Junior High Electives Program

7th and 8th Grade Elective Program
Updated July 23, 2020
Click here to download the course descriptions listed below.

The following electives are being offered to 7th and 8th grade students for the 2020-2021 school year. All elective courses will take place during the 6th period to allow for easier scheduling. Core academic courses will take place for all 7th and 8th graders during periods 1-5. Students must select their electives no later than July 15th or their electives will be chosen for them. 8th grade students will be given preference in the scheduling. Given availability, we cannot guarantee that students will receive their top three choices. Students will take a new elective each trimester. Elective courses are graded.

Fine Arts Electives 2020-2021

Trimester 1
Students will learn how to draw their self-portraits over the course of the trimester. By studying facial features, the skull, and the bones of the face, students will deepen their understanding of facial structure and placement of highlight and shadow. Each component of the face will be studied separately by exploring the anatomy of each, modeling them in clay, and ultimately drawing them. Students will also learn how to create form and depth in a 2D drawing by practicing pencil techniques that will be used in their final self-portrait.

For the grand finale, the final self-portrait will be compared to an initial one!

Hand Lettering and Chalkboard Design
Trimester 2
This elective will explore the art of hand lettering through a variety of fonts and styles including calligraphy, block lettering, and brush script. Besides the letters themselves, students will learn a multitude of ways to add depth to their fonts, including drop shadows, highlights, and coloring techniques. Students will also learn how to design and plan chalkboard advertisements/artwork, taking into account how colors, typeface, and placement speak to the consumer/viewer to maximize its effect. The final project will have students painting encouraging, hand-lettered quotes on the bathroom stalls at SPC!

Trimester 3
This elective will revolve around several traditional techniques of handbuilding, including
pinching, slab, and coil construction. Students will learn about the basics of ceramic
forming techniques, clay tools, and attachment methods, as well as some non-traditional decorative processes.

Because ceramics is one of the most ancient industries going back thousands of years,
students will also touch on the history of ancient pottery making and conduct their own
investigations on some of the earliest pottery fragments

Survey of Jazz
Trimester 1
In this course, we will explore the history and development of jazz, from its earliest origins to the present. We will survey different styles of jazz, including bebop, swing, big band, and dixieland. Students will learn about the instrumentation, form, scales, and chord changes used by jazz musicians and how they evolved over the years.

In this elective, 7th and 8th graders will analyze the impact of jazz as part of the American identity. Jazz is America’s music and has been fostered in Chicago’s soundscape since the style’s founding.

Introduction to Songwriting
Trimester 2 & 3
In Songwriting, students will learn how to write, produce and create songs. By examining compositional techniques, this class will focus on how to create works based on melody, harmony and counterpoint. We will learn Roman Numeral Analysis, simple and compound meters, generic and specific intervals, and much more. This class is designed for students who have a basic understanding of music and wish to learn more about expressing themselves through it.

Intro to Guitar
Trimester 3
In this elective, students will learn some basic guitar techniques and history. We will begin with a look at where guitars originated, and how they are made and innovated. We will then dive into different parts of the guitar and how they work together to make music, including some of the interesting ways artists have changed the sound of the guitar throughout its history. Lastly we will learn basic chord structures and progressions, giving students an opportunity to perform their favorite songs.

Contemporary & Hip Hop Dance
Trimester 1
This elective is brought to SPC through a community partnership with Momentum Performing Arts.
Beginner - Intermediate level students will study the elements of Hip Hop dance. Students will advance their dance technique, strength, flexibility and artistry. Classes consist of a warm-up, center work, traveling progressions and choreography. Class will consist of exercises focusing on music connection, dynamics, quality of movement, texture and body awareness such as isolations, big/small, clean lines, contractions and staying grounded. Various Hip Hop styles will be addressed, including waving, popping, locking, whacking, house steps, tutting and more. Choreography will be taught to increase performance quality, body language, projection, retention and overall memorization. Students will also use their creative knowledge to expand on improvisation and free style. Students will be expected to learn choreography during class and put on a performance at the end of the session.

This elective is brought to SPC through a community partnership with Momentum Performing Arts.
Basic theater is a fun performance focused class that works on developing students’ confidence and stage presence within the individual and a group setting. This class is designed to expose students to stage performance skills, vocal expression, scene production, and the components of bringing a play together. This interactive class will educate students how to work together to problem solve and strategize through activities like games, storytelling, script analysis and creative thinking. Creative drama techniques will be used to build ensemble, stimulate imagination, movement, and role-play with an emphasis on concentration. Confidence will be built through realistic acting by directing focus, intent, and motivation to create and sustain a character and engage audiences. Creative thinking encourages students to think outside the box in improvisational skill and games. Drama and theatre vocabulary including stage directions will be an important aspect in class discussions and activities as it reinforces literacy skills and control of the body and voice.
Additional skills such as proper voice articulation, basic movement skills, how to apply emotional content to a script, costuming, set design, improvisational skills, script analysis, writing and producing self developed scripts, as well as familiarizing students with popular musicals and plays will be assessed. Students will end the trimester by producing, directing and acting in their own live play.


Intro to Robotics
Trimester 1
This course provides seventh and eighth graders an introduction to robotics for students with little to no programming background using the LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 platform. Projects will expose the students to the Engineering Design Process. Students will learn to construct, control and program these robots through investigative and exploration activities. They will be responsible for coding their robots to navigate a path, use its sensors for sound and light, and learn how to problem solve using the engineering design process.

Advanced Robotics
Trimester 2 and 3
Advanced Robotics is a lab-based course that uses a hands-on approach to further the basic concepts of robotics, focusing on the construction and programming of autonomous mobile robots. Course information will be tied to lab experiments; students will work in groups to build and test increasingly more complex mobile robots, culminating in an end-of-semester robot contest.
We will be using VEX Robotic Design System as our platform. Students will be divided into groups and complete a variety of robot construction and programming activities within the confines of these groups. Prerequisite Intro to Robotics. 

Perilous Math
Trimester 1
Students will dive into adventures, using their math skills to avoid grave consequences! Each student will use The Book of Perfectly Perilous Math: 24 Death Defying Challenges for Young Mathematicians by Sean Connolly which serve as a workbook for Math problems they won't commonly encounter in class. Whether it's just for fun or you enjoy dodging danger, come out to see what Perilous Math has to offer. They will also work through math projects that incorporate mathematics that have been learned through the students math careers to this point. Some projects will include making food budgets, designing a dream house, using proportions to determine the height of extremely tall objects, determining how many kleenex will fit in my room, and more.

Fantasy Sports
Trimester 2
In this elective, students will have the opportunity to create fantasy teams and leagues for football, basketball, baseball and hockey. Students will learn about different ways to set-up fantasy leagues. Students will also learn different ways to draft teams including: auction drafts, live drafts, and virtual drafts. Students will have time to research players and learn about important statistics in each sport. Throughout the trimester, students will come to class and tally points that have been accumulated by their fantasy teams as well as propose trades with fellow students. By the end of the trimester, students will have a greater knowledge of sports related statistics.

8th Grade Math Enrichment
Trimester 1 & 2
This course will provide supplemental math support on key math concepts in 8th grade as well as enrichment activities based on 8th grade Math learning standards.

7th Grade Math Enrichment
Trimester 3
This course will provide supplemental math support on key math concepts in 7th grade as well as enrichment activities based on 7th grade Math learning standards.

Introduction to Computers and Operating Systems (hands-on if available)
Trimester 1 and 3
Students will learn the history of computers from the abacus to human computers to programmable calculators, mainframe computers, minicomputers, desktops, laptops, 3D printers, CNC machines, tablets, phones, Raspberry Pi and Arduino. They will learn the basic components of a computer and what software tools are available to test and replace defective parts. They will also learn about the development and differences of common operating systems (or OSs). Some basic and advanced commands of Windows 10, Apple IOS and Linux will be taught. Finally, they will get a general overview of the types of programming languages used for coding. An understanding of the various careers in Computer Science and Information Technology will be gained by all.

Introduction to Computer Programming
Trimester 2
Students will learn a computer language, i.e. Python which is a very popular and versatile programming language currently in use today. They will learn the basic components of the language and use them to create basic to intermediate programs. Concepts such as variables, interactive input, output/printing results and creating functions will be taught along with some common algorithms. By the end of the class, they will have a basic understanding of programming/coding!

Humanities Electives:

The American Dream
Trimester 2
Dr. M is dusting off her teaching skills and is excited to teach an elective examining the American Dream. The concept of the American dream will be analyzed and evaluated through a variety of mediums throughout American History. Using music, short stories, movies, tv shows, plays, musicals, poetry and novels students will evaluate how the American Dream has evolved through time as well as deconstruct what voices contribute to defining the American Dream. Students will also craft their own personal American Dream based on their new understandings. Students should come to class prepared to think critically and support their ideas!