Academics: Middle School
Sixth, seventh and eighth grades constitute the Middle School grades.
Our middle school program takes place at our Upper School campus on City Avenue, within walking distance of the Lower School. With its spacious rooms and abundance of light, the modern facility is an inviting place for students in grades six through eight to learn, to study, and to enjoy the camaraderie of friends and faculty.
Our Middle School students follow a rigorous program taught in both English and French. Half of their classes are taught in French and the other in English. Language Arts, Math, Social Studies and Technology are taught in both languages. Science and Physical Education are taught in English and Art in French. Music is taught in both languages. In keeping with our goal of maintaining a balanced program, all opportunities for reinforcing a theme across curriculum areas are utilized. Spanish and Latin are introduced in sixth grade and continue through eighth. As with the Lower School, the academic program meets the requirements of both the French and American accrediting systems. American and French standardized tests are administered annually at specified grade levels.
Beginning in sixth grade, the academic program is departmentalized, with teachers assigned to specific subjects while students rotate among them throughout the day. Because the schedule is such an integral part of their daily routine, the students quickly become accustomed to managing their time and organizing themselves for class. The school day begins at 8:15 a.m. and ends at 3:15 p.m. A fifteen-minute homeroom or advisory period occurs daily, and the 45-minute lunch break begins at 11:30 a.m. Our students' weekly schedules include the following subjects:
Novels, poetry, short stories, and literature-based materials are used to teach Language Arts in both languages. A systematic approach is used to ensure that all grammar, spelling, vocabulary, and conjugation concepts are introduced and reviewed. Creative writing and expository writing are widely used tools for reinforcing and refining these skills.
Mathematics concepts are taught primarily in French and vocabulary is reinforced in English. Measurement, time and money are taught in both languages. The French Mathematics curriculum includes the study of geometry, numeration (decimals, fractions, negative numbers, equations) and application of mathematical data (percentages and statistics.)
*Pre-Algebra is taught in grade 7 and Algebra 1 follows in grade 8. They are both taught in English, to prepare students for continuation in American High School mathematics.
French Social Studies
In History, the major themes include the study of ancient civilizations from a political, geographical and cultural point of view, the Middle Ages, the Classical Age and the study of France from the XVIIth Century to 1914. In Geography, the students study the concepts of population, climates and typography of the world, with specific examples in Africa, Asia and America and the geography of Europe and France.
English Social Studies
Our major themes include ancient civilizations, forms of government, and U.S. history from 1930 to the present. The program is presented through the historical novels studied in Literature and weekly essay topics pertaining to current events or historical themes.
In grades six through eight, our English support teachers prepare our beginning students for their regular English class during small group discussion, focusing at the same time on form and content. They teach them basic vocabulary and sentence structure and prepare them for understanding the subject matter studied in their regular class. To achieve this goal, our American classroom teachers and English support teachers communicate on a regular basis and work together to coordinate their respective programs.
Science is taught in English. Our science program combines all the elements of the official French curriculum and the standards of the Pennsylvania Department of Education. The concepts presented in class cover the Physical, Life and Earth sciences. Students conduct experiments using the scientific method in a state-of-the-art lab and perform scientific background research on their laptops. Each year, they participate in the Montgomery County Science Fair and the annual the French International School of Philadelphia Science Fair.
All Middle School students are enrolled in Spanish classes, in which they learn to speak, read and write through Spanish literature. Their exposure to authentic cultural experiences of many Spanish speaking countries further develops their understanding of the language.
All Middle School students are enrolled in Latin class, which is based on the study of classical texts. The history of Rome and its civilization are explored to deepen the students' understanding of classical languages.
Classes are held in the art studio. The goal of this class is for art to be appreciated for its intrinsic value and in the context in which it was created. The class includes the study of major artists and artistic movements. Students are expected to learn to express themselves and to gain confidence in their artistic abilities through drawing, painting, sculpture and other techniques.
At the Middle School level, music is taught in both languages. Students explore the world of music through listening, singing, choral singing, rhythmic chant, creative movement and discussion. They build their musical skills, which they use in musical and creative performances throughout the year. Two bilingual musical shows are produced each year.
Students participate three times per week in a variety of activities, which include team games and individual challenges. Each student is invited to be a member of the soccer team in the fall, basketball team in the winter, and swim team in the spring. All teams compete locally.
Our Upper School campus is equipped with networked laptop computers for each student and interactive "Smartboards". Students utilize the laptops to do research, create spreadsheets, word process, and read about current events. Coding is taight at all levels.
Activities fostering social development are emphasized in the middle school. Our students meet twice a week and participate in discussions and collective projects, focused on issues that are specific to teenagers. This allows our students to learn how to position themselves within their peer group, interact with adults and relate to the outside world.
Middle school students participate in community projects through our annual Martin Luther King Day of Service. Their responsibilities fall into these three main categories: service to the school community, service to the larger community and being role models to the younger students at the French International School of Philadelphia.
Each Middle School student receives a student handbook describing what is expected of a French International School student. The handbook lets students know they can expect increased accountability for schoolwork and homework assignments and that the school will communicate regularly with their parents to track their progress. Faculty members will provide the necessary support to ensure that students are maintaining good examples of responsible behavior and leadership for others to follow. A handbook is also published for parents.
Preparation for High School
In the fall of each year, an overview of the International Baccalaureate program is presented to our students. In addition, French International School alumni come back to share their high school experiences. To help students begin to focus on future career choices, the French International School organizes a Career Day, when people (often parents) talk about their professional work experiences.