Departments and Classes
Challenging, open-ended questions. Room to move. Space and support to speak their minds.
If you were growing and changing all the time, would you want to listen quietly to a long lecture? At Waynflete, we know students need teachers to keep up with the natural energy of early adolescence, not try to keep them still. Whether creating their own “Night at the Museum”, staging a musical, recharging in restorative yoga classes, or sifting dirt in a real archaeological dig, our Middle School students are always active learners.
Organizing your thoughts and organizing your binder are interrelated abilities. That’s why our curriculum includes the development of core study skills: note-taking, drafting and revision, analysis, and laboratory work. Step by step and over every assignment, students practice the tools they need to learn to learn.
In our overscheduled world, we find students need time to get a snack, converse with friends, and catch up on their assignments. Students choose how to spend their two free periods each week and check in with their advisors to show how those choices improved their mental and physical wellbeing.
Writing at Waynflete
Waynflete students are known for strong writing skills and we prioritize writing across our curriculum. From documenting observations in a lab report to expressing and supporting a thesis statement in a research paper, Middle School students work on finding and sharing their voice.
Night at the Museum
The Middle School curriculum uses thematic studies to connect classes across the curriculum. In Grade 6, where all students study Latin and the ancient world, this holistic approach pays off in an epic slumber party: Night at the Museum. Students create a multimedia museum based on their studies and spend the night exploring and celebrating it.
Grade 6 Latin
Every Grade 6 student studies Latin at Waynflete. Why? Not only does it put everyone on the same page, the study of Latin offers surprising and enduring insights into the structure of the English language and to many other world languages students may decide to pursue in Grade 7 and beyond.
Middle School English Courses
Students devote the majority of their study to reading literature and gaining proficiency in composition. In support of these areas, grammar and vocabulary are focuses each year, often in the context of the student’s writing but also through formal instruction in basic skills. Teachers encourage a process approach to writing—with drafting, peer review, and editing as integral components—whether students are writing exposition, fiction, personal essays, or poetry.
English 6: The Individual and the Community
This course focuses on the many ways a person and the wider world can interact, exploring the challenges, joys, struggles, and surprises of communities. Readings may include The Giver (Lois Lowry), Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (Mildred D. Taylor), and Other Words for Home (Jasmine Warga). Students practice writing skills through daily journaling and creative writing and are introduced to analytical writing. In the context of their literature and writing assignments, students practice critical thinking, annotation skills, vocabulary acquisition, and standard grammar usage. Students are also expected to read and complete a project on a book of their choosing at least twice during the school year.
English 7: My Voice, Our Perspective
This course focuses on stories about adolescence and facing adversity in school and in society. By reading memoirs as well as fiction focused primarily on authors of color, students expand their own perspective and find the courage to grow and share their own voices in the face of challenges. Readings may include The Circuit (Francisco Jimenez), I Am Malala (Malala Yousafzai), Akata Witch (Nnedi Okorafor), and New Kid (Jerry Craft). Each unit is supplemented with creative writing, including short story and personal narrative workshops, or expository writing, including arguments, thesis statements, textual evidence, and persuasive style. Students build skills in annotating class texts, as well as preparing for and participating in class discussion. Quizzes assessing vocabulary, punctuation rules, and grammar are a regular part of the course.
English 8: Justice and Courageous Citizenship
This course is taught in tandem with History 8 with an interdisciplinary focus on the themes of justice and courageous citizenship. In English 8, students will examine stories in which characters encounter threats to justice and summon the courage to address those threats. Core texts include: Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You (Ibram X Kendi and Jason Reynolds), Just Mercy (Bryan Stevenson), The Hate U Give (Angie Thomas), selections of contemporary young adult literature, and poetry of the Harlem Renaissance. Students will participate in the American Voices Poetry Project, which asks them to study an American poet’s life and work and consider how they used their writing to make the world a better place. The year will culminate in an interdisciplinary Humanities Project, where students will use their skills and voices to research and advocate for a social justice topic of their choice. Throughout the year, students will be asked to read closely, think critically, and express their ideas with confidence and precision. They will practice writing in various modes with a focus on personal and analytical writing. The overarching goal of this course is for students to feel equipped and empowered to use their voices in courageous citizenship.
Middle School Mathematics Courses
Our Middle School mathematics program is an exploratory and problem-based curriculum that supports students in developing and strengthening their computation skills, number sense, and problem-solving techniques. Students learn by doing math, solving problems in mathematical and real-world contexts, and constructing arguments using precise language. Classroom routines involve a combination of independent work, group work, and whole-class discussions to build a conceptual understanding and computational fluency. We provide each student with the appropriate level of support and challenge so they can build their confidence as mathematical thinkers and problem solvers, appreciate the discipline, and reach their full potential.
Math 6 begins with a unit on reasoning about area, and understanding and applying concepts of surface area. Work with ratios, rates, and percentages draws on (and builds upon) earlier work with numbers and operations. Students then build procedural and conceptual understanding around fractions, focusing on fraction equivalency and the operations of multiplication and division. Finally, students are introduced to more abstract concepts, such as expressions, equations, and rational numbers. Throughout the year, students are noticing patterns, making connections, collaborating with peers, discovering algorithms, and building their confidence as mathematical thinkers and problem solvers
Grade 7 math offerings include Math 7 and Math 7 Accelerated.
Math 7 begins by exploring scale drawings, an engaging geometric topic that reinforces computational skills and number sense while also supporting subsequent work with proportional relationships and percentages. Students then study operations with rational numbers, discovering patterns and processes that extend to simplifying variable expressions and solving variable equations and inequalities. Finally, students put their new skills to work in the context of geometry (angles, triangles, and prisms), probability, and sampling.
In Math 7 Accelerated, students with a solid pre-algebra foundation explore more abstract, algebra-focused topics. Students deepen their understanding of linear expressions and equations, and explore systems of equations. Students revisit the definition of an exponent, extend it to include all integers, and learn about orders of magnitude and scientific notation to represent and compute very large and very small quantities. Finally, in the context of the Pythagorean theorem, students encounter irrational numbers for the first time and informally extend the rational number system to the real number system.
Grade 8 math offerings include Middle School Algebra and Algebra 1 Accelerated.
In Middle School Algebra, students begin with a study of geometry: transformations, congruence, dilations, and symmetry. Students build on their understanding of proportional relationships to study linear equations in the coordinate plane. They express linear relationships using equations, tables, and graphs, and make connections across these representations. Students also explore systems of linear equations in two variables, and learn that linear relationships are an example of a special kind of relationship called a function. Finally, students explore different representations of numbers, codifying the properties of exponents and encountering irrational numbers for the first time.
In Algebra 1 Accelerated students discover the beauty and abstract nature of algebra. Students revisit systems of equations and inequalities and engage in a more formal study of functions: function notation, domain and range, average rate of change, and features of graphs. These concepts are then applied to piecewise, linear, absolute value, exponential. and quadratic functions. Throughout each unit, applications of functions help students see the connections that exist between graphs, tables, and equations. For each function type, students closely examine the structural attributes of the function and analyze how these attributes are expressed in different representations.
Middle School History Courses
In Middle School, students learn about ancient and classical civilizations; world geography, including in-depth units on Western and non-Western cultures; and American history, with a focus on the Constitution. In every course, heavy emphasis is placed upon reading and writing skills, and students learn the step-by-step process involved in writing research papers. Hands-on projects as well as opportunities for debating and role-playing tap into students’ creativity and imagination. Students use technology in a wide variety of ways in support of their work. The entire program is geared to the Middle School child but also serves as an excellent springboard for the Upper School curriculum that follows.
History 6: History of the Ancient Mediterranean
This course is a yearlong study of ancient cultures, including those of Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Greece. With a focus on archaeology, students are introduced to artifacts as primary sources that tell the stories of a culture. Study skills are embedded in the content, with a focus on linear note taking and seven-sentence expository paragraphs. The year concludes with a short research paper and an interactive project on a topic of choice from ancient Egypt, Greece, or Rome.
History 7: Cultural Geography
This course introduces students to a variety of cultures around the world, focusing on the ways in which the physical environment affects the human experience. The year begins with a detailed study of North America, with students writing research papers about the cultural expressions of individual American Indian nations. In the spring semester, students explore the geography, history, culture, and current events of Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa, and the Middle East. Throughout the course, students practice skills such as active reading and note-taking, the development of thesis statements, and essay writing. By studying world geography and cultures, students gain a greater appreciation of diversity and its connection to global issues.
History 8: Citizenship and Social Justice
Taught in tandem with the eighth-grade English class “Conflict and the Outsider,” the course provides an interdisciplinary study on the themes of justice and courageous citizenship. Students examine the foundational documents of the United States and their relevance to movements for civil rights and justice in both American history and current affairs. Special emphasis is devoted to understanding the role that racism has played and continues to play in our country. Topics are explored through student-led discussions, close readings of primary and secondary sources, and analytical writing. The course concludes with an interdisciplinary research project that combines historical research, literary analysis, and creative expression as students identify and explore ways to promote justice in their communities.
Middle School Science Courses
The Middle School curriculum introduces students to three major fields of science: life, earth, and physical. In the study of each of these disciplines, scientific inquiry and writing are emphasized. Students gain experience using scientific techniques that include making accurate observations, planning investigations, taking precise measurements, recording data neatly, creating meaningful charts and graphs, and communicating their ﬁndings clearly. All courses are activities based and stress the value of creative problem-solving and working cooperatively with peers.
Science 6: Life Science
Sixth-grade science is a life science course that introduces students to basic laboratory skills and scientific writing. In this course, students gain a greater understanding and appreciation of the living world around them and of the complex relationships and processes that exist in nature and within individual organisms. Topics include pond ecology, microscopy, cell structure and function, animal behavior, some human anatomy, and plants and plant reproduction. Students perform many activities, laboratory experiments, and research projects throughout the year.
Science 7: Earth Science
Seventh-grade science is an earth science course in which students explore Earth’s dynamic structure. This course emphasizes science as a process and continues to expand students’ experimental skills and report writing. Students work collaboratively on many labs and research projects throughout the year. Topics include seasons, lunar cycles, mapping the Earth’s surface, rocks and minerals, plate tectonics, earthquakes, and volcanoes.
Science 8: Physical Science
Eighth-grade science is designed to give students a foundation in physical science and to fine-tune their lab and writing skills. Through inquiry labs, problem-solving projects, and creative experimentation, students learn the basics of chemistry and Newtonian physics. Topics include measurement, matter, the atom, motion, forces, momentum, and energy.
Middle School World Language Courses
Courses in French, Latin, Chinese (Mandarin), and Spanish are offered at the Middle School level. As part of a curriculum based on the ancient world, all sixth-grade students take Latin. Seventh graders may choose to continue their study of Latin or begin the study of French, Spanish, or Chinese.
Grade 6: Latin
Required for all sixth-grade students, this course is a thorough study of basic Latin grammar, vocabulary, and various topics in ancient Roman culture. For grammatical and syntactical work, students use Lingua Latina per se Illustrata. In addition to linguistics, much of this course focuses on the culture of the ancient Roman Empire, covering topics such as Pompeii, Roman emperors, gladiators, and Roman food. This course also helps students hone their study skills and make cross-curricular connections with other sixth-grade courses.
Grades 7 and 8: Latin, Chinese, French, or Spanish
In seventh grade, students may choose to continue their study of Latin or begin another language (French, Spanish, or Chinese). The language choice made in seventh grade is a two-year commitment.
In Latin 7 and 8, students continue to develop and strengthen their translation skills and expand their knowledge and understanding of the cultural diversity found throughout the history of ancient Rome. Students use the text Lingua Latina per se Illustrata. Supplementary materials and primary texts in Latin are introduced as appropriate. Students completing Latin 8 may move into Latin III when they enter ninth grade.
In Chinese 7 and 8, students begin a two-year course of study that develops competence in the four linguistic areas: speaking, listening, reading, and writing. Students learn simplified Chinese characters but are also introduced to traditional characters as a means of becoming familiar with the roots of the written system and the rich, elegant history of the language. An emphasis is placed on the most basic elements of the Chinese (Mandarin) language as students begin to build a vocabulary and learn simple grammatical structures. The pronunciation of words (pinyin), the four tones, proper stroke order, and character composition are all taught and reinforced throughout the Middle School curriculum.
Cultural elements are integrated into the curriculum to supplement the language work with historical and modern context. Students completing Chinese 8 may move into Level II when they enter Grade 9.
In French and Spanish 7 and 8, students begin a two-year course of study that develops competence in the four linguistic areas: speaking, listening, reading, and writing. Through the medium of language, students explore the cultural richness of French- or Spanish-speaking regions of the world. Grammar and vocabulary are developed through role-playing, skits, and written short-answer and narrative assignments. Each class uses a basal grammatical text with various supplementary selections of short narrative and journalistic-style readings. While the target language is used to conduct most classes, new grammatical concepts are taught in English. Students completing French 8 or Spanish 8 may move into Level II of their respective language when they enter ninth grade in the Upper School.
Middle School Visual Arts Courses
The Middle School visual arts curriculum encourages students to be self-reﬂective members of society through activities that draw on three fundamental modes of learning: perception, self-expression, and invention. Often using personal narrative for content, students use these three modes throughout Middle School as they learn skills in drawing, painting, printmaking, and sculpture. The development of a visual arts vocabulary is consistently emphasized so that students can better understand their own artwork, the artwork of others, and their visual surroundings and heritage. Students take studio art classes twice a week in Grades 6–8.
Middle School Performing Arts Courses
The Middle School performing arts program includes a progression of formal classes in dance, drama, music, and production technology, and an array of performing ensembles. Additional performing arts workshops (such as dance choreography and drama club) and private music lessons are also available in the fee-based Afterschool Enrichment program.
Grades 6 and 7
In formal classes that meet twice a week, students gain skills and experience in various performing arts disciplines. Over the two-year span, students spend one full semester in each of the following: dance, drama, general music, and production technology. These four classes are exploratory, experiential, and connected thematically. An informal sharing for peers celebrates the end of each semester of exploration.
The eighth-grade theatre class builds on the sixth-grade and seventh-grade performing arts classes and includes a range of exploration, from public speaking and writing monologues and scenes to acting and collaborating on a full-grade culminating performance. This yearlong experiential class, which is thematically tied to the integrated English and history programs, encourages students to apply their skills as expressive performers, make connections across their academic experience, and strengthen their sense of community.
Grades 6-8 Ensembles
Sixth graders are introduced to ensemble music through Band, Chamber Ensemble, or Chorus. Seventh and eighth graders are combined for more advanced Band, Chamber Ensemble, or Chorus. All the ensembles rehearse twice a week and perform at formal music concerts in the winter and the spring. They also share their work with the Middle School community at assemblies during the school day.
Middle School Athletic Philosophy And Program
The goals for the Middle School physical education program are to achieve a high level of participation, teach fundamental skills and strategies, develop a sense of teamwork, and foster responsibility and commitment. Every student participates and plays.
In sixth grade, students build a foundation for participation in team sports. The goals are to provide students with basic skills and knowledge and to give them an understanding of rules and strategies. They learn about sportsmanship and collaboration through games such as volleyball, lacrosse, ﬁeld hockey, and soccer. Students may also enroll in dance class. Sixth-grade classes meet four times a week.
Grades 7 and 8
The Middle School athletic program transitions students to play regular team sports during the seventh and eighth grades. Students are required to participate in either interscholastic athletics or a physical education class each season and can choose from a set of offerings in fall, winter, and spring. Practices take place three times a week and are built into the daily schedule. Most practices conclude in time for students to take regularly scheduled transportation home and are not held on Wednesdays or Saturdays. Games are scheduled for weekday afternoons and go past the scheduled transportation home. Waynﬂete’s Middle School is a member of the Triple C Conference.
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“One of the joys of leading our Middle School is the opportunity to cultivate curiosity, create an atmosphere of mutual care and respect, and guide moments of courage as students discover their own voices and sense of individual agency. Identity is the work of Middle School, and I am grateful to be a part of its emergence.”
Waynflete Middle School Director