In Grade 7, the advisory group serves as the organizational and support anchor to the year. In the advisory period at the start of each day, building relationships and guiding RULER implementation are prioritized to create a supportive advisory community centered on emotional intelligence, growth and meaningful connections.
We teach the RULER approach through engaging activities and discussions that empower students to recognize, understand and regulate their emotions, fostering a positive and empathetic environment. After advisory, students participate in classes with different teachers for English, social studies, math, science, world languages, music, health and electives.
The Grade 7 curriculum aims to create lifelong learners, and fosters the inherent connections between students and the academic areas that they study. Students take a world language (Chinese, French, Spanish or English as an Additional Language), and participate in a performing arts course, which includes two of the following classes: band, orchestra, choir and drama. In addition, students take a full year of health education and choose two semester-long elective courses from a range of selections.
Grade 7 students participate in a curriculum-focused visit to Dublin, Ireland. Students experience a mix of city tours, museum visits and active participation in Gaelic games. Students investigate Irish emigration, current Irish culture, and the effects of colonialism on the Irish people.
In Grade 7 English, students continue to develop their independence and their literacy skills through writers’ and readers’ workshops, which emphasize student goals, student choice and individualized support.
In writers’ workshop, students develop their writing skills through genre studies, using their independent and in-class reading as model texts. Guided lessons allow students to receive structured strategies for writing, while also learning about the various stages of the writing process. Specific writing lessons may focus on genre-specific skills as well as idea development, organization, word choice or voice. Vocabulary, grammar and conventions are taught through direct instruction as well as within the context of student writing.
In readers’ workshop, students practice their literacy skills as a class, in literature groups, with a partner and independently. Through reading a variety of literary and informational texts, students work toward individual reading goals and standards. Students are exposed to a wide variety of texts, including realistic fiction and dystopian novels, and specific reading lessons may focus on connecting, predicting, inferring, analyzing and other skills. Students choose texts for their independent reading to challenge and stretch themselves as readers as they work toward their goals.
In speaking and listening, students engage in various discussions around both fiction and nonfiction texts. They learn collegial discussion practices, how to pose intriguing questions, and how to form relevant responses using textual evidence. To practice presentation skills, students give talks to the class focusing on emphasizing salient points, while using appropriate eye contact, adequate volume and clear pronunciation.
Student choice and agency are at the heart of our curriculum. The School strives to empower students to follow their passions and set personal goals, and supports them in these endeavors.
The Grade 7 mathematics course is based on the Common Core State Standards for mathematics. In Grade 7, instructional time focuses on four critical areas: (1) developing understanding of and applying proportional relationships; (2) developing understanding of operations with rational numbers and working with expressions and linear equations; (3) solving problems involving scale drawings and informal geometric constructions, and working with two- and three-dimensional shapes to solve problems involving area, surface area, and volume; and (4) drawing inferences about populations based on samples.
The Grade 7 math course is taught from a variety of resources and the core resource is the Connected Mathematics Project (CMP). Buzzmath.com is an online program used to reinforce skills; teachers assign individual and class assignments using this tool. Manipulatives, math games, online resources and calculators are also part of the instruction.
Throughout the Middle School, there is an emphasis on developing a deeper understanding of concepts and how they are connected. We support problem-based learning; in mathematics, students are encouraged to make sense of a situation rather than memorizing techniques and algorithms. At each grade level, a select set of important mathematical concepts, ideas and related procedures are studied in depth rather than skimming through a larger set of ideas in a shallow manner. There is an emphasis on writing about mathematical understanding and demonstrating mastery through constructing viable arguments. Calculators should be used to manipulate advanced numerical situations and to store information; calculators are not intended to replace mental math operations.
Reporting to parents/guardians is made through conferences, mid-semester access to the mastery portal, and end-of-semester report cards. The semester proficiency level consists of unit assessments, projects, check-ups, quizzes (individual and partnered) and written reflections. Students are given multiple opportunities to show mastery of the math standards and practices. Homework is an opportunity to practice and to challenge.
Teachers seek to differentiate in order to meet the needs of each student. Instruction is responsive to the individuals, and teachers consistently monitor the level of enrichment and reinforcement needed.
Students in Grade 7 participate in both an instrumental ensemble—either band or string orchestra—and the Grade 7 choir. Students new to the School who have never played a band or orchestra instrument before are given a specified choice of instruments to begin in Grade 7, and receive small-group instruction appropriate to their level. For all students, a portion of their music block is devoted to singing in the Grade 7 choir. Students who began learning to play an instrument, either at ASL or at another school, can continue to build on that experience and in the appropriate instrument class. The emphasis of the performing groups in Grade 7 is on developing an understanding of communication through music, along with technical and ensemble skills. The ultimate goal is an enjoyment and appreciation of the ability to make music, and for students to think of themselves as musicians.
The Grade 7 band class reinforces the basics of good musicianship, which include good posture, proper breathing, rhythmic accuracy, good intonation, ensemble balance, correct embouchure, proper fingerings, musical phrasing and clear articulation. Students learn many types of concert music, which represent a variety of styles and moods, and perform in both full band and small-group settings.
The Grade 7 string orchestra program continues to support the development of technical skills, such as proper playing position, rhythmic accuracy, listening and intonation, stylistic use of the bow, musical phrasing and literacy. Students play and perform a wide variety of music reflecting different styles and periods.
Grade 7 choir students learn rehearsal skills, proper tone production, sight-singing and performance techniques. Students practice sight-singing using the solfege system. There is occasional written work. The Grade 7 choir emphasizes the development of musical understanding in a fun and collaborative setting.
Students focus on the three dimensions of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) with an emphasis on the cross-cutting concepts of systems and system models, energy and matter, and stability and change. Throughout the year, students have multiple opportunities to develop their science and engineering practices with a focus on: developing and using models, analyzing and interpreting data, and evaluating information and constructing explanations. Units are driven by an interesting scientific phenomena and students mirror the work of scientists and engineers through investigation and develop an understanding of these concepts.
The unit names and questions for the year are:
- Chemical reactions and matter: How can we make something new that wasn't there before? Students develop science ideas around properties of substances, matter and chemical reactions. Students use patterns in data to describe what happens to substances at different scales.
- Chemical reactions and energy: How can we use chemical reactions to design a solution to a problem? Students examine how packaged food called Meals, Ready-to-Eat (MREs) work and how they help within an emergency. The unit provides students with a design challenge by incorporating science and engineering ideas.
- Metabolic reactions: How does our body work to make us feel the way we do? Students build science ideas around chemical reactions and human body systems. As a life scientist, students zoom in and out of different parts of the body to look at molecules, cells and organs.
- Matter cycling and photosynthesis: Where does food come from and where does it go next? Students build science ideas around photosynthesis, matter cycling and energy. They start by reflecting how plants and themselves get their food, and what happens to it in the process and model how food molecules are processed and used in animals and plants.
- Ecosystem dynamics: How does changing an ecosystem affect what lives there? Students build ideas around biodiversity and ecosystems by examining how people buying candy bars can have a ripple effect on dwindling orangutan populations. Information is applied to consider other ecosystem relationships.
- Earth's resources and human impact: How do changes in the Earth's systems impact our communities and what can we do about it?.Students use research-based evidence to share information about human impacts on Earth’s resources.
For the 2023-24 school year, Grade 7 and 8 science have a similar curriculum structure.
The Grade 7 social studies curriculum explores the concepts of perspective while learning about the pre-colonial world, power while studying the British Empire, and change through the study of post-colonialism. Through conceptual learning strategies, students are encouraged to inquire, learn and develop generalizations in order to come to deeper understandings about the world in which they live. Through this course of study, students gain a greater understanding of how the people and cultures of the past interacted and impacted the world we live in today. Students leave the course considering how individuals and small groups can enact change on both small and large scales.
Students use a variety of sources, including primary sources, videos, handouts, databases, textbook excerpts, educational websites and simulations in order to examine the course concepts through the lenses of personal, historical and current events. Students use these sources to establish a narrative timeline of key historical events. Once students have a grasp of this timeline, they consider essential questions that are linked to Grade 7 social studies standards in order to draw their own conclusions about the past and to link those conclusions to the present.
Throughout Grade 7, students focus on key social studies skills. While learning about places and themes, students develop their argumentative writing skills, beginning with paragraphs and working up to constructing longer writing pieces. While learning the content, note taking and research skills are explicitly taught. Students also develop historical thinking skills over the course of the year, through learning to source documents, analyze sources for reliability and bias, corroborate findings, consider conflicting information, and communicate their learning.
The middle school world languages program offers two levels of courses in Chinese, French and Spanish for students in Grade 7 (levels A and B).
Level A is aimed at true beginners and students who have had minimal academic exposure to the target language.
This course aims to develop students’ ability to communicate about themselves and their immediate environment using simple sentences containing basic vocabulary and language structures.
A student who successfully completes the A course continues on to a B course in Grade 8.
Level B is for students who have successfully completed a minimum of one full year of an academic program in their chosen language. Building on the skills acquired in the A course, students continue to use simple sentence structures and vocabulary on more familiar topics. Through a variety of communicative activities, students continue to develop the four language skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing.
A student who successfully completes the B course continues on to a C course in Grade 8.
Dance: The dance elective provides an opportunity for students to learn about dance, performance and choreography. The main body of the class is rooted in contemporary dance but draws from elements of jazz and musical theater. The aim is not only to develop students’ technical and interpretative skills but also their self-awareness, confidence, focus and ability to work as an ensemble. All levels of experience are welcome. Beginners and more experienced dancers are challenged accordingly, and all students have the opportunity to create their own work in the dance style of their choice, culminating in a dance performance at the end of the semester. This elective can provide a foundation for students considering taking dance courses in Grade 8 and the High School.
Design: In this course, students are introduced to 2-D and 3-D modeling programs, as well as sophisticated laser machining and 3-D printing technology to construct innovative designs. Students learn about the product design process and how to use powerful computer software. They use state-of-the-art tools to build their designed objects. No prior technology knowledge is required, just a good imagination!
Explore London: The city is our extended classroom in this elective as students’ interests are connected to London’s past and present. Students examine how politics, immigration and culture have shaped, and continue to shape, our city. Those who choose this elective are encouraged to think outside the box and to get outside of the building. Students research and propose local excursions based on themes they care about and help lead and plan those trips. Most classes are spent off-campus exploring this amazing city by public transport and walking, combining the class block and recess/lunch whenever they overlap.
“The streets of London have their map, but our passions are uncharted. What are you going to meet if you turn this corner?”
Games for Leadership Development: This course explores the themes of creativity, competition and collaboration through board games, card games, class scavenger hunts, improvisation games, and unique physical activities you’ve never heard of before! Students develop their communication skills and learn to demonstrates personal responsibility and positive social behaviors by practicing inclusion and effective listening, while engaging in activities led by the teachers. Students also facilitate small- and large-group activities to develop their leadership, problem-solving and conflict-resolution skills. This course takes place on and off campus, depending on the activity and the weather. Join us as we use active and engaging learning to develop the skills to be a leader that supports, motivates and inspires others!
Global Issues and Community Action: Are you interested in making our school, our city and our world a more equitable place? In this class, students investigate issues in our community, locally and globally, and use our own unique skills and interests to affect positive change. Students learn more about topics that are important to them, and make plans and decisions for action. In order to do this effectively, students discuss the role of governance, rights and freedom in society to develop a critical lens that helps them more deeply understand concepts such equity and justice. With continual reflection and revision, critical skills improve along with their ability to bring about positive social change. Our classroom is a place for shared learning where contributions and participation help to direct how the learning experience takes shape. In this learning space, students are encouraged to be their whole selves and to be inclusive of others while trying to make a difference at ASL and beyond!
London Through the Years: London is a city rich in history and culture. So many important historical events have happened on the streets that we walk down every day. Think about these questions: How did London change throughout the reign of Queen Elizabeth II? What was it like to live in London during both World Wars? How destructive was a night during the Blitz? What was the purpose of canals throughout history? What more recent events have shaped life in our city? This course is focused on examining events, people and places that have shaped London’s history. Most classes involve using London as our classroom and visiting these historical places around the city—so get your walking shoes on and get ready to explore!
Mixed Media Art: This course is designed to engage students in thinking about their future and their social world. Students engage in drawing, sculptural architecture and printmaking. Students develop their predictive skills such as scenario planning and analyzing existing trends to help guide their designs. They gain knowledge of contemporary innovative and sustainable design practices to inspire and inform their work. Students further develop their understanding of recording ideas and using appropriate vocabulary of art and design. Students experiment with a range of approaches to help solve problems of the future. The core of this is in providing them with analytical skills and contingency skills, which are essential for innovative design. The course is designed to engage students in global issues that are important and personally meaningful to them. They examine art in the art world and are encouraged to explore the wide range of responses to this concept thinking about their own experiences connected to the ideas. The main goals of the course are that students understand the connection between process and the communication of a concept as well as how their own experience and ideas can shape their artwork. Students are assessed on the four core visual arts standards of creating, presenting, responding and connecting, as well as the ASL Approaches to Learning.
Robotics and Automation: The world is evolving and with the rapid development of technology, tasks traditionally done by humans are now being completed by robots with increased automation. In this course, using REV Robotics kits, students design, build and program robots to complete tasks of increasing complexity. Students use basic principles of mechanics, and learn essential programming skills and collaborative problem-solving techniques. This course is hands-on and project-based. No prior robotics or programming experience is required.
Sculpture: This dynamic visual arts elective provides students the opportunity to experience the functional, decorative and conceptual possibilities of three-dimensional art. Students experiment with and develop skills in media such as clay, textiles, wire, paper mache and found objects, building a strong foundation in ceramics, figurative construction and assemblage. They plan works of art with message and audience in mind, inspired and informed by artists, cultures and time periods. A field trip to an inspiring art exhibition is an integral experience of the course. Students are encouraged to push their creative boundaries as they envision ideas, reflect on their process and document their artistic journey in their sketchbooks. By the end of the course, students develop a beginning foundation in 3D skills, techniques and processes; practice choice and voice while developing personally relevant and meaningful works of 3D art; generate, conceptualize, organize and develop artistic ideas and work both individually and collaboratively; evaluate and refine their work; and curate their sculptural artwork for exhibition. Students are assessed on the four core visual arts standards of creating, presenting, responding and connecting, as well as the ASL Approaches to Learning.
Video Journalism: Learn to use video and audio to tell non-fiction stories. Students learn interviewing, videography and editing skills to create videos on a variety of topics. Students have the opportunity to share their work with the student body and a wider audience via The Scroll's website and social media channels as part of the Eagle News Network (access the link to view examples of previous projects). Although there are no formal homework assignments as part of this elective, students need to conduct some video interviews outside of class time.
Yearbook: Graphic design* In this class, you will make memories that will last a lifetime, not just for you, but for everyone in the Middle School. Students learn how to use Adobe programs such as InDesign, Photoshop and Illustrator. Students discover how to create interesting and engaging layouts and designs, based on composition guidelines and the elements and principles of design. Students learn about color theory and typography, ultimately selecting all of the colors, designs and fonts for this year’s book. In collaboration with the Yearbook - photojournalism class, Yearbook - graphic design students generate a theme and develop the design of the book to support that theme. All yearbook staff are expected to complete some work outside of class (such as refining layouts to meet deadlines). Students are invited to participate in fun workshops, to take on leadership roles, and some may even attend journalism/publication events and conferences. Yearbook is a fun, collaborative and creative environment for student who are willing to work hard, meet deadlines and challenge themselves. Ultimately, yearbook students will be proud when their hard work sits on the shelves of their peers for decades to come.
*Students can take both yearbook classes in Grade 7 and Grade 8 if schedules allow, so feel free to sign up for both. We create a new yearbook each year, so there will always be new content.
Yearbook: Photojournalism* In this class, you will make memories that will last a lifetime, not just for you, but for everyone in the Middle School. Students learn how to use a DSLR camera to capture all the best moments in the Middle School. Students discover how to create great photo compositions, use the camera’s presets and manual mode, and edit photos in Lightroom and Photoshop. Students also learn about interviewing and journalistic practices and ethics. Students discover how to find an angle, and to write captions and short journalistic articles. Students in this class are responsible for generating all of the content for the middle school yearbook, from photos to articles and captions. In collaboration with the Yearbook - graphic design class, Yearbook - photojournalism students generate a theme and develop the content for the book to support that theme. All yearbook staff are expected to complete some work outside of class (such as taking photos or conducting interviews). Students are also invited to participate in fun workshops, to take on leadership roles, and some may even attend journalism/publication events and conferences. Yearbook is a fun, collaborative and creative environment for students who are willing to work hard, meet deadlines and challenge themselves. Ultimately, yearbook students will be proud when their hard work sits on the shelves of their peers for decades to come.
*Students can take both yearbook classes in Grade 7 and Grade 8 if schedules allow, so feel free to sign up for both. We create a new yearbook each year, so there will always be new content.