The Middle School offers curricular and extracurricular opportunities for students to develop the skills they need to become global citizens. They are exposed to world perspectives across all subjects in the core curriculum.
In addition, the Middle School offers travel opportunities every year for students to immerse themselves in other cultures and improve their communication skills in a foreign language.
Our students are curious, engaged in discussions and genuinely interested in getting ready to take an active part in the world around them.
World Perspectives in the Classroom
Students in the Middle School become more deeply aware of their place in a diverse and globalized world through transcultural exploration across all subjects. A 6th grade student might be exposed to cultural diversity by studying the Silk Road in world history class, while a 7th grade student would read novels on immigration in English class to understand how the United States has been transformed by globalization. In 8th grade, all students have to write and present a capstone project, and many of them engage in academic research on global issues.
The Middle School English courses (grades 6-8) engage students in reading, writing, and Harkness style discussion using literary works that emphasize themes of identity, immigration, globalization, and power. The sixth grade course focuses on individual identity in response to outside groups and social pressures; the seventh grade course, in collaboration with the History course, looks at multiple perspectives on immigration and the American dream in the past century; and the eighth grade course engages global texts throughout the year that focus on themes of conflict and power. In addition, each course offers one student-choice unit during the year that challenges students to read more independently and discuss and write in response to a variety of global perspectives. Sixth graders read texts that highlight individuals from around the world facing personal challenges with courage and determination; seventh graders read WWII memoirs to explore different viewpoints (German, European, American, Japanese) on a single world event; and eighth graders read novels set in Argentina, China, Sierra Leone, and the Dominican Republic as they examine recent global revolutions, leading to an essay that challenges students to create their own revolution. In all three years of Middle School English, students are asked to explore the intersections between their own identities and experiences and those of the diverse characters they encounter in the course texts, bridging gaps and developing empathy and critical reading skills as they hone their cultural literacy.
In the History department, each grade studies the influence of the global world on the US, meeting all three objectives of the WPP: experiential learning (Trivia Club), transcultural exploration (academic courses), research on global issues (6th grade Silk Road project, and WPP oriented capstone research papers). Topics in the 6th grade include changes in the world environment, however the majority of the year’s teachings revolves around the Silk Road : the exploration of western and eastern religions, and study of the history of the countries found along the Silk Road (China, India, and the Middle East). The 7th grade course focuses on 20th century U.S. history, which includes America’s growing presence on the international stage through events such as World Wars I and II, the Cold War and Vietnam, and challenges in the Middle East, but also includes a study of the growth and development of the USA through immigration and integration patterns and the pursuit of the American dream. The 8th grade Government course specifically looks at the political systems within the US and in their last unit students focus on foreign affairs and more specifically on foreign political systems from Japan, China, Mexico, Great Britain and Russia. During spring break, students have the opportunity to visit the senate and meet other government officials during their class trip to Washington D.C.
Global Studies abounds in the Arts, as music provides a natural home to experience diverse cultures, time periods, and genres. These past few years, programs have included the works of Western classical composers, Jazz influences, music from Africa, Thailand, and other Asian countries. Students also perform works in many languages, including Spanish, French, Italian, and Hebrew. We have brought back the Caribbean Steel Drum band, which is now in its third year here at GFA. We are looking forward to a year filled with learning, playing, singing, and experiencing music in the new beautiful Performing Arts Center!
The Middle School Visuals Arts department incorporates regional exhibitions into the curriculum, exposing students to world perspectives and important current happenings. Students are introduced to a diverse group of artists and styles from around the world over the course of their middle school art experience. Students are inspired by important historical art figures as well as contemporary artists. Students often address their own identity, culture and heritage in art lessons. Middle school art students are exposed to and experiment in a variety of 2D and 3D mediums. In the past, the Visual Arts department has been involved in art exchanges from other parts of the world. The department plans to continue sharing art with students on a global level.
The World Language department at GFA now offers three languages in the sixth grade, opening an even wider range to our community of Middle School students. Inherent during the three years and each of the languages, common themes are studied through poems, texts, videos, listening tasks and more recently infographics. The endeavors of the well-traveled teachers are to share their experiences of various countries with their students. As the students’ knowledge of the language increases and their abilities to understand the various cultures, and by the time the students reach the culmination of the 8th grade they are able to discuss topics in some depth; for example, in Mandarin, Chinese history from 1949 onwards, in Spanish, Argentina’s social and political situation in the 1980s and discuss, in French, with our visiting Rwandese guests the hardships and the rebuilding of Rwanda over the past 15 years. Students are encouraged throughout their three years course to develop their knowledge of the world they live in through projects on traditions, cultures, and comparisons between countries speaking the same language. See more details in the Travel Programs section about the MS World Language department WPP trips abroad programs.
The Science department provides a widely global outlook from the very first day of 6th grade. The class provides an in-depth survey of the earth’s geology including how natural processes ( hurricanes, volcanoes and earthquakes) impact world populations. Further, anthropogenic effects to the environment are discussed and explored when each student takes on the responsibility of a science fair project. These projects highlight how humans have affected the earth and it’s ecosystems and how we can improve our future through technological innovation and research. Students create and manage experiments testing their environmental issue for a future poster display at GFA’s middle school science fair. In the 7th Grade, while student work on studying resources use and production and their impact on the world, students are benefiting from transcultural exploration as they get into the details of the food chain, habitats and growing population in the world through comparisons of various countries. This year, the 8th Grade’s will be studying physics and will be discussing pollution as part of the chemistry unit. View our Travel Programs section for more details about the Science department WPP trip to Iceland.
Being a very skill-specific course, the Mathematics department finds it natural to include data from around the world in their problems, therefore ensuring the students’ transcultural exploration. In the 6th grade, students are also exposed to the outer world through the history of mathematics, and how mathematical ideas were discovered such as ancient number systems (Greek, Sumerians). Students are also enjoying collaborative work in the kenken and mathletes clubs.
Students in the Middle School have many opportunities to conduct authentic independent research about global and environmental issues. In sixth grade, all students design, conduct, and present a science research project for our annual GFA science exposition. While optional in grades 7 and 8, students having a strong interest in the sciences may elect to conduct a semester-long research project with the opportunity to present both at the science expo as well as the Connecticut State Science Fair.
In addition, the 8th grade Capstone paper and project presentation has become an integral part of the Greens Farms Academy Middle School over the last decade. The quality of the papers and projects has improved each and every year. Every topic that the 8th grade students write a thesis paper on will answer a question about how the topic (or issues related to the topic) positively or negatively impacts the human experience on Earth. Each year culminates, in May, when students present during a dedicated morning, and in front of their capstone advisers, and peers, their final project.
In Rwanda, “Komera” means “be strong, have courage.” The Komera Club is a student-run club that partners with the Komera Project in Rwanda, a global leadership incubator for young women that assists girls who have the courage and desire to pursue secondary education, but who lack the resources to do so. The club, made up of middle and upper school girls, meets every other Friday before school to discuss issues related to girls’ education around the world and to work on special projects to raise awareness and funding for Komera.
Through bake sales, film screenings, and the Komera Run, the club has sponsored two Komera scholars: Olive Ingabire, age 20, and Solange Nyianawumuntu, age 17. Robbi Hartt, MS English teacher, who has traveled to Rwanda three summers to visit the Komera Project, serves as faculty advisor for the club. Visit the Komera.org site.
The school offers travel opportunities led by GFA faculty to supplement the core curriculum in world languages and science. Students who are interested in applying to any of these travel programs, please contact Ward Abel: firstname.lastname@example.org.
French Language Immersion
February 2017, President’s day week end WPP Trip to Québec city.
We are very excited to be able to take 35 students on this trip open to grades 6 through 8.
This year exciting menu of activities includes a visit of the fortified city, a historical re-enactment of life in one of the towers of the fortifications as a 19th century soldier. On the Saturday, students will be able to experience a week-end ‘Québec style’ with snowshoeing, dogsledding, finishing with a traditional maple syrup diner at ‘la Cabane a Sucre’. Finally Sunday will be a combination of city tour and countryside delights with the visit of the magnificent Chutes de Montmorency and snow tubing. Before the Monday departure, students will have a grand breakfast in the dining room of the Québec Parliament. Follow us soon on the bog!
Head chaperone: Miss Reynaud
Spanish Language Immersion
Spanish language students also have the possibility to go and put their language skills to the test in the beautiful central American regions, where in both they will learn about the ecosystems of the region, as well as learning about the colonization and discovering the history of both countries. See the last trip here.
Science & Culture of Iceland
Iceland, often referred to as “Land of Fire and Ice” is one of the most geologically rich locations in the world. This trip will allow students to experience a wonderful culture and a truly unique landscape while seeing, touching and feeling many aspects of the physical science they learn about at GFA. They will be able to see the unique terrestrial ridge as well as learning about how Iceland will be able to energy independent in 2050.
Science & History behind the US National Parks
June 2017 WPP trip to Glacier, Yellowstone and Grand Tetons National Parks.
This trip spear-headed by Mr Pianka will enable students to discover three of the US National Parks as the association celebrates its 100th birthday. The magnificent nature and wilderness of Montana, Wyoming and Utah. Amongst other activities, students will be at one with nature, through, wildlife observation, hiking, camping and rafting. They will also have an insight into the history of the region, mining towns and the history of the parks. Students will also experience the science behind the volcanic region, the beauty and unpredictability of the geysers and the wildlife and microorganisms that live there. We are very excited to be able to share this experiential journey with our 22 students grades 6-8. Follow us this summer on the blog!