Charles Wright’s Middle School curriculum appropriately challenges students academically, preparing them well in every discipline for the higher expectations they will face in the Upper School, while simultaneously supporting them in a learning environment filled with joy, humor, and integrity.
The Middle School has combined English and History classes into a robust Humanities course. This allows time and flexibility for students to take a deep exploratory dive into reading and writing, as well as critical and analytic thinking. We consider big questions that cut across disciplinary boundaries. Students in all three grades develop reading, writing, and information literacy skills via discussions, individual and group projects, and a variety of written assessments. The courses include a range of texts including contemporary and classical literature, historical primary documents, and narrative nonfiction. Faculty include a significant amount of voice and choice for students and their learning. There are many opportunities for student agency including book clubs and choice reading as well as independent research topics and final products of projects. In addition, faculty strive to bring in opportunities for students to hear from experts in their field, learning from real world professionals and what they experience. Our humanities courses are rich with experiential opportunities that connect to all interwoven themes of study.
Each grade level humanities course has a theme for the year. In sixth grade, students explore the theme of community through world geography and literature, considering what it means to be part of a community and how communities around the world solve problems. The course takes a thematic approach, with activities related to the geographical concept of human-environment interaction paired with works of fiction of fiction with environmental themes. In seventh grade, students use the concepts of identity and values as a lens through which to view American and Washington State history and a selection of novels, short stories and other literature. Throughout this course, students have overarching questions that lead their studies like what story is being told, who is telling the story, and what voices are present and/or missing. Eighth graders take a global approach, following themes and motifs through world history and literature. For example, students focus heavily on conflict, peace, and forgiveness as themes for looking at history and contemporary young adult literature.
Students also spend time building important foundational skills such as note-taking, annotation, discussion practices, debate, grammar, and citation as well as writing stamina, study skills, and time management.
CWA’s math program provides a balanced approach to both skill development and mathematical reasoning. We emphasize the discovery and application of mathematical ideas and thoughtfully integrate technology. Following our sixth and seventh grade pre-algebra courses, students begin working their way through a five-year sequence that may follow many different paths through 12 different math courses ranging from algebra to Advanced Placement calculus BC, all designed to challenge and support their skills and interests.
Charles Wright’s Middle School science teachers focus on developing students’ problem-solving, critical-thinking, and laboratory skills, as well as their scientific literacy. Through the study of life sciences in sixth grade, basic chemistry and physics in seventh grade, and earth science in eighth grade, teachers lay the groundwork for the Upper School’s in-depth study of biology, physics, and chemistry.
Students can select from two options of World languages—Spanish or Japanese. Students develop the vocabulary and grammar to speak, listen, read, and write in another language, as well as learn about culture and history. Most will continue studying this language through the Upper School’s advanced courses.