Middle School Curriculum

  • Overview

    Middle School ~ Overview

    Grades 6-8

    The Middle School years are a time of tremendous growth and change. As students transition from the Lower to the Middle School, their educational journey as lifelong learners continues.

    At Morgan Park Academy, Middle School emphasizes independent learning in a nurturing environment. Our program establishes a student-centered approach that helps our students with the important transition from childhood into adolescence.

    The Academy’s Middle School offers a strong foundation in English, mathematics, science, music, drama, art, physical education, social studies, world languages and technology for students. This continues the Academy tradition of being integrated and experiential, leading to both deeper and wider understandings and allowing numerous opportunities for individual expression. In Middle School, which encompasses grades 6 through 8, the faculty works closely with students to teach them to organize learning and absorb information into a meaningful whole that supports increased independence. As these skills are refined, students move toward mastery in the academic areas and become independent, resourceful thinkers. Small class sizes and a low student-to-teacher ratio help to establish a dynamic community of learners at the Academy. Within the intimacy of Middle School, our student-centered approach provides an environment in which students can flourish in academic areas and develop their leadership and interpersonal skills through co-curricular opportunities.

    We also have an Advisory program to support our students through these years "in the middle."Middle School students meet with their faculty advisors in small groups and individually to discuss academic, social and personal concerns. The purpose of the Advisor group is to strengthen the student’s role within the Academy community by allowing advisees the opportunity to make personal connections, develop a group affiliation, and build their academic and interpersonal skills within the group. In addition to scheduled meetings, speakers, videos on topics of personal and social significance, and interactive sessions are planned throughout the year.

    Middle School students also are encouraged to participate in other co-curricular opportunities. These include cultural immersion trips that supplement the Spanish and French programs, spring trips with their class, sports activities (soccer, basketball, softball, baseball, volleyball) and a variety of clubs (Math, Science, French, Spanish, Geography and Chess). Middle School students also have the opportunity to be involved in the Leadership Council that plans and organizes service and social activities for the school year.

    Our Middle School faculty works together as a team, using a variety of approaches to challenge students with dynamic, engaging instruction at this critical stage of their development. This team approach draws on a range of pedagogies, methodologies, content, skills and the meaningful integration of technology. Through teacher collaboration, curriculum innovation, instructional reflection, creative projects and assessments, the Middle School faculty strives to provide an exemplary program that prepares students to be independent thinkers and global leaders in the 21st century.

    A Day in the Life

    Middle School students experience a full and challenging curriculum every day. Here is a sample daily schedule for a 7th Grade student.

    8:10 a.m. — Teacher welcome and attendance
    8:15 a.m. — World Language
    9:00 a.m. — Math (grade level or accelerated)
    9:45 a.m. — English
    10:30 a.m. — Arts Rotation (one quarter each of Art, Music, Drama, or Computer)
    11:15 a.m. — Science
    12:00 p.m. —History
    12:45 p.m. — Lunch and Recess
    1:30 p.m. — Physical Education or Sports Team (Advisory groups meet twice monthly)
    2:15 p.m. — Study Hall
    3:00 p.m. — Dismissal
  • Difference

    What Makes Us Different

    The Middle School curriculum reflects rigor:
    • More than 70% of Middle School students achieve the distinction of High Honor Roll or Honor Roll.
    • More than 30% of Middle School students qualify for Northwestern University’s Center for Talent Development’s Midwest Academic Talent Search.
    • All students participate in the World Languages program, taking either French or Spanish.
    • More than 70% of Middle School students average scores of two grade levels or above on their standardized test scores.
    • Hands-on science labs are an integral part of the science curriculum.
    • Students are exposed to extensive writing and a variety of genres in their study of literature, which includes reading contemporary and classic novels throughout the school year and summer.
    Reflects enrichment:
    • Students choose from a variety of co-curricular activities.
    • Students can be elected to the leadership council.Competitive sports such as basketball, baseball, softball, volleyball, and soccer are offered.
    • Students can become involved in the Middle School drama production each year.
    • Competitions such as the History Fair, Math Counts, Geography Bee and Spelling Bee provide opportunities for students to compete regionally or nationally.
    • A variety of field trips to the theater, museums, and exhibits supplement the academic curriculum.
    Reflects global perspectives and understanding:
    • The school community celebrates Diwali, Ramadan, Eid and more.
    • International Day is an experiential learning experience.
    • The Middle School program emphasizes global perspectives through its integrated curriculum in social studies, world languages, English, and the arts.
    • Through the World Languages program students thrive in language and cultural experiences.
    Reflects individualization:
    • Accelerated math and world languages classes allow students to work at their ability level, with some students in Upper School classes.
    • Through the Advisory program, Middle School faculty members work closely with their advisees and parents to cultivate effective strategies for achievement.
    • The Middle School program includes the availability of a wellness counselor and school nurse.
    • The curriculum includes a variety of assessments, including traditional types as well as innovative, project-based designs to allow for varied learning styles and strengths.
    Reflects state-of-the-art education:
    • Curriculum content is updated on a regular basis to ensure student achievement.
    • SMARTBoards in many classrooms allow for technology integration in the curriculum.
    • Two technology centers allow for scheduled computer classes in Middle School, and access for students during some study hall periods.
    • Teacher webpages are accessible from the school’s website and provide additional information about course content, class expectations and assignment deadlines.
  • Advisory

    Advisory Program

    At Morgan Park Academy, our teachers do far more than teach facts or school subjects. We cultivate our mission through our students’ learning every day in the classroom. Character education is both respected and reinforced through teachers’ daily interactions with students.

    Morgan Park Academy places importance on its advisory program throughout the entire school. The idea that all students have someone advocating for them and guiding them through their education is crucial to their success, and plays a vital role in helping them feel part of a caring community. Having this “special faculty member” looking out for students is valuable at every grade level.

    Each coeducational advisory group has eight to 10 students in the same grade. Advisory groups meet each morning and each Tuesday afternoon, with the purpose of sharing the challenges and milestones the students encounter on their educational journeys.

    The Advisory Program strengthens student-teacher relationships, and keeps our community healthy. Advisors nurture, advocate for, and guide their advisees, and in return, students learn to share with a group of peers, and develop time management, organizational and team-building skills. The advisees develop a group affiliation, make personal connects with, and build academic and interpersonal skills within their group.
  • Mathematics

    Mathematics

    The math offerings in the S.T.E.M. department offers a sequence of courses designed to prepare students for college admission, to facilitate advanced work in mathematics and science, and to enable graduates to use mathematics with competence and understanding in their life’s work. The faculty strives to create a coherent vision of what it means to be mathematically literate both in a world that relies on calculators and computers to carry out mathematical procedures, and where mathematics is rapidly growing and is extensively applied in diverse fields. In addition, the department works judiciously to set educational goals for its students that reflect the importance of mathematical literacy.

    6th Grade Mathematics
    This is a course in which students will effectively master arithmetic and geometry skills needed in preparation for Algebra. As such, students will not only learn conceptual material but will also learn effective math study skills, aptness in showing written work, and a general appreciation for the study of math.
    Computational skills from previous levels are reviewed and maintained at this time, and new concepts are introduced. In terms of instruction, chapters are broken down into smaller sections to allow a concentration of concepts. Technology is used as a math tool where possible. Students independently complete daily/weekly assignments that are graded based on either accuracy or completion, depending on the assignment.Concepts covered include: All operations with integers, decimals, and fractions; comparing and ordering integers, decimals, and fractions; mathematical properties; inequalities and their graphs; absolute value; writing algebraic expressions; solving one- and two-step equations; order of operations; compass and straightedge constructions; area and perimeter; problem-solving strategies and applications; factors and multiples; divisibility rules; computational shortcuts; mean, median, and mode; prime factorization; exponents; equivalent fractions and simplest terms; ratios, unit rates, and solving proportions; percentages; applications of percent; use of the scientific calculator; similar triangles; maps and scale drawings; using a compass and protractor; angle relationships and logical reasoning; square roots; the Pythagorean Theorem; the Coordinate Plane; linear equations and their graphs; slope and y-intercept form; and nonlinear equations and their graphs.Sixth grade students are sectioned into at-level or accelerated groups, according to the previous year’s achievement scores, grades, and 5thgrade teacher recommendations. These groups, referred to as the Accelerated and the At-Level groups, progress at the pace appropriate for the current groups.

    6th Grade Mathematics Accelerated
    Computational skills from previous levels are reviewed and maintained at this time, and new concepts are introduced. Technology is used as a math tool where possible, and a variety of logic puzzles and non-routine problem-solving exercises are used throughout the course. Students independently complete daily assignments that are graded by the instructor. Chapters are broken down into smaller sections to allow a concentration of concepts. Announced tests covering these sections are administered two to four times during a marking period. A study guide is provided in advance with a list of key concepts that should be studied. Concepts covered include: All operations with integers, decimals, and fractions; comparing and ordering integers, decimals, and fractions; mathematical properties; inequalities and their graphs; absolute value; writing algebraic expressions; solving one- and two-step equations; order of operations; compass and straightedge constructions; area and perimeter; problem-solving strategies and applications; factors and multiples; divisibility rules; computational shortcuts; mean, median, and mode; prime factorization; exponents; equivalent fractions and simplest terms; ratios, unit rates, and solving proportions; percentages; applications of percent; use of the scientific calculator; similar triangles; maps and scale drawings; using a compass and protractor; angle relationships and logical reasoning; square roots; the Pythagorean Theorem; the Coordinate Plane; linear equations and their graphs; slope and y-intercept form; and nonlinear equations and their graphs.Sixth grade students are sectioned into at-level or accelerated groups according to the previous year’s achievement scores, grades, and 5th grade teacher recommendations.  These groups, referred to as the Accelerated and the At-Level groups, progress at the pace appropriate for the current groups.  The Accelerated group may have assignments that cover the same material but are more challenging, and the pace will be quicker. Progress in both groups are measured by class work, homework, and tests.   Mental arithmetic exercises are used to observe and assess how well each student is learning the skills and grasping the ideas being taught.  Additionally, students often take turns completing practice problems on the board.  This allows the teacher to assess individual understanding of the concept and to view the proper problem-solving process.  Through this method and the grading of daily homework, common student errors are readily seen and corrected prior to the formal assessment.

    7th Grade Mathematics
    The pre-algebra curriculum is designed to build student confidence in mathematics through computational experiences involving: whole numbers, integers, and rational numbers; non-routine problem-solving employing a variety of techniques including guess and test, make an organized list, and write an equation; probability and statistics; and experiences involving ratio, proportions, and percents.  Many topics are introduced and practiced with the use of a variety of manipulatives.
    Computational skills from previous levels are continually reviewed and built upon. Technology is used as a math tool where possible, and logic puzzles and problem-solving exercises are used throughout the year.  Students complete daily assignments, which are evaluated, and chapters are approached in smaller, thematic sections. Every effort is made to identify and correct common student errors prior to formal assessment.

    Placement in the accelerated section is determined by achievement in the previous course, achievement on standardized test in both problem solving and procedures, and the recommendation of the 6th grade mathematics teacher with optional inclusion of the results of a placement test given at the end of 6th grade.

    7th Grade Mathematics Accelerated
    The pre-algebra curriculum is designed to build student confidence in mathematics through computational experiences involving: whole numbers, integers, and rational numbers; non-routine problem-solving employing a variety of techniques including guess and test, make an organized list, and write an equation; probability and statistics; and experiences involving ratio, proportions, and percents.  Many topics are introduced and practiced with the use of a variety of manipulatives.
    Computational skills from previous levels are continually reviewed and built upon. Technology is used as a math tool where possible, and logic puzzles and problem-solving exercises are used throughout the year.  Students complete daily assignments, which are evaluated, and chapters are approached in smaller, thematic sections. Every effort is made to identify and correct common student errors prior to formal assessment.

    Placement in the advanced section is determined by achievement in the previous course, achievement on standardized test in both problem solving and procedures, and the recommendation of the 6th grade mathematics teacher with optional inclusion of the results of a placement test given at the end of 6th grade.

    Algebra Foundations
    This foundational algebra course challenges students to develop a better conceptual understanding of the structure of algebra and stronger problem-solving skills. Students learn to make connections among different branches of mathematics and solving real-life problems. By the nature of algebra, mastery of many of the techniques in this course is a prerequisite for higher-level math and science courses. Students in this class encounter beginning topics of algebra and are expected to take Algebra 1 as high school freshmen. The topics covered in this course include: Integers and Rational Numbers, Equations, Inequalities, Functions, Exponents and Polynomials, Polynomials and Factoring.

    Computational skills from previous levels are continually reviewed and built upon. Technology is used as a math tool where possible, and logic puzzles and problem-solving exercises are used throughout the year.  Students complete daily assignments, which are evaluated, and chapters are approached in smaller, thematic sections. Every effort is made to identify and correct common student errors prior to formal assessment.

     Algebra I Honors
    This Algebra 1 course challenges students to develop a better conceptual understanding of the structure of algebra and stronger problem-solving skills. Students learn to make connections among different branches of mathematics and solving real-life problems. By the nature of algebra, mastery of many of the techniques in this course is a prerequisite for higher-level math and science courses. Topics include Expressions, Equation, and Functions; Properties of Real Numbers; Solving Linear Equations; Graphing Linear Equations and Functions; Writing Linear Equations; Solving and Graphing Linear Inequalities; Systems of Equations and Inequalities; Exponents and Exponential Functions; and Polynomials and Factoring.

    Placement in the accelerated section is determined by achievement in the previous course, achievement on standardized test in both problem solving and procedures, and the recommendation of the 7th grade pre-algebra teacher with optional inclusion of the results of a placement test given at the end of 7th grade.

     

  • Arts

    Arts

    In keeping with the philosophy of Morgan Park Academy to educate the whole child, fine and performing arts are an integral part of the Academy’s curriculum. Celebration and creativity echo throughout the fine arts, music, and drama programs. This unparalleled exposure complements the academic curriculum and helps develop well-rounded individuals.

    6th Grade Art
    This course is a continuation of the development of visual communication and technical skills explored during the fifth grade fine arts program. After the study of Impressionism through Post-modern art, the curriculum assertively moves towards exploring the meaning of art and “power” of the artist. Students work towards clearly communicating their meanings to an audience. Focusing on abstraction and symbolism, they investigate ways in which "non-visual" phenomena become the subject matter of visual expression and are given artistic form. Students respond to their own perceptions, observations, emotions, and intuition. Color and composition will be covered. Through the class discussions, they evaluate and orally respond to the works of art. Throughout the course, students experiment with a variety of two and three-dimensional media. They work independently and in collaboration with each other. Students are required to maintain a sketchbook. They take part in an art exhibition.

    6th Grade Drama
    In the 6th Grade, students are introduced tomovement for the theatre, and the realization of the “self” on stage. Emphasis is placed on building an ensemble, feeling comfortable about performing in front of others, and recognizing each student’s patterns of movement. Students develop their ensemble skills, vocal articulation, and confident vocal and physical presentation style. By participating in group exercises, they learn to provide objective responses to classmates’ work, and find ways to physically express their thoughts and feelings in a clear, concise and creative manner.

    6th Grade Music
    Sixth Grade general music classes are taught using the Orff-Schulwerk process. Process-oriented classes are experiential in nature and require the student to participate on a high level. Music used in class is usually found in theMusic for Childrenseries gathered by Carl Orff and Gunild Keetman, rich in folk resources and composed music. Activities also consist of folk music, games, and activities. Students learn to play a piece of music as a class, and after the piece is finished and performed as a group, we analyze the piece according to how all of the elements of music are found and used in the piece’s composition (melody, dynamics, rhythm, tempo, harmony, timbre, and form). Classroom work includes the use of instruments (both pitched and non-pitched percussion), singing and soprano recorder. Band instruments and piano are also used as appropriate. By the end of 6thGrade, each student should be able to name and attach definitions to each element of music. Students will also have experience learning music in pentatonic and modal music, and do some music composition.

    7th/8th Grade Art
    The main focus of this course is to examine different ways of seeing and realistically and intuitively represent what is seen. Through the use of a wide variety of media, students learn to define, recognize and employ various elements of art and principals of design. They study proportions, rules of perspective and various ways to represent space on two-dimensional surfaces. They examine works of Modern and Post-Modern artists and next, move onto studying Contemporary art period. Students draw connections between art and life and visually express their ideas in a contemporary context. Individual responsibility and personal style are stressed, with opportunities for student decision-making. Students will be exposed to art critique through teacher-led discussions of historical works of art and students’ own work. Students show their work in an art exhibition.

    Create and Produce a Musical
    This one-semester course will allow 7th and 8th grade students interested in the Theatre Department at MPA to create their own one-of-a-kind musical. Students will gain real-world experience by learning the craft of theatre though on-stage performances, back-stage crew work, scenic, costume and lighting design, advertising, negotiation, directing, composing, choreographing, etc. The course culminates in a final production for classmates, faculty, family and friends.

    MS Acting

    MS Band

    MS Chorus

    MS Culinary Arts
    This course will help students to understand principles of nutrition in relation to food preparation and creation. The concepts of meal planning and management are also addressed. We will regularly plan and prepare meals, and ethnic, regional and international foods will be studied and prepared. The semester will culminate in a one-night-only pop-up restaurant with food preparation, front-of-house staff, and waiting staff all comprised of students from the class.

    MS Improv
    This elective delves into the history of Chicago Style Improv created by Viola Spolin. Viola Spolin developed acting exercises or "games" that unleashed creativity, adapting focused "play" to unlock the individual's capacity for creative self-expression.  Both short and long form improv will be explored.

    MS Photography
    This is an elective, introductory photography class focusing on using a digital point-and-shoot or single lens reflex camera. Students will begin to explore how cameras work and how to create an interesting image. Using their innate creativity, students will begin to understand the power of a photographic image and communicate their unique perspective.

    Multi-Media Production
    In this elective class, students will explore storytelling through the art of the moving picture. Students will learn the basics of screenwriting, storyboarding, pre-production, filming, video editing, sound editing, etc. We will also learn about various moving image genres including commercials,  stop-motion animation, documentary filmmaking and short fiction films.

  • English

    English

    The goal of the English classes in the Humanities department is to ensure steady growth in the critical and creative abilities of students as readers and writers, as these skills are needed to ensure students’ academic and career success. These needs are met by affording students ample opportunities to develop these skills through oral and written expression based upon analytic reading of selected literary texts not only from traditional Western and non-Western literature, but increasingly from contemporary authors in a variety of genres.

    Throughout high school, students explore ideas in a variety of written modes - from informal journal writing to more formal personal and analytic essays. Increasingly, students are engaged in real-world writing activities using various web-based tools in the writing process. Many of the students’ experiences in class are discussions, centered on the best classic and contemporary literature. In addition, students write in-class journal responses to literature, full-length essays, and independent projects.

    English classes are traditionally small and informal, allowing students to gain the necessary skills to become better writers and develop more confidence in their writing ability. This personal attention at all grade levels is the hallmark of the English program.

    6th Grade English
    This course aims to improve the reading ability of students who have already mastered most basic literacy skills. Working with novels as texts, students learn to read for comprehension using the interpretation of themes and different literary techniques. Classroom approach and assignments are designed to encourage student ownership and interpretation of materials. Some novels allow students to recognize the links between literary and historical themes; some text settings allow for the interpretation of primary sources, and others lend themselves to authentic learning experiences. Vocabulary work includes wordplay around meaning, roots and parts, diction, word form, and dictionary skills. The reading program is supplemented with a required summer reading list, which bridges learning from one year to the next. Students study traditional grammar as an editing tool as well as to promote understanding of language structure and use. The focus on grammar includes the study of parts of speech, and the functions of words, phrases, and clauses within a sentence. Students produce essays in response to novels, emphasizing the process through invention and drafting techniques and developing a sharp thesis statement and supporting paragraphs with examples. Throughout the year students explore the elements of good writing with lessons on purpose and audience, and begin learning the basics of MLA Documentation Style with various research projects. Students will learn to write in a variety of organizational patterns and structures, including biography, vignette, analytical essays, and research-based essays. Classes are conducted as workshops covering library skills, the use of the Internet, the use of primary and secondary sources, and project organization and presentation.

    7th Grade English
    7th Grade English introduces students to various genres and types of literature, to more complex grammar and mechanical sentence structures, to numerous organizational writing strategies (analytical expository, compare/contrast, cause/effect, and reader response), and to more critical thinking activities and projects. The students in 7th grade read with the class at least 6 novels (including at least one Shakespeare play), short stories as well as poetry, non-fiction essays, and visual media. For each novel, the class prepares at least one analytical essay, Outside the Novel Project (s) which asks students to critically think about various non-fiction/fiction pieces and their relation to the current novel, along with comprehension quizzes and homework critical thinking discussion questions. The assignments are designed to not only test their memory of what they've read, but to critically think about the literature and to provide textual evidence to support their analyses. Students will continue their learning of MLA Documentation Style to match the more complex writing and research projects. In addition, students practice grammar, completing grammar exercise packets, discussing the rules/structures of the grammar module being covered. This addition also includes work learning Greek/Latin root words, prefixes, and suffixes, helping students building more complex vocabulary. The goal of 7th Grade English is to familiarize students with academic analytical writing and to build their critical thinking and writing skills through literature. As a way of building active learning in our MPA students, the Middle School English and Social Studies departments have created a curriculum which complement one another. Students in 7th Grade complete World History, while in 7th Grade English, read novels which reflect the historical periods they are learning.

    8th Grade English
    8th Grade English requires higher level critical thinking from its students. Building from the knowledge and skills gained in 7th Grade English, students read at least 8 novels, various short stories, poetry, non-fiction essays, and engage with multimedia source materials. Lessons are designed around asking students to read, write, and think critically about the novel by participating in class discussion, providing textual evidence, conducting research, and creating pieces which reflect what they have learned. The essays for the 8th Grade class are more challenging, requiring a 900-word count minimum. They, too, complete at least one analytical essay, a project, and various other homework assignments for each novel/non-fiction writing piece. They also complete grammar module packets, focusing on the skills to write more complex/compound sentences. One key difference between the 7th and 8th grade classes is the increased work with Latin/Greek Root Stems. Students work on learning prefixes, suffixes, and root stems in order to build skills in breaking down unfamiliar and complex vocabulary. The goal for 8th Grade English is to increase their familiarity with literature, to build their working vocabulary, and to teach them to think and write critically about literature--both fiction and non-fiction. Just as the 7thGrade curriculum is connected through social studies and English, the 8thGrade curriculum is as well. While 8thGrade students are taking US History, they will be reading complementary and historical novels which reflect the time period, events, and historical concepts they are learning in their history courses.

    Creative Writing and Journalism I
    Creative Writing and Journalism is designed to give students an introduction to writing poetry, memoir/autobiography, biography/ethnography, and introductory journalism. We will investigate each of these areas, allowing students to learn core principles about these sub-disciplines. Each student will produce portfolios in these areas. In addition, we will be creating a middle school newspaper for the first time,The MPA Middle Way. Students will be required to participate in not only the writing of articles for publication, but also the production of the final copies and distribution of the newspaper to the student body and faculty members of MPA. Students may elect to take the fall semester elective Creative and Journalism I, and then continue to spring semester's Creative and Journalism II, or students may elect to only take Creative Writing and Journalism I in the fall or only Creative Writing and Journalism II in the spring.

    Creative Writing and Journalism II
    Creative Writing and Journalism is designed to give students an introduction to writing poetry, memoir/autobiography, biography/ethnography, and introductory journalism. We will investigate each of these areas, allowing students to learn core principles about these sub-disciplines. Each student will produce portfolios in these areas. In addition, we will be creating a middle school newspaper for the first time,The MPA Middle Way. Students will be required to participate in not only the writing of articles for publication, but also the production of the final copies and distribution of the newspaper to the student body and faculty members of MPA. Students may elect to take the fall semester elective Creative and Journalism I, and then continue to spring semester's Creative and Journalism II, or students may elect to only take Creative Writing and Journalism I in the fall or only Creative Writing and Journalism II in the spring.

  • people_outline

    Social Studies

    Social Studies

    The study of social sciences in the Humanities department cultivates an understanding history as a means of understanding ourselves. To achieve such an understanding, students study civilization, cultural diffusion, and innovation. They discover the consequences of human interaction with the environment. Values, beliefs, political ideas, and institutions are discussed. Also covered are various patterns of social and political interaction.

    6th Grade Civics and Citizenship

    6th Grade History (Ancient)
    Sixth Grade Ancient History provides the foundation for the study of six historical themes: geography, culture, economics, government, belief systems, and science and technology. Using these themes, students explore early man and the effects and influence of discoveries such as fire and agriculture on the development of civilization. Basic elements of civilizations serve as the focal point for the study of several chapters: Egypt, Mesopotamia, early empires, Greece and Rome. Each chapter unit is supplemented with specific skills such as map and timeline interpretation and the recognition and use of primary and secondary sources. Vocabulary, word study, and note-taking skills are incorporated into each chapter. In addition, each unit includes supplementary activities such as the nature of government, the development of law, and the influence of geography within historical contexts as well as application to the current world. A foundational understanding of the nature of civilization provides perspective to explore both historical and contemporary events. Students are introduced to research skills throughout the year: such as note-taking, identifying primary vs. secondary sources and developing thesis statements and finding appropriate evidence for support. Classes are conducted as workshops covering library skills, the use of the Internet as resource, project organization and presentation.

    7th Grade History (World)
    Seventh grade social studies is a survey course of World History that builds upon students’ historical research skills and focuses on the larger ideas students will become more familiar with as they move into Upper School. This course will use the online textbook,Discovery Techbook, and will offer a collaborative approach to historical study, as it will use project-based learning as a major method of instruction. As students study World History, students will learn the difference between primary and secondary sources of information and have multiple opportunities to utilize primary source documents in their investigation of World History. They will build upon the skills necessary to read and analyze such documents. Additionally, as students prepare for the Chicago History Fair in 8thgrade, they will have opportunities to work with using primary sources to support a thesis and the importance of critically investigating the source of information when studying any history. Other historical research skills like understanding cause and effect, how to read maps and time-lines, and skills needed for oral and written presentation will be taught and built on in this class as students will have opportunities to use technology as a mode of instruction for research-based projects.

    8th Grade History (US)
    The goal of the 8th Grade social studies curriculum is to gain an interest and appreciation of American history. The year begins by looking at what discovery is, and an investigation of whether Columbus really “discovered” America. Students then study the early inhabitants and exploration of the New World. The study incorporates exploring the reasons for geographical exploration and expansion of our nation, and an examination of the problems encountered in the historical development of the U.S. As the year progresses, students explore the importance of past events and make connections to understand how the past relates to the present and to themselves. Emphasis is placed on learning and understanding historical facts in a variety of contexts, map skills, graph reading, and skills required for development of both oral and written reports. A major emphasis is placed on identifying and analyzing cause and effect relationships. Furthermore, students evaluate aspects of history to determine the relative importance and influence of each, and discuss their findings with their classmates in order to determine the most important/influential aspects of U.S. history. Students are given opportunities to use the school library as a source of information and to express their creativity through a variety of projects. Various primary and secondary resources such as art, photos, comics, speeches, and skits will be used to supplement the material in the text. The curriculum spans from European exploration to modern day.*In 2017-2018 all eighth graders will participate in the Chicago History Fair as a culminating historical project for middle school social studies. Until that time participation in the Chicago History Fair will be optional for students in grades 7-10 and available through our co-curricular program after school.

    MS History Through Film
    This elective course for seventh and eighth graders takes an in-depth look at the history of African Americans through the lens of modern Hollywood movies. Students will view between five to seven films and analyze the historical accuracy and the representation of the history of African Americans in America. Students will be assessed through discussion, research papers, and projects.

  • P.E.

    P.E.

    The Physical Education, Health and Wellness Department has designed its curriculum so each student can develop a solid foundation of skill and an understanding of a variety of sports activities. The program contributes to the development of social interaction and promotes a life-long fitness attitude. Students develop a physical fitness foundation and seek recreational activities that meet their individual needs of fitness. Sportsmanship, cooperation, decision-making, and coping skills are among the other skills taught in class that can also be used in everyday living.

    Middle School Physical Education
    The Physical Education curriculum allows each student to develop a sound skills foundation and an understanding of a variety of sports activities. The program contributes to the development of social interaction and promotes a lifelong commitment to fitness. Students develop a physical fitness foundation and explore recreational activities that will meet their individual fitness needs. Sportsmanship, cooperation, decision-making, and coping skills are among the other skills taught in class that can be applied to everyday life.

    Middle School physical education classes meet daily for 45 minutes.

    The Middle School curriculum is designed around individual and team activities that involve the teaching of advanced skills, techniques and strategies of individual and team sports. The major emphasis is on participation and individual improvement.

    Topics covered in Middle School are taught in units, which may be either one week or two weeks in length. Most units mirror the current athletic activities that are in progress at that time (i.e., soccer is taught during soccer season, basketball is taught during basketball season).

    Middle School students, whether they previously attended the Academy or are starting at the Academy for the first time, should have a basic understanding of how their body works, how their skill and athletic abilities compare to others in their peer group, and their basic sense of coordination. The program is built so that each student finds success in class, although age, maturity, and interest play a large role in this success. The instructional approach at this level allows students to participate in a wide variety of activities. This ensures that as students become more proficient, they build their self-esteem. Therefore, the physical education curriculum not only improves students’ health, but it also enhances their health, emotional outlook and wellness.

    Middle School Athletic Program 6-8
    The objectives of the Athletic Department and coaching staff is to develop skills and fitness specific to their particular sport, be able to execute strategic play in their sport, participate at a level appropriate to their stage of development, and to develop their leadership qualities. The athletes will be able to work with their teammates towards a common goal. In conclusion, they will work to acquire and apply knowledge of the rules of the game, improve their skill level and demonstrate quality sportsmanship on and off the field. Athletic teams offered include: Girls’ volleyball, basketball, and soccer, Boys’ soccer, basketball, and baseball, and Co-ed cross country.
  • Science

    Science

    The science and technology courses offered by the STEM department develop students’ understanding of nature and the interactions of physical systems. Students learn how to draw conclusions about the physical world around them, as they experience the excitement of seeing and understanding natural phenomena. Emphasis is placed on developing both a knowledge base and problem-solving skills, which allow students to be successful in science during college and beyond. Laboratory Science (introductory chemistry and physics), biology, chemistry, and physics are offered at multiple levels. The goal is to meet the needs of the student by customizing the curriculum. Teachers provide students with an experiential approach to science; experiments dominate class activities. Small class sizes facilitate this hands-on approach to the curriculum.

    6th Grade Science
    The sixth grade science course allows students to study a portion of both life and physical science. Subjects introduced in sixth grade are revisited in more depth in the following years. The building of prior knowledge is a strength that is apparent as the students complete the program. A variety of meaningful laboratory activities are planned for each chapter, and working in both large and small cooperative groups is incorporated at these times. Assignments are regularly given to be done by the student independently and graded by the instructor. Announced chapter tests are administered approximately three times during a marking period with a study guide provided approximately one week in advance. An alternative assessment, lab assignment, or project is occasionally completed in lieu of the chapter test. Physical science topics begin with an introduction to matter, which makes up everything in the universe.  Mass, weight, volume, and density are studied, and density is used as an example of a characteristic property.  Physical and chemical changes are defined and compared, and the states of matter (solid, liquid, gas, and plasma) and accompanying phase changes are investigated.  The classification of matter as mixtures, elements or compounds is discussed, and the chemical symbols, formulas, and equations used by scientists are studied. Students learn about the history of the atomic model, including the current theories, as well as subatomic particles. An investigation into the development of the periodic table strengthens an understanding of its design and interpretation. Finally, the world of carbon chemistry is explored including hydrocarbons and the four main classes of organic compounds.The topic of organic compounds naturally leads into life science.  Concepts presented in the last physical science chapter help students understand the basic characteristics of life and the organic compounds that are the building blocks of life.  Both plant and animal cell structure and function are studied in depth, as well as cell growth and division and the cell cycle, first through the text and then via a hands-on microscope unit.   Students examine how materials flow into and out of a cell through osmosis, diffusion, and active transport.  Students discover how cells obtain and use energy through the processes of photosynthesis and respiration.  The last chapter introduces genetics concepts from Mendel’s classic pea experiments to multiple alleles and sex-linked traits.

     6th Grade Technology
    This course introduces students to various technology projects using Google Docs, Google Slides, Google Sheets, and Google Forms through Project Based Learning.  Projects and activities will also integrate subject areas such as language arts, geography, visual arts, science, history, and mathematics. Students gain proficiency in Information Communication and Technology (ICT) skills. All technology projects are correlated to ISTE Standards.

    7th Grade Physical Science
    Seventh Grade Physical Science is lab-based, stressing a hands-on approach aimed at developing curiosity, an understanding of the world around and within us, laboratory skills, and keen powers of observation and analysis for later advanced study. Class and lab work involves hypothesizing,  experiment design, measurement, data collection and interpretation, and formulation of conclusions. Technology is integrated into this course. After completing the course students will be able to explain and use the methods and tools of scientific inquiry, applying them across scientific disciplines; identify properties of an atom, element, compound, and acids and bases; describe the concepts of motion, force, sound and light, and kinetic and potential energy; apply their knowledge to use of formulas and equations; describe the environmental cycle involving water and discuss the global implications of altering it; identify sources of environmental distress and discuss different measures that humans are taking to improve the health of the planet.

    8th Grade Life Science
    The eighth grade Life Science course is designed to offer an organized sequence of experiences that help students develop an understanding and appreciation of the natural world of which they are a part.  This course using scientific methods introduces students to basic concepts in biology.  The building of prior knowledge is a strength that is apparent as the students complete the program.  Topics include: the four main classes of organic compounds in living things; Mendel’s genetics experiments; the factors that control the inheritance of traits; the principles of probability and how they are related to the theory of inheritance; the role of chromosomes, multiple alleles, and sex-linked traits in inheritance; causes and symptoms of human genetic disorders; Charles Darwin and the theory of evolution; the way in which organisms are classified today; the seven levels of classification; the six kingdoms; bacteria and viruses; protists and fungi; vascular and nonvascular plants; characteristics of animals; fish, amphibians and reptiles; birds; mammals; the chemistry of communication; animal behavior; and adaptations in the living world.  A variety of meaningful laboratory activities are planned for each chapter, and working in both large and small cooperative groups is incorporated at these times.

    MS Technology
    This course introduces students to various technology projects using Google Docs, Google Slides, Google Sheets, and Google Forms through Project Based Learning.  Projects and activities will also integrate subject areas such as language arts, geography, visual arts, science, history, and mathematics. Students gain proficiency in Information Communication and Technology (ICT) skills. All technology projects are correlated to ISTE Standards.

  • World Languages

    World Languages

    The World Languages Department offers a sequence of courses that encourages the appreciation of language learning, while enhancing students' understanding of other cultures and history. Upon completion of the Upper School world language sequence, students are able to function in the areas of oral and written expression, listening and reading comprehension in a way allows for clear understanding of and communication with speakers and writers of the target language. Through the study of a world language, each student develops communication skills, an understanding of how language functions and an appreciation for other cultures.

    Spanish 1 MS
    This is a communicative course that focuses mainly on developing listening, speaking, reading and writing at an appropriate introductory level. Most of the instruction is conducted in Spanish, and the use of Spanish during class is encouraged at all times. New vocabulary, idioms, controlled readings in the form of short stories, and more diverse aspects of culture are introduced. Oral presentations, daily life conversations, and essays using the present, present progressive, and past tenses are required.

    6th Grade French
    Students are formally introduced to present tense regular verbs as well as several commonly used irregular verbs. Emphasis is placed on writing and reading skills. Listening comprehension exercises challenge students to improve their aural abilities while speaking skills are further developed through classroom discussion. Students also explore areas of cultural interest in the French-speaking world. By the end of the sixth grade year, students are able to communicate effectively in the present tense in both written and oral French.

    6th Grade Mandarin
    Mandarin Chinese is an exploratory language course for students in sixth, seventh, eighth grades offered for a semester. It seeks to build students’ basic conversational proficiency in Mandarin Chinese and gradually expose them to Chinese language and culture. The course focuses on speaking and listening skills and cultural exposure. Students are exposed to key Chinese characters under each thematic unit, and lessons are developed around themes and sub-topics.
     

    Engaging student-centered lessons include songs, hands-on activities, games, children’s rhythms, Smart-Board activities, digital flashcards, and Chinese storybooks.  Students also participate in paired and group activities to help them understand the Mandarin Chinese language. The course also includes Chinese cultural explorations of the Moon-cake festival, Chinese Zodiac, lucky color and lucky numbers through hands-on activities such as paper- cutting, writing Chinese characters, origami, and traditional Chinese games.

    6th Grade Spanish 
    Sixth Grade Spanish is a world language course which furthers students’ knowledge of the language and culture. Various written, spoken, reading, audio and cultural activities ensure students are prepared with important skills for further instruction in the Spanish language.  By the end of the course, students should be beginning to communicate in the target language and understand and respond to basic conversational Spanish. Students will be familiar with the use of many regular verbs in the present tense as well as some important irregular verbs. Students’ reading, writing, listening and speaking in Spanish will also improve through the completion of various exercises and assignments. Students will understand the global nature of Spanish as a world language and culture and begin to make comparisons to their own culture.

    7th and 8th Grade Intro to Mandarin
    Mandarin Chinese is an exploratory language course for students in sixth, seventh, eighth grades offered for a semester.  It seeks to build students’ basic conversational proficiency in Mandarin Chinese and gradually expose them to Chinese language and culture. The course focuses on speaking and listening skills and cultural exposure. Students are exposed to key Chinese characters under each thematic unit, and lessons are developed around themes and sub-topics.

    Engaging student-centered lessons include songs, hands-on activities, games, children’s rhythms, Smart-Board activities, digital flashcards, and Chinese storybooks.  Students also participate in paired and group activities to help them understand the Mandarin Chinese language. The course also includes Chinese cultural explorations of the Moon-cake festival, Chinese Zodiac, lucky color and lucky numbers through hands-on activities such as paper- cutting, writing Chinese characters, origami, and traditional Chinese games.

    French 1 MS
    In French I, students are encouraged to speak the target language from the first day of class. Audio and visual tapes are used to ensure proper pronunciation. In addition to the acquisition of oral and aural proficiency, emphasis is placed upon writing and reading skills in order to prepare students with the appropriate skills for continued studies in French. Students learn basic French vocabulary and grammatical structures including regular and irregular verbs in the present tense. Emphasis is placed on developing oral and aural proficiency, communicative, competence, and an appreciation for francophone cultures. Listening comprehension exercises challenge students to improve their aural abilities while speaking skills are further developed by classroom discussions and student presentations. Students practice writing and reading skills in order to enhance the foundation for further study in French. Students continue to explore areas of cultural interest in the French-speaking world. By the end of the year, students are able to communicate effectively in the target language, both orally and written, in the present and near future tenses.
     
    French 2 MS
    After reviewing French I grammar concepts, more sophisticated grammatical structures are introduced. In this class, focus on oral and aural skills intensifies. Students are encouraged to use the language in order to communicate their ideas, thoughts, and questions. Students will be able to use all five tenses with emphasis on the past and imperfect tenses with ease and accuracy both in speaking and writing. A strong emphasis is placed upon written expression and reading comprehension. Students write compositions of increasing length and complexity, using extensive vocabulary and complex grammatical structures. Communicative activities, oral presentations, essays, and reading comprehension exercises play an integral role. 

    Mandarin 1

    Spanish 2 MS
    Spanish II focuses mainly on developing the students’ speaking, listening, and writing skills. Oral expression completely in Spanish is encouraged at all times. Writing activities progress from paragraphs to compositions of increasing length and complexity. Vocabulary is expanded, becoming more specific, and more difficult grammar structures are put into use. Oral presentations, essays, reading comprehension, memorization/implementation of verb tenses, and communicative activities are essential.