middle school

Dia de los Muertos Celebration in 7th grade

This year our 7th grade class worked on a special project with Maestra Mabí to mark Dia de los Muertos. They each chose someone to remember through a painting or drawing, and they spent some time sharing (in Spanish, of course) about their choice. The resulting art was hung at our local art museum, BIMA, and helped round out the museum’s community-wide celebration.

8th Grade Independent Projects

The 8th grade provided tremendous presentations of their independent projects last Friday evening. We were happy to have so many in our community present to support these remarkable young people too. Thank you to all those who made it a priority to come! 

Mr. Nottage, our 8th grade teacher, introduced our presenters with some brief remarks that got right to the heart of why our 8th grade students do these projects each year. He reminded us all that our children learned to stand upright in their first year without direct instruction -- it came from within. That is also the idea of these efforts, where the 8th graders reflect and propose a project of their own choosing and embark on a months-long journey that culminates in presentations where we see their inner volition to stand independently before their school community. Poise, humor, flexibility and problem solving are all on display in abundance!

We offer a brief glimpse into the variety of this year's projects:

Evan was inspired by an outdoor art show he attended last summer. When it came time to choose a project, he reached out to one of the artists he admired, a sculptor working in recycled metal. Learning different welding techniques, he created a ten and a half foot metal arch and planter that will have a permanent home at the school's Lowery Farm.

Evan was inspired by an outdoor art show he attended last summer. When it came time to choose a project, he reached out to one of the artists he admired, a sculptor working in recycled metal. Learning different welding techniques, he created a ten and a half foot metal arch and planter that will have a permanent home at the school's Lowery Farm.

Macy chose to learn digital photography and editing, shifting her focus from sports photography to nature photography when her mentor changed mid-project. Her photos, shown here on canvas, were beautiful! 

Macy chose to learn digital photography and editing, shifting her focus from sports photography to nature photography when her mentor changed mid-project. Her photos, shown here on canvas, were beautiful! 

Emily was inspired by a trip to Venice to explore Italian cooking. Working with our own (staff member and parent) Italian chef, she learned to make fresh pasta and ravioli, marinara sauce and cannolis. She put it all together in a feast for friends and family, and even shared cannolis with us on Friday. So tasty!

Emily was inspired by a trip to Venice to explore Italian cooking. Working with our own (staff member and parent) Italian chef, she learned to make fresh pasta and ravioli, marinara sauce and cannolis. She put it all together in a feast for friends and family, and even shared cannolis with us on Friday. So tasty!

Morgan, with her love of singing and musical theater, chose to learn the basics of guitar, so that she could accompany herself. For her presentation, she learned the ABBA song, "I Have a Dream," and performed it for us. Wonderful playing and singing!

Morgan, with her love of singing and musical theater, chose to learn the basics of guitar, so that she could accompany herself. For her presentation, she learned the ABBA song, "I Have a Dream," and performed it for us. Wonderful playing and singing!

Ellie was inspired by an 8th grade project from the class of 2015 to create a yearbook for the school. She has been taking and editing photographs around school all year long, and over spring break, began her layout into a book. The yearbook is available to order with proceeds benefitting the 8th grade class trip.

Ellie was inspired by an 8th grade project from the class of 2015 to create a yearbook for the school. She has been taking and editing photographs around school all year long, and over spring break, began her layout into a book. The yearbook is available to order with proceeds benefitting the 8th grade class trip.

Marisol worked with a community artist to learn the art of graffiti and spray painting. She practiced her new craft on the old buildings at Blakely Harbor, and in her final piece for her presentation, painted on panels and shown here.

Marisol worked with a community artist to learn the art of graffiti and spray painting. She practiced her new craft on the old buildings at Blakely Harbor, and in her final piece for her presentation, painted on panels and shown here.

Harrison, inspired by a 7th grade Friday elective, worked with a local coach to learn the sport -- the art? -- of parkour. He made a video to demonstrate his skills on a route he devised incorporating the Ordway playground. His athleticism and humor were on display!

Harrison, inspired by a 7th grade Friday elective, worked with a local coach to learn the sport -- the art? -- of parkour. He made a video to demonstrate his skills on a route he devised incorporating the Ordway playground. His athleticism and humor were on display!

Mikel explored fashion design and honed sewing skills with his project. Working with the owner of Esther's Fabrics, he designed and completed two skirts, as well as a top from a commercial pattern, learning a lot about fabric and drape and construction along the way!

Mikel explored fashion design and honed sewing skills with his project. Working with the owner of Esther's Fabrics, he designed and completed two skirts, as well as a top from a commercial pattern, learning a lot about fabric and drape and construction along the way!

Isaiah worked to build a stand up paddleboard from the ground up. Made of marine grade plywood and cedar, the paddleboard is a thing of beauty, and will be launched just as soon as it gets its fiberglass coating.

Isaiah worked to build a stand up paddleboard from the ground up. Made of marine grade plywood and cedar, the paddleboard is a thing of beauty, and will be launched just as soon as it gets its fiberglass coating.

Katja took herself on a creative journey into songwriting. She explored chord progressions, melody and lyric writing along the way. The result was a song which she performed through voice and ukulele at the presentation, and recorded as well. It was a heartfelt and gorgeous piece and performance!

Katja took herself on a creative journey into songwriting. She explored chord progressions, melody and lyric writing along the way. The result was a song which she performed through voice and ukulele at the presentation, and recorded as well. It was a heartfelt and gorgeous piece and performance!

6th Grade at Madrona School

The middle school years mark an important transition for any child, and there is much to celebrate around developing capacities and growth. 6th grade is often a year "in between" -- bridging the balance and relative ease of late childhood with the transformation of puberty, and as the year goes on there is often a palpable shift in the mood of the class. A 6th grader is often described as having "landed firmly on the earth," beginning to look inwards, even as their capacity for observation of the outside world sharpens. 6th graders want to understand the "whys" behind what their parents and teachers say, and they pay attention to what is fair. Peer groups are increasingly important too, as they begin to seek their place, and at Madrona School where a class has been together for years, there can be an ease and comfort to this process within school.

With the developmentally-appropriate curriculum in a Waldorf school, the subjects brought to the class reflect the shift into adolesecence. Sciences, both physical and laboratory, offer opportunities for observation and keep a sense of wonder in the world growing. History, through studying the Roman Empire and the Middle Ages, bring discussion of the spread of systems of law and order, as well as religion and culture. Math has a practical bent to it with business math and an introduction to economics, as well as form brought through geometry. It's a year with a broad and grounding look at the world.

This year our 6th grade, taught by Ms. Lori (with blocks taught by Ms. Toles and Mr. Steegmans), began with a geology block, including what can be observed in our corner of the world through an overnight trip to Mt. St. Helens. Physics, taught by Mr. Steegmans, offered practice making observations, using them as a starting point for uncovering some of the laws of the universe. We use a phenomenological approach to science -- teaching through observation and experience first, practicing careful watching, and then discussing and writing and repeating an experiment. Before the winter break, the class also studied the Roman Empire, including early legal structures and architecture. The class has also had a Business Math block with Ms. Toles, investigating differing types of economies throughout history, as well as some new math including percentages and calculating interest.

Currently, the class is studying medieval history, including both the spread of Christianity and of Islam, as well as a look at social structures. As a part of this block, they look at knighting codes of conduct and honor, and they work towards a knighting ceremony of their own, with an aim towards personal growth and service, celebrating the results with a class gathering.

In the weeks that remain in the year, they will do geometry, grammar, astronomy and perform their class play. Beyond main lesson, they continue Spanish, strings and games classes. This class has long had a particular interest in painting, and this year their work is really developing as they play with new techniques and subject matters. They have handwork, with a chance to not only make something, but experience a bit of designing from paper to a 3-dimensional object. They join the other middle school classes for choir and stay later on Fridays for community electives -- artistic and active classes, often outside the confines of the school building. It is a full year, and just the beginning of a new phase in their personal and school journeys!

Want to know more about middle school and 6th grade at Madrona School? Ask your student's teacher, or contact the school office.

--edited from the school newsletter, January 23, 2018

8th Grade at Madrona School

We talk about 8th grade at Madrona School as a culmination of the grade school journey. Even in Waldorf schools that offer high school, 8th grade marks the end of what has likely been a multi-year relationship between a teacher and his/her class, as well as between the students, some of whom have been together for many years. In our 8th grade this year, there are students who've been classmates since preschool, and others who've joined as recently as last year. Regardless, it feels like a family. 

Our students are eagerly looking ahead to high school and the next step, but they are also nostaglic and may be beginning to reflect on their school journeys (wave a kindergarten bread bun in front of them for a sentimental demonstration, for example). They enjoy the freedom of their basement classroom, set a bit apart from the rest of the school, with its separate entrance and access to an outdoor eating area. They remain connected to the life of the school though, through work with younger grades, morning recess, and a weekly rhythm of choir and strings with the other middle schoolers.

The 8th grade class is engaged in main lesson blocks with their class teacher, Mr. Nottage. They began their year with revolutions -- studying the American and French revolutions, and moving into the foundations and order of our American government that resulted from these historical events. Typically this is a lesson block brought in 8th grade Waldorf classrooms, and teachers emphasize that this study recognizes what is going on internally for an 8th grader as they work through the rich and often radical changes happening as they grow into young adults. 

The class moved into physiology mid-October, examining the skeletal system, and combining science and art, studying the order and beauty that literally carries us around. Organic chemistry and the geometry of solids will also be studied this fall, and after the winter break the class will study hydraulics and aerodynamics, economic geography and civil and labor rights. The curriculum draws on the students' burgeoning capacities for critical thinking, and their ever-increasing sophistication with writing and other forms of communication. The dinner table discussions get ever more interesting, especially as they move into an understanding of current events.

In other class periods, language arts offers more opportunity for self-expression in creative writing, as well as a sampling of biography. Math builds on what has come before, and supports othe theme of transformation, with the class recently exploring number bases beyond base 10, for example. Other specialty classes include handwork (sewing on machines), games, middle school choir and strings ensemble.

Watch for more from our 8th grade as the year develops. Long-term independent projects offer each student a chance to explore something they are interested in and they work with a mentor over several months. The projects end with presentations to the school community (set for April 13th), and you will all be invited, as these students demonstrate a Waldorf education's preparation beyond academics -- with emphasis on self-expression and self-possession. Then, two weeks later, the class play celebrates eight years of creating drama together. Finally, in early June, the week-long class trip offers a final field trip of sorts, this one highlighting the journey and growth of the class as a community. Graduation marks their public celebration of this journey, and you will be invited to come help us send off this amazing group of young people. It's going to be a great year!

--originally published in our October 17 newsletter