Seventh Grade

NFS Curriculum Update :: December, 2014

Advanced Handbells

This wonderful group of musicians dove right in! We have highlighted and played through several Christmas pieces. We will be preparing a piece or two to play at the Holiday Meeting for Worship on the 19th and I am hoping to put a short program together to play at Pennswood Village.


Students have filmed their very first shorts. After an introduction and time storyboarding, students formed groups and worked together to film using themselves or objects as subjects. Students are now building simple small pieces using plasticine clay and will work together to practice moving and shooting claymation shorts. This experience will come in handy for our final project. Later this month we will begin to edit, add titles and sound using iMovie.

Debate & Public Speaking

Veteran and new Debate and Public Speaking students are off to a great start! Students were recorded reading the new Newtown Friends School mission statement and given feedback regarding pace, volume, articulation, eye contact, body control, emphasis and gesture. They wrote “I Like” speeches describing a particular passion and again viewed themselves after being recorded. Currently, students are preparing “Please, parent, please” speeches where they argue for a privilege or item they have been denied previously. Debate class capitalizes on teenagers’ natural ability to argue!


Seventh grade English students will take on a full-length novel in December. Surviving Antarctica: Reality TV 2083 is a dystopian young adult novel which may remind a few readers of The Hunger Games in its treatment of society’s future (although it was published three years earlier!). The text offers an excellent venue for discussion of conflict, narrative point of view, and other key literary elements. Students will also develop their approaches to active reading, interacting with what they read in order to better engage with and understand the text. Whether students opt for Post-its, pen and paper, or an electronic annotation method, they will be stronger readers and more capable writers as a result of tracking their responses to what they read. Finally, the novel will serve as a springboard for Harkness-style discussions in which the entire class will work together to generate meaningful conversation about the text.


This month the seventh grade Latin students will be completing Lesson X, which introduces second conjugation verbs. Students will become more adept at forming both the present and future tenses of this conjugation, as well as using the imperative forms to give commands. This lesson also provides us with a good opportunity to refresh and reinforce our knowledge of first conjugation verbs. Once we wrap up this lesson, we will move on to Lesson XI, which introduces the ablative of place where. Students will complete their first major project of the year, a composition in comic strip format, to demonstrate their understanding of this type of prepositional phrase.


Seventh grade mathematicians will continue using algebra tiles and model drawings as visual models for solving algebraic equations and will be introduced to solving algebraic equations with variables on both sides. This includes reinforcing the use of inverse operations, combining like-terms, simplifying to lowest terms, and checking each equation as the final step. Balancing equations involves paying close attention to every calculation since one calculation error will affect the end result. Then students will model real-world situations in a literal equation or formula by building a chart, writing an equation and creating a visual model. Students will be given formulas that are unfamiliar to them and evaluate a word problem given what each variable means. This is an important skill because in many occupations, various formulas are used to represent situations. As an extension to the unit, students will learn about microcredit lending and how it is designed to help people out of poverty as well as how examine population trends for Japan and India. We will also continue working with Microsoft Excel, learning functions on the graphing calculators, and sharing class notes and resources in Google Classroom.


December is the start of our basketball unit and many of the classes this month will focus on various basketball skills, drills and activities. We will play basketball games called H-O-R-S-E and Twenty One. We will play large group games like BBK and Knockout. We will play full and half court basketball games too. Fitness and skill development remain an important part of our activities, as well as sportsmanship and fair play.


In seventh grade, students will continue their studies in microbiology. Specifically, while reviewing their understanding of the cell cycle, students will dive deeper into the cell and begin to understand the structure of DNA. This will bring the class into the science of heredity. In this unit, the class will work with probability and heredity using Mendel’s work as a backdrop. Toward the end of the month, students will study the cell and inheritance and how DNA makes all of this happen.

Service Learning

This month the second batch of Service Learners will lay the groundwork for their service projects. Students will choose an issue in the world that is of concern to them and will research the causes of and remedies for this issue. They will synthesize their findings into an annotated bibliography and present a brief speech to their classmates persuading them of the importance of their issues. After these presentations, students will form groups based on their shared interests, and they will begin to write their project proposals. Groups will revise and edit their proposals to create detailed and easy-to-follow plans for their service projects by the end of the month.

Social Studies

In December the seventh grade social studies students will finish their unit about colonization. The final section on the unit is about the conflict that led to the American Revolution. We will discuss the social, political, and economic factors that led to the American Revolution. We will conclude with our second Document-Based Essay (DBQ) Exam. In this exam the students will utilize their primary source analysis skills as well as their paragraph writings with evidence and analysis skills. After the test we will begin our unit on the creation of the United States by the founding fathers.


In seventh grade Spanish, students will finish reading the final five chapters of the reading text Esperanza. To be better informed regarding the Maya culture and the Guatemalan Civil War, the class will read La Guerra Civil de Guatemala handout. The class will have discussions about the reading and will also need to answer comprehension questions about the war. How long did it last? Why did it occur? Who was involved? The final chapters of the book contain language relating to immigration and basic human rights. These topics will present opportunities for reflection, conversations and investigation of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.