Middle School 7/8 Grades

13 and 14 Year Olds

Our oldest students are on the threshold of a significant new stage of development- adolescence. Dramatic physical changes reflect major shifts in cognitive, social and emotional development. The intellect is awakened, demonstrated by the individual’s emerging ability to engage in more complex thinking processes involving symbolic ideas and abstract concepts. Children exercise newfound abilities as they begin to reason, consider diverse perspectives, and imagine a multitude of possibilities. Individuals approaching adolescence have a need to understand and engage in the ‘real world.’ The Fair Street campus, dedicated to our middle school program, enables easy access to Nantucket’s downtown and resources, such as the Atheneum, the NCS computer lab, as well as an occasional lunch out.

The Class Teacher conducts classes in Language Arts, History and Science.  Subject teachers teach Math, Foreign Language, Music and PE units. When possible, these studies are integrated. Art, project-based learning, and writing continue to be emphasized across the curriculum. For instance, a 7/8 study of the history and art of the Renaissance is mirrored in science with lessons in Alchemy/Chemistry and Human Anatomy. In art, students explore the use of perspective, and create and perform an original play based on the class reading of Robin Hood. Lighthouse Downtown students visit the Rugged Road campus to join younger students for Reading Buddies, bi-monthly All School Meetings and 7/8th grade Classroom Internships as well as special events.

Experiential and project-based studies exercise ‘real life’ problem solving abilities and provide meaningful contexts for the acquisition of new concepts and skills. For the socially oriented pre-adolescent, cooperative and interactive learning supports academic instruction and cultivates a sense of community. A pre-adolescent is defining, testing, and transforming his/her perception of self and seeks to be understood and valued by others. They challenge assumptions and values they once adopted without question.  Our program honors this vital process, providing new intellectual challenges while supporting the emotional and social challenges inherent to growing up.

School Day: 7:55 a.m. - 2:15 p.m. with the option of Extended Day through 5:10 p.m.

Language Arts and Spanish

Creative and expository writing; self and peer editing;  grammar and spelling; Latin ‘roots’; poetry- reading, memorizing, reciting and writing; researching, organizing, writing papers and bibliography; constructing effective paragraph; calligraphy; reading- individual and assigned; reading critically- interpreting and analyzing text; taking notes and annotating text; independent research; communicating honestly and respectfully

Spanish: Conversing, reading short passages, writing in full sentences, applying grammatical structures appropriately, exploring Spanish cultures


7th/8th grade students are asked to think deeply and write analytically about what they read and to make connections with their own lives. Class reading focuses upon themes which illuminate cross-curricular studies and reflect the spirit of individuality which is emerging in the pre-adolescent.  Through thoughtful and relevant conversations, students are encouraged to ask and reflect upon questions, think critically and creatively, and consider diverse points of view. Literature is utilized as a vehicle for exercising the imagination, sharpening thinking skills, and developing the capacity for empathy. Daily reading includes individual reading choices as well as assigned readings which encompass an increasingly broad range of genres and topics.

In conjunction with reading work, students are introduced to the concept and practice of writing effective paragraphs. They develop this skill in a variety of contexts and across subject areas.  Word study includes an introduction to Latin roots, which enhances the ongoing study of vocabulary, grammar and spelling. Through thoughtful group discussions, expository writing exercises, and Literature Circle activities, each student endeavors to deepen and express his/her understanding of a given text. 


Whether working on creative or expository writing tasks, students work to employ descriptive language, organize their thoughts, express themselves clearly, and refine their use of writing mechanics. Writing and self-editing skills are taught throughout subject areas as students practice summarizing and expressing information and ideas effectively and coherently. Reading experience is actively drawn upon to inform writing work. Students work to construct effective paragraphs to generate interesting and informative essays. Daily reading and writing work provides meaningful contexts for individualized grammar and spelling lessons. Spelling instruction and vocabulary study is adapted to meet individual needs. Resources, such as the dictionary, Thesaurus, and word processing applications, serve to assist students in the writing, drafting, and editing process. They work to develop research skills, gathering sources, reading, note-taking, outlining, and writing drafts to accomplish an annotated and informative research paper. Students receive and offer constructive feedback in conference with teachers and their peers.


Language emerges from the need to communicate. Therefore, in order to learn and master a new language, students are presented with situations and tasks that require them to apply vocabulary and grammatical constructions they have acquired in order to communicate in various contexts. 

Initially, emphasis is placed on vocabulary acquisition and conversational experimentation. Students generate their own vocabulary lists generated through the hands-on activities and scenarios in which they are required to communicate in Spanish. As they gain experience, students will be expected to speak in grammatically correct and complete sentences. As basic fluency grows, past and future tenses will be introduced and students will apply what they have learned to read Spanish texts.

Our complete Language Arts and Spanish curriculum:

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Demonstrating mastery of operations involving fractions, decimals, and integers; solving single-step, two-step and multi-step equations; generating and solving equations in practical applications and word problems; working with integers, fractions, decimals; factorization of natural numbers; use of variables and exponentiation; graphing within the coordinate plane quadrant system; considering rational, real and irrational numbers; operations with integers and positive exponents, learning properties and order of operations

The emerging intellect finds appropriate challenge in new and more complex mathematical thinking. As in all areas, this challenge is accompanied by support and encouragement so that students experience a sense of growing competency and success in their mathematical endeavors. To begin, we work to solidify and verify individual mastery of all arithmetical operations involving decimals, fractions and mixed numbers. Students work with percent, proportion, and ratio. They practice using fractions in a variety of activities and projects.

With a newfound capacity to engage in logical thinking and reasoning, 7/8 math continue to delve into more abstract and complex mathematical concepts. They apply the mathematical concepts and basic computational skills they have learned regarding the counting, calculating and measuring of physical objects to that of more abstract quantities and ideas. Instruction builds upon prior knowledge and establishes a strong foundation for understanding and applying the skills and concepts necessary for algebraic thinking. Problem solving skills are practiced and applied in the context of conventional equations, word problems, mathematical projects, science studies, and ‘real life’ applications. 8th graders are introduced to algebra in preparation for high school mathematics. 

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Alternating Years

Year A: Middle Ages, Age of Exploration and the Renaissance
Exploring roots of Western culture- the fall of the Roman Empire and the emergence of the European Renaissance. biographies of the political, architectural, artistic, and scientific achievements of individuals- Galileo, Joan of Arc, Brunelleschi, Leonardo DaVinci; pertinent projects, writing tasks, field trips and end-of-unit projects

Year B: The American Revolution
Tracking the path of Revolution- Sir Walter Raleigh and Elizabethan England/ Shakespeare, the Pilgrims’ journey and religious freedom, the establishment and governance of the colonies, Captain John Smith, Lewis and Clark; the Revolution; daily and political life in the thirteen colonies; the Founding Fathers and the Continental Congress; the writing of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution; constructing a new form of government; Nantucket in the War for Independence

7/8th graders are on the threshold of a significant new stage of development, adolescence. The dramatic physical changes reflect major shifts in cognitive, social and emotional development. The intellect is awakened, demonstrated by the individual’s emerging ability to engage in more complex thinking processes involving symbolic ideas and abstract concepts. This upheaval within is mirrored in their studies as students are introduced to historical periods of dramatic growth and change and the extraordinary individuals who  contributed to a revolution in thought through their accomplishments in science, art, mathematics and philosophy.

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Alternating Years

Year A: Alchemy/Chemistry
Investigating the 4 elements in physical processes; fire as the element of change; conducting demonstrations and experiments; making formal observations; writing lab reports; investigating matter- solids/liquids/gases, changes of state, density, chemical changes; introduction to the periodic table; acids and bases; combustion

Human Physiology/Sciences of Leonardo DaVinci
Inventions and mechanics; learning about anatomical systems- muscular, skeletal, digestive, and reproductive- and their interaction; human physical development and adolescence

Year B: Physics: Light Sound and Heat
Exploring the movement, manipulation and natural laws associated with light waves, sound waves, and heat/air currents; Geometric Art

Darwin and the Theory of Natural Selection
Adaptations; Human Anatomy; humans in relation to other animals; human impact on ecosystems

Science studies inform a student’s understanding about his/her world while cultivating a sense of wonder, respect and stewardship. By employing observation, measurement, and experimentation as well as generating and testing hypotheses, students learn how to investigate natural phenomena given their emerging capacity for objectivity. In conjunction with relevant social studies themes and projects, students are introduced to chemistry by way of alchemy, observing the four elements in physical processes. They study human anatomy and bodily systems in conjunction with DaVinci's investigative drawings and the Renaissance study. The physics of light and sound are illustrated through Geometric art.

7/8th graders engage in hands-on activities and experiments while practicing skills of observing, describing, hypothesizing, analyzing, comparing and contrasting, inferring and evaluating. In the spirit of authentic scientific inquiry, study will be inspired by the learning process itself, incorporating student ideas, questions, and hypotheses.

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Arts, Music and Handwork

Felting; stitching; drawing- perspective, charcoal, shading ; painting; knitting-more complex patterns and multi-step projects; printmaking; Gutenberg and bookmaking; creating a practical object; presenting scripted performance; choral singing; reading musical notation; melody and harmony; rhythm and deconstruction of percussion parts; discussion of keys and basic chord progressions along with basic ear training; playing simple instrument-reading music

Art is a primary means of expression. Creating art and crafting requires ‘thinking’ with the hands while exercising the imagination, and fostering creative thinking skills. Thus, it is integrated throughout the Lighthouse curriculum. Projects are often extensions of studies in other subjects and provide firsthand experience in the subject matter.  Students accomplish projects which often involve multi-step processes and a variety of mediums and techniques. They take part in weekly Music classes which involve both choral singing and instrumental lessons.

Students explore the elements of melody, harmony and rhythm through the singing of multi-part songs from the American repertoire. They are introduced to the historical context of songs through story to uncover the relationship between music and history. They engage in complex rhythm games which require the deconstruction and performance of various percussion parts. Ongoing discussions provide instruction regarding keys and basic chord progressions as each individual works to train his/her ‘ear’ through exercises. Basic Solfege instruction is illustrated using instrumental passages from traditional and popular music. Through instrumental instruction, students are introduced to basic musical notation.

Our complete Arts, Music and Handwork curriculum:

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Physical Education

PE units have included Fitness, Sailing, Ice Skating, Soccer, and Hip Hop Dance.

Through the physical and outdoor education component of the 7/8th grade program, individuals are challenged to develop strength and physical skill through individual challenges and team sports. They engage in physical education units which introduce athletic skills and foster physical fitness while exercising both teamwork and leadership skills.

On weekly field trips, students venture out to explore the island’s various places and meet the diverse group of people that call Nantucket home. Students take part in field trips, outings, physical activities, and visits which familiarize them with their natural and cultural home.

Our complete Physical Education curriculum:

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Utilizing the computer as a tool - keyboarding skills, word processing, using web as research source; online safety and ethics.

7/8th grade students utilize computers to practice keyboarding skills, do research, and utilize word processing programs. They learn to create documents and presentations, save files of ongoing writing projects, and. Students learn to utilize the editing capabilities of those programs. They use the Internet to research information in addition to utilizing printed reference materials and texts. Students learn about Internet safety and critically examine the effects, ethics, and appropriate uses of technology, with a special focus on the uses and abuses of social networking. 

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Lighthouse Intern

7/8th grade students begin their Fridays interning in one of the younger Lighthouse classrooms for the first hour. They are responsible for reporting to their assigned class to assist the classroom teacher and work with the younger students.

Graduation Project

8th graders are required to complete  the Lighthouse School Graduation Project.  They accomplish self-designed service projects; choose pieces of work to demonstrate learning in three areas, 'head, heart and hand.'  They document and reflect upon their work in writing, concluding with a detailed 'Self Report' discussing their individual strengths, challenges, interests and talents. The project is creatively assembled and presented to staff, family and friends at graduation.

Individual and Community

Intern in Lighthouse classrooms throughout the year; learn from and interact with adults in the Nantucket community on field trips, in unit studies and in Graduation Project work; learn about relevant physical, emotional and social development as human beings come of age; participate in teambuilding and leadership activities; engage in athletic and outdoor challenges; contribute to the community through group and individual initiatives

The process of establishing a healthy concept of self, while negotiating the social arena of peer relationships, is challenging and essential work. This challenge is often expressed in a heightened self-consciousness, a need to assert and express the individual self, and an absorption in peer relationships. We honor and support this vital and personal process while fostering a spirit of empathy and community as students explore the relationship between freedom and responsibility. Within the context of a small and thoughtful community, individuals learn to acknowledge each other’s strengths and talents, respect and negotiate their differences, and recognize the extraordinary things they can accomplish by working together.

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