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Grade 7

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 8-9 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.

Science class uses microscope
Top-down view of boy reading book

7th Grade Curriculum Overview

Mathematics

The seventh grade math curriculum encourages students to feel comfortable with concepts around numbers in general, build confidence with how to approach and start any math problem, and use appropriate vocabulary when describing solutions or asking questions. Pre-Algebra exposes students to a variety of mathematical concepts that strengthen students number and operation skills. A study of geometry and measurement has students smoothly swapping between the Pythagorean Theorem and its converse, and finding unknown side lengths and angle measures. Seventh grade mathematicians increase their skill base through studies of data analysis, probability, patterns, functions, and introductory algebraic equations. In addition to standard Pre-Algebra classes, an advanced class is offered in the seventh grade that requires students to draw upon a deeper knowledge of concepts and show more independence as a math learner. All math students are pushed to become flexible thinkers who have accurate and efficient strategies for solving problems.

English

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.

Social Studies

Seventh graders are challenged to think critically and globally. Our curriculum provides students with opportunities to question sources of information, examine multiple perspectives and identify bias. Through their course of study, students analyze the structure of American government, learn about the responsibilities of each branch, examine the liberties guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, and consider the history that led to the creation of the Constitution. Seventh graders explore questions such as “what does it mean to be American?” and “who’s really in charge of this country—the states, the federal government, or we, the people?” Students examine the role of both government and ordinary citizens in the United States Civil Rights Movement (including some prominent figures such as Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr. as well as lesser-known events such as the integration of Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas) and recognize that movement as a series of case studies in how to effect change. In the spring, seventh graders produce a thesis-based research paper, complete with MLA-style citations, that more deeply addresses a topic of their choosing based on what was studied over the course of the academic year.

Science

Seventh grade students are challenged to think outside the box, formulate new and innovative solutions to real world problems, and explore how the environment has shaped our species. Life science is a central focus of the seventh grade science curriculum, and units range from broad concepts (such as life, living things and evolution) to deep dives (such as cellular processes and microscopy). Students practice scientific inquiry and science writing practices throughout the year, and apply their growing body of knowledge by making careful qualitative and quantitative observations of the natural world and evaluating the reliability of science experiments through experimental design, data collection methods and graphing skills. Through their study of intertidal zone ecology, students learn about overarching concepts in ecology such as levels of organization, trophic levels, feeding behaviors, food webs, energy flow in an ecosystem and abiotic and biotic challenges. Field trips to local beaches and tide pools enable students to make observations and collect data in order examine how these habitats change over time, and also supports their study of marine invertebrates and fish. Seventh graders learn about genetics through their study of cell cycles, DNA, genes, heredity and natural selection, and a unit on human sexuality covers topics such as: the structure and function of the human reproductive system; the causes, consequences, treatment and prevention of sexually transmitted infections; the effectiveness of different types of contraception in protecting against sexually transmitted infections and unplanned pregnancies; and the importance of respectful, honest and strong communication skills especially as they relate to the concept of consent.

World Language

Building upon the concepts and skills acquired in sixth grade, seventh grade students continue their study of French, Mandarin or Spanish. The goal is for students to use the target language as much as possible in world language class, with an expectation that they will take risks and make mistakes in order to strengthen their command of the language. Seventh graders learn more complex grammar and units centered around giving commands and directions, discussing future plans, talking about daily routines, and explore topics that are relevant to the students at that time. This material allows students to engage in more spontaneous conversations, read and discuss stories, and continue to learn to identify and appreciate cultural nuances. Specific to Mandarin, students continue learning to identify common radicals (discrete meaning-bearing pieces of Chinese characters) and utilize this understanding to correctly write characters. Students also continue saying words with accurate tones and learn the adverbial of time/place which helps students to describe things that take place in the past, present, and future tense. In addition to reading, writing and conversational skill-building, students in all three languages continue to strengthen their awareness of and appreciation for cultural trends and traditions of the language they are studying.

Music & Performing Arts

Seventh graders continue their study of music, building upon skills and techniques acquired in sixth grade, in order to read multiple notes and develop sight-reading skills as part of their year-long study of handbells. Seventh graders study advanced music theory principles and gain a basic understanding of world music ranging from the Caribbean to West Africa. Through our performing arts curriculum, seventh graders gain an understanding of the history of the Broadway musical, explore basic drama skills through simple skits and exercises, develop an ability and love for performing, and play handbells in the annual Revels holiday production. Opportunities to participate in School Meeting Band, acapella groups and other music-based clubs are also offered as part of our Upper School experience.

Visual Arts

Seventh grade art students practice, review, and work to expand their knowledge of drawing, painting, and construction techniques while focusing on art elements (line, value, color, texture, and form) and design principles (contrast, proportion, balance, and emphasis). A more comprehensive exploration of printmaking techniques and of clay as a sculptural medium are also examined. Using their budding critical thinking skills, students are encouraged to respond to class assignments and their work in a more personal, meaningful way. Seventh grade artists are to be able to explain their artistic decisions and their choice of materials, as well as the process and/or techniques involved in making their work. Seventh graders study relevate modern and contemporary art and artists, creating a responsive piece that captures the overall understanding of a particular artist. In addition to creating individual pieces, students collaborate with each other and participate in rich interdisciplinary projects. At least once a year, a visit to a local museum allows students to view first hand the various creations of “master” artists.

Technology

Seventh Grade technology class is centered around Internet Literacy including online safety, how to recognize and reduce our risks in a wide variety of ways, from phishing or malicious content to overexposure of privacy in social media. Students also learn how to harness the power of Google tools in a way that most adults don’t even realize is possible. Using the Internet today also requires skills in evaluating the legitimacy and truthfulness of information we find, and learning how to recognize if information is biased or fake. Finally, students look at themselves to better understand their online reputation and how they can have a positive impact on it.

Athletics

Beginning in seventh grade, students participate in interscholastic and intramural seasonal athletics teams which are designed to build individual and team skills while also helping our student-athletes develop an appreciation for healthy competition and the benefits of being physically active. Students are required to participate in one of our interscholastic or intramural offerings each season (fall, winter and spring), which include soccer, field hockey, running and fitness, basketball, yoga and lacrosse. We offer two levels for seasonal interscholastic sports (varsity and junior varsity), each with its own guiding philosophy. An extensive tryout period at the start of each season followed by one-on-one team placement discussions between coaches and students ensure that athletic teams are organized based on where each child will find success. Brookwood honors all sports interests, including those not offered by our athletics program. Therefore, we provide the option of an athletics exemption for committed athletes who fulfill their physical education requirement by pursuing their athletic passions off campus.

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