COURAGE FOR THE DEED;
GRACE FOR THE DOING
Middle School is a time full of possibilities and promise. It is a unique time of physical, hormonal, social-emotional, neurological, and cognitive development. The quest for independence and identity undertaken by students of this age creates unique emotional needs, including the need for a feeling of competence, intimacy with others, and sense of self. The early adolescent begins the transition from concrete to abstract thinking. With increasing attention spans, students can begin to think about their own thinking. Talents can develop rapidly during this period, as can the aptitude for critical thinking and decision-making.
 
Our curriculum is designed to help 21st-century students acquire the appropriate skills and attitudes to become lifelong learners: the ability to communicate effectively and work cooperatively, competence in critical thinking and problem-solving in academic content areas, concern for right and wrong (development of ethics), the ability to think critically in analyzing one’s own thoughts and actions, concern for others and the environment, commitment to service to society, development of a global perspective, and a respect for cultural diversity.

List of 3 items.

  • 6th Grade

    English
    In the Middle School the primary objective of the English course is for students to build and enrich their reading, writing, thinking, and communication skills while using language to live more thoughtful, creative, and examined lives. Students use reading and writing to forge a deeper understanding of themselves and their roles in the world around them. We encourage students to gain an appreciation and love of language that will sustain them as lifelong learners.

    Students read and write extensively in the genres of non-fiction, fiction, and poetry. Students also learn presentation skills, the conventions of the English language, and mechanics of good writing in the context of literature studies and writing projects.
     
    Math
    In Middle School the focus of mathematics is a balance between an understanding of basic mathematical operations and 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 attitudes, 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; they apply and adapt a range of appropriate strategies to solve problems; and they monitor and reflect on the process of mathematical thinking. Topics covered include: number sense, patterns and algebraic thinking, decimal operations, data and statistics, number patterns and fractions, fraction operations, integers, equations and inequalities, functions, ratios and proportions, percents, properties of geometric figures, and geometric measurements.
     
    History

    The goal of the 6th grade history course is to present and reinforce the basic skills necessary to be a successful student of history. These basic skills include:
    • Drawing meaning from text
    • Presenting ideas clearly and concisely, through a variety of formats
    • Developing strong research methods
    • Working smarter, not faster
    • Working cooperatively as members of small and large learning groups
    • Note taking, including highlighting, underlining, split notes, post-it notes, and note cards in preparation for study and test taking
    The course includes the study of world geography and the themes of government, human rights, world religions, and inspirational figures in history.
     
    Science
    Sixth grade science strikes a balance between the acquisition of conceptual and factual knowledge and the development of scientific process skills. Math skills are also utilized. Topics include lab safety, microbiology and hydrology, the sun-moon-earth system, structural technology, energy, and geology.

    Students gain experience in:
    • Use of the scientific process, including observing, measuring communicating, comparing, contrasting, organizing, classifying, analyzing, inferring, developing hypotheses and predicting outcomes
    • Scientific literacy by communicating ideas about science topics both orally and in writing
    • Critical thinking and problem-solving in cooperative and individual settings
    • Development of collaborative work skills
    • Application of scientific concepts to “everyday” situations
    Latin
    The Cambridge Latin Course is an introduction to Latin study emphasizing reading and a deductive approach to learning Latin vocabulary words and grammar concepts. The main objectives include smooth translation of Latin stories which follow the lives of historical Lucius Caecilius Iucundus and his family and household characters, developing good language learning study habits, making connections between Latin and English parts of speech and derivatives as a foundation for modern languages, and cultural enrichment about the fascinating archaeological site of ancient Pompeii in 79 A.D. The Cambridge Latin Course website offers many excellent resources and links for online practice of vocabulary words, grammar exercises and cultural material. Students will research Roman villas, ancient Pompeian culinary delights, and perform Latin plays to culminate their study. Each student will make an artistic project entry on a Classical artifact for the regional Philadelphia Classical Society competition.
     
    Problem Solving -- SEED
    Problem Solving is a SEED course (Social, Emotional and Ethical Development) focusing on the relationship between learning and problem solving. The essential questions behind the curriculum are, "Do I commit to putting the effort in to attempting to learn this concept?” and "Do I commit to putting the effort into solving this problem?" This approach helps students to realize many academic, social, and emotional tasks are akin problems that need to be solved, and if they approach them systematically, with a growth mindset, they can solve most of them. This approach also reinforces the importance of students taking into account the unique perspectives, emotions, and character strengths of everyone involved, including themselves, and using those important components to guide the problem-solving process. Applying learned strategies, students recognize if they have all of the information and materials they need to solve a problem and how to use the resources available to them. During this course, the students learn about themselves as individuals, including their own unique combination of character strengths, their individual learning style, their relationship tendencies, and their personal approaches to both challenges and feedback. The academic focus of gathering information and using resources incorporates the skills of note taking, studying, homework completion, and organization.
     
    Design
    This problem-solving course includes both high and low-tech approaches to design, bridging its full expanse from conceptual work, modeling, and drawing to final fabrication. Students learn about the iterative design process and prototyping through a series of building activities. One day they could be competing with each other to see who can design and build the best paper airplane, while making incremental improvements to their designs. In subsequent weeks, they could be focused on designing and prototyping products that make everyday life a little better. Starting by creating blueprints and schematics for their product concepts them might model them using cardboard before finally 3D designing and printing working versions of their ideas.
     
    Sleuth

    What happened to Lester? Why was he found floating facedown in his swimming pool? Whose fingerprints are those? Who could have a motive to want him dead?
    In this course, students act as detectives using science process skills and logic to figure out what happened. They study a crime scene, cull through forensic evidence, decipher the statements of suspects, analyze newspaper and journal articles, parse legal documents, and examine photographic evidence. Eventually, with students acting in various roles as suspects, their defense attorneys, or lead prosecutors, a criminal trial is conducted to determine who is responsible for the death of business tycoon Lester Hempstead.

    Art

    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 6th grade art program revolves around the discovery and exploration of new media, first focusing on the technical aspects of art, such as drawing and shading, line, shape, texture, and color theory. The course also includes painting, graphic design, sculpture, and an integrated curriculum project.
     
    Music & Drama
    All students participate in both music and drama classes. These performing arts classes focus on building confidence and artistic literacy through teamwork. Foundational skills are introduced and reinforced through creative collaboration and hands-on experience. We believe that there is a place for every student, especially those who feel they do not have any performable talent! In addition to the drama class that all students participate in, sixth graders also choose between choir, handbells, strings*, and band* for their ensemble experience.

    *It is recommended that students signing up for strings or band have at least one year of prior experience on the instrument of choice. 

    STEAM
    In 6th grade STEAM, students learn how to use their new laptops as educational tools in a 1:1 educational environment. Topics covered include organization, safe search practices, digital citizenship, and collaboration. Beyond this, the core of the 6th grade STEAM course focuses on learning the basics of code through block coding in Scratch. Students learn how to structure their code using booleans, loops, and conditional statements which help them with their capstone project, the 6th Grade Arcade, in which students must create their own multi-player game using Scratch. Finally, students are introduced to the tools and resources available to them in the Middle School Makerspace via interdisciplinary projects in coordination with their other academic classes.

    Mini-Courses
    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.
      
    Physical Education

    Each season, all 6th grade students participate in a sport of their choosing. During the first few weeks, in order to provide exposure to a variety of sports, the students rotate through the sports offered and then choose one sport to play for the rest of a season. From that point forward, students participate in daily practices during the school day and conclude with two or three after-school games played against other schools. Sports offered include:
    • Fall: Soccer, Tennis, Field Hockey
    • Winter: Basketball, Squash, Volleyball
    • Spring: Lacrosse, Softball, Baseball
  • 7th Grade

    English
    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.
     
    History

    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. 
     
    Math

    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.
     
    Science

    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
    Latin
    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.
      
    Art

    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, drama, strings*, and band*.

    *Students are required to have one year of demonstrable experience on the instrument of choice.
     
    STEAM
    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.  

    Mini-Courses

    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.
      
    Athletics

    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
  • 8th Grade

    English
    The objective of the 8th grade English course is for students to learn to communicate the written and spoken word with clarity, coherence, and thoughtfulness. Scaffolded skill sequences and common themes inform the reading, and relevant films, trips, articles, and poems supplement the reading selections. Exploration of other academic disciplines, other cultures, and ethical issues accompany the literary study. Writing focuses increasingly on formal essays of literary analysis, though students also have opportunities for creative expression and personal response. Collaborative multimedia projects and performances strengthen both digital and personal presentation skills.
     
    History

    The 8th grade history course, The Making of the Modern World, considers the stories of issues the world faces today. The goal of this course is to give students a better understanding of what characterizes the modern world and how the world they live in came to be. Themes include but are not limited to urbanization, technological advancement, government, globalization, and use of resources.
    Emphasis is placed on developing academic skills necessary to be a successful student of history as well as an informed citizen of the world. Particular attention is paid to:
    • Gathering information from a variety of sources
    • Critically examining, analyzing, and interpreting information
    • Presenting ideas and information in a variety of ways and situations
    • Working independently and in groups to identify, think critically about, and find solutions to problems
    • Managing time, tasks, and resources (organization, note taking, test taking, map making, etc.).
    Math
    The 8th Grade Algebra I course includes:
    • Using variables to write mathematical expressions and equations
    • Using the set of real numbers
    • Solving equations with variables on one and two sides
    • An introduction to functions (linear and quadratic)
    • Graphing
    • Using the TI-84 Graphing calculator
    • Solving a system of equations containing two or three variables
    • Inequalities
    • Operations with polynomials (including factoring)
    • Operations with algebraic fractions
    • Rational and irrational numbers
    • Solving quadratic equations
     
    Science

    The goal of 8th grade science is to have students appreciate the nature of scientific exploration while nurturing a deep fascination for the world around them and improving their science process skills. Topics and concepts include:
    • Science Basics – Measurement, the Scientific Method, Safety
    • Food and Sustainability
    • The Human Body
    • Particles and Matter
    • Astronomy
    • The Cell and Heredity
    • Weather and Climate
    Latin
    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 presents continuing Latin students with increasingly complex grammatical concepts, an ever-expanding vocabulary, and cultural discussions suitable for 8th graders. Our goal is to cultivate those skills required to translate unedited Latin. Emphasis is on the institutions and great political personalities of the late Roman Republic—Caesar, Cicero, Mark Antony, Cleopatra, and Augustus. Students are presented with many aspects of Roman culture in cartoons and lively stories in Latin as seen through the eyes of the poet Horace. Latin vocabulary and English derivatives are an important area of study.
     
    World Languages

    These courses, in French, Spanish, or Mandarin Chinese, are continuations of the 7th grade courses and are taught in an immersion enviroment emphasizing 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 French, Spanish or Mandarin. Additionally, through a variety of activities and projects, students learn about the culture and civilization of the French, Spanish, or Mandarin-speaking worlds.
     
    Art

    Our art program helps students to enhance their creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving abilities, as well as to learn to think “outside of the box.” The 8th grade art program brings students to a point where they can respond with confidence to technical challenges and apply their accumulated skills with increased independence. Tonal and imaginative drawing are reinforced and strengthened; graphic design and painting projects reach new levels of challenge and sophistication. As a significant and culminating part of their studio work, near the end of the school year, students utilize all of their acquired artistic skills to work in groups on a interdisciplinary architectural monument project that is conceptualized in history class and executed in the art room. This project pushes the students to use both sides of the brain, working together to complete the final product of a model and accompanying presentation.   
       
    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 choices for these grade levels are choir, handbells, drama, strings*, and band*.

    * Students are required to have two years of demonstrable experience on the instrument of choice.
      
    STEAM
    Eighth Grade STEAM is designed to be a culmination of students progress in the MakerSpace from 6th grade on. In addition to a continued curriculum based on digital citizenship, our studies take us on a logical step from 7th grade as we continue to learn about code and circuitry but with the added element of robotics. In the first half of the year, students will work with VEX Robots to learn about simple machines, robotic mechanisms, sensors, and autonomy while designing robots to conquer a range of different challenges. Students will also spend some time on photo editing and manipulation as they create their very own yearbook pages to cap off their final year in the Middle School. In a test of their abilities, the year ends with open MakerSpace time in which students The year ends with students choosing a STEAM discipline (i.e., robotics, architecture, web design, photo editing, etc.) to focus on and complete projects and challenges within that discipline to work towards mastery. 

    Mini-Courses

    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.
      
    Athletics

    Each 8th 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
We know that students do better in a school that is a real community, a school in which they can forge strong relationships with adults. We also know that students do better when their parents, alumni, and other friends are involved in their school.”

~ Steve Piltch, Head of School

Meet the Team

List of 3 members.

  • Shane Kinsella 

    Head of Middle School
    Ext. 4186
    Fordham University - EdD
    Bank Street College - MS
    University of Newcastle Upon Tyne - PGCE
    University College Dublin - BA
  • Stuart "Stu" Malcolm 

    Assistant Head of Middle School, Middle School Sleuth Teacher
    Ext. 4137
    University of Washington - MArch
    Dartmouth College - BA
  • Anne "Annie" Griffin 

    Middle School Academic Dean and Academic Support Coordinator
    Ext. 4164
    University of Colorado - MA
    Colorado College - BA

Summer Reading

The Shipley School
814 Yarrow Street
Bryn Mawr, PA 19010
T: 610-525-4300 F: 610-525-5082
Contact Us
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.