Seventh graders explore the theme of “The Individual: Who Am I?” In their integrated curriculum, students are encouraged to become more reflective as they consider their readings, writings, class discussions and projects. Developmentally, they are ready to read more abstract texts with complex concepts, to take notes as part of study, to use resources, and to wrestle with questions and question answers. As young teens, they spend time developing an environment of trust and respect in homeroom and in all classes.
In English class, the texts students read are related to study in other classes. For example, when students study human rights in social studies, they read Seedfolks in English, an exploration of a community built on respect for difference. Later, they read books such as The Giver and Behind You, books with characters that are growing up and learning to relate to the world around them. Writing exercises, tied closely to their readings, include vignettes, poems, essays, book reviews, letters, and short stories. By the end of the year, students have a portfolio of work that reflects their thoughts, growth, and abilities.
In social studies, students seek to discover what it is that makes them human. They explore such questions as: “How am I unique?” “What events in the world have helped to shape me as an individual?” “Which is more important: nature or nurture?” “What do people everywhere have in common?” Readings in anthropology, psychology, and sociology all relate to these questions.
In science, students look at the integrated nature of human body systems. They learn biology fundamentals while participating in units structured around real-world issues. Thus, they not only learn about the structure and function of the digestive system, but they also learn about where the nutrients in food travel after digestion, including how they are transported around the body (circulatory system), how they are metabolized by cells (cellular respiration), and how some are used as building blocks for the body’s growth and repair (cell organelles and cellular reproduction).
Students also consider the question, “Who am I as a global citizen?” during an integrated global issues unit. With a partner school located outside the United States, students research and propose solutions to one of 20 global issues. They communicate via web blogs, email, and letters about their shared research and solution ideas.
In Spanish class, students consider who they are in relation to their own family and community. They discover links between their lives and those in Spanish-speaking cultures. In this way, they gain a fuller understanding of both themselves and the world around them. Through active communication and focused lessons, students develop oral and written skills in Spanish, explore issues of social and environmental justice in Latin America, and gain confidence as citizens of the world. Connections are continually made with other subjects.
Seventh grade Pre-algebra is a year rich in the applications of mathematics: algebra, probability, statistics, transformational geometry, solid geometry, coordinate geometry, and plane geometry. In preparation for Algebra I in eighth grade, they connect a concrete, visual model of algebra concepts to their abstract representation
Latin instruction at GUS spans sixth to eighth grades. Using the reading-based curriculum Ecce Romani, students complete the first volume of a two-volume Latin I text. Class discussions intersect with grade themes as we consider family, class, and cultural identity in Roman society and compare them to our own. Latin study deepens students’ understanding of English grammar and syntax.
Music, drama, art, and sports are also important elements of seventh grade. Music class focuses first on the history of the American Musical, with study and performance of songs from musicals, an operetta and an opera. In drama, students continue their study of movement on stage and how to interpret a character. Students present short plays that include scenes from Shakespeare, students study popular culture and folk art as well as Impressionist painters. They create pastel animal portraits and pique assiette vases. In sports, students expand their interscholastic schedule of games in soccer (fall), basketball (winter), and lacrosse (spring). Students who wish to participate in something other than team sports may run cross-country (fall), participate in a fitness class (winter), or play intramural games (spring).