Middle School electives at St. Peter's
Middle school elective courses are give students an opportunity to exercise their creativity, critical thinking, and collaborative skills. Teachers plan a variety of quarter-long and semester-long electives to pique the interest of students beyond the core curriculum. Students have the opportunity to interact with middle school students in other grade levels as well as younger students through formal presentations and other opportunities to serve as classroom helpers.
Middle School Electives Courses
Our elective offerings change yearly, but these are some of our courses this year.
In middle-school art, we discover the qualities of a variety of media, including soft pastels, water colors, clay, acrylics, and much more. We experiement with the features of each media to refine our techniqes in order to create both realistic and abstract art. We also explore the wealth of art in our city through field trips to SFMOMA, local galleries, and the beautiful murals of the Mission.
The coding elective allows sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students to fully engage and immerse themselves in the world of computer science. CSFirst is a coding program sponsored by Google, and its goal is to positively reach out to students who may not think they would initially enjoy computer science. Students create projects after watching step-by-step instructional videos and they are able to share what they created with their friends in a positive environment. Throughout the course of the year, students are able to experience coding through many different themes: sports, music and sound, art, social media, games, friends, fashion and design, and animation.
Modern comic books—or graphic novels—are all the rage, and in this elective, students have the chance to create their very own comic book featuring their own superhero. They are introduced to the history, roles and techniques of creating a comic book. Students are then able to express their creativity by building their own comic book worlds. Towards the end of the elective, students present their comic books while also dressing up in a mini St. Peter's ComiCon.
In the engineering elective, we explore our relationship with open spaces around us, centered around a new and developing vegetable garden on our school yard. Critical thinking, problem solving, mathematical and scientific skills as well as nutrition education are gained. The students start with a problem, design a solution, then put their action plan into place designing, building, planting, and taking care of the spaces around them. Every week a new concept is born and worked on until completion. Some amazing discoveries have surfaced with many more on the horizon. The elective is a great chance for the students to develop a hands-on approach to learning about the world around us.
Playing, tinkering, making, and engineering are all immersive and interactive activities that anyone can take part in. According to the definition that our students developed, they all lie on a spectrum which involves more "seriousness" as you move from "playing" all the way to "engineering." We chose to take advantage of this spectral relationship and created a tinkering elective because it serves as a gateway activity, one where a student interacts with objects in a manner that is slightly more formal than "playing," with the possibility of becoming as involved as engineering. During this elective cycle we create tinkering notebooks, explore electronics, and visit a hackerspace in the Mission District.