Middle School Curriculum

Program of Study

Grade 5
Grade 6
Grade 7
Grade 8
Computer Science
Creative Programming I
Creative Programming II and Robotics
Computer Science elective (once during grade 7 or grade 8)
Computer Science elective
(once during grade 7 or grade 8)
One English course per year
Ancient History
Medieval History
United States History
Twentieth Century History
One Mathematics course per year
Physical Education and Health
One Physical Education and one Health course per year
Performing Arts
General Music 5 and one Performance Choice course
General Music 6 and one Performance Choice course
General Music 7 and one Performance Choice course
General Music 8 and one Performance Choice course
One Integrated Science course per year
Visual Arts
Visual Art 5
Visual Art 6
Visual Art 7
Visual Art 8
World Language
Three years of French, Latin, or Spanish

Highlights in Middle School

List of 6 items.

  • Fifth Grade Play | grade 5

    Traditional academia and the arts are intertwined as students weave together reading, writing, and history with storytelling and theatrics to create an original play. This intentional interdisciplinary project not only strengthens students comprehension of core concepts, but encourages creativity, imagination, and self-expression. Students utilize design thinkingan approach that draws upon logic, imagination, intuition, and systematic reasoning to explore possibilities and solve complex problemsto research and conceptualize a thirty-minute play within the bounds of the curriculum materials they must draw inspiration from. This introduction to a long-term group project, where students take full responsibility and ownership for every aspect of the performance, enhances time management skills and builds confidence.
  • Ellis Entrepreneurs | grades 5 and 6

    Ellis Entrepreneurs introduces students to basic business concepts and tests their entrepreneurial spirit in a collaborative, supportive environment. Through a hands-on, project-based learning experience, students are taught skills that they can then apply in the classroom, whether applying decimal math or learning how to work within a group. Students are challenged to prototype and create a good or product they can then sell, if they choose to, at the annual Holiday Shop. Everything from costing, to supply and demand, to market research is taught so students can decide on their idea and final selling price. Early exposure to entrepreneurial efforts in the Middle School supports growth and development while encouraging students to believe in themselves.
  • Medieval Faire | grade 6

    To give students a taste of life during the middle ages, faculty present Medieval Faire, a two-day immersion that combines pieces of the history and English curriculum in a unique, interdisciplinary way. Girls build and launch catapults; partake in a jousting competition; and hold an authentic Medieval feast complete with costumes, entertainment, and peasants who only get to eat if the nobility leave them leftovers.
  • Global Pittsburgh | Grade 7

    The grade 7 capstone project, Global Pittsburgh, is designed for students to explore how people are interconnected through neighborhoods, the city of Pittsburgh, and the larger world. The project highlights the Nationality Rooms in the Cathedral of Learning, Teeny Harris’ photography, and Pittsburgh’s attic at the Heinz History Center. Students work in small groups to research how immigration to Pittsburgh has shaped our city from the 1800s to current trends, and they hear from a variety of guest speakers, including refugee caseworkers. The culminating experience is attending the naturalization ceremony of new United States citizens.
  • Feeding Ourselves and Others | grade 7

    In grade 7, students partner with the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank to help feed local families in need. The project starts with a food drive where students collect non-perishables and combines topics in science, math, and applied research methods as the project progresses. After collection, students travel to the Food Bank to drop off their donations and get to work. Ellis faculty work closely with regional organizations to establish meaningful, hands-on opportunities for students to learn and grow as citizens and make a difference in the world. By leveraging community partnerships, faculty augment core academic learning with learning in context, and create an enduring and meaningful educational experience that prepares students for the future. This off-campus opportunity encourages deep reflection and greater perspective on larger issues in the world, leading girls to be well-rounded, thoughtful global citizens.
  • Toy Car Challenge | grade 8

    A culmination of the Middle School experience, this capstone project challenges grade 8 students to synthesize their skills across a multitude of disciplines to develop and deliver prototypes of electric gear-driven toys. In the final week of the school year, students apply the engineering design process to meet a specific set of design requirements. They conduct consumer interviews, draw sketches, work with models, calculate gear ratios, write proposals, and present their prototypes to a panel of judges. This deep dive assignment not only teaches students to manage their time and workload, but bolsters their presentation and public speaking skills as they prepare for the final project presentation. This interdisciplinary project strengthens the intellectual, technical, and social abilities students assimilate throughout Middle School. Grade 8 students research, analyze, and define challenges and work within constraints while honing leadership, collaboration, and communication skills.

Middle School Elective Examples

List of 15 items.

  • Creative Writing

  • Graphic Novel

  • FIRST LEGO League

  • Future City

  • Global Citizenship

  • Honors String Ensemble

  • Introduction to Podcasting

  • iOS Apps by Design

  • Maker Shop

  • Mix and Splice: A Creative Music Technology Course

  • Mobile Robotics

  • Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science (PJAS)

  • Short Story Seminar

  • Theater Productions

  • Theater Tech

Explore the Middle School Curriculum

Michelle Rust

Head of Middle School

The Ellis Middle School is a collaborative learning community that fosters students’ development into intellectually curious, creative, confident, and empathetic learners. Girls are not just taught to measure and memorize; they learn to collaborate in teams, grapple with authentic problems, critically analyze information, and structure an argument. 

Our curricula are focused on providing a breadth of foundational knowledge with opportunities to delve into content more deeply through our electives and integrated studies projects. Students become strategic and independent learners through our study skills programming, embedded throughout the Middle School years. Our Middle School advisory program supports the growth of self-advocacy in both academic and social-emotional arenas, and the student-advisor relationship develops through daily study halls and both formal and informal meetings. Each student is encouraged to develop her leadership skills in class, clubs, the arts, and athletics. 

We are a community built upon personal integrity, inclusivity, respect, and consideration of others, where students are known and student voices are respected.

Middle School Faculty Directory