Gilkey International Middle School (Grades 6 - 8)

The Gilkey International Middle School is welcoming community of over 200 students and 25 teachers. Our goal is to ensure that our students are armed with the knowledge and skills that will enable them to become autonomous, responsible, and confident students headed for high school. We strive for an environment in which our students are known well by their teachers, in a community where their intellectual, personal, and social development is supported. Units of work in all subjects are developed around guiding questions and lines of inquiry that help students connect their learning to the world they live in. Through classwork, projects, group work, and electives, students are given many opportunities to develop their leadership and creativity, to take intellectual risks, and to communicate and reflect.

Our Middle School fosters a spirit of community in which diversity is a key component, reflected in the organization of our two language “tracks.” Students with high-level second-language skills enter our French, German, Spanish, or Mandarin immersion tracks, while capable students with no second-language experience enter our international track. All students pick up a new language, which they will pursue for three years or until the end of eighth grade. Both beginning and advanced language classes are taught exclusively by native speakers of the language.

The same curriculum is delivered in each of the language tracks, differentiated only by the language of instruction. In order to be admitted to a track, students must be proficient in the track language by way of lower school immersion, native language practiced at home, or extensive time and schooling in another country. All of this provides students the opportunity to be in classes with students who speak different languages and come from diverse cultural backgrounds. Students stay with students of their track for all classes where English is not the language of instruction (language arts, humanities, and math in French); when the curriculum is delivered in English, students from all tracks are mixed (English language arts, science, art, PE).

Daily schedules are structured so that students interact with students in their tracks as well as students in other tracks. Twice a week, during advisory time, students interact with their faculty member advisor, whose purpose is to foster communication and a supportive relationship with the student. Time for independent study is built within the schedule three times a week, when students can either work on their own or seek help from a teacher. For the first semester of sixth grade, students use this independent study time to develop their study skills.

Community service is an important part of the life of our school. Throughout their three years at Gilkey, students are given opportunities to serve their communities with their advisory groups or in conjunction with a particular unit of work. Projects vary from year to year.

At each grade level an overnight field trip is offered. Sixth graders go on a science-oriented four-day trip at the beginning of the school year. Seventh graders travel for a three-day humanities and arts-based trip. Eighth graders put their language skills to work during a two-week overseas trip.

The Gilkey curriculum ensures the acquisition of knowledge and skills in all areas. Teachers collaborate to develop units of work that deliver one curriculum taught in several languages. Curriculum objectives and summative assessment tasks are consistent whether a student takes the class in French, Mandarin, German, Spanish, or English. Our curriculum is delivered within the framework of the Middle Years Program (MYP) of the International Baccalaureate (IB).

Language Arts (Maitrise de la langue)

  • English
  • One beginning language
  • One advanced language if applicable German, Mandarin Chinese, Spanish or French 

Mathematics (Principaux éléments de mathématiques)

Math 6 → Math 7 → Algebra*
Math 6 → Algebra* → Geometry*
*High school course

Science (Culture scientifique et technologique)

  • Earth, life, chemistry, and physics
  • Technology design, information, and communication

While sixth graders follow an introductory course to technology and the design cycle, seventh and eighth grade students choose four technology electives over the course of two years.

 Humanities (Culture humaniste)

 Visual and Musical Arts (Visuel et musical arts)

 Physical Education (Education physique)


Sixth Grade

In sixth grade, students grow accustomed to a new schedule, interact with multiple teachers who all have different sets of expectations, and face increased homework and more formal assessments. Students also leave their roles as the oldest in their elementary school and are introduced to a new and different middle-school community. As teachers, administrators, and parents, we want to ease this transition. We strive to challenge our students to embrace a wider, more complex world while providing a supervised and nurturing atmosphere. This transition between childhood and young adulthood illustrates the mystery and beauty of early adolescence. Our curriculum for sixth grade emphasizes work habits and skills within inquiry-based content, so that children gain independence and efficiency in their learning and improve their organizational skills. Time is allotted for independent study and development of study skills, during which teachers will supervise homework and reinforce good study habits. Our intellectually challenging sixth grade curriculum also includes many opportunities for creativity.

Seventh Grade

Just as sixth grade is the year of novelty, seventh grade is the year of independence and assertion. Socially, independence reveals itself in the need for deeper, more meaningful friendships. Gender differences become more acute as boys and girls begin to see each other through a different lens. Academically, independence takes the form of questioning the limits and of not taking anything for granted.

The energy seventh grade students demonstrate is a great asset in the classroom, leading to interactive projects and increased discussion. Seventh graders are becoming capable of independent thinking and thrive on exploring the limits of their ideas. This strong desire for self-sufficiency is fostered and directed positively by our teaching team. Seventh graders suddenly seem able to organize themselves better, and can handle more complex research assignments; they usually enjoy group projects and conduct such projects with enthusiasm.

In the seventh grade at Gilkey, we continue to provide a stimulating and caring academic environment, challenging our students to think critically and thoroughly. In a climate of confidence, our students express, support, and respect each other’s ideas and differences.

Eighth Grade

Academically, eighth grade is a challenging year, during which expectations are higher. It is our students’ last chance before high school to develop more autonomy, and gain confidence in themselves and their abilities. Eighth grade students no longer require as much parental involvement with homework. Debating skills are becoming more refined, and opinions are better formed and more personal. Eighth graders are also better able to hear other people’s points of view. Socially, eighth graders highly value their friendships. Social groups get larger, and social activities take a wider amplitude. It is a time when their friends become the people they rely on the most.

Courses demand greater personal responsibility, encompass a broader range of knowledge, and require dense personal reflection by the student. We trust that eighth grade students are able to embrace both an intense social life and still thrive academically. We want to give them a chance to prove that they can handle the responsibilities of young adulthood, yet still feel that they are all important members of a nurturing and supportive community. 

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French American International School 8500 NW Johnson Street, Portland, Oregon 97229
Ph: (503) 292.7776 Fax: (503) 292.7444
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