Middle School

Middle School English

The goal of the Waterford English curriculum is to increase students' critical thinking, speaking, and writing skills while engendering a deep appreciation for the study of literature. In the Middle School years, students experience the major forms of literature as readers, writers, and often performers in an effort to encourage their appreciation for the full range of literary expression. They review the conventions and vocabulary of English usage and grammar to prepare for the more intensive writing that awaits them in Upper School. In the Upper School years, students situate texts within historical, philosophical, and literary contexts, honing their understanding through discussion and writing. Discussion-based classes guide student learning through modeling, analysis, drafting, discussion, workshop, revision and evaluation. With the ability to craft and articulate one's thoughts comes insight into the self, the world, and the power of language. Literature is a mirror to the world; learning to analyze and appreciate literature prepares students for a richer engagement with their environment.

Humanities VI
Class VI Humanities gives students the opportunity to build connections: between lower and middle school, between literature and history, and between their lives and the greater world. The curriculum emphasizes both critical and creative thinking. In the literary component of this course, students are coached to become strong writers across genre: every term, students have the opportunity to compose personal narratives, analytic essays, and creative responses. Frequent writing assignments draw upon content from both literature and history readings; students will broaden their range of writing tone and strengthen their overall writing ability. Students expand their vocabulary with a self-directed vocabulary project, adding words to their lexicon weekly and practicing these words in context. Weekly lessons and practice address grammar, usage, and style. The historical side of Class VI humanities also also uses a multi-faceted approach. In addition to reading the history textbook, students examine primary sources, period art, music, and popular culture to understand the time period holistically. The curriculum studies US history from westward expansion to present day, using Holt McDougal's American History: Civil War to the Present. Students complete literature and history labs in each unit to apply problem solving skills and critical thinking to a prompt or problem. In Class VI Humanities, students will strengthen critical thinking skills, develop bold writing styles, and increase intellectual confidence.

English VII
Students in Class VII English read novels, plays, non-fiction narratives, short stories, and poems. Students hone their abilities to compose focused paragraphs, support writing with evidence from the literary work, and compare and contrast ideas. Drafting, revision and workshop experiences support several essay assignments. Journals are used regularly for reflective and analytical writing. Writing exercises generally relate to the assigned reading, although students also write short stories, poetry, and other creative assignments. Increasingly, students are evaluated on the quality and accuracy of their work, rather than on the simple completion of assignments.

English VIII
The Class VIII English curriculum focuses on the question, "What makes a complete human?" An exploration of this question takes students through a survey of the foundations of world literature, working in conjunction with History VIII curriculum to provide insight into ancient cultures. Through study of ancient myths and early stories, students learn to address a variety of texts as literature, examining issues of creation, explanation, and transgression. The curriculum asks students to question the nature of the the human experience, moving from early epic poetry into a discussion of leadership and heroism, eventually placing the individual within the context of a greater society. Throughout this tour of world literature, students practice in-depth textual analysis, writing weekly assignments to hone skills of close reading, rhetorical analysis, and articulation through appropriate grammar, punctuation and diction. Students are required to write multiple essays with attention to the revision process, and will learn one hundred new vocabulary words per term.

Middle School Art

Two major goals guide the visual arts department. The first is the development of technical skill. Each course offers students an active experience with the materials, techniques, processes, and vocabulary necessary for a solid foundational ability and understanding of visual art and design. The second is the development of personal artistic vision. The program offers exciting opportunities for beginning students to discover talents unacknowledged in the past and for advanced students to set in motion their personal artistic vision. Studio courses in design, drawing/painting, ceramics, mixed-media sculpture, photography, and art history and aesthetics seminars provide an environment of stimulating intellectual and creative inquiry.

Art VI: Art Survey

This year-long course introduces concepts and builds skills which serve as a foundation for more advanced art courses. Topics in design, drawing, painting, and sculpture are explored over the course of the year. The emphasis of this course is a general overview of art disciplines and techniques with themes integrating components of art history, criticism, aesthetics, and studio experience.

Art VII: Drawing

This course is part of a two-term series of classes that concentrates on the students' observational skills. The primary objective is for the students to improve their ability to see, and then translate that sight into drawing form. Students learn to see drawing as a process rather than a product. They learn line, shape, light and shadow, perspective, color, and composition. Students work with charcoal and graphite.

Art VII: Painting

This course is part of a two-term series of classes that concentrates on the students' observational skills. The primary objective is for the students to improve their ability to see, and then translate that sight into drawing and painting form. Students learn to see drawing and painting as a process rather than a product. They learn line, shape, light and shadow, perspective, color, and composition. Students work primarily with charcoal and oil paints. 

Art VIII: Clay

This term class focuses on learning how to translate two-dimensional ideas into three-dimensional products. This becomes a very rich opportunity for each student to create tangible works of art that they first form through careful observation. Students will start by accurately drawing objects, then creating sculpture using the pinch and drape techniques, terra sigillata, and a smoke firing. Students will also construct and decorate a pottery form using the coil technique.

Middle School Photography

Two major goals guide the visual arts department. The first is the development of technical skill. Each course offers students an active experience with the materials, techniques, processes, and vocabulary necessary for a solid foundational ability and understanding of visual art and design. The second is the development of personal artistic vision. The program offers exciting opportunities for beginning students to discover talents unacknowledged in the past and for advanced students to set in motion their personal artistic vision. Studio courses in design, drawing/painting, ceramics, mixed-media sculpture, photography, and art history and aesthetics seminars provide an environment of stimulating intellectual and creative inquiry.

Photo VIII

This required term-long class covers basic camera and image composition technique as well as an introduction to basic darkroom skills. This is primarily a shooting and printing class; students shoot black and white negative film and enlarge their own prints. In addition, students learn the basics of photographic camera handling and film exposure.

Middle School Computer Science

The Computer Science Department provides students with knowledge of basic computer hardware, software applications, on-line resources and programming languages. Students' knowledge will be sufficiently deep to affect the ways in which they collect, organize, manipulate and ultimately understand information.

Computer: VI: Programming with Java I

This course lays a foundation for the study of computer programming using Java. Students learn the basic concepts of variables, conditional branches, loops, and objects. Learning to understand and solve difficult problems is an important facet of this course.

Computer: VII: Programming with Java II

This course is the sequel to "Programming with Java I" offered to Class VI students. As in the previous year, the focus is on Java language characteristics. Students are required to apply their growing coding skills to find solutions to problems that are increasingly complex.

Middle School Dance

The Dance Department’s Mission is to inspire dance artists and movement thinkers. We foster growth of our artform through study, practice, improvisation, and performance. We strive to maintain a caring and challenging environment that allows for learning and individual expression.

Dance: VI

Dance VI is an introduction to Ballet, Modern, and Jazz dance techniques. In this course, students will learn vocabulary, technical skills, choreography, and dance history. Students will also have the opportunity to explore their own creative ideas through dance composition. Dance is a performing art and the students will have the opportunity to participate in the Winter Term’s Dance production, and the Spring Term’s Middle School Choreography Presentation. Learning various dance techniques and performing will help further the creative side of each student as they broaden their knowledge of steps.

Dance: VII/VIII

Dance VII/VIII course is for the beginning/intermediate dancer (expanding on the Ballet, Modern and Jazz Dance techniques learned in Dance VI) who wants to explore more technique and dance composition. It teaches the primary principles of Ballet, Modern, and Jazz dance technique vocabulary using a variety of training methods to develop proper alignment, strength, flexibility, and coordination. Students will learn the body positions, balance, turns, loco motor skills, and choreographic skills. There will be two performance opportunities aligned with this class; students will have the opportunity to participate in the Winter Term’s Dance production and the Spring Term’s Middle School Choreography Presentation.

Middle School World Languages

The goal of the World Languages department is to encourage and train students to become proficient in their chosen language. Proficiency includes not only all four language skills (reading, writing, speaking, and listening) but also competency in the target cultures. As a school, we aim to prepare our students to become responsible citizens of the world by acquainting them to new modes of thinking and living. By this, we mean to develop in our students an ability to think critically and flexibly about ideas and issues that affect the world everyday. For this purpose, our program offers different languages such as Latin in Middle School, and Spanish, French, and Mandarin Chinese in Upper School. Our US program also offers an advanced program which culminates with an AP course or elective advanced literature and culture courses that mirror the demands of a third-year language class in university.

Latin: 1

In this year-long academic course, students will learn to communicate in Latin while establishing a broad foundation for language learning in general. They will discover the cross-discipline benefits of this ancient language as well as develop a rich appreciation for the classical roots of Western culture and history. In this first year, students will focus on the Roman city of Pompeii and its different aspects, including daily life, the Forum, the theater, gladiatorial games, slavery, the baths, education, government, and the eruption of Vesuvius. Language acquisition will focus on the nominative, accusative, and dative case, the present, imperfect, and perfect tense, and degrees of comparison. Each stage will include reading, writing, speaking, and listening practice in Latin, as well as a study of mythology, culture, history, and an in-depth look at Latin roots and English derivatives. The students' progress will be assessed through participation in class as well as projects, presentations, homework, quizzes, tests, and final exams.

Latin: 2

In this year-long academic course, students will continue to communicate in Latin while establishing a broad foundation for language learning in general. They will continue to discover the cross-discipline benefits of this ancient language as well as develop a rich appreciation for the classical roots of Western culture and history. Students are expected to have mastered the concepts and vocabulary of Latin I in order to continue into Latin II. In this second year, students will focus on Roman culture during the early monarchy and the first century A.D. Language acquisition will focus on the uses of the different noun cases, noun-adjective agreement, and verb conjugations and tenses (active indicative only). Each chapter will include reading, writing, speaking, and listening practice in Latin, as well as a study of mythology, culture, history, and an in-depth look at Latin roots and English derivatives. The students' progress will be assessed through participation in class as well as projects, presentations, homework, quizzes, tests, and final exams.

Latin: 3

In this year-long academic course, students will continue to communicate in Latin while establishing a broad foundation for language learning in general. They will continue to discover the cross-discipline benefits of this ancient language as well as develop a rich appreciation for the classical roots of Western culture and history. Students are expected to have mastered the concepts and vocabulary of Latin I and II in order to continue into Latin III. In this third year, students will continue to study aspects of the Roman world, including the Roman republic, famous Romans of the first century B.C., and the start of the empire. Language acquisition will focus on a more in-depth study of the uses of cases, verb conjugations (active and passive, indicative and subjunctive), participles, and general Latin syntax. Each stage will include reading, writing, speaking, and listening practice in Latin, as well as a study of mythology, culture, history, and an in-depth look at Latin roots and English derivatives. The students' progress will be assessed through participation in class as well as projects, presentations, homework, quizzes, tests, and final exams.

Middle School History

The History Department has the goal of producing graduates who can think, read, and write critically, and who can use this learning to become better citizens of the world. Our students will understand that the way history has been interpreted changes over time, which reflects not only new information about the past becoming available but also the changing perspectives of historians themselves. We want our students to be challenged by rigorous courses that are designed to promote the development of personal opinions as well as to provide a safe space to engage in civil discourse and the discussion of opposing opinions. We want our students to love history as we do and to see it as a way to understand the complexity of the human condition.

Humanities VI

Class VI Humanities gives students the opportunity to build connections: between lower and middle school, between literature and history, and between their lives and the greater world. Students continue their studies of US history from Reconstruction to the present. While examining primary and secondary sources, students practice historical thinking skills such as chronological reasoning and causation. Students also read literature that connects thematically and contextually with history. They practice close reading skills, annotation, and interpretation. They participate in reading workshops and literature circles with the goal of developing the habits of life-long readers. In writing workshops, students strengthen their writing across various genres, including personal narratives, analytical essays, creative responses, and poetry. 

History VII

This course in Ancient History introduces students to the development of complex ancient civilizations in Asia, Africa, and Europe. Students will learn the basic terms and concepts of prehistory, archaeology, and history. They will also explore the benchmarks of human achievement and invention and consider the concepts of civilization and progress. Students will learn how to organize their study of civilizations by reference to specific, historical categories. The course emphasizes the interpretation of primary and secondary sources, oral and written presentations of historical information, and the organization and construction of historical arguments.

History VIII

Class VIII History takes a global approach to study of empire building and cultural diffusion that took place between 600CE and 1800CE. Students will focus on the expansion and contraction of empires in the Middle East, West Africa, East Asia, the Americas, and Europe, as well as how these empires shaped and collided with other groups worldwide. Students will engage in the analysis of primary and secondary sources as they continue to work on crafting historical arguments. Class VIII History culminates in a research project that explores these exchanges and encounters.

Middle School Mathematics

The goal of the mathematics program in Middle School is to begin the formal study of abstract mathematics and to lay the foundation for future progress in the Upper School. The course sequence and teaching strategies in the math department seek to optimize the balance between drill, practice and discovery to ensure that every student has the conceptual and procedural mastery necessary for success at the higher levels of mathematics.  

Math: Pre-Algebra Readiness
Pre-algebra Readiness is a transition course bridging the Lower School curriculum with our Pre-algebra course. In this course, students gain a solid foundation of the arithmetic of integers, fractions and decimals as well as using these types of numbers in a variety of applied settings. In addition to preparing students for a full Pre-algebra course, this class marks a beginning of the transition from the ideas of arithmetic to the ideas of algebra and geometry. Students will preview every skill in our Pre-algebra curriculum while still continuing to gain a solid foundation of their Lower School skills.

Math: Pre-Algebra
Although this class is called Pre-algebra, the course is well described as transition math.  In addition to preparing students for algebra, this class marks the transition from the ideas of arithmetic to the ideas of algebra and geometry.  Students explore topics in this class including integers, measurement, use of variables, problem solving strategies, organization of data, area, volume, and graphing.  In addition to practicing and learning these skills, students participate in activities, work on projects, use technology, and write about the mathematics they are learning.

Math: MS Algebra Readiness
Algebra Readiness is a course that is designed to help students bridge our Pre-algebra and Algebra curricula. Students in this course begin their study of Algebra, but the focus is on developing a conceptual understanding of the processes they will study in depth in the following year.  Students in this course are engaged with hands-on and computer aided representations of algebraic procedures. Students will preview every concept in Algebra, while still continuing to gain a solid foundation of Pre-algebra skills.

Math: MS Algebra
Algebra is the first course in the core curriculum at Waterford.  It is a course that generalizes the arithmetic of early years into a formal, symbolic language.  Each student is introduced to the various aspects related to understanding algebra: its skills, its properties, its uses, and its representations.  During the year, a student develops mathematical power meaning the ability to explore, to conjecture, to reason logically, to solve non-routine problems, to communicate about mathematics, and to connect mathematical ideas.  Students in the Algebra curriculum study the use of variables and operations involving algebraic symbols. They learn how to solve different types algebraic sentences, including linear and quadratic equations and inequalities.  They work with exponents, radicals, and rational expressions and they learn how to solve and graph linear and quadratic equations.

Math: MS Geometry
Geometry connects the physical and visual world with a students previous knowledge of algebra.  The major themes of this course are organized around a traditional Euclidean geometry. Students explore relationships among lengths, angles, and measures such as area and volume in figures of all kinds, especially, polygons and circles.  While the course covers geometric formulas, coordinate geometry, and the use of transformations to explore congruence, similarity, right triangle trigonometry and symmetry, students are required to learn how to justify and prove their own thinking using both informal and formal methods.  The students gain skills both in classical constructions as well as the tools provided by technology. In addition, this course provides the first formal exploration into an axiomatic mathematical system.

Middle School Music

The goal of the Waterford music program is to teach students how to love music in all its form, preparing them for a lifetime of enjoyment and added enrichment. The best way to develop a deep love for music is to know what musicians know, and to do what musicians do. Through detailed interaction with the art form in one of several performance ensembles, Waterford students sharpen their musical perception and sensitivity, while also building skill as musicians. Students study music history and music theory, but most importantly they perform the great music of the world as singers, instrumentalists, and composers.

Music: MS VI Chorus
Students explore their individual talents and potential as it relates to ensemble singing of many different styles of vocal music.  Drawing heavily on Kodaly-based training, they acquire and develop the listening, singing, reading and interpretive skills which are required of confident and successful performers.  As each choir develops its own identity, students gain facility in cultivating group unity and individual responsibility.

Music: MS VI Strings
The students develop beginning string techniques, which include posture, bow grip, note reading, rhythm, different bow articulation and good intonation.  Working together as an ensemble is very important. Often this is the student's first experience playing with a group. Listening to each other and working to blend tone and quality of sound will be the focus during the year.

Music: MS VI Woodwinds
Class VI woodwinds students study techniques of tone production, with emphasis on embouchure and breathing.  Playing ability is enhanced by learning proper finger position, posture, articulation, and listening skills. Basic musicianship and literacy improve with the study of rhythms, music theory, and ensemble skills of intonation, dynamics, and blend. Both classical and jazz repertoire is studied and performed. Performances include concerts, student assemblies, and in-class presentations.

Music: MS VI Brass
Brass VI students develop fundamental playing skills on their instruments such as embouchure formation, breathing, posture, articulation, fingering, range, timbre, reading, and rhythm.  The class experience helps the students develop their new instrumental "voice" through a process of imitation, experimentation, and thoughtful listening and evaluation. As members of a musical ensemble, the students learn to deal with the challenges of playing in tune and blending with one another.  The study of music theory and terminology enhances the students' ability to think and perform musically.

Music: MS Strings
String students continue to focus on intonation and quality of sound, both as an individual and as an ensemble.  String technique becomes much more challenging with the introduction of shifting, vibrato, position work and much more difficult bow technique.  Emphasis is placed on ensemble playing and improving their overall musicianship.

Music: MS Percussion
The middle school percussion program focuses on basic percussion skills. Students spend a majority of the sectional time working on music reading and technique. Basic knowledge of snare drum and mallet instruments is the primary content of the sectional part of this class. Auxiliary instruments and timpani are incorporated throughout the year. Music fundamentals are stressed and the basic theory of music is emphasized as it applies to each instrument. The percussion students work on band literature and focus on basic ensemble skills with a larger group of musicians. While working with the band percussionists are given the opportunity to play a wide variety of percussion instruments. The musical application of the basic knowledge students have gained culminates in a performance each term with the band.

Music: MS Girls Chorus
Students explore their individual talents and potential as it relates to ensemble singing of many different styles of vocal music.  Drawing heavily on Kodaly-based training, they acquire and develop the listening, singing, reading and interpretive skills which are required of confident and successful performers.  As each choir develops its own identity, students gain facility in cultivating group unity and individual responsibility.

Music: MS Boys Chorus
Students explore their individual talents and potential as it relates to ensemble singing of many different styles of vocal music.  Drawing heavily on Kodaly-based training, they acquire and develop the listening, singing, reading and interpretive skills which are required of confident and successful performers.  As each choir develops its own identity, students gain facility in cultivating group unity and individual responsibility.

Music: MS Winds and Brass
Wind Ensemble students enhance their abilities as instrumentalists both individually, through studying music that is both challenging and satisfying, and collectively, as integral members of a large ensemble.  Although a good portion of the curriculum deals with instrumental technique, the students begin shifting their attention outwardly as they consider how their individual voice functions within the larger musical picture.  To achieve this end, special attention is given to intonation, blend, and linear function. Through studying the elements of music, the students gain a clearer understanding of, and a greater appreciation for, the art of music.

Middle School Science

The Waterford Science Program develops in each student: A foundation in current human understanding of the fundamental physical and natural sciences underpinned by knowledge of the historical context of scientific advancement. A capacity to evaluate arguments based on evidence, reach appropriate conclusions and pose scientific questions. The skills of a scientist: to make observations, to draw on established knowledge, to organize effort in a logical manner, to collect and process data, to choose and safely use appropriate scientific tools, and to communicate within the global community of scientists. The ability, and sense of responsibility, to apply science knowledge, skills, and thinking in the service of expanding human knowledge and maintaining the health of our planet. An appreciation of the beauty of our universe and the uniquely human endeavor of science.

Science VI: Biology

Biology VI serves as an introduction to biology concepts and skills. The course emphasis is on developing a working knowledge of some of the main themes of biology. Themes for investigation include: the relationship between structure and function, how living things obtain energy, and the scientific method. Students are exposed to the great diversity of living organisms that exists and the many levels at which biologists can explore life. 

Science VI: Chemistry

Students are introduced to the idea of thinking as a scientist. Included in this study are units on chemical reactions, phases of matter, molecular theory, mixtures, acids and bases, and biochemistry. Special emphasis in the laboratory is placed on developing students' ability to make careful observations, to follow instructions, to work productively with a partner, to draw inferences, and to conduct experiments in a safe manner.

Science VI: Earth Science

Students learn and investigate the materials that compose the earth and understand the processes responsible for the formation of rocks, minerals and other geological structures. Geology presents an interesting twist in the scientific method: in geology one looks at the results of long processes and tries to account for the scenario that made them. Included in the course is an emphasis on the geological history of Utah and the Wasatch Front region in particular.

Science VII: Integrated Physical Science

This is a three-semester sequence whose purpose is to give the students a beginning knowledge of physical and chemical science and to explore the means by which scientific knowledge is acquired. Primary content topics include matter, atomic structure, and energy. Students will develop fundamental experimentation skills, including laboratory safety, reading scientific instruments, and graphing data. Students use experimentation and guided reasoning to collect, display, and analyze data in order to draw data-based conclusions.

Science VIII: Genetics

The course is an introduction to the modern understanding of, and application of, the genetic basis of life. Students learn how meiosis accounts for diversity in species populations. Mendel's discoveries of the mechanisms involved in inheritance follow and then the students learn of non-Mendelian genetics. Students also learn how genes translate into proteins and gain an overview of the critical role of proteins in biological organisms.

Science VIII: Physics

Class VIII Physics is a term long course, in which most of the course concentrates on classical mechanics, including motion, Newton's laws, energy, and momentum. This course is the first time middle school students are asked to apply their algebra skills to science problems. While challenging, it is important for students to see the disciplines merge. Concepts are illuminated through various projects and design challenges. The term concludes with the ever-popular "Egg Drop Contest."

Science VIII: Zoology

This course takes an evolutionary approach to the vast diversity of animals on this planet. How do different animals get oxygen to their cells? Nutrients? How do they excrete poisons? Who are their close relatives? How do we know? How many kinds of eyes have evolved? Why? What is the advantage/disadvantage of sexual reproduction? Why do insects dominate this planet? 

Middle School Theater

In his Biographia Literaria, Samuel Taylor Coleridge described an essential element of the artistic process using the Latin phrase "laxis effertur habenis," meaning "carried on with slackened reins." The idea is that the artist must both master the technical side of the art and learn to open emotionally, physically and intellectually to creative inspiration. The technical elements are the reins, and when they are in place, the artist must trust the work enough to be able to slacken those reins and let creativity do the driving. This is a crucial step in the creative process because, ironically, the final impediment to creative inspiration is often the technique or craft. In class we say, "You have to know your stuff, and then you have to be able to let go of your stuff." All Waterford theater classes have this philosophy at their core.

Theatre: VIII Introduction to Theater

In this class we will explore the history and tradition of the theater. We will survey the Upper School core curriculum, which includes acting fundamentals, articulation and voice production technique, and mask work. Much of the focus will be on the cultivation of vulnerability. In Middle School, students are rapidly building walls to protect themselves in what can often feel like a hostile emotional environment. These walls cut off connection to emotions and creativity, and once they are up, it is difficult for most to break them down. Throughout the term, students will participate in exercises that will help them break through these walls. When the walls are down, the actor is in a state of vulnerability, and from there is able to access creative potential.