About Our Grade 7 Program
Seventh grade is a year of social, emotional, biological and cognitive turbulence. We intentionally root our seventh graders in meaningful values and key habits of mind so they are equipped with what they need to build confidence and grow their academic self. The seventh grade curriculum is designed to give these increasingly abstract thinkers the opportunity to explore and honor a variety of differences, and to take more responsibility and more risks. This is the year, lodged between two major transition periods, when students can settle down and dig into honing their critical thinking skills and nurturing the kind of growth mindset that will set them up for true success—personal as well as academic—in the years to come.
Fostering Growth: Faculty Advisors
Seventh grade students work collaboratively with faculty advisors who help guide, direct and support their growth throughout the school year. Advisors serve as student advocates, keeping current with each advisee’s academic, social and emotional status and are the primary contact for parents when questions or needs arise. Seventh grade advisory groups consist of 9-10 students who remain together throughout the school year. To discuss and debrief life as a seventh grader, advisory groups meet regularly: most mornings from 8:20-8:30, once a week for a 30-minute advisory period, once a week during a 45-minute Personal Growth and Development period, and occasionally for advisory lunches. Students and advisors also connect as needed throughout the week. Although advisors play an integral role in seventh graders’ life at school, academic teachers remain the primary point of contact for course-specific academic needs.
Risk-Taking & Teamwork: Heron Cup Houses
Taking a page from Harry Potter, Upper Schoolers are sorted into one of ten constellation-themed Heron Cup Houses. These houses build connections and community by mixing students across grades. Houses eat lunch together once a week and participate in playful competitions that involve risk-taking, teamwork, and a healthy dose of team spirit.
Building Relationships Across Grades
As part of our Personal Growth and Development (PGD) program, seventh graders meet with first grade buddies regularly to foster a greater understanding of what it means to be an empathetic and responsible member of our school community. It is a wonderful opportunity for both the younger and older students to form relationships that last throughout their years at Brookwood.
Seventh graders become more powerful producers and consumers of texts in order to better engage with and understand both the world and themselves. Students learn to use close reading strategies (such as discerning figurative language) to summarize key passages, use connections (for instance between a story and historical information) to improve understanding of a text, and use clues to make logical inferences. Exposure to diverse genres such as short fiction, the novel, free verse poetry, journalism and the nature essay encourages students to become versatile readers, and factual and interpretive questions are used to spark discussions in order to deepen students’ engagement with texts. Seventh grade students learn how to use key terms such as symbolism and theme to assess craft, and margin annotations help students develop personal conversations with a text that can be shared with others in discussion. As writers, students produce short fiction, free verse poetry, advocacy letters, and analytical essays. They expand and document their thinking about literary texts by crafting well-organized and substantiated expository paragraphs. Principles of style, such as conciseness, improve the clarity and elegance of their work, and a variety of resources (including mentor texts, conferences with a teacher, peer review and self-reflection) help students develop and revise written drafts. Public speaking skills continue to be practiced and reinforced through class discussion and collaborative projects, including an advertising pitch that uses a metaphor to sell a product.
Seventh grade students participate in Brookwood’s annual Harold W. Wise Declamation Contest, which was named by longtime teacher and administrator Dan Wise for his father who, as a would-be actor, struggled to memorize his lines. Through the years, hundreds of Brookwood School students have participated in the event. With a lower level division for fifth and sixth graders and an upper level division for seventh and eighth graders, the process begins when students choose their own readings with guidance from faculty. They memorize their selections and hone public speaking skills by reciting their poems in front of audiences ranging from small peer groups to their entire class. Declamation semi-finalists are selected during grade-level rounds, and the event culminates at School Meeting in May when finalists compete on stage in front of the entire Brookwood community. A panel of guest judges ultimately select one winner from each division based on a variety of criteria, especially the declaimer’s ability to convey the feeling and meaning of the poem to what is always a rapt audience.