Welcome to Middle School!
In Middle School, we focus on foundational building: building students’ content and skills knowledge, building smart study habits, building critical thinking, building a curiosity about learning that will carry them through high school, college and beyond. Students actively engage in core academic classes through Socratic discussions, labs, debates, collaborative work, and receive feedback through the use of rubrics to improve their performance. During these years, the annual Third Quarter Presentations (3QP) will increasing build research and presentation skills beginning with humanities studies in the 5th grade and extending into STEM subject throughout the rest of their middle school years.
In addition to core academic classes, all middle schoolers participate in choir, piano, and life skills. Our life skills classes are structured to help students learn more about themselves, their unique learning styles and their strengths. We help students improve the way they learn, participate effectively in team settings, and collaborate with peers. We track student progress through a variety of assessments that help us evaluate critical thinking skills, including verbal and writing skills.
The skills and concepts explored during these years are focused on college and life preparation and are aligned with college freshman orientation seminars. Our students develop organizational, planning, writing, and communication skills in college prep classes to ensure their journey to college and to a career is a seamless one.
During these transitional years as student life becomes more demanding, we want them to learn how to learn, to have fun as they build the habits and confidence necessary to tackle the rigor and discipline required for academic and artistic success.
5th grade students read a wide selection of literary genres including realistic and historical fiction, persuasive, functional and expository texts as outlined by the Arizona State and Common Core Standards. We focus on writing skills including the development of proper grammar and spelling. Students are expected to actively participate in our inquiry-based discussions, projects, and activities as well as write across multiple genres.
5th grade Social Studies investigates the exploration and colonization of the Americas by Europeans including the beginning of global trade, the growing conflicts between American Indian populations and European colonists, and the expansion of the African slave trade. We explore how the European colonies in North America began to organize a new democratic form of government and engaged in the Revolutionary War that culminated in their independence. Students also simulate Lewis and Clark’s expedition into the Louisiana Territories, explore current American geography and the civil rights movement.
5th grade students participate in a hands-on, integrated science curriculum that focuses on the development of experimental design and engineering practices. The students will apply these skills in their investigation of Life, Earth, and Physical Science. Students study traits of scientists, matter and its interactions, forces, motion and energy, animal adaptations, the solar system, and space exploration.
Math 5 focuses on (1) developing fluency with addition and subtraction of fractions and developing understanding of the multiplication of fractions and of division of fractions in limited cases (unit fractions divided by whole numbers and whole numbers divided by unit fractions); (2) extending division to two-digit divisors, integrating decimal fractions into the place value system, and developing understanding of operations with decimals to hundredths, and developing fluency with whole number and decimal operations; (3) developing understanding of volume. Curriculum: Into Math, Grade 5
5th Grade Life Skills curriculum is centered on organization skills, study skills, and teamwork. Throughout the year, students explore the following topics: communication, research, public speaking, financial literacy, stress management, and nutrition. In addition, students are continually challenged to create a culture of proactive kindness both inside and outside the classroom.
6th grade writing and literature warriors work hand in hand with the social studies curriculum in order to explore lived human experiences through the study of language and literature. In centering literacy and written expression, this course embraces diverse heritages, traditions, and histories rooted in ancient civilizations as it pertains to an Indigenous lens. With interconnectedness at the forefront, 6th graders use critical thinking to process new content through relevant examples and ultimately, build a community of authenticity and trust. Students use written expression to celebrate their experiences and adapt sustaining practices that will promote cultivating a positive mindset across all literacy disciplines.
6th grade Social Studies works in conjunction with English Language Arts under the title of “Sixth Grade Humanities”. Students develop key literacy skills and continue to practice these skills through Socratic discussions, project-based learning, and investigative techniques commonly used in archaeology and anthropology. Through an indigenous lens, students explore world regions and ancient civilizations of the world, analyzing the impact of these civilizations to the present day. This includes, but is not limited to, the ancestral River Valley civilizations, Egypt, Sub-Saharan African tribal communities, China, Japan, and Oceania. Using the AZ Social Studies standards, students build a historical consciousness within the classroom and continue to explore how our past influences our present (and future).
6th grade students participate in a hands-on, integrated science curriculum that focuses on the development of scientific reasoning skills and experimental design. Students study a variety of topics from many disciplines including physical, earth, and life sciences. Also, this course incorporates human-environment interaction in collaboration with the humanities teachers and emphasizes graphing and data analysis skills in partnership with the math program.
6th grade math students will receive instruction in and demonstrate the ability to perform basic mathematical functions and problem solving in the areas of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division of whole numbers, decimals, fractions, ratio and proportion, pre-algebra, and geometry. Curriculum: Into Math, Grade 6.
*Accelerated Math is offered each year for qualifying students. This course moves at a quicker pace, including work above grade level.
6th Grade Life Skills is a course that focuses on organization, study habits, group work, nutrition, and entrepreneurial skills. Students are introduced to strategies for stress management, goal-setting, and peer conflict resolution. In addition, students build skills in both formal and informal public speaking. 6th grade students are challenged to begin developing leadership skills by working with 5th grade students throughout the year.
7th grade English students engage critically with challenging texts and ideas (one of our English Department’s core values). They read a variety of literature (classic novels, short stories, poetry, Shakespeare, informational texts, and modern literature) and analyze methods used by authors to create unique reader experiences. As part of third quarter presentations, students research and establish connections between 20th Century American culture and comic book culture. They must prove society’s influence on their character’s actions, values, or creation story. The ultimate goal is to enhance students’ abilities to write clearly, creatively and express ideas supported by evidence (another of the English Department’s core values).
*An Advanced English course is offered each year for qualifying students.
In 7th grade Social Studies, students begin to analyze political ideologies, motivations, and the effects of politics on humanity. This course is a broad survey of world history that covers China, Islam, Africa, Russia, Japan, Europe, and the Americas. Connections between historic events and themes related to the human condition are made to build a conceptual framework for learning. The time periods range from ancient history to the modern era. Students explore how governments around the world function and interact. They examine war and why it occurs. Students also learn about the ideology behind revolutions throughout history, social change and its impact on society, culture, and the individual. Seventh grade students gain a comprehensive understanding of the political and social climate that lead to human rights abuses.
7th grade science students participate in a hands-on, integrated science course utilizing inquiry and collaboration to explore Physical, Earth and Space and Life Sciences. The course focuses on forces and motion, the flow of energy and the cycle of matter through the Earth’s spheres, and the function of animal and plant cells. Student learning occurs through the lens of the Scientific Method to continue the development of students’ reasoning skills.
7th grade math focuses on identifying proportional relationships, understanding rational numbers in order to build on students’ understanding of the number line. It introduces algebraic concepts such as variables, expressions, equations, and inequalities. As students’ strengths develop, they explore geometry of two and three dimensional figures, including circumference, area, volume, and surface area. When ready, students investigate the world of data analysis and probability by looking into ways to represent information collected from a sample population and studying theoretical outcomes. Curriculum: Into Math, Grade 7
Accelerated students in 7th grade are enrolled in Math 7 Advanced 2. Students start the year with a deep exploration of geometry concepts. This includes diving into transformations, similarity, and congruence through a lens of proportionality and ratios. The year also includes a robust investigation of algebraic concepts, including equations, inequalities, and linear functions. They discover the concept of slope and how to determine the solution to a system of linear equations. When ready, they move into the rules of exponents by tying back into geometry and studying volume, surface area, and cross-sections. Curriculum: Into Math, Grade 7 Advanced II
7th Grade Life Skills is a class that focuses on personal development such as learning to work with others on a team, learning to build healthy friendships through positive communication, developing museum etiquette skills and knowledge, taking care of oneself through stress reduction and learning conflict resolution. In addition, tools and strategies for making healthy choices to avoid smoking or vaping will be introduced. One of the foundational structures of 7th grade Life Skills is cooperative learning; students work in teams to discover how to work with others collaboratively utilizing the unique strengths of one’s team.
The objective of 8th grade English is to prepare students for high school level English. The majority of time will be spent on further strengthening writing, grammar, and punctuation skills. Additionally, we will also work on reading competencies and literary analysis through the framework of civil rights and empathy. A high level of emphasis is placed on community and cooperation in learning, as well as self-advocacy and participation; these skills will be taught, practiced, and assessed on an equal basis with the other academic language arts skills.
8th Grade Social Studies is a cross-cultural exploration of themes of social injustice, human rights, and social movements. Students will incorporate prior foundational knowledge of government and revolution in order to analyze the motivations and reactions to social injustice across countries, cultures, and eras. Themes and topics may include: Persecution and Civil Rights, Contemporary Issues, World War II and the Holocaust, Genocide, Japanese Internment Camps, Propaganda.
8th grade students participate in a hands-on, integrated course that focuses on the development of scientific reasoning skills. Using matter and energy as the central themes, students apply these scientific reasoning skills in their investigation of life, physical sciences, Earth’s history, and genetics. During the course of the year, students analyze the role human beings play in the sustainability of the environment and resources and analyze the natural world through the lens of stability and change.
In 8th grade, students build upon mathematical reasoning and proofs acquired in 7th grade. Students write formal explanations of how math works using definitions, theorems and symbols. Instructional time will focus on three critical areas: (1) Formulating and reasoning about expressions and equations, including modeling an association in bivariate data with a linear equation, and solving linear equations and systems of linear equations; (2) Grasping the concept of a function and using functions to describe quantitative relationships; (3) Analyzing two- and three-dimensional space and figures using distance, angle, similarity, and congruence, and understanding and applying the Pythagorean Theorem. Curriculum: Into Math, Grade 8
Accelerated students in 8th grade take Algebra 1. In Algebra 1 the foundations of mathematical reasoning and proof are introduced. Students begin writing formal explanations of how math works using definitions, theorems and symbols. Instructional time focuses on five critical areas: (1) Relationships Between Quantities and Reasoning with Equations; (2) Linear and Exponential Relationships; (3) Descriptive Statistics; (4) Expressions and Equations; (5) Quadratic Functions and Modeling. Text: Larson Algebra I Common Core Edition
8th Grade Life Skills focuses on developing hands-on leadership skills by participating in a mentoring experience as well as a volunteer project. Other areas of focus are college and career exploration, developing personal finance concepts, dealing with peer pressure, learning refusal skills, and how to make healthy choices in relationships. One of the foundational structures in Life Skills is cooperative learning. Students work in teams to continue applying how to work with others collaboratively utilizing the unique strengths of one’s team members to develop effective project management and workplace skills.