through weekly wellness topics.
Each student is assigned an advisor who they meet with in small groups weekly. The advisor is a teacher or administrator who is an advocate for the student and offers academic, social and emotional support.
Seventh grade students travel to Wallop’s Island to experience Environmental Studies firsthand. Preparation for this trip in early October started in sixth grade and will continue in seventh grade science and environmental studies. Students will learn about the ecology of Assateague and Chincoteague Islands during a field study taught through the Marine Science Consortium.
In addition to the overnight trips, students will travel off-campus during the year to enrich and broaden their experiences in a variety of curricular areas. Teachers will plan theses trips and notify parents as the opportunities arise.