Academics

Middle School

Core Curriculum

The WNS middle school is a departmentalized program that retains our philosophy of giving students engaging and authentic learning experiences, and providing instruction and pace that supports the full range of learners. Students learn skills in the context of real world application. Collaboration is a key part of project-based learning, and students continue to be taught and to practice these skills.

The core academic classes of English, math, science, social studies, and Spanish are offered with opportunities to participate in advanced classes for certain subjects. All students also participate in performing arts, visual art, music, computer science, and physical education with expanded opportunities to participate in after-school athletics, school plays, and musicals. Social-emotional learning is also integrated throughout the middle school curriculum.

Students from WNS matriculate to a large range of independent, parochial, and public schools, and instruction is geared to provide students with a best-practices approach to teaching and learning, including those sometimes considered more traditional, such as note-taking and taking tests. Our teaching is research-based and differentiates for the needs of individual students. Our goal is to prepare students for the diverse and changing world of the 21st century.
Core Academic Subjects

List of 5 items.

  • English

    The English program seeks to develop strong skills in the areas of composition; reading comprehension and literary analysis and interpretation of fiction and nonfiction writing through novel study,  independent reading, active reading, annotating, and student-led socratic seminar discussions.

    Sixth Grade: A project-based approach encourages students to make real-life connections between their studies and the world around them.

    Seventh Grade: Students develop the ability to state their points of view in both speech and writing by questioning, arguing, discussing, and adapting what they say to their audience and the effect they wish to achieve.

    Eighth Grade: Students are encouraged to develop their skills as both readers and writers through the exploration of themselves and their roles within the world, along with pushing the boundaries of each student's universe of obligation.
     
  • Math

    The math program is designed to build confidence and mastery in math concepts. Through project-based learning, everyday applications of math continue to be highlighted, so students not only learn the material, but also see the relevance in its application.

    There are four sections of math in sixth and seventh grade and five sections in eighth grade; all have the same high academic standards and goals. Each section varies as to pace and depth of understanding with a demanding curriculum focusing on core competencies. The curriculum culminates with Algebra 1 in eighth grade and everyone leaves ready for high school math, whether it be Algebra, Geometry, or beyond.
     
  • Social Studies

    The social studies program is a very interactive approach to studying history. Students engage in exciting projects and work to hone their skills as critical thinkers and writers. The social studies program culminates with an eighth grade trip to Washington, D.C. where students get to relive their exciting eighth grade year in American history up close and personal!

    Sixth Grade: Ancient History
    Seventh Grade: World History
    Eighth Grade: American History
     
  • Science

    The middle school science program is designed to promote scientific reasoning, problem solving, and creative and critical thinking skills. These skills are developed through the lens of best practices taken from project-based learning, student-directed learning, and 21st century skills. In addition to the science curriculum, the science program includes a social learning curriculum to enhance and develop skills such as communication, responsibility, flexibility, and initiative.

    Sixth Grade: Environmental Science
    Seventh Grade: Life Science & Human Health and Sexuality
    Eighth Grade: Chemistry and Physics basics
  • Spanish

    The middle school Spanish curriculum is a multi-faceted program that seeks to develop a degree of communicative competency and a relevant vocabulary, to engage students in a linguistic and cultural understanding of another language and culture, and encourages students to value second-language acquisition. There are four sections of Spanish and one of which is the Spanish Immersion program.

    The Spanish Immersion Program is an accelerated option for students ready for the challenge of an all-Spanish speaking classroom environment.  The Immersion Program provides students opportunities to build their confidence as they improve their listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills. The program enriches the intellectual growth of each student and provides a variety of cultural experiences that enhances the acceptance and appreciation of Spanish-speaking countries.

    WNS also offers students the chance to accelerate their Spanish practice and immerse themselves in other Spanish cultures and geographic regions through our Global Studies Summer Program Trip. Each summer, WNS students embark upon a trip that incorporates Spanish, service learning, and interdisciplinary study opportunities.
     
Specialized Classes

List of 10 items.

  • Music

    The middle school music program is centered around choral music, including an extra-curricular Festival Choir. Through varied repertoire including folk songs, partner songs, rounds, traditional classical pieces, and popular music, students learn proper vocal techniques and continue their growth in music literacy.
  • Theatre Arts

    Students at WNS experience theatre arts classes in fifth through eighth grades, developing rehearsal and performance skills, but mainly providing the opportunity for students to develop empathy, self-confidence, public speaking, and communication and collaboration skills. While each grade level participates in its own Theatre Art production, all middle school students have the opportunity to apply for several performing arts electives

    Click here to learn more about the Theatre Arts Program at WNS.
  • Visual Arts

    The art program is organized around imagination, invention, observation, communication and expression. Students learn that art is a means to communicate feelings and ideas, to articulate what they think and know, to reflect upon issues, and to come to a clearer understanding of themselves, their culture, and other people. Through art, our students seek to inform, inspire and move others emotionally or intellectually. Creating art is as much about the journey as it is about the completed artwork. Learn More
  • Dance

    This is our first year offering dance for middle school students! Students can take dance as an alternative to their physical education course. Students will explore and learn different genres of dance including hip hop, jazz, ballet/lyrical, bollywood, swing, and Latin.
  • Physical Education

    Middle school physical education emphasizes fitness and lifelong recreational activities. The focus of the program is transferring foundational skills into a sports setting, fitness testing, and more. Team sports and games include learning how to work together to create strategies and find multiple solutions to a problem.

    Middle school students are assessed annually with physical fitness testing. In the beginning of the year, initial assessments are made and the results are discussed with students. The students are tested again at the end of the school year and are shown their progress.
  • Computer Science

    WNS prides itself on continuing to update its technology program and provide significant resources to our students. Students in middle school meet with our Technology Specialist once a week in our Computer Science Center. Students are instructed in transferable skills they will use in the future such as design principles, research methods, computer logic paradigms, and digital communications skills rather than trained in using specific programs. Students also enjoy learning basics of coding and robotics, which they can then expand on in electives. Click here to learn more about the Technology Program at WNS.
  • Electives

    In addition to the core curriculum, every middle school student participates in an elective in each of the three trimesters. The elective period is a time when middle school students can pursue an interest that is not necessarily a part of the regular curriculum with students in all grades of the middle school. Electives additionally provide teachers with an opportunity to share a skill or passion with their students. Some of the classes offered have included mock trial, robotics, a Free the Children service class, early childhood mentoring, Spring Musical, architecture club, cooking, Debate Team, Math Team, creative writing, newspaper, yearbook, visual arts, and various athletics.
  • Advisory

    Three days a week begin with advisory, which includes time for students to be welcomed to school, a time to share, engage in a game or playful activity, and hear news or announcements. Students set goals and create a middle school-wide Social Contract of rules to help them create a school environment that helps them achieve their goals. For more about advisory and the social-emotional program at WNS, click here.
  • Library

    The WNS Library is intended to serve as a center for inquiry, collaboration, research and community interaction amongst the entire school. The flexible space acts as a place for students to visit, share, create, reflect and collaborate in ways that connect to their class curriculums. Not only does the growing literature collection strive to instill a love of reading, but the expansive digital and nondigital resources for research develop students’ love of learning and ability to seek knowledge. As the changing landscape of the 21st century has altered the ways in which we acquire, analyze and interpret information, so has the learning needs and challenges that face our students today. A new curriculum has been developed to address these needs that specifically emphasizes digital citizenship and media literacy. Utilizing thoughtful and developmentally appropriate approaches, students engage with these topics at various grade levels during library class visits. Additionally, parents are encouraged to volunteer their time in a variety of ways, allowing them to connect with their children’s education and the larger WNS community.
  • Retreats and Outdoor Education

    All middle school students participate in the retreat program. In September all middle school students and faculty participate in an overnight trip that emphasizes creating relationships among students in all grades and fostering bonds between teachers and students.

    Each grade level also has its own trip or trips:
    • 6th grade 3-day camping trip at Malibu Creek State Park
    • 7th grade 5-day cross-country ski trip to Sequoia National Park
    • 8th grade 3-day camping trip to Joshua Tree National Park and 6-day Washington, D.C. trip
    Each experience includes an emphasis on team-building, overcoming challenges, and various elements of science, history, and the arts.

    We also offer an optional summer Global Studies trip to a country abroad each year.
     

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