Middle School Humanities, Languages and Library
Students' experiences in humanities and languages courses, and through our library program help them become strong communicators and thoughtful citizens of the world.
Communication skills – reading, writing, speaking and listening – are important for students to continue to develop as they move through school. Growth in these skills serve students well in school and in life. Students' experience in humanities and languages courses, as well as our library program, help them become thoughtful citizens of the world.
English and social studies are taught together as humanities. This allows students to draw connections between the two closely linked subjects. The course covers a range of traditional topics including poetry, book studies, the environment and current events.
Students continue to develop key academic skills, including writing, reading and presenting, but from a broadening perspective. This includes understanding and practising such skills as peer editing, critical analysis, and public speaking. These skills are developed through a variety of engaging activities that help students expand their knowledge of language, composition and communication.
English-speaking areas of study include collaborative writing, book talks, a Poetry Café, speech-writing and delivery, debating, interviewing and more.
The social studies component of the humanities course encourages students to develop as thoughtful, responsible and active citizens who consider multiple perspectives and make reasoned judgments. The more our students learn about humanity and their world, the more they discover about themselves.
Social studies-specific areas of study include city planning, politics, law, the United Nations, evolution, Ancient Greece and more.
At SMUS, languages are important and not just to become multilingual. There are many benefits in cultural awareness and having a global outlook. Languages also help develop confidence as our students are often asked to put their language skills into practice.
In addition to Humanities, Middle School students take two language courses each year. All students take French. All Grade 6 students take Mandarin. In Grades 7 and 8, students get a choice between Mandarin, communication skills and computer science.
French is a required course for all Middle School students. Using story, theatre and music, students continue to build their French speaking, listening, reading and writing skills. Stories fuel a range of activities that push students to higher levels of oral and written fluency. Students retain French vocabulary and pronunciation by learning to speak about a wide variety of topics.
Students learn to use simplified characters and Hanyu Pinyin (phonetic system), which is used by the majority of Chinese speakers. As they continue, they learn to communicate in Mandarin. Classes incorporate character and vocabulary building, sentence construction, written work, cultural insights and more. Mandarin is required in Grade 6 and is an elective for students in Grades 7 and 8.
Communication Skills (elective)
The communication skills course helps students explore their speaking and listening skills with focus and intent. Students gain a solid understanding of the principles of debate, discussion, performance and problem solving. Topics explored include debating, public speaking, media skills, mock legal issues, drama and recitation. Communication skills is an elective for students in Grades 7 and 8.
Tied closely to our Humanities and Languages courses is our focus on continuing to develop literacy skills and a love for reading through the Middle School library. Students have designated time in their schedule to visit the warm and welcoming library. Our teacher-librarian helps students find books that both interest and challenge them. The teacher-librarian also teaches information literacy lessons to help students develop skills to navigate online media and assess its credibility, reliability and accuracy.
The Middle School library is home to a variety of fun activities and clubs focused on instilling a love for reading, such as book talks, trivia games, Book Lovers' Club and more.
Our teacher-librarian works with classroom teachers to engage students in information literacy, writing and reading activities. Whether students are in the classroom or the library, they are enveloped in a community with a deep love of literature.