curriculum

The LWGMS curriculum is designed to cultivate intellectual curiosity and a drive to social action in each LWGMS girl. In a safe and supportive environment that challenges each girl to reach her potential, experienced teachers guide our students to develop the creative confidence to meet the many social, emotional, physical, and academic changes of early adolescence. The program is designed to be hands-on and experiential, with collaborative learning, projects, oral presentations, and class discussions used to ensure that every girl strengthens her voice as she learns. At the heart of the curriculum is a commitment to social justice. 

21st century schools must prepare students to think on their feet, collaborate, and communicate ideas clearly. Lake Washington Girls Middle School offers robust public speaking, performance, and presentation strands throughout our curriculum, translating into seamless teaching of the 6C’s of 21st Century Skills, critical thinking, communication, collaboration, creativity, confidence, and compassion.

The curriculum at LWGMS is interdisciplinary where appropriate, and it focuses on each subject individually with teachers who are experts in their subject areas. The core academic curriculum includes humanities, math, science, Spanish, and STEAM. The fine arts are considered a valuable essential; every LWGMS student takes at least 60 minutes of visual art per week all year as well as a full year STEAM course, which integrates the arts with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and introduces girls to the process of Design Thinking. To cultivate confidence, collaboration, and strong voices, every LWGMS student performs in at least one full-scale drama production every year. Additionally, students can choose from enrichment classes that offer a breadth of experiences. Classes include Entrepreneurship, Ukulele and Voice, Designing Wearable Technology, Poetry as Performance, The Elle-Dub Blog, and stage crew.

Beginning in sixth grade, students develop skills to identify and interpret information, organize data, produce research projects, and evaluate their own final product. Using a wide variety of print and electronic sources, students conduct research in all disciplines. Computers become tools that all students know how to use with ease and confidence. Students reinforce basic computer skills as they apply them to authentic core curriculum activities. Skills reinforced include keyboarding and word processing; creating spreadsheets, charts, and graphic organizers; using the Internet; creating digital media such as animation and film; graphic design, and working with robotics platforms.


Students at LWGMS engage in an academically challenging and engaging curriculum, including extensive research and writing, regular debates and oral presentations, individualized and collaborative math instruction, and real-world, experiential science. With our unique, creative curriculum that is integrated across disciplines, LWGMS prepares girls to critically assess environments and events, to excel academically, and to exercise their voices. Our students graduate as confident, socially responsible, creative young women, who are well prepared for high school and beyond.

In all classes, LWGMS Students...

  • Use technology
  • Incorporate visual and dramatic arts
  • Conduct and synthesize research
  • Write for a variety of audiences in a variety of styles
  • Read and analyze integrated literature
  • Have the opportunity to explore their interests
  • Benefit from individualized instruction with high expectations
  • Use problem solving, critical thinking, and design thinking skills
  • Incorporate the Spanish language
  • Synthesize their learning into an oral, visual, and written presentation
  • Have a voice in the curriculum
  • Have fun as part of their learning

By the end of middle school, an LWGMS graduate will be able to...

  • View the world through multiple perspectives
  • Recognize instances of social injustice
  • Act as a responsible citizen who serves her community
  • Speak and debate effectively
  • Perform on stage in front of hundreds
  • Converse and write in Spanish
  • Apply the scientific process
  • Solve complicated problems
  • Write an MLA-style documented research paper
  • Write plays, narratives, and poetry
  • Express herself through visual arts
  • Express her opinions with confidence
  • Know her own learning style
  • Act as a mediator and work through conflict
  • Embrace individuality and learn from differences
  • Collaborate well with peers and adults
  • Enter high school prepared for honors and AP classes

SCIENCE

The science curriculum is intended to foster a sense of excitement and curiosity about the field of science and the ways in which it permeates every aspect of our daily lives. LWGMS students conduct experiments, explore connections between different scientific phenomena, carry out research, build models, and present their findings.

Science is both integrated with other areas of study and highlighted as its own individual subject, so that the girls can both see the connections between science and the humanities and learn the processes and skills necessary for scientific experiential learning.  

The LWGMS science program incorporates Next Generation Science standards and Washington State standards into the curriculum. In sixth grade, the science curriculum targets our overall theme of “Parts of a Whole” by spending the majority of the year exploring Environmental Science units, which focus on classification, ecosystems, and animal behavior. In 7th grade, our theme of “Systems and Values” is targeted by learning about the human body and its systems. The girls’ final year at LWGMS is based around the theme of “Cause and Effect” which is emphasized in science by learning about forces and energy and an introduction to chemistry.

 

Math

Our math program uses a combination of traditional and project-based approaches. Students explore mathematical concepts and their applications through collaborative and individual learning experiences, including math labs and projects, skills and concepts problems, and evaluation exercises. Real-world math applications are designed to widen the scope of students’ mathematical thinking and to exercise problem-solving and communication skills. Students are required to write, in detail, their process for solving a problem and what the real-world applications of the problem are.

Most LWGMS graduates enter high school ready to take sophomore or junior level math classes, usually at the honors and AP level.

Humanities

The Humanities curriculum includes the traditional integration of social studies and language arts, but ours is enriched with Writing Workshop classes in all three grades and a social justice curriculum, Walls to Bridges, in seventh and eighth grade.

Humanities

This course integrates language arts with social studies and offers students a chance to see the  connections among history, literature, art, and culture. Students engage in traditional novel study and literary analysis while also actively connecting their reading to the narrative of their own lives and the world around them. Socratic seminars and oral performances allow students to explore the themes and issues raised in the text while continuing to build essential communication skills. As students gain practice in the mechanics and process of writing in Writing Workshop, they apply those skills to the analytic writing they do in Humanities classes. Sixth graders study human rights and social movements;  seventh graders study world cultures and systems of belief; and eighth graders study civics, US history, and Washington state history.

Writing Workshop

This is a writing skills class that teaches the conventions of written language and writing craft within a meaningful context: students’ own writing. Students use writing to discover more about themselves and communicate those understandings clearly and creatively to others. Through a combination of inquiry and direct instruction, students learn grammatical and mechanical rules and apply them to the writing they do in a writer’s notebook. Students make extensive use of the writing process, practicing revision and editing strategies that allow them to become independent editors. In sixth grade, students learn how to find meaning in their everday lives by writing regularly in writer’s notebooks and sharing with their peers. In seventh grade, students develop their voices as essayists, blending narrative and expository styles to write personal essays that explore aspects of their identity. In eighth grade, students write spoken word poetry, memoir, and graduation speeches, and they also submit their writing to magazines.

Walls to Bridges

Walls to Bridges is a social justice curriculum that focuses on activism, leadership, and voice. Throughout the year, students participate in monthly workshops on issues like identity and ally-ship, as well as explorations of historical movements for social change. This year-long program, in conjunction with the Humanities curriculum, gives students the time and space to examine privilege and oppression, and to develop tools to become agents of change. In seventh grade, students are introduced to social justice themes through current events. In eighth grade, students engage in long-term projects, including social justice filmmaking and non-violent direct action campaigns.

Spanish

Spanish incorporates reading, speaking, and writing skills through the use of dialogues, textbooks, songs, literature, and cultural lessons. The goal is to introduce the language and develop a love for learning languages. By eighth grade, the students are able to write and present poetry, prose and research projects in Spanish.

All LWGMS graduates will enter high school with the skills to begin at least in Spanish II, while many will begin their freshman year with Spanish III.

STEAM

In each grade, L-Dub girls take a year-long STEAM class that integrates the arts with science, technology, engineering, and math. The three year scope and sequence begins with shop safety and use of tools and culminates in an individual project that demonstrates students’ ability to solve problems using STEAM skills.

The STEAM curriculum is designed to get girls excited about engineering, technology, science, and math while expanding their creative confidence. The projects are regularly integrated with learning in other classes, so that the skills and knowledge are easily applicable and relevant across disciplines.

Examples:
While eighth graders study physics in Science class, they create a wind-powered vehicle and a ping pong blaster using combustibles in STEAM class. While seventh graders study the human body, they create a human body Rube Goldberg machine. When sixth graders study ecology and the environment, they use design thinking to create a “Pollution Solution.”

In all classes – not just in the STEAM classes – there is an emphasis on the principles of STEAM and on Design Education as a way of fostering fluency in creative thinking skills to solve 21st century problems.

Problem-solving, risk-taking, and mistake-making are necessary skills to practice, especially at the middle school level and especially for girls.

Visual Arts

LWGMS believes that artistic expression is as important as academic rigor. The visual art program uses art to communicate emotions and ideas and to reflect on cultural and historic events. Our integrated program combines many elements to create an enriching experience that emphasizes process over product.

Recognizing that art cannot be separated from the study of history, language, culture, and other academic disciplines, a DBAE (Discipline-Based Art Education) approach is used throughout all art classes. This is a conceptual framework that includes:

Production: Creating or performing

History: Encountering the historical and cultural background of works of art

Aesthetics: Discovering the nature and philosophy of the arts

Criticism: Making informed judgments about the arts

Performing Arts

Through the Performing Arts program at LWGMS, students build strong voices, strong minds, and strong bodies. Through literary and historical analysis and interpretation and memorization of the script and songs, students develop strong minds; by learning to perform with strong voices, students develop confidence; and finally, through learning to use physical movements and dance to express emotion and meaning, students develop strong bodies.

The Performing Arts program also provides opportunities for students to practice teamwork and leadership skills. As members of a cast and crew, the students must learn to work together and be responsible on both an individual level as well as for the entire group. In addition to performing as actors and musicians, students take on leadership roles in stage management, lighting, sound, and set design, assisting the director, and choreographing musical numbers. Each year’s production is an event that relies on teamwork and peer support for success; consequently, with every show the girls learn to work cohesively and collaboratively. The process of creating a show is filled with opportunities for social and emotional learning and the personal growth that results from meeting challenges and taking appropriate risks. It is an all-school, cross-curricular lesson that involves every member of the student body.

The progression of the program from sixth grade to eighth grade reflects the idea that as girls become more confident in their performance skills, the role size and responsibility increases. In the Fall and Winter all school musical productions, sixth graders generally have smaller roles and seventh graders have larger roles and leads; every sixth and seventh grader has a speaking role. Eighth graders work as the crew, and perform as musicians and as members of the ensemble. During the Spring term, seventh graders may apply to work as the stage crew for the eighth grade play. The eighth grade play reflects a culminating event for the drama program in that every girl has a larger role, takes more creative control, and has more responsibility in this production.

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Performance as Pedagogy

21st century schools must prepare students to think on their feet, collaborate, and communicate ideas clearly. Lake Washington Girls Middle School offers robust public speaking, performance, and presentation strands throughout our curriculum, translating into seamless teaching of the 6C’s of 21st Century Skills (critical thinking, communication, collaboration, creativity, confidence, and compassion).

Our curriculum has been crafted to require every student to participate in speech and debate, mock trial, large-scale drama productions, and research presentations each year, and the result is every student becoming a confident presenter who speaks and performs in front of thousands during her middle school years.

While many of these opportunities occur during the regular school day, it is the school's belief that an authentic audience of families, friends, guest judges or experts, and community members better provides a venue for growing confidence. The importance of the authentic audience cannot be underestimated. When students know that people beyond their classmates and teachers will be present, they want to be ready. They work hard to memorize their poems, to learn their lines, to know every detail about the mock trial case they are arguing in court, and to be able to relay the entire process of their research topic.

To provide an audience for their learning, students participate in approximately one evening or weekend event per month. Families are asked to make their best effort to incorporate these events into their calendars and ensure that students can attend.

 

Physical Education

The goals and objectives of the LWGMS Physical Education program are to help develop strong, self-confident, well-balanced young women. Students participate in a variety of physical education activities in order to provide them with a well-rounded experience.

Each student takes three terms of Physical Education each year: one term of martial arts, one term of health and fitness, and one term of boxing and dance movement.

– Lucia '17

– Lucia '17

Martial Arts

The Martial Arts program is taught by experienced instructors from Quantum Martial Arts. Throughout their martial arts training, girls are required to express their strength through a “kihap” or “spirit yell” when they perform their forms and techniques – a literal exercise in strengthening their voices. Students perform techniques alone, in partner drills, and with targets. Students are encouraged to explore and discuss body mechanics as they learn. The girls regularly engage in discussions regarding the tenets of courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control and indomitable spirit. Each term culminates in a “test” where students perform what they have learned and advance to the next rank. These tests are not linked to technical proficiency, but rather are a celebration of the strengths gained by each individual.

OUTDOOR FITNESS

The LWGMS Outdoor Fitness class, taught by Mary Elder, P '12 focuses on students discovering the pure, unadulterated joy of working out in nature. Students head outside, to develop lifelong fitness skills, including balance, vitality, gratitude, strength, grit, agility, connection, confidence, peace, and good humor.

INDOOR FITNESS

Indoor Fitness, taught by Annie Barrett, P' 16 provides students the opportunity to participate in motor skills and health related physical fitness using teamwork, sportsmanship and an honest effort in different workouts. We run, we stretch, we strengthen and we play games. Students have positive experience around fitness training and increase their desire to participate in future activities. Students improve their conditioning and strength. Students develop a strong mind, body and voice around athletics for life.

Dance Movement

Dance Movement, taught by Heather Harris P’12, ’15,  and Austin Sexton will give the girls an opportunity to explore various dance styles, learn and participate in choreography, learn holistic stretches and warm-ups, all the while enjoying movement and music. Dance class will consist of Holistic Stretches, improv, and group choreography. We will use a variety of world music as well as explore many different styles of dance. During each session the girls will have two guest artists teach class. Brazilian Samba, Break dance, Afro Cuban, and Contemporary Jazz will be some of the guest classes offered. Each term the girls will write a short summary of their experience with our guest artist as well as having performed choreography at a school event.

Yoga and Body Image

Yoga and Body Image, taught by Mary McGough, is a gentle class to develop a connection to the physical and energetic body while cultivating strength, balance, and relaxation. By focusing on yoga fundamentals the girls will work to develop body awareness, learn basic postures, focus on proper alignment, and practice coordinating the breath and movements gracefully together.

Enrichment

The Enrichment program’s goal and objectives are to provide students with skills and opportunities beyond the regular academic program, in keeping with the school’s philosophy of teaching the “whole girl.” The design of the Enrichment program reflects the belief that students should be well-rounded and have opportunities to engage in activities that address multiple learning styles. Additionally, the Enrichment program is designed to give students opportunities to explore their individual interests and cultivate appropriate risk-taking. The Enrichment classes are generally project-based, and they therefore allow students to create a product to publish, perform, or display at the end of the term. LWGMS values the arts, and many of the Enrichment classes incorporate the arts, both visual and performing.

The Enrichment program gives students opportunities to work in groups, to work on project or performance based assignments, and to work on subject matter that relates to real-world experiences. As with any class at LWGMS, diversity of perspectives and materials is incorporated into the design of the class. The content design of each course takes into consideration multiple and diverse perspectives on its subject.

STEAM

Magical Masks
This class will explore multiple mask- making techniques and styles. Students will have the opportunity to make many different masks out of many different mediums. Materials explored will include plaster, cardboard, duct tape, and clay. Get ready to create some fantastic characters

Wood Shop
This elective offering will allow students to explore the vast world of wood-working. Students will learn to use some of the exciting tools we have available in the STEAM studio, and will be able to create multiple projects out of wood and other recycled materials. Let’s build something together!

Mighty Machines
Ever wonder how things work? Interested in making your own contraptions and creations? This elective class will explore the fantastic world of machines. This project-based class will allow students to explore multiple simple machines such as Rube Goldberg machines, cardboard mechanicals, and even Marble Runs! Get ready to tinker!

Art & Design

Art Across Mediums Fall: Flora, Fauna, and Figures
This class investigates a variety of art making genres such as paint, drawing, sculpture, ceramics, and photography and uses these genres to explore a particular theme. We will also study famous artists, art appreciation and history as well as important techniques. This term’s theme is flora, fauna, and figures. We will use these different media to create works of art featuring portraits/figure, flowers/plants, and animals, both real and imagined.

Art Across Mediums Spring: Structures, Spaces, and Design
This class investigates a variety of art making genres such as paint, drawing, sculpture, ceramics, and photography and uses these genres to explore a particular theme. We will also study famous artists, art appreciation and history as well as important techniques. This term’s theme is structures, spaces, and design. We will use these different media to create works of art featuring buildings (local, distant, and imagined), indoor/outdoor spaces, and structures of all kinds with special attention paid to elements of design.

 

Music

Ukulele and Voice
Students will go to our neighborhood music school (Meter Music on Union Street) and learn to read music and play the ukulele, as well as select new and classic songs to sing. Every girl in this class will get her own ukulele (to keep for the term) for at-home practicing and playing. Many girls get hooked on strumming and singing and end up purchasing their own instrument at the end of the term. There are lots of opportunities for performing both at Meter and here at L-Dub. No prior music experience necessary.

Humanities

Poetry as Performance
Students in the Poetry as Performance elective will serve as poetry ambassadors and hosts at the annual Festival of Lights (Poetry Night). In building up to Festival of Lights, girls will immerse themselves in reading and writing poetry, discovering new poets and experimenting with poetic devices. Students will scavenge, eavesdrop, and create exquisite corpses; they will draw inspiration from poets and individual poems, riddling and “po-jacking” for fun. Ultimately, they will apply their methods and learning to create the introductory performance for Festival of Lights.

 

Girl Studies: Media & Music
What does it mean to be a girl today? Discover the many answers to this question through the lenses of music and media. First we will explore the notion of girlhood by taking a close look at lyrics from popular musicians and write some empowering songs of our own. Next, we’ll tackle advertising; what does it say about the modern girl? The course will culminate in a creative project that will address your favorite topic from this course.

Girl Studies: Media & Art
What does it mean to be a girl today? Discover the many answers to this question through the lenses of media and art. First we will look at the world of television: what messages are communicated about girls through the shows we watch? Next, we’ll explore art; how has art impacted how we define a girl? The course will culminate in a creative project that will address your favorite topic from this course.

 

Spanish

Fiesta Latina: Art & Performance
Latino culture is rich and dynamic! In this class students will have the opportunity to explore different aspects of this culture through the arts. Projects and activities may include: writing and producing a telenovela, learning about and making folk art, exploring latin music, and dance and food fun.

 

Drama

The Phantom Tollbooth; Jamie and the Giant Peach; Eighth Grade One-Act Festival
In Drama classes at LWGMS, students collaborate with others while they learn the vocabulary of theater and the process involved in what it takes to put on a complete show in a working theater. The Drama Program at LWGMS is a three year curriculum that focuses on theatrical skills, ensemble building, script analysis, and artistic discipline.

In the Fall and Winter Terms, sixth and seventh graders perform in a large musical, while eighth graders serve as crew members and production team, who are responsible for set design and building, costume design and construction, stage management, lighting and sound design and tech. Sixth graders participate as part of a large ensemble, singing and dancing in groups and performing a few lines, and seventh graders participate in larger roles and take on leadership in the production process. In the Spring Term, eighth graders perform in their own theatrical production, with a few seventh graders serving as the crew and production team. The eighth grade class collaborates to design the concept and performs in the show, which serves as a culmination of their three year drama curriculum.