Middle School

Areas of Study

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.

Subjects by Grade Level

List of 6 items.

  • Humanities—English + History

    The goal of the humanities program is to nurture students’ innate curiosity, encourage them to formulate questions, and guide their quest for answers. Through instruction and practice 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.

    By exploring a rich array of literature from different cultures and genres, as well as studying selected historical topics, students gain an understanding and appreciation of the people who populate our world and of past and present events. This knowledge helps them embrace their own identities as well as assume leadership roles in their communities.
    6th Grade
    Students investigate the complex social effects of climate change and analyze current solutions to global problems. Core disciplines of the humanities—geography, economics, civics, history, and literature—help students gain a thorough understanding of the issues. Students also learn how to take positive action to lessen the negative effects of climate change in partnership with iMatter.

    Reading and comprehending non-fiction texts and conducting inquiry-based research are key skills developed in History. In English, students have regular grammar and vocabulary lessons, write essays, and read Same Sun Here, Life as We Knew It, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, Exodus, The Giver, A Long Walk to Water, and other literature. 

    7th Grade

    The American experience from 1860 to the present is tackled as students examine the Civil War, Reconstruction, industrialization, immigration, and the Civil Rights Movement, to name a few. Emphasis is placed on constructing evidence-based arguments and developing organization skills needed for long-term research projects. 

    In English, students continue vocabulary and grammar study, using the Wordly Wise and NoRedInk.com programs. They consider the themes of rights, responsibilities, and power as they read The Killer Angels, Crossing the Wire, To Kill a Mockingbird, Warriors Don’t Cry, “The Gettysburg Address,” “Ain’t I a Woman?” “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” and poetry from Langston Hughes and Robert Frost.

    8th Grade
    A deep and evolving knowledge of African and South American history and culture are important aspects of global citizenship. Through this class, students will gain an awareness of the geography, religion, accomplishments, civics, economics, social structures, and literature of influential civilizations in these regions. The course covers three major regions: North African Civilizations, West African Empires, and Latin American Civilizations. In addition to learning about the history of the people from a variety of articles and documentaries, students will engage with four pieces of literature: The Epic of Gilgamesh, Sundiata: An Epic of Old Mali, Popol Vuh: A Sacred Book of the Maya, and Laminar. As a part of the integrated study, they will grapple with the deep questions of how societies change and spread, how roles are defined, how truth is perceived, and how authors’ words are filtered through the lens of background and perspective.
     
    The lessons have been carefully planned to balance instruction in reading, writing and social studies skills, and to support students’ transition to high school. Through reading assignments, annotation, and discussion, students partner with the teacher in shaping their learning. Students select questions for class investigation and critically evaluate each source of information. Through regular writing workshops and information-literacy lessons, students develop the writing and research skills to complete two inter-disciplinary projects and two research papers. The projects and papers provide students the opportunity to further tailor their humanities experience to best fit their learning style and interests.
  • Mathematics

    The math program provides appropriate and challenging math classes for all students with the goal of completing Algebra I (or above) by the end of 8th grade. Courses promote critical thinking, problem solving, reasoning, and written and oral communication. Teachers use various instructional models to maximize student learning and interest in the subject. Projects emphasize STEM integration.
    6th Grade

    Students are introduced to various topics needed to successfully move on to Pre-Algebra and Algebra I. Teachers focus on strengthening basic math skills and teaching concepts and computational skills needed for both further study of mathematics and real-life situations. Topics include operations with whole numbers, decimals and fractions, measurement, ratios and proportions, percents, elementary geometry, statistics, and probability. Designing a furniture floor plan within a given space and budget is one of the projects that helps students apply their growing skills to real world problems.

    7th Grade
    Pre-Algebra (Foundations or Advanced)
    Students continue to build toward Algebra I. They use variables and expressions to solve equations and inequalities; apply factors, fractions, and exponents to various problems; use ratios, proportions, and percents; analyze data; begin to analyze geometry with algebra; study right triangles and angle relationships; and explore linear functions and their graphs. Projects include programming a screen saver using linear functions and making comparisons about real-world phenomena using statistical techniques.

    8th grade
    Algebra I (Foundations or Advanced) 


    In Algebra I students move on to solving linear equations, functions, and inequalities; solving quadratic and exponential functions and equations; exploring rational and radical functions; and factoring quadratic and polynomial expressions. Exploratory topics include cryptography and number theory. Students also engage in building a mathematical model and programming an interactive animation.

    If students complete a rigorous Algebra I program prior to finishing 8th grade, an introduction to geometry will be offered.

  • Science

    Students explore real-world issues through research, experimentation, and problem solving as they master concepts from the disciplines of physics, chemistry, biology, and geosciences. Students engage in inquiry-based units of study that build key skills and a deep understanding of the scientific and engineering design processes. Topics connect to grade level themes and projects emphasize STEM integration.
    6th grade

    Heredity and evolution, forces and motion, 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 different types of models—mathematical, conceptual, and graphic—and practice using these models. Observation and research skills are a focus throughout the year. Communication skills, including creating arguments based on evidence, lab report writing, 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 characteristic properties of elements, anatomy and physiology, and human sexuality. Lab work becomes more experimental in nature and, by the end of the year, students are selecting their own 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 own bodies with those of other organisms. Lab report writing becomes increasingly important, as students develop their communication skills and their ability to analyze data and draw conclusions. Highlights include a field trip to the Inova Heart & Vascular Institute, the engineering design project, and chemistry experiments separating properties of matter and identifying them by their characteristic properties.

    8th grade


    Growing independence marks the 8th grade year in science. As students study sustainable development, projectile motion, robotics engineering, and product design, they improve their ability to define problems, design their own procedures and experiments, apply their skills, iterate solutions, and give and receive feedback. Analysis and interpretation of data using mathematical computation and measurement is emphasized, and students are expected to draw data-based conclusions. Robotics challenges and catapult design are popular projects. As part of the preparation for their service learning trip to Costa Rica, students design and build bio-char stoves.
  • Spanish

    The Middle School Spanish program builds on the foundations established in the Primary School. Increased emphasis is placed on grammar, reading, and writing skills, and students are encouraged to use Spanish as often as possible in classroom activities and conversation. They continue to develop their knowledge of Spanish-speaking cultures and become prepared to participate in a society characterized by linguistic and cultural diversity. The goal is to prepare all students to enter Spanish II (or above) when they make the transition to high school.
    6th grade
    In 6th grade we offer two levels of Spanish, depending on student readiness, exposure to the language, and learning style. Students continue to review and 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.

    7th grade
    We continue to offer two levels of Spanish in 7th grade. The four language skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing are emphasized. 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
    8th grade Spanish covers complex grammatical structures such as commands, the preterit tense, and reflexive verbs. Coverage varies depending on the levels of the two groups. 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. Students who successfully complete this course will be prepared to gain placement in a Spanish II or Spanish III high school course.
  • 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, pop bands, the recorder ensemble, and jazz band.
    6th grade 

    Music technology is a focus in 6th grade, and students learn how to use a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation), record sounds using a variety of microphones, and arrange these prerecorded sounds to create their own music. Students are also introduced to the keyboard as an instrument. The prime objective is to teach them basic skills that can be applied to composing.

    7th grade 

    Students study the Blues and how individual identity can be expressed in this distinctly American style of music. Students continue to develop skills using a DAW and work toward mastering the keyboard. They are introduced to the guitar and learn about chords, as well as simple and complex rhythms. Students play blues improvisations and standard 12-bar blues.

    8th grade 

    Students explore how, over time and place, music has been used to forge and strengthen communities. They learn the theory and techniques of song-writing and perform in pop ensembles.
  • Visual Arts

    Creative problem solving, mastery of visual media, and effective communication skills are the cornerstones of the Middle School 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.
    6th grade 

    6th grade art embraces diversity on many levels. By studying examples of the art of China, Japan, India, and Africa and by engaging in related artistic challenges, students develop a deeper understanding and appreciation of cultural diversity while honing their skills with various media: practicing the ancient art of Chinese calligraphy or imitating the painting style of contemporary women artists in Madhubani, India, helps establish a palpable connection to the cultures. Diversity of expression and style is welcomed and encouraged in every project. Students are expected to engage individually and collaboratively in solving visual problems and reflecting on that process.

    7th grade 

    Cultural identity is explored in conjunction with students’ study of the American experience in music and humanities classes. The heroic landscape painting of the 19th century Hudson River School is examined alongside the efforts of artists like George Catlin and Edwin Curtis to document the fading cultural identity of Native Americans. The iconic art of Winslow Homer provides students with a demonstration of the individual artist’s influence on cultural values. 20th century Modernism and the Harlem Renaissance inspire interdisciplinary projects linking art, music, literature, and history. Pop Art of the 1960’s provides a segue into personal expression through self-portraiture. Personal identity is explored through various projects throughout the year including ongoing personal doodling, various self-portraiture projects, development of a personal logo and brand, and personal wearable art.

    8th grade

    8th grade art offers projects and challenges that permit more individual focus, as well as larger collaborative projects. The artist’s role within society is viewed through several historical lenses: Ancient Egypt, the Italian Renaissance, 20th century Modernism, and contemporary 21st century art. Students also explore local museums and arts organizations as they consider their place as artists in the Washington, DC, community.
One of our 8th graders reflects on finding his passion.
1640 Kalmia Road NW
Washington, DC  20012
202-577-2000