Grade Seven

The Grade Seven curriculum is designed to meet the student’s need for greater accuracy and articulation through mechanics, chemistry and physical education.

The emotional life is explored in a thoughtful, organized way through poetry, geometry, chemistry, and other subjects.

“The need for imagination, a sense of truth, and a feeling of responsibility – these are the three forces which are the very nerve of education.”

Rudolf Steiner

At a time when students are experiencing great physical, cognitive and emotional changes, the Grade Seven curriculum is designed to meet the student’s need for greater accuracy and articulation through mechanics, chemistry and physical education. The emotional life is explored in a thoughtful, organized way through poetry, geometry, perspective drawing, chemistry, and other subjects. Cognitive skills are challenged with the increasing expectation of clarity and order in verbal and written expression as well as phenomenological study and observation. The goal is for the student to experience a stronger sense of self-mastery and responsibility. With all the personal changes being experienced by the student and the increasing need to challenge existing rules and practices, this is the time that the curriculum visits the Renaissance, the Age of Exploration, and the Reformation.

Students are also introduced to metres and poetic structure, allowing them to explore emotions and inner experiences through a new means of articulation and expression.

Algebra brings simple, logical structures to more complex problem-solving. Students continue work with plane geometry, with constructions becoming increasingly demanding both cognitively and technically. Accuracy is essential in both thinking and technique. Mathematical laws of perspective bring order to depth in art and provide another connecting point between arts and academics.

The historical transition from the geocentric to the heliocentric picture of the solar system is the focus of astronomy studies. Biographies of the great thinkers including Kepler, Copernicus and Galileo connect this study to the Renaissance and the Age of Exploration. This is also the grade in which a more formal study of chemistry is introduced with focus on combustion, salts, acids, bases, and the lime cycle.

Pedagogical Overview
In Grade Seven, most of the students turn thirteen and become teenagers, an expression of many physical, cognitive, and emotional changes. Two fundamental gestures characterize this new phase of life: an outgoing gesture of active exploration and independence and an introspective gesture of a growing awareness of self that often lead to enhanced emotional sensitivity. An appetite for knowledge about world phenomena mingles with a budding capacity for reflection and the first stirrings of self-reflection. Often, bursts of energy and a desire for expanding outer horizons alternate with periods of increased self-absorption and lethargic heaviness.

Curriculum themes mirror both the students’ outer exploration of the world of social and material phenomena and the inner journey of self-reflection. We look at topics from Chemistry and Physics (the most dramatic ones being combustion and mechanics); the transition from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance (and the change from a land-based feudal economy to urbanization and an opening-up of opportunities for individuals); networks of trade and communication leading to global encounters; and the physiology of our bodies. In math, algebra is introduced (working with the idea of a variable – a quantity that is initially unknown and needs to be explored).

The goal for this year is to encourage the students to take initiative and to appreciate ideas with an abstract and logical character. They need to challenge attitudes and assumptions, but also learn to be open to other perspectives. At the same time, they are provided with opportunities to recognize that in every event in history, every human encounter or natural phenomenon, there are a variety of factors at play that need to be unravelled, analyzed, and put into context in order to gain a deeper understanding.

As the students move through their Grade Seven year, the curriculum provides them with opportunities to develop and strengthen self-confidence, cooperation, and the capacity for personal responsibility.

Morning Exercises
Our mornings begin with a number of activities designed to create a rhythm of breathing and moving together – reciting poetry, singing, playing the recorder (adding alto and bass recorders to sopranos and tenors to play four-part music) or ukulele, and rhythmic activities like body percussion or ball-bouncing. In fall and spring, we also include morning runs. These activities help to establish a common focus, a context for cooperation, and an opportunity for working on perseverance in the face of very specific challenges.
Social Studies
Global Encounters
We look at the history of global encounters in the larger context of networks of trade and communication between Austronesian, Asian, African, and European traders and scholars, We focus on the trans-Saharan trade of salt and gold, Southeast Asian routes of trade and diplomacy, and the maritime spice trade; the latter was increasingly dominated by Europeans who sought to replace the Silk Routes. We explore what these encounters looked like, where they took place, and what their effect was on the populations that were part of this process. We look specifically at the Columbian Exchange – the exchange of diseases, ideas, food crops, and populations between the New World and the Old World, resulting from trade routes and conquests that took place during this period of exploration, enslavelement, and colonization.

The Renaissance, the period following medieval times, is explored in the context of these global encounters which introduced Europeans to new materials, knowledge, and ideas. We look at he trade in spices, gold, and slaves, the development of city states and patronage, overseas conflicts, and cultural exchange as key elements in the blossoming of creative activities and new ways of thinking.
Biographies of innovative artists and thinkers demonstrate how ideas can challenge and change the world, but they also provide insights into the individual and social struggles that lay behind these achievements.

Geography of Africa
Our study of Africa focuses on mapping the continent and developing an understanding of the geographical circumstances – the interaction of landforms, climate, and vegetation zones – that shaped biomes and traditional cultures in North, East, West, and South Africa. Other topics may include colonial history and the creation of political boundaries as well as more recent economic and sociological developments.

Through the sciences, the students become aware of the intricacies of the natural world around us; they are asked to observe and describe their perceptions without basing these on any assumptions – withholding judgement and abstaining from immediate labelling. Our goal is to create an understanding of the relationships between materials as well as the processes they undergo in the world around us–of cause and effect.

In chemistry, the students explore some of the organic substances that matter is composed of and observe the way they interact, combine, and change. We look at the chemical process of combustion, investigate acids and bases, and explore the processes inherent in the lime cycle.

In physics, we continue our exploration of acoustics, optics, thermodynamics, and magnetism. In addition, students study processes and phenomena involving mechanical force and simple machines, as well as electricity.

As part of the science curriculum, the topic of Human Physiology allows students to look at themselves with the same kind of distance they bring to other natural phenomena. They study the digestive, respiratory, circulatory, and reproductive systems, using artistic media like illustrations, sculpting, and creative writing to deepen our understanding.

Review of Previous Concepts and Strategies
Students review and strengthen basic arithmetic skills, including mental math, as well as the conversion of fractions, decimals, and percent, as well as the concepts of ratio and proportion. Practices like estimation, rounding, and self-checking become the norm.
We continue to work with data management techniques (bar graphs, broken and continuous line graphs.)
Measurement calculations include the volume and surface area of different types of prisms
Word Problems and Problem-Solving Strategies
Students work on a variety of math problems, often in small groups or with a partner, where the objective is to problem-solve rather than follow a “recipe.”

Congruent triangles
Congruency rules and similarities
Circle properties
Angle properties
Constructing angles, lines, bisectors, parallels, perpendiculars
Area and perimeter of irregular shapes
Volume and surface area

In Grade Seven, we focus on prerequisite skills for algebra, including the order of operations, the four operations with integers (or signed numbers), exploring gains and losses, and working with variables. The students evaluate mathematical expressions; distributive property; one-, two-, and multi-step equations (including geometry problems like solving for x in the context of complementary angles ); and work with coordinate systems.

Language Arts
Language Arts Skills
All of the subjects explored in specific blocks serve to hone their writing and communication skills. Students work on note-taking techniques, generating their own summaries or comprehensive essays, imaginative writing, and researching specific topics. This process is generally scaffolded through key points and subtitles. The students also work on effective communication in spoken and written language. They practice questioning and evaluating different points of view and start to be able to make meaningful connections between the world around them and their own views.

In Language Arts Skills classes, the students are provided with the opportunity to develop an awareness of their own creative identity. Writing with confidence and purpose provides the students with tools to navigate their burgeoning self-awareness as they move from pre-adolescence into adolescence in Grade Eight.

The students continue to hone their writing skills through recapitulation of grammar, parts of speech, punctuation, and sentence structure already introduced in the lower grades. Now the aim is to bring into deeper consciousness the parts of speech so that the students can begin to identify the parts (instead of the whole) and identify the same word as a different part of speech depending on the context: e.g pronouns/adjectives, nouns/adjectives/nouns/verbs.

Through carefully constructed exercises, they further develop the building blocks of writing: words, strongly crafted sentences, and a more pictorial way of self-expression. The emphasis moves to observation, word choices, and the telling of tales. Poetry is experienced, appreciated, and analyzed, providing a basis for the students to create their own poems.

Students are also introduced to elements of creative writing during the “Wish, Wonder, and Amazement” block.

Public speaking is practiced through choral, small group, and solo recitation of poetry and the production of a play, as well as the presentation of research projects to the class.

The class play, by its nature, provides a complete change from the “normal world”- a change of rhythm, modes of learning, and roles of both teachers and students. Involving a director and playwright adds another dimension to these changes, as their laser-sharp focus on the dramatic performance calls forth skills, qualities, and experiences in each student which may not be part of their everyday persona. The beauty of working on a class play is that it is only successful when social, personal, academic, and artistic goals are realized. As the class moves through rehearsals, these goals become tangible and provide their own feedback loops.

In Grade Seven, it is crucial to learn to collaborate with each other and to be able to give and receive constructive criticism and appreciation (interpersonal goals); to learn to take responsibility for one’s own behaviour – and to change it when called for – and to develop flexibility in following instructions and adapting to others on the stage (personal goals); to work on understanding and learning one’s lines, on remembering where to be and what to do, and to keep track of the storyline (academic goals); to speak clearly, confidently, and expressively, and to portray one’s character(s) convincingly through facial expressions, gestures, and movement on the stage (artistic goals).

Literature Studies/Oral Speech
During the fall, after assessing reading comprehension, Grade Seven starts one of three novel studies for the year. A novel study allows students to develop their reading comprehension and thinking skills through high-quality literature. When taught to the students as a whole group, novel studies can create a shared experience that builds the class community and creates connections. The skills and strategies taught so far become tangible during the studies. Assessment during novel studies comes from participation (in reading required chapters and in class discussions), in the ability to infer, in character studies, and in a culminating assignment at the end of each study.

In addition, a small speech assignment is assigned. For this assignment, students are asked to take a topic of their choice, research it, and compile and deliver a three-minute speech to their peers.

Cyber Civics
Cyber Civics is a comprehensive middle-school digital literacy program that addresses an urgent and growing need to teach students how to become ethical, safe, and productive “digital citizens.” Research shows that while young people seem incredibly tech-savvy, most know little about the core concepts of “information literacy” (how to find, retrieve, analyze, and use online information). Throughout the year, information literacy skills are brought in a way that makes sense to middle school students. Students experience hands-on activities that emphasize ethical and critical thinking through discussion and role-playing games.

“Look Into the World!”
Mirroring the students’ inner and outer journeys of exploration, this weekly lesson offers the opportunity to investigate themselves, their communities, and the world at large. A variety of topics – focused on different layers of identity (e.g. personality, heritage, gender, sexual orientation) – are presented and explored through discussion and individual and group projects.

Secondary Languages
This year, the students start each class by answering one or two French questions individually. They regularly work on grammar, conjugation and vocabulary exercises. They learn how to express themselves in the past and future tense with passé composé and futur proche. They practice dialogues – answering questions about themselves, ordering food, and expressing opinions. We explore French-speaking cultures around the world by listening to and studying songs. In addition, the students complete a research project on a French-speaking country and present it to the class. Through working on abbreviated versions of famous French novels (e.g. Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery and Arsène Lupin by Maurice Leblanc), the students practice reading as well as comprehending and translating unfamiliar material.
Visual Art
Drawing, Painting, Sculpting
In Grade Seven, the students experience many questions, and art can serve as a means to connect and express oneself beyond dialogue. The subjects developed in the art lessons are mostly drawn from morning lesson topics with a new emphasis on individual style and exploration. The students consciously work on technique, observation, and the beautification of their artwork while engaging their creativity. Drawing lessons include linear perspective and still lifes, while in painting lessons, colour perspective becomes an important element. The students work in a variety of mediums such as watercolours, aqua pencils, compressed charcoal, watercolour, and pastels.
Practical Art
In Grade Seven, the students are ready to use their will and skills on working with new materials, pay attention to their inherent qualities, and apply experiential knowledge to create artistic objects of their own design. The emphasis is now shifting from processes until now guided mostly from the outside to an ability to use discernment and one’s own willpower in creation of artistic objects and to work with increased independence.

Grade Seven typically explores the ancient technique of felting. They learn about the history of the technique and its cultural connections throughout the world and history. To experience the unique properties of wool, the students then learn the basic steps of felting, colour blending, and a technique for “painting with wool.” Their projects progress in complexity, from making a simple felted ball to creating a small felted picture, and finally to making an advanced seamless project of their own design – a pair of slippers, vessel, or a shoulder bag. Students are encouraged to enhance their projects with the embroidery stitches they have learned in previous years. More than ever, the students are using their faculty of discernment, their tactile sense, and their own creative forces in the process of creating new objects.

Students continue to learn and experience a variety of simple and more complex rhythmic patterns using body percussion, helping them develop a listening ear with an awareness of texture and blend and working cooperatively. Recorder skills continue with soprano and tenor recorders, and alto and bass recorders are introduced. Ensemble work focuses on music from the Renaissance. Music theory studies include the review and extension of previously learned concepts: the grand staff, time signatures and note values, dynamics and tempo, articulation, key signatures, and chords. Ukulele work continues with familiar songs and folk songs, adding new chords and progressions, and learning about musical form.
Physical Education
In Physical Education, we strive to develop desirable attitudes toward physical activity through team effort and personal achievement. We continue to encourage tolerance, cooperation, and self-discipline and look to see whether the students are able to contribute to team decisions and ideas.

The year begins with working on individual stamina (beep test) and cross-country running; throughout the year, soccer, volleyball, floor hockey, and basketball skills are introduced and practiced.

LWS provides opportunities to participate in larger team sports and individual recreational sports events hosted by the London District Catholic School Board. In September, the students participate in our annual Terry Fox Run, and at the beginning of October, we train students for cross-country running. In the spring, practicing for the annual LDCSB Hans JanssenTrack and Field Meet (sprints, long distance and relay runs, long jump, softball, shot put, and accessible events) provides opportunities for the students to test their athletic skills