ISD - The International School of Dakar

Grade 7


Middle School is a special time in a child’s educational experience, and our middle school teachers know well the challenges and rewards of working with these learners. Students in grades 6, 7 and 8 grow and work together as a cohesive community. To build community, teachers address specific interests, concerns and needs in small grade level advisory groups.

Advisory & House Events

Seventh graders take part in daily advisory lessons that address topics and issues pertinent to them. Teachers work with students to develop efficient academic study and organizational skills, enhance social-emotional well-being, engage in service learning and build skills necessary to be successful in the workplace. House Groups meet once per week. Each house group has approximately 10 -12 members made up of a mix of 6th, 7th, & 8th graders. This grouping gives students a chance to build relationships across grade levels and offers our youngest middle school students the opportunity to learn from slightly more experienced mentors. House Groups hold formalized half-day competitions approximately 3-4 times per year.

Community Meetings

All middle school students gather twice per month to attend community meetings, lead by the middle school student council. These meetings offer a venue for sharing information, celebrating success, reinforcing CORE values and building division-wide initiatives.

Middle School Retreat & Week Without Walls

Seventh graders, like their sixth and eighth-grade counterparts, participate in a field experience away from school. In October, seventh graders join other middle school students for a one-day retreat on Tahiti Beach to participate in community-building activities. For three nights and four days in the second semester, seventh graders connect their studies of Life Science with adventures in the Sine Saloum delta, building lifetime memories of Senegal.

Middle School Assessment

Assessment is a vital part of school. Its purpose is both to inform instruction and to evaluate achievement and learning.

Assessment for learning, or formative assessment, occurs daily in seventh grade classrooms. Teachers use observation, student feedback and anecdotal information to inform instruction in all subject areas.

Assessment of learning, or summative assessment, is achieved through a variety of methods and formats. Student literacy work is often evaluated using rubrics or target checklists. Mathematics progress is plotted using unit tests and student work. Project-based assessments in social studies and science provide evidence of understanding and acquisition of targeted content and skills. Students use self-reflections to reflect on their learning. Report cards are electronically shared twice per year, at the end of each semester. Parent-teacher-student conferences occur in October and March.

Students in grade seven take the MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) two times per year. This adaptive test provides an ongoing snapshot of student progress along a continuum of learning. Teachers and students use MAP results to set individual and classroom goals and provide more individualized and targeted instruction.

Students in grade 7 take four core classes, math, science, language arts and social studies, with four different teachers. In addition, they participate in four year-long courses of French, physical education, Communication Arts (technology, advanced reading and advanced writing) and Visual Performing Arts (Music, Art, and Drama).

Students are assigned to an advisory with one of the middle school teachers. On alternating Wednesdays, the advisory block is reserved for house activities or division-wide events.

All seventh grade units of study are anchored to Essential Questions and designed to foster in-depth understanding of ideas, knowledge and skills through inquiry-based learning. Topics are relevant and engaging; learning targets are aligned to international educational norms and shared with students.

Homework is viewed as an opportunity to practice previously-taught skills or connect and extend daily learning experiences. Seventh grade homework should be completed in approximately 1.5-2 hours each night, when assigned. In addition, students are expected to read for pleasure on a daily basis.

Middle school sets the stage for future success in high school and college. You can help make the transition a success and help shape your child’s future. Talking, listening to your child’s concerns, and highlighting the positives about middle school will help with the adjustment.

GRADE 7 Curriculum

Language Arts - Mr. Martrich

Language arts instruction blends reading and writing activities with novel-based thematic studies. Students read several core novels, learning how to analyze and interpret plot, characterization, conflict and theme.

Seventh grade core novels include:

  • Stargirl, by Jerry Spinelli
  • The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton
  • A Raisin in the Sun, by Lorraine Hansberry

Writing instruction utilizes the process approach and is focused on developing skills for writing narrative, opinion, and informational text, as well as poetry. Teachers model effective writing, conference during independent writing time, and foster opportunities for shared writing experiences across the curriculum. Grammar, mechanics and spelling are integrated into writing lessons.

Seventh grade units include:

  • Personal Narrative
  • Coming of Age Stories
  • Historical Fiction
  • Journalism
Mathematics - Mr. Forgeron

All seventh grade students follow a Math 7 integrated program that is aligned with Common Core standards and sequenced with ISD mathematics courses that range from Math 6 up through IB HL Mathematics. The primary resource textbook is Mathematics for the International Student (Haese and Haese, MYP 2).The focus of the course lies in skill development and application to real world problems. The goal of the course is to produce proficient mathematicians.

Seventh grade units include:

  • Operations with rational numbers
  • Solving algebraic equations
  • Ratio, rate, proportion, and percent
  • Measurement in plane and three-dimensional geometry
  • Probability and chance
Social Studies – Ms. Goldsborough

The middle school social studies curriculum is a three-year world history course, presented in a chronological format. After a unit on Geography, seventh graders focus on the Medieval World in Europe, Asia, and Africa. Students explore government, economics, belief systems and culture. Using simulations, texts and primary sources, students participate in engaging learning activities that promote cooperation and communication while developing analytical and critical thinking skills and solidifying research, writing, and reading skills (all critical skills in the IB programme). Social studies learning benchmarks are aligned with AERO (American Education Reaches Out) standards.

Seventh grade units include:

  • Geography Overview
  • The Silk Road
  • Medieval Europe
  • The Islamic Empire
  • Early African Empires
  • Feudal Japan & Medieval China
  • In addition, all ISD students participate in a celebration of global cultural diversity, Senegalese art, and traditional West African music during our school-wide World Culture Month.
Science - Mr. Andrew Martin

The ISD middle school science department uses an integrated science curriculum. Every Twelve weeks a different area of science is studied. Science benchmarks are aligned to the NSES (National Science Education Standards). In March, seventh graders participate in a week-long Week Without Walls trip to the Sine Saloum mangrove and delta. This unique field experience serves as an authentic extension of the Populations & Ecosystems thematic unit in that students observe, discuss and study bird populations that live in this region.

Seventh grade units include:

  • Chemistry- Elements, mixtures, compounds, metals, nonmetals, chemical reactions
  • Physics- Light, sound, magnetism
  • Biology- Photosynthesis, nutrition, reproduction, circulatory system
French Language

Students receive instruction in the French language every other day for 80 minutes. Based on AERO (American Education Reaches Out) and French National standards, the curriculum offers opportunities for integrated reading, writing, speaking and listening, as well as for exploration of the French and French/Senegalese culture. French teachers work as a team to provide multi-leveled instruction to students by determining individual level of skill at the beginning and end of the year.

Visual and Performing Arts: Music, Art, Drama

Seventh graders cycle between art, music, and drama in 12 week sessions. In music, students learn to create and interpret musical compositions, and improve instrumental skills. Art allows students to participate in drawing, painting, ceramics and other art forms. Students perform in school-wide concerts and art exhibitions throughout the year. Drama is an opportunity to develop their creativity, characterization skills and perform on stage.

Physical Education & Health

Physical education is offered two to three times per week in 75-80 minute sessions based on the rotation schedule. During this time, students learn the skills and strategies for team and individual sports, fitness, health components, dance and movement. Participation, effort and sportsmanship are highly emphasized, and students learn to work together in cooperative teams. Swimming instruction is offered in two 4-week units, in September and in May. Middle school students are expected to wear an ISD uniform for PE classes.

Communication Arts : Technology, Reading, Writing

ISD’s technology curriculum is an integrated program that infuses critical computer literacy benchmarks into existing grade level units of study. Students create media-based projects that build 21st century digital skills. Learning targets are aligned with ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) standards.

Service Learning

ISD takes pride in starting a 3-year long (2015-2018) community service learning program in middle school to bring about a strong awareness of service learning to our students. This year 1, students use their advisory classes to go through the principles of service learning, studying the main stages of service learning so that they will be able to conduct any service activities afternoon using the tools they will be. By the end of this school year 1, our middle school students should already be able to present to the community their reflection about what they learned and planned about service learning and how they will virtually want to implement it.

We are aiming to have service learning highly effective and operational in classrooms and in the school curriculum by the end of this 3 years period to allow our students to participate positively in activities with local and international organizations in the city as well as with our school-based initiatives.

English Language Learners

ISD offers a sheltered immersion program for English Language Learners. Students are assessed at the beginning of the year to determine needs. Non-English proficient students (proficiency levels 1 - 3) receive daily support with the ELL specialist during the Language Arts instructional block. Limited-English proficient students (proficiency levels 4 - 5) are supported in after-school programs. The ELL specialist works with teachers to employ a wide variety of differentiation strategies to meet the needs of English Language Learners in their classrooms.

Learning Support

The middle school learning specialist advises and collaborates with Middle School Teachers grade teachers to offer differentiation strategies for students who are experiencing academic difficulties. Students with diagnosed learning differences as evidenced by an educational evaluation, are eligible to receive an PEP (Personal Education Plan) and small-group academic support from the learning specialist during the daily French instructional block. Students receiving this academic support do not participate in the French program at ISD.