Academics

Middle Division

Building on the Primary and Intermediate Division programs, which lay the foundations for inquiry and project-based integrated learning, the Middle Division of The School continues to foster the academic and social-emotional development of our students. Our goal is to help students become their best selves: intrinsically motivated self-advocates who develop a clear understanding of themselves as learners and co-creators of the world around them. Teachers differentiate instruction in the classroom to both challenge and scaffold a wide range of learners. Student-to-teacher feedback is conducted in a variety of formats including assessments, letter grades, checkpoints, homework and class engagement.  

Strong interpersonal relationships, executive functioning, and social-emotional learning are fostered through our advisory program. In addition, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health partners with The School to provide gender and sexuality education as part of our Life Skills curriculum. We cover a full range of topics from developing healthy relationships, affirmative consent, and identity development to cyber safety.  

Students have many opportunities to explore leadership in the Middle Division. We encourage both formalized leadership roles such as in student government, and fluid leadership opportunities through a wide array of athletics, clubs, curricular and annual activities such as TEDxYouth Day. TEDxYouth is an independently organized one-day conference each fall for Middle Division students and TSC alumni featuring live speakers, performances, and workshops.

Culminating a K-8 Social Justice curriculum and myriad service learning opportunities throughout their time at The School, the capstone project of the Middle Division is the Social Action Project in Grade 8. Every student identifies a causelocal, regional, national or internationalthey're passionate about, and determines ways they can help move it forward. At the end of the year, they present their projects to The School community at an exhibition, so other students and families can learn about, and possibly also contribute to, their cause.

Beginning in the spring of Grade 7, Middle Division students begin the high school placement process, in which they apply and gain entry to a range of public, private, boarding, and parochial schools in the tri-state area and beyond. The School's goal is to place every student in a school environment in which they will continue to thrive. Families and students collaborate with our High School Placement Office on an individualized process to research and choose schools that best fit each student's needs and personality. As part of this process, The School offers test preperation for standardized testing for high school entry.

The Middle Division at The School at Columbia is an academic and energetic environment, in which children continue to realize their strengths, develop their focus, and grow as students. 
 
Belinda Nicholson
Middle Division Director

Academics: Middle Division

Grade 6

List of 10 items.

  • English

    In English class, the children were engaged in the reading of “The Giver,” the Newbery-Award winning novel by Lois Lowry.  We examined several aspects of society, including health care, leisure activities, judicial systems, family structure, education, selection of leaders, and careers. Students carefully selected their topics and explored how the topics were portrayed in “The Giver” as compared to aspects of American society, culminating in a formal compare-contrast essay. To deepen our exploration of the value of collective and individual memories, students created digital stories, which involved interviewing someone of their grandparents’ generation. By combining a written script based on the interview, artifacts, and digital media, students created an iMovie to capture and preserve the memory of the previous generations. We began reading “Romeo and Juliet.” Through pre-reading activities and some footage from a recent film version, along with audio recordings, the students were introduced to Shakespeare’s language, key characters in the play, and the overall plot line. Students demonstrated their understanding of the text through writing, discussion, and acting. Students studied the power dynamics of the era, as expressed through sword-play and dance, through a collaboration with the Dance department. The unit culminated in student-directed reenactments of key scenes from “Romeo and Juliet.”
  • Mathematics

    The second semester of Grade 6 math encompassed many different topics, connections and problem solving skills. In January, students learned about rates and ratios and applied skills to research and defend the best car option for a given person. After a review of percents and their representations, students investigated various real life examples of discount, tax and tip. We experimented with probability, looking at applications such as dice games and diagnosing patients with false positives. Students also calculated outcomes by deciphering between situations where order does and doesn’t matter. Students embarked on the 4-triangle project where characteristics of polygons and sum of interior angles were reviewed. This began our geometry unit that covered two-dimensional geometry, including angles, triangles, quadrilaterals, circles, area, and perimeter (circumference). Students worked on a project where they proved pi with non-traditional units. The students were also introduced to graph theory, and learned how to use it as a problem solving strategy. Using 123D Design, students examined polyhedra and other three-dimensional shapes such as variations of cylinders and spheres. Students were then able to elicit formulas for surface area and volume, building upon previous knowledge learned in two-dimensional geometry. The year ended with a project on reconstructing Lego Bricks using 123D Design and preparing for Full Steam Ahead in June.
  • Performing Arts: Elective

    Students continue to participate in their yearlong Performing Arts Elective. The following courses are offered: Concert Band, Concert Choir, Drama, Instrument Ensemble, Jazz Ensemble, and Dance Ensemble. Groups are comprised of students from the entire middle division and each group performed at two evening concerts during the school year. Students are expected to participate actively with a positive and respectful attitude, be prepared with instruments or other necessary materials, willingly take risks, and demonstrate that they’ve made personal progress with regard to relevant skills.
  • Performing Arts: Music

    Grade 6 students began the second semester with a comparative study of Renaissance and modern instruments. They discovered that the ancestors of the modern orchestra have similar sounds and can often be grouped in today’s orchestral families. Continuing with compare and contrast, students heard several versions of music based on Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.” In preparation for a curriculum share students also learned pieces from the Arab world. We focused on improvisation on barred instruments and drums. During the final months of school, students worked on a square dance unit, learning relevant vocabulary, and brought their new dance moves to a year-end buddy share with Grade 2.
  • Science

    The second half of the Grade 6 science curriculum began with a study of Astronomy. We spent several classes thinking about scale in the solar system and universe. Next students researched the planets in our solar system and made presentations. We then studied the history of astronomical ideas, from the pre-Socratics, through Aristotle and Ptolemy, to Copernicus, Kepler and Galileo. We looked at these models of the solar system as examples of competing scientific theories and discussed how one theory eventually triumphs. We connected this learning to the sixth grade social studies debate on Galileo’s trial. Next, we moved further afield, studying the life cycles of stars, the formation of galaxies and the Big Bang. We collaborated with Columbia Astronomy Community Outreach program and visited the observatory. We finished the year off with a unit on the human body, focusing on anatomy (structure) and physiology (function). Students explored various body systems in small groups becoming experts in one particular system. Students used their knowledge of the system to present to their peers.
  • Social Emotional Learning

    The Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) curriculum presents students with opportunities to participate in dialogues regarding issues affecting positive social interactions. Working in groups with grade-level teachers and The School’s psychologists, students progress toward SEL objectives in areas of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship management, decision-making, and responsibility. The Grade 6 Life Skills curriculum provides opportunities for students to participate in discussions regarding issues impacting positive social interactions. Students progress toward objectives in areas of self-awareness, self-management, social skills, relationship management, decision-making, and responsibility. During Grade 6 Life Skills classes, students learn, discuss, and practice strategies related to a range of topics including; street smarts, nutrition, hygiene, conflict resolution, puberty, sexuality, relationships, media literacy and
    cyber safety.
  • Social Studies

    In the second half of the year, students continued to study the concept of identity in the context of medieval Spain. They developed research and note-taking skills when presenting about different religions and writing about the history of Cordoba in the Islamic Empire. Students thought about how tensions between religions might develop and ultimately bring down the intellectual prosperity of a nation. They examined the Spanish Inquisition, the struggles that many Jews and Muslims had to face when forced to convert to Christianity, and the way their descendants are currently redefining themselves based on this history. After studying the Inquisition and the Dark Ages, students turned their focus to the European Renaissance in Italy. With a focus on the Scientific Revolution, students studied primary and secondary sources, looked at new technologies such as the printing press, and analyzed art and architecture to come to an understanding of how ideas developed during this time period have affected our contemporary world view. Again, religion was a major influence. Students staged a mock trial of Galileo, demonstrating their understanding of his ideas and inventions, and what it took for an individual to depart from common beliefs and expectations.
  • Spanish Language/Literacy

    This semester Grade 6 students finish their study about Al-Andalus and the Alhambra. In connection with our study of Florence, students explore and analyze the Spanish Renaissance. This includes a study of the biography and work of the renowned Spanish painter Diego Velázquez. Sixth-graders study Velázquez’s life and describe his art using varied vocabulary and grammatical structures. Students learn to analyze Renaissance paintings using prepositions, regular and irregular verbs in the present tense such as gustar, querer, tener, ir, ser and estar. They learn the expression hay (there is) as well. Sixth-graders move on to a study of the geography, art and culture of Mexico during pre-Columbian times. They also learn how to use definite and indefinite articles and practice noun-adjective agreement while using home-related vocabulary. We incorporate different activities that allow students to use and practice their oral and written communication skills. Through these activities students are encouraged to take risks to enhance their listening, speaking, reading and writing skills.
  • Visual Arts

    Grade 6 students continue to develop creative and critical thinking skills while reinforcing learning to work in the shared art studio. Recognizing that religious and social beliefs often influenced artistic expression, the students study principles of Islamic art by taking a trip to The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Following the trip, the students begin creating geometric reduction printmaking designs. Reduction printing allows the artists to print using a series of colors while slowly reducing the contents of the plate. During the study of the Italian Renaissance, students use Photoshop to digitally incorporate themselves into famous works of art. Through this lesson we have a rich discussion about ownership of art, copyright, licensing, fair use, and the public domain. The 6th graders are also introduced to wheel working, creating many pots using this new technique. This is a unique experience, enjoyed by all students.
  • Wellness

    This semester the students continued to work on their communication strategies in a team setting as part of a larger community. Grade 6 students transitioned to a lacrosse unit emphasizing healthy competition and tournament play. The students expanded an understanding of how men’s and women’s lacrosse is vastly different based on gender and were able to construct a written essay changing a lacrosse game. The students expanded an understanding of their bodies through integrated learning on the skeletal system, muscle pairs and body functions, in conjunction with their study of the Renaissance.

Grade 7

List of 10 items.

  • English

    The focus of Grade 7 English was on building skills for reading critically and writing effective expository essays. The class challenged students to move beyond plot summary towards textual analysis and interpretation. During class discussions, students practiced skills of informed, shared, purposeful inquiry using academic language to express their ideas in preparation for writing analytical essays. Students have practiced formalist criticism, identifying those literary devices that authors use to convey meaning, and accounting for these structures in their written work. All students have worked to develop a thesis and organize their support evidence; some have written within the framework of the five-paragraph essay, while others have used different organization and structure according to their preference. They have also considered narrative point of view, writing about personal experiences in both the first and third person. During the second semester, students complemented their growing knowledge of India and the African continent with themes and concepts raised by writers from these regions. Students examined characters whose ways of thinking challenged the existing social order. Students read “Keeping Corner” by Kashmira Sheth and “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe to enhance their understanding of these themes, while considering their own burgeoning sense of self and society.
  • Mathematics

    This year began with the prerequisites for building a strong foundation in algebra. Students were challenged to evaluate variables, expressions, and equations that required integer operations, as well as operations with positive and negative exponents. Students learned how to plot points in a coordinate plane and used mathematical properties to simplify variable expressions, as well as write and solve one and two-step equations and inequality equations. Student work was extended and deepened through three projects: the Box Project, The Most Famous Entertainer Project aka Good Will Hunting, and The Great Mathematician Project. For these independent investigations, students were challenged to think algebraically, and integrate algebraic concepts into artifacts that they constructed. For the Box Project this entailed making rectangular boxes. This process required a review and application of operations with fractions and decimals, and calculation of costs for cuts, value of scraps, profit, perimeter, area, volume, and surface area. Students created the content for these rectangular boxes by writing and providing the solutions to three numerical equations and word problems related to topics of their choice from what they studied across the curriculum. For the Most Famous Entertainer Project students researched entertainers with the same first or last name, determined their net worth, and compared his or her contributions to society beyond entertainment as social activists, volunteers, or philanthropists. This project helped inform student’s choices for the independent inquiry that was required for the Great Mathematician Project. In addition to nightly homework assignments, weekly quizzes, and tests, the 7th grade mathematics curriculum was further differentiated through independent work in the Enrichment Activity Center. The year in Pre-Algebra ended with an introduction to plane geometry, theoretical probability, linear equations and radical numbers.
  • Performing Arts: Elective

    Students continue to participate in their yearlong Performing Arts Elective. The following courses are offered: Concert Band, Concert Choir, Drama, Instrument Ensemble, Jazz Ensemble, and Dance Ensemble. Groups are comprised of students from the entire middle division and each group performed at two evening concerts during the school year. Students are expected to participate actively with a positive and respectful attitude, be prepared with instruments or other necessary materials, willingly take risks, and demonstrate that they’ve made personal progress with regard to relevant skills.
  • Performing Arts: Music

    Our integrated curriculum used in the study of Delhi has given the students the musical opportunity to study the Indian tabla drum. Students used the GarageBand software program on their computers to create sound designs with various musical forms: AB, ABA, Rondo, and Rondo-Sonata. The musical concepts of form, dynamics, timbre, and contrast, as well as, the recording studio techniques of panning the audio spectrum, working with faders, and mixing were employed to create a final digital musical file ready for release in iTunes. The final project of the year was the Grade 7 integrated study of Benin City. This study has given the students the opportunity to explore West African songs in two-part singing with melodic notation on the G clef from middle C up to the 4th-space C with both pentatonic and major scales. The playing of classroom instruments and the reading of a musical score has included both pitched and un-pitched instruments, with an emphasis on mallet technique with xylophones and metallophones, and hand technique on the congas, bongos, and djembes in three and four part arrangements.
  • Science

    Spring semester ecology kicked off with two high-interest projects to foster deeper analysis of ecosystem interactions. In The Large Carnivores Museum Project, students curated museum exhibits to demonstrate how a diverse variety of top carnivores are crucial to ecosystem health and biodiversity. Students then created sealed biospheres, which served as a vehicle to apply and expand their understanding of important interactions among living organisms, especially the movement of energy through trophic levels, recycling of life's basic building blocks, and the causes and effects of limiting factors. With this solid foundation, students moved on to investigate species’ responses to environmental pressures, exploring variation, natural selection and adaptations. This led naturally into a study of basic genetics to reveal the mechanism of change in populations. Students learned how organisms inherit traits from their parents and how dominant and recessive alleles interact to produce variation in a population. By revisiting natural selection through the lens of genetics, students were then able to see how selective pressures affect the genetic makeup of a population and can result in the emergence of new species.
  • Social Emotional Learning

    The Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) curriculum presents students with opportunities to participate in dialogues regarding issues affecting positive social interactions. Working in groups with grade-level teachers and The School’s psychologists, students progress toward SEL objectives in areas of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship management, decision-making, and responsibility. The Grade 7 SEL curriculum, implemented in conjunction with Life Skills, focuses on the high school placement process. Lessons include discussions of researching different choices the students have for high school, mock test taking for high school entrance exams, high school essay writing, practice completion of high school applications, and interview prep for high school admissions.
  • Social Studies

    This past year students investigated, interpreted and analyzed recurring events, dilemmas and persistent issues throughout history. Students strove to understand history and current events using a variety of primary and secondary sources. They examined how point-of-view affects the telling of history. Beginning in January students studied India’s history starting with the achievements of the Indus Valley Civilization and ending with Partition. For the rest of the semester, students studied the ancient Kingdom of Benin and Benin City, including an investigation of the stolen art of Bini people. They began the unit by researching various African countries to develop an understanding of the diversity of the countries, peoples and geography that exists on the continent. They explored interactions with and reactions to Europeans and how these have shaped Indian and West African societies.
  • Spanish Language/Literacy

    Grade 7 students began the semester with introductory activities relating to Mexico, including a brief overview of major events impacting the country since independence. Once given the proper background information, students delved into the main focus of our unit, the Mexican Revolution. Students were assigned a specific historical figure during this era and were responsible for investigating his or her life and contributions in order to get into character and be prepared for our in-class dramatizations. Following the Mexican Revolution, students became acquainted with the artwork of Diego Rivera and discussed ways in which they helped to reinforce or oppose social, economic, political and cultural trends or events of the time. They also read and discussed a children’s story on the life of Frida Kahlo and then produced their own version with a storytelling application on their iPads.
     
    During the unit, students used a variety of vocabulary relating to history, social justice, travel, geography, shopping, daily routines and utilized a variety of grammatical structures such as possessive adjectives, demonstrative adjectives and pronouns, the superlative, irregular, stem-changing and reflexive verbs, the present progressive, direct object pronouns and verbs like gustar.

    During the remainder of the school year, students will delve into a study of the Spanish-speaking Caribbean and its connections to West Africa. Students will explore the history of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and its enduring impacts on the area. The students will investigate and discuss the various syncretisms of Spanish and African culture that occurred in this area relating to religion, language, food, dance and music. Students will also compare Spanish-speaking Caribbean flags and research and communicate spontaneously on an array of present-day political and cultural topics pertaining to the region.
  • Visual Arts

    Grade 7 students begin the new semester with a project already in progress titled “History Event: Simón Bolívar.” In Spanish class students study the life of Simón Bolívar. In the Art Studio students view and discuss History Paintings by artists ranging from Goya to Picasso, including the Venezuelan artist Tito Salas. Students create their own history paintings representing an event from the life of Bolivar. In support of the grade level study of India, students learn about traditional textile motifs and wood block printing practiced in India. Each student explores the process by designing their own relief print plates and by making multiple impressions, create a large composition based on repetition and variation. The seventh graders rotate in small groups to receive concentrated instruction on the pottery wheel, and have the opportunity to hone their skills with clay: centering, throwing and trimming on the wheel. In connection with the seventh-grade study of Africa, students view and respond to The Royal Art of Benin and express their responses in hands-on studio explorations. In preparation for the grade seven trip to Philadelphia in late May, students learn about works in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and select one work of art to become an expert on. During our visit to the museum, each student becomes a facilitator, guiding their group in a viewing experience of their selected art work.
  • Wellness

    During the second semester, Grade 7 students focused on the skills, rules, and team teamwork involved in team sports. Specifically, the students were immersed in the study of Cricket and Soccer. While the students studied India in the classroom, they both work on the skills of the sport and read about the impact that the sport had on India’s people. Once the classroom focus turned to West Africa, the Wellness classes looked to South Africa and the effect that soccer had on the political prisoners who were jailed along with Nelson Mandela. They created their own soccer league and practiced, played, and conducted a tournament under their own rules and laws. Finally, the students revisited the Fitness unit to compare their fitness scores in the Spring to those of the Winter and Fall. They were encouraged to reflect on the changes in their scores to plan for improvement or maintenance in the future.

Grade 8

List of 10 items.

  • English

    After winter break, students finished up our unit on Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” by writing literary essays. Each student developed their own thesis, drawing on what they found compelling about the book. Emphasis was on process, with the essay as the final step of an exploration of the text through the lens of the thesis. Students delved into the difference between a topic and a thesis, practiced strategies for going back into the text with a specific focus, studied different models for structuring their essays, and crafted essays where form followed function in a cogent manner. We continued practicing writing skills worked on during our short story unit earlier in the year, including clarity, specificity, fluidity and richness of writing. To these, we added lessons on supporting contentions, and on integrating evidence and quotations into a piece of writing. The goal of this writing project was less a ‘perfect’ essay than an authentic one.
     
    Our poetry unit straddled spring break; students read a wide range of poetry, and wrote five different kinds of poems, drawing on a rich variety of poetic tools and devices. Many of the poems we read tied in with our year-long theme of social justice. We followed this with work on personal essays and anecdotal storytelling, reading short pieces and excerpts including work by Richard Wright, Ruth Reichel and Claudia Rankine. Students explored techniques for brainstorming, developing and writing their own personal essays. Our unit on basic parts of speech sensitized students to the variety of ways we put together phrases and sentences. Our vigorous independent reading program has continued throughout the year. Our next unit will be a reading of Art Spiegelman’s seminal graphic narrative, “Maus.” This is an interdisciplinary unit with art and Social Studies on WWII/the Holocaust and graphic storytelling. We will focus on visual literacy as we read. If time allows, we will conclude our year by going back to Richard Wright’s Black Boy, and/or doing a final creative writing unit.
  • Mathematics

    The second semester began with an extension of our study of polynomials, as students learned to simplify and perform operations with rational expressions. This was followed by a unit on solving quadratic equations by factoring, completing the square, and applying the quadratic formula. From there, we moved into an extensive investigation of mathematical functions.
     
    Students were introduced to many fundamental concepts of functions, such as domain and range, through a programming project where they created their own video games. We then took a closer look at properties of linear functions, exponential functions, absolute value functions, and quadratic functions. We also took a look at inverse functions, and how to find the inverse of a function given its function rule. Students used their knowledge of functions and the coordinate plane to solve systems of equations graphically, in addition to solving by substitution and elimination.
     
    The semester will continue with students studying systems of inequalities, as well as absolute value inequalities. Students will learn how to solve these problems both graphically and algebraically. We will finish the year by looking at some other topics that might appear on the Algebra 1 Regents, such as statistics and right triangle trigonometry, if time permits.
  • Performing Arts: Elective

    Students continue to participate in their yearlong Performing Arts Elective. The following courses are offered: Concert Band, Concert Choir, Drama, Instrument Ensemble, Jazz Ensemble, and Dance Ensemble. Groups are comprised of students from the entire middle division and each group performed at two evening concerts during the school year. Students are expected to participate actively with a positive and respectful attitude, be prepared with instruments or other necessary materials, willingly take risks, and demonstrate that they’ve made personal progress with regard to relevant skills.
  • Performing Arts: Music

    During the second semester of music class the Grade 8 students dedicated their time and energy to the production of “Oklahoma!,” the 9th annual Grade 8 musical performed at Columbia University’s Miller Theatre. During this unit, each child studies all aspects of the theater including costumes, set-making, publicity, lighting, sound, vocal production and staging.
  • Science

    This spring we continued building on the work we did in the fall, applying our newfound understanding of atomic theory and structure. We began by exploring the series of discoveries that led to our current understanding of atomic structure. Then, we investigated how atoms bond to form molecules, studied both ionic and covalent compounds, and learned how the molecular structure of each dictates the properties of the actual substance.

    Throughout our study, hands-on lab experience and critical analysis skills were stressed. Careful observation and analysis was regularly required. For example, we examined ionic crystals under a microscope, and used our understanding of the compound’s formula to interpret the differences in crystal pattern. We also tested the conductivity of various liquid compounds and aqueous solutions, and used our data to determine whether the substances were likely to be bonded ionically or covalently.

    In the following unit we applied our understanding of chemical bonding to a study of chemical reactions, learning how to preserve the law of conservation of matter by balancing chemical equations. In recent weeks, we have wrapped up our formal chemistry study with an examination of five types of chemical reactions, and an investigation into the role of catalysts, reaction rates and limiting reactants.

    We will spend our final classes focusing on issues of environmental chemistry and environmental justice, in connection with the 8th grade theme of social justice. On May 19th we spent the day sailing on the Hudson River on the 110’ schooner Mystic Whaler, and studying the chemistry of the estuary.

    Throughout the year, the students have been required to share their understanding and their conclusions both through written lab analyses, and by articulating their ideas aloud during class discussions. Content mastery was assessed through a combination of their lab work, class work, oral and written participation, and formal tests and quizzes.
  • Social Emotional Learning

    The Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) curriculum presents students with opportunities to participate in dialogues regarding issues affecting positive social interactions. Working in groups with grade-level teachers and The School’s psychologists, students progress toward SEL objectives in areas of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship management, decision-making, and responsibility. The Grade 8 Life Skills curriculum focuses on the transition to high school. The objective is to help students develop both academic and social skills necessary to navigate this transition, including how to effectively weigh risks and develop healthy strategies for dating and relationships, drug and alcohol abuse prevention, sexuality and disease prevention. Students will also learn and have the opportunity to practice stress management and communication strategies.
  • Social Studies

    After Winter Break in Social Studies we continued to examine the social, political and economic foundations of the United States by exploring the United States Constitution, the American Civil War, and the Civil Rights Movement. The complex topic of “equal protection” under the law, with the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, was used as a vehicle to understand the fictional bill S. 1789, “Fund to Promote Excellence and Opportunity in Intermediate and Secondary School Athletics Act.” Culminating this study was a rich and heated senatorial debate that took place in a Brooklyn courthouse. Students used their research and understanding of key court cases to defend their position. Ultimately, the bill was not passed by our senators. After a brief examination of the Civil War, students were compelled to consider the concept of resistance as they studied the Civil Rights Movement. Students read “Warriors Don’t Cry,” Melba Patillo Beals’ memoir of her junior year as one of the “Little Rock Nine” in Central High School, in 1957. Students also conducted independent research in formulating their Civil Rights Movement essay which required them to defend their thesis.

    Concluding the year, we examined the causes of World War II and the Holocaust. We analyzed and studied the rise of totalitarian dictatorships and the events that led to the Holocaust. Furthermore, we considered the importance of personal reflection as we discussed how these powerful world events shaped our understandings of social justice and inspired us to promote equality in our own communities.
  • Spanish Language/Literacy

    Eighth-graders kicked off the second part of the school year with a unit entitled Los latinos y la lucha por los derechos civiles. This study developed in tandem with their work around the Civil Rights Movement in Social Studies. Students discussed, in Spanish, questions such as What are civil rights? How do we defend our rights? Who were some important Latino civil rights leaders and why were they important? How have Latinos in the U.S. contributed to the fight for civil rights? What are some modern civil rights issues that are important to Latinos? Students discussed the groundbreaking case Méndez v. Westminster, the Indignados movement in Spain, the life and works of César Chávez and the current debate around farmworkers’ rights in the U.S. Students explored Dulce Pinzón’s photography through the virtual exhibit Latino Superheroes, challenging themselves to analyze the motivation behind Pinzon’s work.
     
    During this unit of study students were introduced to the past tense. They discussed the different usages of the preterite and the imperfect and they learned to identify each tense in text. They learned how to manipulate both regular and irregular verbs in the past. Finally, students worked with partners to create their own Spanish children’s books, applying their knowledge of both present and past time frames in their writing.
     
    During the rest of the school year students will delve into a study of poetry from the Spanish-speaking world. They will explore the work of diverse poets beginning with Latin American poets such as Luis Amberto Ambroggio and US Latino poets such as Gina Valdés and ending with poetry from Spain written around the time of the Spanish Civil War. During this unit they will also continue deepening their understanding of Spanish language structures by learning how to identify and use indirect object pronouns as well as learning how to form the future tense in Spanish.
  • Visual Arts

    The eighth-graders began the second semester brainstorming the set and props of the class production of Lion King. They created and collected their original set designs after reviewing a variety of theater designs. Next, students choose from four elective courses: Fabric Painting, Handbuilding Clay, Mixed Media, and Digital Art. During IPW week eighth-grade students wove together their original sketches and ideas from the beginning of the semester to produce their costumes and props for the musical. Returning from spring break, students had the opportunity to explore visual narratives and how to share and idea or story using images. They will create graphic novels of their own in connection with English and their study of visual literacy.
  • Wellness

    During the second half of the year, Grade 8 students in Wellness had the unique opportunity to experience a variety of different games and activities. The students were able to work together in small groups to create their own unique game or activity through our Create-A-Game unit. These projects gave students the chance to create a game by combining the skills, strategy and rules from previous sports or activities they have participated in during Wellness classes. The content included teamwork, the components of fitness (muscular strength, muscular endurance, flexibility and cardiovascular). The goal for our students in this final semester is for them to leave The School at Columbia University with the ability to maintain their physically active lifestyles as the move forward in their lives and understanding of the seven dimensions of wellness, (physical, intellectual, emotional, social, spiritual, occupational and environmental). We concluded the semester with the sport of rock climbing. We emphasized the safety and teamwork of challenging our limits of physical and mental ability while creating a safe environment.
     

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