Students in grades 7 and 8 will engage in a program that is rich in content and integrated into all areas of our curriculum. During the intermediate grades, students continue to strengthen the skills developed in the Primary and Junior grades. Teachers plan together to ensure consistency from Grades 1 through to Grade 8, so that students gain close familiarity with terminology and processes by the time they reach high school.
Following the Ontario Curriculum while broadening its content, our teachers take an issues-based approach to learning, infusing each of their subject specialties with references to current political, social, and economic events around the world. Lessons are perspective-driven and provide opportunities for students to examine the past, present and future connections between the curriculum and the real world.
In addition to learning higher order skills (e.g., cooperation, conflict resolution, collaboration and time-management), the aim of the intermediate program is to teach students how to deconstruct the world in personal, local and global contexts, and subsequently clarify their values as they reflect on their learning process.
Voice students are not shy to speak and express themselves in different scenarios. It is our ultimate objective to help guide and foster informed, critical thinkers that will go out into the world with a strong sense of empathy, self-worth and a willingness to be change-makers in our ever-evolving world.
Our English program is rich in content and integrated into all areas of our curriculum. Students learn that language is a holistic process that requires developing knowledge, practice, effort, perseverance, and confidence. As such, the language program fosters a balance of reading, writing, oral communication and media literacy skills while encouraging learners to express their voices, values, and creativity in a challenging, relevant, and engaging setting. Teachers plan together to ensure consistency from Grades 1 through to Grade 8, so that students gain close familiarity with terminology and processes by the time they reach high school. While we emphasize literacy, and reading and writing for the love of it, we also take an issues-based approach to learning, infusing our program with references to current political, social, and economic events around the world.
Voice students are not shy to speak and express themselves in different scenarios. We expect our students to present their ideas and experiences to their peers and teachers from the very beginning. As they progress, there are numerous opportunities to speak at assemblies, to parents, and to prospective families, including at our Student Led Interviews, Open Houses and our Issues Fair Presentation.
In Grades 7-8, students strengthen the skills they’ve developed in Primary and Junior grades. They apply their reading, writing, and oral communication skills in more challenging, analytical, and critical contexts. We focus on developing their metacognitive abilities to reflect and recognize their own challenges and strengths as writers, readers, and communicators. The writing program hones more sophisticated grammar, punctuation, and spelling use in longer written informative, creative, analytical, and persuasive works such as literary essays, close reading responses, longer creative fiction, research papers, autobiographies, etc. Students focus on process and on feedback from peers and teachers as they create, proofread, edit, revise, and submit final copies of their work.
Grade 7-8 students read, annotate, and analyze a variety of enriching texts, such as scripts, novels, essays, memoirs and autobiographies, historical narratives, short stories, poetry, speeches, articles, etc. They hone their ability to express their critical thoughts and personal perspectives, and listen to/interact with others, through a central focus on seminars, interviews, conferencing, discussions, debates, panels, presentations, and lectures. As such avid users of the media around them, our intermediate students learn the meaning of digital citizenship as they navigate their own relationship with and perspectives on various media, such as films, TV, advertising, social media, etc.
“Learning an additional language not only challenges a mind, it also teaches understanding, encourages patience, and fosters open-mindedness.”
– The Ontario Curriculum 2013, French as a Second Language, pg.7
There are many good reasons to learn an additional language. At Voice, we see our French program as a gateway to new opportunities, ways of understanding the world around us, connecting with Canadian and global heritage, and accessing diverse cultures. We see multilingualism as an essential component of global citizenship.
The central goal of our French program is language acquisition: reading, writing, and, most importantly, speaking! Throughout all grades, the language of instruction and student interaction is French. We offer an early introduction to French beginning in Grade 1, with a complete focus on oral communication in the primary grades. Grade 4 marks the beginning of our formal core French program, in which both reading and writing are introduced. Our program focuses on infusing music, dance, drama, visual arts, and students’ interests in order to make learning fun, engaging, effective, and relevant. Ultimately, we prepare students to use the language confidently and fluently in authentic contexts.
In Grade 7-8 core French, students strengthen and hone their second language skills as learned throughout the primary and junior grades, and apply these skills to various contexts. Students continue to focus largely on communication skills as they develop their ability to speak fluently, confidently, and accurately with peers and teachers. Intermediate students develop their abilities to write more complex texts in French, including stories, letters, emails, and posters. They also further develop language conventions meaningfully in the context of their writing. Building on the reading skills students strengthen their reading fluency and comprehension by moving on to longer, more complex texts, such plays, newspapers, graphic novels, short stories, magazines, etc. Finally, students continue to engage in cultural learning and appreciation through engaging with the French traditions, foods, songs, legends, sites, peoples, and histories of Fracnophonie around the world.
Acquisition of a new language should feel natural, comfortable and accommodate to the individual needs and diverse learning styles of each student. Instruction in Spanish requires the teacher to try to meaningfully infuse Spanish language and cultures at all times. We pay particular attention to “listening and practice”- intended to build vocabulary gradually. Listening and practice can take the form of a cooking class, a merengue lesson, role-play, story telling (in translation), etc. Alternatively, we focus on grammatical concepts (e.g., gender, verb conjugation, etc.). As students gain knowledge of Spanish vocabulary, they will be encouraged to use newly learned vocabulary in various contexts and within integration to other areas of the curriculum such as visual arts, global studies, mathematics, history, theatre and dance.
Feeling competent in math is empowering for all students. We strive to foster a positive attitude and confidence as well as higher achievement in math by engaging students in unique strategies that build from year to year.
Implementing an approach known as “Spiraling” means that teachers continually review previously taught material as opposed to teaching a single unit at a time. Consistently reviewing strands allows students to tackle math with confidence as there are ample and regular opportunities to practice their skills all year long! Strands are expanded upon and deepened with each encounter. Spiralling the math curriculum also allows students to see connections between strands as they are revisited throughout the year to further solidify their understanding.
Teachers use an instructional platform that focuses on effective ways to consolidate learning while promoting critical thinking in a way that meets the needs of all learners. The entire Math program is presented in the unique VIS style, making relevant, practical, and real-world connections that are concept-based, engaging, and enriching. Our math curriculum combines hands-on, experiential learning opportunities which empower our students.
The program is designed for students to practice skills and strategies in steps that become incrementally more challenging. This approach, supported by student-centred discovery, immediate feedback and direct instruction, builds a sense of personal achievement and competence. Students gain a deeper conceptual understanding of math and build mental math strategies. Our program infuses a healthy balance of meaningful numeracy learning, problem solving and the integration of technology.
Students progress knowing the power and purpose of math and how they can use it to better understand and participate in the world around them.
Approaches to History
Our past will not be seen as disconnected from the present, nor will the present be seen as irrelevant to the future. The goal will be to gain understanding and to analyze historical development not only through specific topics listed below, but also through present data and events. An understanding of our current conditions (social, economic, environmental and political) leads students to uncover the past, envision probable and preferred futures, and formulate ways of becoming ‘change agents’ to create better possibilities for our communities in years to come.
In Grade 7, the study of history focuses on the development of Canada from the seventeenth to the early nineteenth century. Students investigate the contributions of significant groups and individuals and develop an understanding of Canada’s European roots. They study the early settlements of North America and their impact on Indigenous communities as well as English- French relations. They examine the economic, social, and political challenges facing New France and British North America, as well as the course of conflict and change in the two colonies that culminated in the rebellions of 1837-38. Emphasis is placed on the development of critical thinking skills, including the ability to examine issues from more than one point of view.
In Grade 8, students develop an understanding of events in Canada from the 1850s to 1914 and the events leading up to the beginning of the First World War. They investigate the formation of the Canadian nation and its subsequent expansion. They also examine some of the individuals, groups, and movements promoting political and social change in the early twentieth century.
- Global Studies
VIS strives to reach students from various directions and also hopes to create students who are interested and passionate about peaceful global relations. For this to happen, it is important that students are exposed to the interconnected systems that have developed throughout history, and that students are given the opportunity to develop perspectives and opinions based on these complexities. Mapping skills are also infused into all areas of the Social Studies and Global Studies program from grades 1 to 8. Providing the information and then the space for critical analysis to take place is vital in creating global citizens, and VIS’ Social Studies and Global Studies program strives to meet these goals using the Ontario Curriculum as a baseline.
Global Studies at VIS is as much about geographical landscapes and natural structures as it is about the development of culture. Beginning with familiarizing students with land formations, maps, and natural disasters, we then move towards relationships between people, nations, and Earth. We explore climate and migration as well as the diverse populations of our planet and examine how these differing perspectives and experiences influence positive and negative global relations. The Ontario Curriculum provides the content guidelines and we take these concepts and bring them into a current, real-world framework, basing our studies on actual events relevant to our own human experience. These learning goals are reached through debates, discussions, research projects and mapping. By the end of Grade 8, students will know the locations of all the countries of the world.
The Science Program at VIS follows the Ontario Curriculum while analyzing it with a specific emphasis on critical awareness, nature, and environmentalism. We relate this material directly to current global events such as natural disasters, water shortages, climate change, and stem cell research, for example. We examine how world events impact the environment, politics, health, and society. This way, we’re able to infuse student learning with relevant and current – yet still scientific – subject matter.
Students have many opportunities to engage in hands-on learning through demonstrations and labs. These formal lab reports are written with a specific emphasis on understanding experimental design. Students also work on research projects that focus on key scientific concepts and present this information in a variety of ways.
The philosophy of “learning by doing” is key to the Science Program. This multi-dimensional approach to teaching and learning is accessible to students and solidifies core subject matter. It also sparks a sense of excitement and interest in Science, serving students well in future courses. Students are not only instilled with a desire and a sense of responsibility to care for our planet, but they are also given the tools and the confidence to take action.
The Intermediate Science program focuses on developing sophisticated scientific inquiry skills through research, engineering, and experimentation while also engaging students with content from four disciplines: biology, chemistry, physics and space/earth science. Students learn how to develop testable hypotheses, carry out their own experiments, and interpret their results in order to draw conclusions. They design, build and test devices intended to solve problems.
- Debate and Philosophy
Offering Debate/Discussion and Philosophy courses in middle school supports the development of a future generation of critical thinkers who are able to place their own ideas and actions in a context that extends beyond personal experience or self-interest. We believe that this capacity encourages our students to take personal accountability and a leadership role in shaping the world they live in. In debate and philosophy, students participate in seminar activities related to current events and issues, systems of thought from ancient to contemporary, ethical decision-making, aesthetics, the environment, citizenship, and justice. Fostering critical thinking skills promotes a stronger sense of self and one’s place in the world.