Middle School Curriculum
The core subjects of our Middle School program are Language Arts, Social Studies, Math, Science, and Spanish. Enrichment classes include Visual Arts, Music, Fitness, Service Learning, and Gardening. The Middle School curriculum is driven by essential questions that are designed to fulfill Woodlawn’s mission:
- Fifth Grade: How do people make a difference in the world?
- Sixth Grade: What does it mean to be part of a society?
- Seventh Grade: What does it mean to be human?
- Eighth Grade: How did we get here?
Fifth Grade Math
The fifth grade math curriculum focuses heavily on applying whole number and fraction/decimal operations. The students become very comfortable with problem solving and reflecting on the meaning of numbers. Topics include: place value and whole number operations, exponents, decimal operations, order of operations, fraction operations, ratio/percent, measurement, geometry, and Algebra and linear equations.
Sixth Grade Math
Sixth graders begin the year by becoming familiar with Algebraic reasoning as they study the operations and properties of integers and the real number system. In the winter trimester, students focus on proportional relationships and percents. They study data, graphs, and functions in more depth and create various types of graphs by hand and with spreadsheet software. During the spring trimester, students solve equations and inequalities and work with the properties of 2-D and 3-D geometric figures.
Seventh Grade Math: Pre-Algebra
Seventh graders begin the year studying the principles of Algebra. They draw models to facilitate the transition of the concrete mathematical operations that they have learned in previous years into the abstract concepts of Algebra problem solving. Students solve multi-step equations to enable them to problem solve with percents and proportions. They investigate squares, square roots, and the properties of exponents. They study data in more depth and create various types of graphs by hand and with spreadsheet programs to represent data. In the spring, students graph lines on the coordinate plane and study non-linear functions. They investigate geometric figures in the coordinate plane and work on scaling geometric figures. Problem-solving real world applications, data analysis, proficiency with spreadsheets, and collaboration using Google Documents are all components of seventh grade Pre-Algebra
Eighth Grade Math: Algebra I
In Algebra I, students examine how the properties of real numbers, symbols, variables, expressions, equations, and graphs have enabled us to advance in the use of mathematical applications to get where we are today. They complete application problems where they consider change over time - the interdisciplinary theme for the 8th grade year. Students analyze graphs and learn to think critically as they look at change over time in relation to the algebraic concept of slope - as well as to the historical changes that have occurred over time. Students learn how algebraic knowledge is useful in the everyday lives of people as they make decisions. They apply this knowledge as they analyze data about how the cost of education relates to its value and they determine how to invest for college. They also examine life expectancy, both in the past and in the future. In the spring, students investigate the algebraic analysis of quadratic equations, polynomials, and radicals and learn how this analysis helps people solve problems and plan for the future. They analyze financial information and compare different investment strategies. In their final project, they model the population growth of various cities in the US and use their models to predict future population.
Fifth Grade Social Studies
Fifth graders study our nation’s leaders, past and present, through a heavily integrated social studies and language arts curriculum. Students spend fall trimester understanding our US government and learning about US presidents, studying the process that presidential candidates go through on their quest to the White House. The study of Native Americans encompasses winter trimester as students learn about the leadership qualities of some of the most influential chiefs in history. The spring trimester focuses on female leaders and their leadership roles in the US and around the world.
Sixth Grade Social Studies
Sixth grade students experience the “Greatest Hits of European History” to gain a sense of what life was like in societies of Europe’s past and how history has influenced European societies and world societies today. Students begin with Greek city-states, then examine the enormous reach of the Roman Empire and learn about the feudal system of the Middle Ages. Students focus on the French Revolution, the Industrial Revolution and the Russian Revolution and see how societies dealt with these colossal societal changes. Students also learn about modern Europe, its geography, countries and culture. Sixth graders look at the two World Wars and their effect on Europe’s world view and future. Throughout the year, 6th Graders seek to better understand how different societies and individuals have come together to write the history of Europe.
Seventh Grade Social Studies
Seventh grade students study Asia, Africa, and the Middle East; focusing on geography, history, cultural trends and groups, key individuals, and current events. While studying these topics, we investigate how human nature and human beings shape history. Conversely, we look at how geography and cultural diffusion have shaped human civilizations. Students investigating how human beings fit within their cultures and the influence their roles have in the lives of other people. We examine how a lack of respect for, or a misunderstanding of, other cultures can lead to oppression or conflict. This understanding of stereotypes helps break through misconceptions. Finally, students evaluate how human nature, for better or worse, has impacted these nations and cultures. By looking at the past, we can draw a direct line between the events that have occurred, the motivations that led to them, and their impact on today's world. Seventh graders participate in the National History Day (NHD) academic contest where they learn about primary resources and how to conduct in-depth research in preparation for submission of an historical paper.
Eighth Grade American History
How did we get here? Eighth graders make connections to events from the past and present and study concepts such as: freedom, unity, progress, and responsibility in an attempt to answer our interdisciplinary question - How did we get here? Students also make note of common themes that emerge in history such as reform, determination, and hope. These concepts and themes are present in the primary and secondary historical resources students use, as well as in the fiction and nonfiction selections students read in class. Our study of the 19th and 20th centuries focuses on gaining a sense of place and historical context as students read and discuss main themes from novels, poetry, plays and even musical lyrics of the time. Participation in the National History Day (NHD) academic contest continues in the eighth grade year, and after in-depth research, students choose to create a documentary, exhibit, paper, performance, or website. Students culminate their American History studies by visiting Washington, D.C. in the spring.
Fifth Grade Science
The fifth grade science curriculum focuses on earth science. Students explore Earth as a planetary body and then move inward studying its atmosphere, crust, and waters. Topics throughout the year include: earth/space relationships, atmosphere/weather, plate tectonics, rocks and minerals, Earth’s waters, and environmental research. The final unit is an examination of how humans impact our planet and what we can do to protect it through an in-depth research project integrating science and language arts.
Sixth Grade Science
Sixth graders examine important elements of the natural world and consider their interconnectedness. As students study the animal kingdom, they care for various invertebrates in the lab and learn about the vital functions of animals. The focus is on the form and function of the eight major phyla of the animal kingdom and seven major classes of chordates. We examine how scientists classify animals and become familiar with animal behavior patterns. In an integrated unit on bird migration, students learn how much there is to know about migratory behavior. Through an ecology field study, students gain an appreciation of the complexity of ecosystems as they consider the interconnectedness of animals and the biotic and abiotic factors of ecosystems on which animals depend. Students examine the Woodlawn School wildlife garden, field, and surrounding woods to find examples of interconnectedness. Students also contemplate the human role in destruction of ecosystems and our responsibility to protect animal species and their habitats.
Seventh Grade Science
Students examine what it means to be human by looking at the internal chemistry of both living and non-living things in order to gain an appreciation for the extent to which the dynamic interplay between the two helps to determine our external reality. While studying chemistry, seventh graders look at the molecular structure of materials to determine how they will interact. Through the observation of chemical reactions, students learn how to determine what reactions have occurred. The chemistry unit transitions into a study of human biology with a focus on cellular dynamics, functions of the body systems and organ system pathophysiology. The year continues with the study of the life processes and how structures evolve. To culminate the seventh grade year, students study air pollution, which brings our curriculum full circle as we revisit chemistry and design green buildings to reduce air pollution.
Eighth Grade Science
Eighth graders uncover the answer to our essential question by investigating natural laws of physics that explain how our universe, solar system, and unique environment on Earth came about. Students examine the conversion and flow of energy through ecosystems. Throughout their science coursework, students continually explore the tools and technology that allow scientists to develop their understanding of the universe. The year culminates with an interdisciplinary project in which students incorporate principles of ecology and water management into their design in order to understand factors that affect a watershed, raise community awareness regarding negative impacts to a watershed, and design a solution to address one of those threats or negative impacts which can then be implemented in the local community.
Fifth Grade Spanish
During fall trimester, fifth grade students begin speaking Spanish by using set words and phrases. Students broaden their knowledge of South American capitals and countries and also learn about the Freedom Leaders that helped South American countries achieve their independence. Throughout winter trimester, students learn about the Panama Canal and indigenous groups that live in the region. The spring trimester focuses on Mesoamerican civilizations. Students learn about the Olmec, Maya, and Aztec civilizations and their impacts on our society. To kick off this unit, students take a field trip to the Mint Museum in Charlotte and then dine at an authentic Central American restaurant, where the students order their whole meal in Spanish. By the end of fifth grade Spanish, students have a solid foundation of vocabulary and knowledge of grammar structure.
Sixth Grade Spanish
Sixth graders discover who speaks Spanish in the world through an overview of the Spanish-speaking regions and study of Latin American geography. The Golden Age (of Spain) is examined, which leads to an in-depth look at the man behind the legend - Don Quixote de la Mancha. Students also explore the cultural aspects of Hispanic society through food, family, city life, and celebrations (i.e., Day of the Dead & Three Kings Day). Students learn to appreciate a culture outside of their own through a study of Hispanic Heritage Month and a project that focuses on a specific Latin American country. In grammar, students learn how to conjugate verbs along with the fundamental grammatical basics including article/noun/adjective agreement. By the end of sixth grade Spanish, students are able to conjugate a verb and demonstrate an understanding of pronoun/verb, article/noun and noun/adjective agreement; and write in complete sentences.
Seventh Grade Spanish
Students focus on 'the places' of Latin America by taking an in-depth look at three Spanish-speaking countries: Venezuela, Argentina, and Equatorial Guinea. The regional culture, politics, current events, and history are discussed as well as discovering what makes each one unique. Students complete a mini-project along with each country surveyed, which focuses on a cultural aspect: housing and politics, weather/season reversal, and cuisine. In grammar, students learn to conjugate all irregular, spelling change, and stem-changing verbs in the present tense. Through in-class discussions, students gain insight to many other perspectives outside their own as they learn to converse about daily things in life, such as pastimes, food, housing, and clothing. Several writing samples are completed throughout the academic year where the end goal is for students to be able to write a paragraph with ease (and not much reliance on the dictionary).
Eighth Grade Spanish
Eighth graders begin by studying Hispanic Heritage Month and learn of the many contributions our own society has received from notable Hispanic Americans. Students also look at how Hispanic populations have changed over time in this country. They continue this study by discovering the ancient cities of Mesoamerica to present day Mexico, DF. Throughout the year, students look at how past and present people and places have shaped our own society and language usage today. In grammar, students spend the majority of the year focusing on the differences between the Preterit and Imperfect modes of the past tense. Spanish children's books are grammatically analyzed in order to gain a better understanding of how the past modes work together seamlessly to tell a story.
Fifth Grade Language Arts
How do people make a difference in the world? This is the essential question that the fifth graders focus on throughout the year. The study of literature is centered around leadership which is a natural connection to the essential question. Extensive writing is a purposeful part of the curriculum at Woodlawn. Students understand the interactive process of writing and focus on narrative, expository, and persuasive writing throughout the year, culminating with a research project that integrates science and language arts. By the end of fifth grade, students are expected to have mastered basic grammar rules and to apply that knowledge in their written work.
Sixth Grade Language Arts
In Language Arts, students uncover the roots of Western literature beginning with Greek mythology. Students analyze how stories reflect societies, as well as how stories have been used as criticism of flawed societies. We read historical fiction from the medieval and Renaissance periods, the Industrial Revolution, and both World Wars. Students investigate how stories can effect change and how individuals respond to oppressive societies. Sixth graders also focus on the elements of fiction, including plot, characterization, theme, point-of-view, and setting. Students work toward creating thorough, well-organized responses to literature. Developing strong paragraphs, incorporating transitions into their writing, and crafting a thesis statement are critical areas of focus in writing during the sixth grade year.
Seventh Grade Language ArtsEighth Grade Language Arts
Seventh graders seek the answer to the question, "What does it mean to be human?" by examining Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, and are thus able to view the world through others' eyes using stories, non-fiction, and poetry from and about various cultures. One focus is the universal need for voice and how some groups' voices have been silenced by political, cultural, or economic oppression. The 7th grade writing curriculum focuses on non-fiction writing and developing a strong, neutral voice. Students begin to incorporate external research and direct quotation into both literary responses and research papers. Researching on notecards, developing detailed outlines, and using internal citation, footnoting, and annotated bibliography are key skills that aid in the NHD process in Language Arts and Social Studies.
Students focus on a wide body of American literature and a diverse set of American voices. Drawing on works from the 16th century through the present day, students explore various fundamental questions: What does it mean to have voice in American literature? How and when did a truly "American" voice emerge in literature? How has this body of writing shaped our identity? How has our identity changed over time? With a focus on more fictional pieces in the 19th & 20th centuries, students read short stories, novels, poetry and plays. Students broaden their understanding of the elements of fiction, and learn to achieve more depth in their analysis of literature. Throughout the year, there is an emphasis on becoming more mature writers and developing a strong sense of voice through their own pieces including analytical essays, journals, poetry, descriptive essays, speeches, short stories, and personal narratives.
The visual arts program at Woodlawn engages students in making, interpreting, and learning about art in a meaningful way. Students learn skills, concepts, and ways of interacting with art that fosters an understanding of their own lives and the lives of others. The various areas of art and design the students may choose to engage in are related to what they are learning about in other subjects, or influenced by local artists and community exhibitions. While learning about art and developing skills and techniques, the students are guided by the Studio Habits of Mind: Develop Craft, Engage and Persist, Stretch and Explore, Observe, Express, Envision, Reflect, and Understand Arts Community. Working through design problems they have chosen to pursue, students practice the studio habits and document their creative process. Through self-reflection and constructive feedback, students determine when their work is ready to be displayed and decide how and where to present their original art pieces in multiple exhibitions throughout the year. Trips to local museums and galleries provide students the opportunity to analyze and interpret a variety of artworks. We cultivate an environmentally sustainable art curriculum that utilizes reclaimed and recycled materials whenever possible, and to make meaningful connections with artists and artwork that address environmental issues.
Music & Theater
The middle school music and theater curriculum focuses on building students' music knowledge by fully understanding music history, theory, and covering several genres from classical to rap, from bluegrass to bebop. Music is integrated into the subject areas in each grade level as natural connections are made. In eighth grade, music and service learning are integrated as students create music for emotion and perform monthly for the residents of the Brian Center. Middle school students have the opportunity to work with upper school students and participate in the annual school musical, which is performed during winter trimester. Middle school students explore musical theater and theater performance as well as acting techniques through weekly classroom drama activities and skills practice. Students practice acting, dance and voice and this collaborative method emphasizes training of the whole actor with a deeper integration of the skills needed to develop students’ craft.
Middle School Fitness
Middle School Fitness teaches the value of healthy living through physical activity, appraisal of personal health, fitness and injury prevention, game skills, and the promotion of sportsmanship and self-confidence. Students explore the notion that a truly healthy person is one who understands and nurtures their mental, physical, and emotional being. Students learn techniques needed to master cooperative and competitive games such as volleyball, soccer, basketball, football, and kickball. They learn about skill-related components of fitness such as agility, balance, coordination, power, reaction time, and speed. Leadership qualities are enhanced through cooperative games and trust-building activities. Students continue to participate cooperatively, follow directions, and encourage other players on the field.
Woodlawn School's organic vegetable and flower garden serves as an outdoor classroom for gardening and science classes where students can gain exposure to the natural world and all its processes – biological, chemical and physical. Students in fifth and sixth grade spend time in the gardens each fall and spring growing vegetables, herbs, and flowers. Students plant, weed, harvest, add compost, and have fun learning science concepts in the gardens. At the end of the growing season, students take home organic produce they have grown themselves. Woodlawn uses organic gardening methods and does not use chemical fertilizers or weed killers. Students pull weeds and enrich the soil with nutrients by adding compost. Organic gardening practices provide a wholesome environment for Woodlawn's students and teach students how to be good stewards of the earth.
Understanding how to best tackle life skills can be tricky as adolescents navigate change during the middle school years. Through weekly life skills classes, middle school students discuss relevant topics. Through small and large group discussions and activities, students discover that the middle school years are a time of growth and change and can be a rewarding experience as they begin to discover who they are, what they believe in, and how important they are in this world. Peer interactions are a critical yet confusing part of adolescent development. Open dialogue in a safe environment and self-reflective writing allow students to share challenges and opportunities that they are currently facing. This journey of self-discovery at the beginning of their middle school experience naturally branches into an exploration of the multiple ways a student can be a leader. Units are presented through thematic literature, journaling, role-playing, skits, discussion, and reflection.
Sixth Grade Service: Animal Advocacy The sixth grade service learning program focuses on animal advocacy. Students participate in a variety of activities that allow them to learn about domesticated and wild animals and how to advocate for proper animal care. Students work throughout the year to understand the importance of responsible animal ownership, working to educate their community about various topics related to ethical animal treatment. They will work with local animal shelters to learn common reasons for animal surrender and develop materials for potential pet owners that address these concerns. Students will also work to support shelters by raising money selling homemade dog biscuits at Christmas in Davidson, making beds and toys for animals living in shelters, and creating animal care packets for current and future pet owners. At the end of the year, students will choose one habit, organization, or activity that they will commit supporting throughout their time at Woodlawn. Seventh Grade Service: Sustainability
The aim of seventh grade service is to introduce students to sustainability as a way to become positive contributors to our society. Through class discussions and readings students explore a variety of environmental issues facing our local, regional, and global community. Students then develop community action plans to enact on our campus, and in our local community to help develop a sustainable society. Every month, our seventh graders partner with Sow Much Good in Huntersville, a NC non-profit organization dedicated to growing organically for charitable purposes. Students also explore ways to provide educational opportunities to others so they can incorporate sustainable practices into their own lifestyles, and connect the larger community with nature in a sustainable and practical way.
Eighth Grade Service: Bridging Generations
The eighth grade service learning program, Bridging Generations, is designed to develop appreciation and respect for the older adults in our society. As we grow in our understanding of the roles cast upon the aging in our society, we explore the complex world in which the “old” must learn to live. Students closely evaluate the misconceptions and labels that are sometimes tagged to older adults. Through reflections, class discussions, a look at other cultures, and visits to the Brian Center, students develop a sense of empathy and concern for human beings, regardless of their position in life. The service learning activities are student driven, providing an opportunity for the development and practice of planning, organization, collaboration and presentation skills. While creating friendships and learning about history through the life stories of residents at the Brian Center for Health and Rehabilitation in Mooresville, students become more aware about the community in which they live.