This course introduces students to the Design Cycle, which is, at its core, a model for empathetic problem solving. The cycle has four stages: analysis, ideation, creation, and evaluation; students find that they often need to rethink their progress and revisit stages of the cycle. The importance of the process, not simply the final product, is stressed as the main focus of Design. Students track their progress and provide reflection, an integral component of the process, in individualized design blogs.
Rethinking and revisiting continues and can take the form of debugging code, redesigning plans for a boat during the Milk Boat Project, or troubleshooting an unexpected hurdle for a video advertisement.
In their Individuals and Societies courses, students explore our world through the study of history, geography, and civics, as well as current topics and information. These courses emphasize the development of strong research and study skills, alongside exploring the world through the Key Concepts of Change, Global Interactions, Systems, Time, Space and Place. All courses encourage students to draw connections to their own experiences, think critically about problems and solutions, and seek out and analyze a diversity of sources and voices in order to help them become engaged and responsible global citizens.
This concept and inquiry-driven course builds critical thinking and research skills including consideration of the purpose, perspective, and reliability of sources and differentiating between primary and secondary sources. Students practice setting goals and plans for their research and deciphering information that is relevant to their projects in order to evaluate evidence, formulate an argument, and problem solve within a collaborative learning environment. Students will focus on the Key Concept of Change by exploring how globalization has shaped the world. For the Key Concept of Systems, students will look at why natural environments are important to individuals and societies. For Global Interactions, students will investigate how exploration affects global interactions. Additionally, for Time, Space & Place, students will consider how energy can be produced sustainably.
Our Language and Literature courses help students grow as confident and capable readers, writers, speakers, thinkers, discussion leaders, and collaborators. By engaging with diverse texts and writing and speaking for a variety of purposes and audiences, students come to view language as a vehicle for the expression of ideas, creativity, analysis, and reflection.
This course emphasizes the organization and structure found in quality writing. A consistent feedback loop on essays offers the main guidance, but there is also an emphasis on the application of grammar concepts and the use of editing skills. For reading, the year begins with short stories and builds into novels that sometimes connect to concepts and units in other classes, creating opportunities that help students to see larger ideas in different ways. For instance, the class reads Inherit the Wind, which helps with voice work but also connects to evolution in Science. Throughout the year, students also build speaking skills through a series of increasingly challenging games that culminate in formal speeches.
Building on four key skill areas: speaking, reading, writing, and listening, this class develops from foundational awareness to deepening understanding, and finally developing strong confidence in all areas. A strong commitment to developing verbal skills ensures that students are engaged in an environment with at least 90% target language per class. These are mixed ability classes, and differentiation occurs through homework assignments and other class activities.
Students engage in units focusing on food, sports, health, and vacations. In addition, students engage in a variety of cultural activities that are aligned with the units of study in order to prompt a deeper understanding of the language, people, and customs in a variety of Spanish speaking countries. By the end of the year, students will have completed two-thirds of the high school Spanish 1 textbook, ¡Así se dice!
All mathematics courses are taught through the MYP lens, working to promote inquiry and application and helping students become better communicators and problem solvers. In Grades 7 and 8, students take grade-level, 1-year advanced or 2-year advanced courses. Course placement in Grades 7 and 8 is determined by the Mathematics Department after considering available grades, Math Inventory scores, teacher recommendation, and student interest.
Pre-Algebra This course is a standard Grade 7 course; students should be proficient at operations with whole numbers and decimals and work reasonably well with fractions before beginning the course. Students will explore operations with positive and negative numbers (integers and rational numbers), proportional relationships (ratios, proportions, and percents), basic algebra (simplifying expressions, solving equations and inequalities), and geometry (two-dimensional figures, surface area, volume, constructions and scale drawings).
Introduction to Integrated Math This course is a standard Grade 8 mathematics course and is offered as an advanced course in Grade 7. This course includes all of the topics listed above in Pre-Algebra but also includes advanced related work whenever possible throughout the course as well as solving multi-step equations, geometry (transformations, angle relationships, triangles, circles and similar solids), data analysis (scatter plots, lines of best fit and data displays), and further algebraic concepts (linear functions, systems of linear equations, exponents and scientific notation).
Integrated Math 1 This course is designed for students who are ready for the study of high school level mathematics and is offered to both Grades 7 and 8. Topics include linear equations and functions, linear inequalities, systems of linear equations, exponential equations and functions, and sequences. Students also apply basic geometric terminology and reasoning skills to the topics of parallel lines, transformations, and congruent triangles. This course includes a study of data analysis and displays. Participation in the American Mathematics Competitions is encouraged by Middle School students in this advanced course.
The aim of Physical and Health Education (PHE) is to engage our students in developing a healthy lifestyle through physical activity, focusing on communication, social responsibility and reflection. 75% of this course is focused on physical education activities, with the remaining 25% focused on the health and the social-emotional development of each student.
This course is built around furthering knowledge of healthy lifestyle choices, healthy social-emotional practices, mindfulness and general health knowledge. Students will create workout routines, log nutritional facts in journals and further their goal setting skills. Students will learn about what part we play in our communities through collaborating with peers.
In each grade level, Middle School Science includes units of study in Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Earth Science. Science at AWS is inquiry-based and emphasizes the application of knowledge to novel situations. At least two times per grade level, students apply the scientific method to design their own laboratory investigations, collect data, process and evaluate their results, and draw conclusions. Students also conduct independent research evaluating how scientists solve real world problems. Hands-on and virtual laboratory experiences actively engage students in scientific inquiry.
Units of study in Grade 7 include the Cells and Microbiology, Evolution, Density and Buoyancy, Chemistry of Mixtures, and the Processes that Shape the Earth. Highlights for Grade 7 include an interdisciplinary unit to help students refine their Milk Boats designs prior to racing them on American Lake and a unit preparing students for their Journey to the Southwest that explores the processes that have shaped the stunning landscapes in national parks.
Students will be learning violin, viola, cello or bass or expanding on their skills from a previous experience. They will work in small ensembles in the class, develop tonal control of their instruments and spend time working on pieces for performance. They learn from a textbook but also work on pieces and perform with Middle School Orchestra for the AWS community.
The art of theatre demands that artists engage in an ongoing process of construction and deconstruction. MYP Theatre will explore the art of theatre and place it in the context of our changing world. Students begin with an overview of theatre history focusing on how theatre developed, the purpose it served in the development of human society, and the forces that changed theatre throughout history. Students will deconstruct characters created by a playwright and learn to create a believable character on stage. While our main focus will be on acting, students will have the opportunity to learn the basics of theatre design through scenery, lights, and costumes.
Students investigate their art more deeply and extend their skill levels. There is concentration on their individual art practice and productions. We will place emphasis on their ability to transfer artistic skills learned and practiced to a variety of subjects. Students will focus on creating works that will be shared with the communities for influence.
As part of their design course, Grade 7 students picked their own non-profit, reached out to conduct an interview with an expert and created a documentary-style short video to publicize the non-profit's work. Above are a few examples.