7th Grade Academics

 

"Waldorf teaches us the basic skills, everything that we need from math to artistic abilities. Waldorf is different from other schools, because it teaches each student how to think problems through for them self, whether in academic or social life."
- 7th Grader

In the seventh grade students begin to focus on the path of discovery through outer explorations of world history and geography, a look inward through physiology, and a greater self- reflection of their own inner world. The creative writing block, for example, encourages students to look inward and work with the concepts of "Wish, Wonder, and Surprise". First the children are asked to explore, in depth, the different qualities of these three states of being. They are asked to create poems, short stories, plays, etc. using wish, wonder, and surprise as the basis for their work. Often, a seventh grade produces a journal featuring the writings from the class.

This inner awakening is mirrored in the History curriculum where the theme for the year is the Renaissance. Students study the Age of Exploration, the Italian Renaissance, inventions, discoveries in astronomy, and the Reformation. The history of this period is taught primarily through the biographies of famous individuals."x". There are many options for studying this Age of Exploration. Typically, teachers begin with the adventures of Marco Polo, continue with Prince Henry and the Portuguese explorers, move on to the great "discovery" of Columbus, and conclude with Magellan's circumnavigation of the world. The Italian artists; Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael are studied. Often Lorenzo de Medici and other political figures of the time are included. Ptolemy's geocentric view of the universe is contrasted with the discoveries of Copernicus, Tycho Brahe, Kepler and Galileo. The impact of Johannes Gutenberg's invention of the printing press is also studied. As the authority of the Church is challenged, the biography of Martin Luther becomes a study topic. In addition to those already mentioned, there are numerous other inspiring personalities of this period that may be selected by the teacher. Overall the children get a sense for the awakening of the consciousness of mankind in all areas of life..

The study of Geography is often interwoven with this Age of Discovery, focusing on the people, the land and how the land and climate shaped the culture of the inhabitants of the area. Following the paths of the great European explorers, it is common for the class to study South America and/or Africa. The children are able to learn about how perceptions of the world shifted with the discoveries by each explorer.

In math, an introduction to the unknown continues with an introduction to the beginnings of Algebra. The rules for positive and negative integers, solving simple equations for "x," learning the order of operations and working with ratios are some of the new skills that are discovered while practice and strengthening of arithmetic processes continues as well. Another focus is how to combine numbers on each side of an equation and then how to exchange information from one side to the other while maintaining the balance and truthfulness of the equation. The teacher will determine how far to proceed based on the capacity of the students. The study of various mathematicians helps to weave an historical context throughout the curriculum.

In Geometry, students continue with what was learned in the sixth grade and are given more complex geometric constructions and proofs. They learn to measure the area of a circle and to construct a three dimensional triangle, square, rectangle, and a pentagon.

In seventh grade science, students study human physiology, chemistry and physics. In physiology, topics covered include the respiratory, circulatory, digestive systems. The eye and ear may also be included. Bringing in poetry and artwork the teacher strives to balance the scientific detail with artistic offerings. The information presented during the physiology block provides the framework for many discussions on topics such as nutrition, disease, limits and boundaries, substance abuse, diet, exercise and basic hygiene.

For the chemistry curriculum the teacher may chose from the following topics: the study of combustion, acids and bases, and the limestone cycle as well as alkaloids and metals. The children delight in the first presentations on combustible materials as the teacher burns various materials while the children record the results. The children are taught to make accurate observations before drawing their conclusion regarding a demonstration. Worldly examples and historical context are given for each demonstration.

The physics curriculum in the seventh grade begins with a focus on basic mechanics and the six basic machines. The study of light, sound, magnetism and warmth is continued in a more sophisticated manner as are the study of optics, acoustics, electromagnetism, and thermodynamics. The children may work with reflections and learn to make a simple pinhole camera. They study the properties of frequency, amplitude, wavelength, resonance and the overtone series. Among other projects they learn to make a primitive battery and to construct a simple motor. The seventh grade play is usually a major production. The class teacher acts as the director and production manager. The specialty teachers along with parent volunteers rehearse the children, create and select costumes, build scenery, and do anything else that needs to be done to make the play a success for the children.