Middle School Curriculum
Areas of Study
- Language Arts
- Social Studies & World Studies
- Visual & Performing Arts
- Physical Education
In Middle School, as abstract thinking skills mature, math classes comprise algebra, statistical analysis, independent analytical projects, and geometric activities, among many other age-appropriate investigations. Fifth graders solidify conceptual understanding of fractions, decimals, and percentages in addition to the algorithms to manipulate numbers. Sixth graders build bridges and load-test them; they bring geometric shapes to life in computer simulations; they encounter the equations that produce interactive spirals and fractals; they invent games to test probability theories; and they play innovative math games to build logical thinking.
Meanwhile, many students in 7th grade and 8th grade complete a thorough two-year course in Algebra I. We offer different levels of algebra, but, instead of mere acceleration, the curriculum allows time for teachers to ensure that students gain a deep understanding of fundamental concepts before moving to the next level. Differentiation is employed across the entire grade, as students work individual programs in IXL and other tech activities. There is much one-on-one guidance, made possible by the small classes of 7 to 14 students.
In early adolescence, the parts of the brain that control emotion and judgment develop more quickly than at any other time. Students between the ages of 10 and 14 easily find connections between the literature they read and their own lives.
The Middle School curriculum responds to these developments with increasingly challenging reading and writing projects that push students to interpret text from multiple perspectives. For example, in 5th and 6th grades, students read to explore themes such as immigration, belonging, and identity, and they have opportunities to respond to literature through prose.
In 7th and 8th grades, students delve into a variety of genres as they begin to read adult-level literature. In addition to reading to explore increasingly complex themes such as identity, socio-economic status, and privilege, they become skilled at writing thesis essays using formal outlines.
At all grade levels, Middle School students increase their competence and independence in speaking, listening, reading, and writing. They expand their capacity for deep thinking about all aspects of language, including grammar, vocabulary, and spelling concepts. They develop the willingness and ability to consider ideas different from their own. As a result, Green Acres graduates earn consistent accolades from high school teachers and are prepared to tackle the most demanding literature and ideas as they progress in school.
Green Acres science curricula for 5th and 6th grades give students the opportunity to observe natural phenomena in various settings, to speculate about why things are the way they are, to learn to test their hypotheses, and to draw logical conclusions. They develop an excitement for further research and learn to think scientifically about their world.
With their increased appetite for specific science topics, students in7th and 8th grades focus on more sophisticated concepts in biology, chemistry, and physics. In chemistry, for example, students speculate on how the periodic chart originated, before conducting their own experiments on individual elements.
Because students learn best when directly engaged, Middle School science students use the woodlands, stream, gardens, and fields of our campus to observe a wide range of scientific principles, discover patterns and cycles, chart growth and change, and determine cause and effect. Outdoor education trips to places such as Echo Hill Outdoor School and Chincoteague, VA, supplement on-campus learning. Through the study of physical, chemical, and biological sciences, Middle School students begin to see the interdependence of plants, animals (including humans), and environments.
Social Studies & World Studies
Students benefit from understanding their own culture, as well as other cultures throughout the world. The social studies program at Green Acres enhances each student’s sense of individuality and self-awareness while emphasizing meaningful connections to other people, events, and environments.
The 5th and 6th grade curriculum establishes the foundations for the studies of social studies in Middle School. Students in both classes will examine the principles of geography, economics, and civics and government. Students in 5th grade study the ancient civilizations while students in 6th grade examine non-western civilizations. The 5th and 6th grade classes will refine their critical thinking, reading comprehension, writing, and notetaking skills.
Our students synthesize more complex information in 7th grade. The social studies curriculum comprises both a comprehensive course in world geography and a survey of 19th-century American history. Students study in-depth the critical historical event of the time, the Civil War, and they examine topics relevant to our world today, such as immigration and discrimination.
In 8th grade, the curriculum expands to cover more abstract concepts, such as social justice and global responsibilities. Students take a world studies course, a history of the world since 1900 with an emphasis on the role of the U.S. in the world. Through in-depth discussion, debates, and simulations, world studies challenges students to analyze world events in sophisticated ways that they have not yet encountered and teaches them to question interpretations of history. The program culminates in the Green Acres Model United Nations at the end of their 8th grade year.
A scientific endeavor that is truly an artform, Techxplorations gives 5th and 6th grade students the room to create and design while honing 21st-century skills, such as problem solving, evaluating, and communicating. Through the process of working with computer coding, programming, and robotics, students are introduced to the computational thinking and design processes skills necessary to develop technological solutions to real-world problems. Guided by essential questions such as Are robots useful in helping populations affected by natural disasters?, students' work, discussions, and projects have meaningful and valuable applications beyond the classroom.
Visual & Performing Arts
Every child is an artist, a musician, and an actor. The Middle School performing and fine arts program—which encompasses studio arts, ceramics, photography, drama, and music—encourages a student’s self-confidence, creative spirit, and self-expression. We believe that by engaging in the act of creating, students awaken to their true natures and uncover something of the mystery and beauty of being alive. The arts program is committed to providing activities that highlight diverse cultures and a sweep of history. The music program celebrates diversity by exploring instruments, songs, compositions, and dances from all over the world. Art and drama draw regularly from other cultures in the form of folktales and multicultural symbols, which are highlighted in assemblies, performances, and art displays.
Just as children’s cognitive, social, and emotional development all affect their overall growth, their physical development also plays a key role. Middle School students participate in physical education classes four hours per week. Team-building skills are honed for a variety of games, such as soccer, basketball, volleyball, and hockey, enabling students to understand basic strategies like passing, getting open to create scoring opportunities, defending a team’s goal, and developing “court sense.”
Physical education classes also emphasize personal physical activity and commitment to lifelong exercise as a component of health. Students each compete against themselves to improve scores in running, aerobic exercise, and agility. Because scores are kept from year to year, students see their improvement and develop the confidence they need to sustain commitment to physical activity throughout their lives.
At Green Acres, the importance of physical education is not eclipsed by other subjects. Rather, because physical development is an essential component of a student’s overall health and growth, we challenge students on the fields and courts as well as in their classrooms.
Language study at Green Acres presents opportunities for students to broaden their view of the world and expand their knowledge of humanity’s similarities and differences. The Spanish program in Middle School follows the introduction to language in earlier grades. Students delve more deeply into vocabulary and grammar in a curriculum that emphasizes conversation, games, and group interactions. As they progress through Middle School, most classes are held in Spanish, as students are able communicate in the target language much more readily. A hallmark of the Green Acres Spanish program is learning about the cultures of the Spanish-speaking world. Students study geography, differentiating various countries and societies, from Spain itself to European-influenced Latin America to native peoples of Central and South America.
Fifth through 8th grade students come to the library independently and with classes to work on research and to select books for assignments and pleasure reading. Many students volunteer frequently during free periods and become skilled library assistants.
The Head Librarian collaborates with classroom teachers to plan and implement relevant library orientations, instruction, and mini-research activities (e.g., on the online catalog, plagiarism and citation, research tools and strategies, and use of specific digital learning resources), sometimes student-led.
Students select books from extensive fiction and nonfiction collections of various genres and formats, including short stories, narrative nonfiction, memoirs, verse literature, and graphic literature. YA literature is noted in the catalog and on spine labels.
The Head Librarian leads social justice book clubs for all Middle School grades on a rotating schedule throughout the school year.
Did you know?
Mister Rogers once visited Green Acres School. An icon of child engagement and a proponent of being a good neighbor, he recognized in Green Acres School a kinship. Learn more about our program and discover what inspired Mister Rogers to describe us as a "superb school."