The language arts program encourages students to express themselves confidently and effectively, to make connections between their world and what they read, and to develop a personal style and voice in their writing. The curriculum strives to close the gap between the students’ reading ability and their writing capability. The language arts curriculum has five basic components: vocabulary, grammar, writing workshop, literature, and oral communication.In writer’s workshop, students learn the steps of the writing process through cooperative learning activities and individual student-teacher conferences. The literature component includes poetry, short stories, mythology, and novels. Students read classic and contemporary works of literature, learning basic elements of the short story and novel, as well as poetic devises. Writing is used to explore literature through reading response journals. To enhance verbal skills, students give oral recitations, participate in an in-school public speaking competition, and perform plays.
In grades five through eight emphasis is placed on refining critical thinking and analytical skills through an intense study of the elements of a novel, the author’s purpose and technique and the use of figurative language in poetry and prose. Students apply these skills to various pieces of literature, ranging from myths and legends, folk tales, poetry, short stories and novels. As a supplement to this process, the reading program works in tandem with the language arts program. Students in 5th and 6th grade continue to have reading class together. Students in 7th and 8th take Literature I or Advanced Literature according to appropriate level which is determined by teacher evaluation, test grades, and standardized testing scores.
Middle School social studies teaches history, geography, economics and sociology in an experienced-based program. In addition to memorizing facts students use texts, novels, videos, Smart Boards and projects to explore the life and issues of various historical periods. Students “live” the lives of the people they study by keeping personal journals. Cross curriculum projects with language arts, science and computer class enable students to see the relevance of the past to their lives now. Particular emphasis is placed on the ancient world, medieval Europe, the Renaissance, Colonial America, the Constitution, the Civil War, and the development of the modern world. In addition to exploring the past, students explore contemporary issues, such as illegal immigration, sweat shops, tolerance and prejudice. Inquiry and project based learning is used to make the events of the past come alive. Examples include a Battle of Gettysburg reenactment, an immigration simulation, and use of the Harkness method.
The Middle School curriculum emphasizes the basic mathematical skills of numeration, addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division of whole numbers, fractions, and decimals. Concepts are taught through the study of measurement, geometry, statistics, probability, number theory, ratio, and proportion. Particular attention is paid to developing and improving word problem-solving skills to increase higher-level thinking and analytical abilities. Students in grade six are split into two groups to keep class size to less than ten students but are not tracked by ability. All students in grade seven take the Pre-Algebra course. All eighth grade students take the high school Algebra I course. Advanced Pre-Algebra and Algebra I classes are offered to students who qualify based on teacher evaluation, test grades and standardized testing. Projects, such as My Favorite Number and Famous Mathematicians and Their Theories, which require students to use Power Point and Smart Board technology, encourage students to use technology and math skills while reinforcing writing and presentation skills across the curriculum. Students in the junior high develop confidence working with numbers because they have a strong foundation of math basics and enjoy fun activities throughout the year, such as the Math Marathon, Math Jeapordy, Super Bowl Math, Pi Day, and the 100th Day of School. A math club is offered after school for math lovers!
The cornerstone of our science program is a hands-on curriculum that requires each student to be actively involved in the learning process. Science curriculum in the Middle School begins with General Science in fifth grade, Earth Science in sixth, Physical Science in 7th and Life Science in eight grade. Through lectures, research, lab reports, classroom demonstrations and technology, students acquire basic scientific knowledge and understanding of the scientific method. Two science labs are available to students in grades 5-8 and each lab comes equipped with computers, dissection tables, microscopes and a Smart Board. The curriculum is includes up to date science textbooks, supplemented with websites, labs, field trips, virtual dissections, double lab periods, DVDs and videos that stimulate the students’ exploration and discovery of the scientific world. Field trips in the past have included trips to the beach, local preserve’s mineral mine, ponds and planetariums.
Our Middle School religion curriculum includes study of the Bible, the sacraments, the structure and role of the church in the community, current issues and practices in the Catholic Church, the history of Dominican tradition and the responsibility of the individual. Students of many faiths explore different religions and share their individual faith traditions with the class. Ecumenical prayer services are prepared and led by students. In addition monthly liturgies are celebrated with the entire school community. The goal of the program is to form students who will make a difference in this world through acts of peace and justice through a structured program, we deal with topics of critical importance to young people, such as tolerance and acceptance of individual differences, the human life cycle from conception through death, the sacredness of life, family and friendship. Inquiry based learning and teacher guided discussions about topics such as moral choices related to drugs, personal and family responsibilities, and sexuality help students navigate difficult decisions and topics in a safe environment. As part of the sacramental program, students will be prepared to make their confirmation through their parishes.
Students continue to learn outside of the classroom with exciting field trips through out the year. Field trips, assemblies and guest speakers reinforce what is learned in the classes and give students a much broader understanding of how the curriculum relates to their world.