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MS Exploratory Course Descriptions (24-25)
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Pella Middle School

 Exploratory Course Descriptions 2024-2025

Art - Architecture - (2024-2025)                        quarter

Architecture goes beyond mere buildings; it mirrors society, culture, and innovation throughout history. Within this course, students will explore the evolution of architecture, witnessing its changes across various eras and regions globally. By analyzing how form and function interact in architectural design, students will gain a deeper comprehension of how aesthetics and purpose harmonize in buildings. Through interactive activities, students will create architectural sculptures to showcase their understanding of architectural components and design concepts. By taking inspiration from the architectural wonders within communities, students will foster an admiration for the diverse architectural styles seen in places like Pella. Project examples include but are not limited to an architectural history collage integrating drawing and mixed media, a foam board sculpture of a personally drawn and designed building, and a ceramic piece highlighting architectural elements.

Art - Ceramics - (2024-2025)                                 quarter

Students in this ceramics will have the opportunity to explore their interests, unleash their imaginations, and create various sculptural, functional, and free-choice ceramic pieces. Through hands-on experience, they will delve into different stages of clay, learn essential handbuilding techniques, and understand proper use of tools in ceramics. Additionally, students will be able to add their personal touch by glazing their creations or applying cold finishes like acrylic paint. Each project will emphasize the mastery of specific skills acquired during the course and requires approval of a drafting sketch before beginning. To enhance their creativity, students can research and seek inspiration from various resources showcasing ceramic pieces from ancient to modern times.

Art - Design - (2024-2025)                                quarter        

In Design, students will delve into the fundamental building blocks of the arts - the elements and principles of design. Through collaboration, discussion, and hands-on projects, students will explore how these elements and principles are used in modern society.  Projects will range from creating a 3D geometric model collaborative installation to designing innovative shoes or t-shirts inspired by student interests and popular culture references.

Art - Drawing - (2024-2025)                                quarter

In drawing, students engage in the art of drawing through a blend of direct observation, reference images, and imagination. They explore different drawing mediums and techniques to hone their skills in creating value and the illusion of form through shading. From imaginative self-portraits to captivating still lifes and enchanting dreamscape drawings, students embark on a creative journey to express themselves artistically and develop their visual storytelling abilities.

Band                                                                        year

Seventh grade band is a continuation of sixth grade band.  Eighth grade band is a continuation of seventh grade band.  Band rehearsals are three days per week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday) throughout the school year.  Band students attend a weekly private lesson scheduled during a study hall or health class.  Required performances include two home concerts (November and March), and two Tulip Time Parades (May).  Optional activities include jazz bands, solo/small ensemble recitals, and honor bands. Students who do not play an instrument must have at least 3 months of private lessons on an instrument before registering for the course.

Choir                                                                        year

Choir meets two times a week (Tuesday, Thursday) throughout the school year.  Boys and girls choirs meet on alternating Fridays. The seventh and eighth grade choirs present two concerts during the year and members may participate in other opportunities including show choir and honor choirs.  Choral students have regularly scheduled voice lessons once a week. These lessons may be instructed in small groups or individually.  During vocal lessons, students will practice to improve technique and sight-reading, and will experience various types of repertoire.

Orchestra                                                                year

The middle school orchestra consists of both 7th and 8th graders in one group.  Orchestra meets three times a week throughout the school year and all students receive one individual lesson each week.  The middle school orchestra performs in four concerts each year in October, December, February, and May.  In addition to concerts, students attend a large group orchestra festival in the fall and participate in a solo contest in the spring.  During orchestra and lessons, students will become better string players and musicians by learning a variety of repertoire that focuses on building skills in  intonation, rhythm, bowing, articulation, musicality, tone, and technique.

FCS - Consumer                                                        quarter        

Students in Consumer begin the career planning process during a career exploration unit, infusing personal finance concepts along the way such as goal setting, needs vs. wants,budgeting, and more. The last half of the course is the food preparation unit, where students gain 21st century skills and food preparation skills by working as a group to prepare a variety of recipes.

FCS - Friends and Food Trucks                                          quarter

Students in Friends and Food Trucks will begin by learning more about themselves as part of a Personal Development unit. We will cover values, goals, personalities, learning styles, and much more. The second unit focuses on relationships and working with others. We will discuss family types, friendships, time management, communication and more. The pinnacle of the quarter will be when students get to combine these skills to create and plan a Food Truck. Students will create business plans, a marketing campaign, and get to prepare a specialty dish unique to the concept each group chose for their truck.

FCS - Independent Living                                                quarter

Independent Living students will have opportunities to practice decision making in the areas of child development, sewing, and interior design. Using computer technology, practical application, and real life simulations, students will enhance their quality of life by developing everyday skills for themselves and others.

FCS - Nutrition and Wellness                                        quarter

Students enrolled in Nutrition and Wellness will investigate the principles of nutrition by exploring the six essential nutrients, learning about food choices and food issues, ensuring food safety, planning, preparing, and improving recipes to increase nutritional value and investigating careers in the field of nutrition and wellness.

Health 1  (required-7th grade)                                         semester

Students learn about the health triangle, which encompasses the social, physical, and mental/emotional dimensions of health. The Healthy Lifestyle Choices Curriculum is used with a decision-making lens studying the topics of goal-setting, social skills, self-esteem, bullying, mental disorders, suicide & depression (sources of help), stress management, nutrition, non-communicable diseases, drug education, and human growth and development. Curriculum also includes abstinence-based sex education with information presented about male & female reproductive systems (changes that occur during puberty as they relate to the health triangle), boundary setting, peer pressure, and refusal skills.

Health 2  (required-8th grade)                                        semester

The 8th Grade Health curriculum is both content knowledge and skills based.  For example, drug education,  information about what alcohol, tobacco, marijuana and methamphetamines do to the body, is paired with the practice of refusal skills.  Building upon the foundation set in 7th grade Health, students gain further working knowledge of decision making and goal setting.  Social, information gathering, and communication skills are used to analyze the influences that impact personal, family, and community health situations.  Topics include personal wellness, consumer health, growth and development, basic first aid, and communicable diseases including HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.  Students learn about mental and emotional health, stress management, coping skills, and the impact those have on overall health. The course is abstinence-based.  

Digital Media/Yearbook Club                                         quarter                

Digital media/yearbook equips students with skills needed to be competent and ethical members of a digital society. Students will learn the technical and artistic aspects of photography and videography and the process of publishing content intended for an audience on authentic platforms (Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, etc.) Students will collaborate in a business which produces and distributes the middle school yearbook, team photos, and others as determined by the students.

STEM: Coding Smart Devices        (24-25)                        quarter

Students explore the role of physical devices in computing. Using App Lab and BBC micro:bit, students develop programs that utilize the same hardware inputs and outputs that you see in the smart devices, looking at how a simple rough prototype can lead to a finished product. Then, students explore how physical devices can be used to react to the world around them using a “maker” mindset to create prototypes with everyday materials.

STEM: Interactive Animations and Games        (24-25)        quarter

Students create programmatic images, animations, interactive art, and games. Starting off with simple primitive shapes and building up to more sophisticated sprite-based games, students become familiar with the programming concepts and the design process computer scientists use daily. They then learn how these simpler constructs can be combined to create more complex programs. In the final project, students develop a personalized, interactive program.

Introduction to Spanish                                                 quarter

Students will study vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation in the formats of reading, writing, listening, and speaking.  They will learn to communicate about themselves, family members, friends, their home, and their school.  Students will work with adjectives, possessive adjectives, subject/verb agreement, and noun/adjective agreement. They will learn about Hispanic culture, celebrations, and music.  

Spanish 1 (8th grade only)                                                year                

*Teacher has discretion of enrollment based on classroom performance and current 7th grade ELA grades.  Students earning a C or below may not be considered.

**Students must pass semester 1 in order to continue into semester 2.  

**Spanish 5 would need to be taken as a Post-Secondary Enrollment Option (PSEO) at Central College senior year.

Listening, speaking, reading, and writing strategies are incorporated in each unit at increasing levels of difficulty. Cultural research, discussions, and presentations are included to improve the student’s ability to understand and appreciate the target culture and language. Conversational opportunities are incorporated to help students increase listening and speaking skills. Active participation in class activities is necessary for success. Topics covered are regular -ar, -er, and -ir verbs in the present and preterite tense, stem-changing verbs, irregular verbs, reflexive verbs, direct and indirect object pronouns, and vocabulary involving home, school, friends, family, animals, food, clothing, sports, and health.  

**Spanish 1 is a high school-level course; however, students do not receive high school credit upon completion.  According to many colleges and universities, including the University of Iowa, Iowa State University, and Central College, they will allow high school Spanish I taken in middle school to be counted towards their foreign language requirement for admittance.


Not offered next year


Art - Crafts - (2025-2026)                                quarter

Students will have the exciting opportunity to delve into the world of artistic crafts such as Book making, paper marbling, copper tooling, and glass fusing. Throughout this exploration, they will not only create unique products but also unravel the rich history behind each craft. This hands-on experience will not only foster their creativity but also deepen their understanding of the cultural significance of these age-old art forms.

Art - Painting - (2025-2026)                                quarter

Students in painting will have the opportunity to enhance their drawing abilities and venture into the enchanting realm of painting. Utilizing acrylic and watercolor paints, students will be immersed in a variety of techniques aimed at developing their understanding of value, depth, and compositional balance. Through engaging activities such as color mixing and matching exercises, students will be introduced to the fundamentals of color theory. Projects will range from creating captivating disco balls to picturesque landscape watercolors and mixed media portraits, allowing students to unleash their creativity and artistic expression.

Art - Printmaking - (2025-2026)                        quarter

Students will discover the innovation of printmaking in the arts, a process that has made art more accessible and affordable to a wider audience. Throughout this journey, they will delve into creating monoprints, reduction prints, collagraphs, and experimenting with unconventional materials for unique outcomes. By exploring different tools and techniques in printmaking, students will grasp the importance of color, pattern, and repetition, and space in their creations, using materials like styrofoam, soft cut linoleum, and cardboard to bring their artistic visions to life.

Art - Sculpture - (2025-2026)                                quarter

In this exploration of sculpture, students will engage in creating various types of sculptures to learn about form, scale, and proportions. They will have the opportunity to design and craft clay sculptures, replicate everyday objects using cardboard, craft wire sculptures, and experiment with minimalist modular sculptures. Through these hands-on activities, students will enhance their problem-solving skills, practice brainstorming techniques, and develop the ability to sketch their ideas before constructing their sculptures.

Project Lead the Way: Design & Modeling                                        quarter

Students discover the design process and develop an understanding of the influence of creativity and innovation in their lives. They are then challenged and empowered to use and apply what they’ve learned throughout the unit to design a therapeutic toy for a child with a disability.


Project Lead the Way: Automation & Robotics                                        quarter        

Students trace the history, development, and influence of automation and robotics as they learn about mechanical systems, energy transfer, machine automation, and computer control systems. Students use the VEX Robotics® platform to design, build, and program real-world objects such as drag racers, traffic lights, toll booths, and robotic arms.



Regular Schedule

              Period 1                      8:13-8:54              (41)  

              Period 2                 8:57-9:38             (41)

              WIN                      9:41-10:07           (26)

Period 3        10:10-10:51        (41)

Period 4        10:54-11:35        (41)

Period 5        11:38-12:19        (41)

Period 6        12:22-1:03        (41)

Period 7        1:06-1:47        (41)

Period 8        1:50-2:31        (41)

Period 9                2:34-3:15        (41)  

Wednesday - 90 Minute EO

Period 1                         8:13 - 8:44         (31)  

Period 2        8:47 - 9:18         (31)

               WIN                       9:21 - 9:47           (26)

Period 3        9:50 - 10:21         (31)

Period 4        10:24 - 10:55         (31)

Period 5        10:58 - 11:29         (31)  

Period 6        11:32 - 12:03         (31)  

Period 7        12:06 - 12:37         (31)

Period 8        12:40 - 1:11         (31)

Period 9                1:14 - 1:45         (31)  

Two Hour Late Start Schedule

Period  1        10:13-10:42        (29)

Period 2        10:45-11:14         (29)

              WIN                      11:17-11:31             (14)

Period 5         11:34-12:03         (29)

Period 6        12:06-12:35         (29)

Period 3        12:38-1:07          (29)

Period 4        1:10-1:39        (29)

Period 7        1:42-2:11        (29)

Period 8        2:14-2:43            (29)  

Period 9        2:46-3:15         (29)  

Two Hour Early Dismissal Schedule

Period 1                         8:13-8:42          (29)  

Period 2        8:45-9:14          (29)

              WIN                        9:17-9:31               (14)

Period 3        9:34-10:03          (29)

Period 4        10:06-10:35          (29)

Period 7        10:38-11:07          (29)

Period 5        11:10-11:39          (29)

Period 6        11:42-12:11          (29)

Period 8        12:14-12:43          (29)

Period 9                12:46-1:15          (29)  

One Hour Late Start Schedule

Period 1                         9:13-9:48         (35)

Period 2        9:51-10:26         (35)

Period 3        10:29-11:06         (35)

Period 4        11:09-11:44         (35)

Period 5        11:47-12:22         (35)

Period 6        12:25-1:00         (35)

              WIN                      1:03-1:23               (20)

Period 7        1:26-2:01         (35)

Period 8        2:04-2:39         (35)

Period 9                2:42-3:15         (33)

One Hour Early Dismissal Schedule

Period 1                         8:13-8:48         (35)

Period 2        8:51-9:26         (35)

              WIN                      9:29-9:49            (20)

Period 3        9:52-10:27         (35)

Period 4        10:30-11:05         (35)

Period 5        11:08-11:43         (35)

Period 6        11:46 - 12:21         (35)

Period 7        12:24-12:59         (35)

Period 8        1:02-1:37         (35)

Period 9        1:40-2:15         (35)