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 - Emphasis is placed on media exploration, skill development, and creative interpretation. Activities and assignments focus on the elements of line, shape, and color. Students explore two and three-dimensional art using a variety of media and techniques, including sketching, drawing, painting, printmaking, collage, sculpture, and ceramics.

ART ENRICHMENT - Students learn about puppet history, puppet design, character development, and sing a song or poem in class with their puppets. They re-use laptop boxes, papier-mâché techniques, and acrylic paints to create unique puppet sculptures. The students, also, explore screen printing and the world of silhouettes and stencils to make printed t-shirts.

ENGLISH – Students focus on strengthening skills in reading, writing, speaking, and listening. They read a handful of novels, myths, fables, short stories, and poetry. In writing, the process and traits of good writing are practiced throughout the year. Spelling strategies and grammar lessons are taught in the context of the students' reading and writing to help them recognize patterns, rules, and exceptions to the rule.

LIT QUEST - Through read-alouds, students are exposed to two award-winning novels (one is fantasy and one is realistic fiction) to explore the elements of a novel: setting, plot, theme, point of view, characters, and figurative language. They are given opportunities to creatively re-tell stories through dramatic exercises, as well as, original artwork paired with written reflections.

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.

FRENCH/SPANISH - Modern language focuses on sentence building, structure, and understanding through the continued use of TPRS (Total Physical Response Storytelling). Lessons target communication most relevant to young students from making introductions, to talking about themselves, their family, and friends, and their likes and dislikes. Students use their developing skills in written and spoken projects and in classroom games and conversation. They use a workbook to help enhance communication. The book in French is “Raconte-moi!” and in Spanish is “¡Cuéntame!”. They continue to work to master proper pronunciation and to increase their understanding of Spanish or French culture and, with the use of “Personal Questions and Answers”, students learn to communicate more about themselves and with classmates. Homework becomes increasingly important. Students are expected to practice daily and complete regular written work.

MATH – Students start the year by reviewing past concepts and then moving into numeration and place value. Students will then work through multiplication/division, properties, and the relationship between multiplication and division. The year will end with the study of geometry and measurement as they relate two-dimensional shapes to three-dimensional shapes.

MATH LAB - Students are exposed to a variety of logic puzzles, such as, Ken-Kens, Who Done it?, and Suduko, to help build problem-solving skills. Students are also given time to explore many hands-on manipulatives, such as tangrams and pentominoes, to further build problem-solving skills.

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, healthy lifestyles choices, and the acquisition of fundamentals through conceptual learning.

BAND – Students are introduced to musical notation and concepts through the introduction of an instrument. Students will choose an instrument as their focus - flute, clarinet, alto saxophone, trumpet, trombone, snare drum, mallet percussion, or bass guitar. Other instruments can be approved to play in the band through discussion with the band director. The class works through a methods book that introduces skill and notation sequentially. Students are expected to practice fifteen to twenty minutes a day to maintain skills learned during the class, along with other formally assigned recording assignments.

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. Students are expected to practice singing exercises and music using proper posture and technique at least fifteen to twenty minutes a day in addition to the students’ formal recording homework assignments.

STUDY SKILLS - Students explore different strategies of organization, time management, test preparation, and more to discover what works best for them as a student. Not only will students find new ways to study, but they will discover ways they can be effective and efficient students.

LIBRARY/TECH SKILLS - Students focus on learning how information is organized, how to access it via print and web based resources, and how to ethically use it. Considerable time is spent learning about their new computers, including computer care and use, reviewing the school’s Acceptable Use Policy, and using OneNote, Outlook, OneDrive, and other programs installed on their machines.

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 studied 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 at CCDS experience a Calculus based math curriculum. Students in the Middle School prepare to take Calculus or Pre-Calculus by the end of their senior year.

In 8th grade, most students finish their study of Algebra I, including working with polynomials, solving and graphing linear, exponential, quadratic, radical and rational equations and learning right triangle trigonometry. The curriculum also covers topics in geometry, probability and statistics, and Algebra II. Students experience a financial component of the curriculum by participating in The Budget Challenge, a simulation that increases financial literacy and teaches students the importance of paying bills on time, saving for retirement in a 401K, and wisely managing a credit card. The students participate in the Stock Market Game and learn how to invest in the Stock Market for short term and long term gain.

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


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.


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.


Grades: 5 - 8
Students: 220
Faculty/Staff: 31
Average class size: 15
Student-to-faculty ratio: 8:1
Division Head: Theresa Hirschauer
Contact: (513) 979-0227
Handbook: Middle School
Curriculum Guide: All-School

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