Middle School

Seventh and eighth grade at Solebury are years of excitement, wonder, and enormous growth potential. A school within a school, Solebury’s Middle School offers a small, close-knit environment with room to explore and strong academic and social foundations for high school. It is a place where students and teachers work with each other and students are known and appreciated for who they are. There is no slipping through the cracks. The challenging academics we provide, the guidance and support we offer, and the opportunities that exist here result in success for our students.

We believe that the intellectual and analytical abilities of Middle School students have been under-appreciated for far too long. In an environment such as our Middle School program — where intellectualism, eagerness to learn, and empathy for the people and world around you are the ‘cool’ things to do — what students are capable of is limitless.

Our two-year curriculum features a multi-disciplinary and inquiry-based approach with integrated classes in English, Social Studies, and Science. This allows for greater depth and mastery, and enables students to appreciate the way these subjects are connected and relevant to the world the students see. One year is focused on an examination of “Local and Global Voices,” delving into our region’s history and the environmental issues we face, expanding to a global perspective. As culture, history, and science are best learned experientially, Middle School students travel, including a trip to Heifer International’s Overlook Farm. The following year focuses on an in-depth study of “Identity, Connection, and Change.” Students wrestle with questions such as: What makes us who we are as individuals and as a society? What connects us to others? What are the dynamics that create individual and societal change? This year is highlighted by overnight trips to an environmental education center and to Washington DC. During both years, students work in our educational garden to bring the science concepts they study to life and to experience the thrill and pride that comes from creating something.

Entering Solebury in Middle School also gives students a head start for high school. In math, each will have completed at least Algebra 1, with some having completed Geometry as well. This coursework enables them to reach the most challenging courses in these departments. In other subjects, students will have received instruction specifically tailored to prepare them for what they will encounter in our Upper School. Students leave Middle School equipped with the foundational knowledge and the cognitive and practical skills to enter our Upper School ready to lead, to handle any challenge, and to shine.

"The Middle School experience prepared me so well for high school. Being with the same classmates for most of the day really helped me develop socially, while the available high school courses challenged me academically. The Middle School faculty, in particular, was always supportive in helping us transition to high school. At Solebury, I had the opportunity to take high school classes, and interact with high school students! By the end of eighth grade, I knew exactly what I was up against, and how to best handle it.” —BRETT GLAUSER '11

Welcome From the Middle School Director

Dear Parents and Students,

What is so unique about a Middle School education at Solebury School? Our 7th and 8th graders are surrounded by people who care about them, but beyond this cocoon, they have all the advantages of the Upper School at their fingertips. As a result, our Middle Schoolers tend to become leaders in Upper School. In the classroom, our academic program weaves history, English and science together, and students begin to see how subjects intersect.

I encourage you to take some time and learn more about Solebury’s Middle School. Check out our Middle School FAQs (PDF) and browse this section of the website. Then come visit us; you’ll see and feel what is special about Solebury from the moment you step on campus. I look forward to meeting you.

If you have any questions, please contact me at cnelson@solebury.org.

Sincerely,

Cari Nelson
Middle School Director

Tip Sheets

These "tip sheets" from the Middle School Director help students with homework and study habits and organization. The tip sheets may also help parents.

Homework

Homework

"How much homework will students have?" is one of the questions we are most often asked by Middle School applicants' families. We understand the root of the question. Like many of you, we struggle with two competing desires. We want our students to have enough work where they stretch themselves, where they are challenged, and where they learn how to manage their time. However, it is equally important that students this age have time to be children, to engage in outside activities and to have the family time that is so important at these ages. Balance in life is important, and we work to achieve a balance between these competing interests by doing several things:

  1. Our schedule is set up so that each student has at least an hour on any given day to do some of their work. Getting the students to recognize this and to use this time productively is one of the skills we seek to develop in them.
  2. The Middle School faculty frequently meets to discuss what each has coming up and they try as much as possible to stagger their tests and assignments. Through these meetings as well as through her conversations with the students, the Middle School Director can intervene when necessary and try to keep the students from getting overloaded.
  3. Being aware that this is an issue enables the faculty to reflect on how much homework is necessary to achieve the desired outcome, whether it is mastery of a subject or concept or the development of the skill.

As a result, students generally have approximately one to two hours of homework each night, but the time they have during the day to do some of this work should allow them to keep the amount they need to do at home from being overwhelming.

The Curriculum 2017-2018

Identity, Connection and Change (ICC) is our academic theme in the Middle School. Curriculum for English, History and Science is based on an interdisciplinary approach. Throughout the course students will develop a sense of their strengths as they learn new material and master new intellectual, social, emotional and physical skills. The curriculum provides opportunities that promote the transition from concrete operations to a more complex thinking process in a supportive, academic environment of mutual respect. Students in ICC will consider diverse ideas, develop respect for their peers, engage in community service and cultivate sensitivity to the needs of the larger community.

The Middle School experience builds upon the skills students developed in elementary school and eases the transition to Solebury’s Upper School. Learning involves writing and speaking, exploring, collecting, sharing, questioning, analyzing, creating, editing, and presenting. To enhance the learning process, we will schedule field trips tied to the curriculum throughout each trimester. Our curriculum is also enhanced by classes in the arts and takes a holistic approach that will help students make connections between their academic classes and the arts.

ICC Physical Science: This is a hands-on, inquiry-based course. We begin the year learning about space and the stars above us, move into metric conversions, scientific method, and conservation of matter. Then, end the year with solubility, and atomic theory. Students will perform experiments, gather data and draw conclusions based on their evidence. Throughout the year we will touch on topics that are interwoven into their ICC History and ICC English class. The emphasis throughout the year will be on learning through experimentation. Required; ICC Physical Science is intended for 7th and 8th graders. 6 credits

ICC English: The goal of this class is to expose students to the ways in which society developed and explore how literature helps us both understand the world we live in, and imagine the world we wish we could inhabit. As part of the ICC program’s integrated curriculum, this course will encourage students to explore the connections between literature, history, their environment, and personal identity. Students will deepen skills of textual analysis and will be able to understand and interpret both fictional and nonfictional works. The year is divided by trimester into three thematic units, focusing on subjects that include mythology, utopia, dystopia, and social change. Throughout the year, students will work on writing and grammar with a variety of self-reflective, creative, and expository writing assignments as well as pointed vocabulary lessons to deepen students’ understanding of the course readings. Required; ICC English is intended for 7th and 8th graders. 6 credits

ICC History: The goal of the ICC History class is to encourage students to think critically about increasingly complex material in a fun and creative environment. We will look at the key questions raised in the ICC program through historical and literary lenses (the English and History will dovetail and offer complementary content). ICC History will also focus on expository and research writing and there will also be an emphasis on critical reading to understand perspective and bias. The students will also begin learning the process of research in order to answer the questions of history and provide sufficient evidence when making claims. In conjunction with the work students will engage in English, students will learn to listen, think, question, and express their opinions confidently about a variety of issues. Required; ICC History is intended for 7th and 8th graders. 6 credits

WORLD LANGUAGE: World Language and Culture. The World Language and Culture class is designed to give our new middle school students an introductory experience of each of the languages offered by Solebury: French and Spanish. Fall trimester students will be in a study skills class to help transition into Solebury School. Winter and Spring, students will complete one trimester of each language by exploring the languages and cultures through dynamic activities and practice. Through this course progression, students develop global competence and cultural sensitivity while learning the fundamental 63 skills of language study. Students who have completed this course with strong results may then opt to enroll in French I or Spanish I, which would then put them on track to reach the Advanced Placement level by the time they reach 12th grade. World Language and Culture is intended for 7th and 8th graders. 6 credits

MATHEMATICS: Pre-Algebra: This course studies the mathematical concepts that are essential prerequisites for Algebra I. Arithmetic operations using the rational number system are examined, with an emphasis placed on signed numbers. Students review and extend their knowledge of ratios, proportions, percentage, exponents, basic geometry, probability, mental math, and the metric system. They learn to solve multi-step equations and inequalities, graph linear equations, and use scientific notation. Independent work as well as group work is used as a teaching tool to foster student learning and throughout the course an emphasis is placed on critical thinking skills using word problems and problem solving situations. To prepare for the demands of a high school mathematics course, study strategies, organization, and note taking techniques are underlying skills that Pre-Algebra students develop and practice throughout the year. Pre-Algebra is intended for 7th and 8th graders. 6 credits.

Some middle school students may be ready to take more advanced mathematics courses for high school credit.


Supporting Program for the Middle School

The Middle School Introduction to the Arts program is designed to expose students to the various types of arts classes that they may take in Solebury’s Upper School. Each year of Middle School, students will participate in several branches of the arts.

In the Fall, students will take Introduction to the Arts: Guitar. This class is a group performance class for beginners of guitar. Students will learn the basics on the guitar, including how to tune the instrument, theory, reading treble clef, basic rhythms, and simple chords. There will be a focus on learning to listen and play in groups, and we will learn some songs with common chord progressions, and experience singing while accompanying. Performing a group piece is a requirement for passing the class. Required; Prerequisite: None. Introduction to the Arts: Music is intended for 7th and 8th graders. 1 credit

In the winter, students will take Introduction to the Arts: Robotics. This class is designed to be an educational and entertaining single trimester introduction to Robotics and applied STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) concepts. We will utilize a variety of resources including Lego Mindstorms EV3 robotics kits to design basic robotic and mechanical systems while we explore the concepts of logic and design that make our systems complete their expected tasks. This class does not require extensive computer skills as a prerequisite. Group and project based learning will be emphasized. Prerequisite: None. Introduction to Robotics is intended for 7th and 8th graders. 1 credit

In the spring, students will take Introduction to the Arts: Theater, an introductory theater class designed to develop students’ abilities to take on a role, enhance their confidence in front of an audience, and work collaboratively to stage a performance. The course culminates with a play performance in the evening for parents. Performing in the play is a requirement for passing the class. Required; Prerequisite: None. Introduction to the Arts: Theater is intended for 7th and 8th graders. 1 credit

Middle School Fitness: Offered all three trimesters, our students will learn how to lead healthier lives, physically and emotionally. In fitness, the students learn the importance of group dynamics and also injury prevention. Students who do not participate in a 5 day/week sport are required to take PE. This course is pass/fail. Prerequisite: none. Middle School Fitness is intended for 7th and 8th graders.