The Ensworth Middle School English curriculum celebrates literature and the excellent discussions and writings books inspire. By reading award-winning novels and works of nonfiction, students develop an enthusiasm and appreciation for literature and further develop their critical and analytical thinking skills. Students learn to annotate text as they read and become skilled at using evidence to support their ideas. Daily writings relate to assigned reading, and grading focuses on students' reading comprehension and their ability to make connections, draw conclusions, and write cohesively and effectively.
The Middle School math program at Ensworth provides multiple levels of instruction targeted at each student’s math readiness. In the Middle School, mathematics programs cover Pre-Algebra Foundations in Grade 6, Pre-Algebra in Grade 7, and Algebra 1 in Grade 8. Students who meet certain criteria may be recommended for Honors level work in all three of these courses. On rare occasions, seventh-graders with an advanced level of preparation will be placed in Algebra 1 Honors, providing those students an opportunity to take Integrated Geometry/Algebra 2 as eighth graders.
With a foundation in the Lower School of Chinese and Spanish, Grade 6 students transition to an introduction to Latin. This shift intentionally focuses on the development of a student’s ability to explore and to draw conclusions about the structure of language. This process will enhance their ability to be successful learners in any language class. At the end of the sixth grade, the students make a two-year world language commitment to study the Level I curriculum in Chinese, Latin or Spanish. They will be ready to advance to Level II in that language in the ninth grade if they meet the academic requirements for advancement.
The Middle School social studies curriculum is designed to help students continue to develop strong study skills acquired in the Lower School through content based upon ancient and medieval cultures. Students focus on developing the skills of an historian including, but not limited to, research, writing, reading critically, analyzing primary sources, forming logical oral and written arguments, note-taking, and organizing information. Students move from early human history into studies of the ancient civilizations. Specific units include the first civilizations of Mesopotamia, Egypt, China, Indus River Valley, Maya, Aztec, and Inca. The class then moves into the study of Greece and Rome, causes of the Fall of Western Rome and Eastern Rome, and the Middle Ages.
In Middle School, students learn to communicate their observations in detailed lab reports and working in groups to collaboratively solve problems. After gaining lab proficiency, students move on to a comprehensive survey of living organisms. The goal of this unit is to hone students’ observations skills as they explore the question, “What physical and behavioral adaptations have organisms developed over time to effectively compete in their environment?” After learning how single-celled organisms function, students apply this understanding in the programming of robots to carry out sophisticated tasks. The students then start a study of different invertebrates and vertebrates, moving from simple to more complex, while comparing and contrasting the various organisms. The history and evolution of life on this planet are explored. As a final assessment, the students design and program their own robots that then compete for resources in an artificial environment.
The Middle School art program is a rigorous and creative exercise composed of the many various techniques and uses of media gained throughout the student’s former art experiences. A major focus is to encourage personal ideas and ownership in projects. This process also includes self-critiquing and analyzing artwork in a positive and deliberate manner with the continuous guidance of the art teacher.
Middle School students choose each year between Chorus and Band for their year-long music class. Immersing themselves in only one musical endeavor for an entire year provides students with an opportunity for individual skill development while also allowing them to benefit from the experience of performing in a group. Extracurricular performance groups in both choral and instrumental music are also offered for all middle school students.
Middle School Life meets once per rotation and begins the year with an introduction to middle school life. The class places an emphasis on the value of responsibility by teaching and practicing skills for peer mediation and conflict resolution. Students explore their potential and examine how to cope with unrealized expectations by employing the concepts on grit and gratitude. The year concludes with a study on the changes related to puberty and how to recognize and to prepare for these changes. Students continue to discuss personal safety and focus on setting personal boundaries, appropriate use of the Internet, and options for assistance by adults.
An integral part of the School’s curriculum is the Service Learning program, from kindergarten through twelfth grade. Often employing interdisciplinary approaches that build on academic skills, students design and carry out projects that enhance their understanding and compassion for society with many different needs ranging from environmental concerns to housing for needy families. Each grade level identifies and carries out at least one service learning project each year that benefits the greater Nashville community. Ensworth’s goal is to be known as a school that reaches beyond itself to its broader community, that embraces service opportunities, and that serves as a leader in the national educational community.
All students in the Middle School participate in a sports-based curriculum with an emphasis on fitness, skills, and strategies. The lessons that are taught are seasonal according to their extracurricular after-school sports. The units include fitness, football, speed ball, ultimate Frisbee, volleyball, soccer, basketball, wrestling, softball, baseball, and track. Everyone is taught and encouraged to display good sportsmanship and to pursue a goal of lifetime fitness with a daily emphasis on the components of physical education: cardiovascular endurance, flexibility, muscular strength, and endurance.
Middle School students utilize technology as an extension of their learning throughout the academic curriculum. They are prepared for frequent and more personalized technology use with a school-provided laptop for school and home use. Through various classes, students are introduced to advanced library databases, best practices in internet research, file management, and digital citizenship. With their own laptop to use in their academic classes, Middle School students use higher-order thinking skills in project-based assignments involving multimedia presentations, internet research, digital video-making, and electronic communication and collaboration The Instructional Technology Specialist assists teachers with technology use and integration into the curriculum through professional development and team teaching. In addition, every Middle School student will take the Makerspace Innovation Course that incorporates basic coding skills, design thinking curriculum, and 3D design projects. Devices such as digital cameras, tablets, 3d printers, and robotics will be used with the sixth, seventh, and eighth grades. Wireless networking and multimedia systems with projection in every classroom support teachers and students in their teaching and learning. Middle School students are prepared to continue independent, innovative, and responsible use of technology as they progress to high school.