fbpx

At Friends Academy, middle schoolers aren’t in the middle — they’re the leaders of the school. During these three years, our Middle School students grow academically, mature socially, and build confidence and independence as they prepare for secondary school and beyond.

Philosophy

Friends Academy’s Middle School (grades 6 – 8) combines a dynamic and challenging academic program with dedicated faculty in a close-knit environment. Because faculty get to know their students extremely well, students build not only a solid academic foundation but also strength of character, self-esteem, caring relationships, and mutual respect for one another.

A middle school student helping two kindergarten students with math on a laptop during service learning.A core part of the Middle School student experience is leadership and serving as a role model for Lower School students. Our middle schoolers know those younger students are looking up to them — and they rise to the occasion. A 2016 study in the American Educational Research Journal backs this up, showing that students in schools with longer grade spans (such as Friends Academy’s Early Childhood to Grade 8 model) were more likely to feel safe and welcome in school, leading to better academic performance than in a standalone middle school.

After eighth grade, Middle School students graduate to well-regarded independent, parochial, and public secondary schools. Our graduates are well prepared and confident, with a strong sense of self and openness to new experiences.

“The teachers give an outrageous amount of support. If there is anything I need, I can just ask without a worry.”

Seventh grade student

THE MIDDLE SCHOOL EXPERIENCE

The Friends Academy Middle School program includes academics (language arts, math, science, history, and world languages), advisory, visual and performing arts, the outdoors, interscholastic athletics, and service learning. Students are challenged to think critically, solve problems, and develop lifelong study and social skills.

Curriculum

Students hone their English language skills through a variety of reading and writing assignments. The study of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, plays, and short stories lend themselves to enthusiastic discussion and expressive writing which incorporates the study of grammar, mechanics and usage.

Language begins with the spoken word; consequently, conversation is the cornerstone of the English curriculum. The teacher initiates classroom discussion and guided Socratic questioning that is eventually adopted and practiced by students.

  • Read selected, age-appropriate literature that addresses themes near and dear to the hearts of eleven and twelve years olds
  • Empathize with characters in their moments of difficulty and triumph
  • Make inferences about a variety of aspects of characters’ motivations and feelings by analyzing the hidden meaning of dialogue, monologue and narrative
  • Identify and interpret figures of speech — metaphor and personification, for example
  • Identify and define challenging vocabulary words
  • Identify roots of selected words (Latin, Greek, Old English, French, etc.)
  • Apply new vocabulary in original writing and teacher-generated quizzes
  • Create other parts of speech from initial vocabulary word
  • Write coherent and properly structured paragraphs
  • Construct coherent, well-focused and well-documented essays
  • Create logical and suspenseful stories, legends, vignettes. Also write short novellas — generally within the genre of historical fiction
  • Identify and employ the various parts of speech and include the appropriate part of speech in original writing
  • Maintain accepted syntax for purpose of clarity
  • Identify the parts of a sentence: subject, verb
  • Identify and rein-in run-on sentences

In April, students present a poem to an audience of families and student at Arts and Poetry Night.

Books that have been read include: The Lightning Thief, The Man Who Was Poe, and Where the Broken Heart Still Beats.

Sixth grade math bridges the basic skills learned in lower grades to the more advanced study of algebra, geometry and other topics in higher grades.

  • Problem solving strategies
  • Geometry and measurement
  • Estimating, predicting and mental math
  • Number theory and algebraic properties
  • Fractions, decimals, and integers — all operations
  • Pre-algebra: graphing, solving basic equations
  • Ratio, proportion, percent
  • Creative projects using technology

The sixth grade science curriculum is shaped by these essential questions:

  • What do all living things have in common?
  • How do living things differ?
  • How do organisms interact with each other and their environment?

Students explore the following topics through a variety of inquiry-based projects and activities:

Tree Study: Students gather data for the Harvard University Forest “Buds, Leaves, and Global Warming” while learning about tree identification through the use field guides and dichotomous keys. Students learn the importance of and practice accurate sketching/drawing techniques from their “sit spots” at home.

Plants: Students study the characteristics, life cycle, sexual reproduction (pollination/fertilization), parts/function of plants through the following activities:

  • Flower/fruit dissection
  • Tapping maple trees for syrup
  • Using dichotomous keys
  • Observations using “sit spots”
  • Exploring photosynthesis

Introduction to Ecology: In this unit, students examine the levels of environmental organization, food chains and food webs, and types of interactions.

Birds –  Adaptations and Evolution, DNA and Heredity: Students participate in Project Feederwatch through the Cornell Lab where they gather data about the number and kind of birds that they observe at their feeders and interpret the data. Students learn about the parts and functions of birds and their anatomical adaptations. They explore anatomical adaptations and the impact of genetics on evolution through a variety of hands-on labs and projects.

Vernal Pools – Using the on campus vernal pool, students study invertebrates, amphibians, protists and the life cycles of the vernal pool organisms. Taxonomy, the scientific method, designing experiments, and using microscopes are all included.

Students are responsible for writing a scientific research paper on a topic of their choice.

The study of history in the Middle School is a platform to facilitate an understanding of the responsibilities of global citizenship. Teachers guide students through meaningful projects, intellectual conversation, scholarly debate, analytical research and thoughtful writing to promote an understanding of history and its impact on the present.

These essential questions guide sixth graders in their explorations:

  • What is the role of conflict in our nation’s history?
  • How have citizens affected change?
  • How has the past shaped the present?

In grade six, students are immersed in United States history from the Civil War to the Cold War era. Students study the rapid and turbulent changes to our young nation by reading, writing, and discussing the significance of historic events, and by examining the relationship between the past and present.

Prentice Hall’s “The American Nation,” and Howard Zinn’s “A Young People’s History of the United States” and “Hitler Youth” are resources for students as are primary documents, videos, various websites and field trips. Students complete a variety of inquiry-based and creative projects.

Among the topics studied are:

  • Impact of geography on historic events
  • Analysis of primary source documents
  • Taking perspective of historic figure
  • Writing historical fiction – integrated with English
  • Role of Media in Politics and war (past and present)
  • Current events
  • Debates: Pros and cons of Government regulation, Free speech
  • Skills – completing an independent research paper, test-taking skills & strategies
  • Oral presentations

Seventh grade Language Arts is guided by the following essential questions:

  • Who are the heroes in our lives and what happens when heroes disappoint you?
  • Why do we still read Shakespeare today and a variety of different genres?
  • How do we work together for a common goal? How do we develop a society that embraces humanity and acceptance? One that values every person’s skills and input?
  • How do we express our individual voice while also writing clearly and creatively? How can we understand, identify and apply different aspects of writing and creating voice.
  • How do we determine point of view? How does a writer create suspense? How do we create our own short stories based on what we learn by reading others?  

Curriculum throughout the year focuses on deep comprehension of the books, short stories, and poetry being read. At the same time, students learn to deconstruct text to understand aspects of writing, for example, the use of allegory, metaphor, and symbolism. How does the writer create suspense? How do we determine point of view? Students are also writers themselves and learn to incorporate these aspects into their own short stories, poetry, vignettes, and journal writing. Woven throughout is the study of grammar and how it applies to writing.

Projects include: creating poetry books, life size characters, and character boxes, and mask making for an Elizabethan dance

Arts and Poetry Night in April gives students the opportunity to share poetry they have written to an audience of parents and peers.  Students also have an open mic presentation to give a talk about something in which they are passionate.

Among the books read in seventh grade are: Wednesday Wars, Romeo and Juliet, The Outsiders, and The Lord of the Flies.

Seventh grade students are placed in either Grade Level Math or Honors Pre-Algebra. Both courses cover similar topics, but the pacing and depth of the material varies. The honors class works at a faster pace and covers some topics that the grade-level class doesn’t.

Both classes revolve around the essential question of how math can be useful in a person’s day-to-day life.  

The honors class prepares students for a full-year Algebra I course, spending time learning how to work with variables and manipulate equations. They understand that there is often more than one way to solve a problem and some problems can have more than one solution.

In the grade-level class, the year is centered around the Design Your Life inquiry-based program. Throughout the year, students plan for their life at the age of 25. Students set goals, explore careers, find out exactly what is needed to achieve them, and how much they will have to pay. They write a resume, apply and interview for a job, and wait to hear if they obtain it. Throughout this year-long project, math is incorporated every step of the way. This blend of hands‐on math and real­‐world applications are used to deliver a concrete sense of the use of numbers.

Topics covered include:

  • Proportion
  • Associative, commutative and distributive properties
  • Data analysis and probability
  • Decimals, fractions, integers
  • Ratios, percents
  • Unit Rates
  • Geometry
  • Problem solving techniques
  • PEMDAS
  • Working with variables
  • Solving one-step, two-step, and multi-step algebraic equations
  • Probability and statistics

The essential questions that drive the seventh grade science curriculum are:

  • What are Earth systems and how do they interact?
  • How are we connected to Earth systems and the environment?
  • How is current climate change different from past climate change?

Students explore these questions through a variety of long-term projects.

River Study – For more than ten years, students have collected samples from the Paskamansett River and have performed water quality tests. Students analyze short-term and long-term data.

Earthquake Map – students will periodically be assigned a recent earthquake to research, which they will then present to the class and mark on the classroom map. By the end of the year the map should clearly display tectonic boundaries.

Global Voices – As an integrated project with social studies, students study an assigned country from around the globe and choose a major natural disaster common there (earthquakes or flooding due to hurricanes, tsunami, monsoon, etc.). Staying within a budget calculated based on the GDP/capita of their country, they construct a building designed to withstand that disaster. They log their progress, tests, and redesigns, and display their buildings at the Science Expo. Global Voices culminates in the Global Summit, a strategy-style game simulation of trade and policy-making that tests their ability to increase their country’s GDP/capita while reducing carbon emissions.

Curricular areas of study include:

  • Mapping
  • Water cycle, ocean currents, and pollution
  • Atmosphere and weather patterns
  • Climate and climate change
  • Plate tectonics, geologic time, earthquakes & volcanoes
  • Solar system & planets

The study of history in the Middle School is a platform to facilitate an understanding of the responsibilities of global citizenship. Teachers guide students through meaningful projects, intellectual conversation, scholarly debate, analytical research and thoughtful writing to promote an understanding of history and its impact on the present.

These essential questions drive the seventh grade social studies curriculum:

  • How is culture visible, or apparent? How is it shaped overtime?  
  • Why is multiculturalism important?
  • How does conflict and crisis impact culture and society?
  • How are citizens today shaped by decisions and events in history?
  • How do people affect change?  Why do they attempt to make change?
  • How does change impact societies?

The study of world history in the Middle School is a platform to facilitate an understanding of the rights and responsibilities of global citizenship. Teachers guide students through meaningful projects, intellectual conversation, scholarly debate, analytical research and thoughtful writing to promote an understanding of the world, its past and its impact on the present.

Holt McDougal’s World History in partner with the History Channel, Facing History and Ourselves, Teaching Tolerance, and PBS are resources for students as are primary documents, videos, and various websites. Students complete a variety of inquiry-based and creative projects throughout the year. Among them, they explore slave trade and colonialism in modern Africa, learn about ancient civilizations, and dive deeply into geography, culture, resources and innovation.

Students participate in Global Voices, an interdisciplinary unit that involves science/social studies human rights, activism, and abolition. They continue to develop and strengthen their skills in critical reading, document analysis, analytical writing, and peer collaboration and individualized reflection.

The eighth grade language arts curriculum is guided by these essential questions:

  • What can I add to the conversation? What is the power of language? How can I affect an audience with my writing and speech?
  • How do parables/allegories/fables teach life lessons? What can we learn from storytelling? Why is storytelling an important and integral part of all cultures? How do writers use symbolism to illustrate a theme?
  • How can the voice of just one person make such a big difference? How can we further explore the power of language and education?
  • What do you believe in? How did you acquire your set of beliefs?
  • Whose voices are being heard and whose are being left out?  

In this literature rich environment, student tackle deeper questions that connect to social justice issues and integrate with their social studies curriculum as well. Among the books read are: The Little Prince, I Am Malala, Night, March, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. They sharpen their inferential comprehension skills through written responses and class discussions.

In Writer’s Workshop, students hone their writing, developing symbolism, figurative language, and vocabulary. Narrative writing, paragraph structure, word choice, brainstorming, rough draft writing, peer editing, and final drafts are thoughtfully crafted.

In April, students present a poem to an audience of families and student at Arts and Poetry Night. They also prepare and present a talk about something they are passionate about to their peers and teachers.

Grade 8 math is guided by this essential question: How can mathematics be used to model real-world situations?

Eighth grade algebra students are placed in either Grade-Level First Year Algebra or Honors Algebra I. Both sections use a high school text and cover Algebra I topics.

  • Solving equations and inequalities
  • Solving and applying proportions
  • Linear equations and graphs
  • Systems of equations
  • Exponential functions
  • Polynomials and factoring*
  • Quadratic equations*
  • Radical expressions*
  • Rational expressions*

* Indicates topic covered only in Honors Algebra I.

Eighth grade science introduces students to physical science using the IPS curriculum. The essential questions that drive the curriculum are:

  • What is matter and how can we measure it?
  • What properties of matter affect how it interacts with other matter?
  • How do we, as scientists, create hypotheses, solve problems, and report our findings?

Throughout the year, students build understanding and knowledge through a series of lab based experiments that may explore:

  • Volume and Mass
  • Mass Changes in Closed Systems
  • Characteristic Properties
  • Solubility
  • Separation of Mixtures
  • Compounds & Elements
  • Atomic Models
  • Radioactivity
  • Sizes and Masses of Atoms and Molecules
  • Periodic Table of the Elements

Long Term Project: Students identify a topic of interest that they want to explore in November. Building on the experimental model used in class, students will create their own experiment and complete the applicable background research, experimental trials, data collection, and conclusions based on their hypothesis. The project culminates with poster and paper presentations at the Science Expo in March.

Final assessment: SLUDGE

Students work in teams to separate an unknown “industrial” mixture, purify and identify its fractions, and determine whether the fractions could be recycled or reused for “industrial purposes.” The project relies on the combined application of information learned in several chapters, and on the group’s ability to assign tasks and make good use of their time.

The study of history in the Middle School is a platform to facilitate an understanding of the responsibilities of global citizenship. Teachers guide students through meaningful projects, intellectual conversation, scholarly debate, analytical research and thoughtful writing to promote an understanding of history and its impact on the present.

These essential questions guide the eighth grade social studies curriculum:

  • What does it mean to be an “agent of change?” How can people be agents of change?  When is change necessary and how is it achieved?
  • Examining both the UDHR and U.S. Constitution as examples, how do we create a more just and inclusive society?  What are our responsibilities as both U.S  and global citizens?

The study of world history in the Middle School is a platform to facilitate an understanding of the rights and responsibilities of global citizenship. Teachers guide students through meaningful projects, intellectual conversation, scholarly debate, analytical research and thoughtful writing to promote an understanding of world history and its impact on the present.

Students continue to examine world cultures. They explore a number of topics, among them, different forms of governments comparing and contrasting them with a democracy. They delve into comparative religion, visiting several places of worship in New Bedford and Providence. They dive deeply into the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act with an interdisciplinary reading of Malala Yousafzai’s memoir: He Named Me Malala. This also includes learning about the geography and culture of Pakistan.

Throughout the year, students practice the following important skills: textual analysis (emphasis on primary texts), oral arguments (debate etiquette), research and analytical writing.

All sixth grade students take Latin. At the end of sixth grade, students choose to take either Spanish or Latin for their final two years at Friends Academy. 

Latin

The study of Latin is guided by these essential questions:

  • How does language work? How do words work together to make meaning?
  • How do words change? How do English words come from Latin?
  • How have people and cultures changes over time?
  • How has the world changed over time?

The Latin curriculum combines an understanding and history of the ancient world and learning Latin. Students enjoy Greek and Roman mythological figures and learn about their powers. They do translations, expand their English and Latin vocabularies, and read and write Latin. Students learn that our own world has deep roots in an ancient and fascinating one.

Latina vivit!

Spanish

Topics covered in Spanish by the end of eighth grade are:

  • Conversations with friends and sometimes via Skype regarding school, family, health, food, shopping, parties and travel
  • Conjugation of regular, irregular and stem-changing verbs in the present tense, preterite, immediate future, present progressive and command forms
  • Cultural studies of many different Spanish-speaking countries

After eighth grade, graduates transition to Spanish 2 honors or Spanish 3 honors for ninth grade in secondary school.

In professional sports (which is entertainment), there is only one goal – to have the most points at the end of a contest. However, in youth sports (which is education), there is a second goal: to produce young people who will be winners in life. To help our children get the most out of competitive sports, we need to redefine what it means to be a “winner.”

Winners are people who:

  • Make maximum effort
  • Continue to learn and improve
  • Refuse to let mistakes (or fear of making mistakes) stop them.

In the Friends Academy Athletic program coaches emphasize the personal philosophy of E.L.M, and the team concept of R.O.O.T.S.

  • Effort
  • Learning & rebounding from
  • Mistakes
  • Rules: We don’t bend the rules to win.
  • Opponents: A worthy opponent is a gift that forces us to play to our highest potential.
  • Officials: We treat officials with respect even when we disagree.
  • Teammates: We never do anything that would embarrass our team on or off the field/track.
  • Self: We live up to our own standards regardless of what others do.

When a student is involved in our athletics program we want to provide them with a positive experience, helping them learn more about themselves through healthy competition, while forming bonds with classmates on and off of the playing field. We look forward to a new year of impacting the lives of youth through sport.

OUTDOOR EDUCATION

From the earliest of ages, students at Friends Academy participate in an ongoing experiential learning curriculum that takes place out of doors. Students not only learn how to climb, camp, and swing from ropes, they are also exposed to team-building games, lessons in leadership, and personal responsibility. They learn what it takes to trust and be trusted, to communicate cooperatively, and to practice empathy.

Visual arts education inspires students to perceive and shape the visual, spatial, and aesthetic characteristics of the world around them. Students are exposed to a variety of art concepts, skills and the history of art. This enables the students to expand their ability to organize, abstract, experiment, problem solve and explore. Lessons are often integrated with core subjects. Students are challenged to develop their capacity for imaginative and reflective thinking.

In sixth grade art, students will:

  • Continue to explore color relationships
  • Recognize a variety of compositional options
  • Refine drawing and painting techniques as applied to various projects
  • Explore advanced ceramic and sculptural techniques
  • Explore a variety of printmaking techniques
  • Study various artists and cultures
  • Continue to develop and use appropriate art vocabulary
  • Reflect on art making process and assess individual progress

Seventh grade art students will:

  • Continue exploration of the color wheel
  • Incorporate world cultures as inspiration for art (India, Africa, Australia, Japan)
  • Explore and refines advanced techniques in drawing, painting, and ceramics
  • Use technology appropriately (research, Photoshop)
  • Use a journal for idea development and project assessment
  • Continue developing and using appropriate art vocabulary
  • Study artists and art history through projects and field trip (RISD)

Eighth grade art students will:

  • Explore and use the idea of thematic development
  • Study advanced techniques in painting, drawing, and ceramics
  • Integrate English, history, and art
  • Create works inspired by artists, art history, and other cultures
  • Understand and use 2- and 3-point perspective
  • Use technology appropriately (research, Photoshop)
  • Continue to develop and use appropriate art vocabulary
  • Use a journal for idea development and project assessment
  • Analyze their own artwork and works from art history both verbally and in writing
  • Study artists and art history through projects and field trip (New York Museum)

A progressive “whole music” approach to Music Theory, History & Culture, Articulation & Interpretation of beginning piano repertoire is offered through the use of the piano keyboard lab.

  • Individual and group practice at the piano keyboard.
  • Improving literacy of written music including both treble and bass clef and playing with two hands
  • Building interpretation, articulation, and dynamics skills
  • Ear training and interval identification
  • In-class performances as well as school-wide performance opportunities
  • Survey of music history periods including the history of jazz in America as well as playing beginning repertoire of selected composers
  • Glee Club and Talent Showcase provide more opportunity for interpretation and performance for both in-school events and community-service events
  • Drama – Grade 5/6 fall production and grade 7/8 spring production provides acting, dancing, singing, and stage technology experience

Technology is thoughtfully integrated into the curricula at all levels. It is used as a research and assistive tool, as a medium for expression, and as a catalyst for problem solving and critical thinking. Students use technology to create, communicate, research, and collaborate. 

In sixth grade, students transition from using school-owned technologies to ownership. As such, we stress the responsible, safe, and ethical use of technology, teaching students to consider carefully before sending messages or images, to exercise caution when deciding what content to receive or download, and to avoid giving out personal information. While several protections are in place inside the school from filters and firewalls to management and anti-viral software, education and an emphasis on self-regulation remain the best methods for empowering students to make good choices.

Sampling of Projects and Skills

  • Type 12-20 wpm
  • Use loops, variables, operators, and other programming constructs to create an interactive educational game on internet safety
  • Record data on a spreadsheet for a science project
  • Backup a file to the cloud or external hard-drive
  • Use a 3D modeling program to design a home given parameters for area and perimeter
  • Cite sources when using the intellectual property of others
  • Create and manage a student blog as a service learning project

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.  Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
-Margaret Mead 

MISSION 

Through their own passions – and with the guidance of faculty, staff, and family – students identify and pursue meaningful* service-learning opportunities within their community, the United States, and the world.  These opportunities align with Friends Academy’s five virtues and its mission.  They encourage compassion, build responsibility, develop leadership, and broaden the students’ awareness of the world.

*Work in the community is related to academic study in ways that enhance both.  Students learn best and most profoundly by constructing knowledge and rooting it in personal experience.

GOALS

Friends Academy concentrates on service-learning opportunities that:

  • Integrate with students’ curriculum
  • Create a reciprocal relationship between the school and the community
  • Meet a genuine community need
  • Develop a strong sense of social responsibility, civic awareness, respect for diversity and differences and enhance personal growth and life-long learning
  • Help students become responsible community members and productive citizens

STRUCTURE

Friends Academy middle school students spend a double-block period each week devoted to on-campus opportunities of interest that support school, local, and global initiatives.

Each grade, led by teacher-chaperones, also leaves campus on multiple occasions to volunteer at local community organizations and offer hands-on support to farms and gardens and community service agencies.

“I have developed such good relationships here. I’m always excited to get up and go to school in the morning.”

Eighth grade student