Middle School


List of 4 items.

  • Class V

    ENGLISH: composition, creative writing, grammar, spelling and handwriting; reading of novels including The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Johnny Tremain and Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, short stories and poetry (in connection with work in American history); public speaking.

    MATHEMATICS: continued development of number sense; computation with positive rational numbers in both fraction and decimal forms; percents; probability; geometry, including area and perimeter; applications and problem solving.

    HISTORY: American history from the early explorers through the Civil War and Reconstruction, with related work in English, and introduction to global geography.

    SCIENCE: exploration of basic concepts of electricity, robotics and properties of matter. Activities include wiring a household circuit, building and programming a robot to complete a maze and exploring physical changes and chemical reactions.

    FRENCH: the beginning of a five-year integrated French curriculum, with initial emphasis on oral communication through the memorization of poems, dialogues and songs. Basic grammar and the reading of simple stories also help develop oral and written comprehension.

    MANDARIN: development of writing, listening and speaking skills through poems, nursery rhymes, songs and games; exploration of Chinese culture and further work with simplified Chinese characters. The course is designed to review vocabulary included in the Lower School curriculum, introduce new topics and vocabulary and promote speaking skills through dialogues.

    SPANISH: structured and interactive introduction with a focus on listening, speaking, reading and writing. Students develop their ear for the language and work toward accurate pronunciation through songs, dialogues and short video clips.

    READING AND WRITING SKILLS: a course for students who would benefit from reinforcement in language arts; focus on expository writing, close reading of increasingly complex material and the practice of such study skills as outlining and note taking. This is the first part of a two-year sequence.

    DRAMA: exploration of the craft of acting; performance of an adapted Shakespeare play at a spring assembly.

    MUSIC: singing, solfège, theory fundamentals and group instrumental instruction. Extracurricular choral, jazz and orchestral ensembles and handbells are offered to all girls in Classes V–VIII.

    STUDIO ART: emphasizing imagination and visual awareness, projects inspired by historical subject matter and techniques explore the basic elements of line, texture, shape and color. Additional units on world crafts, digital photography and sculpture are offered.

    LIBRARY: exploration and development of personal reading taste, through stories read aloud and selection of pleasure reading; practice of research skills in connection with student reports on the colonies and on world geography.

    TECHNOLOGY: final year of touch-typing instruction; transfer of files between home and school, file management, introduction to email and exploration of other software tools.

    PHYSICAL EDUCATION: introduction to team sports: soccer, basketball, volleyball, cooperative games, European handball, floor hockey, softball, track and field, badminton and lacrosse; PACER fitness testing; dance: exploration of different styles including salsa, swing and jazz dance; monthly Red/White competitions offer leadership opportunities and emphasize good sportsmanship; running club.
  • Class VI

    ENGLISH: poetry; stories from Genesis (King James Version); Greek and Roman myths; Homer’s Odyssey; performance of a Greek or medieval mystery play; analytic paragraphs; creative writing; grammar, speech writing and public speaking. Some readings parallel studies in ancient history.

    MATHEMATICS: review of fundamental operations with whole numbers, fractions and decimals; order of operations; negative numbers; ratios, rates and proportions; percents with practical applications; review of area and perimeter; introduction to circles; angles and triangles; circle graphs; statistics.

    HISTORY: complex ancient societies: Egypt; the development of Judaism from Moses through Solomon; the rise and fall of the Persian Empire; Greek history through Alexander the Great; Indian history through the Mauryan Dynasty; Roman history through Augustus; Chinese history through the Han Dynasty.

    SCIENCE: focus on the human body. Study of physiological systems with an emphasis on the relationship between structure and function and on the interdependence of the systems.

    FRENCH: continued acquisition of basic grammar and ongoing practice in oral and written communication; introduction to cultural topics pertinent to France and francophone countries.

    MANDARIN: continued emphasis on communication through the use of authentic materials, more extensive classroom activities and deeper exploration of Chinese culture.

    SPANISH: continued emphasis on communication in the present, preterite and present progressive tenses; introduction to cultural topics pertinent to Spanish-speaking countries.

    READING AND WRITING SKILLS: further practice in the writing of paragraphs, summaries, essays and creative pieces; researching and delivering an oral report; highlighting, outlining, mapping and taking notes; informal debating. This is the second part of a two-year sequence (see Class V).

    DRAMA: each English section presents an ancient Greek comedy or tragedy or a medieval mystery play.

    MUSIC: see Class V

    STUDIO ART: continued work on the basic skills of visual expression through projects relating to the architecture and mythology of the ancient or non-Western world.

    LIBRARY: biographies, poetry and non-fiction titles; analysis of the classic Hitchcock film Rebecca; research skills integrated with history classes for a presentation on ancient Rome.

    LANGUAGE: studies in grammar and composition; public speaking; the nature of language; etymology and derivation of words; the relationship of English to other Indo-European languages.

    PHYSICAL EDUCATION: soccer, basketball, volleyball and track and field; PACER fitness testing; hip-hop dance; Red/White competitions; running club.
  • Class VII

    ENGLISH: poetry; grammar; Great Expectations; Julius Caesar; formal introduction to poetic terms; critical and creative writing.

    MATH VII: review of order of operations; introduction to algebraic topics, including linear equations and inequalities; graphing lines; solving equations with applications; properties of real numbers; combinatorics and probability; set theory; geometry topics, including parallel lines, polygons, area, volume and surface area; computer programming with processing; active problem solving throughout the year to reinforce and deepen conceptual understanding.

    MATH VII EXTENDED: review of order of operations; equations with applications; set theory and inequalities; factoring and exponents; polynomial operations; solutions of linear and quadratic equations with applications; equations and graphs of lines; systems of linear equations with applications Graphing calculators are used as needed, and students study computer programming with processing. Active problem solving throughout the year reinforces and deepens conceptual understanding.

    HISTORY: topics in medieval world history from 200 through 1500 C.E., including the development of Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism and their spread; the Chinese Empire and its impact on Japan; the Mongol Empire; and the emergence of Europe from feudalism through the Renaissance.

    SCIENCE: the first part of a two-year physical science program that focuses on matter, energy and the atmosphere. In the context of the law of conservation of matter and energy, students investigate density and heat and wave energy to explore weather and climate change. In addition, students investigate Newton’s laws of motion.

    BEGINNING FRENCH: an integrated introduction to develop communication skills as well as awareness of French and francophone cultures through oral and written exercises, skits and poems, using elementary grammar and vocabulary.

    FRENCH: for those continuing from Class V, development of more advanced oral and grammatical skills through discussion, storytelling, reading, skits and oral presentations.

    MANDARIN: further integration of the four language skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing. Students study grammar in greater depth, continue to learn the vocabulary of daily life and reinforce character writing and typing skills. They also read simplified stories in Chinese, write journals about their daily life and work on oral presentations.

    SPANISH: continuation of the integrated curriculum and consistent practice of speaking, reading, writing and listening skills in Spanish. Reading of a short novel in Spanish.

    WRITING WORKSHOP: for students who do not study a modern language and who would benefit from reinforcement in language arts, practice in both organization and written expression and comprehension and analysis of works by a variety of authors.

    LATIN: introduction through reading about daily life in a first-century Roman family, combined with practice in declensions, conjugations and elementary grammar using the Cambridge Latin program, units 1 and 2.

    MUSIC, DRAMA: Music and Drama collaborate to produce a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta in the spring term; the class also attends a dress rehearsal at the Metropolitan Opera. The study of a percussion instrument is added to the offerings in instrumental music.

    STUDIO ART: exploration of elements of design through layering patterns, simple printmaking techniques and the study of draped human figures. One museum study assignment is required.

    PUBLIC SPEAKING: lessons on practical application of public speaking skills, including interview etiquette; storytelling without filler language; introducing and greeting with confidence; news anchor practice.

    PHYSICAL EDUCATION: development of more sophisticated game play and skills in soccer, field hockey, basketball, volleyball, softball, lacrosse and track and field; exploration of physical fitness and wellness concepts; refinement of game strategies; participation in Red/White competitions and running club; PACER fitness testing; modern dance and choreography in dance.

    HEALTH: health-related topics such as drugs, nutrition, human sexuality, safety and peer pressure are integrated into the Middle School advisory program. This course follows guidelines established by New York State for health education and is taught through films and discussions.
  • Class VIII

    ENGLISH: short stories; grammar; Jane Eyre; poetry; Twelfth Night; formal introduction to narrative structure; critical and creative writing.

    ALGEBRA I: development of problem-solving skills and conceptual understanding of algebra through factoring and exponents; radicals; polynomial and rational expressions; solutions of linear, quadratic and rational equations; inequalities; equations and graphs of lines; systems of equations and graphs of quadratic equations. Graphing calculators are used as needed. Active problem solving throughout the year reinforces and deepens conceptual understanding.

    ALGEBRA I EXTENDED: continued development of problem-solving skills and conceptual understanding of algebra through radicals; rational expressions; rational equations; inequalities; equations and graphs of quadratic equations and other functions; topics in Geometry including transformations and locus. Graphing calculators are used as needed. Active problem solving throughout the year reinforces and deepens conceptual understanding.

    HISTORY: global history from 1500 to the late nineteenth century. Topics include the European conquest of the Americas; the Atlantic slave trade; the Ottoman and Mughal Empires; Ming and Qing China; Tokugawa Japan; the American, French and Latin American Revolutions; the Industrial Revolution; nineteenth-century European imperialism; and the Meiji Restoration in Japan.

    SCIENCE: the second part of a two-year physical science program that focuses on matter, energy and the Earth; introduction to concepts of chemistry and geology. Students also investigate conservation of the Earth’s resources.

    BEGINNING FRENCH: for students who began French in Class VII, continued development of the four fundamental language skills (listening, speaking, reading and writing) through structured class conversations, skits, student-created videos, the reading of French texts and poetry, the study of grammar and the writing of narrative paragraphs using the past, present and future tenses.

    FRENCH: for students who began in Class V, emphasis on more advanced grammar skills through conversations in class, written compositions, the reading of a version of Le Comte de Monte-Cristo and the viewing of films.

    MANDARIN: continued development of skills through supplementary audio and video materials that present students with real-life situations and exercise their ability to listen and speak; further practice in character writing and enrichment of students’ command of vocabulary, as well as expression of opinions in discussions in Chinese.

    SPANISH: continued development of skills, vocabulary and review of grammar, with emphasis on tenses of the indicative mood and present subjunctive; a short novel is also read.


    LATIN: continuing study of vocabulary and syntax, with attention to uses of the participle and subjunctive in subordinate clauses, in the Cambridge Latin program, units 2 and 3.

    MUSIC: singing and group instrumental instruction. Extracurricular choral, jazz and orchestral ensembles, handbells and a recorder consort are offered to all girls in Classes V–VIII. Girls who study privately may perform in school-sponsored recitals.

    STUDIO ART: drawing and painting from direct observation of the natural world. Techniques may include collage and mixed media. One museum study assignment is required.

    PUBLIC SPEAKING: introduction to formal and extemporaneous skills of presentation and exchange, with applications in several disciplines throughout the year.

    PHYSICAL EDUCATION: in addition to the program offered in Class VII, one trimester of West African dance and spring electives in sports such as rugby or cricket; quidditch, badminton, Zumba; PACER fitness testing; more intensive preparation for interscholastic competition in individual and team sports with opportunities for leadership.

    HEALTH: discussion of health-related topics through the Middle School advisory program. Articles from periodicals serve as background, and the girls are encouraged to bring their questions to the groups. Topics include nutrition, body image, eating disorders, decision making, relationships with parents and peers, human sexuality and substance abuse. This course fulfills the New York State requirement for health education.
The Brearley School
610 East 83rd Street
New York, NY 10028
(212) 744-8582
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