May 2, 2019

Letter from the Middle School Principal

Dear Parents

There has been a great deal of excitement during this week’s Middle School Spirit Week. While regular classes continued there was also some fantastic costumes and fun events for our students. One example was Grade 7’s Air Bands. Students worked collaboratively in T&D groups to select a theme before choreographing a group performance. These were then performed to the grade level in front of teacher judges. House points were awarded to each act based on overall teamwork and audience spirit. A truly enjoyable event for both students and staff!

This year is the Year of Tolerance in the UAE. Several of our Middle Schoolers joined with students from Alshafei National School for a friendly football match this week. In addition, our Islamic department prepared a wonderful assembly to share the meaning behind the traditions observed throughout the month of Ramadan which will commence next week.

We have greatly appreciated the feedback of students, staff and parents as we continue to revise our Middle School schedule to ensure we are addressing concerns raised this year. Forward planning for next year is well underway. Grade 8 visited High School this week for a tour and to select elective options. The transition into Middle School from Elementary has commenced with our counselors meeting with Grade 5 class teachers. An information session to Welcome Students & Parents to Middle School is planned for 13 May and further information will shortly be sent to Grade 5 parents.

Our Middle School learning program is designed to meet the developmental needs of young adolescents by offering a holistic program which encourages both independence and responsibility. We want our students to be intrinsically motivated and engaged in their learning. We understand that in this age group students need to be exposed to a wide range of subjects but they need a level of autonomy or choice in their program. In addition to core subjects a range of electives will be on offer.

Next school year we are excited to introduce an exploratory elective program for Grade 6. This is effectively a try before you choose model. All students will study The Arts where they will have a rotation each of Music, Visual Arts, Drama and Design & Technology taught by specialist teachers. They will also be exposed to our Modern Foreign Language options, French and Spanish, before choosing one of these languages to study in more depth.

In Grade 7 and 8 students will have an opportunity for three elective options. All elective courses have both a theoretical and practical component. Elective 1 are semester-based courses. Students will choose two of the following options – 2D Art, Music (Concert Band), Drama, Design and Technology or our new Coding & Robotics elective.

Elective 2 options are designed to go into greater depth; these are annual based electives. Students can elect to study a Modern Foreign Language choosing either French or Spanish; an aesthetic elective in the form of Visual Arts; or a kinesthetic elective with our new Sports Studies option.

Please note while studying a language is not compulsory, students who choose to study a language must do so for two years if they want to access a continuation language at Grade 9 as they need to be at a minimum Level 2 – 3 proficiency. It is also important to note that students cannot study more than one year of a language if they want to take the same beginner language for IB Diploma (Grade 11 & 12).

Based on student demand, we are also considering whether additional electives such as Dance or Film studies may be introduced in future years.

Students in our current Grade 6 and 7 will shortly be sent a link to register their preferred elective options. To gain an overview of what is on offer for 2019 – 2020 please watch this short MS Elective Video put together by our specialist teams.

Enjoy the week ahead.

Kind regards


Learning Highlights and Celebrations

BIG the MS/HS Musical

Last Wednesday and Thursday saw the MS/HS Fine Arts team present the fruits of three months labor to the DAA Community in our annual High School and Middle School Musical. A cast and crew of over 100 students from Grade 6 through to Grade 12 performed on stage and behind the scenes to bring our version of the classic 1987 film “Big” to life in Big - The Musical. With our live band rocking away and our students dancing and singing up a storm all three shows were knock-outs that kept the audiences asking for more!

A BIG congratulations to all of the students who participated in the show and a heartfelt thank you to the teachers who worked tirelessly to put it all together! Now to start thinking about next year’s show!

Transformation & Discovery

Grade 8 Fashion Show

Sport: GEMS Badminton Cup 2018/2019

Congratulations to the 18 Middle School students who represented the school at this years GEMS Badminton Cup 2018/2019 on Tuesday and Wednesday. We had 1 boys team entered in the U13 category Tuesday, and then a both a girls and boys team on Wednesday for the U15 competition. It was a very tough competition. Jack made the quarter finals! Well done to all involved.

MS Science

Many students in Middle School Science celebrated Earth Day in their classes on Monday April 22. Grade 8 students learned more about zero waste life styles and discussed ways they could reduce waste in their own lives. Grade 7 students completed an escape room to learn more about Earth Day concepts, such as recycling, reducing, reusing, and composting. Some Grade 6 students learned more about climate, while others focused on plastic pollution and solutions to reduce single-use plastics. These students created informational products to inspire others to action. Here are some of their products: Prezi - Plastic Bottles

Heart Dissections - Grade 7 students learn about the circulatory system

Students have identified the levels of organization within an organism, parts of a cell and how the body maintains homeostasis. They have also looked at skeletal, muscular and respiratory systems. During the heart dissection lab, students focussed on the circulatory system. Students will create a video to demonstrate their understanding of the organelle’s function.

Accessing your Child's Grades

Accessing your child's grades: A view of all proficiency levels have been added to the PowerSchool Unified Classroom gradebook and continue to be updated by Middle School teachers as students continue to progress through their units of learning. Instructions on how to view your child’s grades on PowerSchool Unified Classroom can be found here (04:25).

The Holy month of Ramadan *May 6th - June 3rd

During the month of Ramadan the MS will follow a modified schedule linked HERE. In addition we will hold a Ramadan Assembly on May 2nd to inform MS students of the values and significance of the holy month of Ramadan. Below provides important information and DAA’s expectations for all students while we observe the month of Ramadan:

Eating and Drinking

    • Eating and drinking is forbidden during daylight hours.
    • According to the Holy Qur’an: One may eat at any time during the night ‘until you can plainly distinguish a white thread from a black thread by the daylight’, then keep the fast until night.
    • The last meal before daybreak is known as Suhur.
    • Each day’s fast is broken at sunset with water and dates before prayers, followed by Iftar, the evening meal.
    • Following Iftar, Muslims go to pray the night prayers (Taraweeh). And it is traditional for Muslims to go out visiting family and friends.

Fasting should be broken at sunset upon Maghrib call for prayers (Azaan). This occurs just after sunset.

To make Ramadan an easier experience, certain norms change during the month. They are as follows:

Non-Muslims do not have to fast in Ramadan. However, they are prohibited from eating, drinking and smoking in public during the fasting hours. This includes chewing gum.

Non-Muslims are free to eat and drink in the privacy of their own home, as well as in designated areas.

Water bottles in the school:

From the beginning of Ramadan there will be no bottled water sold in the cafeteria. All students will need to be carrying a water bottle with them to be refilled when needed.

Additional things to consider:

Please do not:

  • Engage in any aggressive behaviour
  • Dance or play music in public although you may listen to music quietly with headphones
  • Wear inappropriate clothing in public

RAMADAN is called the blessed month because:

  • In this month, the whole Qur'an was revealed to the prophet Mohammad (PBUH).
  • It is the month of patience and it teaches the lesson of kindness towards others.
  • Ramadan is the most important month of the year and all believers get busy seeking Allah's mercy, forgiveness, and protection during the month.
  • This is the month for renewing our commitment and re-establishing our relationship with our Creator. It is the spring season for goodness and virtues when righteousness blossoms throughout all communities.
  • Ramadan is a time for charity; giving to the less fortunate will be greatly appreciated.

Grade 8 Welcome to High School Parent Morning

It was wonderful to see the turnout of parents for the Welcome to High School Parent Morning on April 22nd. We recorded the session to make it accessible for those who were unable to attend. Please find the links to the three-part video:

Video Link Part 1of 3

Video Link Part 2 of 3

Video Link Part 3 of 3

House Color Points

Dates to Remember

May 5th - Grade 6 Dance Off

May 6th - *Ramadan Begins

May 12th - June 19th - MAP Testing - Schedule linked HERE

June 20th - Grade 8 Completion Ceremony

June 27th - Last day of school - 12.00pm Dismissal


Lisa Hewitt, Aimee Fleming and Scott MacDonald

key contacts

Middle School Secretary: Sarah Hole s.hole_daa@gemsedu.com / 04 704 9722

Middle School Attendance: Helen Eleftheriou h.eleftheriou_daa@gemsedu.com 04 704 9728