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Our Programs
Middle School

Curriculum

2018-19

Middle School Course Descriptions

DIVISION OBJECTIVES
The middle school student at Wilmington Friends School is by definition a pre-adolescent or an adolescent, and the curriculum reflects the changing and sometimes difficult nature of that stage in our students’ development. The children who enter the sixth grade differ dramatically from the teenagers who move on to upper school after eighth grade. Their changes are intellectual, emotional, and physical. Middle school students often seek independence by testing authority. At the same time, they both fear and delight in taking risks and trying new things.
 
The middle school structures programs that stimulate students to meet challenges, value differences in each other, and make good decisions. Faculty advisors (see “Advisory Program”) and grade deans offer guidance and support for students and their families. The transition to adult life requires the acquisition of both skills and knowledge, which promote the growth of independent and cooperative learning. By emphasizing interdisciplinary activities and programs, reading, study skills, group learning, and techniques of organization, middle school teachers guide students through and beyond the fundamentals of academic work. Activities that strengthen written, oral, and artistic expression allow individual talents to be recognized. Participation in individual and team sports develops both the cooperative and competitive spirits in children while satisfying their need for physical activity.
 
A graduate of Wilmington Friends is expected to embody core ways of being. A graduate is someone who:

Seeks truth
Values justice and peace with a conscious responsibility for the good of all
Models creative, independent thinking
Exercises self awareness and intentionality
Is a skillful communicator and collaborator

However, there is no single class to teach these life habits. Only through earnest engagement with our program and community does the student develop and begin to exercise these ways of being. The middle school component of this journey involves the development of  eight essential cross-curricular skills. Within the WFS middle school students work in all of their classes, teams, small groups, and interactions to:

Communicate
  • communicate effectively in a variety of media (writing, speaking, performing and visual arts, etc.)
  • listen to, consider, and recognize others’ perspectives
  • advocate effectively for themselves

Collaborate
  • work effectively in groups
  • demonstrate flexibility in attitude, approach, and working with others
  • participate actively and positively in the life of the school

Create
  • think independently
  • produce creative solutions
  • ask “what if?”
  • express thoughts, feelings, experiences, stories  through visual and performing arts

Manage Time/Organize
  • prepare/plan effectively for projects and assessments
  • attend to detail
  • organize efficiently
  • manage time effectively
  • prioritize effectively

Live Responsibly/“Let Their Lives Speak”
  • use and apply technology in an efficient and productive way
  • follow-through on assigned work/accepted responsibilities
  • accept individual responsibility for role in community
  • recognize and act upon the “responsibility of opportunity”
  • demonstrate integrity; make ethical decisions
  • recognize godliness in others
Grow and Develop Resilience
  • accept mistakes as a key part of the learning process
  • accept and engage challenge willingly beyond personal comfort zones
  • exercise self-discipline/demonstrate an ability to delay gratification
  • demonstrate resilience (learn from and do not dwell on failure)
  • attribute success to their own efforts

Inquire/Engage
  • read effectively to determine next steps
  • connect learning to their lives; make it personally meaningful
  • identify reliable resources
  • ask and test questions effectively
  • “self-teach”
  • work independently

Be Mindful
  • understand themselves as learners
  • value reflection
  • understand that learning is a lifelong process
  • value the lessons others have to teach
  • discipline themselves to remain open to new ideas and understanding
DIVISION-WIDE PROGRAMS

ADVISORY PROGRAM
The faculty advisor establishes a working relationship with student advisees, providing each student with an adult advocate. The advisor is the primary link between home and school, with regular communication to parents/guardians, including comments in interim and semester reports concerning the growth and progress of the student. The advisor is also responsible for knowing the “big picture” about her/his advisees’ academic and personal development, consulting with other teachers as needed, and tracking approaches that are more or less helpful in encouraging student success.
 
Advisory Groups:
  • consist of 10-13 advisees who meet regularly and frequently
  • provide a trusting environment where students may offer support to each other
  • provide a setting in which students can...
    • review school rules and procedures
    • discuss ethical and moral issues
    • discuss social concerns
    • build group trust
    • set individual goals
    • develop organizational/responsibility strategies
    • learn conflict resolution skills
    • have fun in a small social group

COLLECTION AND ACTIVITIES
Collection: Collection, a regularly scheduled (every-other week) assembly of the entire middle school student-body and faculty, is an opportunity for shared community experiences. Typically, these include presentations and performances by students, faculty, and visiting artists and speakers.  

Activities: Sponsored by middle school faculty, the Middle School Activities Program is an opportunity for students to participate in fun and differently paced experiences during the academic cycle. Students sign up for an activity twice in the school year. Activities meet every-other week for 45 minutes. Some activities include dice baseball, cricket, Origami, dramatic improvisation, low impact camping, surfing the Internet, Latin American dancing, mind teasers, indoor soccer, chess, kickball, S.P.O.R.T.S. talk, cake and cookie decorating, "philm and philosophy," silly videos, and international cooking.

MEETING FOR WORSHIP
At the heart of Friends School is the Meeting for Worship. Friends (Quakers) worship as a group. In the middle school this may take the form of an entire division (6th-8th grades); mixed-small groups of 10-15 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students; advisory group; or a whole grade-level. Students and faculty gather in “attentive” or “expectant” silence. Anyone who feels moved to do so may stand and speak briefly. The school tries to help students find ways of using silent meditation effectively for worship. Reflection on inward leadings and shared messages gives students and adults, informed by their own religious identity and values, a meaningful opportunity for moral-intellectual growth.

MEETING FOR BUSINESS
The business meeting clerk, agenda clerk, and recording clerk (all students selected by their peers) set an agenda for the monthly business meeting. The business meeting follows the Quaker method of decision making through consensus. Significant, student-initiated changes have been made to middle school life and operations through student-led initiatives in committees (see below) and business meeting.
 
SERVICE-LEARNING PROGRAM
The Middle School Service-Learning Program is an important aspect of students’ growth and maturation, and it is integrally linked to curriculum covered in both academic courses and advisory. Students in all three grades engage in service learning projects throughout the course of the school year. Service learning reinforces the idea, importance, and practice of reaching out and caring for others, an aspect of education and citizenship that is nurtured in the lower school at Friends and that continues through the upper school’s service requirement. Our hope is that students will gain a broader understanding of their individual roles in society by helping to improve the quality of life of others in their local and/or global community.
 
Finally, the Service Learning Program is based on the Quaker ideals of environmental stewardship and community responsibility and the belief among educators that service experiences provide adolescents with an outward focus that can facilitate a personal and group sense of pride and accomplishment, as well as support educational goals.

Middle School service experiences include activities and projects that:
  • are authentic (meet a real need in the community).
  • are age appropriate.
  • engage students in the planning.
  • involve a strong reflective component before, during, and after the service activity.
  • are in some way connected to, or integrated with the students’ academic/advisory curriculum.
 
The following are objectives of the Middle School Service-Learning Program:
  • Students develop an appreciation for the opportunities community service can provide, both in terms of personal pride for the student and positive impact on the greater community.
  • Students grow personally and intellectually as a result of their service experience and the subsequent reflective activities.
  • Students understand that service to others is a responsibility of each member of the community.
  • Students discern connections between their service work and components of their academic and/or advisory curricula.
  • Students connect their service experiences with the Quaker beliefs in stewardship of Earth, the environment, and economic resources.
  • Students engage in several different school-sponsored service opportunities throughout the academic year.

STUDENT GOVERNANCE: COMMITTEES AND CLUBS
Committees: In our middle school, students are directly involved in community decision making. Students organize and run committees that seek to improve the quality of middle school life. Faculty members sponsor each committee, but they are not decision makers; they are simply guiding members. Individual students are selected by the Quaker process of consensus for leadership roles and then attend leadership workshops to develop facilitation and group-management skills. All committee plans and decisions are arrived at through consensus as well. While this process is often not a quick means to decisions, it values and, indeed, requires all voices.

Clubs: Middle school students are invited to propose and organize clubs based upon shared interests. Clubs require a faculty sponsor and typically meet during middle school lunch. Examples of include Drama Club and One Direction Club, among many others.

TECHNOLOGY PROGRAM
Wilmington Friends has a one-to-one laptop program for students in grades 5-12. Students use their school-issued laptops both at school and at home, for computer-based work in all disciplines. The goal of the program is not simply to expand the use of digital-age tools, but to make the most of the opportunities presented by technology in service of our educational and philosophical mission. The potential of technology for collaboration across all kinds of boundaries aligns with the Quaker belief in collective wisdom and the commitment of Quaker schools to prepare and inspire students “to make a better world.” It also aligns with research demonstrating that technology as a thoughtfully applied tool within a quality curriculum deepens student engagement, supporting both independent learning (including differentiated instruction) and collaborative problem solving.

The laptop program is a tool to help us reach the following objectives:

  1. To advance the development of 21st century skills such as collaboration, critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, and adaptability—skills recognized as increasingly essential to advanced studies, public service and citizenship, and leadership in industry.
  2. To enable faculty to incorporate technology more easily into their lessons, and to support their unyielding efforts to maintain an innovative learning environment for students.
  3. To deepen the student-centered approach to teaching and learning.
  4. To provide all of our students with equal access to and compatible forms of technology at school and at home.
  5. To improve the performance and efficiency of our school’s computer network, further increasing student access to technology.