MIDDLE SCHOOL: 6th-8th
At The Davis Academy, the middle school experience is a time when our students emerge as independent thinkers, skilled problem solvers and passionate leaders.
Accelerated coursework in the various disciplines challenges students to reach their full potential, while enjoying the opportunity to pursue their passions through a rich offering of elective courses in world language, technology, the arts and Jewish Studies. With in-depth discussions and hands-on experiences through interactive, project based learning and core curriculum, students are given the opportunity to embrace and master both independence and collaboration while developing their critical thinking, communication and leadership skills.
When Davis students graduate from their middle school experience, they take with them a strong academic foundation, confidence in their skills and themselves, the values to make ethical decisions and an eagerness to think independently and creatively in every facet of their lives.
Middle School Curriculum
The Davis Middle School Language Arts program is designed to nurture our students’ growth as they learn to think critically, write effectively and analyze deeply a rich array of experiences, texts and other forms of media. Focusing on the development of skills for successful reading and writing, students learn, practice and polish written work utilizing both creative and rhetorical modes to guide the strategic development of their compositions. They experience writing as a process that incorporates pre-writing, composing, evaluating, revising, editing, and publishing. Students also develop reading strategies for improved comprehension, including reading-response journals and text annotations. They practice summarizing while reading texts, making predictions, forming opinions, asking questions, making connections and inferences, and analyzing the author’s craft and figurative language. Students in each grade read a wide selection of texts, both in and out of class, and study vocabulary and root words using the Sadlier-Oxford vocabulary series and gain increasing proficiency and mastery of comprehensive grammar, usage, and mechanics concepts.
Davis Middle School Mathematics is a differentiated curriculum focused on developing the student’s ability to integrate math skills and concepts in real-world applications across disciplines, as well as developing abstract thinking and problem solving. The curriculum is explorative and rigorous, built on foundations necessary for success in higher mathematics, and is based on the most recent National Council of Teachers of Mathematics standards. As students progress through the Middle School Math curriculum, they become familiar with the properties of mathematics; the language of algebra; solving equations, adding, calculating rational numbers and integers; solving inequalities; understanding concepts of statistics and graphs; probability; applying algebra to geometry; measurement; introduction to trigonometry; and the study of polynomials. Students learn by balancing practice and skill development with hands-on activities, technology, and projects and investigations.
The Davis Academy’s Middle School science experience provides students with tremendous opportunities to uncover and discover through hands-on experimentation and exploration. Built upon the National Science Education Standards of The National Academy of Sciences, our programming guides students on a journey to learn about unifying concepts and processes, science as inquiry, data gathering, research skills, forming inferences, and skills for higher level problem solving. Students apply these skills in classroom activities, laboratory experiments, on field trips, and in real world applications in everyday life. We facilitate students’ learning through inquiry into the Earth, Life, and Physical Sciences, while continuing to weave science and technology together to enhance student learning and creative expression.
The Davis Academy Middle School Social Studies program encompasses a range of content and skill areas such as geography and history, civics and government, economics, research skills, and global concepts such as change, scarcity, interdependence, power, and culture. As students embark on their odyssey from sixth to eighth grade, they learn to master map and globe skills, chronology, interpret tables and charts, and analyze both primary and secondary sources. Sixth grade focuses on ancient history from prehistoric times to the Roman Empire with units on ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, India, China, Rome, and all of the major religions of the world. Seventh grade is a hands-on journey of the world through a geographer’s eyes as students explore each of the seven world regions through a series of case studies about environmental, human, and cultural resources and challenges. Eighth grade focuses on social, economic and political themes from American history and civics. Units include colonization, the American Revolution, understanding the United States Constitution, the Civil War, and the early 20th century.
A highlight of the eighth grade experience is the annual re-enactment of the Second Continental Congress. This learning experience exemplifies our innovative, student-centric approach as all students immerse themselves into the content and become the delegates during this day-long event during which we connect with classrooms from across the country via a variety of digital tools.
A core academic class in the Middle School, Davis students learn Hebrew using the NETA curriculum, which focuses on two aspects of learning and achievement – communicative ability and linguistic knowledge. During their journey, students have the opportunity to enrich their capacity to understand, speak, read, and write Hebrew, as they are introduced and exposed to both modern and Biblical Hebrew, as well as many creative projects. Students share their learning through discussion of Israeli current events and holiday celebrations. As they begin to find their “voice” in Hebrew, they develop skills in creative writing and expression. The Hebrew experience continues beyond the classroom as our students embark on their eighth grade trip, where they are able to speak the language on the streets in Israel.
In Middle School, Davis Academy students engage with the richness and complexity of Judaism in ways the help them understand all that Judaism has to offer in today’s world. Familiar Torah passages reappear in Hebrew and are surrounded by ancient and modern commentaries; the peaks and valleys of Jewish history are taught using primary source material; big questions are asked that force students to reflect on who they are and what they believe; and B’nai Mitzvah readiness is tackled head on through the study and practice of T’filah (Jewish prayer). While Sixth and Seventh graders experience year-long survey style coursework, Eighth graders are offered the opportunity to choose from a rich selection of trimester-long Jewish Studies electives that offer deeper exploration of meaningful topics. Stretched brains and opened hearts are what we strive for in Middle School Jewish Studies.
Middle School Physical Education inspires in each student a love of play, confidence in competition, sportsmanship, and an integral understanding of healthy choices. During PE, students work on developing skills for individual fitness and team sport participation. Guided by trained specialists, students learn about cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength, muscular endurance, body composition, and flexibility. Students also learn strategies and concepts while participating in skill practice and modified game play.
Middle School Electives
Spanish is offered as a rotation elective for sixth grade students and as year-long electives in seventh and eighth grade. In sixth grade, students work with short stories and develop their own mini dramas in pairs and then role-play the action in the story. These projects will reflect their own life experiences, enriching the authenticity of the language learning experience.
Seventh and Eighth grade students can choose to participate in a 2 year program of Spanish that satisfies many Spanish I requirements for high school. In the first year of study, student focus on learning the present tense of regular and irregular verbs, building their vocabulary, and using correct descriptive language. Students use video and voice recording to improve their conversational Spanish skills. In the second year, Students study more deeply how to talk about events that happened in the past, events that will happen, how to form direct and indirect requests, and describe situations and events with more detail and accuracy. More complex vocabulary, daily routines and grammatical structures are taught and practiced.
Technology is offered as a rotation elective for sixth grade students and as year-long electives in seventh and eighth grade. The sixth grade offering exposes students to web 2.0 tools with an emphasis on pop culture. Specifically, the students will be exploring a host of tech tools such as Storybird.com, Museum Box, Animoto, Timetoast, and others. While the tools may evolve, throughout the course, there is continuous focus on digital photography, media literacy, digital citizenship, and technology-related current events. Additionally, students explore hardware and robotics with the use of the robotic Hummingbird kits and Little Bits electronic modules.
The year-long technology course offered to seventh and eighth graders gives students the opportunity to immerse themselves in these same opportunities while also developing their skills in movie making, cinema studies, gamification, and animation. Each of these students also participate in the annual Georgia Technology Fair. Students within the technology electives participate in the global event Hour of Code during the month of December, at which time they are exposed to a variety of coding programs including but not limited to HTML, drop and drag programming, Java Script, and Python.
Theatre is offered as a rotation elective for sixth grade students and as year-long electives in seventh and eighth grade. Each of the Theatre courses are academic based and grounded in applied performance theory and technique. Starting in sixth grade, students are exposed to Shakespearean studies and public speaking. The more comprehensive offerings in seventh and eighth grade delve deeply into styles of acting, comedy, on-camera strategy, stage movement, stage production, directing, improvisation, script writing and theatre history.
Film and Video
The Film and Video elective for 8th graders exposes students to the history of cinema, demonstrates how movies are made and introduces students to some of the most influential films and filmmakers of the modern film period. Through project based learning, maker education and design thinking teaching strategies, students drive their learning and application of techniques through exploration and creation. This academic based course delves into applied film theory, cinematic conventions, mass media studies, and filmmaking/video production-from pre-production to post production. Students view several movies that drive discussion of theory, aesthetics and criticism. Finally, students enter and receive awards for several competitions throughout the year, such as the C-SPAN StudentCam contest, an annual video documentary competition that encourages students to think critically about issues that affect our communities and nation.
Rock 101 & Fusion Band
Music is offered as a rotation elective for sixth grade students and as year-long electives in seventh and eighth grade. Rock 101 is the sixth grade musical learning experience offering students the opportunity to learn how to play guitar, bass, piano and drums. Students learn the fundamentals of each of the instruments, how to play songs, collaboration skills and get to rehearse and perform with a band.
Fusion Band is the year-long learning experience offered to students in seventh and eighth grade that provides students with expanded performance opportunities in a contemporary, ensemble environment. Students explore a wide variety of musical genres, including: Rock, Blues, Top-40, Jazz, Pop to name a few. Our curriculum is highly energetic and abides by following the nine national standards set by the Music Educators National Conference (MENC). Students spend the year working on their individual skills, and rehearsing their songs leading up to two “rock show” performances showcasing their talents!
Art is offered as a rotation elective for sixth grade students and as year-long electives in seventh and eighth grade. The Davis Academy visual arts electives nurture each student’s artistic growth through experiences with art production, art criticism, and art history. Students build skills such as critical thinking and creative problem-solving while developing an artistic background. During these courses, students explore various art techniques and media including drawing, painting, printmaking and sculpture. Projects allow the student to find a personal voice using a nonverbal form of communication. Through creative expression, students gain skill and experience with tools and media. They develop their process during each project, emphasizing that their journey is just as, if not more, important than the outcome.
The Digital Studio Elective is available to students in seventh grade. Working on iMac desktop computers and iPads 1:1, students learn how to use graphic design and post-production editing software to develop a wide array of 2-D images designed for print and the web. Additionally, students gain a basic understanding of fundamental design concepts including color harmony, composition, balance, contrast, and theme.
Beginning digital photography is also a part of the curriculum, as is a clear understanding of copyright, attribution, and fair use, so that students are able to protect their work while respecting the work of other artists.
The techniques and programs learned in this course are transferable for projects in all academic classes. Students in the digital studio class are called upon to create graphics for school events as well as for their own digital portfolio. These portfolios become a tool which our graduates can use to document growth as well as submit for entrance into art programs beyond the school.
The teachers at The Davis Academy truly care about the students and take an interest in their growth and development. As a result, the students have a true appreciation for education. They are excited to learn and they are excited to go to school every day. This made an impression on us as parents, but more importantly, it has made an impression on our kids.