The Upper School consists of Fifth through Eighth Grades.
Children ages 11 to 14 begin to form strong opinions and often have a genuine urge to argue. Our teachers encourage students to argue and argue well, entering into deep critical thought and debate. Students draw from learned facts and work toward applying knowledge, historical context and the fine points of logic. Students use primary sources for research and formal debate is a part of the Upper School curriculum. Teachers use the Socratic method of learning, with an emphasis on how subjects relate to each other, operating from a interrelational approach rather than teaching separate subjects.
The classical Christian approach is teacher directed, but highly participatory and interactive. Students are encouraged and inspired to lead their peers in lessons, beginning in Pre-Beginners all the way through Eighth Grade, culminating in regular class discussion, debate, and public speaking. The Socratic method allows students to be fully present and engaged in all aspects of learning at every age. The environment is dynamic, intimate, and nurturing allowing for even the shyest or less academically inclined students to emerge and fully participate discovering their own specific gifts, talents and potential.
The goal of our Upper School math program is to develop a deep understanding and appreciation for the world of mathematics. Students in Fifth and Sixth Grades approach concepts using Singapore math with an emphasis on bar modeling. This gives students an opportunity to “feel” and see how large a quantity is as they compare it to another, tackling topics such as fractions, speed, volume, and angles, students apply these modeling techniques with multiple steps of logical reasoning to arrive at their conclusions. Once in Seventh Grade, students plunge into a two year Algebra 1 Course. Slowly progressing through algebra, students take time to deepen their understanding of concepts with an emphasis on problem solving. Students leave Eighth Grade with a thorough exposure to linear and quadratic equations, rational and irrational numbers, and a brief introduction to trigonometry.
Upper School students revisit the historical periods (ancient, medieval, and modern) they studied in Lower School but with more sophisticated content. A Lower School student will have memorized and acted out history in chronological order; Upper School students begin to access primary sources and gain the importance of historical facts and their relevance to current events. By the end of Eighth Grade, our students are equipped to articulate a thesis and defend it in both oral and written forms. In addition, our Upper School graduates will have studied the greatest authors of ancient and modern history from Homer, Aristotle, Plato, Hesiod, Dante, and Tolkien. At Geneva School, we place a special emphasis on our students’ ability to read great books for themselves and to evaluate, question, discuss, present, debate and even teach based on their own ability and curiosity. This is initiated through the Great Books reading groups that start in Kindergarten and come to its full consummation when our Eighth Grade students defend their thesis papers (Disputation) at our annual Cicero’s Podium.
Our Upper School science curriculum gives students a comprehensive understanding of physical, earth and life sciences. The emphasis is on teaching the proper use of the scientific method – it requires students to keep science notebooks for proper record keeping, with a focus on experimentation and deduction. Students use multiple sources, including primary sources of scientific findings. Research projects trace the development of particular ideas and technologies. For example, Fourth and Fifth Grade students learned how to grow pea plants. The following year while in Sixth Grade, students will attempt to genetically cross their pea plants while studying Mendel’s paper discovering the law of heredity.
Students grow Wisconsin Fast Plants from seed disks, compare the phenotypes of the parent plants, and collect data on the subsequent generations to see the pattern of inheritance predicted by Gregor Mendel's work.
Students transition from French to Latin in Fourth Grade, studying Latin through Eighth Grade. As students study Latin, they are also reinforcing their knowledge of English grammar. Latin covers approximately 50 percent of the English language and is found in our world in all areas of study including science, history, literature, logic, and the Bible, increasing student’s vocabulary and ability to transition into other “romance languages,” such as Spanish and French.
Upper School students continue with their study of the Bible, moving into a specific Bible class for each grade level. Fifth Grade students take an Old Testament survey and learn how to see evidence of Jesus Christ throughout the Old Testament. Sixth Grade students engage in an in-depth study of the life of Christ with specific emphasis on the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophesy. Seventh Grade students study the early Church, and Eighth Grade finishes up with apologetics and the study of Paul’s Epistles.
Music and Art
All Upper School students continue with the Kodály music approach which incorporates chorus and sight singing. The Upper School choirs have the opportunity to perform at various School concerts and events throughout the year.
In art, students learn classical fine art techniques in multiple mediums and are taught by artist and portrait painter, Albert Popa.
Upper School students engage in formal physical education classes where they develop motor skills, improve on their physical fitness and develop cognitive concepts by learning the fundamentals in a variety of sport including soccer, basketball, volleyball, baseball, handball, badminton and flag football. They develop personal social character traits such as honesty, compassion, leadership, friendship, cooperation, respect, following directions and putting in their best effort. Afterschool programs and competitive sports teams allow students to stay engaged and enjoy a full and creative day together with their teachers and peers.
Although Upper School teachers use technology as a tool to further students' knowledge in the classroom, Geneva School believes that children learn best in dialogue between teacher and student. For this reason, Geneva School students do not use technology in the classrooms. Upper School students are required, however, to type papers and use technology for slide presentations and other projects.
The Rhetoric Phase
Rhetoric is the art of communicating well, is taught throughout all the stages but is given full attention in Seventh and Eighth Grades. Students at this age are longing to make independent decisions and form good social relationships wih peers and adults. The rhetoric phase takes advantage of this natural desire and gives students the tools and opportunities to express themselves in a myriad of ways. Teachers are passionate about bringing out the best in students. The Socratic method continues to inspire students to be fully present and engaged in all aspects of learning. The environment is dynamic, intimate, and nurturing, and helps students discover their own specific gifts, talents, and potential. Persuasive writing, speech, and formal debate are taught, culminating at the end of Eighth Grade when each student presents and defends a thesis paper in the annual Cicero's Podium.
Teachers are committed to spiritual and professional growth and receive regular training from outside experts in Singapore Math, writing, and leading Great Books discussion groups in the classical methodology. The faculty seeks to set an example of faith, character, and a lifelong love for learning. Engaging the heart as well as the mind, teachers believe students are made in the image of God with unique talents and traits. This creates an infectious environment and rich relationship between children and their teachers, laying the foundation for a life long love for learning.