Core Subjects

Students learn to collaborate and communicate through project-based learning

Middle School is a formative time in a student's learning experience. We help them focus their interests by exposing them to a variety of subjects and activities. With a strong focus on project-based learning, we use a rigorous inquiry-based learning style where the focus is to go in-depth and give opportunities to be creative and use that knowledge. Project-based learning gives students a real-life problem to solve and often brings in experts from the community to act as consultants. It’s meaningful work where students can see how what they're learning can solve real-world problems.

In addition to the required core subjects detailed below, students further choose elective subjects to deepen their learning.

Subjects

Humanities (English and Social Studies)

English and Social Studies are taught together so students can draw connections between the two subjects. The course covers a broad range of both English and Social Studies topics that include poetry, book studies, the environment and current events. In Grade 8, for example, students choose a social injustice issue to research. They then create action plans, shoot videos and write presentations to help raise awareness of a cause.

Science and Math

Math and Science are integrated whenever possible, often with the same teachers teaching both subjects. The learning style is highly interactive with labs and real-world application of ideas and concepts, often around a project, topic or wider question. For example, Grade 6 students learning about Newton’s Laws of Motion design race cars and use their knowledge of mass, force, acceleration, measurement of angles and distance travelled to better understand how these laws apply.

Languages and Computer Science

Students regularly enter academic competitions, such as Concours d'arts oratoire
Students regularly enter academic competitions, such as Concours d'arts oratoire

At SMUS, languages are important and not just for the opportunity 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 through public speaking. For many of our students, Mandarin is a new experience and its unfamiliarity is excellent for their cognitive development.

In addition to English, Middle School students take two language courses each year. All students take French. Grade 6 students take Mandarin and in Grades 7 and 8, students get a choice between Mandarin, communication skills and computer science.

Exploratory

Students choose four Exploratory units from a variety of subjects each year. Each unit is 10 or 12 classes. It's unique to the Middle School experience and a key component to the variety of opportunities we offer. Learn more about the program.

Arts

Middle School students are in an interesting stage in their creative development where they are ready to refine their basic skills. Artistically, students learn intermediate skills, such as creating three-dimensional drawings, and participate in art shows. Musically, Middle School students can choose between taking band or strings and all students learn to sing. We want our students to enjoy music, while gaining independence, instrument proficiency, and ensemble and team skills. All students take art class and participate in choir.

Every two years, the Middle School puts on a musical, allowing students to take the stage in a full-scale production or work behind the scenes helping with costumes, set design and documenting the show through photography and video. Learn more about our extracurricular arts opportunities.

Outdoor Education

The Outdoor Education program makes the most of our location on Vancouver Island and provides tech-free time for students to develop outdoor skills, gain an appreciation for nature and learn about First Nations culture. When possible, teachers use the outdoor environment as a classroom.

Middle School students also take part in overnight outdoor trips once a year. Grade 6 and 7 students go to a local camp to try many different activities. Grade 8 students go on more focused outtrips where they get to choose one activity of interest: canoeing, rock climbing, fly fishing, surfing, kayaking or hiking.

Physical and Health Education

Middle School students participate in physical education class
We focus on participation in physical education, blending competition with instilling a passion for physical activity.

Sports begin to get competitive in Middle School, however, our focus in physical education classes remains on participation to instill a lifelong passion for physical activity. Students are taught a variety of sports and activities, such as soccer, field hockey, rugby, and track and field.

In Grade 8 they take a one-of-a-kind physical education program called Experiential PE (X-PE). The goal of this class is to introduce students to activities that aren’t part of the traditional PE curriculum. This can include water polo, martial arts, curling, golf and more.

Digital Learning and Literacy

The Middle School years are when SMUS students develop their confidence with the digital tools that they will need for the Senior School and beyond. Digital skills are embedded in class projects whenever possible, so students learn to use technology and practice their skills in the context of a wider topic.

For example, Grade 6 students learning about outer space will learn coding skills and how to use 3D modelling software to build digital models of the solar system. All students take a Digital Learning and Literacy course where they develop skills in technology use, research and Internet etiquette. Additionally, Grade 7 and 8 students can take Computer Science as a language course.