Middle School Curriculum
Our humanities curriculum focuses on the study of American history (during) and world history. History is taught through impressionistic lessons, traditional textbook work and independent research. Literature and writing are carefully woven into these studies. Our literature is chosen to complement the work we do in history, but also to explore different genres. Students are given lessons in effective writing and have lots of opportunities to practice writing essays, stories, poetry and reports. Vocabulary and grammar are a regular part of the humanities curriculum.
Science is taught in cycles so that each student studies three topics over the course of their years in Middle School. Year one concentrates on life science with a focus on human biology, and year two includes topics in earth and physical science. Our program’s emphasis is on the scientific method and discovery through labs, activities, field studies and research, as well as on design thinking and problem solving. Students learn to design, conduct and report on controlled experiments, with the appropriate use of laboratory apparatus and methods of measurement. In year three, students explore topics in physical science, genetics and evolution through continued labs and field studies. In addition to their continued experimental science curriculum, middle school students complete a science project that involves long-term research, writing, and a formal presentation.
Math is taught in groups based on development and learning style. Sixth grade students tend to begin in one of two places — some students are ready for a transition to algebra, and others will benefit from a focus on cementing competency with fractions, decimals and percentages as preparation for algebra. At the end of eighth grade, most students will have completed either an introduction to algebra course, or a thorough algebra course. Programs are matched to individual developmental needs and the best path to future success in math.
The four language skills – auditory, oral, reading and writing – are integrated into our Spanish program. When students reach sixth grade, they begin to work more directly with grammar. This work intensifies during seventh and eighth grades. In order to foster understanding and communication, we expose our students to Spanish in many forms and through many senses. By engaging our students in real life experiences, we hope to ignite their desire to develop competency.
Our Middle School Latin program promotes Latin comprehension through readings centered on the social and political life of Rome during the first century. The emphasis of the course is on expanding vocabulary and language skills and gaining insight into our cultural roots. To enhance this study, students engage in projects in mythology, historical and etymological research, play-acting, word games, and the introduction of everyday Latin expressions.
Life Skills classes address issues of particular concern to adolescents: family and peer relations, puberty, smoking, alcohol and drug abuse, and sex education. In addition to these topics, each grade has a particular focus for social and emotional growth during their year. Our theme for sixth grade is joining the Middle School community. Sixth-grade students discuss the privileges and responsibilities of community life and work together in our school’s garden. Seventh-grade students participate in a rite of passage program called “The Hero’s Journey.” This program helps students reflect on the challenges of growing up and encourages them to set personal goals. Our eighth-grade program encourages students to explore their connection to the world outside of our school. Eighth graders are given the opportunity to intern outside of school, research and present information about global issues and participate in a service field study. Respect and responsibility are emphasized throughout this three-year program.