International School Manila

Integrity - Service - Merit

Fine & Performing Arts

The Fine and Performing Arts program in the Middle School covers four subject areas: Visual Art, Music, Drama and Dance. It is enhanced by the diverse opportunities available within and beyond the classroom. It seeks to emphasize the importance of process while striving for excellence in performance or product. Recognizing the importance of reflecting the ethnic and cultural diversity of the school’s community, the program encourages individual expression while developing respect and appreciation for others.

Visual Art

Grades 5 and 6 - Foundations of Art

In this compulsory semester course, assignments emphasize building basic skills and an appreciation of the elements of art and the principles of design. The course is designed to encourage the development of creative and conceptual thinking, a respect for quality and originality, self-confidence, visual and tactile perception, and the ability to work independently.

The program concentrates on practical studio production but also includes discussion of aesthetics, art criticism and art history. Curricular units will build on the structure already established and familiar to art students in the Elementary School. During Grades 5 and 6, each semester of art will include increasingly demanding assignments that cover four basic art experiences: drawing, painting, form and construction and digital design.

Grades 7 and 8 – Electives

In the semester-long courses in Grades 7 and 8, the assignments allow students to develop a stronger skill set within a targeted range of media. The courses are in accordance with the Middle School concept based curriculum model. In order to cater to individual student interests, the following semester courses are offered:


This traditional arts course is tailored for students who wish to enhance their skills in drawing, painting and mixed media with an emphasis in utilizing techniques and materials. Students are given more in depth problems to solve creatively while documenting the creating process.  Strategic composition is addressed within each unit in conjunction with the organization of the principles of design. Each student will create a portfolio that will follow them into their high school careers as an artist.


Students build upon their introductory knowledge of the ceramic process. Students plan, design and create a wide range of work further exploring the basic building methods: pinch, coil and slab. The stages of clay are addressed, along with the importance of skill and patience throughout the glazing process. Advanced students are challenged through dynamic problem solving, high fire glazing methods and includes opportunities to throw vessels on the clay wheel. Students document their work and reflections in their ePortfolio.    


This independent study course, enables students to create concept based work based on real-world issues. Each unit allows students the flexibility to work with media of their choice. The importance of a working sketchbook is highlighted through idea development, media testing and artist research. Students work collaboratively through daily reflection and bi-weekly critique sessions with their peers.


DigiART allows students to look at and create art through the digital lens via photography, graphic design and movie making. Students will work through concepts and themes to produce pieces of artwork whilst also gaining further knowledge and understanding of digital software and techniques. The importance of a working sketchbook is highlighted through idea development, media testing and artist research to further progress their work.


Middle School Drama develops and stimulates creative thought, collaboration and teamwork, improvisational skills and physical awareness. Our program is inclusive, enriching and geared towards developing self-esteem, lateral thinking and problem-solving skills, all of which can be transferred to other disciplines of the ISM Middle School curriculum.


Grade 5 and 6 Exploratory

Content/Skills Overview

Grades 5 and 6 Middle School Drama students learn the basis of performance through interactive and active lessons. Students develop collaborative skills as they work in whole-class and small-group settings to explore drama in different forms. In Grade 5, students investigate the drama building blocks through ensemble games and storytelling. In Grade 6, students further expand their skills through looking at ensemble building, improvisation and physical comedy. In addition to being designed for students of any experience level, both Grade 5 and 6 Drama are hands-on and practical in their approach to both onstage and behind-the-scenes features of the theater.


Grade 5 Drama Units

Introduction to Drama

This unit is designed to introduce students to the building blocks of Drama. The student will participate in practical activities which will develop ensemble skills, group work, communications skills as well as the fundamentals to build a performance. Students will reflect on their learning within class discussions and journal entries.


This unit is designed to give students exposure to the importance of storytelling. The students will examine what are the elements of drama and how they are used to create scripts and characters. They will learn how to work collaboratively to produce original plays. The students will work to perform their final scripts to an invited audience.


Grade 6 Drama Units

Ensemble Building

The focus of this unit is to build a sense of community and collaboration. The importance of being able to work together as a group effectively is an essential part of becoming an active citizen. Through working as an ensemble the students will focus and enhance their leadership skills, such as speaking in public, reading non-verbals and facilitating group work and discussion. This will be undertaken through exercises, collaborative challenges, research and reflection.


The ability to think on the spot and use your creativity is a 21st Century skill. Through this unit, students will examine how to challenge themselves by thinking creatively and working collaboratively. The art of improvisation will be defined, developed and extended through exploring the basic building blocks of improvisation and applying those skills to the creative framework of Theater Sports.

Physical comedy

Physical comedy is a unique form that allows actors to leave the voice behind and focus on body and expression to communicate a message or story. Students will develop physical comedy skills in class exercises, investigate the genre of street and create their own street performance, which will then be performed live to an audience. They will have opportunities to become more aware of their bodies and learn how to communicate intentionally without sound, as well as collaborating in small groups and reflecting upon their acting experiences in journal entries and group discussions.


Grade 7 and 8 Electives

Content and Skills Overview

Grades 7 and 8 Middle School Drama students continue to build upon the skills explored in Grades 5 and 6, including improvisation, collaboration, use of voice and body and group performance. Students are able to select four different courses to supplement their drama needs.  Each course offers them a unique viewpoint on Theater as well as continuing to build the important life skills of communication and collaboration.


Grade 7 and 8 Drama Units

Storm the Stage:  Theater 101 (Semester or year-long course)

Students learn the processes behind analyzing play scripts and realizing them in performance. These processes include: physical explorations of character, narrative and themes; developing a performance vision; rehearsal and performance techniques. Working alongside students from Technical Theater 101, the group will utilize all elements of the theatrical experience (lights, sound, costumes, props, ensemble acting) to “put a show on!”

Triple Threat Training: The Art of Musical Theater (Semester course)

Students explore how acting, singing and dancing work together to not only create spectacle but also drive the narrative and character development in Musical Theater. After initial explorations of these skills, students select, choreograph and perform ensemble scenes where all three performance skills are utilized. The course is structured so as to support both beginning and experienced performers to develop both their individual abilities and an understanding of the power of ensemble performance.

Realizing Visions: Technical Theater 101 (Semester course)

This course focuses on how to design and create a vision for the stage with lighting, sound and set design. The students will explore these different aspects of technical theater in the first part of the course and then specialize in areas of interest by designing and implementing the tech for performances.  In order to provide these practical opportunities for working with actors, Technical Theater 101 will run alongside Storm the Stage, Triple Threat Training and/or the Semester 2 Middle School musical.

Theater “Improv-able”: Becoming a Devising 007 (Semester course)

Building on the skills learnt in Improvisation in Grade 6, this unit focuses on the 21st century skills of devising.  Through creative games and fun, students will learn that anything can be developed into a performance. One of the key concepts of the unit is that creativity, collaboration and communication can be developed whilst having enormous amounts of fun. Through a mix of theater games, improvisations and devising, the students will create original performances that will be based on a theme.



Middle School students are exposed to music in a variety of year-long and semester-long courses offered in General Music, Choir, Band and Strings.


General Music

Students can explore a broad range of musical topics in General Music. Students look at the elements of music and experiment with different instrument groups on how these can be employed. Students also use loop-based software to create electronic compositions. Seventh and eighth grade students enrolled in Music Madness further extend their music experiences through units such as guitar, keyboard, world music, musical, movie soundtracks, computer-based composition and the history of rock and roll.


Students may choose to develop their vocal talents by taking a semester or full year of Choir. Singers at every level of ability and stage of physical transition are encouraged to develop their vocal skills and musicianship in Choir.

Band and Strings

Students interested in learning to play an instrument may choose to take Band or Strings. String students choose to play violin, viola, cello or bass while the focus in band is on playing instruments in the woodwind, brass and percussion families. Band and String classes are taught year-long and students may enter these programs at a Beginning, Intermediate or Advanced skill level. Instruments are available from the school for a nominal charge each semester.

The Choir, Band and String students perform at various assemblies, parent coffees and other events on campus. Select groups perform for the Filipiniana assembly in October. Each group is also featured during a formal concert each semester.  In the fall semester, the department presents three separate concerts with a focus on vertical collaboration with the high school counterpart groups: the All-Bands, All-Strings and All-Choirs Concerts. The Spring semester culminates with the Middle School Finale Concert, highlighting the achievements of the middle music classes.

ISM is a member of the Association for Music in International Schools (AMIS) and students may be selected by audition to participate in AMIS music festivals hosted around the world.



Dance offers students the chance to explore their movement potential and develop spatial awareness.  Throughout the semester, different dance forms such as modern, jazz and hip-hop and the foundations of choreography will be explored.  Above all, this course is designed to give students the confidence to move forward into ISM’s already thriving Dance program at the High School level and to inspire them to experiment with different avenues of movement expression.  For this reason, the course is suitable for both experienced and beginning dancers.  As part of this program, the students are given the opportunity to share, celebrate and showcase their talent through participation in school activities and dance recitals.