The Middle School program meets the needs of children growing through years of intellectual and personal transition, combining structure and support with increasing academic challenge and independence. Students gradually move from self-contained classrooms to a fully departmental structure, in which they have different teachers for each subject. The curriculum focuses on skills critical to later academic success and reflects recent research on brain development. Children find many opportunities to explore emerging interests, strengthening their sense of individual identity and gaining experience in leadership roles.
The goals of these three years of studio art is to teach the formal skills of image making as well as to nurture the uniqueness and diversity of our students’
growing aesthetics. Our program is organized sequentially, where students are introduced to concepts and appropriate skills in gradually increasing complexity. Materials and technology are explored and integrated into various projects. Students learn appropriate art vocabulary and group critiques afford opportunity to hone critical skills and to embrace individual means of expression. In addition, students learn art history by exploring how different artists have solved problems. This required course meets once a week in grade 6, and four times a week for half the year in grades 7 and 8. READ MORE
In sixth grade, students may opt to play a sport in the fall, winter and spring. In seventh and eighth grades, two seasons of sports are required for all children. Athletics at GFS teach sportsmanship and teamwork, and provide an empowering experience for students to have fun in a non-academic setting with their classmates and peers. In each season, there is a non-competitive option available. READ MORE
Latin I, an elective course, introduces students to the world of classical language and history. It focuses on developing student fluency in translation while grounding students in basic grammar, forms, and syntax. Students may opt for Latin as their primary language in seventh grade, which allows for more exposure to history, culture and English vocabulary development in a two-year Latin I program, or choose a one-year intensive course in eighth grade as a two language option. READ MORE
Students read, enjoy and analyze short stories, novels, plays, epic poetry and other poetic styles; many works are coordinated with their studies in history. From the spring of sixth grade onward, English becomes a departmentalized major. In expository writing, students begin by writing topic sentences, then paragraphs and finally the formal essay. Grammar moves from usage and parts of speech through phrases, clauses and complex sentences. Each course also includes creative writing assignments. READ MORE
In sixth grade, the course focuses on the meeting of cultures. Studies begin with the European Renaissance, turn to pre-Columbian America and end with the European explorers. In the spring, the sixth grade becomes departmentalized. Seventh and Eighth grades continue with a two-year American history course. The students develop research skills for oral reports and papers, work with primary sources and develop their critical thinking. All courses coordinate with the English curriculum. READ MORE
The history and English curricula intersect in each of the three years. Students in sixth grade read The Second Mrs. Giaconda in English, for example, while they study the Italian Renaissance. Other projects and field trips cross several disciplines. The seventh grade, for example, takes a boat trip on the Delaware River on which they have a math project, visit Ft. Mifflin and create a map for art. A Germantown research project serves as a springboard for Quakerism, English and history. The eighth grade year ends with a media studies project, which also crosses disciplines.
In sixth and seventh grades, students consolidate their skills with fractions, decimals, and percents; they work with exponents, probability and ratios. Sixth grade concludes with a departmentalized unit in geometry. Seventh graders also learn some introductory algebra concepts, since the whole eighth grade takes Algebra I. The algebra course is taught at two levels, regular and accelerated. READ MORE
Students may opt to take French or Spanish beginning in seventh grade. The Spanish and French courses develop student proficiency in speaking, listening, reading and writing. Teachers conduct classes in the target language, so that the student’s experience simulates an immersion experience. The classes focus on the varied cultures of the Hispanic and Francophone worlds. READ MORE
Music emphasizes both performance and classroom learning. At all levels, the students sing and perform for the rest of the school. In sixth and in seventh grades, they also work with hand bells, recorders, xylophones and percussion instruments. Seventh grade has an additional focus on the elements of music theory, and eighth grade focuses more on music history and its context in various cultures. Student instrumentalists can choose to participate in the orchestra or jazz bands. In eighth grade, students may also elect to sing in a choir. READ MORE
Sixth, seventh and eighth grade students participate in a wide variety of sports-related and movement activities, with an emphasis on the refinement of individual skills and an understanding of basic sports strategies. In seventh grade, students also take part in various group-building, risk-taking and problem-solving activities. Eighth grade PE has three separate components: a sports and activities class; health and sexuality education; and adventure education, which includes belaying, high ropes and/or rock climbing. The Physical Education program complements the Athletics program. READ MORE
The sixth grade science program begins with environmental science in correlation with a four-day camping trip. Studies then turn to human biology and physiology. In seventh grade, students focus on physical science, exploring concepts of physical properties, chemical and physical changes and atomic and molecular theory. The year ends with a unit on earth science. The eighth grade program is environmental science. All courses are lab-based and focus on the methods of scientific inquiry and experimentation. READ MORE
Students in seventh and eighth grade also have Project Time once a week. Seventh graders take Quakerism for one trimester. For the other two trimesters, they choose a community involvement project, such as working with nursery children at the Boys and Girls Club or learning about deaf culture at the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf, and an activity like drama, woodshop or photography. The eighth grade prepares and performs a musical review each winter; students may choose an activity for fall and spring.
Students use computers as a tool to enhance their learning in other subjects. Sixth grade students have computer once a week, which is coordinated with their English and history curricula; they learn the basics of databases, work with spreadsheets and word processing, designing web-page, use presentation software and learn to create and manipulate images. Seventh and eighth grade students continue to master applications through their work in all of the various disciplines. Internet research skills, for example, are taught through history research projects, spreadsheets and graphs during a math project, digital imagery through art and English class, and more, READ MORE