A JK THROUGH 12 INDEPENDENT SCHOOL IN CHARLOTTE, NC

1941

Middle School Curriculum

A rotating class schedule with seven class periods—including physical education every day—offers active engagement for students’ developing minds. An important part of the Middle School student’s experience is a growing understanding of both internal and external worlds. Students also learn study and productivity skills for success in Middle School and beyond.

  • Technology supports learning in every discipline as Middle School students build a strong foundation and prepare for the challenges of Upper School.
  • Math is a strong focus for Middle School students, and separate classes for boys and girls provide an environment where students can excel.
  • Our comprehensive Middle School fine arts program provides an important outlet for creativity and self-expression during these critical transition years.
  • Our two dozen Middle School sports teams and our award-winning physical education program build athletic abilities, teamwork, and life-balance skills.

Curriculum by Grade Level

5th Grade

Language Arts/Social Studies

In the fifth grade, language arts and social studies are closely linked courses. An integrated program features the cross-curricular skills of reading comprehension, process writing, critical thinking, and overall study skills. The language arts curriculum integrates the study of vocabulary and grammar, while the social studies curriculum guides the students in the study of U.S. history through the Civil War, with selected literary sources in language arts class reinforcing that content.

Mathematics

Students in fifth grade develop mathematical understanding and competency through a planned sequential program. They study addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division of whole numbers, decimal numbers, and fractions. They conclude the course with a study of geometry. Pre-algebra skills and problem solving are included in all units of study.

Foreign Languages

Students continue the study of Spanish or French chosen in second grade. A switch in language is deferred until seventh grade when a child may elect to begin Latin in lieu of the language previously studied. Fifth grade Spanish and French courses continue the balanced four-skill approaches (speaking, reading, listening, and writing) used in the Lower School, with an increased focus on reading and writing. Skits, dialogues, puppets, children’s books, songs, and games are also important components of these courses. Students also learn through cultural exposure expressed in videos, Web sites, pictures, maps, books, and other resources.

Science

Encouraging students to become working scientists is the overarching goal of the science department. A unique and dynamic thematic curriculum at each grade level provides a springboard to develop scientific thinkers and problem solvers. Our curriculum allows students to make authentic connections to the world around them and to previous scientific knowledge. Technology serves as a platform to explore and research topics generated by both students and faculty. Critical reading strategies and study skills are reinforced.

Computer

In Middle School, students are instructed to use the computer as a tool in the daily production of their work. They are re-introduced to the Microsoft Office Suite on the PC. Here they begin in-depth study of word processing, spreadsheet, and multi-media presentation skills and techniques. Instruction is integrated into the study of all software applications as students create reports, stories, poems, graphs, charts, and presentations in all their subject areas.

Fine Arts

All Middle School students participate in the arts on a daily basis. Students are offered opportunities in visual arts, drama, and music. All students in fifth grade study art and drama, and may choose either band, orchestra, or general music/choir.

Physical Education

All Middle School students participate in physical education every day. The program concentrates on a student’s physical fitness level with emphasis placed on improvement. Students run a timed mile every three weeks and are tested on their upper body strength. Activities include field hockey (girls), street hockey (boys), softball (girls), baseball (boys), wrestling (boys), gymnastics (girls), football, soccer, basketball, team handball, lacrosse, track, and circus.

Health

Fifth grade health focuses on human growth and development. Topics discussed include the male and female reproductive system, pregnancy, and childbirth.

Guidance

Fifth graders are taught guidance regularly throughout the school year. Taught by our full-time Middle School guidance counselor, the program is designed to help emerging adolescents learn important life skills. Several weeks are spent on topics such as values, friendships, cooperation, decision-making, and social skills. The goal is to increase the interpersonal and intrapersonal skills of the pre-adolescent and the classes are tailored to fit their developmental needs. In addition, support groups are offered at all grade levels. Topics range from students who are experiencing a change in their family structure, students who are new to our school, or any other identified need. Students are invited to the group on a voluntary basis and develop skills to help them adjust to the changes in their life in a positive way. Students in these groups provide support for one another and are bound by the rules to keep all discussions in confidence.

6th Grade

Language Arts/Social Studies

The sixth-grade language arts and social studies program has an interdisciplinary focus. Students journey through the past learning about the development of communities in ancient civilizations (Mesopotamia, Egypt, India, China, Greece, and Rome) and their influences on our world today. In language arts, we focus on communication skills in reading, writing, listening and speaking, and information literacy. Through the writing process, students compose fiction and non-fiction texts. They also develop and apply reading strategies to comprehend, analyze, and evaluate texts from a variety of literature using the principles of The Daily 5 and The Café Book reading and writing workshop model.

Mathematics

As students enter the sixth grade their mathematical progress is assessed, and they are placed in classes based on their demonstrated level of development. The course concludes a review of basic arithmetic and begins a study of pre-algebra. Students are introduced to integers, finalize their study of decimals, and continue their study of fractions. Problem solving is emphasized throughout the year.

Foreign Languages

Spanish and French courses build on the knowledge and vocabulary acquired in fifth grade. Language continues to be acquired through immersion techniques, with a balanced emphasis on listening, speaking, reading, and writing. The focus involves working toward more developed oral and written communication. Authentic materials such as songs, blogs, and videos are also important components of these courses.

Science

In sixth grade, science students are introduced to many topics of environmental and earth science. Using the theme of "Discover Earth," geological processes that shape the earth’s surface and environmental relationships between the living and nonliving are explored. Some of the specific topics for the course include food webs, plate tectonics, earthquakes, volcanoes, conservation of matter, and protists. One of the highlights of the year for all sixth grade students is the design and construction of a rubber band powered boat for use in the sinking and floating unit. Encouraging students to become working scientists is the overarching goal of the science department. A unique and dynamic thematic curriculum at each grade level provides a springboard to develop scientific thinkers and problem solvers. Our curriculum allows students to make authentic connections to the world around them and to previous scientific knowledge. Technology serves as a platform to explore and research topics generated by both students and faculty. Critical reading strategies and study skills are reinforced.

Computer

For sixth graders, the computer program is integrated within all disciplines and taught by all teachers. Faculty use our three computer labs and two laptop carts to help students use the computer in the daily production of their work and to assist with their learning.

Fine Arts 

All Middle School students participate in the arts on a daily basis. Sixth grade students continue their fine arts classes begun in the fifth grade, experiencing visual art, drama, and their choice of music: band, orchestra, or general music.

Physical Education 

All Middle School students participate in physical education every day. The program concentrates on a student’s physical fitness level with emphasis placed on improvement. Students run a timed mile every three weeks and are tested on their upper body. Activities include field hockey (girls), street hockey (boys), softball (girls), baseball (boys), dance (girls), volleyball (girls), football, soccer, team handball, lacrosse, basketball, track, and circus.

Health

Sixth grade health teaches the importance of nutrition for lifelong health and development. There is an overview of how the digestive system works and how food is converted into energy for the body. Safe and healthy methods of weight control are also discussed.

Guidance

Sixth grade guidance is taught regularly throughout the school year. Our full-time Middle School guidance counselor teaches Project Alert, a comprehensive drug education program and addresses issues such as decision-making and feeling identification. In addition, support groups are offered at all grade levels. Topics range from students who are experiencing a change in their family structure, students who are new to our school, or any other identified need. Students are invited to the group on a voluntary basis and develop skills to help them adjust to the changes in their life in a positive way. Students in these groups provide support for one another and are bound by the rules to keep all discussions in confidence.

7th Grade

English

The seventh grade English curriculum further develops basic communication skills through the study of literature, reading strategies, and process writing. A workshop approach is often utilized to aid students in the development, practice, and internalization of effective reading and writing strategies and skills. Readers' Workshop includes the use of short stories, class novels, genre studies, poetry, supplementary materials, and self-selected readings. During Writers' Workshop, students continue to write and assess pieces based on the Six + One Traits of effective writing. Word study and grammar concepts are also integral parts of class lessons and activities.

Social Studies 

In seventh grade, students study global geography and representative cultures of the world to become more knowledgeable of the physical landscape and cultural values of the world. Content focuses on geography’s five themes of location, place, region, movement, and human environmental interaction. Students develop an understanding of the historical roots of current world issues and investigate the major turning points that shaped the modern world. Emphasis is placed on critical thinking skills as students investigate and explore various topics. They develop chronological thinking skills to tie classroom discussions and assignments to abstract ideas and concepts through research, writing, projects, presentations, map skills, debates, and current events. 

Mathematics

Placement of a student in the appropriate course and level is an important decision in the student’s mathematical development. In math courses in seventh and eighth grades, students are separated by gender, a practice that has many academic and social benefits for both girls and boys.

Foreign Languages

Seventh graders begin a two-year language sequence equivalent to Level I in Upper School. Completing the Level I sequence in Middle School enables a student to enter Level II in grade nine. Students may elect to continue their study of Spanish or French, or they may begin Latin. By parental request and with qualifying grades and the recommendation of the teaching team, students may double their language study by continuing with their modern language and studying Latin as well.

Science

From body systems to cells and genetics, seventh-grade is an exploration of systems. Throughout the year, students study different science concepts using the human body as the focal point. Topics such as light and sound are discussed through the human eye and ear. Students become great critical thinkers as we use dissections, projects, and experiments to help demonstrate the body's functions. Connections are key as we journey through the body—inside and out! Encouraging students to become working scientists is the overarching goal of the science department. A unique and dynamic thematic curriculum at each grade level provides a springboard to develop scientific thinkers and problem solvers. Our curriculum allows students to make authentic connections to the world around them and to previous scientific knowledge. Technology serves as a platform to explore and research topics generated by both students and faculty. Critical reading strategies and study skills are reinforced. 

Computer

The seventh grade computer program follows the policy of integration within all disciplines. Computer skills and applications are taught by all of our teachers. Faculty use our three computer labs and two laptop carts to help students use the computer in the daily production of their work and to assist with their learning. Every student is issued an iPad for use in class and at home. The 1:1 program allows for an increased level of collaboration, communication, and access to the world.

Fine Arts 

All Middle School students participate in the arts on a daily basis. In seventh grade, students experience concentrated study in one area of fine arts choosing between band, choir, drama, orchestra, or visual arts.

Physical Education 

All Middle School students participate in physical education every day. The program concentrates on a student’s physical fitness level with emphasis placed on improvement. Students run a timed mile every three weeks and are tested on their upper body strength. Activities include field hockey (girls), street hockey (boys), softball (girls), baseball (boys), dance (girls), ultimate Frisbee (boys), volleyball (girls), football, soccer, team handball, lacrosse, basketball, and track.

Health

In seventh grade, students learn the effects of alcohol on the human body, how to make responsible choices about alcohol, and how to recognize and cope with alcoholism. This course also examines the dangers involved in the recreational use of drugs and discusses how to avoid using them. Students learn about the effects that legal over-the-counter drugs, caffeine, and tobacco have on the body. 

Guidance

Seventh grade guidance classes are taught by our full-time Middle School guidance counselor as needed. Topics are based on the developmental needs of the students and address relevant and current issues. In addition, support groups are offered at all grade levels. Topics range from students who are experiencing a change in their family structure, students who are new to our school, or any other identified need. Students are invited to the group on a voluntary basis and develop skills to help them adjust to the changes in their life in a positive way. Students in these groups provide support for one another and are bound by the rules to keep all discussions in confidence.

8th Grade

English

The eighth grade English curriculum continues to build upon students’ knowledge and is designed to help them become more effective writers and readers. Throughout the year, students are taught how to incorporate the traits of effective writing and write in a variety of formats including personal, narrative, expository, persuasive, and poetry. Students are exposed to a variety of reading genres to help them become effective readers who are able to appreciate different writing techniques. Vocabulary acquisition is facilitated through the study of words in context and in isolation. Students learn words in context and study them through root word study and complete the Daily Grammar Program.

Social Studies

In eighth grade, students explore the history of the United States during the late 19th century through much of the 20th century. They examine the historical eras of industrialization, immigration, progressivism, the 1920’s, the Great Depression, World War II, and the Civil Rights Movement. Students examine the role of government, equality and citizen rights, decisions made, movements of change, and economic growth/decline for each topic/era. Eighth grade students do not rely on a text book; instead investigate each topic utilizing internet resources, historical images, films, political cartoons, primary/secondary sources, and literature. In addition, students develop expository writing, research, organization, and study and critical thinking skills throughout the year.

Mathematics

All eighth grade students are enrolled either in Algebra 1 or Geometry. Placement of the student in the proper course and level is an important decision and requires discussion with the math department. The program is designed to enable students to change levels at various times in their schooling. They are separated by gender, a practice that has many academic and social benefits for both girls and boys. Problem solving is stressed and students are encouraged to participate in algebra and geometry contests.

Foreign Language

In Spanish and French in the eighth grade, there is a heavy emphasis on the structure of the language. Speaking, reading, writing, and listening are addressed through a multifaceted approach that augments normal daily activities with guided essays, films, and follow-up discussions. Students continue to develop awareness of the Spanish/French speaking areas of the world through exposure to authentic materials such as videos, blogs, and music.

Latin

The course requires an increasing mastery of vocabulary and essential inflections and syntax. Students learn to think more logically as well as to memorize, analyze, organize, and correlate. A keener appreciation of the indebtedness of English to Latin is gained.

Science

Eighth grade science is an introduction to the multidisciplinary field of environmental science. Using specific environmental examples as a springboard, students are challenged to use their scientific knowledge to critically evaluate global environmental issues. Topics include basic chemistry, energy conservation, global warming, ozone pollution, availability of clean fresh water and coastline, and species conservation. Significant emphasis is placed on evaluating multiple sides of an argument and understanding the complexity of the issues we face today. Encouraging students to become working scientists is the overarching goal of the science department. A unique and dynamic thematic curriculum at each grade level provides a springboard to develop scientific thinkers and problem solvers. Our curriculum allows students to make authentic connections to the world around them and to previous scientific knowledge. Technology serves as a platform to explore and research topics generated by both students and faculty. Critical reading strategies and study skills are reinforced.

Computer

The computer program continues to be integrated within all disciplines in the Middle School and computer skills and applications are taught by all of our teachers. Faculty use our three computer labs and two laptop carts to help students use the computer in the daily production of their work.

Fine Arts

All Middle School students participate in the arts on a daily basis. In eighth grade, students continue their participation in their fine arts selection from seventh grade, completing two years of a concentrated study in band, choir, drama, orchestra, or visual arts.

Physical Education

All Middle School students participate in physical education every day. The program concentrates on a student’s physical fitness level with emphasis placed on improvement. Students run a timed mile every three weeks and are tested on their upper body strength. In eighth grade, students can choose their activities, which include baseball (boys), dance (girls), ultimate Frisbee (boys), volleyball, football, soccer, lacrosse, basketball, biking, crossfit, circus, and aerobics.

Health

In eighth grade, students review the male and female reproductive systems, as well as learn about the viruses that cause AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Students also learn and practice decision-making skills in postponing sexual involvement.

Guidance

Eighth grade guidance classes are taught by our full-time Middle School guidance counselor as needed. Topics are based on the developmental needs of the students and address relevant and current issues. In addition, support groups are offered at all grade levels. Topics range from students who are experiencing a change in their family structure, students who are new to our school, or any other identified need. Students are invited to the group on a voluntary basis and develop skills to help them adjust to the changes in their life in a positive way. Students in these groups provide support for one another and are bound by the rules to keep all discussions in confidence.

Advisory Program

The Advisory Program is an important part of the Middle School experience. Each student is assigned a faculty advisor and is a member of an advisory group that meets daily. The advisor provides academic and personal guidance, while the advisory group forms a supportive unit. Advisors become mentors and advocates for their students and are an important communication link between the school and the parents. Close bonds typically develop between advisor and advisee that remain well beyond the Country Day years.