Middle School Program

Academics

Explore. Take Chances.

Explore. Take Chances.

Middle School

Middle School at Northwest provides a solid foundation for students to thrive academically, socially, and emotionally as they navigate the critical middle school years.

Students are encouraged to try new things and step out of their comfort area, so they can develop a sense of who they are and what they can accomplish. As they move through the sixth, seventh and eighth grades, they’ll begin to take on more of a self-advocacy role for their journey, supported along the way—academically and socially—by their advisor. By 8th Grade, they begin exploring the passions they've developed, independence they’ve gained and disciplines they've discovered in preparation for Upper School. 

Exploration is the Path to Discovery

Dedicated Academic Team

Our close-knit Middle School has its own Director and Dean of Students, and teachers experienced in teaching middle school. This...

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Dedicated Academic Team

Our close-knit Middle School has its own Director and Dean of Students, and teachers experienced in teaching middle school.  This team fosters community and a love of learning at the age when students are developing their attitudes towards school. 

Foundational Skills

The Foundations program ensures our sixth graders adjust to secondary school socially, academically, and technologically. They’ll work on mastering organizational...

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Foundational Skills

The Foundations program ensures our sixth graders adjust to secondary school socially, academically, and technologically. They’ll work on mastering organizational skills, build laptop skills, and will be introduced to Mandarin and Spanish. It’s the perfect start for their seven-year journey.

Identity & Belonging

Students learn about themselves and explore their differences through participation in affinity groups and days of learning. The grade level...

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Identity & Belonging

Students learn about themselves and explore their differences through participation in affinity groups and days of learning. The grade level experiences, and advisory meetings introduce belonging and community. Collectively these experiences promote the capacity for acceptance and connection with peers.

Collaboration and Teamwork

We create a fun and supportive sports experience for middle school students of all abilities and experience levels. Students will...

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Collaboration and Teamwork

We create a fun and supportive sports experience for middle school students of all abilities and experience levels. Students will develop self-confidence, a sense of community, and respect for the different strengths of their teammates. They will also learn to work together for a common goal and learn about the importance of building healthy habits.

Stretch Experiences

Hiking, climbing, camping, skiing, biking. These experiences foster independence and build confidence. Our outdoor program is designed to engage our...

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Stretch Experiences

Hiking, climbing, camping, skiing, biking. These experiences foster independence and build confidence. Our outdoor program is designed to engage our youngest students and adapts as their skills develop. Summits are another chance for students to discovered uncharted territory. These are two-week, multi-grade dives into topics that stretch the mind – like, Sustainability in Agriculture, Eco Fashion, or Park Design.

Arts Exploration

An arts education opens the mind to new ways of seeing the world. It builds character, confidence and improves academic...

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Arts Exploration

An arts education opens the mind to new ways of seeing the world. It builds character, confidence and improves academic outcomes. Middle school students begin to develop creative thinking skills as they learn to explore artistically. We believe every mind is a creative one, waiting to be discovered.

Raising Money for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

6th and 7th Graders from the Rainbow Connection affinity group, decided to have a bake sale to raise money for children in need.  With support from their Humanities teacher, Alonzo Collins, they sent a cashier's check for $301.00 to St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital, selected for their important work treating childhood cancers and pediatric diseases. The Rainbow Connection affinity group welcomes middle school students who want to relate on topics of mutual concern or have a marginalized identity.

Curriculum Details by Grade

Sixth Grade

The design of the sixth-grade curriculum facilitates each student’s integration into the middle school community. 

See Details & Requirements

Seventh Grade

Designed to meet 7th graders where they are in both their personal and academic growth.

See Details & Requirements

Eighth Grade

Designed to support and engage 8th graders as they step into leadership roles and complete their final year of Middle School.

See Details & Requirements

Sixth Grade

The design of the sixth-grade curriculum facilitates each student’s integration into the middle school community. Sixth graders start out on a path to success through Foundations, a class that helps our newest students adjust to secondary school socially, academically, and technologically.

Complementing the academic curriculum are weekly study halls staffed by middle school advisors to help ease the transition from elementary school. Students also meet weekly in advisory groups to develop social, academic and community building skills.

Requirements

Participate in the equivalent of eight courses plus Summits* and Environment**. Humanities counts as two courses and students take two Arts courses each trimester.

Summits* — an immersive, two-week long, interdisciplinary, multi-grade, deep dive into a topic, offered during the last two weeks of school. 

Environment** — Caring for our school environment for 10 minutes, 2 days per week.

  • Two Arts classes
  • Humanities (Integrates History/Social Studies with the study of English/Language Arts)
  • Foundations (includes 6 weeks of Chinese and 6 weeks of Spanish)
  • Math 6
  • Science
  • PE, Health, and Wellness

Seventh Grade

Designed to meet 7th graders where they are in both their personal and academic growth. We leverage their natural curiosity, process of identity formation, need to connect to peers and the wider community and strong sense of justice. In the classroom and larger program, we engage students in a balance of independent and collaborative work, inquiry-based thinking, and creative projects.

Requirements

Participate in the equivalent of eight courses plus Summits* and Environment**. Humanities counts as two courses and students take two Arts courses each trimester.

Summits* — an immersive, two-week long, interdisciplinary, multi-grade, deep dive into a topic, offered during the last two weeks of school. 

Environment** — Caring for our school environment for 10 minutes, 2 days per week.

  • Two Arts classes
  • Humanities (Integrates History/Social Studies with the study of English/Language Arts)
  • Mandarin or Spanish
  • Math 7 or Algebra 1
  • Science
  • PE, Health, and Wellness

Eighth Grade

Designed to support and engage 8th graders as they step into leadership roles and complete their final year of Middle School. We work with students to help them foster a deepening sense of ownership over their learning as they move toward self-advocacy. The goal is to equip them with the skills and tools needed for the challenges of 8th Grade while preparing them for the challenges of Upper School and beyond.

Requirements

Participate in the equivalent of eight courses plus Summits* and Environment**. Humanities counts as two courses and students take two Arts courses each trimester.

Summits* — an immersive, two-week long, interdisciplinary, multi-grade, deep dive into a topic, offered during the last two weeks of school. 

Environment** — Caring for our school environment for 10 minutes, 2 days per week.

  • Two Arts classes
  • Humanities (double block, integrating history and language arts)
  • Chinese or Spanish
  • Algebra 1 or Geometry
  • Science
  • PE, Health and Wellness

Middle School Course Catalog

Foundations

Grade 6

Foundations is a year-long course that prepares sixth-grade students for the academic and technological demands of middle school, and introduces them to two modern languages. Students learn study and self-regulation skills, including time management, planning, study strategies, organization, goal-setting, and metacognition. These skills are applied to their work in other courses. Students also develop proficiency with digital tools, including Northwest’s learning management system, Canvas, and a variety of project management tools, digital authoring tools, and collaborative technologies necessary for academic success across all subject areas. Over the course of the year, students also receive six weeks of instruction in Spanish and Mandarin Chinese to prepare them to select their language pathway starting in seventh grade.

Humanities

Humanities 6

This course provides an interdisciplinary exploration of literature, writing, art, history, philosophy, and geography, focusing on the human experience via themes of identity, place, and community. Each trimester, we take on one of these themes and engage in projects, reading, and writing – individually and cooperatively – to become more proficient in new skills and content. During trimester one, we focus on identity, including topics such as characterization, personal writing, the foundations of research, geography, early humans, and Mesopotamia. In trimester two, our theme is place, and we study topics including plot structure, setting, short stories, descriptive writing, conducting research, and ancient Egyptian and Mesoamerican cultures. Finally, in trimester three our theme is community, and our focus includes studies of theme and tone, expository and creative writing, using research to make claims, and ancient Greece and China. Throughout the year we will emphasize writing conventions, grammar, and punctuation. We also take every opportunity to work across disciplines with faculty in the arts. 

A major emphasis in our curriculum is reading. In addition to reading prose and poetry as a whole class, students select books for independent reading. These novels can be chosen from lists curated by our school librarian and foster our belief that students should read across a wide and diverse range of stories that both reflect their personal experiences and also offer them windows into whole new worlds. We also engage actively in building up reading practices for progressively more challenging texts, including before, during, and after reading strategies and other supportive methods.  

 In addition, students will grow in important ways beyond content learning. We will develop organizational skills, collaboration, leadership, and social/emotional learning throughout the year.

Humanities 7


Humanities 7 is a case study approach to Washington State history, geography, sociology, and literature, in the larger context of the U.S. 20th Century. Students will consider how key events and issues in Washington State have connected to, stemmed from, or influenced larger historical trends in the nation as a whole. Three essential questions weave through the units and enable building critical connections among the case studies explored: 

  • What does it mean to be American?
  • How do we and how will we live together? 
  • How do we define and protect our rights? 

In pursuit of these large, complex questions, students read a variety of texts, including primary and secondary sources, historical fiction, memoirs, essays, novels, and poetry. With an emphasis on close and critical reading, students refine their reading and annotating skills and learn how to use diverse types of evidence to support their points, whether being made in class discussions or in their writing. Students also have opportunities to write in varied genres, which include poetry and fiction as well as several essay forms. All that said, we frequently focus on sentences, considering their vast variety and the best ways to make every word matter, whether living in a phrase, clause, sentence, paragraph, or something larger. 

Throughout the school year, we focus closely on inquiry, a pursuit that often begins with shaping questions, followed by efforts to answer them. In strengthening students’ research skills, we prioritize crafting compelling and complex questions, evaluating sources, careful documentation, and engaging in this work as curious, creative, and resourceful scholars. We also focus carefully and consistently (weekly) on building students’ language repertoires and reservoirs.

Humanities 8

Global history and literature form the heart of eighth-grade Humanities, focusing on three regions of the world — West Africa, the Caribbean and South Asia — as case studies for exploring the interplay between geography, history, culture, literature and the arts. The course begins with a brief unit introduce the course’s core skills through study of a country currently on students’ minds because of recent political or world events. In recent years, for example, the introductory unit focused on Afghanistan. In each unit, we cover foundational skills for studying history and literature: Note-taking, identifying reliable sources for research, annotation, summary and synthesis, analytical reasoning, argumentative writing and creativity. The course units examine a range of artifacts from ancient and modern literature and poetry, music and art. We focus on primary sources, as well as scholarly articles, to explore historical and cultural causes and consequences that have contributed to political realities in each region. We work to hone and develop these foundational skills throughout the year centered around contexts and literatures from the countries of Nigeria, the Dominican Republic, and India.

Mathematics

Math Pathways
Math Pathways
Math 6

In Unit 1, students extend their knowledge of areas of rectangles to reason about areas of parallelograms and triangles, and to calculate surface areas. Unit 2 is students’ first formal introduction to ratios, a concept that they will revisit several times throughout the year and in later grades. Students learn several ways to represent ratios—with double number lines, tables, and tape diagrams, which they apply in Unit 3 to convert units, calculate unit rates, and solve problems with percentages. In Unit 4, students’ reason about two different strategies for dividing fractions and apply their strategies to calculate lengths, areas, and volumes. Unit 5 continues the theme of building on prior knowledge as students formalize strategies for adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing decimals. Unit 6 returns to tape diagrams and introduces hanger diagrams as strategies for solving equations. Unit 6 also includes an introduction to exponents and reasoning about equivalent equations. Negative numbers on the number line and the coordinate plane are introduced in Unit 7. The year ends with students making sense of data in Unit 8, including measures of center and spread.

Math 7

Students begin this course examining rational numbers less than zero, expanding their understanding of arithmetic using negative numbers. Students begin the study of linear equations with one and two variables, and deepen their knowledge of equivalent expressions. They build on their understanding of proportional relationships from Math 6 to study linear relationships, expressing linear relationships using equations, tables and graphs, and drawing connections across these representations. Students extend the definition of exponents to include all integers, thereby codifying the properties of exponents. They learn about orders of magnitude and scientific notation to represent and compute with very large and very small quantities.

Algebra 1

This course builds the foundation for all other Upper School math courses. Students expand their understanding of linear equations, inequalities and systems of linear equations and inequalities. They use these representations to model relationships and constraints, and also to engage in abstract reasoning using these concepts. Students write, rearrange, evaluate and solve equations and inequalities, explaining and validating their reasoning with increased precision. Students work with functions and develop their ability to represent, interpret and communicate about them, using function notation, domain and range, average rate of change and features of graphs. They also work with categories of functions, starting with linear functions (and their inverses) and piecewise-defined functions (including absolute value functions), followed by quadratic functions. For each function type, students begin their investigation with real-world and mathematical contexts, look closely at the structural attributes of the function, and analyze how these attributes are expressed in different representations. The course ends with a close look at quadratic equations. Students extend their ability to use equations to model relationships and solve problems. They develop their capacity to write, transform, graph and solve equations — by reasoning, rearranging equations into useful forms and applying the quadratic formula. In solving quadratic equations, students encounter rational and irrational solutions, deepening their understanding of the real number system.

Geometry

In Geometry, students learn to apply logic and problem-solving in both two and three dimensions, beginning with the fundamentals of geometry, such as points, lines and angles, and build on those concepts through working with congruence and similarity in polygons. Students study triangles, where they are introduced to the Pythagorean Theorem, special right triangles and right- triangle trigonometry. Logical reasoning is emphasized through justification of processes and writing proofs to defend reasoning. Students explore the properties of circles, learning to solve for area, circumference, sectors, arcs and segments. Students work with geometric concepts in coordinate planes, and compute area and volume. Throughout the year, students draw connections between Algebra 1 and Geometry.

Algebra 2

Students start out studying sequences, which also offers an opportunity to revisit linear and exponential functions. Students represent functions in a variety of ways while addressing some aspects of mathematical modeling. This leads an examination of situations that are well modeled by polynomials before pivoting to a study of the structure of polynomial graphs and expressions.

Students do arithmetic on polynomials and rational functions and use different forms to identify asymptotes and end behavior. Students also study polynomial identities and use some key identities to establish the formula for the sum of the first terms of a geometric sequence. Next, students extend exponent rules to include rational exponents. They solve equations involving square and cube roots before developing the idea of a number whose square is expanding the number system to include complex numbers. This allows them to solve quadratic equations with non-real solutions. Building on rational exponents, students return to their study of exponential functions and establish that the property of growth by equal factors over equal intervals holds even when the interval

has non-integer length. They use logarithms to solve unknown exponents and are introduced to the number and its use in modeling continuous growth. Logarithm functions and some situations they model well are also briefly addressed. Students learn to transform functions graphically and algebraically.

Prerequisite: Successful completion of Geometry.

Science

General Science 6

This course introduces students to the myriad opportunities for scientific study through thematic units around the theme of energy.

The course emphasizes scientific inquiry, engineering challenges, independent and group projects, and creative problem-solving. Students learn research and reporting skills, as well as laboratory inquiry and safety. The class challenges them to design experiments to answer their own questions about how things work.

We aim to have each student see themselves represented in a scientific field, and to imagine many STEM fields available to them.

Sample units:

  • Skills of the scientist
  • Who can be a scientist (challenging stereotypes)?
  • Work, power and simple machines
  • Engineering design
  • Coding topics
  • Energy forms and sources
  • Electricity and circuits
  • Chemistry topics and laboratory skills
Life Science 7

This survey course of the life sciences is grounded in the Next Generation Science Standards. Each unit helps students build proficiency in science and engineering practices and seeks to draw connections between science domains using cross-cutting concepts. Topics include human body systems, plant reproduction, marine ecosystems and evolutionary biology.

Earth Science 8

The course aims for students to gain a basic understanding of planet Earth’s systems and characteristics as we understand them today. Topics include the history of science, oceanography, the atmosphere, erosion and soil development, and plate tectonics. We also explore Sun, Earth and Moon relationships and how the above planetary processes show up elsewhere in the Solar System. Class discussions focus on interaction between humans and these systems. The class emphasizes hands-on activities, cooperating in group projects, lab skills development and using the scientific method. The text is Earth, What’s Inside? (published by Cengage Learning), in addition to references from past and current periodicals and other texts.

Modern Languages

Grade 6

Introduction to Chinese and Spanish Students will be introduced to Spanish and Chinese as part of the Foundations course. These courses will be six weeks long and will happen during trimester 2 and trimester 3. The goal is for students to be more intentional in choosing their language pathway starting in 7th Grade.

Grade 7

Seventh grade students have two Modern Languages to choose from.  They can study Chinese (Mandarin) or Spanish.

Chinese (Mandarin) 1A

This course is an introduction to standard Chinese (Mandarin). Students learn the Pinyin Romanization system and use acquired oral language skills in various activities and games. While our focus is primarily on oral proficiency, students learn to read and write basic Chinese characters and recognize these words in context. At the end of this course, students will reach the ACTFL Novice Mid level of oral proficiency. They will have acquired the following language skills: ask and answer basic questions, make simple self-introductions, and describe likes and dislikes. In addition, students will deliver short oral presentations in Chinese, and engage in short reading and writing activities. These skills are employed within the framework of familiar contexts such as family, leisure activities, home and school life, and Chinese food, festivals, and traditions. Films may include The Road Home (Wo de fuqin muqin) and Postmen in the Mountains (Na shan, na ren, na gou), which give insight into Chinese family life and society in rural communities. Either film will be watched with English subtitles, occasionally focusing on the Chinese dialogue for comprehension.

Spanish 1A

This course is designed for students with little or no background in Spanish and will be taught in the target language. The course focuses on teaching the 5 C goal areas of the ACTFL guidelines: Communication, Cultures, Connections, Comparisons, and Communities. Students will learn at the novice level how to talk about themselves, school and family life, numbers, the alphabet, the weather, hobbies, sharing personal information, school classes, and the diversity of people in Latin America and the Spanish-speaking world. Students engage in various listening, reading, writing, and speaking activities. At the end of this course, students will reach the ACTFL Novice Mid level of oral proficiency. They will have acquired the following language skills: ask and answer basic questions, make self-introductions, and describe likes and dislikes.

Grade 8

Chinese (Mandarin 1B) 

This course is a continuation of the 7th-grade Chinese Mandarin course. Students continue to learn and practice the Pinyin Romanization system and use acquired oral language skills through various activities and games. At the end of this course, students will reach the ACTFL Novice Mid level of oral proficiency. They will have acquired the following language skills: ask and answer basic questions, make self-introductions, and describe likes and dislikes. In addition, students will deliver several short oral presentations in Chinese and engage in reading and writing activities for this level. These skills are employed within the framework of familiar contexts such as family, leisure activities, home and school life, Chinese food, festivals, and traditions. Students will also take part in a field trip to Chinatown, where they will be able to experience the culture firsthand. By the end of the course, students will have acquired the following skills: 

  • Ask and answer basic questions. 
  • Engage in simple conversations about their pastimes, hobbies, food, and shopping. 
  • Be able to talk about their school and family life.

Spanish 1B

This course is the second half of Spanish 1 (1b). The course will be taught in the target language. The course focuses on teaching the 5 C goal areas of the ACTFL guidelines: Communication, Cultures,

Connections, Comparisons, and Communities. Students will continue reviewing and engaging in conversations about themselves and family. They will learn at the Novice Mid-High levels how to talk about pastimes and sports, make plans, travel, food, and shop. Students will continue to learn what these looks like in the Spanish-speaking world, allowing them to connect and compare their experiences. Students engage in various listening, reading, writing, and speaking activities. At the end of this course, students will reach the ACTFL Novice High level of oral proficiency. They will have acquired the following skills: asking and answering basic questions, engaging in simple conversations about their pastimes, hobbies, food, and shopping, in addition to being able to talk about their school and family life.

Physical Education

Middle School PE Curriculum

The Physical Education (PE) program offers a wide variety of individual and team sports and activities for middle school athletes of all abilities and experience levels. Some activities are offered in more than one trimester, but most classes are seasonal.

Interscholastic sports teams practice during the school day in students’ PE class. Games are played outside the school day, usually right after school; teams may play on any day of the week. In addition to skill development, PE helps students build self-confidence, develop health and wellness tools, prevent injury and cooperate with classmates and teammates. 

The Middle School offers two separate PE courses: Sixth-grade PE and a combined seventh- and eighth-grade PE class; sixth-graders play on teams only made up of sixth-graders, while team sports and variety PE classes for seventh- and eighth-graders are mixed-grade classes or teams.

Student Requirements

  • Students take physical education during all three trimesters of sixth, seventh and eighth grades.
  • In winter of sixth grade and continuing through eighth grade, all students signed up for teams are expected to play in games.
  • Students take only one PE class at a time; they can participate in either a team sports class or one of our other classes, but not both simultaneously.
Grade 6

We encourage all sixth grade students to participate in a fun and supportive “team” experience. They can choose to enroll in either cross country or soccer in the fall. If a student is uncomfortable playing in games or running in meets at the start of the school year, they can be “practice players” for the fall season. Sixth-graders play on teams only made up of sixth-graders.

Students practice during their scheduled physical education class, while games and meets generally are played on weekdays immediately after school.

Cross Country

Students have four great reasons to run cross country: To get in great shape, visit beautiful places (students run in various locations throughout Seattle), and participate in some exciting competitions (one or two 1.5-mile races each week). Students participate in a fun team with lots of camaraderie. No previous experience necessary and the team is filled with runners at every speed level. Offered in the fall.

Soccer

Students do not have to be seasoned and skilled soccer players to join a Northwest team. Beginners and club players are welcome. Students need soccer shoes, shin guards and shorts. Games take place after school. Teams may be divided into squads by skill and are set up to meet the needs of both beginners and highly experienced players. Offered in the fall.

Basketball

Northwest basketball teams play on weekday afternoons in the Crosstown Middle School League. Home games take place in the school gymnasium. Students need basketball shoes, shorts and a water bottle. Offered in the winter.

Indoor Bouldering & Rock Climbing (Non-team sport option)

Students can challenge themselves within the safe confines of the Seattle Bouldering Project. This class focuses on climbing efficiency and technique. Students work on strength, flexibility, balance, and other aspects of physical fitness essential for climbing. Students may have an option to participate in a climbing competition. No previous experience required. Offered in the winter.

Urban Hiking (Non-team sport option)

In this class, students explore anywhere we can get to by foot. Some days, that means places in nature, other days urban locations and playgrounds. Students encounter people and pets, climb stairs and cross bridges, observe art and architecture, and sometimes eat tasty treats. The only requirement is an open mind, a generous spirit with classmates and a readiness to put one foot in front of the other in pursuit of adventure. Offered in the winter (and other times of year if there is enough interest).

Track and Field

Students practice a wide range of track and field events — sprinting, distance, jumping, throwing, relays and more. The team participates in four to five meets scheduled on both weekday afternoons and Saturdays. Offered in the spring.

Ultimate Frisbee

Discover why this game has become a Northwest School obsession. At the same time, join a tradition of school excellence in the quality of play and spirit of the game. No previous disc or

ultimate experience is required, just a lot of energy and enthusiasm. Tons of running is involved, so be ready. Class times are used for skills practice and scrimmages. Games played against other teams are scheduled on weekdays. Offered in the spring.

Volleyball

Learn the skills of this fun, exciting sport! Teams practice in the school gymnasium and play games on weekdays. At this time, the Cross Town Middle School League (CTMSL) is a girls’ volleyball league. Offered at sixth-grade level in the spring.


Grades 7 and 8

Interscholastic Teams & Sports Class Offerings

The Northwest School competes with other schools’ teams in soccer, basketball, ultimate, cross country, volleyball, and track and field. Students practice during their scheduled physical education class, while games and meets generally are played on weekdays immediately after school.

Soccer Teams

Students do not have to be seasoned and skilled soccer players to join a Northwest team. Beginners and club players are welcome. Students need soccer shoes, shin guards and shorts. Games take place after school. Teams may be divided into squads by skill and are set up to meet the needs of both beginners and highly experienced players. Offered in the fall.

Cross Country Team

Students have four great reasons to run cross country: To get in great shape, visit beautiful places (students run in various locations throughout Seattle), and participate in some exciting competitions (one or two 1.5-mile races each week). Students participate in a fun team with lots of camaraderie. No previous experience necessary and the team is filled with runners at every speed level. Offered in the fall.

Basketball Teams

Northwest basketball teams play on weekday afternoons in the Crosstown Middle School League. Seventh- and eighth-grade teams are sorted by ability and commitment levels. Home games take place in the school gymnasium. Students need basketball shoes, shorts and a water bottle. Offered in the winter.

Track and Field

Students practice a wide range of track and field events — sprinting, distance, jumping, throwing, relays and more. The team participates in four to five meets scheduled on both weekday afternoons and Saturdays. Offered in the spring.

Ultimate Frisbee

Discover why this game has become a Northwest School obsession. At the same time, join a tradition of school excellence in the quality of play and spirit of the game. No previous disc or ultimate experience is required, just a lot of energy and enthusiasm. Tons of running is involved, so be ready. Class times are used for skills practice and scrimmages. Games played against other teams are scheduled on weekdays. Offered in the spring.

Volleyball Teams

Learn the skills of this fun, exciting sport! Teams practice in the school gymnasium and play games on weekdays. At this time, the Cross Town Middle School League (CTMSL) is a girls’ volleyball league. Offered at D1 level in the fall and D2 level in the spring.

Additional Middle School PE Course Offerings

Each year, we offer an array of PE classes not based on team sports. We offer classes each year based on student interest, teacher interest and experience, and facility availability and will likely be similar to these options:

Lifetime Sports and Movement

A combined seventh- and eighth-grade variety class that engages students in a number of athletic activities and promotes accessible fitness to students with a wide range of abilities and experience. These activities may include racquet sports (such as pickle ball or tennis), boxing and bowling. This course is typically offered in the fall and winter.

Yoga and Fitness

A combined seventh- and eighth-grade variety class that introduces students to the physical and mental benefits of yoga, as well as offering a variety of fitness activities in the school’s Fitness Mezzanine. Offered in the winter.

Indoor Bouldering & Rock Climbing

Students can challenge themselves within the safe confines of the Seattle Bouldering Project. This class focuses on climbing efficiency and technique. Students work on strength, flexibility, balance, and other aspects of physical fitness essential for climbing. Students may have an option to participate in a climbing competition. No previous experience required. Offered in the winter.

Urban Hiking

In this class, students explore anywhere we can get to by foot. Some days, that means places in nature, other days urban locations and playgrounds. Students encounter people and pets, climb stairs and cross bridges, observe art and architecture, and sometimes eat tasty treats. The only requirement is an open mind, a generous spirit with classmates and a readiness to put one foot in front of the other in pursuit of adventure. Offered in the winter (and other times of year if there is enough interest).

Performing and Visual Arts

Grade 6

DANCE

Jump Into Dance

In this class, students JUMP into learning about the foundations of movement and the creative process! Students explore and apply new movement principles such as space, time, energy and flow, through creative play that plants the seeds of their artistic voices!  This course is offered in each trimester and is required for all 6th grade students.  


MUSIC

Intro Band

Sixth-graders with limited or no prior experience can choose their instruments from flute, clarinet, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, trumpet, trombone, baritone or percussion (drums AND mallet instruments).  

Middle School Intro to Orchestra

The Middle School Intro to String Orchestra class offers sixth grade students’ instruction on violin, viola, cello, and string bass instruments, with a focus on the skills they need for long-term success. The course stresses musical fundamentals, such as proper posture and playing position, development of characteristic tone quality and training in music literacy. This class is ideal for students who were unable or only partially able to participate in an instrumental music class at a previous school. The Intro to String Orchestra class may also be ideal for those sixth graders with experience who may need a review and reinforcement of music reading, playing fundamentals and technique that are vital for lasting musical development. Students of any grade level are welcome. No audition is required for placement in the Introductory Strings; all that is necessary is the desire and motivation to study a musical instrument!  Prerequisite: None; beginners welcome!

Middle School Show Choirs

Non-Audition Middle School Choir

The Middle School Choir/Show Choir is a non-auditioned group in Trimester 1 (students joining the choir in Trimester 2 or 3 must audition). Students perform selections ranging from popular songs from television and movies, radio, etc., in addition to choral repertoire in various styles and languages. Trimester 1 focuses on building a foundation of musical terms, solfège, and rhythms. We encourage singers of all abilities in grades 6-8 to join this choir to explore choral music!

Middle School Show Choir

This advanced course promotes singing in a collaborative group. The class emphasizes teamwork, engaged participation and positive attitude, in addition to learning proper vocal technique. The choir will sing songs from a wide variety of styles, eras, and cultures, focusing on singing in two- and three-part music. This choir perform one to two times each trimester. Trimesters 2 and 3 center on more in-depth choral music learning with concentration on singing, choreography, and performance. Students perform in school concerts, with the possibility of travel to festivals or other events. Prerequisite: Successful completion of Trimester 1 Middle School Choir, or by audition and teacher approval.


THEATRE ARTS

Intro to Theatre

This class explores foundations of the art of theatre through creative drama, improvisation, and other interdisciplinary arts activities. Students learn to use their “theatre voice” to express aspects of their identity and their community.


VISUAL ARTS

Introduction to Visual Art

This is a class designed for all sixth-graders to learn the foundations of the Visual Arts program at The Northwest School. A variety of projects introduce students to the elements of art (line, color, texture, shape, form). This course pushes students to explore and develop ideas, and express themselves through drawing, painting, sculpture, collaging, photography, digital drawing and more. Sixth-graders complete daily drawing assignments in sketchbooks, learn new vocabulary and examine contemporary and historically relevant artists. The course culminates with a large group project. 

Grades 7 & 8

DANCE

Middle School Dance Ensemble

This two-trimester course emphasizes performance and community leadership. The course is designed to strengthen each participant’s dance and movement technique, choreographic skills, and artistry, and also building collaboration and ensemble skills while exploring a variety of contemporary movement forms. Strong commitment and dedication to the creative process are essential for this class. This is a great class for students who want to deepen their commitment to dance. No prerequisite.

Authentic Jazz

Jazz dance includes influences from African and Latin dances as well as Swing and even ballet. In this course students learn the history of Jazz dance from its roots in African-American social dance to the Lindy Hop and theater dance. Students learn upbeat and energetic dances, such as the Shim Sham and the Charleston, as well as classic moves like Apple Jacks, Mess Around and Tacky Annie. Students also learn choreography so they can create their own dances as well. Dancer’s work as an ensemble and perform for the community.

Dance for Musical Theater

The dance scenes in a play or movie advance the plot, bring a period to life or reveal a character. In this class, students learn dances from various musicals that illustrate each of these purposes. Students also create some choreography of their own and perform for the community. Excellent training for actors.No prerequisite.

Commercial Dance

Commercial dance is associated with show business and pop culture. Commercial dance is about entertaining audiences and telling stories. This includes dances for television, commercials, music videos, movies, popular dance trends and more; this style requires versatility. Students learn dances with movements from Jazz, Modern, Hip Hop and Funk styles. They dive in and explore quick, sharp isolations and syncopated rhythms. they create long lines and crisp shapes with their bodies, as well as leaps, jumps and turns. Dancer’s work as an ensemble and perform for the community.


MUSIC

Middle School Band

Intermediate band is for seventh- and eighth-grade students with at least one year of experience. Intro Band students move into this band in Trimester 3. Instrument options include flute, clarinet, bass clarinet, oboe, bassoon, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone, trumpet, French horn, trombone, baritone, tuba or percussion.

Prerequisite: At least one year of experience.

Middle School Show Choir

Non-Audition Middle School Choir / Show Choir

The Middle School Choir/Show Choir is a non-auditioned group in Trimester 1 (students joining the choir in Trimester 2 or 3 must audition). Students perform selections ranging from popular songs from television and movies, radio, etc., in addition to choral repertoire in various styles and languages. Trimester 1 focuses on building a foundation of musical terms, solfège, and rhythms. We encourage singers of all abilities in grades 6-8 to join this choir to explore choral music!

Middle School Show Choir

This advanced course promotes singing in a collaborative group. The class emphasizes teamwork, engaged participation and positive attitude, in addition to learning proper vocal technique. The choir will sing songs from a wide variety of styles, eras, and cultures, focusing on singing in two- and three-part music. This choir perform one to two times each trimester. Trimesters 2 and 3 center on more in-depth choral music learning with concentration on singing, choreography, and performance. Students perform in school concerts, with the possibility of travel to festivals or other events.

Prerequisite: Successful completion of Trimester 1 Middle School Choir, or by audition and teacher approval.

Middle School Orchestra

This course is for seventh and eighth grade students who already understand basic music reading, instrument assembly and maintenance, correct playing position and sound tone production. Instruction centers on the refinement of tone quality, technique, aural skills and music literacy. Placement in the Middle School String Orchestra is by audition that includes the following requirements:

Prerequisite: Completion of Intro to string Orchestra OR by audition.

Audition for MS Orchestra:

  1. Prepare a 1 to 3 octave scale.
  2. Prepare a musical selection. Or
  3. An excerpt from an orchestral piece


THEATRE

Middle School Theatre Production

This full-year course aims to strengthen students’ theatrical and acting techniques while building an ensemble and a sense of community through live performance. Students audition, rehearse and work toward staging performances of full-length plays and musicals. The performances reflect Applied Theatre pedagogy, with a strong concentration in critical thinking, student-centered dialogue and social justice issues that matter most to students. This class partners with the Middle School Stagecraft and Technology course to create full and innovative productions. We empower theatre students to inspire positive change and transformation of the world in which they want to be active participants.

Prerequisite: Successful audition or approval of theatre director.

Middle School Theatre Collective

Ancestral Storytelling

Ancestral Storytelling offers fun as a vital part of how students can locate their own identities through activities based on Theatre of the Oppressed. Students collaborate on creating short scenes and monologues to create a sense of belonging by examining how our personal connections, communities and values influence our relationships to our origins, and who we'd like to become in the future.

Suzuki and Viewpoints

Suzuki and Viewpoints presents an active exploration of the physical aspects of theatre related to time, space and kinesthetic awareness, as well as response to surrounding environments. Suzuki is a Japanese movement technique that strengthens an actor’s will and brings out each student's unique personality and stage presence. The experience can help students succeed at whatever challenges they may face in the world.

Young Playwrights Program

The Young Playwrights Program explores the fundamentals of writing for the stage. In this class, students collaborate in small groups and learn how to write original scripts, then the plays are performed by the opposite groups. The course is a wonderful way for students to find their own voice.

Middle School Stage Design & Technology

Middle School Stage Design & Technology introduces students to theatrical engineering and technology working together to produce events in the theater and around the school. This is a hands-on, project-based course open to all seventh and eighth graders interested in technology, carpentry, drafting and engineering, costuming, design, art, architecture, electronics and more. Some after-school, evening and weekend availability is required, depending on event schedules. Prerequisite: Completion of Middle School Theatre Production/Intro to Theatre or teacher approval.


VISUAL ARTS

Ancient Egyptian Art

Learn about art from Egypt, three thousand years ago, in the time of the pharaohs.  Learn to write words hieroglyphs, the letter-symbols of the pharaohs. Make a paper-mâché sculpture of your personal shawabti, a servant in the afterlife. Create art inspired by tomb paintings of food the Pharaohs ate. Learn about the ancient goddess of cats. Look at lots of examples of paintings, sculptures, architecture and writing of ancient Egypt. Practice techniques for using a variety of materials, including acrylic paint, paper-mâché, fibers, colored pencils and oil pastels.

Art of the Portrait

This class explores various ways to create portraits of people. Students learn techniques for drawing and painting images of human faces, as well as exploring the visual concepts and designs of faces using wire work, paper-cutting, collage, painting and sculpture. The class also moves beyond just humans, as students create a pet portrait. Students study techniques for drawing realistic and abstract faces, drawing from examples of portraits from many times and places. 

Book Art: Making Comics

Learn how to write, illustrate, and appreciate comics. This course explores how to craft a comic story and how to create interesting and engaging characters. Students explore facial expressions, speech bubbles, character design, action, sound effects, panel layout, and writing stories. Students create characters and write an original comic book, while learning how to tell a story that takes readers on a journey using sequential panels of artwork. By the end of the trimester, students have better developed their creativity, imagination, communication skills, and drawing skills. Students can work on paper and using Procreate software on iPad Pros in class. No experience necessary!  

Calligraphy

This class explores art projects and ideas about creating art with writing and letters. Students learn how to write with traditional Celtic and Gothic scripts using a special calligraphy pen. Other projects include a decorative “illuminated” letter, a letter sculpture, and a geometric pattern sculpture created with letters. Students also learn how to draw letters using one-point perspective. They will work with watercolor and acrylic paints, wire, cardboard, calligraphy pens, markers and pastels. For inspiration, the class looks at examples of both modern and traditional calligraphy from around the world.

Middle School Ceramics
This exciting and challenging hands-on ceramics course introduces students to the basics of ceramics and pottery. No experience is required, and students may take ceramics more than once in middle school. With each class, students embark on new, creative, diverse projects encouraging them to control the direction of their work. Students learn to employ the elements and principles of art and design as they create and explore the vast world of art. The course experiments with both ceramic sculpture and functional pottery (like cups, vases and bowls). The class offers more than 40 mesmerizing colors to glaze students’ masterpieces. Occasionally, students can integrate new materials into their artwork, including a bit of metal, wire and melted glass. Clay used in class easily washes off and doesn’t stain clothes. Students can keep whatever art they create or give it as gifts. Let’s get started and make our ceramic dreams come true!

Exploring Collage

This middle school class is being offered for the first time in 2023-24. Students learn about multiple forms of collage, “the assemblage of different forms to create a new whole.” Students explore the histories of collage and create experimental collage artwork. Students create exercises and projects featuring mixed media on paper, sound art, digital art, video and stop-motion animation. Students investigate how concepts of line, shape, form, value, space and texture apply to collage, as well as how artists use these concepts to tell original, multi-layered stories through their artwork. Students create all their work in the Sprinkler Lab, using a combination of both physical and digital art studio materials. In this course, students can use Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Rush, GarageBand, and Procreate software. No experience necessary!  

Map as Art

This class explores maps as inspiration for students’ artwork. Students create map-related artwork about actual and imagined places, as well as mapping processes and ideas. For example, how would someone paint a map of a great baseball swing or a delicious dessert? Students create sculptures, drawings, prints and paintings that incorporate map-making. Students learn and practice techniques for design, drawing, acrylic paint, watercolor paint, printmaking and embroidery. They examine contemporary and historic maps, as well as work by contemporary artists who incorporate maps into their art, such as Maya Lin and Shantell Martin. 

Photography and Cinematography

Students learn essential skills to compose and edit digital photographs and videos. In the first half of the trimester, students create a photography portfolio consisting of portraits, landscapes, interiors and abstract compositions. Students can photograph on location in the school and on short walks in the adjacent neighborhood. In the second half of the trimester, students create an original short film that builds on the ideas explored in their photography portfolios. Students learn to manage digital files and can use use Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Premiere Rush in the Sprinkler lab. No experience necessary! This class is perfect for new photo and video artists and more experienced students who want to take their photo and video skills to the next level.

Middle School Sculpture

This class focuses on constructing three-dimensional art forms from a variety of materials. Students explore and design strategies for building and combining shapes and structures that stand up and balance. Projects include a human figure sculpture, a wire sculpture, a geometric wood sculpture, a paper-mâché sculpture, and a cardboard automata machine sculpture. Students also work with plaster wrap, cardboard, paper, wire, wood sticks and acrylic paint. For inspiration, students examine pictures and learn about sculptures from different artists, cultures and time periods.