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. The attention span increases and 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), ability to think critically and to analyze 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 variety 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, inequalities, and functions, ratios and proportions, percents, geometric figures, measurement and area.
     
    History

    The goal of the sixth 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
    • Big six research skills
    • 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 its five themes, governments, immigration, the Great Depression, 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, scientific thinking and process, structural technology, human diet, nutrition and energy usage, light, 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.
     
    Learning Systems

    This course is offered for the first half of the school year. Its main focus is to look at the systems we set in place to achieve our highest success in learning. We first look at what resources we already have in place for students to use here at school. We look at Net Classroom, a website where we post all of our homework assignments, test calendar, and student planner. We then look at ways to map out our work plan for the week.
     
    This course will meet for a total of 10 to 12 class sessions during the first semester. We will focus our time in class manipulating different forms of learning systems. We will spend time looking at the following systems:
    • Navigating Net Classroom
    • Student Planners
    • Time Management
    • Homework Completion
    • Memory
    • Test Taking and Preparation
    • Note Taking for test preparation and for written responses
    Design
    Design integrates many different skills and academic disciplines that are needed to complete the “real world” task of envisioning livable structures. Because of this, it is useful to think of our work as branching out beyond the typical confines of a traditional school curriculum: Design will operate as an Art-Science-Math-History-English class. The first project of the semester introduces many design topics and skills through a tree house project. Each semester, a culminating project will be pursued that emphasizes group process while arriving at a shared vision of a built environment.
     
    Sleuth

    What happened? Why is that broken? Who made those footprints? When did they leave? Where are they now?
     
    In this course, we are detectives, using science and logic to figure out what happened. Working in teams, we examine crime scene evidence and record observations very carefully. Then we use interviews and tests to give us more information. In time, we hope to figure out the solution to the crime. However we need to be mindful and sort through the information very carefully; there may be some superficial or misleading evidence.
     
    Art

    Our art program helps students enhance their creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving abilities, as well as learn to think “outside of the box.” The grade 6 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 Foundations
    In Music Foundations the emphasis is on building basic music literacy skills through various collaborative and hands-on experiences. These include Dalcroze eurhythmics movement activities and music reading using the ideas of Zoltan Kodaly. The year will end with all students putting these skills to use as they participate in a handbell ensemble.
     
    Music & Drama
    All students participate in both music and drama classes. Both are designed to teach teamwork and the ability to take a risk and step outside one's self. We stress building upon previously learned skills to progress to the next level of artistry. Philosophically, we believe that there is a place for every student, especially the ones who do not think they have any musical talent! In addition to the drama class that all students participate in, sixth graders also choose between choir, handbells, strings*, and band*.
    *at least one year of experience is requested for these options; two years is preferable.
     
    Computer Technology

    In the 6th Grade Middle School technology classes, the students learn management of their computers in a 1:1 computing environment including functionality, organization, and digital citizenship. The classes are taught in workshop fashion mainly through exploration and individualized practice. The students are encouraged to explore and experiment rather than ask “how” and “where” when presented with new material. Additionally, students have multiple opportunities to apply their computer skills to their work in other subject areas.

    Students will:
    • Learn block coding and create a video game using Scratch
    • Create a programmed object using a LilyTiny microcontroller

    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. Each mini-course involves students in combinations of 6th, 7th, and 8th graders. Mini-courses have included: Italian, Stock Market, Robotics, Drama, Dance, Comedy Club, Yoga, Fishing, German, Math Counts, Guitar, and Digital Photography to name a few. Students in our 8th grade leadership class have the opportunity to present a mini-course of their choice to students or to do an internship with a faculty advisor.
     
    Academic Workshops
    We believe that students will always benefit from having additional support or a challenge in their content areas. Advisors and teachers will offer an array of workshops in which students can participate, including help with editing skills, math skills, reading for deeper content, looking at designing the school for the future, being current with the world of science, or creating digital planner systems.
     
    Physical Education

    All 6th grade students are encouraged to participate in a choice of sports offered each season. 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 the season. Students participate in a mini-season made up of practices during the school day and conclude with two or three 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 the students’ 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 Conflict, Rights and Revolution in the Twentieth Century. 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 mankind in world war, the struggle for human rights, and the revolutions for civil liberties. During the human rights unit, each student will take an active role in the Junior Model UN of the World Affairs Council based in Philadelphia where they will role-play delegates, participate in lively debate, and vote on resolutions they previously crafted. The course also includes research into personal family histories as part of a grade-wide interdisciplinary unit called Generations.
     
    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 variety 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, expressions, and integers, solving equations, multi-step equations and inequalities, factors, fractions, and exponents, rational numbers and equations, ratio, proportion, and probability, percents, linear functions, real numbers, right triangles, measurement, area, and volume, data analysis and probability, polynomials and nonlinear functions and 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 seventh grade will combine units from life, physical, and earth sciences. It is an inquiry- and activity-based program that will engage students by studying interesting concepts and topics that will be made relevant to the individual student.
     
    Topics covered include:
    • Interactions ( Life Science)
    • Diversity (Life Science)
    • Hydrology ( Earth Science, Physical Science)
    • Human Sexuality (Life Science, Social Science)
    • Force and Motion (Physical Science)
     
    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 the student to formal grammatical Latin and to the classical culture forming the foundation of Western civilization. Grounding the student 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

    Each 7th grade student has a choice to study French, Spanish, or Mandarin Chinese. These courses emphasize the skills of language acquisition, 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. Through a variety of activities and projects, students learn about the culture and civilization of the French, Spanish, and Mandarin speaking worlds.
     
    Team Building

    Team Building is a course in which 7th grade students can explore every aspect of “team.” Topics covered include how to be a great leader, how to be a great follower, how to organize a group, and how to drum up support for a good cause. Conventional classroom studies and non-conventional studies are used. Many days are spent outside as students try to figure out the best way to cross shark-infested waters while making sure the entire team is saved, or racing giant slaloms down a wintry mountain. Fictitious challenges stretch the imagination, but the efforts and lessons are real.
     
    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. Included is a serialized multi-media exploration of the human head involving creative discovery which grows from understanding standard human proportion. Students work in graphic design and clay, and participate in an integrated curriculum project that includes an art component.
     
    Music Foundations

    The 7th grade Music Foundations course continues the development of basic music literacy skills (music reading and writing) through various hands-on experiences and collaborative projects. The course also helps to develop students' critical thinking skills and creativity. World drumming (African and Latin percussion) will be an integral part of the second semester of Music Foundations.
     
    Music Ensembles & Drama
    The performing arts choices in seventh and eighth grade build on the skills developed in sixth grade. They prepare and perform selections that are more advanced, and begin to explore a greater variety of styles (jazz, pop, classical, etc.). The choices for these grade levels are choir, handbells, drama, strings*, and band*.
    *in 7th and 8th grade, 2 years of experience is requested for these options.
     
    Computer Technology

    In the Middle School, computer classes are essentially problem-solving classes. The students learn the basics of using the computer in a hands-on environment where each student has access to a computer for the entire class period. The classes are taught in workshop fashion which includes individualized practice, self-learning, and problem-solving. In addition to learning the basics of computer use, students are expected to apply their computer skills to their work in their Middle School classes. As often as possible, the computer teacher works with the teachers of other subjects to develop specially coordinated projects using the computers or allows students to use the computers to complete work for their other classes.
     
    Students will:
    • work independently in Adobe Photoshop on various graphic design projects
    • apply basic animation skills from 6th grade to a more advanced approach used in the Adobe Creative Suite
    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. Each mini-course involves students in combinations of 6th, 7th, and 8th graders. Mini-courses have included: Italian, Stock Market, Robotics, Drama, Dance, Comedy Club, Yoga, Fishing, German, Math Counts, Guitar, and Digital Photography to name a few. Students in our 8th grade leadership class have the opportunity to present a mini-course of their choice to students or to do an internship with a faculty advisor.
     
    Academic Workshops

    We believe that students will always benefit from having additional support or a challenge in their content areas. Advisors and teachers will offer an array of workshops in which students can participate, including help with editing skills, math skills, reading for deeper content, looking at designing the school for the future, being current with the world of science, or creating digital planner systems.
     
    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. 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 science, become "turned on" to its fascination and wonder, and to improve science process skills. Topics and concepts include:
    • Science Basics – Measurement, the Scientific Method, Safety
    • Food and Sustainability (Environmental)
    • The Human Body (Life Science)
    • Particles and Matter (Physical Science)
    • Astronomy (Earth Science)
    • The Cell and Heredity (Life Science)
    • Weather and Climate (Earth Science)
     
    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 the continuing Latin student 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. The student is 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

    Students have a choice to study French, Spanish or Mandarin Chinese. These courses are continuations of the seventh grade courses and emphasize the skills of language acquisition, 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. Through a variety of activities and projects, students learn about the culture and civilization of French- and Spanish- and 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. Clay containers with fitted lids and life-scale figure sculptures comprise the three-dimensional work.
     
    Leadership

    All 8th graders have a leadership class once a rotation throughout the year. Students learn about their strengths as leaders, work together to accomplish goals, and work in groups on projects that are service-oriented, designed to build awareness, or benefit the Shipley community.
     
    Music Foundations

    The 8th grade Music Foundations course continues the development of basic music literacy skills (music reading and writing) through various hands-on experiences and collaborative projects. The course also helps to develop students' critical thinking skills and creativity. Further immersion into world drumming (African and Latin percussion) will be a part of the second semester of Music Foundations. Students will learn about African influence on spirituals and the evolution of blues and jazz.
     
    Music Ensembles & Drama

    The performing arts choices in seventh and eighth grade build on the skills developed in sixth grade. They prepare and perform selections that are more advanced, and begin to explore a greater variety of styles (jazz, pop, classical, etc.). The choices for these grade levels are choir, handbells, drama, strings*, and band*.
    *in 7th and 8th grade, 2 years of experience is requested for these options.
      
    Computer/Technology

    Computer classes are essentially problem-solving classes. The students will learn the basics of using the computer in a hands-on environment where each student has access to a computer for the entire class period. The classes are taught in workshop fashion which includes individualized practice, self-learning, and problem-solving. In addition to learning the basics of computer use, students are expected to apply their computer skills to their work in their Middle School classes. As often as possible, the computer teacher works with the teachers of other subjects to develop specially coordinated projects using the computers or allows students to use the computers to complete work for their other classes.
    Students will:
    • work independently in Adobe Photoshop on a graphic design project in order to create the school yearbook
    • create a one-minute self-portrait video in Sony Vegas Studio
     
    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. Each mini-course involves students in combinations of 6th, 7th, and 8th graders. Mini-courses have included: Italian, Stock Market, Robotics, Drama, Dance, Comedy Club, Yoga, Fishing, German, Math Counts, Guitar, and Digital Photography to name a few. Students in our 8th grade leadership class have the opportunity to present a mini-course of their choice to students or to do an internship with a faculty advisor.
     
    Academic Workshops

    We believe that students will always benefit from having additional support or a challenge in their content areas. Advisors and teachers will offer an array of workshops in which students can participate, including help with editing skills, math skills, reading for deeper content, looking at designing the school for the future, being current with the world of science, or creating digital planner systems.
     
    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 and Technology Teacher
    Ext. 610-527-1620
    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.