Middle School

grades 5-8

The transition to middle school

Whether you have been at WNS for many years or are brand new to the WNS middle school, we consider all students entering 6th grade “new” to WNS. Over the summer, new and returning students have the option to participate in the Middle School Transition course, taught by middle school faculty, which focuses on the skills and habits needed to succeed in 6th grade and beyond. All 6th graders as well as any new students to middle school have a half-day orientation before school officially begins. At the start of the school year, all middle school students also enjoy a multi-day middle school orientation, meet their advisors and teachers, and bond with classmates and older students on the overnight middle school retreat. The first days of school are designed to ease the transition of new students to WNS and create a vibrant and inclusive class culture that will shape students’ wonderful middle school years.

Welcome to the Middle School

Our goals for students at WNS is for them to have a broad range of experiences at school and in the world. Whether it’s stepping on the stage for the first time, trying a new sport, or traveling to another country, we want students to stretch, experiment, take healthy risks, and discover who they are.

Kaitlin Rodriguez

Director of Grades 5-8

Program Philosophy

The WNS academic program is continually evolving to prepare students for the world of tomorrow. Based on current brain-research, grounded in project-based experiential learning, and blending in traditional elements, our curriculum allows students the space, flexibility, and support to design and shape their own understanding of our global community. On any given day, WNS students are makers, thinkers, entrepreneurs, interpreters, observers, and investigators. At every developmental level, core academics blend seamlessly with specialized subjects, providing structure for ideation, creation, and collaboration.

CURRICULUM

The roadmap to academic excellence

The WNS middle school is a quasi-departmentalized program that retains our philosophy of providing students with engaging and authentic learning experiences with instruction and pace that supports the full range of learners. Students learn skills in the context of real-world application. Collaboration is a key part of project-based learning, and students continue to be taught and to practice these skills. An important cornerstone of the WNS middle school program involves culminating projects that draw upon every aspect of students’ academic experiences.

The core academic classes of English, math, science, social studies, and Spanish are offered with opportunities to participate in advanced classes for certain subjects. All students also participate in theatre arts, visual arts, music, technology, and physical education with expanded opportunities to participate in electives, after-school athletics, school plays, and musicals.

Students from WNS matriculate to a wide range of independent, parochial, and public schools. Our program aims to prepare students for success in the diverse and changing world of the 21st century.

Curriculum Explorer

The English program seeks to develop strong skills in the areas of composition, reading comprehension and literary analysis and interpretation of fiction and nonfiction writing through novel study,  independent reading, active reading, annotating, and student-led Socratic seminar discussions.

Sixth Grade: A project-based approach encourages students to make real-life connections between their studies and the world around them.

Seventh Grade: Students develop the ability to state their points of view in both speech and writing by questioning, arguing, discussing, and adapting what they say to their audience and the effect they wish to achieve.

Eighth Grade: Students are encouraged to develop their skills as both readers and writers through the exploration of themselves and their roles within the world, along with pushing the boundaries of each student’s universe of obligation.
The math program is designed to build confidence and mastery in math concepts. Through project-based learning, everyday applications of math continue to be highlighted, so students not only learn the material, but also see the relevance in its application.

There are four sections of math in sixth and seventh grade and five sections in eighth grade; all have the same high academic standards and goals. Each section varies as to pace and depth of understanding with a demanding curriculum focusing on core competencies. The curriculum culminates with Algebra 1 in eighth grade and everyone leaves ready for high school math, whether it be Algebra, Geometry, or beyond. The Singapore Math approach is used In the upper elementary grades, as students internalize how and why math is meaningful in their lives, moving beyond procedural knowledge to conceptual understanding. Students continue to employ concrete, visual, and abstract models to master the application of mathematical concepts. The curriculum is a project-based, interdisciplinary approach to the application of mathematical skills and concepts. Flexible groups are designed to meet all students’ needs, with emphasis placed on inquiry, problem-solving, and logical reasoning.
The social studies program is a very interactive approach to studying history. Students engage in exciting projects and work to hone their skills as critical thinkers and writers. The social studies program culminates with an eighth grade trip to Washington, D.C. where students get to relive their exciting eighth-grade year in American history up close and personal!

Sixth Grade: Ancient History

Seventh Grade: World History

Eighth Grade: American History
The middle school science program is designed to promote scientific reasoning, problem solving, and creative and critical thinking skills. These skills are developed through the lens of best practices taken from project-based learning, student-directed learning, and 21st century skills. In addition to the science curriculum, the science program includes a social learning curriculum to enhance and develop skills such as communication, responsibility, flexibility, and initiative.

Sixth Grade: Environmental Science

Seventh Grade: Life Science & Human Health and Sexuality

Eighth Grade: Chemistry and Physics basics

The middle school Spanish curriculum is a multi-faceted program that seeks to develop a degree of communicative competency and a relevant vocabulary, to engage students in a linguistic and cultural understanding of another language and culture, and encourages students to value second-language acquisition. There are four sections of Spanish, one of which is the Spanish Immersion program.

The Spanish Immersion Program is an accelerated option for students ready for the challenge of an all-Spanish speaking classroom environment.  The Immersion Program provides students opportunities to build their confidence as they improve their listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills. The program enriches the intellectual growth of each student and provides a variety of cultural experiences that enhance the acceptance and appreciation of Spanish-speaking countries.

WNS also offers students the chance to accelerate their Spanish practice and immerse themselves in other Spanish cultures and geographic regions through our Global Studies Summer Program Trip. Each summer, WNS students embark upon a seven to nine-day trip that incorporates Spanish, service learning, and interdisciplinary study opportunities.
Middle school physical education emphasizes fitness and lifelong recreational activities. The focus of the program is transferring foundational skills into a sports setting, fitness testing, and more. Team sports and games include learning how to work together to create strategies and find multiple solutions to a problem.

Middle school students are assessed annually with physical fitness testing. At the beginning of the year, initial assessments are made and the results are discussed with students. The students are tested again at the end of the school year and are shown their progress.
In addition to the core curriculum, every middle school student participates in one or two electives in each of the three trimesters. The elective period is a time when middle school students can pursue an interest that is not necessarily a part of the regular curriculum with students in all grades of the middle school. Electives additionally provide teachers with an opportunity to share a skill or passion with their students. Some of the classes offered have included mock trial, robotics, service learning, early childhood mentoring, spring musical, architecture club, cooking, debate team, math team, creative writing, newspaper, yearbook, visual arts, and various athletics.
Three days a week begin with advisory, which includes time for students to be welcomed to school, a time to share, engage in a game or playful activity, and hear news or announcements. Students set goals and create a middle school-wide Social Contract of rules to help them create a school environment that helps them achieve their goals.

Specialist Classes

CURRICULUM

Music

The middle school music program is centered around choral music, including an extra-curricular Festival Choir. Through varied repertoire including folk songs, partner songs, rounds, traditional classical pieces, and popular music, students learn proper vocal techniques and continue their growth in music literacy.

CURRICULUM

Visual Arts

The art program is organized around imagination, innovation, invention, observation, communication and expression. Students learn that art is a means to communicate feelings and ideas, to articulate what they think and know, to reflect upon issues, and to come to a clearer understanding of themselves, their culture, and other people. Through art, our students seek to inform, inspire and move others emotionally or intellectually.

Sample electives include:

  • Digital Art
  • Drawing
  • Arts & Crafts
  • Film Festival 
  • Paper Maché

(Electives offerings are subject to change)

CURRICULUM

Performing Arts

Students at WNS experience performing arts classes developing rehearsal and performance skills, but mainly providing the opportunity for students to develop empathy, self-confidence, public speaking, and communication and collaboration skills. While each grade level participates in its own Theatre Art production, all middle school students have the opportunity to apply for several performing arts electives.

Sample electives include:

  • Performing Arts Showcase Elective (Prepares students to run transitions during the winter performing arts showcase)
  • Dance Team Elective
  • Dance PE Elective
  • 7/8 grade Play Performance Elective
  • 7/8 grade Play Tech Elective
  • Middle School Musical Performance Elective
  • Middle School Musical Tech Elective
  • Film Festival Elective
  • Theatre Organizing Elective

CURRICULUM

Computer Science

WNS prides itself on continuing to update its technology program and provide significant resources to our students. Students in middle school meet with our Technology Specialist once a week in our Computer Science Center. Students are instructed in transferable skills they will use in the future such as design principles, research methods, computer logic paradigms, and digital communications skills rather than trained in using specific programs. Students also enjoy learning basics of coding and robotics, which they can then expand on in electives.

Take a deeper dive

For a more detailed look at our middle school curriculum, check out the information below. 

Middle School Retreats

Overnight retreats are an important rite of passage for our middle school students, offering them opportunities to bond with peers, push their comfort zones, and have new experiences led by expert organizations and chaperoned by WNS faculty. While most retreats during middle school are within a few hours’ drive of Los Angeles, the 8th grade Washington D.C. trip is always an incredible experience for our graduating class, and a great way to celebrate their time at WNS. Retreat fees are included in WNS tuition, with the exception of the Global Studies Elective trip. 

Athletics

The WNS athletic program philosophy is to promote teamwork and cooperation, not only among team members but also with opposing schools and teams. Check out our dedicated Athletics page to learn more about our offerings at WNS. 

Life at Middle School