Our Middle School faculty are well versed in the complexities of adolescent development, and are equipped to work with and assist students as they progress through the natural developmental stages of 6th, 7th, and 8th graders. Teachers are deeply aware of the challenges Middle School students can face, and they embrace the opportunity to help each child to honor and respect the adult they will become.
Middle School students deepen and strengthen their academic skills while tackling larger questions about themselves and the world. A school-wide focus on the UN Sustainable Development Goals gives students opportunities to connect their understanding of global issues with academic learning. Middle Schoolers take risks and try new things, learning from challenges and successes.
Middle School students have ample opportunities to find and develop their passions both in and out of the classroom. The Explorations Program offers a wide array of electives for every middle schooler to choose from - from advanced art classes such as fiber arts and sculpture, to theater, musical ensembles, coding, cooking, and physical fitness. Our students graduate from FFS with a strong sense of themselves and a pride in what they do. They are truly engaged community members and active citizens who are knowledgeable about the world.
The FFS Middle School math program provides students with the skills and understandings necessary to problem solve effectively, reason mathematically, calculate fluently and accurately, communicate their math thinking, and apply what they know to complex, real-life situations. Technology is woven into math class in creative and fun ways. All students study Algebra in 8th grade, and are extremely well prepared for the challenges of high school math when they graduate from Middle School. Many of our students matriculate into honors level and advanced math courses.
Sixth graders take separate classes in literacy and history. History begins with the study of Ancient History (Africa, China, India, and South America). Students also focus on issues of identity, privilege and race, centered around the Quaker testimonies of community and equality.Students develop active and analytical reading skills and work to become more sophisticated and independent writers. Using the workshop model, sixth grade writers continue to hone their skills in formulating ideas, using vivid, descriptive language, drafting, and editing.
Creating an environment where students feel safe and comfortable conversing and writing about their own experiences in Spanish is vital to our programAll Middle School students read a variety of novels, often connected to cultural events in Spanish speaking countries or the United States. They converse in Spanish daily and by 7th grade, the majority of Spanish class time is conducted in Spanish.
Students explore how the world works and its interconnectedness by engaging in activities to help them explore topics in chemical, life, physical, environmental, engineering, and earth sciences. Experiments, inquiries, demonstrations, discussions, and group and independent projects help students construct their understanding. Through their study of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, students apply what they are learning to the real-life issues that affect people and our planet, such as climate change, environmental degradation, food security, and bioethics. Students learn how to think like scientists — inquiring, developing theories and hypotheses and testing them.
Technology instruction is woven throughout the Middle School curriculum. Students learn to use technology to explore better ways to innovate, communicate, and collaborate. To ensure equal access to resources, all middle school students receive a Chromebook for their use at home and school.
Seventh and eighth grade humanities is an interdisciplinary course in which students study literature, history, and social studies through a global lens. Seventh graders engage in a Global Studies course, beginning the school year studying geography, human rights, and the ways the environment can shape our lives. Guided by the Brown University Choices Program, students engage in a series of deliberations throughout the school year where they work together to find practical solutions to historical dilemmas or policy problems, including international cooperation for climate change, U.S. policy on human rights, directions for Cuba's future, and apartheid in South Africa. The Global Studies class culminates with a Model UN simulation where students research and represent a country in a delegation on an international crisis.Eighth grade humanities is focused on American Studies. Students ask questions about the definition of justice and the relationship between justice and citizenship while studying the Constitution and the American court system. Students consider the role of the media in a democracy while writing investigative journalism and continue with units on Immigration in U.S. history, industrialization, and globalization in Philadelphia. In the final unit, the course examines the Civil Rights Movement, comparing it to other American social movements. Students consider what it means to "move" as part of a movement and how movements measure success.
Our students learn that respect and compassion are the root of a strong community and that through our actions we can make the world a better place.Much of this work is conducted through Quakerism lessons in the classroom, on the Middle School Retreat, and during special programming and community building activities throughout the year. Guided by the Quaker testimonies of simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality and stewardship, our students learn to identify their personal core values, engage in mindfulness practices, and discuss ethics-based moral quandaries and questions. In 8th grade, students assist in guiding our community to enhance their understanding of Quaker practices through a variety of leadership opportunities, such as planning multi-age activities for Quaker Week and River Otter Field Day. Each week, students gather for Meeting for Worship in the Meeting House. Meeting begins in silence, so that students can settle and practice reflection. When moved to speak, participants are encouraged to share an idea or inspiration with the rest of the Meeting. The Meeting ends when the eighth graders initiate a handshake with their neighbors.
Part of this process includes preparation for high school interviews, writing of a personal essay, filling out applications, and keeping track of application timelines.
All Middle School students take classes in art, physical education, health, and music to give them additional opportunities to think creatively, stay active, and explore their passions and broaden their intellectual horizons.
Middle School students spend three days and two nights at a team-building retreat where they strengthen connections with old friends, establish new relationships, and together, build a strong middle school community. Students embrace challenges such as navigating a low ropes course, canoeing down the river on a six mile trip, contributing to team-building games, and taking archery lessons. They also hike, practice yoga and mindfulness, sit by a bonfire, make new friends, and attend outdoor Meetings for Worship.
Morning and afternoon advisory meetings provide students with the opportunity to reconnect with their advisor and to organize themselves for the day ahead. Strong connections with the advisor are integral to a safe social and emotional middle school experience. Students may independently sign-up for office hours, which are one-on-one and small group conferences with their teachers to review specific skills and work on individualized practice for academic growth.