Middle School Course Guide

Grades 7 and 8

Art 7

This Middle School art class is spent studying both past and present innovators from within the art world. We begin the term researching 19th century painter, Georges-Pierre Seurat and his Neo-impressionist pointillism techniques. Students complete self-portraits emulating the precise mark making and careful observation of value that Seurat invented. In the second half of the term, students switch their focus to the modern environmental installation artist, Andy Goldsworthy. Students work in pairs to develop, draw and construct site-specific sculptures on campus behind the upper pond. Throughout the project, students must think both creatively and pragmatically in order to complete an interesting, well-built sculpture using only organic material.

Art 8

This Middle School art class requires students to stretch their artistic abilities between the detailed, precision work of an architect and the innovative construction of a sculptor. The course begins with studying perspective in order to capture both the three-dimensional quality of buildings, as well as a sense of distance. After a number of studies, each student chooses a building on the Trinity-Pawling campus that they would like to capture on paper. In the second half of the course, the classroom transforms into a factory of sorts as students begin collecting found objects for a sculpture project. Students must think outside the box in order to transform trash into treasured art pieces. 

Middle School Music • Instrumental and Vocal

Students in grade 7 and 8 may audition for the Trinitones, are invited to sing with the Trinity-Pawling Choir, and play with the Jazz Ensemble. All Middle School students are expected to take music classes as a part of their Trinity-Pawling education. No prior experience in music is required. Students learn the basics of music literacy, including reading and writing music, notating, playing an instrument, and techniques in vocal production. 

Drama 8

One of the highlights of the school year, and an experience unique to Trinity-Pawling, is the Middle School Drama program. During the spring term, the boys create and perform an original theater production. The boys themselves create fantastic stories and then bring them to life in a theatrical setting. By utilizing knowledge gained from various aspects of theatre, academics, and collaboration, this creative process enforces the lessons learned in the classroom.

Applied Technology

Applied Technology is a class for students in grades 7 and 8. It meets two times per week for one term to teach computer application skills from the Google Education Suite. The goal of this course is to provide a basic understanding of how computers work and prepare students to effectively use technology in other classes. After a review of word processing, students learn about spreadsheets, creating charts and graphs, and using formulas for calculations with relative and absolute references. Slideshow presentations are also covered, emphasizing presentation skills and using Google Slides. Additional topics include editing sound and video files, and an introduction to programming. Students develop individual and collaborative skills while learning the appropriate use of technology for home, school, and beyond. 

Year-long course

English 7

7th Grade

English 7 explores traditional literature with a modern twist. During the fall term, the class reads a variety of short stories by noted authors, learning and discussing the basic elements of fiction. The winter and spring terms focus on a survey of several novels including an assortment of literary classics: Lord of the Flies, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Much Ado About Nothing, and Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Throughout the year, students consistently work to develop their vocabulary, increase their mastery of grammar, and enhance their written expression. Students develop their writing skills through explicit instruction, planning, drafting, revising, and editing. The incorporation of technology, collaboration, and project-based learning, along with traditional assessment measures provides students abundant opportunity to acquire information and to demonstrate their level of mastery and growth.

English 8

8th Grade

English 8 embarks upon an exploration of the English language that will require students to develop their critical thinking skills, imaginations, and mastery of the concepts and themes examined in the course. The reading material ranges from Mythology to Arthurian legend to Shakespeare as students discover how literature conveys messages about society and humanity.  While reading comprehension skills are enhanced, students also develop their ability to express themselves. Students have regular opportunities to write, in many different formats, and to offer oral presentations as well. Students also have regular access to Chromebooks in the classroom — devices that enable students to write and edit with ease and take advantage of the many databases to which the School subscribes. The course also regularly completes vocabulary and grammar assignments in order to improve student skills in those areas. Students exit the class prepared for Upper School English courses.

History 7

7th Grade

This is a broad course that dives deep into the history of our country from pre-colonial times to World War II. This course is focused on the acquisition of basic organizational and study skills as well as writing and research skills. Students also engage in presentations and larger projects to further their learning. A clear focus on conflicts, both international and domestic, on unity and the organization of working systems of rule, and on societal and cultural development is provided.The course uses several mediums to explore the fascinating history of our country including textbooks, personal stories, pictures, movies, art, and even music. In the tradition of the great political and philosophical salons, the classroom environment is one of social interaction, questioning, debates and discussions.

History 8

8th Grade

The eighth grade course provides students with a firm understanding of our contemporary world.  Students begin the year by learning how geography, history, culture and politics can affect people in different ways.Then they use this knowledge to explore the economic powerhouses of today: the United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, China, and India. Along with the study of global communities, students also gain an appreciation for the current events that shape our world today through various projects and presentations. Students are also guided through researching and writing a major historical research paper. Throughout the year students hone their skills in the following areas: public speaking, organization, writing, reading, analytical and critical thinking, and map analysis.  

Math 7

7th Grade

This 7th grade math course spends the fall term reviewing basic math concepts including the order of operations, solving first order equations, fractions, decimals, percents, and proportions. The course then moves into an elementary Algebra 1 curriculum, covering topics including the rules of exponents, polynomials, factoring of polynomials, linear equations, and solving systems of linear equations. 7th grade students exit this course prepared for Math 8, an algebra-focused course.

Math 8

8th Grade

Math 8 is an Algebra 1 course for 8th grade students. Students begin with a solid review of arithmetic concepts, including fractions, negative numbers, and the meaning of a variable in an expression or equation. Students learn how to reason and manipulate symbolically. They solve equations with one variable to the first power to obtain a single answer, and then equations with multiple variables are solved for one variable in terms of the others. The students also learn functional notation and the meaning of a function. The students study lines — they learn the meaning of slope and x and y-intercepts, and they develop solution sets by graphical and algebraic approaches. They learn to solve systems of linear equations by graphing, substitution, and elimination. The students also solve quadratic equations by graphing and by factoring.  Students exit this course prepared to take Geometry or Honors Geometry in the Upper School.

Latin 8

Grade 8 Latin is nearly the equivalent of Latin 1 in the upper school. Instruction includes storytelling and comprehensible input techniques, along with traditional grammar/translation. Students gain skills in listening, speaking, reading, and writing in the target language. The course also introduces aspects of Roman history, art, and culture. Upon successful completion, students are eligible to enroll in Latin 2 in the ninth grade. 

Religion 8

8th grade

Religion 8 is an introductory course in the academic and critical study of religion. The primary purpose is to provide students with tools to examine what religion, in particular, Judaism and Christianity, says about God, human beings, and the world. Emphasis is placed on inquiry and open dialogue as students focus on scripture, history, theology, ethics, and ritual. Offered in fall and winter terms.

First-Year Physics

First-Year Physics is an introductory physics course. The course stresses how physics applies to everyday activities in students' lives. Topics covered include kinematics, energy, wave motion, optics, electricity/magnetism, atomic theory, and radioactivity. The curriculum is project-based with a strong emphasis on discovery learning. Concurrent enrollment in, or successful completion of Algebra 1 is required.

Above anything else, I encourage my students to be inquisitive, ask ‘why’, and don’t accept something just because it may be considered traditional theory. I always say, we’ll learn a lot more from what’s between the lines than what’s between the book covers.

Jay Kellogg,
MiddlE School Science Teacher


Meet the Middle School Faculty

Kent Burnham

Director of Theater Arts

Debbie Coratti

Middle School Coordinator

Chris Kelsey

Director of Instrumental Music

Jeff Mandigo

Mathematics Teacher

Chris Murphy '13

Service Program Director, Mathematics and Science Teacher

Kevin Richards

History Teacher

Mark Templeton

Director of Vocal Music