A literature-based curriculum is the foundation for the rigorous program of studies offered to Powhatan’s Upper School students. Consisting of grades six to eight, with each grade divided into two sections of up to sixteen students, the Upper School seeks to prepare students to be academically successful at the high school level as well as socially skilled, community minded, and civically and environmentally responsible.

Reading, writing, and higher-level thinking skills are emphasized in all subject areas. The core curriculum consists of English, science, social studies, math, and foreign languages. These subjects are complemented by studies in art, music, drama, public speaking, computer technology, as well as team and individual sports. A Nature-Enhanced Approach to Learning (NEAL) is also an important component of the Powhatan learning experience and is embedded in all areas of our curriculum. NEAL gives students hands-on experiences in ecology and develops a love of nature and a desire to protect the environment.

Advisement

Learn more about Advisement

The academic day is divided into six instructional periods and one sports period. Technology is used extensively in the teaching and learning processes.

English studies emphasize reading, writing, thinking, and creativity. Students are exposed to a wide range of literature genres and are required to complete a significant amount of independent reading during the regular school year and in the summer months when school is not in session. We believe that writing extensively is at the heart of teaching thinking skills and developing creativity.

Social studies is taught thematically. Areas studied include ancient civilizations, medieval history, major religions, economics, civics, and geography. Students study American, European, Asian, African, and Middle Eastern history as well.

Sixth grade students take Latin, and seventh and eighth grade students choose between French and Spanish as a foreign language. Upon graduation from Powhatan, our students are prepared to enter high school in the second or third year of the language they studied.

The math classes are developmentally grouped, and students may complete high school Algebra I and Geometry at Powhatan.

Science students study physical science, earth science, life science, and ecology in a sequentially based curriculum.

Mentored by an excellent faculty in a student-centered environment where cultural diversity is valued and intellectual curiosity is central, Powhatan offers students the opportunity to excel in an environment that nurtures them as individuals and prepares them for success as they continue their education.

 

6th Grade

 

English

The focus of the sixth through eighth grade English curriculum is reading and writing. Students complete a wide range of reading that covers a variety of genres. They discuss their reading in class and make inferences about character, plot, setting, and theme and synthesize and analyze information to formulate theses. Students also respond to their reading by writing essays, reviews, letters, blogs, new articles, scripts, songs, dramatic monologues, book trailers, and other genres. In addition, students engage in creative modes of writing such as speeches, short stories, and poetry. Students work through the writing process, from brainstorming and drafting to writing, rereading, revising, proofreading, and editing. Along with meaningful reading and writing, students expand their vocabulary and study grammar with the goal of improving their oral and written expression. Thanks to Powhatan’s One-to-One Program, students take organized, daily notes in Microsoft OneNote.

Math

The sixth grade math curriculum is designed to permit students to perfect their basic math skills and develop a more complete understanding of the language and structure of mathematics. There is a focus on developing a strong grasp of numbers so that by the end of the sixth grade, students will be able to see that decimals, whole numbers, percentages, and fractions are all different expressions of the same numbers. In the process, students perform extensive problem solving to help extend their understanding of all areas of mathematics.

Although the learning material is similar, the different sections of sixth grade mathematics vary based on a student’s confidence and ability to challenge his limits.

Science

The central goal of the sixth grade science curriculum is to excite students about the possibilities of science. The focus is on life science using a life science textbook, but there are frequent discussions about subjects such as Nobel Prize winners, hurricanes, and other current events.

History

The curricular goal of history in the sixth grade is to move the student worldwide, investigating the history, cultures, society, and religions of people all over the world. Students learn about the major world religions including Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism. Students will be able to discuss and compare the origins, beliefs, and practices of each religion. This focus on religion will help foster a greater understanding of later units of study including The Age of Exploration, The Renaissance, The Reformation, Henry VIII, The Elizabethan Age, and The Enlightenment.

Students will continually hone their ability to craft well-organized and well-supported essays. They will practice taking notes that will help them remember the important facts of each unit of study. They will learn how to prepare for a test by reviewing their notes each evening so that they are ready for new information the next day. The expectation is that each student will develop into a strong history scholar as the year progresses.
Prentice Hall’s Experiencing World History is the principal text. Trade texts such as Judaism by Ian Graham and Buddhism by Mel Thompson are read to support the text. Reliable on-line sources and videos will also be used to accentuate our studies and help the students visualize a particular place and time.
Spanish (elective)

The Spanish curriculum offers students an experience in Spanish that is both comprehensive and interactive. The program’s main objective is to enable each child to discover and develop an understanding of Spanish culture and language through listening, speaking, reading aloud, and writing. The program is designed to encourage self-confidence, a positive social attitude, and an awareness and understanding of other cultures. Students participate in reading, writing of paragraphs, and individual and group projects. Students attain conversational proficiency and a familiarity with Spanish-speaking cultures. Spanish instruction is textbook-driven, and grammatical lessons are reinforced through audio, visual, and simulation exercises. During class, students have many opportunities to practice their conversational skills and improve their listening comprehension. Students learn vocabulary words related to a wide array of themes. In addition, they learn how to use and conjugate verbs in the present and past tenses.

French (elective)

The French offers students an experience in French that is both comprehensive and interactive. The program’s main objective is to enable each child to discover and develop an understanding of French culture and language through listening, speaking, reading aloud, and writing. The program is designed to encourage self-confidence, a positive social attitude, and an awareness and understanding of other cultures. Students participate in reading, writing of paragraphs, and individual and group projects.
Advisement

Advisement is an opportunity for sixth grade students to meet in small groups and address issues that would not come up in a normal academic setting. This may include topics, such as peer relationships, time or emotional management, or communication problems with other faculty members. Advisors also serve as the first line of communication for parents and teachers. Advisors communicate with parents and teachers about student grades and progress throughout the school year.

 

7th Grade

 

English

The focus of the sixth through eighth grade English curriculum is reading and writing. Students complete a wide range of reading that covers a variety of genres. They discuss their reading in class and make inferences about character, plot, setting, and theme and synthesize and analyze information to formulate theses. Students also respond to their reading by writing essays, reviews, letters, blogs, new articles, scripts, songs, dramatic monologues, book trailers, and other genres. In addition, students engage in creative modes of writing such as speeches, short stories, and poetry. Students work through the writing process, from brainstorming and drafting to writing, rereading, revising, proofreading, and editing. Along with meaningful reading and writing, students expand their vocabulary and study grammar with the goal of improving their oral and written expression. Thanks to Powhatan’s One-to-One Program, students take organized, daily notes in Microsoft OneNote.

Math

In sixth through eighth grade, math is sectioned based on confidence, mathematical development, and performance. These split classes allow students to set reasonable goals, achieve greater success, and accelerate in their development. All students have the opportunity to explore and strengthen their areas of weakness as well as view mathematics in new and creative ways. There are several reading and writing components in each course to help students learn the technical reading and writing skills that are vital to understanding mathematics. In addition to new textbooks and ideas being incorporated into the curriculum on a regular basis, a wide range of computer software is also used. Courses offered to seventh graders include Algebra I.

Science

In the seventh grade, students focus on the geosciences of geology, oceanography, meteorology, astronomy, and environmental science. Throughout the program, students apply the scientific method to their studies as well as enhance their critical thinking and reasoning abilities through extensive reading and research. While students primarily focus on the geosciences, they also explore specific subjects, such as Virginia geology and the economic, social, and political impacts of environmental conservation and degradation.

History

The primary curricular goal of seventh grade social studies is the study of American history from pre-Columbian times to Reconstruction. Students engage in reading, discussion, journal writing, essay writing, simulations, and research papers in order study Nat Turner’s Revolt, the Underground Railroad, the Boston Massacre, and the Constitution as well as other milestones in American history. In addition, weekly map units on topics of American history and geography are included in the social studies curriculum.

Spanish (elective)

The Spanish curriculum offers students an experience in Spanish that is both comprehensive and interactive. The program’s main objective is to enable each child to discover and develop an understanding of Spanish culture and language through listening, speaking, reading aloud, and writing. The program is designed to encourage self-confidence, a positive social attitude, and an awareness and understanding of other cultures. Students participate in reading, writing of paragraphs, and individual and group projects. Students attain conversational proficiency and a familiarity with Spanish-speaking cultures. Spanish instruction is textbook-driven, and grammatical lessons are reinforced through audio, visual, and simulation exercises. During class, students have many opportunities to practice their conversational skills and improve their listening comprehension. Students learn vocabulary words related to a wide array of themes. In addition, they learn how to use and conjugate verbs in the present and past tenses.

French (elective)

The French offers students an experience in French that is both comprehensive and interactive. The program’s main objective is to enable each child to discover and develop an understanding of French culture and language through listening, speaking, reading aloud, and writing. The program is designed to encourage self-confidence, a positive social attitude, and an awareness and understanding of other cultures. Students participate in reading, writing of paragraphs, and individual and group projects.

Advisement

Advisement is an opportunity for seventh grade students to meet in small groups and address issues that would not come up in a normal academic setting. This may include topics, such as peer relationships, time or emotional management, or communication problems with other faculty members. Advisors also serve as the first line of communication for parents and teachers. Advisors communicate with parents and teachers about student grades and progress throughout the school year.

 

8th Grade

 

English

The focus of the sixth through eighth grade English curriculum is reading and writing. Students complete a wide range of reading that covers a variety of genres. They discuss their reading in class and make inferences about character, plot, setting, and theme and synthesize and analyze information to formulate theses. Students also respond to their reading by writing essays, reviews, letters, blogs, new articles, scripts, songs, dramatic monologues, book trailers, and other genres. In addition, students engage in creative modes of writing such as speeches, short stories, and poetry. Students work through the writing process, from brainstorming and drafting to writing, rereading, revising, proofreading, and editing. Along with meaningful reading and writing, students expand their vocabulary and study grammar with the goal of improving their oral and written expression. Thanks to Powhatan’s One-to-One Program, students take organized, daily notes in Microsoft OneNote.

Math

In sixth through eighth grade, math is sectioned based on confidence, mathematical development, and performance. These split classes allow students to set reasonable goals, achieve greater success, and accelerate in their development. All students have the opportunity to explore and strengthen their areas of weakness, as well as look at mathematics in new and creative ways. There are several reading and writing components in each course to help students learn the technical reading and writing skills that are vital to understanding mathematics. In addition to new textbooks and ideas being incorporated into the curriculum on a regular basis, a wide range of computer software is used. Math courses offered to eighth grade students include Algebra I and Geometry.

Science

The main goal of the eighth grade science curriculum is to excite students about the possibilities of science. The focus is on physics and chemistry but frequently includes subjects such as Nobel Prize winners, current hurricanes, and other current events.

History

The eighth grade history curriculum covers American history from the end of the Civil War to the present. The year is broken into thematic units, including the Progressive Era and All That Jazz, the Great Depression, the American Presidency, Civil Rights, and World War II and the Holocaust. The Holocaust is studied in a broad humanities unit, combining history and English studies. The course involves extensive journal work, two major papers, discussion, and film work.

Spanish (elective)

The Spanish curriculum for eighth grade students continues their comprehensive introduction to the language. After a brief general review of previously learned material, students continue to work using the same textbook. Upon leaving Powhatan, students are able to enter second year Spanish in ninth grade.

French (elective)

The French curriculum for eighth grade students continues their comprehensive introduction to the language. After a brief general review of previously learned material, students continue to work using the same textbook. Upon leaving Powhatan, students are able to enter second year French in ninth grade.

Advisement

Advisement is an opportunity for eighth grade students to meet in small groups and address issues that would not come up in a normal academic setting. This may include topics, such as peer relationships, time or emotional management, or communication problems with other faculty members. Advisors also serve as the first line of communication for parents and teachers. Advisors communicate with parents and teachers about student grades and progress throughout the school year.