Middle School Curriculum


Middle School at a Glance

Students in grades 6-8 are welcomed into our vibrant and supportive online community where they are encouraged to develop their passion for learning. With a focus on social and academic growth, middle schoolers can expect to gain essential self-management, communication, and thinking skills that prepares them for Upper School. In addition to our core courses, which include English, Math, Science, and Social Studies, students have the freedom to pursue World Languages and Elective courses that interest them. During our weekly Homeroom meetings, students work on their Middle School project, discuss events happening around the world, and take part in engaging team-building activities. Lastly, many students immerse themselves in our online clubs and activities to further develop their sparks of genius and discover new interests.


View Our Course Descriptions
 

Please note that while this guide reflects the current and/or upcoming academic year offerings, courses are subject to change. Families are encouraged to inquire with our Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Sara Crucet, via scrucet@dwight.global about any specific courses or subject areas of interest. 


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English 6 | Grade 6

With a focus on the theme of one’s place in society, students in this introductory year-long course will begin to develop critical literacy skills through reading, analyzing, and responding in writing to contemporary texts and short works. Specifically, writing and discussion topics will center on the components that make or break a society and encourage students to explore our individual roles within a community. Students can expect to celebrate the author’s craft as they closely examine texts to identify conflict and themes conveyed by the author through a variety of literary devices. Enhanced by lessons on grammar, mechanics, and vocabulary, this course will offer opportunities for students to build their syntax and diction through reading, discussion, creative writing and analytical writing.

English 7 | Grade 7

In this year-long course, students will begin to develop critical literacy skills through reading, analyzing, and responding in writing to contemporary texts, short stories, poetry selections as well as begin to explore Shakespeare. Writing and discussion topics will focus on the theme of identity; specifically, content will center on the components that make up selfhood, including race, gender, and culture. Students can expect to recognize author’s purpose, as they closely examine a text to identify tone and to articulate the author’s intent. Enhanced by lessons on grammar, mechanics, and vocabulary, this course will offer opportunities for students to build their syntax and diction through crafting memoir, research, and argumentative writing. Honors section available.

English 8 | Grade 8

Building on the skills developed in English 7, students in this year-long course will reinforce key literacy skills, improve comprehension, and hone their critical thinking and writing abilities. With engaging readings and lively, relevant discussions, students can expect to understand the fundamentals of organization, style, and content in both contemporary and classic texts. Enhanced by lessons on grammar, mechanics, and vocabulary, students also work on strengthening their own writing skills and their ability to translate their thoughts into cohesive written work. Furthermore, this course will also help students draw connections between their own lives and the texts through regular journaling and personalized creative projects. Honors section available.

Global Language Exploration | Grades 6, 7

The exciting journey of language acquisition begins with this introductory exploration of Spanish, French, and Mandarin. Throughout the year-long course, students will focus on the four key areas of world language study: listening comprehension, speaking, reading, and writing as they complete a rotation in each language. The extensive use of authentic materials and immersive experiences creates the fundamental building blocks for future language studies.

MS French 1a | Grades 7, 8

Bienvenue to French language! This year-long introductory French course is designed for middle school students taking their first course in this language. Students will be introduced to the basic elements of the French language through a variety of interactive activities and games covering all four language skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Students will begin to engage in meaningful conversations in their cultural context. Instruction will concentrate on the following concepts: introduction to the Francophone World, the French alphabet and basic pronunciation, basic conjugations of regular and irregular verbs, greetings, numbers, thematic vocabulary, simple descriptions, daily routine, and sports and hobbies.

MS French 1b | Grades 7, 8

New course offering for the 2023-24 school year — description coming soon.

French I | Grades 7, 8, 9

Bienvenue to this year-long introductory French class! Students will embark on the exciting journey of language acquisition by studying the fundamental building blocks of French, focusing on the four key areas of world language study: listening comprehension, speaking, reading, and writing. Extensive use of authentic materials (video, audio, images, texts) will provide students a contextualized and interactive presentation of the vocabulary and the linguistic structures, setting them up for success in future language learnings. Students can expect to work collaboratively and independently as they formulate and test hypotheses about different aspects of the French language, all the while developing metacognitive strategies to process and negotiate the meaning of new vocabulary. Consistent and relevant francophonic references and materials will further immerse students as they start their foray into French language and culture. Honors section available.

French II | Grades 7-10

Using the tools introduced in earlier work, this year-long class will build on existing francophone concepts and provide students with fresh insights and understanding of French language and culture. Using many forms of francophone media, from music to film to news articles and more, students will increase their access to various French concepts while exploring more sophisticated vocabulary, grammar, and structure concepts. With a goal of helping students not just learn French, but learn to love it, students will interact with each other and the culture in new ways, applying their content language through exciting projects -- such as recording podcasts, exchanging correspondence with francophone students, creating an itinerary for a trip, analyzing modern French movies, and more. By the end of the course students will demonstrate ability in discussing current events in French, conversing or debating with French speakers, and identifying the nuances of the language. Honors section available.

Prerequisites: French I or departmental permission required

French III | Grades 8- 11

Improving linguistic sophistication while also building students’ confidence in their French skills are the hallmarks of this year-long course. Students with an existing understanding of French, established in earlier introductory courses, can expect to continue communicating through the four competencies of language acquisition: speaking, listening, reading, and writing. A focus on French grammar, including the passé composé, passé simple, conditionnel, and plus-que-parfait tenses, as well as the subjunctive mood, will challenge students as they grow into the ability to discuss and debate French and francophone history, culture, and current events. Students will enjoy immersing themselves in French culture through film and readings that will anchor their projects, including an in-depth study of the classic (and beloved) Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Honors section available.

Prerequisites: French II or departmental permission required

MS Mandarin 1a | Grade 8

This introductory Mandarin Chinese course is designed for middle school students to learn spoken Mandarin and develop conversational proficiency. Through various games and activities, students will learn basic elements of the Chinese language, as well as Pinyin--the romanization system for Chinese characters. Students will also learn to use Chinese expressions to exchange greetings and introduce themselves.  Students will practice describing brief daily routines in a meaningful context, with emphasis on family, individual interests, and the past. Although oral communication is the primary focus, students will also learn to read and type simplified Chinese characters and pinyin. Students will explore many interesting aspects of Chinese culture through different projects. At the end of the course, students will be able to show their language output via task-based and collaborative projects.

MS Mandarin 1b | Grade 8

New course offering for the 2023-24 school year — description coming soon.

Mandarin I | Grades 7, 8, 9

In this year-long course that introduces students to a range of basic Mandarin vocabulary and grammatical concepts, students can expect to form a clear understanding of the fundamental building blocks of language study: listening comprehension, speaking, reading, and writing. From the Mandarin alphabet and numbers to basic descriptions of people, places, food, animals, and more, this course lays the necessary groundwork for a thriving, immersive Mandarin experience. Extensive use of authentic materials (video, audio, images, texts) will provide students a contextualized and interactive presentation of the vocabulary and the linguistic structures, setting them up for success in future language learnings. Students can expect to work collaboratively and independently as they formulate and test hypotheses about different aspects of the Mandarin language, all the while developing metacognitive strategies to process and negotiate the meaning of new vocabulary. Honors section available.

Mandarin II | Grades 7-10

Using the tools introduced in earlier work, this year-long class will build on existing Mandarin concepts and provide students with fresh insights and understanding of Chinese language and culture. Using many forms of Chinese media, from music to film to news articles and more, students will increase their access to various concepts while exploring more sophisticated vocabulary, grammar, and structures. This course emphases spelling with the pinyin system, tone accuracy, numbers, calendar components and time, basic greetings, character writing, and grammatical structures. With a goal of helping students not just learn Mandarin, but learn to love it, students will interact with each other and the culture through in-class writing drills, engaging quizzes, conversation practices, and grammar drills, building on their ability to converse in the language. Honors section available.

Prerequisites: Mandarin I or departmental permission required

Mandarin III | Grades 8- 11

Building on their existing skills in understanding, speaking, reading, and writing Mandarin, students in this year-long course will learn to better communicate in a variety of ways as they build up a solid foundation in character writing. They’ll expand upon their base of knowledge and branch into the areas of spelling within the pinyin system and tone accuracy. Through use of technology-based learning activities, task-based projects, individual and collaborative projects, and group discussions, students will become immersed in Chinese culture while they progress into more advanced elements of Mandarin grammar and composition. Honors section available.

Prerequisites: Mandarin II or departmental permission required

Spanish I | Grades 7, 8, 9

Bienvenidos to this year-long course that introduces students to a range of basic Spanish vocabulary and grammatical concepts. From the Spanish alphabet and numbers to basic descriptions of people, places, food, animals, and more, this course lays the necessary groundwork for a thriving, immersive Spanish experience. Students will learn concepts behind feminine and masculine nouns, plural, negatives, present-tense verbs, and the irregular verbs “to have” and “to be.” A range of Spanish reading strategies will be introduced and students will develop an understanding of both oral and written Spanish words, including a special focus on pronunciation and intonation. Honors section available.

MS Spanish 1b | Grade 8

New course offering for the 2023-24 school year — description coming soon.

MS Spanish 1a | Grades 7, 8

Bienvenidos to this year-long course that introduces students to a range of basic Spanish vocabulary and grammatical concepts. From the Spanish alphabet and numbers, to basic descriptions of people, places, food, animals, and more, this course lays the necessary groundwork for a thriving, immersive Spanish experience. Students will learn concepts behind feminine and masculine nouns, plural, negatives, present-tense verbs, and the irregular verbs “to have” and “to be,” within engaging communicative and cultural contexts.

Spanish II | Grades 7-10

Using concepts from Spanish 1, this year-long course will advance students into more sophisticated levels of Spanish language understanding. From conversational topics on daily routines, shopping, and finding one’s way around to planning parties, playing sports, and participating in leisure activities, the Spanish vocabulary in this course will further immerse students in this popular and useful language, setting them up for a solid understanding of concepts and phrases. Students will cover conjugation of regular and irregular verbs, making negative statements, possessive adjectives, reflexive verbs, the preterit tense, and the immediate future -- and will use their new skills to make comparisons between their own cultures and those of the Spanish-speaking world. Honors section available.

Prerequisites: Spanish I or departmental permission required

Spanish III | Grades 8-11

Building on their existing skills in understanding, speaking, reading, and writing Spanish, students in this year-long course will learn to better communicate in a variety of ways as they continue studying Spanish dialects, cultures, and history. They’ll expand upon their base of knowledge and branch into the areas of launching and maintaining conversations in Spanish, expressing their feelings and emotions, and exchanging opinions using conditional, future, and past tenses of Spanish. While proceeding at their own pace, students in this course can also look forward to working together towards a common goal: becoming more proficient in this important world language. Honors section available.

Prerequisites: Spanish II or departmental permission required

Foundations in Middle School Mathematics | Grades 6, 7

To prepare students for Pre-Algebra, this year-long course will strengthen fundamental mathematical skills through problem solving and application. Students can expect to cover topics ranging from the number system, writing and solving equations, geometry, ratios and proportions, to statistics and probability. An emphasis will be placed on computational skills and conceptual understanding of fractional components.

Pre-Algebra | Grades 6, 7, 8

This year-long introductory course to Algebra will introduce students to abstract mathematics concepts and thinking, and enable them to begin developing an understanding of pro-numeration concepts. By applying mathematical expressions, equations, and graphs to a variety of real-life examples, students will begin to see how algebraic concepts show up in their daily lives. They can expect to learn graphing, order of operations, linear equations and inequalities, logic, rational and irrational numbers, radicals, proportions, application of percentages, and more, and they’ll be given ample and varied opportunities to demonstrate their knowledge.

Algebra I | Grades 7, 8, 9

Introducing students to the elementary rules of mathematics is the core of this year-long course, where students will build a foundation for future math challenges. Through explorations into solving and graphing linear equations and inequalities, simplifying exponential and radical expressions, and exploring polynomials, students will discover the awe-inspiring theories behind math, and can expect to master concepts like quadratic and radical equations, using group work, unit exams, and investigations to demonstrate their knowledge.

Prerequisite: Pre-Algebra

Honors Algebra I | Grades 7, 8, 9

In this fast-paced year-long course, students will take a deeper look into the elementary rules of mathematics. Students will build a foundation for future math challenges requiring them to use their interpersonal skills working with classmates. Through explorations into solving and graphing linear equations and inequalities, simplifying exponential and radical expressions, and exploring polynomials, students will discover the awe-inspiring theories behind math, and can expect to master concepts like quadratic and radical equations, using group work, unit exams, and investigations to demonstrate their knowledge. They will demonstrate their mastery of their newly learned skills through class discussions, group work, and individual learning assessments.

Prerequisite: Pre-Algebra; Departmental permission required.

Geometry | Grades 8, 9, 10

In this year-long course, students will focus on the theorems of Euclid and the exploration of formal proofs as they strive to not just understand their concepts and properties, but to connect them to the application of numerical and problem-solving solutions. Students will progress through the study of triangle properties and into the three basic trigonometric ratios, working on problems involving two- and three-dimensional objects and the calculation of area, surface area, and volume.

Prerequisite: Algebra

Honors Geometry | Grades 8, 9, 10

In this fast-paced year-long course, students will take a deeper look into the theorems of Euclid and the exploration of formal proofs as they strive to not just understand their concepts and properties, but to connect them to the application of numerical and problem-solving solutions. Through challenging assignments and projects, students will progress through the study of triangle properties and into the three basic trigonometric ratios, working on problems involving two- and three-dimensional objects and the calculation of area, surface area, and volume.

Prerequisite: Algebra; Departmental permission required

Global Cultures | Grade 6

Through the study of local, regional, national, and global patterns, students will embark on a cultural expedition of the various people, places and societies that exist in the world. In this year-long course, students will discover the interconnections between humans and their environments. The influence of these institutions, including geographic location, on the development of contemporary cultures and societies, will be a focus of the course as students compare and contrast the characteristics patterns of the different cultures.

(MS) United States History | Grade 7

A look at the beginnings of the United States to the present-day forms the core of this year-long course for middle schoolers. Students can expect to better understand a variety of compelling historical questions, including the role the new environment played in establishing societies in America, the effect the first settlers had on Native American communities and cultures, the Constitutional Convention and the compromises it required among parties, and the U.S.’s role in world affairs, both past and present. Exploring patterns of population, uses and abuses of power, spiritual life and moral codes, science, technology, the environment, and much more, students will develop the historical thinking skills to prepare them for future studies in history and related subjects. Honors section available.

(MS) Ancient World History | Grade 8

From understanding humans’ earliest ancestors to the eventual emergence of cities, societies, and empires, topics covered in this introductory study of world history help students explore how civilizations were established and how the past can serve as a platform for modern-day understanding. Students can expect compelling discussions and readings on social classes, belief systems, trade, the causes and consequences of cities’ developments and collapses, and how natural disasters and political failures play a role in a city’s longevity. Honors section available.

Earth & Space Science | Grade 6

In this year-long overview of the four basic elements of the Earth system -- atmosphere, hydrosphere, geosphere, and biosphere -- students will be introduced to a range of Earth science concepts, including geology, meteorology, oceanography, climatology, environmental science and astronomy. They can expect to develop an understanding of the physical world in which we live, including applications of how the earth sciences have had a direct effect on our lives, and the ways humans impact the environment.

Honors section available.

Life Science | Grade 7

Explore the wonder of living things around us—from microscopic cells to larger, more complex organisms like the human body in this year-long introductory biology course. Students will apply scientific concepts, principles, and theories to readings, research, live class discussions, and labs in order to develop an understanding of the basic characteristics of cells and the history of life on earth. Through investigative studies and progression of the scientific method, students will learn to formulate and test ideas in order to solve problems. Working both independently and in groups, students can expect to hone their critical thinking skills and make connections between classroom discoveries, other academic disciplines, and their own world.

Honors section available. 

Physical Science | Grade 8

By exploring matter and energy through chemistry and physics topics, students in this year-long course will conduct labs and simulations, analyze their findings, and develop an appreciation for the world of science. Students can expect to dive in to topics such as atoms and molecules, the periodic table of elements, chemical reactions, motion and gravity, forms of energy, and much more, supplemented by engaging class discussions and independent work. Honors section available.

Approaches to Learning | Grade 6

Building a foundation of lifelong learning skills is crucial for achieving success. Students in this year-long course will discover multiple strategies for tackling coursework across all disciplines in order to become independent learners. Based on the IB’s Approaches to Learning, the class teaches students to develop self-management, thinking, communication, and social skills, and provides them with a toolbox of skills that will serve them for future studies.

Research | Grade 7

As social media and digital communications comprise more and more of our daily lives, there’s never been a more urgent need for media literacy. This year-long course will help students explore the concept of media literacy and the idea that informed research is a process. Through engaging projects and discussions, students will examine the steps of the research process, learn strategies to enhance their investigations into issues, and practice multiple methods for communicating their findings in compelling ways, including public speaking.

Creative Coding | Grade 8

Creative Coding explores the place of technology in art and creativity through a series of hands-on projects in computer programming, physical computing, and artificial intelligence. This year-long course introduces several specific software and hardware tools that are instrumental in the digital art-making process, including creative computing environments, computational media, microcontrollers, and machine learning. This online studio course will also include short demonstrations, discussions, and a series of learning projects that employ digital tools in art-making and creative expression with technologies. Students will reflect on their experiences in a blog and share the process and product of their learning adventures in a digital portfolio. At the end of each trimester, students present a final project during a showcase presentation.

MS Visual & Performing Arts | Grade 8

In this rotating year-long course, students are encouraged to unleash their creativity and explore personal expression through art, theater, and music. During Trimester 1, and through the lens of contemporary art, students will be introduced to the elements and principles of design, begin to learn basic drawing skills, and experiment with water-based painting techniques. Independent studio practice combined with instructor support and virtual field trips will help students explore concepts such as composition, negative space, value, and more! In Trimester 2, students will shift their focus to transformation and its impact on theater. Specifically, students will explore how theatrical stories are told, using transformation. They will transform themselves into characters and transform theater spaces, such as Zoom, through design. To conclude the year, students will delve into the relationship between humans and music. By gaining knowledge on the elements of music and how music interacts with the human body, students can explore individual and communal relationships to the music we listen to and love.

Introduction to Filmmaking & Photography | Grade 8

New course offering for the 2022-23 school year — description coming soon.

German I | Grades 8-12

This German 1 class is an exciting, fast-moving, interactive course where beginning learners move from simple conversations to understanding German in written and spoken forms. Students learn a range of themed vocabulary and grammatical concepts, culimating in a strong level of attainment at the end of the year in the key skills of language study: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. The course textbook is supplemented with a variety of contemporary and accessible resources from the German-speaking world. Students will explore German cultural aspects, including forms of address, German festivals, car brands, and Haribo. Students will learn to introduce themselves and will cover the areas of friends and family, free time activities, school, food and meals, and reading, laying a foundation for further study of the language. Students can expect to work collaboratively and independently. Emphasis is placed on speaking, and the willingness to take risks in language learning.