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Middle School Curriculum

The Bryn Mawr Middle School program offers girls a wonderful opportunity to learn and grow in a challenging and supportive environment. Our program is designed to support and stretch our students at this crucial stage of their academic, physical and social development. Our intellectual traditions honor the importance of the arts, languages and physical education as part of the core curriculum. Our current pedagogy recognizes the importance of a one-to-one laptop environment in which students are taught to effectively use information technology and enjoy the numerous online learning tools available to them.

Course Descriptions

List of 16 items.

  • Advisory

    Each year of middle school, students are in a small group (8-10 students) with an advisor who is a teacher in that grade level, and this group becomes their family for the year.  

    The two core goals of the Middle School Advisory program are providing academic goal setting and support for students, and building relationships and community among students and teachers. Advisors work with students to help them reflect in meaningful ways about their academic growth, strengths, and goals each quarter. They also facilitate one to two Circles, part of restorative practices, each week within the Advisory group to build community and develop healthy and effective communication skills using our Conversation Norms. Each grade level has a one or two-day retreat that focuses on teamwork, building relationships, and bonding as a class.
  • Art

    In the visual arts classroom, students focus on the techniques of still-life, landscape painting and figure drawing while exploring several different artistic media. The year culminates with a thematic cross-divisional art show as well as the annual Middle School Art Show.
  • Classical Languages

    Students begin to study the origins of Western Society through Latin language and Roman culture in the seventh grade and it continues into the 8th grade. These courses are taken in addition to their Spanish or French courses and emphasize the influence of the Roman Republic and Empire on the language and culture of the West. Students also learn how to use diverse academic skills in order to understand the language and culture of Ancient Rome. By the end of their Middle School experience, students will complete a Latin I program in addition to their Spanish or French studies. If a student desires, they may continue their study of Latin in the Upper School.
  • Computer Science

    Technology and computer science skills are an important part of the Bryn Mawr curriculum, as well as the general school environment. Technology is integrated into all aspects of the school, and the Middle School has a one-to-one chromebook program. In Computer Science, students hone their digital citizenship, computer design, and programming skills. Students build these skills by using programs such as Tinkercad, MIT's Scratch, and Adobe Illustrator. Class projects utilize tools for digital fabrication such as the laser cutter, microprocessors, and our collection of 3D printers.
  • Dance

    Every Middle School student takes dance in preparation for the annual Gym Drill, a longstanding Bryn Mawr tradition. An exhibition of cultural dance and rhythmic exercises, Gym Drill is a much-beloved rite of passage for all Middle and Upper School students. In addition, the Middle School has its own Dance Company, which performs an annual concert of ballet, modern, jazz, hip-hop and musical theater pieces.
  • Drama

    Middle School students are introduced to the skills of performance and creative dramatics. Physical theater exercises such as mime and improvisation provide students with opportunities to work together in a creative group process and build confidence in using their entire body for dramatic expression.
  • English

    The Middle School English Department’s dynamic curriculum emphasizes composition, literature, oral expression, vocabulary, and grammar. Throughout their English classes, students explore a range of genres, including drama, mystery, historical fiction, and poetry.  A diverse mix of classic and modern texts exposes students to global voices and challenges them to think critically about the world in which they live. Students practice their writing skills using a variety of writing activities like analytical essays, creative pieces, response journals and oral speeches.
  • History

    The history curriculum introduces students to broad political, social, economic and intellectual developments throughout the world. Students develop skills in oral and written analysis, research and primary source reading. They study topics from American history, to modern global history and ancient history so that they can  broaden their understanding of the world. Each history course includes a range of perspectives and encourages students to be active participants in their learning by constructing their own historical narrative. This wide variety of sources deepens student’s understanding of historical events and helps them to realize their place in local, national, and global history.
  • Mathematics

    The scope and sequence of mathematical topics are carefully planned so that students encounter, practice and extend their knowledge of mathematics in ways that promote confidence and mastery. Typically, students progress from learning mathematical operations in sixth grade to pre-algebra in seventh grade and on to algebra in eighth grade, gaining a solid foundation for the Upper School math program. Our program allows for flexible placement and movement between courses each year in order to support and challenge students appropriately.  Classes range from 6th Grade Math Connects to Geometry. 
  • Modern Languages

    The modern language program in the Middle School is designed to provide a hands-on and engaging learning experience for all students. An authentic, communication-based curriculum prepares students for meaningful expression in the target language through reading, writing, speaking and listening. Through world language study, students develop sensitivity to the cultural and linguistic heritage of others and prepare to participate in a society characterized by linguistic and cultural diversity.

    Students may extend their Lower School studies in French or Spanish, or choose a different three-year journey in sixth grade in either of these languages.   Middle School Modern Language curricula include traditional level I and II vocabulary and grammar in the context of cultural proficiencies.

  • Music

    In music, the Orff-Schulwerk program provides a foundation for theory and composition while also emphasizing creativity, innovation and improvisation. Girls have access to a number of different performance opportunities, including choruses at every grade level and a string ensemble.
  • Physical Education

    Physical education is an essential part of the Bryn Mawr experience. Each program in the Lower, Middle, and Upper Schools is designed to promote the importance of a physically active and healthy lifestyle. During Middle School, emphasis is placed specifically on the four phases of growth and development: physical, motor, cognitive, and social. Students participate in a variety of activities that foster skill development and cooperation. Students learn the basic skills and strategies of a variety of sports, including field hockey, volleyball, soccer, rookie rugby, basketball, lacrosse, softball, tennis, flag football, floor hockey, team handball and badminton. The health related components of fitness, flexibility, cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength, and muscular endurance are incorporated into the curriculum through traditional and non-traditional sports as well as through yoga and specific cardiovascular and muscular strengthening exercises.
  • Science

    In Middle School science, students are engaged in hands-on activities and laboratory experiences intended to make science relevant and engaging. Students participate in discovery activities as they develop their scientific and critical thinking skills and endeavor to build a strong fundamental scientific knowledge base. Throughout Middle School, students will study topics in Earth Science, Life Science and Physical Science. Additionally, students have the opportunity to participate in other  STEM based activities  (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), which are interwoven into the academic day.
  • Study Skills

    This course teaches sixth-grade students how to become independent learners. Students develop an understanding of the theory of multiple intelligences and explore their own learning styles and preferences. Students learn about the importance of developing a growth mindset and a high level of resilience. The course emphasizes an understanding of how the brain learns best and how the memory system works. Students also learn the fundamentals of organization and time management, and they are introduced to active study strategies, note-taking strategies, and test-taking tips that will aid them throughout their academic careers.
  • Wellness

    Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) is addressed through our Wellness courses in sixth and seventh grades. Topics, including the importance of maintaining physical and mental health, healthy stress management, effective communication and conflict resolution strategies, and identity development, are presented and discussed in age-appropriate ways. Social and Emotional Learning is also addressed in our Advisory program, Peer Education program, special assemblies, and speakers. In addition, lessons addressing sexual health and education are taught in all three grades of the Middle School. These classes are taught by the school nurse, in consultation with the school-wide Student Support Services Department.
  • 8th Grade Voice and Vision Seminar

    The Voice and Vision Seminar is designed to be a capstone leadership journey for our 8th grade students as they complete middle school.  By the end of the course, each student will have created something for someone else.  What they choose to create (e.g. a service, a product, a piece of art or writing) will address the authentic needs/desires of their client, and it will be anchored in a personal strength, goal, or interest of the student.  Students will be led through a human-centered design process in which they will practice introspection, empathy, risk-taking, iteration using authentic feedback, resilience, collaboration, and creativity. Students will be assessed on their completion of the deliverables assigned for each step of the design and presentation process, and ultimately on whether they were able to create something that was needed and/or appreciated by their client.  Self-reflection, persistence in meeting deliverables, and client feedback will form the majority of a student’s final grade.  The journey is the destination.