Middle School Curriculum
The Rectory School’s curriculum is fashioned to be consistent with the School’s mission and its set of beliefs about how children learn. Our students have diverse learning needs, and, within the scope of grade-level learning outcomes and course descriptions, the curriculum is designed to accommodate differentiated learning environments, which are provided through the various class sections in each grade.
The curriculum is intended to inspire creativity and inquiry while encouraging students to explore new areas of interest, as they progress through the grades. We foster the development of the whole child by engaging students with a core of foundational skills and competencies in the areas of reading, writing, quantifying, information and digital literacy, thinking, problem-solving, and communication
- Language Skills
- Related Arts Program
- Grade 9 related arts
- World Languages
English is a core-curricular course required for all students.
In this course, students interact with literature and language in a process of engaging with the text and creating meaning. Students read for a purpose, interpret and respond to English literature, recognize literary elements, and analyze words. Furthermore, they are introduced to writing in a variety of genres, including response to literature, narration, description, exposition, and persuasion. Grammar skills are reviewed and practiced throughout the writing process. The objectives of the course are for students to become acquainted with English and American classics and multicultural literature, and to develop their literacy skills so that they can be responsibly engaged with their world.
Grade 5 - English
The course provides a study in the structure of the English language as well as the reading and writing processes. Overall objectives are to enhance English language skills, build vocabulary, and improve academic and creative writing skills. Direct instruction in reading comprehension, spelling, and writing is an integral part of this course. In this course, students read short stories and novels with themes of quest, courage, and friendship. The focus is on the story format, narration, and characterization. Students also study poetry and learn about figurative and sensory language. They are introduced to writing in various genres, including poetry and expressive, narrative, descriptive, expository and journal writing. The emphasis is on writing complete sentences and coherent paragraphs, as well as revising and editing. Grammar is taught through the writing process and formally through lessons and exercises.
- Grade 6 - English
The course provides a study in the structure of the English language as well as the reading process. Overall objectives are to enhance English language skills, build vocabulary, and improve academic and creative writing skills. Direct instruction in reading comprehension, spelling, and writing is an integral part of this course. Students read stories in which the setting highly affects the characters and plot of the story. They explore short stories and novels and examine nonfiction articles. Students write in various genres, including expression, narration, exposition, and fiction. The emphasis of the writing component is on form, mechanics, and usage. Grammar lessons are taught within the context of the students’ writing and presented through formal lessons.
Grade 7 - English
Through reading short stories, myths, poetry, memoirs, and articles, students explore their world. They consider point of view, reliability of narrator, and characterization. They continue to explore personal and scholastic writing through journals, short essays, research reports, a character-analysis project, and reading-response journals. The focus is on organizing ideas, considering audience and purpose, creating effective sentences, revising, and proofreading. Grammar lessons are primarily incorporated into the writing lessons.
Grade 8 - English
Students read stories, novels, and drama with themes of quest and courage in facing difficult life choices. They write to understand literature as they study point of view, voice, and mood. Furthermore, they continue to explore writing with an emphasis on developing essays and personal narratives, and they write for different audiences and for different purposes. Writing conventions are taught in the context of the student’s writing and practiced throughout the year. The focus is on sentence combining, revising, and proofreading.
- Grade 9 - English
In the ninth-grade English course, students study renowned short stories, classic American and multicultural literature, and Shakespearean drama. They analyze literary techniques, synthesize information from several sources on a single topic, understand how genre relates to theme, compare universal themes, and appreciate precise language. Developing the student’s voice on paper, exploring more complex grammar through writing, revising, and peer-editing are emphases throughout the year. By the end of the spring term, students compile a writing portfolio that documents and highlights their progress.
Language Skills is an elected core-curricular course that is offered in grades 7-9 in lieu of a foreign language
The focus of the language skills course is on the structure of language and the development of written expression and reading comprehension. It is a skills-based English language course in which grammar, the writing process, and active reading strategies are directly taught and practiced. The objectives are to strengthen the English language skills of our students and to provide them with a foundation for future language study.
Grade 7 - Language Skills
In this course, students are directly taught the reading and writing processes. They are introduced to writing in various genres, including narration, description, reading response, and personal journals. The emphasis is on writing complete sentences, developing paragraphs, and revising and editing. Grammar is taught through the writing process as well as studied formally through lessons and exercises. Through a strategy-intensive approach, students build a repertoire of reading strategies.
- Grade 8 - Language Skills
In this skills-based English language course, the students are directly taught the reading and writing processes. They write in various styles, including, description, persuasion, exposition, and reading response. The emphasis is on improving analytical reading and writing tasks, and developing fluency. Grammar is taught through the writing process as well as studied formally through lessons and exercises. An emphasis is on sentence combining. Through a strategy-intensive approach, students build a repertoire of reading strategies, such as highlighting, clarifying, reacting, and connecting.
Grade 9 - Language Skills
In this skills-based English language course, the students are directly taught the reading and writing processes. They write in various styles, including persuasion, the formal essay, and reading response. The emphasis is on improving analytical writing tasks and developing fluency. Grammar is taught through the writing process as well as studied formally through lessons and exercises. The emphasis is on sentence combining, using precise language, and assessment. Through a strategy-intensive approach, students build a repertoire of reading strategies, such as highlighting, visualizing, questioning, predicting, clarifying, reacting, and connecting.
Acquainting our students with the story of humanity from earliest times is the overall purpose of the history department.
History is viewed as a continuing story of which we all are a part. We strive to make our students aware of the structure and chronological continuity of history as well as the connections that are necessary to understand humankind in the modern age. We want our students to develop the ability to draw valid conclusions from the facts that they have read and to write their conclusions in a clear manner. We seek to improve our students’ abilities to write effective essays.
Grade 5 - History: United States History, 1600-1850
The fifth grade United States history course begins with work on the key skills and resources required for historical study, including geography. Students learn about the cultures of the first peoples of the Americas and their initial contact with Europeans,. They then study the periods of French, Spanish, and English colonization; including and the development of slavery in the Americas. The course proceeds through the French and Indian Wars, the Revolutionary period, and the early years of the American Republic. Throughout the year the course emphasizes reading and writing skills as part of historical study.
Grade 6 - History: World Geography, Five Themes of Geography
In the World Geography course, students begin their study with an introduction to geography to examine how geography helps us understand our world. This introduction also includes understanding how physical processes and features shape life on Earth, what factors shape Earth’s different environments, and what concepts help us understand the world’s people like culture, population, government, economy, and global connections. The five themes of geography provide a framework for the students’ study of the world and their understanding of history. Students study major regions of the world including Latin America, Africa, and Asia. Each region is analyzed through the study of its physical geography, history, culture, and current trends.
Grade 7 - History: European and Middle Eastern History, Medieval to Early Modern Times
The seventh grade history class begins with background on the Roman Empire and its fall. Students then learn about the rise of Islam, the development of European Feudalism, and the events of the High Middle Ages, including conflict between the European and Islamic spheres. The course proceeds to the Reformation and Counter-Reformation, the European Renaissance, European world exploration, and the Scientific Revolution. Throughout the year, the course emphasizes reading and writing about history.
Grade 8 - History: American History
The eighth grade American history course begins with background on the Beginnings of the Nation America and the origins of the American Republic in the context of European colonialism. Students then study American civics, including foundational documents and the structure and function of American government. The course proceeds with an examination of antebellum America, the Civil War and Reconstruction, the Industrial Revolution and Progressive Eras, the World Wars, the Great Depression, the New Deal, the Cold War, and the Civil Rights Movement. Student work focuses on political, economic, and social aspects of this history, as well as reading, writing, and research.
Grade 9 - History: Ancient History
The ninth grade ancient history course begins with an exploration of prehistory from human origins and the Paleolithic era to the Neolithic revolution and the beginnings of urban communities. From these roots, students study the ancient cultures of the Fertile Crescent, Egypt, and Persia, before proceeding to the classical civilizations of Greece and Rome. In addition to historical narratives, cultural perceptions and worldviews are examined in relation to environmental, geographic, and other factors. Special attention is given at various times to archaeology, mythology, art history, and current controversies about of the period being studied. The exploration of Greek and Roman history emphasizes the respective development of democratic and republican systems of government, and the ultimate loss of popular rule in antiquity. Throughout the year, students develop skills in critical thinking and analytical essay writing.
Goals of the mathematics department include preparing students to apply correctly the mathematical skills that they learn, developing their understanding of the relationships between the concepts and procedures that are studied, and understanding that the material covered in mathematics is cumulative.
The mathematics department requires that the students learn the basic mathematical facts concerning the four operations, but classes spend less time practicing tables in order to spend more time developing mathematical thinking and problem-solving strategies. Critical-thinking skills are developed and reinforced through problem-solving exercises. The department is committed to using technology; scientific and graphing calculators for algebra and geometry classes are available, and the students are instructed in their use. Computer websites are also used to demonstrate and animate algebraic and geometric graphs and diagrams. There is a focus on writing out procedures and solving real-life problems.
Grade 5 - Mathematics
The fifth-grade mathematics course focuses on, but is not limited to, reviewing basic arithmetic and expanding the use of the four basic operations to solve standard mathematical and real-life word problems. An emphasis is placed on understanding problems involving place value, decimals, fractions and mixed numbers, graphs, metric measurement, ratios and percents, as well as perimeter, area, and volume. Computers are used for reviewing multiplication tables, prime numbers, and factors. Interactive learning games in the classroom are also part of the program.
- Grade 6 - Mathematics
The sixth-grade mathematics course introduces students to a range of mathematical concepts and tools such as those used in basic algebra, geometry, and statistics. Basic arithmetical skills, including the use of decimals, fractions, estimation, measurement, and problem solving, are developed. This broad-based approach is designed to increase fundamental knowledge and to begin the process of using mathematical skills to solve real-world application problems. Computers are used for reviewing multiplication tables, prime numbers, and factors. Interactive learning games in the classroom are a part of the program.
Grade 7 - Mathematics
The objectives of the seventh-grade mathematics course are to build on and develop, through analysis and application, basic skill components of mathematics with an emphasis on interpreting data, understanding number theory, and learning about statistics. Fundamentals from algebra, geometry, statistics, number theory, graphing, and probability are used to solve real-world problems. Mathematical concepts are used to relate problem-solving skills to the students’ daily lives and interests. Computers continue to be used for reviewing multiplication tables, prime numbers, and factors. Interactive learning games in the classroom are a part of the program.
Grade 7 - Pre-Algebra
Pre-algebra is offered to students in the seventh grade who have demonstrated advanced mathematical skills and a capacity for understanding more abstract concepts. The goal of the pre-algebra course is to prepare students for first-year algebra. The objectives of the course are to study mathematical operations and analyze equations. Topics studied in this course include but are not limited to integers, expressions, solving simple equations, number theory, rational numbers and expressions, ratios and proportions, inequalities, graphing in the coordinate plane, and polynomials. Additionally, geometry, statistics, and probability are formally introduced.
Grade 7 - Algebra 1 (Addendum - Out-of-Level Courses)
In addition to the core curriculum, the mathematics department is able to offer to qualified students the following course: Algebra 1 in seventh grade. This class would be offered to students who demonstrate a special ability and interest in the study of mathematics.
Please see the course description under Grade 8 - Algebra 1.
Grade 8 - Pre-Algebra
The goal of the pre-algebra course is to prepare students for first-year algebra. The objectives of the course are to study mathematical operations and analyze equations. Topics include, but are not limited to integers, expressions, solving simple equations, number theory, rational numbers and expressions, ratios and proportions, inequalities, graphing in the coordinate plane, and polynomials. Additionally, geometry, statistics, and probability are more formally introduced.
Grade 8 - Algebra 1
Algebra 1 is offered to qualifying eighth-grade students. In this course, the foundation laid in pre-algebra is expanded to include problems involving systems of equations and inequalities, quadratic equations, right triangles, and work involving polynomials. An emphasis is placed on simplifying expressions and solving and graphing different types of equations. The students work toward applying their knowledge to solve real-world problems. The use of tables, graphs, and algebraic expressions is employed throughout the year. Graphing calculators are used to demonstrate and to assist in learning the connection between equations and their graphs.
Grade 8 - Geometry
Geometry is offered to those eighth-grade students who qualify by having successfully completed a first-year algebra course. The objectives of this course are to study the relationships and measurements of lines, angles, structures, and solids. The studies of polygons, triangle relationships, angles, and three-dimensional geometry are stressed. In addition to work in geometry, a review of first-year algebra is included throughout the year to help prepare students for Algebra 2 and trigonometry. Algebraic terms are included in geometry problems. Other topics covered include, but are not limited to, shapes in motion, measuring in the plane, measuring in space, reasoning and parallel lines, proving triangles congruent, quadrilaterals, similarity, right triangle geometry, and chords, secants, and tangents.
Grade 9 - Algebra 1
In this course, the foundation laid in pre-algebra is expanded to include problems involving systems of equations and inequalities, quadratic equations, right triangles, and work involving polynomials. An emphasis is placed on simplifying expressions and solving and graphing different types of equations. The students work toward applying their knowledge to solve real-world problems. The use of tables, graphs, and algebraic expressions is employed throughout the year. Graphing calculators are used to demonstrate and assist in learning the connection between equations and their graphs. Different textbooks are used to match the reading levels of the various classes taking this course.
- Grade 9 - Geometry
Geometry is offered to those ninth-grade students who qualify by having successfully completed a first-year algebra course. The objectives of this course are to study the relationships and measurements of lines, angles, structures, and solids. The studies of polygons, triangle relationships, angles, and three-dimensional geometry are stressed. In addition to work in geometry, a review of first-year algebra is included throughout the year to help prepare students for Algebra 2 and trigonometry. Algebraic terms are included in geometry problems. Other topics covered include, but are not limited to, shapes in motion, measuring in the plane, measuring in space, reasoning and parallel lines, proving triangles congruent, quadrilaterals, similarity, right triangle geometry, and chords, secants, and tangents.
Grade 9 - Algebra 2
Many of the topics covered in Algebra 1 are reviewed and expanded upon to broaden the student’s understanding of algebra and its connection to geometry. This course covers linear, quadratic, polynomial, logarithmic, rational, and radical functions. The use of matrices, the study of conic sections, and probability are also covered. Trigonometric functions and graphs complete the course. This course covers all the topics generally taught in a high school Algebra 2 class.
Individualized Mathematics Instruction
In conjunction with the Individualized Instruction Program, the department makes available individual or small-group classes to work at a different pace, slower or more advanced, than that provided in the regular classroom setting. The goal in providing the special classes is to enable the students to reach certain grade levels in mathematics, whether it is for advanced achievement, or to receive additional or remedial support. The teacher may use auxiliary materials to reinforce classroom instruction.
The related arts program provides students with opportunities in performing arts, fine arts, health, life skills, and leadership.
These courses are often “hands-on” classes requiring active participation and focusing on creativity; students learn to express themselves in a positive manner, to gain self-confidence, to make good decisions regarding their physical and emotional selves, and to take responsibility for their own actions. Classroom participation is paramount.
The related arts program is mandatory for students in grades five through eight. Students rotate through the various offerings as they progress through the grades. Offerings may change from year to year.
RELATED ARTS: PERFORMING ARTS
The philosophy of the performing arts department is to offer experiences in the performing arts to all students regardless of prior experience. In the general curriculum, students are given an introduction to music as it pertains to the world around them. This program is accomplished through examining jazz and rock music and their place in history and popular culture, as well as playing band instruments and piano.
In addition to the required grade-specific courses, there is an extensive private instrumental music lesson program and many active performing groups. These groups include orchestra, band, jazz ensemble, chorus, school musical, guitar ensemble, African drumming, and pit orchestra.
Grade 5 - Performing Arts: Introduction to Instrumental Music
The goal of this course is to introduce students to beginning instrumental playing. All students spend the term learning to play a band instrument in an ensemble setting. They are members of the band, daily, for the duration of the term, and then once per week for the remainder of the year. Students also reinforce musical concepts by participating in a brief unit of keyboard study.
Concepts covered are note-reading in the treble clef (and bass clef in playing trombone), rhythm-reading, embouchure technique, instrument fingerings, playing an instrument alone and with others, playing a varied repertoire, playing music of other cultures, and improvisational techniques.
Grade 6 - Performing Arts: Development of Instrumental Music Techniques
The goal of this course is to develop those skills introduced in the fifth-grade music class. All students spend the term furthering their study of learning to play a band instrument in an ensemble setting. Students who are new to the school and have not played an instrument before are introduced to beginning instrumental playing along with the rest of the class. All sixth-grade students become members of the band, daily, for the duration of the term, and then once per week for the remainder of the year. Students also reinforce musical concepts by participating in a brief unit of keyboard study and composition.
Concepts covered are note-reading in the treble clef (and bass clef in playing trombone), rhythm-reading, embouchure technique, instrument fingerings, improvisational techniques, and compositional techniques. Students play an instrument alone and with others, explore a varied repertoire, and are exposed to the music of other cultures.
Grade 7 - Performing Arts: General Music, A History of Rock Music in America
The goal of the seventh-grade music course is to provide students with an overview of the history of rock music in America and the role that it plays in their lives. They will examine popular music in America from 1950 – 1980 through the use of technology, research, portfolio assessment, music analysis, improvisation, movement, and cooperative learning. There are ten units of study covering the following genres: Early Rock, Motown, Soul, Bubble Gum, Surf Rock, Folk Rock, British Invasion, Psychedelic Rock, Southern Rock, and Heavy Metal. Students will then produce an authentic radio show incorporating historical elements as they pertain to each rock era.
Grade 8 - Performing Arts: General Music, A History of Jazz Music in America
The goal of the eighth-grade music course is to provide students with an overview of the history of jazz music in America and its role in society. Students will examine jazz music in America through the use of technology, research, portfolio assessment, music analysis, improvisation, movement and cooperative learning. There are five units of study covering the following genres: Early Jazz Era, Swing Era, Bebop Era, Post Bebop Era, and Harmonica Study. Students will then produce an authentic radio show incorporating historical elements as they pertain to each jazz era.
RELATED ARTS: FINE ARTS
The fine arts program is designed to introduce students to a variety of art concepts and materials. The program is discipline-based and uses art production, art history, art criticism, and aesthetics to teach art concepts and skills. Students are graded on an art rubric that emphasizes individual effort, originality, and creativity.
Grade 5 - Fine Arts
The fifth-grade art program is broken into three units. Unit 1 introduces the mask as an art form. Unit 2 gives the students an opportunity to explore clay. Unit 3 is a devoted to Chinese brush painting were they will learn to manipulate a bamboo brush and grind sumi ink.
Grade 6 - Fine Arts
The sixth-grade art program is broken into four units. Unit 1 is on ceramics and further develops the students’ knowledge of clay. Unit 2 is devoted to exploring collage techniques. In Unit 3 the students explore mask making. Unit 4 focuses on drawing using one- and two-point perspective.
Grade 7 - Fine Arts
The seventh-grade art program is broken into four units. Unit 1 focuses on the elements of art so that the students will be capable of identifying them in works of art. Unit 2 provides the students further experience working with clay. Unit 3 is a drawing unit where students are introduced to graphic design concepts. Unit 4 provides the student an opportunity to work with metal by introducing copper repousse.
Grade 8 - Fine Arts
The eighth-grade art program is broken into four units. Unit 1 is an introduction to the principles of art and a review of the elements of art. Unit 2 is devoted to clay. The students discuss the use of masks in different cultures. Unit 3 is a drawing unit where students are introduced to graphic design concepts. Unit 4 introduces students to art history by studying the life and art of Vincent Van Gogh. They incorporate this knowledge by creating a still life using cray-pas or paper collage.
RELATED ARTS: HEALTH
Grade 7 - Health
Seventh-grade health, which is a one-term course in the Related Arts rotation, is designed to provide students with the necessary tools to make informed decisions about the challenges and choices they face as they develop into young adults. Predominantly a discussion-based course, the class encourages self-reflection, creative expression, and exploration through journal writing.
RELATED ARTS: LIFE SKILLS
Grade 8 - Life Skills
Centered on multiple literacies for the 21st century, the eighth grade life skills course tackles issues and projects in global awareness and multiculturalism, environmental stewardship, health and social responsibility, financial literacy, current events, and life skills (personal care). Students develop skills in self-awareness and personal management through goal setting, teamwork exercises, and communication with their peers, elders, and juniors. Collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity are cornerstones of the process as students work on their presentation and public speaking skills. This hands-on course uses examples from popular media and classical literature, as well as role-play exercises and opportunities for personal experience. Students grow to understand the importance of the individual in community and society.
RELATED ARTS: LEADERSHIP
The goal of the leadership course is to develop the integrity of our students so that they can make a significant and positive impact on society. We want them to be able to define and achieve meaningful goals and dreams. The course teaches ways of thinking and develops leadership skills and habits. The leadership course is a related arts offering in grades five and six.
Grade 5 - Leadership
Through cooperative games and activities, students are expected to gain a greater awareness of one another and themselves. They learn and practice a variety of leadership skills such as communication, problem-solving, and conflict resolution through group challenges and initiatives. The emphasis is on personal growth and team building.
Grade 6 - Leadership
The sixth-grade course is designed to serve as an introduction to cooperative learning and to create a safe environment for taking risks. Before students can begin to think about team play, they need to understand themselves within the context of a small group. The class uses the School's low ropes course, when weather permits, to practice and demonstrate leadership skills.
The philosophy of the ninth-grade Related Arts program is to provide an in-depth experience in visual arts, performing arts, or communications.
In these project-driven, performance-based courses, students are guided to become independent workers. Students are graded on the progress that they make during each marking period. The purpose of this course is to provide a high-school level credit in the arts or communications.
Current course offerings include guitar, instrumental ensemble, communications, drama, art, and photography.
The goal of the guitar class is to introduce students to the basics of guitar playing. In a group setting, students receive preliminary instruction from the teacher and work together to determine individual course goals. Students then work independently to practice the material provided by the teacher to reach these goals. Individual instruction is provided to each student on a rotating basis throughout each week.
The goal of the instrumental ensemble class is to introduce students to a variety of small ensemble repertoire through group and individual rehearsals and to prepare for several performances during the school year. Students will spend each class period practicing the music on their own with individual assistance from the teacher. The ensemble will rehearse as a group at least twice per week. Advanced instrumental students may take this course as an independent study on their instrument to practice for their weekly private lessons.
This course uses technology to help students express themselves creatively in three disciplines: digital film-making, electronic media communications, and graphic design. Essentially, the Learning Lab is Communication Central for The Rectory School. Students learn to make their own audiovisual presentations through iMovie. They write entries for the e-newsletter, RECollections, and other sections of the website. Furthermore, they design and produce print media for special events at Rectory.
Coding & Programming
This course provides a basic introduction to computer programming skills. By moving at a self-guided pace, students will learn how to use Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) to be able to design their own websites from scratch. Using this information as a primer, the students will then begin to work with programming languages, such as Python, for more advanced applications. Due to the nature of the curriculum, students that join after the first trimester will be able to begin learning without worry of being overwhelmed by advanced material.
Introduction to Art
The ninth-grade art program is designed to fulfill a high school art elective. The students may take art in any or all of the three terms. The program is discipline-based and uses art production, art history, art criticism, and aesthetics to teach art concepts and skills.
The program is divided into three terms. Each term focuses on one medium or area of concentration. The focus of the fall term is on developing 3-D techniques; the winter term, on working with various techniques of printmaking; and the spring term, on the human head working with clay and charcoal to create various pieces of artwork.
The ninth-grade photography elective is designed to introduce students to the basics of camera operation, film development, and darkroom printing techniques. As the term progresses and the students become more proficient, advanced shooting and darkroom techniques are introduced. Students have a chance to experiment with pinhole photography, making their own cameras out of paint cans. The history of photography and the impact of photography in today’s society are discussed throughout the term. Students are graded on the effort, enthusiasm, and creativity they display while working on the various projects.
The science department provides students with an opportunity to learn scientific principles in conjunction with essential life skills.
This goal is achieved through independent and cooperative learning experiences that include problem solving, experimental design, critical thinking, and risk taking. Not only is science a body of knowledge, it is also way of learning about the natural world, and students are encouraged to investigate and explore the world around them in order to gain an understanding of how scientific knowledge is established, refined, and revised. Using the classroom as a forum, they are challenged to discuss important issues, embrace a respect for life, and confront difficult choices. There is a focus on understanding important relationships and applying concepts rather than memorizing terminology. Students also use computers to access information and then think critically about what they find. Other technology tools are used to support scientific investigations.
Grade 5 - Science: Introduction to Science
The purpose of the fifth-grade science course is to introduce students to the vocabulary and concepts that they will study during their remaining years of middle-school science. During the fall term students learn some fundamental concepts of basic chemistry. They are introduced to the atomic theory of matter and its influence on some of the properties of matter. The winter term is spent learning about the classification of living things and the structure and function of the human body. A study of the planets launches our Earth Science unit during the final weeks of the winter term. During the spring term, a unit on weather wraps up our introduction to Earth Science, and the remainder of the year is devoted to an exploration of the concepts of physical science.
- Grade 6 - Science: Life Science
The sixth-grade science class introduces students to the study of life. Using a hands-on inquiry approach, students learn the way scientists learn. Over the course of the year they are given “big science” questions to answer, which they resolve by making observations, exploring questions and challenges, investigating, experimenting, gathering evidence, and communicating explanations. They also work with others on cross-curricular projects which offer a meaningful way for students to transfer knowledge and skills learned in one context to other content areas. Throughout the year, students make use of computer tools that support their efforts in research, observation, experimentation, modeling, analysis, and reflection.
Grade 7 - Science: Earth Science
The purpose of this course is to provide a broad background in Earth science. Earth science incorporates all sciences that look to understand the Earth independently and as part of a larger system. The curriculum stresses the areas of geology, oceanography, meteorology, and astronomy.
The content includes an introduction to the subject of Earth science and its related fields. Use of the International System of Units and the scientific method is stressed throughout the course. The content focus is on the formation of rocks and minerals, the processes of erosion and weathering, and the theory of plate tectonics. Students undertake a study of the atmosphere through lessons that include the mixture of gases in our atmosphere and the role weather plays in shaping the Earth. They also study the relationship of our planet to other objects in the universe, the geologic events that shape the face of the Earth, the ways in which these events affect the Earth’s population, and the influence humans can have on natural processes.
Grade 8 - Science: General Science
The purpose of the eighth-grade science course is to give students an overview of the three primary scientific disciplines they will encounter in secondary school: physics, chemistry, and biology. The curriculum touches on the inter-relationship of these disciplines.
The content includes continued reinforcement of measurement skills (utilizing the SI units) as well as graphicalrepresentation of laboratory data and formal presentation of laboratory results using the standard scientific format. The fall term focuses on the nature of science, measurements, atoms, elements, the periodic table, atomic structure, and properties of matter. In the winter term, the students study the structures and functions of the cell. The human body systems are studied, starting with structure and movement and moving through digestion, circulation, respiration, and reproduction. The spring term returns to physical science, when the topics of motion, speed, work, and power are covered and then incorporated into an exploration of simple machines and the concept of mechanical advantage. The climax of the term is an engineering design project that not only unifies the concepts taught throughout the term, but also emphasizes the complementary relationships amongst science, mathematics, and engineering.
Grade 9 - Science: Introduction to Physics
The ninth-grade science class provides a strong physics foundation and offers students the opportunity to build technological literacy as they continue to develop the skills and reasoning that characterize scientific inquiry.
The content challenges students to develop further their approach to problem solving through the completion of comprehensive laboratory exercises and to communicate scientific information in writing. Students come to understand the scientific process through collaboration and group cooperative learning. Core content in the fall term reviews the scientific method, graphs and measurement, and investigates Newton’s three laws of motion, universal gravitation, momentum and work, energy, and simple machines. The winter term focuses on forces in equilibrium, projectiles and center of mass, physical properties of matter, and temperature, energy, and matter. The spring term concentrates on energy flow and systems, electricity flow and measurement, simple electrical circuits, and the transfer of energy through waves. For the honors section, the year ends with a culminating “How Does It Work?” project. Other ninth-grade sections end the year with an astronomy unit.
The World Languages Department offers instruction in Spanish, Chinese, and French.
Course offerings are:
- Introduction to Spanish, Spanish 1A, Spanish 1B, Spanish 2
- Online World Language Course: Chinese 1
- Online World Language Course: French 1
- Grades 5 & 6 - Introduction to Spanish
The fifth-grade and sixth-grade Spanish courses are an introduction to the Spanish language and culture. Using natural language, total physical response, storytelling, and language experience approaches, the system is designed to develop communicative competency in listening, speaking, reading, writing, and the Spanish culture with a progression that is gradual and linguistically appropriate.
Grades 7-9 - Spanish
In this introductory course, the foundations of language acquisition skills are laid. The students gain familiarity with the sounds of the language by learning simple greetings and vocabulary and practicing, both orally and in writing, the conjugations of regular and irregular verbs. Auditory and pronunciation skills are strengthened. To help develop their reading and writing skills in the language, the students translate simple sentences, passages, and children’s books, both from Spanish to English and English to Spanish. They are introduced to the cultures of both ancient and present-day Spanish-speaking cultures. The skills acquired in Spanish 1a lay the groundwork for the students’ continued acquisition of language in Spanish 1b.
In Spanish 1b, students build on the fundamental skills learned in Spanish 1a to aid in the development of their reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills in Spanish. Acquiring these skills involves continued work with conjugations of –ar, -er, and –ir verbs, as well as grammar, with a primary focus on reading and auditory comprehension. To develop mastery in the language, students are required to read and translate from Spanish and English in both classroom and homework exercises. An in-depth exploration of Spanish history and culture is studied through researching ancient and present-day Spanish civilizations. In this class, through simple dialogue, students work on basic skills that are essential for the development of oral expression.
In Spanish 2, students have an extensive review of the fundamental skills learned in Spanish 1a and 1b to aid in the continued development of their reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills in Spanish. Acquiring these skills involves continued work with verb conjugations and grammar, with a focus on writing, speaking, reading and auditory comprehension. To develop mastery in the language, students are required to read and translate from Spanish and English in both classroom and homework exercises. They are also required to develop their oral skills through mini-dialogues. Through researching ancient and present-day Spanish civilizations, the students explore Spanish history and culture. In this class, through simple and more complex dialogue, students work on skills that are essential for the development of oral expression and fluency.
Grade 9 - Online Chinese 1
The Online Chinese 1 course aims to develop the students’ communicative ability in Chinese by learning language structures, functions, and related cultural knowledge as well as training their listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills. The intent is to help students gain the skills they need in order to attain some fluency in the target language.
Grade 9 - Online French 1
The Online French 1 course aims to develop the students’ communicative ability in French by learning language structures, functions, and related cultural knowledge as well as training their listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills. The intent is to help students gain the skills they need in order to attain some fluency in the target language.
Individualized Language Instruction
In conjunction with the Individualized Instruction Program (IIP), the department makes available individual instruction for those students who are prepared for a curriculum that is more advanced than our regular offerings. The goal in providing this option is to enable students to continue to learn the target language at their appropriate level. The teacher may use auxiliary materials to reinforce classroom instruction.