Middle School Academics
The Middle School curriculum is specifically designed to meet the unique developmental needs of early adolescents. It develops rigorous thinking, promotes a love of learning, facilitates careful identity formation, and nurtures self-confidence. As students take responsible risks in their work and as they grow in their knowledge and skills, they emerge from our program as self confident, articulate young people with a clear sense of purpose. In preparation for a rapidly changing society, the program is designed to develop resiliency and a keen awareness of the obligation to repair the world (tikkun olam). Supporting the growing cognitive needs of Middle School students, the curriculum addresses the diversity and individuality of learners.
Wornick graduates stand-out in their genuine interest and discipline towards learning in comparison to other schools’ graduates. - Lillian Howard, Head of School, Kehillah Jewish High School
Middle School students, under the guidance of a faculty advisor, meet to discuss various topics related to their social and emotional development. Advisories are conducted using the guidelines of democratic process, consensus building and inclusion. The three year advisory curricula covers study skills, communication techniques, social skills, health related topics and identity formation questions. Advisors meet individually with students as needed throughout the year and weekly in an advisory class.
Tefillah, Ruach and Student Activities
The Middle School day begins with homeroom and a morning service. This commitment to these routines provides students with the important skills of preparing and pausing in an introspective way to enter a busy and challenging day of learning. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, students have the choice to attend a traditional morning service, or a class on tefillah. On Mondays and Thursdays, middle school students lead the school wide services. On Thursday morning, middle school students participate in the Torah reading service. Through song, community-building events such as outdoor educational trips and team building events, the Middle School students develop a community spirit. From sixth through eighth grade, the students participate in service learning, memorial services, community choral events and festivals.
Middle School student activities include their own Student Council and leadership development opportunities. Additionally, Middle School students are our peacemakers for the Wornick school wide conflict resolution program. While all Wornick students receive training in peacemaking, our eighth graders receive specialized instruction in mediation. Eighth graders can apply to become the peacemakers that help our younger students resolve conflicts.
Thematic study of tikkun olam (social action), Tzedakah (righteousness), and Gemilut Hassadim (deeds of loving kindness), culminate in various service learning opportunities that are integrated throughout the curriculum. In Sixth grade, students focus on the school and local communities. In Seventh grade in an integration of social studies, technology, language arts and Judaic Studies, students organize and implement a major Tzedakah Project, which the school community is invited to view. Eighth grade students engage in social and civic activism as part of their study of the US Government and Israel.
Students at Wornick Jewish Day School experience Israel as an integrated part of the entire curriculum - general studies as well as Judaic Studies. At every grade level, there are units that incorporate some aspect of Israeli history, geography, and culture in the curriculum. Our school maintains a partnership with the Reali School in Haifa. Throughout the year, there are teacher and student exchanges between Wornick JDS and Reali. Building a foundation for the students to make connections with the people of Israel, from occasional speakers to multimedia interactions with students in Israel, the school is committed to developing a connection with the land as well as the culture. The 8th grade Israel journey deepens the students’ relationship with Israel as they visit our sister school and spend time interacting with their counterparts in Israel.
The Middle School language arts curriculum includes literature study, writing mechanics and rhetoric. It incorporates a rich variety of genres, including memoirs, poetry, novels, plays, essays, speeches and short stories. The literature program includes reading comprehension, text analysis, vocabulary development, oral discussion and sharing the joy of reading.
Students learn the mechanics and structure of sentence and paragraph writing and literary devices. Writing activities, through examples, practice, proofreading, editing, and publishing, allow students to develop specific skills and standards that are required by the California Standards. Student assignments focus on expository, narrative and persuasive writing. Conventions of writing on a computer (as well as computer etiquette) are stressed across subject areas, and include organizational skills so that students learn how to create and maintain their own work files. The Middle School language arts teacher works closely with other middle school teachers to facilitate student work on papers and presentations that span all fields of study from Judaic Studies to Science.
The dominant goal of Middle School social studies is to teach students the disciplinary underpinnings of history such that they appreciate the social construction of history. Students learn about evidentiary warrants for historical claims, and they learn about the role of assumptions and the strength of different evidence in developing historical arguments. These goals are met through the study of Ancient Civilizations, World History and Religions as well as History of the United States and current events. The students build an understanding of the diversity of our world through their studies of the ancient and non-Western civilizations, including the fall of the Roman Empire, the birth of Christianity, the growth of Islam through its golden age in Spain. Students develop a sense of historical perspective and vocabulary and are encouraged to interpret and synthesize ideas by means of essay writing and oral reports.
Continuing the lower school emphasis on mathematical understanding, the Middle School mathematics program takes students through pre-Algebra and Algebra I. Students who achieve mastery in Algebra continue through Geometry. Middle School pre-Algebra and Algebra courses provide students with a strong foundation that ready their skills for continued pursuit of higher levels of mathematics and science in High School.
The Middle School Math curriculum is infused with enriching activities and is supplemented by activities that encourage and promote higher order thinking and critical problem solving. Learning takes place through a combination of class work, homework, and special projects. Wherever appropriate, math concepts are reinforced in science and social studies projects. Instruction stimulates learning and thinking, and encourages students to use higher cognitive levels of abstract analysis and evaluation.
Under the direction of dedicated Middle School Science teachers, our science curriculum is characterized by the integration of environmental, earth/space science, life science, and physical science at each grade level, much as these sciences are integrated in the real world. Science instruction includes elements of earth and environmental education, including participation in overnight field trips that are science-based. Structures, forces, and the history of bridges are examined. The unit on plate tectonics utilizes many resources and experiments that give students a deeper understanding of geologic events. Classification of living beings is followed by a study of cell biology and genetics. Heat and thermal energy, laws of motion, structure of matter, chemical reactions and density and buoyancy are taught as well. Studies are largely lab-based, emphasizing the scientific processes of investigation and experimentation.
The Middle School Hebrew program meets students where they are in their language proficiency and challenges to move ahead. Students are placed in a particular level based on assessments. There is an ulpan level for students who are novice Hebrew students, there is a native language track and there are grade level tracks as well. The overall goal is for students to develop various levels of Hebrew language proficiency as well as cultural understandings through reading, conversation, music, art and writing. The grade level classes use the NETA program. In this program there is an emphasis on the spoken, functional language of Hebrew. Class activities include projects, games, dialogues and songs that are representative of Israeli culture.
Techniques for beginning levels include learning Hebrew using TPR - Total Physical Response. Students begin in a receptive mode and eventually develop the ability to express themselves in Hebrew using simple phrases. The beginning Hebrew curriculum covers basic grammar, verbs and vocabulary as well as elementary writing skills, allowing the students to read, write and comprehend simple Hebrew stories.
Judaic Studies includes the study of classical and modern Jewish texts, Jewish thought and Jewish social studies. Through thematic units (with themes such as identity, justice, individual in society), students engage in close study of texts that speak to these issues. The discussion moves from the literal to analytic understanding of particular texts through the ages. As students uncover these texts and begin to make meaning out of them, they also learn that texts are situated in particular social-historical contexts. This understanding forms the basis of their understanding of Jewish social studies. In addition to the information and skills the students acquire, they develop a sophisticated appreciation of Jewish history and thought. They also learn skills of close textual analysis that parallel the skills learned in English and Social Studies. Teachers make connections to Middle School social studies units on the ancient world, the Golden Age of Spain, emigration to America and the rise of modern Judaism and the State of Israel.
Seventh grade students participate in a year-long youth philanthropy project - the Tzedakah project. This is an integrated project-based program with Judaic Studies, English, Social Studies and Technology teachers all responsible for different aspects of the program.
Each Middle School student is provided with a laptop, which is used at school and home for educational purposes. Middle School Technology courses develop and enhance general and specific skills related to technology usage. Included in the technology curricula are basic computer operation and care, word processing and typing, spreadsheets, presentation materials, web authoring, multimedia - including filmmaking and digital music, and effective, efficient and safe Internet usage. Students also learn about the responsible use of technology as they study the ethics of a digital world.
Expression through visual arts and drama are integral to the project based focus of the Wornick Jewish Day School middle school philosophy. Students study the art and music in their three day elective classes. Culminating projects in various subjects often integrate arts skills. Curriculum includes Art in Action, photography and expressive arts activities developed by artists and presented by visiting artists and teachers. Each year students visit various museum exhibits and attend local theater productions.
Middle School students choose from various electives during the school year. Electives are exploratory in nature and provide an opportunity for students to make choices. Elective choices are varied and include Spanish, newspaper, geocaching, painting, ceramics, digital music, studio music, yearbook, and advanced technology.
Students learn how to build a healthy life, what it means to take personal responsibility as well as how to respect their own health and others. Students develop an understanding of human growth and development as well as basic knowledge of communicable and chronic diseases, environmental health, nutrition, injury prevention and safety and the damaging effects of substance abuse. Students also participate each year in a class on sexuality taught by a leading educator in the Bay area. Parents participate in a workshop on this topic as well. Parents are partners in the health education program through classes and media that will be disseminated as the students study each topic.
Physical Education and Athletics
Led by our Director of Athletics, the Wornick Jewish Day School Physical Education and Athletics programs complement each other in developing the skills necessary to lead a physically fit life as well as providing opportunities for students to participate in team sports. In addition to skills acquisition, the school instills in students a strong sense of excellent sportsmanship. The school is a member of the Small School Intermediate League (SSIL) and participates in various sports throughout the year, including volleyball, basketball, flag football, tennis, soccer, cross-country and golf. Students compete in SSIL track meets, and tennis tournaments. Outdoor recreational opportunities include a ga-ga pit, basketball, and a turf playing field. We utilize the indoor basketball courts at the PJCC and the Foster City tennis courts.