In addition to traditional courses, such as math, history, science, English, world language, and the arts, SPSG’s Middle School is proud to offer a host of cross-curricular opportunities. Driven by the idea that the “real world” is inherently interdisciplinary and that subjects are rarely mutually exclusive, students are exposed to projects, courses, and special events that require them to make connections and apply knowledge and skills learned in various classes as they problem-solve, create, and innovate.
Believing that middle school students learn best when topics inspire their natural talent for interdisciplinary and creative thinking, SPSG's humanities program bridges common themes in history, geography, and English. In their humanities classes, 5th and 6th grade students develop foundational reading, writing, critical thinking, and organizational skills, at the same time they practice and gain confidence in such 21st century skills as collaboration, creativity, digital literacy, and communication.
Semester-long elective courses allow 7th- and 8th-graders to dive deeper into topics related to their academic interests. These interdisciplinary, discussion-based classes of 8 to 15 students have recently included course titles such as Public Speaking, Urban Planning, Environmental Sustainability, Literary Magazine, and 3-D Printing.
Over the course of the year, students in grades 5 and 6 spend one day each week in the STAR (Science, Technology, Arts and Research) class. Equipped with MacBook Pros, iPads, and cameras, this space is dedicated to fostering the development of digital literacy, creativity, research, communication, and problem-solving skills in middle school girls. Projects in STAR class are developed in coordination with the subject-area teachers and advisors and encourage girls to make interdisciplinary connections as they explore topics in greater depth. In STAR class, students also practice using technology to communicate and publish, strengthen their keyboarding skills, and develop digital literacy and problem-solving skills. Internet safety is emphasized throughout the semester.
Each spring, students participate in a half-day of challenges related to science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM). The event is designed to introduce students to the many facets of STEAM and to provide them with hands-on problem solving opportunities. Girls work in mixed-grade groups to accomplish tasks from building a buoy or mousetrap with designated resources to designing and staging a Rube Goldberg machine, or Storage Wars inspired fashion show.
Minimester, a signature program of the middle school, allows students to break from classes for a week in order to pursue passions and interests in a multi-grade setting. Students in grades 5-8 are given the opportunity to have an interdisciplinary, project-based experience where they are offered alternative topics of study and unconventional approaches to learning in an effort to ignite students’ passion for discovery and exploration. Students help to develop and guide each project, with faculty serving as facilitators. The week-long program features guest speakers and off-campus excursions and culminates in a living museum, where students demonstrate learning by presenting their findings to their peers and the community in a variety of formats. Past themes have included Australia and Exploring the Mid-Atlantic.