Curriculum Overview

Core Teachers, Specialists, + Grade Teams

Like most middle schools, teachers are hired to teach the content of one or more disciplines for one or more grades. Unlike many middle schools, we take holistic learning seriously and, as a result, we expect a high degree of coordination and collaboration among all of the teachers of a particular grade. The curriculum and classroom teaching of an individual teacher derives its context from the larger curriculum of a grade and adapts to the experiences of students in other classes. Teacher collaboration extends beyond simple schedules and logistics as the team must coordinate how they unfold the integrating themes, how they develop the core skills and meta-skills of leadership and social justice, how they orchestrate culminating projects, and how they address emergent challenges with individuals and groups of students.

Grade-Level Themes:

Throughout the year, students continually encounter their grade-level theme which shapes their curriculum and integrates learning across disciplines. Interested in the curriculum for each grade? Check out our Curriculum Guide»

5th Grade

  • Theme: Digging Deeper
  • 5th Grade Course Outlines + Benchmarks + Blog here »

6th Grade

  • Theme: Development, Identity, + Progress
  • 6th Grade Course Outlines + Benchmarks + Blog here »

7th Grade

  • Theme: Roots of Positive Change
  • 7th Grade Course Outlines + Benchmarks + Blog here »

8th Grade

  • Theme: Alone We Go Fast, Together We Go Far
  • 8th Grade Course Outlines + Benchmarks + Blog here »

Content Areas

  • Adventure + Wellness
  • Art
  • Global Studies + Social Studies
  • Humanities + Language Arts
  • Mathematics
  • Music
  • Performance Studies
  • Science
  • Spanish
  • Technology

Core Skill Development

  • Communication
  • Problem Solving/Analytical + Critical Thinking
  • Democratic Citizenship
  • Leadership
  • Work Habits


Informed by Standards, Not Driven by Them

The SGS educational experience is rich and nuanced, and so is our approach to assessing and reporting student progress. While teachers often use quantifiable measures like geography quizzes and math assessments to provide basic checkpoints, they also consider assessment to be an essential part of the authentic work teachers and students do together each day.

For each study and major project, our faculty takes great care in articulating the skills, understandings, and outcomes they expect of their students, guided by a deep familiarity with nationally considered standards, and of child and adolescent development. Teachers provide varied ways of both supporting those outcomes and assessing them. They closely observe students in the process of working, and carefully analyze their products, often with the help of rubrics designed to support students as they move toward the highest of expectations.

At SGS, we have never used letter grades. Our in-depth progress reports, sent home three times a year, provide a rich picture of our students’ strengths as well as their challenges. These comprehensive reports are supplemented by less formal assessment communications throughout the year, and ongoing feedback for students. We also work hard to develop each student’s capacity for honest and productive self-assessment, with adult support.

Twice a year, each student leads their parents and advisor through a personalized “Learning Team Meeting,” where students share important pieces of work and reflect on their progress toward self-chosen goals. LTMs put middle school girls right where they need to be: at the center of the conversation regarding their academic and social/emotional development.

Being There Experiences

One of the hallmarks of a Seattle Girls’ School education is the opportunity to engage in being-there experiences that not only facilitate but also cement learning. These experiences are not the exception, but the norm for teaching at SGS.

Caitlin Gaylord_2010


Some of my favorite memories of SGS are…being able to get learning out of an experiencenot just learning for a test or learning something so you can be quizzed on it and then totally forget it, which is how a lot of schools are. I think a lot of the information I learned at SGS really stuck with me because there was so much real-life application and it wasn’t just a multiple-choice test.

– Caitlin Gaylord, SGS Alum, Class of 2010




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