Middle School

Curriculum

Middle School

Curriculum

Grade 5

Art
In Grade 5, the students attend Visual Art twice a week. The program utilizes a variety of art materials and techniques. Painting, sculpting, drawing, printmaking, and ceramics are among the media used by the students. Art skills are reinforced and further explored in Grade 5, including direct observation drawing, simple perspective, and 3-D construction. As students learn to plan and execute projects, they explore the use of the Elements of Art and are introduced to the Principles of Design. The study of art history, including multi-cultural perspectives, serves as a basis to motivate students to develop their own skills and problem-solving abilities.
English
In Grade 5, students write for different purposes: narrative, descriptive, explanative, and persuasive. They utilize a writing process that includes brainstorming, drafting, revising, editing and publishing. With the help of graphic organizers, students plan the structure of sentences, paragraphs, and essays. Through individual conferences with the teacher, students learn to revise and edit their drafts with the goal of producing final copies that are organized, stylized, and generally free of errors in grammar, mechanics, and spelling. They receive instruction in the conventions of grammar, vocabulary and word usage. Teachers integrate topics across the curriculum, such as the fourth quarter “Celebrate America Wax Museum” project that involves note taking, outlining, and organizing information into a coherent report.
History
The Grade 5 history curriculum begins with discovering how the Founding Fathers came to write the Constitution, the addition of the Bill of Rights to protect citizens’ rights, and the responsibilities of being a citizen of the United States. Students next explore Westward Expansion and the process of changing from a small group of former colonies to the expansive nation we have today and analyze the impact and diversity of new settlers. Subsequent topics of study are the Civil War and its antecedents, the American Industrial Revolution, and finally, the Civil Rights Movement. Students work to develop and improve skills in reading comprehension, researching, map reading, note-taking, and critical thinking. Incorporated into the course are a number of research-based projects. Exploration of Maryland’s history, culture, geography, and economy are embedded in the curriculum. Throughout the year, current events give students a chance to identify, summarize, discuss and analyze various issues on a global scale.
Latin
This is an introductory course that exposes students to the history and culture of the Romans through the Latin language. Occasionally, teacher- and student-selected texts will be read and discussed in class, but most stories will be personalized and student-centered. Students will create and read their stories with the help of the teacher using several storytelling techniques. This class will use the most frequent vocabulary found in Cambridge Latin Course Unit 1, which is the textbook used in seventh and eighth grade. After learning about Roman culture and history through Latin, students will be able to make their own modern-day connections to Roman culture. This is a language course; students should expect to read, write, and listen to some Latin as they progress through middle school Latin courses.
Literature
The Grade 5 literature program encourages students to explore a multitude of issues relevant to their lives, as well as making global connections. The students critique literary elements such as character and plot development, conflict and resolution, and the ability to identify the theme in various genres of fictional works. Students are exposed to literary devices, such as similes, metaphors, hyperbole, and personification. In addition, a wide range of literal and inferential comprehension skills are addressed, through non-fiction texts. Both types of literature also incorporate vocabulary expansion. The literature program complements the writing program through various activities, book reports and writing pieces. Representative texts include: House of Dies Drear, Number the Stars, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, Dear Mr. Henshaw, Esperanza Rising, Loser, From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, The Phantom Tollbooth, and The Year of Miss Agnes
Mathematics
Students in Grade 5 math follow the JUMP Math series with supplements from McLean teachers’ best math practices and other materials. Key concepts introduced this year include the application of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division to fractions, decimals and percents. Students also explore ratios, percents and proportions. Once a week, students participate in a hands-on Math Lab, where they deepen their understanding of measurement, geometry, data analysis, and general problem-solving. Advanced instruction is provided for students performing above grade level.
Music
In Grade 5 music classes, students learn more advanced aspects of musical fundamentals including complex forms, asymmetrical and compound meter, and syncopation. Grade 5 students are challenged to use all of their musical knowledge to analyze scores and create their own rhythmic compositions. Students enrolled in 5th Grade String Ensemble learn to play in three and four parts. There is an emphasis on learning to sight read simple rhythms, as well as playing in new keys. In addition to ensemble class, students take one 30 minute private lesson during school time. Students enrolled in Grade 5 Chorus continue to improve their vocal and aural ability through singing in unison, and two-part songs. Along with learning to sing in a foreign language, Grade 5 Chorus students begin to learn the vocal “mechanics” that produce pure tones and work on vowel placement to ensure a proper singing technique.
P.R.I.D.E. Matters
P.R.I.D.E. Matters is a program that teaches skills for developing and demonstrating character strengths such as empathy, responsibility, self-control, and leadership. Throughout the school year, we touch on each of the topics by utilizing role plays, games, and activity-based learning. The skills that students will gain throughout the year will assist them with their individual abilities to listen, self advocate, and focus, as well as with their interpersonal and community interactions that show their PRIDE.
Physical Education
Grade 5 students receive daily, 40 minute, Physical Education in classes that focus on learning new skills and strategies, strengthening previously acquired athletic skills, and developing skills in problem-solving, conflict resolution and cooperation. Games such as soccer, volleyball, flag football, hockey, fitness, track and field, Olympic themed events, basketball, and group related activities take place throughout the school year. A strong component of the PE class is acquiring self confidence as well as learning to play on a team. The PE staff ensures activities are engaging and worthwhile for students to learn important sports/fitness fundamentals that will carry on for the rest of their lives. Students receive health education one class period per week. Facilities at the Middle School level include an indoor gymnasium, a multipurpose room, a large outdoor grass field and blacktop space for students to use daily.
Science
This course covers measurement, mixtures and solutions, experimental design, and the Earth-Sun-Moon. Measurement, the process of quantifying observations, is one of the cornerstones of science. Students develop an understanding and intuitive feel for the metric system. They learn how to use the appropriate tools to measure length, mass, liquid volume and temperature, and acquire the vocabulary associated with metric measurement. Next, students study mixtures and solutions and use the scientific method to design and perform an experiment. Students are then introduced to our solar system which includes researching a planet, studying stars and constellations, and making a phases of the moon stop motion animation movie. They conclude the year exploring the world’s biomes and the impact of human activity.
Spanish
The purpose of this course is to introduce Spanish as a foreign language and to stimulate an interest in further Spanish study. The goal is to give students a sequential language learning experience. Multi-sensory methods such as games, hands-on activities, and role-playing offer exposure to basic vocabulary for expressing greetings and using the words for school supplies, colors, identifying numbers from 1 to 50, domestic animals, family, body parts, months of the year and days of the week.
Technology
Grade 5 technology students practice written and oral communication, creativity, critical thinking, and collaboration in this elective course while exploring a variety of learning tools to boost their understanding. Utilizing iPads, apps, and computers, students research project material, question, and explore ideas. They create multiple projects to build their problem solving, grit, and presentation skills. In addition, students develop keyboarding speed, explore programming, and digital responsibility. Lastly, students use 3D apps to create their designs.

Grade 6

Art
In Grade 6, the students attend Visual Art twice a week. The program includes more demanding and challenging art assignments than in the previous year; emphasis is placed on the procedure and planning of these assignments. Students progress with increased understanding of the complexities of direct observation drawing, two-point perspective, three-dimensional form making, carved relief and printmaking. They are exposed to more in-depth art terminology, art history, and concept application. Through the use of interdisciplinary units, students explore imagery specific to historical cultures from around the world.
English
Students continue to develop their writing skills by practicing various styles of composition for specific purposes: narrative, descriptive, explanative, and persuasive. Using the writing process, they practice crafting pieces with varied sentence structure and well-supported paragraphs. Presenting these compositions helps hone oral speaking skills. Students write a research paper and follow all of the traditional steps including note taking, outlining, and preparing a bibliography. Students study vocabulary and receive explicit grammar instruction weekly and engage in a word study program to address vocabulary development.
History
Using a multi-sensory approach, students will study the beginning of early civilizations through the fall of the Roman Empire. Study will explore the progression of geographical, social, economic, religious, and political factors. They will analyze the shift from nomadic people to agricultural societies. As students explore the great early civilizations of Mesopotamia, Egypt and the Near East, India, China, Greece, and Rome, they discover the secrets of these ancient people that continue to influence the world today.
Latin
This is a continuation of the introductory Latin 5 class, which provided students essential information on Roman culture and history through the Latin language.  Occasionally, teacher- and student-selected texts will be read and discussed in class, but most stories will be personalized and student-centered. Students will create and read their stories with the help of the teacher using several storytelling techniques. This class will use the most frequent vocabulary found in Cambridge Latin Course Unit 1, which is the textbook used in seventh and eighth grade. Students will continue to learn how to use Latin to express themselves and to converse with their classmates. Additionally, students will also deepen their understanding of Roman culture, mythology, and history through the Latin language and make their own modern-day connections to Roman culture. This is a language course; students should expect to read, write, and listen to some Latin as they progress through middle school Latin courses.
Literature
This course is designed to foster an appreciation for quality literature and to hone reading skills, including comprehension. Teachers support students’ critical thinking abilities by emphasizing abstract interpretations of works read as well as concrete recall of facts and details. Using a multisensory approach while studying novels, students learn to identify and gain insight from literary elements. The skills work is an integral part of the program, building on students’ strengths while teaching specific strategies to ameliorate weaknesses. Vocabulary development and writing in response to literature are integral parts of all literature classes. Students also focus on a specific author or sub genre for independent reading each month. The goal of focused independent reading is to expose students to a variety of sub genres and authors, thus they are taking ownership over what they read and the pace at which they read. Representative texts include: Boy of the Painted Cave, Al Capone Does my Shirts (Series), Out of my Mind, Counting by 7’s, Ender’s Game, The Lightning Thief, Who is Malala?, Tomb Quest, Fable Haven and others.
Mathematics
Students in Grade 6 math follow the JUMP Math series with supplements from McLean teachers’ best math practices and other materials. Students engage in an in-depth application of mathematical operations to whole numbers, decimals, fractions, percents, ratios and proportions. Students participate in a hands-on Math Lab once a week, where they explore measurement, geometry, data analysis, and are introduced to Pre-Algebra.
Music
In Grade 6, students continue to concentrate on the development and refinement of the skills essential to musicianship. They gain stronger note-reading skills through the study of rhythm, melody and harmony. Vocal and instrumental ensemble music plays a challenging yet important role in the student’s ability to work with other musicians while building confidence in performance. Students enrolled in the Grade 6 String Ensemble learn to play in three and four parts. There is an emphasis on learning to sight read rhythms, as well as use more complicated bowings and slurs. In addition to ensemble class, students take one 30 minute private lesson during school time.Students enrolled in the Grade 6 Chorus continue to improve their vocal and aural ability through singing unison, two and three-part songs. Along with learning to sing in a foreign language, Grade 6 Chorus students continue to learn and improve the vocal “mechanics” that produce pure tones and work on vowel placement to ensure a proper singing technique. Rehearsals often consist of vocal/body warm-ups, singing choral repertoire, and musicianship-building activities.Students enrolled in the Grade 6 Guitar learn about commons chords and how to finger pick notes. Students learn the importance of playing in an ensemble with a melody. Students learn to play in unison, hold a steady beat and count individual notes for their proper value. Students learn to listen to subtle changes in tempo and different rhythmic strumming patterns.
P.R.I.D.E. Matters
P.R.I.D.E Matters for Grade 6 continues to teach skills for developing and demonstrating character strengths such as empathy, responsibility, self-control, and leadership. Throughout the school year, we touch on each of the topics by utilizing role plays, games, and activity-based learning. The skills that students will gain throughout the year will assist them with their individual abilities to listen, self advocate, and focus, as well as with their interpersonal and community interactions that show their PRIDE.
Physical Education
Grade 6 students receive daily, 40 minute, Physical Education in classes that focus on learning new skills and strategies, strengthening previously acquired athletic skills, and developing skills in problem-solving, conflict resolution and cooperation. Games such as soccer, volleyball, flag football, hockey, fitness, track and field, Olympic themed events, basketball, and group related activities take place throughout the school year. A strong component of PE class is acquiring self confidence as well as learning to play on a team. The PE staff ensures activities are engaging and worthwhile for students to learn important sports/fitness fundamentals that will carry on for the rest of their lives. Students receive health education one class period per week. Facilities at the Middle School level include an indoor gymnasium, a multipurpose room, a large outdoor grass field and blacktop space for students to use daily.
Science
Grade six science begins the year by reviewing the metric system and then exploring the history of Earth both geologically and biologically. Students study how Earth is a dynamic structure that continuously evolves over time. The unit covers the Earth’s systems and how matter is cycled throughout each one. This course transitions into the topic of renewable energy, sustainability, and human impact on the environment as population grows. Students focus on the changing needs of a society regarding farming practices and technologies that impact science. Then, the course delves back into the study of the Earth’s interior. In this unit, they learn about Pangaea and the driving forces that cause continental drift. This unit also includes the study of tectonic plates, volcanoes, and earthquakes. The year is concluded with the study of rocks and minerals and how they are formed. Students learn the basics of classifying rocks by their composition and texture.
Spanish
This course builds upon the Grade 5 Spanish program, giving students a sequential language learning experience. Students engage in multi-sensory activities such as games, songs, mime and peer interaction as a means to practice vocabulary and everyday expressions. They acquire the basic structure and vocabulary for understanding and expressing greetings and for using the words for colors, numbers from 1 to 100, school subjects, animals, places in the city, house and furniture, foods, months of the year and days of the week.
Technology
Grade 6 students explore programming, online responsibility, cyber-bullying, and 3D design during this technology course. In addition, students develop shared, cloud-based presentations and build their keyboarding skills, focusing on technique, speed and accuracy. Creativity, collaboration, critical thinking and communication are emphasized in the curriculum.
Two McLean students stands outside

Grade 7

Algebra 1
This traditional high school algebra course reviews topics covered in Pre-Algebra before making the transition from the concrete to the abstract concepts of algebra. Basic skill building leads into critical thinking to strengthen problem-solving abilities. Throughout, attention is drawn to real-life connections and geometric applications. Algebraic topics covered include linear functions, inequalities, systems of equations and inequalities, exponential functions, polynomials and factoring, quadratic functions, and rational and radical functions. The TI-83/84 Plus and online Desmos graphing calculators are introduced to reinforce the link between abstract concepts and visual representation.
American Sign Language
This is an introductory course to American Sign Language (ASL) for both 7th and 8th graders. The objective is to expose students to the basics of ASL, deafness, and Deaf culture. As ASL is a visual and kinesthetic language, it consists of precise hand shapes and movements for communication. By the end of this course, students will be able to fingerspell fluently and be able to express quantities using numbers. They will have learned vocabulary for family, time, food, animals, time, and sports. Illustrated packets and videos are provided for support.
Art
In Grade 7, students attend art for a minimum of one semester. The art program emphasizes increased understanding and utilization of the art process; students learn that the success of a project depends greatly upon the stages of development, including the choice of art mediums, and subject matter. Individual creative expression is encouraged as students begin to develop a personal style to their artwork. As students create two- and three-dimensional works of art, they use dexterity skills in handling new tools and materials. These works include realistic subject matter like still life, portraits and landscape as well as abstract art. They use more advanced drawing and painting techniques as well as media that can include collage, ceramics, printmaking and sculpture.
Band
Students bring their instrument and begin developing technical skills including music notation and tone production using an introductory band method. They study and perform a variety of new and familiar compositions. Technique, music theory, and ensemble playing are important components of this course. Private lessons are recommended. Practicing at home is mandatory for the development of skills.
Chorus
This elective allows students to participate in a choral ensemble that focuses on the development of vocal skills and musicianship. Students learn and perform music that is aesthetically pleasing to the age group and simultaneously develops various aspects of choral singing. Musicianship is developed through concepts of notation, phrasing, and dynamics. Sight reading skills are honed through notation exercises that incorporate Solfége syllables. Rehearsals consist of vocal warm-ups, singing choral repertoire in two- and three-parts, and musicianship-building activities.
Computer Graphics
Students are encouraged to explore, plan, create, test, evaluate and build innovation skills. Curriculum is structured to include game design, coding, 3D design, image editing, technology news, and the design process. Students create multiple projects to stretch their creativity, collaboration, critical thinking and communication skills. In addition, students design, edit and print 3D projects using Tinkercad software, explore animation and video editing. This elective class meets each semester, four times per week.
English 7
The course is designed to focus on the art of writing, challenging students to become better writers and public speakers. Through daily and long-term assignments, students build and expand their understanding of writing purposes and the writing process. This course complements world geography and literature, and it explores other topics for analytical study. As students practice writing varied sentence structure, paragraphs, and essays, they begin to develop individual styles and employ appropriate tone and diction. Seventh graders learn to plan before writing, showing awareness of purpose, audience, content, and form. Elaborate research projects expose students to the use of technology and resource materials, while they hone their skills in note taking, outlining, and documenting. They receive weekly instruction in grammar, word usage, and mechanics. Oral communication skills improve by reading and evaluating student writings using self, peer, and teachers.
Guitar
This Guitar elective is designed to teach basic guitar skills while incorporating general music concepts. Using a variety of student appropriate repertoire, including current popular and rock songs, students will engage with theory concepts such as note reading and identifying intervals of notation. This knowledge will be applied to learning to play triads and major scales. Through the use of the Pentatonic and Blues Scales, students will discover various methods of improvising music on the guitar. Students will also be challenged to become strong sight-readers as they are drilled on eighth note rhythms and easy syncopated patterns. Above all, each guitarist will learn a variety of chord strumming styles including Rock, Blues, Folk and Classical.
Healthy Choices
The Healthy Choices class is once a week during alternating semesters for the 7th and 8th grade students. During the semester, the following overarching themes are covered in an age appropriate manner: Identity/Self-Esteem, Healthy Relationships, Sex and Sexuality, Social Media & Digital Safety. Through hands on activities, discussions, and role plays, students learn to recognize ways they can value and care for themselves, others, and the community. A key part of the class is a focus on empathy, decision-making and communication. The themes and content of the course reinforce activities that take place during advisory time and community meetings, as well as focus on our P.R.I.D.E. system and monthly Skills and Attributes.
Latin
This introductory course focuses on the language and culture of the Roman world in the first century CE. The course textbook focuses on the lives of both real and fictional figures living in Pompeii before the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. Through an emphasis on reading and translating, students develop basic communicative skills in order to read and compose Latin as the Romans did. As they learn and speak about past events, students discuss the influence of Roman culture and civilization on modern society. The idea of Latin as the root of the Romance languages, and its relevance to the English language, is elemental to this course.
Literature
Grade 7 Literature fosters independence in student readers by teaching active reading strategies and skills such as questioning, monitoring and clarifying, analyzing, and evaluating various genres of literature. Students also learn purposeful pre-reading strategies, such as using inferential clues, making predictions, and utilizing visualizing and verbalizing techniques. Grade 7 Literature teaches students to become active readers through discussing an author’s point of view, examining literary themes, analyzing plot structure and character conflicts, making inferences, supporting their thinking using textual evidence, annotating text, and summarizing. At the same time, the course teaches students how to make connections between books, the world, and themselves. Students are encouraged to choose independent reading in different genres to develop these reading skills and strategies. Students are evaluated through exams, class projects, performance of reading strategies, oral reading fluency and expression, class discussion, and homework. Representative genres include short story and poetry selections, nonfiction, and novels. Works that have been taught in the past include Flipped, Things Not Seen, The Outsiders, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, Under a War-Torn Sky, and The Miracle Worker.
Math 7
Students in Grade 7 math follow the JUMP Math series with supplements from McLean teachers’ best math practices and other materials. This course is a review of arithmetic skills and an introduction to foundational concepts of Pre-Algebra. Topics covered include: understanding and performing operations with rational numbers, problem solving, understanding variables, interpreting graphs and data, and solving and graphing equations and inequalities. Helping students to develop good mathematical study skills and learning strategies is an integral part of this course.
Physical Education
Grade 7 students receive daily, 40 minute, Physical Education in classes that focus on learning new skills and strategies, strengthening previously acquired athletic skills, and developing skills in problem-solving, conflict resolution and cooperation. The students rotate through a variety of sport related units such as soccer, volleyball, football, basketball, hockey as well as group related activities. The basic skills of these sports and activities are practiced and incorporated into small group games and full class scrimmages. Additionally, students learn the basic strategies associated with many games. A strong component of PE class is acquiring self confidence as well as learning to play on a team. The PE staff ensures activities are engaging and worthwhile for students to learn important sports/fitness fundamentals that will carry on for the rest of their lives. Students receive health education one class period per week. Facilities at the Middle School level include an indoor gymnasium, a multipurpose room, a large outdoor grass field and blacktop space for students to use daily.
Pre-Algebra
Students who have taken Math 7 in Grade 6 take Pre-Algebra in Grade 7. The course, following the JUMP Math series, covers the background required for Upper School level work in algebra and geometry, but it is acknowledged that not all students will master this background in one year. Topics include integers, variables, functions, coordinate planes, rational numbers, proportions, percents, and graphs. The course emphasizes the symbolic language of mathematics and encourages the transition from concrete to abstract thinking through the use of algebra to solve problems involving equations and inequalities.
Robotics
Students will design, build, code, test, and debug a robot, using the EV3 Education kit. They will code using the EV3 visual basic programming language to control the robot’s motors, and sensors. Their goal will be to create a competitive robot for the FIRST Lego League contest. Provided they complete the robot in time, students will attend the contest and meet with the judges, sharing their mission solution, volunteer work, team collaboration, and strategies.
Science
The Grade 7 science curriculum focuses on the overall theme of life: from the basic unit of all life, the cell, to the theories of evolution and how life has become what it is today. The course begins with an extensive review of the Scientific Method, a step-by-step procedure used to solve all scientific problems. Students will use these steps to conduct and write-up several in-class experiments. Next, students are introduced to fundamental biological concepts, including biodiversity, evolution, cell structure, and cell function. The course then ventures into genetics and the study of heredity, and how these studies can be used to predict the inheritance of different traits passed down from parent to offspring. In the second semester, a STEAM FAIR, where students will have a chance to plan, develop, and implement an experiment of their choice, takes place. A major goal of the course is to help students develop skills in organization, research, scientific technology, hypothesizing, data collection and analysis, experimentation, and scientific report writing.
Spanish
This is the initial course for formal Spanish study. It provides a structural and grammatical progression through topics and situation-based activities. Emphasis continues on the development of the four language skills: listening comprehension, speaking, reading and writing. During this course, students learn about customs in the Spanish-speaking world and begin to develop an appreciation of other cultures. They acquire the basic structure and vocabulary for understanding and expressing personal details in everyday situations.
Strings
Students enrolled in Grades 7 and 8 String Ensemble use the knowledge they have acquired on their instruments to play together as a group. There is an emphasis on sight-reading and playing in three or four parts. Rehearsals consist of scales and technique work, applying music reading skills to playing new music, and working in detail on the more demanding pieces.
World Geography
The Grade 7 World Geography and Culture course revolves around the question, “how does where we live influence how we act?” Students study both comprehensive geography skills (using a globe, reading maps, charts and graphs) and habits of mind (reading for understanding, making connections, self-evaluating, critical analysis), and then apply these skills and habits to learn about themselves and the world around them in an unbiased manner. The course pays particular attention to current events impacting both Western and non-Western cultures.

Grade 8

Algebra 1
This traditional high school algebra course reviews topics covered in Pre-Algebra before making the transition from the concrete to the abstract concepts of algebra. Basic skill building leads into critical thinking to strengthen problem-solving abilities. Throughout, attention is drawn to real-life connections and geometric applications. Algebraic topics covered include linear functions, inequalities, systems of equations and inequalities, exponential functions, polynomials and factoring, quadratic functions, and rational and radical functions. The TI-83/84 Plus and online Desmos graphing calculators are introduced to reinforce the link between abstract concepts and visual representation.
American Sign Language
This is a continuation of the introductory course of American Sign Language (ASL). Students in this course will continue to explore Deaf history, Deaf culture, and current events in the Deaf community. Students begin to learn the grammatical structure of ASL as well as idiomatic expressions and the use of lexicalized words. Students begin to learn written ASL Gloss. Emphasis is made in the areas of facial expression, use of sign space, and role shifting. The text used is A Basic Course in American Sign Language (T.J. Publishers, Inc.)
Art
In Grade 8, the art program builds on the skills honed throughout Middle School art, preparing students for the Upper School program. More complex subject matter, media and applications are explored through experimentation. The students discover imaginative and creative solutions to visual problems. Importance is placed on realism and the use of abstract and geometric elements in art through various projects. A variety of two and three-dimensional projects are explored through advanced drawing and painting techniques as well as methods that can include collage, ceramics, printmaking, and sculpture.
Band
Students bring their instrument and begin developing technical skills including music notation and tone production using an introductory band method. They study and perform a variety of new and familiar compositions. Technique, music theory, and ensemble playing are important components of this course. Private lessons are recommended. Practicing at home is mandatory for the development of skills.
Ceramics
Grade 8 ceramics builds on the skills honed throughput Middle School art, preparing students for the Upper School ceramics program. This course gives students the opportunity to explore, in more depth, three-dimensional form-making, sculpture, and ceramic-specific techniques. During the course, students learn basic and advanced hand-building, modeling, and glazing techniques. Importance is placed on visualization, imagination, and construction of both functional and non-functional art objects.
Chorus
This elective allows students to participate in a choral ensemble that focuses on the development of vocal skills and musicianship. Students learn and perform music that is aesthetically pleasing to the age group and simultaneously develops various aspects of choral singing. Musicianship is developed through concepts of notation, phrasing, and dynamics. Sight reading skills are honed through notation exercises that incorporate Solfége syllables. Rehearsals consist of vocal warm-ups, singing choral repertoire in two- and three-parts, and musicianship-building activities.
Computer Graphics
Students are encouraged to explore, plan, create, test, evaluate and build innovation skills. Curriculum is structured to include game design, coding, 3D design, image editing, technology news, and the design process. Students create multiple projects to stretch their creativity, collaboration, critical thinking and communication skills. In addition, students design, edit and print 3D projects using Tinkercad software, explore animation and video editing. This elective class meets each semester, four times per week.
English
Students in Grade 8 English continue to hone their skills as writers. Through daily and long-term assignments, students reinforce and expand their understanding of writing as a process that involves various purposes. Students have conferences with the teacher on their essays and formal research paper, with an emphasis on the assessment of complexity and variation of sentence structure, as well as on the development and analysis of a thesis. Moreover, students continue to develop a writing style and proper use of tone.They also write poetry and short stories, highlighting creative skills; teachers enter students’ poems and short stories into national contests for publication. On a weekly basis, students receive instruction in grammar, word usage, and mechanics. The “Become an Expert” Project is also part of this course. It is an opportunity for all students to research topics, issues or people of interest on an informal basis. Following three months of research, students present their findings to their classes in the form of PowerPoints, videos, timelines, and/or demonstrations. The topics include historical events, current events, perspectives from various cultures, art/literature study, and many more.
Geometry
Prerequisite: Algebra 1
This course is designed to help students discover, learn, and apply geometry. Students use inductive reasoning to discover and to explore geometric postulates and theorems. Logical thinking is developed and practiced. Real-world applications encourage students to see the practical value of geometry. There are numerous opportunities to review and to use algebraic concepts. Topics covered include parallels, congruent triangles, similar figures and proportions, right triangles and introductory trigonometry, circles, area and volume, and coordinate geometry.
Guitar
This Guitar elective is designed to teach basic guitar skills while incorporating general music concepts. Using a variety of student appropriate repertoire, including current popular and rock songs, students will engage with theory concepts such as note reading and identifying intervals of notation. This knowledge will be applied to learning to play triads and major scales. Through the use of the Pentatonic and Blues Scales, students will discover various methods of improvising music on the guitar. Students will also be challenged to become strong sight-readers as they are drilled on eighth note rhythms and easy syncopated patterns. Above all, each guitarist will learn a variety of chord strumming styles including Rock, Blues, Folk and Classical.
Healthy Choices
The Healthy Choices class is once a week during alternating semesters for the 7th and 8th grade students. During the semester, the following overarching themes are covered in an age appropriate manner: Identity/Self-Esteem, Healthy Relationships, Sex and Sexuality, Social Media & Digital Safety. Through hands on activities, discussions, and role plays, students learn to recognize ways they can value and care for themselves, others, and the community. A key part of the class is a focus on empathy, decision-making and communication. The themes and content of the course reinforce activities that take place during advisory time and community meetings, as well as focus on our P.R.I.D.E. system and monthly Skills and Attributes.
Latin
This is a continuation of the introductory course in formal Latin begun in Grade 7. Through Latin readings about both real and fictional figures from ancient Pompeii, students expand their Latin vocabulary and grammatical understanding and make further connections to the English language. In addition, students continue to study the Roman civilization and identify relationships with the modern world. Latin derivatives and the relevance of Latin to the English language are highlighted throughout the course.
Literature
Building on the skills acquired in Grade 7, students in Grade 8 further their study of complex literature. Students continue the practice of identifying main ideas, sequencing, synthesizing information, paraphrasing, writing characterizations, and analyzing themes. They read about social, political, historical, and individual identities; occasionally, they explore articles, essays and films to enhance interpretations. In class discussions, students are encouraged to ponder and question these ideas as they begin identifying their personal philosophies and standards. As students read independently to broaden their knowledge of literature, they are encouraged to become lifelong readers. In addition to classic short stories and poetry, class texts may include: The Light in the Forest, The Pearl, Of Mice and Men, Inherit the Wind, The Giver, and Nothing But the Truth.
Physical Education
Grade 8 students receive daily, 40 minute, Physical Education in classes that focus on learning new skills and strategies, strengthening previously acquired athletic skills, and developing skills in problem-solving, conflict resolution and cooperation. The students rotate through a variety of sport related units such as soccer, volleyball, football, basketball, hockey as well as group related activities. The basic skills of these sports and activities are practiced and incorporated into small group games and full class scrimmages. Additionally, students learn the basic strategies associated with many games. A strong component of PE class is acquiring self confidence as well as learning to play on a team. The PE staff ensures activities are engaging and worthwhile for students to learn important sports/fitness fundamentals that will carry on for the rest of their lives. Students receive health education one class period per week. Facilities at the Middle School level include an indoor gymnasium, a multipurpose room, a large outdoor grass field and blacktop space for students to use daily.
Pre-Algebra
The course, following the JUMP Math series, covers the background required for Upper School level work in algebra and geometry, but it is acknowledged that not all students will master this background in one year. Topics include integers, variables, functions, coordinate planes, rational numbers, proportions, percents, and graphs. The course emphasizes the symbolic language of mathematics and encourages the transition from concrete to abstract thinking through the use of algebra to solve problems involving equations and inequalities.
Robotics
Students will design, build, code, test, and debug a robot, using the EV3 Education kit. They will code using the EV3G icon based programming language to control the robots motors, light sensor, touch sensors, and GPS sensor. Their goal will be to create a competitive robot for the FIRST FLL contest. Provided they complete the robot in time, students will attend the contest and meet with the judges, sharing their mission solution, volunteer work, team collaboration, and strategies.
Science
Grade 8 Science explores topics such as properties of matter, physical and chemical changes, elements, compounds, atomic theory, chemical reactions, forces, motion, work, energy, sound, and light. Students will continue developing science concepts using the scientific method during class activities, lab assignments, and independent projects. In particular, they will design a STEAM fair project to be presented. Students will improve on science skills including but not limited to observing, interpreting data, designing experiments, writing lab reports, problem solving and scientific writing. In addition, students will examine and analyze current events in science.
Spanish
This course continues to provide structural and grammatical progression through new topics and situation-based activities that integrate cultural aspects of the Spanish-speaking world. Emphasis is given to the four language skills: listening comprehension, speaking,reading and writing. During this course, information on customs throughout the Spanish-speaking world is presented to help students develop a deeper appreciation of other cultures. Students acquire a solid foundation in the structure of language and vocabulary, using their advancing skills for understanding and expressing new details from everyday situations.
Strings
Students enrolled in Grades 7 and 8 String Ensemble use the knowledge they have acquired on their instruments to play together as a group. There is an emphasis on sight-reading and playing in three or four parts. Rehearsals consist of scales and technique work, applying music reading skills to playing new music, and working in detail on the more demanding pieces.
US History
In this course, students will examine many components of American history, including economics, government, culture and geography. The class begins with a study of the effects of geography on Native American culture and the motivation of early European explorers. Students then examine European settlement of the Americas and the subsequent discord between Americans and Great Britain. In the second semester, students investigate the process by which America became an independent country with a federal system of government, before learning about American westward expansion and the causes of the Civil War. Throughout the year, students will develop research skills to create and present projects that demonstrate their comprehension of the material. The class employs written documents, photographs, artwork, and film to aid student understanding of US history and how it affects American society today.