“The laws of nature are but the mathematical thoughts of God.” -Euclid
Our goal in the middle grades is to foster an appreciation of mathematics and to build a foundation of understanding and fluency. For students to gain the most from this experience they need to bring no more than eagerness and grit.
The middle school mathematics curriculum is a comprehensive program, which spirals from the 6th through the 8th grades. It has a particular focus on the notion of proportionality and maintains an algebra strand throughout its progression. In Grade 6 the curriculum moves specifically through the topics of ratios and unit rates, fractions, decimals and arithmetic operations, expressions and equations, geometry, and statistics and probability. In Grade 7 it progresses through the topics of ratios and proportional relationships, exponents, signed numbers, algebraic expressions and equations, percents, geometry, and statistics and probability. The Grade 8 curriculum exposes each student to the major topics of Algebra I. Therefore, students work at developing fluency in proportional reasoning, percents, algebraic expressions and equations, linear, exponential and quadratic functions, radical expressions, factoring, and geometry.
The curriculum for Science at the Mater Christi School is often described as “spiraling” because students investigate 3 areas of Science each year (Physical, Earth/Space, and Life). Students build their knowledge and skill base each year after a brief review from content presented the previous year. This allows students to receive more consistent exposure to the material than in a more traditional “single content area per year” model.
Students in grade 7 begin the year in the physical sciences by expanding their investigation of units and dimensional analysis, studying momentum, the properties of vector quantities like velocity, the classification of matter, and atomic structure. In Earth Sciences, 7th graders study plate tectonics, geology and earth systems, and Geologic time. Students also investigate several forms of alternative energy, fossil fuels, and natural resources. Finally, life science topics in the 7th grade focus on cellular structure and function, the process of Mitosis, and genetic inheritance. Students use Punnett squares to predict some basic dominant/recessive trait abundance, and they study the DNA molecule and its role in inheritance in greater depth.
Literature for 6th, 7th and 8th grade students is humanities based and is focused on the oral and written analysis of all genres of literature. This includes fiction, short fiction, non-fiction, drama, poetry, art, film and music. The course also covers the historical and social issues surrounding the works being studied.
Works spanning the 6th to 8th grade curriculum in general include:
- The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
- The Call of the Wild by Jack London
- The Devil’s Arithmetic by Jane Yolen
- The Pearl by John Steinbeck
- A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare
- Witness by Karen Hess
- When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
- Lord of the Flies by William Golding
- Animal Farm by George Orwell
- Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
Students will study various other works including music, film, short stories and poems. The course meets and exceeds the Core State Standards for Literature and Writing and includes oral, written, active and creative projects. Each year, the 7th grade students look forward to the 7th Grade Literature Drama Performance. The classroom is transformed into a Broadway stage complete with lights, curtain, music and fantastic performances. Over the years, students have performed Macbeth, 1930’s & 1940’s classic radio comedy routines (Baby Snooks, Abbott and Costello, and the Marx Brothers), the Creepy Corpse of Cal Capone and many more.
A sample of a 7th grade Literature unit is one that centers on Julie Otsuka’s novel, When the Emperor Was Divine. This work of historical fiction tells the story of a young Japanese American girl’s experiences in a U.S. internment camp during the Second World War. Students will study the history of the United States struggle with Japan during the war in the Pacific between 1941 and 1945 and learn the impact this conflict had on U.S. citizens at home and at war. The 7th graders will also study the literary elements connected to Otsuka’s delicate work and report out on a work of historical fiction that they have chosen to read.
Mater Christi’s English Curriculum is based on three core components: grammar, vocabulary, and writing. We address each area independently and then apply them to the writing process as a whole. 7th grade grammar focuses on using conjunctions, phrases, and clauses to create compound and complex sentences. The class uses Sadlier-Oxford’s Vocabulary Workshop Level C. In addition, students build their vocabulary in class with vocab stories, skits, imagery, and interactive games.
Writing instruction is based on the 4 major rhetorical modes: narrative, descriptive, persuasive and expository. Emphasis is placed on the daily habit of writing by having our classes journal on various prompts at the start of every class. 7th grade writing projects include a descriptive essay which couples photography and prose to capture the essence of a special place and a multimedia advertising campaign which emphasizes knowing your audience when writing persuasively.
The social studies curriculum for 7th grade focuses on World Geography. It is my goal to present concepts and skills that will enhance their ability to navigate locally and around the world.
We will work at using current events as a way of practicing the geographical skills such as map reading. We will also seek to develop a perspective of the world from a cultural, political, historical and economic point of view. They will be challenged to get to know other cultures so that they will be able to broaden their outlook and grow as an active member of society.
The second year of Middle School French is a continuation of the 6th grade level, reviewing and enhancing previous language study. Emphasis is on listening and speaking, while grammar study reinforces fundamental writing skills. Units will include shopping, the house, daily routines, and French history. Students will also learn how to discuss their activities in the past and complete a project on a French historical figure.
By the end of the year, students will be able to talk about themselves in greater detail, navigate a variety of different situations using French, and summarize their average school day with increased fluidity. In terms of listening, they will be capable of understanding dialogue about a paragraph long and descriptions given by the teacher of a similar length . In their writing they will have the skills to employ three different verb tenses and correctly use irregular adjectives. For each level of French, the emphasis is on participation, i.e., speaking French every day in class.
Students study the New Testament as well as peace and justice. They employ reading comprehension strategies in understanding scripture readings, novels, and periodicals. Technology is used for students to demonstrate their understanding of Catholicism. Journal writing, biweekly reading and writing assignments in current events, as well as research enrich student centered religious studies. Prayer and devotional activities are individualized and inclusive of all spiritual traditions.