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MS Exploratory Course Descriptions (23-24)
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Pella Middle School

 Exploratory Course Descriptions 2023-2024

Art - Crafts - YEAR 1 (2023-2024)                                quarter

Book making, paper marbling, copper tooling, basketry and glass fusing will be some of the products made by students.  The history of each craft will be studied.

Art - Painting - YEAR 1 (2023-2024)                                quarter

Students will experiment with watercolor and acrylic painting techniques while practicing the principles and elements of design. Artistic styles of painters like Henri Matisse, Marc Chagall, Renee Magritte, and Chuck Close will be studied.

Art - Printmaking - YEAR 1 (2023-2024)                        quarter

Printmaking techniques including reduction relief, woodcut, mono-print and drypoint will be covered. The work of printmakers will be reviewed like Rembrandt, Albrecht Durer and Andy Warhol.

Art - Sculpture - YEAR 1 (2023-2024)                                quarter

Found object, additive, subtractive, and wire sculptures will be constructed by students. Artists like Alberto Giacometti, Louise Nevelson, Henry Moore and Alexander Calder will be studied.

Art - Architecture - YEAR 2 - (2024-2025)                        quarter

Students will learn about architectural styles, then draw their own building designs using combinative methods.  Historical architectural styles will be viewed as well as the work of modern architects like Frank Lloyd Wright, Frank Gehry and I.M. Pei.  

Art - Ceramics - YEAR 2 - (2024-2025)                                 quarter

Students will create vessels out of clay using the coil, slab and wheel thrown methods.  Metaphoric design strategies will be used to create unique and original works using traditional clay construction methods.

Art - Design - YEAR 2 - (2024-2025)                                quarter        

Students will create abstract and non-representational compositions using the principles and elements of design.  Visual thinking problem solving strategies will be used to motivate students to create unique, original solutions.  The work of artists like Pablo Picasso, Bridget Riley and M.C. Escher will be studied.

Art - Drawing - YEAR 2 - (2024-2025)                                quarter

Students will learn to see like an artist and realistically draw three-dimensional shapes on two-dimensional surfaces.  A variety of drawing techniques and the parts of shading will be emphasized.  The work of Leonardo da Vinci, Edward Hopper, Mary Cassatt and other artists will be studied.

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 Wednesdays. 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 (8th grade only)                        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.

Project Lead the Way: Computer Science for Innovators and Makers        quarter

Students discover computer science concepts and skills by creating personally relevant projects. Students will learn about programming for the physical world by blending hardware design and software development. They will design and develop a physical computing device, interactive art installation, or wearable, and develop code for microcontrollers that bring their physical design to life.

Project Lead the Way: App Creators                                                quarter

Students analyze and develop solutions to problems through mobile app development and convey the positive impact of the application of computer science to society. Students choose a problem that interests them from the areas of health, environment, emergency preparedness, education, community service, and school culture.

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.

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.



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)