After the transition year in Fifth Grade, Middle School prepares students for the challenges they may face in high school. The Middle School experience emphasizes the importance of being a well-rounded individual by focusing on academic, social, athletic, and artistic abilities of students. Fundamental skills that ensure academic and personal success, such as leadership, critical thinking, creativity, and teamwork, are infused in this program. Students participate in a number of on- and off-campus events throughout their Middle School years, including community service projects and field trips, which enhance students’ experience at St. Joseph’s Episcopal School.

For additional information, please reference the Middle School Handbook or contact the Middle School Division Head, Kyle Aubrey, at kaubrey@sjsonline.org. If you would like to schedule a tour of our Middle School, please contact Mary Aperavich, the Director of Admission, at maperavich@sjsonline.org.

For a list of the Eighth Grade Exit Skills, please click here.

English

Foundations of English (6th Grade)

This class focuses on the primary facets of language and literature. Students develop a strong foundation in reading comprehension, writing skills, and literary study by use of the Language Network textbook series, the Accelerated Reader (AR) program,Wordly Wise vocabulary series, and several class novels including Walk Two Moons; Bud, Not Buddy; The Westing Game, and/or The Secret Garden. Students will also be empowered to create and present demonstrations and expositions related to novel studies.

Literacy Development (7th Grade)

The intent of this course is to provide students with the theoretical foundations and instructional strategies for helping them to become literate individuals. They will be active participants in their own learning through various forms of instruction in reading, writing, language arts, and speaking skills. Students will be given opportunities to research, demonstrate, plan, instruct, reflect, listen, question, discuss, and assess. This course uses the Language Network textbook series, the Accelerated Reader (AR) program, Wordly Wise vocabulary series, and several class novels including The Outsiders, The Watsons Go To Birmingham – 1963, The View From Saturday, and/or Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Students will also be empowered to create and present demonstrations and expositions related to novel studies.

Advanced Grammar and Composition (8th Grade)

This course will expose students to various literary genres including fiction, non-fiction, fantasy, short stories, drama, and poetry.  By showing students different forms of narrative, they will review and build on essential English language skills (reading, writing, grammar, public speaking, etc.). The curriculum includes a study of grammar with the purpose of writing well-developed sentences and essays with correct punctuation. Attention is also given to vocabulary as well as literary terms. Students learn the entire writing process from brainstorming to drafting and editing.  Additional time will be spent crafting an 8-10 page research paper at the end of the year. This course uses the Language Network textbook series, the Accelerated Reader (AR) program, Wordly Wise vocabulary series, and several class novels including To Kill a Mockingbird, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, Dracula, and/or The Incredible JourneyStudents will also be empowered to create and present demonstrations and expositions related to novel studies.

In keeping with all areas of study, the Middle School English course curriculum is designed to provide students with opportunities to:

  • Closely read selected literary texts for understanding and significance;
  • Learn and participate in the whole process of writing: generating ideas, organizing, drafting, revising, proofreading, and sharing the final draft;
  • Write with increasing maturity and complexity while demonstrating a logical progression and coherence of ideas;
  • Incorporate appropriate grammar, spelling, usage, and punctuation in all work;
  • Present individual ideas verbally in a cogent and persuasive manner;
  • Use multimedia resources, such as LearnPads, to develop efficient reading, writing, and research skills; and,
  • Author and maintain a reflection journal and cumulative writing folder.

Mathematics

Pre-Algebra (6th Grade)

This course consists of a thorough study of basic algebra, focusing both on symbolic manipulation and applied problem-solving. Topics include the four arithmetic operations with real numbers and with variables, equations and inequalities, graphs, factoring, rational and irrational numbers, and radicals. In addition, all major topics of arithmetic will be reviewed systematically, and students will perfect their arithmetic skills. The four major units of instruction in this course are computation review, expressions and equations, linear functions, and polynomials which have lessons geared toward skill mastery, building a sense of math confidence by exploring learning through various methods and styles, and creating a love of mathematics.

Algebra (7th Grade) & Advanced Algebra (8th Grade)

Algebra 7 builds upon the skills learned in Pre-Algebra and provides methods for solving equations and expressing formulas that are not as complicated than the older method of writing everything out in words. Topics include the four arithmetic operations with real numbers and with variables, equations and inequalities, graphs and functions, polynomials and factoring, rational expressions, and irrational numbers and radicals.  In addition, all major topics of arithmetic will be reviewed systematically and students will perfect their arithmetic skills.

Advanced Algebra is an accelerated course designed to reinforce all concepts and skills obtained in Algebra 7. Completion of this program allows students to enter high school with a more solid foundation of algebraic methods and high school credit for Algebra I.

Geometry (8th Grade)

Students who have successfully mastered Algebra concepts at the conclusion of seventh grade (earning high school credit for Algebra I) qualify for this class. The purpose of this course is to strengthen and further develop computation mastery, introduce and build geometric problem-solving proficiency, and practice application of acumen in applying and adapting a variety of appropriate strategies to solve word problems in Algebra, Geometry, and Trigonometry. The course provides a flexible approach to the study of earth measurement. Students will analyze characteristics and properties of two- and three-dimensional shapes and will develop mathematical arguments about geometric relationships. The use of representative models to interpret physical and mathematical phenomena will integrate computer technology into the curriculum in order to express ideas precisely.

Students have the possibility of earning high school credit for this course. Pending grades and effort in this course, the teacher will determine whether high school credit can be granted.

Mathematics lessons are conducted by:

  • Guided notes and discussions using manipulatives;
  • Cooperative group learning;
  • In-class exercises to re-enforce skills;
  • Repetition of learned strategies to increase mastery and speed; and,
  • Integration and use of various technologies (LearnPads) to support computation within learning styles. 

Science

Earth Science (6th Grade)

Students cover a variety of topics in this course which gives them a firm understanding of how our planet came to be the way it is now. Activities and demonstrations help students understand many important concepts. By mastering these concepts and terms, students gain a solid foundation in Earth Science. The six major units of this course include: rocks, plate tectonics, earthquakes, ocean motions, ocean zones, and the atmosphere. Students gain a strong understanding of these units through a variety of teaching methods and styles. For example, students participate in a series of hands-on lab activities including a convection current lab in which students model the convection currents that occur inside Earth’s mantle. These currents are the driving force behind plate tectonics, and students are able to model this using color-treated hot water.

Physical Science (7th Grade)

Students cover a variety of topics in this course which gives them a firm understanding of chemistry and physics. Activities and demonstrations help students understand many important concepts. By mastering these concepts and terms, students gain a solid foundation in Physical Science. The seven major units of this course include: matter; solids, liquids, and gases; elements and the periodic table; acids, bases, and solutions; motion; forces; and, waves. The importance of laboratory experiments is stressed in this course. An electrolysis lab, in which students use an electrical charge to separate the copper and chloride in a copper (II) chloride solution, is completed during this course. Students are required to use different techniques for investigating the separation.

Biology (8th Grade)

Students cover a variety of topics in this course which gives them a firm understanding of Biology. Activities and demonstrations help students understand many important concepts. By mastering these concepts and terms, students gain a solid foundation in Biology and will be well-prepared for high school science courses. The six major units of this course include: ecosystems and communities, populations, cell structure and function, photosynthesis, genetics, and DNA and RNA. An ecology lab, in which students use the capture and recapture technique to estimate the size of a population, is a segment of this curriculum. Students also use the sampling technique to estimate the size of certain populations on our school campus.

Daily lessons in the Science curriculum are conducted by:

  • Guided discovery using technology;
  • Self-discovery through reading, observation, and Internet research;
  • Laboratory experimentation;
  • Multimedia presentations;
  • Field trips/exercises;
  • Collaborative group work; and,
  • Integrated unit projects.

History

World History (6th Grade)

This program creates a platform for students to learn the events of World History from prehistoric through Medieval times. The students will examine the people and events responsible for the bringing about changes allowing for their effect on the society in which they live. The program includes the learning of the physical land and water areas of the regions in which they study. After reviewing the ancient world and the ways in which archaeologists and historians uncover the past, students study the history and geography of great civilizations that were developing concurrently throughout the world during medieval and early modern times. Students complete projects and presentations throughout the year, such as dioramas featuring topics specific to Pre-Egyptian culture.

Early American History (7th Grade)

This program provides students the opportunity to learn the events of American History from prehistoric times to the events leading to the Civil War. The students will examine the people and events responsible for the bringing about of these changes allowing for their effect on the society in which they live. The program includes the learning of the physical land and water areas of the regions in which they study. In each stage of the study the students are encouraged to use “historical imagination” i.e., keeping in mind what the people of that time knew and, equally important, what the people did not know. Projects are assigned throughout the year, such as a group presentation on ancient civilizations.

American History (8th Grade)

The intent of this course is to provide students with the theoretical foundations and instructional strategies for helping them to understand the major events of history and their implications. Students will learn the events of American History beginning with the aftermath of the Civil War through present day. Projects are incorporated throughout the year and will include a study of the Holocaust. To expand upon the curriculum, students will incorporate articles, videos, etc. on current events into their studies.

Upon completion of the Middle School History curriculum, students will be able to:

  • Understand historical perspective;
  • Read and comprehend narratives about major eras of history by identifying people involved, describing the setting, and sequencing events;
  • Construct thoughtful and well-researched essays on a variety of topics related to the period of history studied;
  • Evaluate key decisions made at critical turning points in history by assessing their implications and long-term consequences; and,
  • Describe and explain the causes, consequences, and geographic context of major global issues and events.

Art and Art History (6th-8th Grade)

The goal of the art program is to allow students to produce art and develop skills and techniques with a variety of materials. Students will be encouraged to create, interpret, and respond to works of art. The program encourages creative problem solving and risk taking. Learning is based on these standards: creative expression, aesthetic perception, art history and culture, and applications to life. Students will start to recognize famous works and styles of art and develop an art vocabulary. Projects such as drawing, painting, assemblage, clay, and scratch-board are some of the mediums that will be explored.

Physical Education (6th-8th Grade)

Students learn about and practice a variety of sports in Physical Education, including football, volleyball, basketball, soccer, lacrosse, and tennis. The primary goal is to safely expose students to the world of athletics, while simultaneously stressing the importance of leading an active lifestyle. Students also have the opportunity to participate in healthy competition with local schools. Upon completion of Physical Education, students will:

  • Have a firm understanding of the rules of each sport
  • Understand the safety precautions associated with each sport
  • Be able to demonstrate proper techniques when practicing fundamental skills
  • Understand the importance of good sportsmanship and healthy competition
  • Participate the Presidential Fitness Program

Spanish & Direct Independent Study

Spanish (6th Grade)

Developing communicative abilities in Spanish and understanding the rich culture of the Spanish-speaking world are the two primary objectives of the course. In order to reach these goals, the materials presented will encourage the improvement of the four skills in the acquisition of the target language: oral, writing, reading, and listening. Students will be exposed to cultural information and experiences to develop an understanding of the diversity and richness of the cultures and people of the Spanish-speaking world.

Spanish Honors (7th & 8th Grade)

Spanish Honors is a continuation of the 6th Grade Spanish curriculum. This course is accelerated to offer students the opportunity to complete a two-year program that prepares them for national standards in High School Spanish. Students will receive high school credit for completing the Spanish Honors program.

Direct Independent Study (7th & 8th Grade)

Students who have opted out of or are not eligible for Spanish Honors will participate in a four-day Direct Independent Study (“D.I.S.”) in the Whitney Media Center. Rather than think of this as a “non-instructional,” study hall-like time, students are asked to determine quarterly goals. Working toward a higher AR goal, completing regular homework and study responsibilities, or participating in a self-directed independent foreign language study are just three options to chose from when determining goals.

Sacred Studies

The overarching theme of this program is “Love of God, love of self, and love of others … as I have loved you” based on the Summary of the Law (Mark 12:28-32, John 13:33-35). A total of 60 hours of community service (30 on campus and 30 off campus) is required for graduation. Students attend Morning Prayer services on Mondays and Fridays and a full Eucharist with communion on Wednesdays, where students may volunteer as acolytes.

Sixth Grade (Old Testament):

During this year, students will explore the teachings of the old testament with an emphasis on community breakdown and healing, looking at patterns in themselves, the Bible, and society. Particular emphasis is given to identifying their individual voices as they focus on further listening and communication skills, choices, peer pressure, conflict resolution, mediation, and bullying.

Seventh Grade (New Testament):

During this year, students will concentrate on the life and teachings of Christ and the Apostles, the witness of Paul and the early church, and how these teachings relate to them and society. Responsibility, peace concepts, tolerance, mediation, stress management, and morality are included in the curriculum.

Eighth Grade (World Religions):

This course is an exploration of values and ethics determined by religious belief systems with a focus on Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam. During this year, students have the responsibility of planning, hosting, and facilitating the Angel Tree Dinner at Holy Redeemer Church for community members in need.