While at Lowell, students gain a strong foundation of academic skills and content-area knowledge. In addition, they learn how to communicate, collaborate, and lead with respect and empathy for others. We prepare students to succeed, not only in competitive high school programs, but also in our rapidly changing world.

Core Classes by Grade Level

List of 5 items.

  • Humanities—Language Arts + Social Studies

    The goal of the humanities program is to foster a deeper understanding of the world and an appreciation for diverse perspectives while cultivating students’ roles as active citizens and agents of change. Through an interconnected approach to literature and history, students hone their analytical thinking, organizational, research, writing, oral communication, and technology skills, so they are equipped to evaluate information from a wide range of sources.
    In 6th grade, language arts students practice inquiry-based research, literary analysis, and narrative and persuasive writing. These skills are applied, among other outlets, to the social studies curriculum, focused on the milestone events of world history that have shaped human progress. Related to climate change studies, students consider the definition of progress and its costs and benefits.

    In 7th grade, language arts students choose their topics for writing within the framework of three units: realistic fiction, writing about reading, and research-based arguments. They explore the interplay between characters and setting, advanced character traits such as hubris and self-sacrifice, and themes of human rights alongside social studies units on the challenging and complex topics of the Jewish Holocaust, African American Civil Rights, and Modern China. An emphasis on the "Why?" over "What?" and student-led activism inspires agency among our learners.

    In 8th grade, language arts students engage with fantasy/sci-fi and literary essays to explore topics of juxtaposition, irony, archetypes, and aptonyms. In social studies, in-depth and evolving knowledge of world events inspires students as global citizens equipped with a fact-based worldview. Through a Model-UN structure, students will practice strategies in fact-finding and critical thinking, gaining an awareness and understanding of population, international relations, and climate change issues.
  • Mathematics

    The math program provides appropriate and challenging math classes for all students. Courses promote strong foundations in procedural skills, conceptual understanding, critical thinking, problem-solving, reasoning, and written and oral communication. Teachers use a standards-based, student-centered framework to apply mathematical concepts to real-life problems, strengthened through discussion and activities. 

    Flexible groupings in the first trimester of 6th grade ensure students receive appropriate challenges and supports. Teachers focus on strengthening understanding of basic math concepts and skills in the context of real-life situations. Students are then placed in groups where they will be most appropriately challenged.
    There’s a pathway for every type of math learner that allows them to feel confident and ready for future math courses at Lowell and beyond:
    Students in Intro to Pre-Algebra solidify foundations such as place value, number theory, computation of whole numbers, fractions and decimals, ratio, proportion, percent, and basic geometry. Students are also introduced to pre-algebra concepts such as variables, expressions, equations, integers, and the coordinate plane.
    Students in Pre-Algebra use variables and expressions to solve equations and inequalities; use factors, fractions, and exponents to simplify and evaluate expressions; use ratios, proportions, and percents; analyze data; begin to analyze geometry with algebra; study right triangles and angle relationships; and explore linear functions and related graphs.
    Students in Intro to Algebra I solidify their skills using variables, simplifying expressions, and solving equations. They are also introduced to Algebra I concepts, including linear functions and graphing, exponents and powers, and polynomial expressions. These skills help students build a stronger foundation in anticipation of high school math.
    In Algebra I, students solve multi-step equations and inequalities, represent real-life situations with linear functions, graph functions, perform operations with polynomials, solve quadratic equations, and model exponential functions. The class will also be introduced to rational and radical expressions and equations.
    Advanced Algebra I is a two-year course in 7th and 8th grades. Students solve multi-step equations and inequalities, represent real-life situations with linear functions, graph functions, perform operations with polynomials, solve quadratic equations, and model exponential functions. They also analyze radical and rational expressions and solve radical and rational equations, with a thorough look at the related functions. Students are introduced to geometry concepts toward the end of the course.
  • Science

    Students explore real-world issues through research, experimentation, and problem solving as they master concepts from the disciplines of physics, chemistry, biology, space science, geosciences, and engineering. Students engage in inquiry-based units of study that build key skills and a deep understanding of the scientific method and the engineering design process. Topics connect to grade-level themes, and projects emphasize humanities and STEAM integration.
    Heredity and evolution, weather and climate, and sustainability and biodiversity form the core areas of study for 6th graders. Students learn to identify cause-and-effect relationships and engage in labs that demonstrate scientific principles and theories. Students are introduced to and practice using different types of models—mathematical, conceptual, and graphic. Observation and research skills are a focus throughout the year. Communication skills, including creating arguments based on evidence, writing lab reports, and showing accurate data, are also emphasized. Labs and design projects are selected to help students develop fundamental skills in scientific investigation and engineering design.
    7th-grade students continue to develop scientific skills learned in 6th grade as they explore properties and uses of waves, the solar system and universe, and anatomy and physiology. Lab work becomes more experimental and, by the end of the year, students are selecting their procedures to find answers and solve problems. Dissections are also a significant part of the laboratory experience, and students compare and contrast the structures and systems of their bodies with those of other organisms. Lab report writing is increasingly essential, as students develop their communication skills and their ability to analyze data and draw conclusions.

    Growing independence marks the 8th-grade year in science. As students study the physics of force and motion, chemistry, robotics, and engineering, they improve their ability to define problems, design their procedures and experiments, apply their skills, iterate solutions, and give and receive feedback. Analysis and interpretation of data using mathematical computation and measurement are emphasized, and students are expected to draw data-based conclusions.
  • Spanish

    The Middle School Spanish program fosters students’ confidence and enjoyment of learning a second language. Students are encouraged to use Spanish as often as possible in classroom activities and conversation. As their skills develop, increasing emphasis is placed on grammar, reading, and writing skills. Students develop their knowledge of Spanish-speaking cultures and become equipped to participate in a society characterized by linguistic and cultural diversity.
    In 6th grade, students build on language skills developed previously with more emphasis on writing and reading. Dialogues, skits, songs, pairing and sharing, and group activities are used to develop mastery of grammar and syntax in thematic-based units. Students also create short narratives, web pages, videos, and brochures. While oral communication is emphasized in the classroom, reading comprehension, written pieces, and cultural studies round out the coursework.

    Spanish class in 7th grade emphasizes the four language skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Students communicate with one another in Spanish from the beginning of the year and write in their journals every day. Students practice using more advanced grammatical structures and learn how to listen and comprehend without focusing on word-for-word translation. Literature studies begin.

    8th-grade Spanish covers complex grammatical structures such as commands, the preterite tense, and reflexive verbs. Students continue to build their vocabularies, write longer essays, and explore Spanish literature. The course prepares students to participate in the Spanish language and service trip to Costa Rica by building conversational skills needed for travel and emphasizing correct intonation and expression.
  • Arts Programming

    Arts programming is key to a Lowell education. Students in Middle School engage daily in Art and Design, Digital and Media Arts, or Instrumental Music. After trying out each option in 6th grade, older students may select an arts course based on their burgeoning interests. 
    In instrumental music, we aim to develop musicianship through a variety of mediums, historical perspectives, and cultural lenses. Students explore both the artistic and technical sides of music by learning to sing and play instruments in ensembles. Our after-school music program offers further opportunities for students to pursue their passions through individual lessons and pop bands.

    Creative problem-solving, mastery of visual media, and effective communication skills are the cornerstones of the visual arts program. Students are challenged to work with a wide variety of materials and processes and are encouraged to create work that is personally, historically, and culturally relevant. Both individual expression and collaboration skills are emphasized. Rubrics are provided to clarify expectations, and students are invited to participate in the assessment of their work.

Independence and Choice

Electives are non-graded, cross-grade courses that students select each trimester. Designed to root their learning in interest-based endeavors, tangible goals—such as the creation of Lowell’s yearbook—drive student creativity.

Minors, or academic concentrations, meet twice each week and rotate once midyear. Students commit to a creative or activism-focused pursuit alongside peers from grades 6–8 and use dedicated classroom time to hone their passions for a subject.

Every student participates in a seminar weekly, in rotation with physical education. In 6th grade, Foundations of Middle School introduces the executive functions skills that will set students up to be successful learners in a more independent school environment. 7th and 8th graders focus on health and wellness topics and seminars in digital citizenship. Additionally, 8th graders are supported in their next steps with a high school preparation course that includes best practices for applications, interviews, self-reflection, and advocacy.

The Delta program focuses on the social-emotional needs of middle schoolers as they learn to explore identities and build community in a safe, structured environment. We help students navigate the ins and outs of middle school as they work on transitioning to more independence. A Delta coach provides support along the way and empowers students to be self-advocates. Study hall is built into the schedule and students are encouraged to make use of our drop-in centers, reinforcing best practices of an effective learner. AM and PM breaks allow students to eat, socialize, move and play, join a club, or seek out extra help from our learning specialists and counselors.
Lowell School is a private PK-8th grade school located in NW Washington, DC. Our mission is to create an inclusive community of lifelong learners in which each individual is valued and respected.