7th Grade

At Shipley we believe adolescent readers and writers need to develop the skills of reading for pleasure and reading for purpose with fiction and non-fiction texts. The 7th grade English course is designed to continue student development from concrete to abstract thinking. Students use literature, writing, and discussion to examine the richness of the world around them and within them and to focus on language as a means of expression. The literary content of the course includes novels, short stories, film, and poetry selected to look at the themes surrounding coming of age, diversity, and courage. Students reflect on the readings in formal and informal, analytical, and creative writing pieces. Class discussion plays an important daily role. Grammar, vocabulary, and the writing process are taught both through direct instruction and in the context of reading and writing assignments.

The course title is Civil and Human Rights in US History. The primary purpose of this course is to increase students’ global awareness. This course is also designed to share a better understanding of the kind of world we, as Americans, live in today and how it came to be that way through the examination of several key themes, including the world at war, the struggle for human rights, and the revolutions for civil liberties. 

The focus of mathematics is a balance between an understanding of basic mathematical operations, understanding math concepts, and the abstract application of these concepts. During the middle grades, students solidify attitudes about themselves as learners of mathematics. They arrive at conclusions about their competence in mathematics, their interest, and their motivation. These attitudes will influence how they approach the study of mathematics in later years. Students learn a variety of content, building new mathematical knowledge through problem solving, applying and adapting a range of appropriate strategies to solve problems, and monitoring and reflecting on the process of mathematical problem solving. The 7th grade math course is a study of pre-algebra topics, including: variables and expressions, integers, solving equations and inequalities, factors, fractions, exponents, rational numbers and equations, ratio and proportion, percents, linear functions, real numbers, right triangles, measurement, area and volume, data analysis and probability, polynomials and nonlinear functions, angle relationships, and transformations.

A goal of the science program is to have students appreciate the nature of science and to become excited about questioning and understanding the natural world around them. The students will further develop science process and research skills, work with others cooperatively in labs and projects, and become more proficient critical thinkers and problem solvers. Many hands-on activities, physical explorations, research projects, and studies of current science events will accompany traditional course work in order to approach the subject matter from many angles.

Science in the 7th grade includes areas of study in the life, physical, and earth sciences. It is an inquiry- and activity-based program that engages students in the exploration of interesting concepts and topics that are relevant to the individual student.
Topics covered include:
  • Environmental Science
  • Endangered Species
  • Human Sexuality
  • Force and Motion
The three-year study of Latin is critical during the Middle School years. Learning Latin strengthens basic English skills in vocabulary and reading comprehension, focuses on grammar which leads to improved English writing and communication, increases cultural awareness and makes cultural connections, encourages critical thinking and comparative analysis, and introduces students to a rich source of mythology, literature, and history. This course introduces students to formal grammatical Latin and to the classical culture forming the foundation of Western civilization. Grounding students in Latin (and English) parts of speech, it cultivates the essential skills required to translate unedited Latin. Literary epics and legendary heroes are stressed—Cloelia, Dido, Penelope, Odysseus, Achilles, Hector, and Aeneas—in ancient Mediterranean poetry and art. The course presents many aspects of Roman culture through amusing cartoons and lively stories in Latin, and in background readings. Roman life comes alive through the eyes and words of the great poets, Horace and Catullus.
World Languages

In 7th grade, students are given the choice to study either French, Spanish, or Mandarin Chinese. These courses are taught in an immersion environment and emphasize the skills of language acquisition, including listening, speaking, reading, and writing, so that students master a body of vocabulary and grammar while expanding their ability to express themselves in their target language. Additionally, through a variety of activities and projects, students learn about the culture and civilization of the French, Spanish, or Mandarin-speaking worlds.

Our art program helps students to enhance their creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving abilities, as well as learn to think “outside of the box.” The 7th grade art program revolves around connected ideas and how one form of expression can consciously lead into a related process. One aspect of the program incorporates a serialized multi-media exploration of the human head involving creative discovery which grows from understanding standard human body proportions. Students also work in graphic design and clay and participate in an integrated curriculum project that includes an art component.
Music Ensembles & Drama
The performing arts choices in seventh and eighth grade build on the skills developed in sixth grade. Students prepare and perform selections that are more advanced and begin to explore a greater variety of styles (jazz, pop, classical, etc.) and performance topics. The music choices for these grade levels are choir, handbells/percussion, drama, strings*, and band*.

*Students are required to have one year of demonstrable experience on the instrument of choice.
Seventh Grade STEAM builds off of the 6th grade curriculum to advance student knowledge in technology and engineering. While the course continues with conversations about digital citizenship and proper use of their laptops, the bulk of the course is spent with students getting their hands on different types of projects in the MakerSpace. Students step up in their coding practice by beginning to learn the programming language "C" in conjunction with a look at circuitry using Arduinos. With Arduinos, students can write code and build advanced circuits to do almost anything. Seventh Grade STEAM also offers students time in the MakerSpace to work on a project that they design themselves. Students must find a problem, design and budget a solution, and pitch the solution before actually building the solution in the MakerSpace. The year ends with an interdisciplinary project with Science in which students design and build water-propelled bottle rockets.  


At Shipley we believe that each student should have a time in his or her program to explore talents, passions, and interests. Our mini-courses are designed to meet that goal. Because they are offered as electives, there is usually a mixture of students from all three Middle School grade levels in each course. Recent mini-course titles have included: Stock and Chess Club, Indoor Wiffle Ball, Backgammon, Reading Olympics, Movie Club, Science Olympiad, Pickle Ball, and Meditation, to name just a few.

Each 7th grade student participates in a team sport each season. Choices include:
  • Fall: Soccer, Field Hockey, Basketball (intramural), Tennis, Squash (intramural), Conditioning
  • Winter: Basketball, Squash, Swimming, Volleyball, Conditioning
  • Spring: Lacrosse, Softball, Baseball, Tennis, Conditioning
The Shipley School is a private, coeducational day school for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students, located in Bryn Mawr, PA. Through our commitment to educational excellence, we develop within each student a love of learning and a desire for compassionate participation in the world.