Middle School

Puerto Rico, 2013
Puerto Rico, 2013

The Middle School offers curricular and extracurricular opportunities for students to develop the skills they need to become global citizens. They are exposed to world perspectives across all subjects in the core curriculum.

In addition, the Middle School offers travel opportunities every year for students to immerse themselves in other cultures and improve their communication skills in a foreign language.

Our students are curious, engaged in discussions and genuinely interested in getting ready to take an active part in the world around them.

World Perspectives in the Classroom

Students in the Middle School become more deeply aware of their place in a diverse and globalized world through transcultural exploration across all subjects. A 6th grade student might be exposed to cultural diversity by studying the Silk Road in world history class, while a 7th grade student would read novels on immigration in English class to understand how the United States has been transformed by globalization. In 8th grade, all students have to write and present a capstone project, and many of them engage in academic research on global issues.

 

The English department in grades 6-8 ensures the students are reading, writing  and discussing around their harkness tables, works around the themes of immigration, identity and globalization. The sixth grade looks at what it is to be an American citizen amongst other cultures, the seventh grade works closely with the history department and is looking at historical perspectives on immigration as well as persecution (especially from the Eastern European populations’ point of view during WW2). The eighth grade offers a whole unit on global revolution through fiction based on novels taking place in Argentina, China, Sierra Leone, Dominican Republic, leading to an essay writing where students have to create their own revolution.

In the History department, each grade studies the influence of the global world on the US, meeting all three objectives of the WPP: experiential learning (Trivia Club), transcultural exploration (academic courses), research on global issues (6th grade Silk Road project, and WPP oriented capstone research papers). Topics in the 6th grade include changes in the world environment, however the majority of the year’s teachings revolves around the Silk Road : the exploration of western and eastern religions, and study of the history of the countries found along the Silk Road (China, India, and the Middle East). The 7th grade course focuses on 20th century U.S. history, which includes America’s growing presence on the international stage through events such as World Wars I and II, the Cold War and Vietnam, and challenges in the Middle East, but also includes a study of the growth and development of the USA through immigration and integration patterns and the pursuit of the American dream. The 8th grade Government  course specifically looks at the political systems within the US and in their last unit students focus on foreign affairs and more specifically on foreign political systems from Japan, China, Mexico, Great Britain and Russia. During spring break, students have the opportunity to visit the senate and meet other government officials during their class trip to Washington D.C.

In their creative field of music, the Performing Arts department likes to incorporate various artists and genres to the pieces the music students practice. In the past few year and this year, it includes the works of Western classical composers, variations on the theme of Thailand, Jazz influences and in Chorus, the students have also been studying Israeli songs in Hebrew and Gospels. must The Caribbean Steel Band, a group of a dozen students gathering once a week, is this year celebrating their 2nd anniversary. A great success enjoyed by all during the new theatre ground breaking ceremony last May!!

The Visuals Arts department change their program every year and always focus on exhibitions happening in our community and local area. This enables students to get a current exposure to multiple forms of art. Students study and get inspired for their own project by various artists ( Banksy, Matisse, Boetti) as well as different mediums (clay sculptures, graphite sketches, 3D printing). This year, students are working on identity with 3D printing, this will then be explored further with the study of works of various global artists who all exposed on this topic. In the past, the Visual Arts department was involved in Skype exchanges with Russia, in the future the department would like to continue the exchanges with a country with which the time difference would be lesser, still giving the student the experiential learning they have looked forward to in the past.

The World language department at GFA now offers three languages in the sixth grade, opening an even wider range to our community of Middle School students. Inherent during the three years and each of the languages,  common themes are studied through poems, texts, videos, listening tasks and more recently infographics. The well-travelled teachers endeavors are to share their experiences of various countries with their students. As the students’ knowledge of the language increases and their abilities to understand the various cultures, and by the time the students reach the culmination of the 8th grade they are able to discuss topics in some depth ; for example,  in Mandarin, Chinese history from 1949 onwards, in Spanish, Argentina’s social and political situation in the 1980s and discuss, in French,  with our visiting Rwandese guests the hardships and the rebuilding  of Rwanda over the past 15 years. Students are encouraged throughout their three years course to develop their knowledge of the world they live in through projects on traditions, cultures, and comparisons between countries speaking the same language. See in the Travel Program section (Link to Travel Program section) more details about the MS World Language department WPP trips abroad programs.

The Science department provides a widely global outlook from the very first day of 6th grade. The class provides an in-depth survey of the earth’s geology including how natural processes ( hurricanes, volcanoes and earthquakes) impact world populations.  Further, anthropogenic effects to the environment are discussed and explored when each student takes on the responsibility of a science fair project. These projects highlight how humans have affected the earth and it’s ecosystems and how we can improve our future through technological innovation and research.  Students create and manage experiments testing their environmental issue for a future poster display at GFA’s middle school science fair. (insert one or the other science fair photo in courses folder) In the 7th Grade, while student work on studying resources use and production and their impact on the world, students are benefiting from transcultural exploration as they get into the details of the food chain, habitats and growing population in the world through comparisons of various countries. This year, the 8th Grade’s Greener Greens Farms Project is looking at energy use and global warming within our community and then comparing with the larger world.  See in the trips section (Link to Trip section) more details about the Science department WPP trip to Iceland.

 

Being a very skill-specific course, the Mathematics department finds it natural to include data from around the world in their problems, therefore ensuring the students’ transcultural exploration. In the 6th grade, students are also exposed to the outer world through the history of mathematics, and how mathematical ideas were discovered such as ancient number systems (Greek, Sumerians). Students are also enjoying collaborative  work in the kenken and mathletes clubs.

Science Fair

During the Thursday Club time, students are working on Science fair projects. In sixth grade, all students design, conduct, and present a science research project for our annual GFA science exposition.  While optional in grades 7 and 8, students having a strong interest in the sciences may elect to conduct a semester-long research project with the opportunity to present both at the science expo as well as the Connecticut State Science Fair.

 

 

Capstone Research Project

The 8th grade Capstone paper and project presentation has become an integral part of the Greens Farms Academy Middle School over the last decade.  The quality of the papers and projects has improved each and every year. Every topic that the 8th grade students write a thesis paper on will answer a question about how the topic (or issues related to the topic) positively or negatively impacts the human experience on Earth. Each year culminates, in May, when students present in front of their capstone advisors, peers their final project.

 

Komera Club

In Rwanda, “Komera” means “be strong, have courage.” The Komera Club is a student-run club that partners with the Komera Project in Rwanda, a global leadership incubator for young women that assists girls who have the courage and desire to pursue secondary education, but who lack the resources to do so. The club, made up of middle and upper school girls, meets every other Friday before school to discuss issues related to girls’ education around the world and to work on special projects to raise awareness and funding for Komera. Through bake sales, film screenings, and the Komera Run, the club has sponsored two Komera scholars: Olive Ingabire, age 20, and Solange Nyianawumuntu, age 17. Robbi Hartt, MS English teacher, who has traveled to Rwanda three summers to visit the Komera Project, serves as faculty advisor for the club. (link to Komera website)

 

Travel Programs

French Language Immersion

French language students have the opportunity to go to the francophone region of Québec in February and discover about the culture and nature of this unique area of the American Continent. Through their visit of museum and monuments, students learn about sports, ecosystems as well as the history of Montreal and Queébec City. (Quebec 2015/ Montreal 2017) (Pics, blog)

Spanish Language Immersion

Spanish language students have also the possibility to go and put their language skills to the test in the beautiful central American country of Costa Rica (2016) and Caribbean Island of Puerto Rico (2018), where in both context they will learn about the ecosystems of the region, as well as learning about the colonisation and discovering the history of both countries. (Pics and link to blog)

Science & Culture of Iceland

Iceland, often referred to as “Land of Fire and Ice” is one of the most geologically rich locations in the world. This trip will allow students to experience a wonderful culture and a truly unique landscape while seeing, touching and feeling many aspects of the physical science they learn about at GFA. They will be able to see the unique terrestrial ridge as well as learning about how Iceland will be able to energy independent in 2050. (Pics)

 

Students who are interested in applying to any of these travel programs, please contact Ward Abel (wabel@gfacademy.org).

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