In grades six through eight we introduce a team sports program, join with area Waldorf schools for track meets, encourage social interaction through middle school dances, offer electives in our music and language programs, and encourage more autonomy for such activities as fundraisers and class meetings. The class teacher continues to present the core curriculum and to offer guidance to the class. Science and math main lesson blocks are generally taught by the middle school math and science specialist.
Sixth graders tend to be very practical, employing cause and effect thinking, and are keenly interested in facts and conditions. Their core curriculum supports this with Roman and Medieval history; world geography and cartography; mineralogy; astronomy; physics (acoustics, optics, electricity, magnetism, heat); geometric drawing with instruments; business math and arithmetic; biographies; composition, spelling, grammar, and reading. The Romans were conquerors and masters of the practical world and appeal deeply to the sixth grader. The students also study the European Middle Ages, including the feudal system and particularly the Knight’s Code of Honor. This study of the Middle Ages is capped by a Knighting Ceremony.
Sixth graders study the syntax of simple and complex sentences. Research skill-building continues, as students are required to complete short biographical reports and topical research. Individual writing continues in journaling and letter composition, and is expanded through records of observation in science classes. Sixth graders develop their awakening powers of thinking as they learn to compare and contrast various subjects in their writing.
In math, the sixth grade curriculum, taught by the middle school math specialist, reflects the practical interests of the student. The application of percentages is practiced in business mathematics and extends to the formula of interest. Business math is applied to real life through work with the school farm stand. Students learn to work with formulas and their conversions, which leads to work with algebraic concepts. Their studies include geometric drawings and proofs, as well as skill work with compass and straight edge.
In science, the children gain a comprehensive picture of the earth’s plant and animal life through their study of world geography, climates, and astronomy. The students study astronomy and geology. The children scientifically study the minerals and crystals they viewed as magical objects in Kindergarten and learn the differences between igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rocks. The students’ faculties of observation are further developed through experimentation in physics. Acoustics, optics, thermal dynamics, static electricity and magnetism are introduced through phenomena demonstration and hands-on experimentation and observation.
The study of their chosen musical instrument continues. In spring, students meet with other Waldorf sixth graders for the Medieval Games. Sixth graders receive additional instruction in Spanish, German, handwork, eurythmy, games and movement, farming and gardening, and music.
The seventh grade student shows an increasing interest in the wider world. Their capacity for critical thinking continues to develop and yet, their emotional life is often tumultuous during this period of intense growth. They feel enthusiasm for learning and their newly developing capacities for causal thinking. The seventh grade curriculum meets the students where they are with the Age of Exploration; the Renaissance; Reformation; cultural geography; physics (mechanics); inorganic chemistry; physiology; health and nutrition; creative writing; pre-algebra and arithmetic; composition, grammar, spelling, and literature.
Students study the flowering of thinking and art that accompanied this unique period of human history. They do exercises in perspective drawing and geometry and learn about the Protestant Reformation and the settlement of colonies in the Americas and Africa.
In seventh grade, a formal creative writing block introduces the students to poetry and other forms of expressive writing. Students are encouraged to channel their adolescent feelings through language that expresses mood, tone, and the author’s point of view. Seventh grade students are introduced to the concept of a thesis statement and the structure of an essay. Writing becomes almost completely independent with the students writing drafts, taking responsibility for editing and revising their own work, incorporating teacher corrections, and rendering final versions of their compositions. Seventh graders continue to develop research skills, presenting reports and biographies in class that complement main lesson content. Reading skills are developed through comprehension and vocabulary work on class readers, individually assigned literature, or discussion material.
In math, the arithmetic work continues with percentages and business math, ratios, irrational numbers, the use of statistics, and word problems involving a variety of concepts, such as metric measurement and rate. Seventh grade geometry focuses on Euclidean constructions, the golden ratio, angle theorems and proofs, as well as perspective drawing and other geometric constructions requiring measurements. The students calculate area and perimeter of circle and polygons. Math is taught by the middle school math specialist.
Science studies expand to include inorganic chemistry, physiology, and physics. The study in these fields is continued with the addition of mechanics and the exploration of simple machines. Students now specialize in one foreign language (German or Spanish), studied three times a week to reach a greater level of proficiency. In music they sing as a class choir. Students either participate in a strings ensemble or a woodwinds group. There are several field trips throughout the year to support both academic and social development. Students actively participate in fundraising as a class to offset costs of future trips.
Outside of the curriculum carried by the class teacher, seventh graders receive instruction in handwork, eurythmy, games and movement, farming and gardening, and music.
Eighth grade is a year of culmination and completion. As students approach the end of their journey through the grades, they have opportunities to reflect upon their experience, to celebrate their achievements, and to look ahead toward high school. The eighth grade student enjoys debate and questions ideas, yet continues to be preoccupied by personal changes of early adolescence. The students demonstrate considerable mobility of thought, passion in feeling, and a desire to feel engaged in the world. The eighth grade student has strong, critical faculties of judgment and relishes the subjects of revolution and human rights. We study the roots of the American Revolution and examine the differences between the American and French Revolutions. The study of World Wars, Civil Rights, and highlights of modern politics allow the eighth grader to stand in the world as a knowledgeable, grounded young person.
In eighth grade, the elements of fiction are introduced in a short story main lesson block. By the end of the year, each student will have completed their “eighth grade project:” an individual research project in an area of individual interest and presented this as both written and oral report to the community. Language Arts practice periods are generally taught by a middle school Language Arts specialist or high school humanities teacher. Main lesson book work includes discussions of science experiments, summaries of historic accounts, descriptive writing, essays, and other compositions.
In math, the class is divided into two ability groups in math track classes. The advanced group pursues a formal high school course of Algebra 1 with the help of a textbook. These students are likely to continue with geometry when entering high school. The intermediate group continues with seventh grade pre-algebra work, deepening their seventh grade work to build readiness skills for Algebra 1 in ninth grade. Math specialists teach both courses. They calculate surface areas and volumes of solids such as prisms, cylinders, pyramids, and cones. In physics students review and deepen the study of the fields of physics that were introduced in sixth and seventh grades. New in eighth grade is the focus on electromagnetism, aerodynamics, and hydraulics. Organic chemistry highlights chemical processes within the body systems.
The study of world geography includes trade and economics, aspects of geology (plate tectonics and the internal structure of the earth), and meteorology and the water cycle. Students continue to specialize in one foreign language (German or Spanish), studied three times a week. In music they continue to sing as a class choir. Students either participate in a strings ensemble or a woodwinds group.
Outside of the curriculum carried by the class teacher, eighth graders receive instruction in handwork, eurythmy, games and movement, farming and gardening, and music.
Eighth grade students also complete community service work, either independently or through class projects. They are very active in fundraising, preparing for their eighth grade trip. The eighth grade class prepares and completes a full-length play or musical, usually directed by a guest drama teacher. The end of eighth grade is commemorated by the May Day ceremony, when eighth graders wearing white perform Maypole dances for the community. Graduation is the last class function, a moving ceremony wherein students have an opportunity to express gratitude and celebrate their accomplishments.