Middle School Arts Curriculum
At the Middle School age, it’s impossible to determine how and when hidden talents will bloom. Middle School students are exploring what they’re drawn to and where their talents lie. For this reason, Rivermont’s robust arts program exposes Middle School students to a quarter of visual art and a quarter of drama each year. In addition, every Middle School student participates in a music ensemble: choir, or band.
Whether it’s with a paintbrush or a script, creative expression at Rivermont is encouraged and celebrated. Middle School courses are designed to allow students to build a foundation of skills and develop and showcase those skills through performances and exhibits. Students participate in Rivermont events including the Winter Concert, SpringFest, and the All School Art Show, as well as community and national events such as the Quad City Arts’ Festival of Trees and the National Art Education Association’s Youth Art Month.
Visual Art (6th Grade)
6th Grade students create sketchbook journals and study the work of artist-advocate Dan Eldon. Sketchbook journals are used throughout the course as a tool to compose preliminary ideas for projects.
Students study the elements of pattern and the concept of positive and negative space within a work of art. They create a composition that expresses movement, illustrates positive and negative space, and emphasizes patterns. Students use complimentary colors and repetition to achieve contrast, balance, and unity in their artwork and further their exploration of space with still life drawings. Students learn the methods of two-point perspective to create the illusion of three-dimensional space on a two-dimensional surface and apply these techniques to their utopian cityscapes, which make a cross-curricular connection to The Giver in English.
Students demonstrate blending and shading techniques to illustrate different values throughout their artwork. They establish a dominant light source and shade objects according to that light source. Students evaluate and articulate the reasoning behind their favorite work of art by creating an artist statement video. 6th Grade students share their artwork and artist statement videos with a large audience during the annual Family Art Night and All School Art Show.
Visual Art (7th Grade)
7th Grade students create pinwheel radial name designs. Through this project, they learn how to use radial symmetry to create an interesting and balanced composition. They visibly represent their personality by utilizing creative vocabulary and color combinations and also demonstrate lettering and shading techniques.
Next, students make a cross-curricular connection to East Asia geography curriculum with the study of contemporary South Korean artist Do-Ho Suh, who addresses the dynamic of personal space vs. public space and explores the fine line between the individual and the collective in our increasingly global society. Dominating principals of design are space, repetition, and unity and students utilize a variety of media in their artwork.
Students also explore ceramics, architecture, and the concept of home by creating a clay house. Students’ last project communicates a theme inspired by contemporary artist Nick Lampert. Students create a collage-drawing of the merging of animal and machine and their relationship to each other.
7th Grade students share their artwork with a large audience during the annual Family Art Night and All School Art Show.
Visual Art (8th Grade)
8th Grade students create sketchbook journals while focusing on lines. Sketchbook journals are used throughout the course as a tool to compose preliminary ideas for projects.
Students study the work of contemporary American artist Jasper Johns and create a composition utilizing a number design. They practice using complimentary and analogous colors to achieve contrast, balance, and unity in their artwork. Next, students create a ceramic ship of dreams, practicing a variety of hand-building techniques and sculpting methods to manipulate the clay to achieve the desired features of their three-dimensional ship. After the initial bisque firing, students choose from a variety of colored glazes to allow further individual expression.
Students also complete a map of Verona, Italy, making a cross-curricular connection to English and the reading of Romeo and Juliet. They familiarize themselves with Verona and its historical landmarks and use their choice of mixed media materials to create a map from a modern perspective or in the style of Pietro Bertelli’s Renaissance maps. Students’ final project is to invent an alter ego using their choice of mixed media materials. To do so, students explore a variety of contemporary artists who incorporate identity and the use of alter egos as core themes in their artwork.
Students evaluate and articulate the reasoning behind their favorite work of art by creating an artist statement video. 8th Grade students share their artwork and artist statement videos with a large audience during the annual Family Art Night and All School Art Show.
Drama (6th Grade)
6th Grade students explore the origins of drama, focusing on the storytelling tradition. Students participate in a variety of exercises to develop the voice and body for performance. Students also explore playwriting, directing, technical theater, and acting as they collaborate in small groups to create original stories, which are developed into scripts for rehearsal and performance.
Drama (7th Grade)
7th Grade students examine the structure of drama, theatrical conventions and terminology, and theater history. Students read and analyze one-act and full-length plays and participate in performances of scenes and monologues.
Drama (8th Grade)
8th Grade students investigate the ways in which American history has been reflected in theater and how technology has impacted American theater. Students participate in a variety of actor training exercises and explore career options in the dramatic arts.
Middle School Choir (6th-8th Grade)
Every Middle School student participates in a music ensemble: choir or band. Middle School Choir students are placed according to voice assessment for two and three-part singing. The repertoire is selected from a variety of styles and performed in concert from memory with proper choral posture, technique, and choreography. Solo opportunities are available for concert performances.
Theory concepts, music terminology, history, and the music and lives of various composers are incorporated throughout the year. Students learn basic handbell ringing technique with Malmark Choir chimes and bell ringing is often added to a concert performance.
Middle School Band (6th-8th Grade)
Every Middle School student participates in a music ensemble: choir, band, or strings. Middle School Band students concentrate on the development of individual proficiency with complex rhythm and scale studies, while also exploring multiple musical styles. “Small-but-mighty” is the nature of the Middle School Band – students are often called upon to fill multiple parts, which not only expands their proficiency to multiple instruments but creates a true sense of teamwork.