Middle School

Grades 5 - 8

In the Middle School years, emotional and social development are inextricably entwined with intellectual development. Our program is designed around that understanding, allowing students the opportunity to build their academic skills, delve into interpersonal issues, engage in athletics, and express themselves creatively, all within the school day.

Curriculum Overview

Grade 5

ART - Students work on drawing skills using light and shadow with mixed media in their sketchbooks. Students learn how to use grids to copy images one square at a time and explore portraiture through the Japanese style of Manga and cartooning.

ENGLISH – Students focus on strengthening skills in reading, writing, speaking and listening to produce confident, fluent users of the English language. Spelling strategies and grammar lessons are taught in context of students' reading and writing to help them recognize the patterns, rules and exceptions to the rules characteristic of the English language.

SOCIAL STUDIES – Students study world history, world geography, and current events emphasizing content and skill. They undertake a survey course of world history with an emphasis on Mesopotamia, Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome and the Middle Ages.

MATH – Students start the year by learning various problem-solving strategies and how to apply them in different situations. Students then move on to division, place value, properties and the relationship of division to multiplication. The year finishes with the study of geometry and measurement, relating two-dimensional to three-dimensional shapes.

SCIENCE – Students are exposed to a variety of life, earth and space, and physical sciences to build a foundation of general science knowledge. The major units of study are microscopes and microorganisms, oceanography, chemistry, forces and motion, and climate change.

WORLD LANGUAGE (French or Spanish) – Students focus on sentence building skills; learning new vocabulary while solidifying their understanding of present-tense grammar. Lessons target communication most relevant to middle school students, from making introductions to talking about hobbies, wants and needs, likes and dislikes, and responsibilities.

PHYSICAL EDUCATION – Students are provided a variety of challenging, stimulation activities that promote social interaction and the improvement of self-concepts, cooperation, teamwork, sportsmanship, fitness, skill development and the acquisition of fundamentals through conceptual learning.

BAND – Students are introduced to musical notation and instruments traditional to the Wind Band genre. The class works through a Methods book that introduces skill and notion sequentially.

CHOIR – Students learn and begin to develop elements of vocal technique, such as controlled breathing, phonation, resonance and matching pitch. They will begin to read common musical notation in the fifth-grade repertoire and engage in active listening by learning to sing and identify songs through steps or small intervals.

Grade 6

ART – Students work on drawing skills, using light and shadow with mixed media in their sketchbooks. The students learn about monochromatic art, are introduced to OP art and study the work of Keith Haring.

ENGLISH – Students read several novels and a variety of short stories, poems, and folktales. A Writing Workshop environment encourages all types of writing, as well as pre-writing and revision. Foreshadowing, symbolism and interdependence are recurring themes throughout the year.

GEOGRAPHY – Students will focus on three regions of the world: Latin America, the Middle East and South Asia. The goal of this course is to develop a greater understanding of the earths physical features, world cultures and global issues. Through cooperative teaming and group projects, students strengthen social and communication skills while gaining knowledge of the world around them.

MATH – Students are provided a challenging, yet achievable, program designed to serve as a natural bridge between acquiring the fundamental mathematical skills and concepts of fifth grade to the preparation of more advanced algebra in the seventh grade.

SCIENCE – Students will cover the relationships among the Earth, moon, and sun. Human and geologic time scales are studies before the formation and layering of the Earth, continental drift and plate tectonics.In the second semester students learn about the formation and composition of rocks, minerals, soil and the chemical makeup, movement and pollution of water.

WORLD LANGUAGE – Students are introduced to and implement conversational French and Spanish vocabulary and phrases. These courses teach introductory grammatical structures and focus on the four communicative language skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing.

BAND – Students are introduced to musical notation and instruments traditional to the Wind Band genre. The class works through a Methods book that introduces skill and notion sequentially.

CHOIR – Students learn and begin to develop elements of vocal technique, such as controlled breathing, phonation, resonance and matching pitch. They will begin to read common musical notation in the fifth-grade repertoire and engage in active listening by learning to sign and identify songs through steps or small intervals.

Grade 7

ART- Students work on drawing skills using light and shadow with mixed media in their sketchbooks. The students learn about one-point and two-point perspective using graphite, water color, and colored pencils.

CULTURE STUDIES – Students have a double-period interdisciplinary course integrating English, Social Studies and Geography. They will come to understand culture by studying representative world cultures of the past and present: ancient and modern China, the cultures of the African continent, the past and present Native Americans and the current culture of American teenagers. Students write and read extensively, strengthening their core grammar skills through weekly exercises and develop the ability to reason clearly and abstractly.

MATH – PRE-ALGEBRA is designed to teach and strengthen the fundamentals necessary to move into algebra. Students learn mastery of integer operations, rates, ratios, proportions and percents, both with computations and applications.

ALGEBRA is where the students begin their study of the algebraic language and techniques. Students move toward mastery of rational numbers, rates, ratios, proportion and percents through the application of algebraic expression and equations.

SCIENCE – Students will begin the year with a focus on scientific methods, measurements, classification and characteristics of living things. As the year progresses, students use physical, conceptual and numerical models to investigate three unifying theories in biology: all living things are made of cells, nearly all living things pass traits to the next generation through DNA and populations of living things change over time through the process of evolution.

WORLD LANGUAGE – Students continue the study of French or Spanish with emphasis on grammatical structures, verb conjugation, reading, writing and oral expression. Students develop their oral skills through activities such as dialogues, show and tell, weather forecasting, ordering food in restaurants and describing people and places.

ATHLETICS – Students fulfill their physical education through participation in team sports. Students choose one sport each season.All team members are given the opportunity to participate in interscholastic contest.

Grade 8

ART – Students work on drawing skills using light and shadow with mixed media in their sketchbooks. Students will study gargoyles and their use in architecture, the European legend of the Green Man, portraits and Frank Gehry.

ENGLISH - Students develop the analytic, deductive, and expository skills necessary to read, think, write, and speak effectively about shared texts. The course uses poetry, short stories, novels, a Shakespeare play, Greek myths, excerpts from sacred texts and research sources as the vehicles for discussion and writing.

HISTORY – Students will begin with exploration, specifically Spain’s involvement in the New World (1492-1565). After developing a framework, students are then introduced to the origin of the Thirteen Colonies (1585-1670) through the successes and failures of settlement in the New World and finish the first quarter with the French and Indian war (1754-1763). Students will have a short introduction to the major factors leading up to the American Revolution (1765-1776) and study the American Civil War (1861-1865). Finally, students finish with 20th century-based historical content focusing on immigration, the Russian Revolution (1904-1950), and World Wars I and II.

MATH – Students take Algebra I using an algebra e-text. Some students begin the first half of Algebra I and work on geometry, probabilities, and statistics. That course is followed by finishing Algebra I in ninth grade.Other students will complete Algebra I and work on probabilities, statistics, geometry and right triangle trigonometry. Those students continue in ninth grade with geometry.

SCIENCE – Students will cover weather and physical science. They learn how the atmosphere exerts pressure on all things, how pressure develops and changes, and how that pressure affects the weather. They also learn about weather fronts and how inclement weather develops. During physical science, students learn all about the metric system and how to apply it while calculating speed, velocity and acceleration.

WORLD LANGUAGE – French and Spanish students continue learning vocabulary and grammar, which will be integrated with the appreciation of countries and cultures from around the world through oral presentations and web page creations. Students continue developing foreign language proficiency.

ATHLETICS – Students fulfill their physical education through participation in team sports. Students choose one sport each season. All team members are given the opportunity to participate in interscholastic contest.

Social and Physical Skills

Academically, teachers strive to capitalize on the students’ social and physical skills, and as a result our students learn in a wide variety of ways (see examples under the My Day tab).

My Day

Students have numerous opportunities to make each day special. Here are a few examples:

  • engaging in simulations such as Ellis Island and Lincoln-Douglas political debates
  • writing short stories from personal childhood maps
  • serving as “junior naturalists” to help first graders understand basic botany
  • organizing their electronic work with shared OneNote notebooks
  • digitally narrating in Spanish or French images they’ve taken of themselves going through the day’s routine
  • Studying a video Algebra lesson at home and doing the homework in class in a “flipped classroom”
  • Making monster puppets out of cardboard boxes and paper mache in art or acting out skits to explore character issues in drama
  • showcasing their talents in the full-class 8th grade musical

Social

To provide guidance in these years of significant personal transition, all students are assigned to a teacher advisor. Advisories meet briefly each morning for attendance and check in, but more importantly, spend extended time together weekly to investigate topics such as character, peer pressure, community service, and the Technology Awareness Campaign.

Bringing all advisories together, weekly assemblies provide divisional unity. There, students may see a traditional Columbian dance, hear about a teacher’s passion, share experiences during a community service day, or cheer peers on in a talent show.

Physical

Promoting physical development, sports are built into the school day, with a no-cut policy that allows each child to try his or her hand at the game of choice.

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