Middle School Curriculum

Art

Middle School art classes study perspective, realism, architecture, and color through a variety of media. Students are expected to draw and sketch as well as understand and appreciate great works of art. This blend of experiences is intended to develop an aesthetic awareness in the student. The opportunity is provided for longer-term projects, and an after school Art Club is available for additional developmental time. 

History

Grade 6 – American History

Text:
A History of US by Joy Hakim.

The focus of the American History course in the sixth grade is on the westward expansion of the 1800’s. Students study the plight of the immigrant laborer, the impact of industry and the railroad, the conditions of life in the north and south, slavery, the wars and battles of the West including the Mexican War, the lives of mountain men, traders and trappers, the voyage of Lewis and Clark, the conditions leading up to the Civil War, and the outbreak of the Civil War. Students complete their study of the Civil War when they revisit the topic in-depth during the seventh grade history course entitled Lands and Conquests.

As students learn more about the adventures of westward expansion, they are required to take notes and learn how to outline chapters for later study. History is taught from the perspective of a factual story and in an analytical sense students are expected to understand the major themes of the day and how they relate to one another throughout a course of events.

Grade 7 – Lands and Conquests

The major topics covered in the seventh grade History course are World War II, the Civil War, and geography. Students gain an appreciation for these two enormously significant historical events and, while doing so, learn a great deal about the resulting geography that was impacted by each war. World War II is a vast topic often understudied in many secondary school history classes but nonetheless considered by many historians to be the most influential event of the twentieth century. Students study the impact of World War II on both their own country and the countries of Europe and the Pacific. The Civil War is covered in-depth as well, and a Grade 7 field trip to Gettysburg presents an opportunity for enriched study and relevance. Finally, students gain insight into the personal character and tenacity of those involved in each of these two conflicts.

Grade 8 – Ancient History

Text:
Ancient and Medieval Worlds by Helen and Robert Howe

The eighth grade Ancient History course is a survey of the early civilizations that have played a pivotal role in the development of Western culture. Chronologically, the class begins in the cradle of ancient culture, the Tigris-Euphrates valley, with an examination of the great Mesopotamian societies, including the Sumerians, the Babylonians, the Assyrians, and the Chaldeans. It moves on to another great river valley, the Nile, to examine the Egyptians, and then surveys the early Indo-European civilizations of the Hittites and the Persians. Included also is a look at the smaller Eastern Mediterranean cultures of the Phoenicians, Arameans, and Hebrews. Throughout this survey course, students will be asked to grasp both the distinctive features and the accomplishments of each society, ranging from its political and religious institutions to its artistic and intellectual achievements, as well as its place in the larger story of the ancient world.

Having set the stage with a survey of the major Middle Eastern civilizations, the class will then shift its focus to the two great Mediterranean civilizations: Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome. As befitting their monumental impact on the West, these two civilizations will receive a more thorough and systematic treatment, beginning with the early Bronze Age Greek societies of the Minoans and Mycenaeans and continuing to the Fall of Rome. Along the way, students will meet such imposing figures as Pericles, Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar, and review the epic military struggles on which history turned, including the Persian, Peloponnesian and Punic Wars. Students will also encounter the remarkable genius of these two civilizations, from the unparalleled philosophic and artistic brilliance of fifth century Athens—the age of Socrates and Sophocles—to the pragmatic genius of the Romans, exemplified in their innovations in engineering, architecture and law.

The culminating project of the course is a research paper in the second semester. Here, choosing a specific topic concerning Ancient Greece or Rome, students are given the opportunity to integrate and display the various skills they have developed, along with general writing and research skills, to attempt their own historical scholarship.

Language Arts and Literature

Grade 6 – Grammar    

Texts:
Grammar and Writing 6 published by Saxon
Vocabulary from Classical Roots published by Educators Publishing Service

Language Arts in the sixth grade covers the basic parts of speech and sentence structure, with the goal of improving a student’s writing ability and understanding of grammar. Students will learn to recognize verbs, nouns, pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, conjunctions and prepositions when they are used in sentences. Students will be able to distinguish a linking verb from an action verb and a common noun from a proper noun. In addition, students will study phrases, clauses and the different types of sentences. Providing a student with a solid foundation in grammar enables him to express himself more clearly and forcefully. The grammar text is a workbook filled with concise chapters of distinct grammatical concepts that build on one another and are paired with many practice questions that reinforce what has already been learned. The primary mode of instruction is classroom presentation of the principles in each section followed by homework that is assigned nightly to reinforce the concept covered in class. The principles are reinforced by diagramming sentences in essays written by the students.

Teachers derive words for their vocabulary lessons from the texts students read in literature. Students will be tested on the definitions of words and how to use them in sentences. Teachers supplement their vocabulary lists with textbooks that teach students common root words, enabling students to surmise the meaning of unfamiliar words. Furthermore, the textbooks test a student’s ability to use words in a sentence, giving him a more vibrant sense of the word.

Grade 6 – Literature   

Books:
Sounder by William H. Armstrong
The Golden Fleece by Padraic Colum
Gods, Heroes, and Men of Ancient Greece by W.H. D. Rouse
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Selected Tales from Shakespeare by Charles and Mary Lamb

Poems for study are chosen from a working list and by the homeroom teacher’s preference.

The sixth grade literature curriculum is generally geared toward fostering within the student both practical and theoretical pursuits. Therefore, literature is seen not only as a pleasurable interest, but as a mode of knowledge, instructing not only the mind, but the heart. Stressing both oral and written traditions, a love for literature is fostered in our students through study of poetry and stories of various lengths and kinds. The main skills developed through the sixth grade literature curriculum include reading comprehension, reading aloud, memorization and recitation of poetry, literary criticism, plot mapping, and composition of critical essays and short fiction. The textbook selections in the sixth grade Literature course recognizes that it is as important to cultivate the imagination as it is to cultivate the will or the intelligence.

Grade 7

Texts:
Grammar and Writing 7 published by Saxon Publishers
Vocabulary from Classical Roots from Educators Publishing Service.

The emphasis of the seventh grade English course is to promote sound reading habits as well as critical and analytical thinking and expression. An emphasis is also placed upon grammar, sentence structure, and word usage in the context of written expression. There are three main components to the seventh grade English class: literature, grammar, and vocabulary.

The primary objective of the literature component is to enhance a student’s interest in reading while introducing concepts of literature analysis. Students will be expected to discuss and critically analyze what they read. Short papers on literature based topics will be common. The class readings are selected to appeal to the seventh grade boy’s sense of adventure and heroism. Once literary concepts such as plot, character, setting, are introduced, class discussions take on a more analytical nature and lead towards the student’s appreciation of an author’s skill and technique. A variety of short stories are particularly well-suited to the accomplishment of this goal. Papers are written comparing and contrasting short stories and authors as well as the use of setting, characterization, and other literary concepts. Finally, students write their own short story in addition to their many other essays.

The seventh grade grammar component reinforces all the fundamental grammatical concepts so that the students have a firm basis in grammar and the application of grammar to their writing, a process that takes most boys successive years of study and practice. The grammar text is a workbook filled with concise chapters of distinct grammatical concepts that build on one another and are paired with many practice questions that reinforce what has already been learned. The primary mode of instruction is classroom presentation of the principles in each section followed by homework that is assigned nightly to reinforce the concept covered in class. The principles are reinforced by diagramming sentences in essays written by the students.

The primary objective of the vocabulary component is to broaden the student’s word usage and word construction knowledge. The vocabulary text is structured around words that use common Latin or Greek roots. The fundamental approach of the text is to enable students to recognize roots so that they may learn to discern the meaning of unfamiliar words. Often vocabulary words are also taken from the novels read in class in order to help the student better understand the readings.

Grade 8

Readings:
The Illiad by Homer
Rolf and the Viking Bow by Allen French
Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare
Vocabulary from Classical Roots by Educator’s Publishing Services.

The eighth grade English course emphasizes literature, vocabulary, grammar, and poetry. The major themes of adventure and leadership emerge throughout the literary works studied during this course. A student’s understanding of grammatical standards is reinforced through regular writing assignments and a supplementary writing course. English Workshop is a grammar workbook that is further used to reinforce a student’s understanding and regular adherence to grammatical standards. Throughout the course of the year, students are also challenged to memorize poetry and recite selected poems, emphasizing the importance of presentation. Regular and frequent writing assignments on the literature component of the course allow students to become efficient writers as they learn from the great works of literature they read. An appreciation for literature and authorship is fostered as well as the ability to analyze a text in depth.

Latin

Grade 6 – Introduction to Latin through Language Arts 

Text:
Latina Christiana by Cheryl Lowe

This material is taught through the Language Arts class and gradually introduces the student for the first time to the grammar, vocabulary, syntax, sounds, history, and importance of the Latin language. The grammatical topics covered are as follows: the first and second declensions of nouns and adjectives, the first and second conjugations of verbs (present, future, imperfect tenses), and the present conjugation of selected irregular verbs. A large portion of the course is given to Latin vocabulary and famous Latin sayings. The student begins to learn how to analyze language systematically through the translation of simple sentences. The student also gains an elemental knowledge of many English words through their Latin roots.

Grade 7 – Latin A

Text:
Vade Mecum by members of The Heights Classics Department

The study of Latin is an important aspect of Sparhawk Academy academic curriculum because of its connection, pedagogically and linguistically, to the liberal arts. All Middle School students are therefore required to take Latin as part of their Seventh grade core class. This course covers the rudimentary facets of Latin grammar including the first three declensions of nouns and adjectives, allowing students to become familiar with the case uses. The conjugation of verbs in the active voice of all six tenses is also studied. Through a rather extensive exposure to new vocabulary words, the boys learn several other topics such as noun/adjective agreement, syntax, verb principal parts, the imperative mood, the vocative case, and the formation of adverbs. Simple sentences and short paragraphs are translated, both from Latin to English and English to Latin.

Learning the many forms of Latin words significantly develops the student’s ability to memorize. As there are an exceedingly large number of English words derived from Latin, the course will expand the students’ English vocabulary as well as foster an aptitude for deciphering the meaning of new words based upon their Latin roots. The fixed and clear structure of Latin grammar will give the boys a greater understanding of English grammar and of the nature of language in general. This discipline is intended to form students as comprehensive readers, expressive writers, and clear thinkers. The improvement of note-taking and organizational skills and the attainment of proper test-taking techniques are additional goals of the course.

Grade 8 – Latin B

Text:
Vade Mecum Part 2 by members of The Heights Classics Department

The eighth grade Latin course furthers the objectives established in the seventh grade Latin course. After a rapid but comprehensive review, new aspects of Latin grammar are covered including the fourth and fifth declensions, the passive voice, demonstratives, relative clauses, indirect statements, participles, and the subjunctive mood. Longer prose stories are translated into English for the first time in a boy’s academic work. Upon completion of this course, the students can expect to enter a standard Latin II class at the high school level.

Due to an increase in the amount of forms students will be required to learn, the students will be able to especially hone their ability to memorize. They also will further enlarge a growing vocabulary and continue to perfect the important skills of proper note-taking and test-taking. The fixed and clear structure of Latin grammar will give the boys a greater understanding of English grammar and of the nature of language in general. In studying the advanced aspects of grammar and in advancing through the translations, the boys will assume superior habits of thought and patterns of learning. This discipline is intended to form students as comprehensive readers, expressive writers, and clear thinkers. By the end of this course, students will have the ability to read the works of great writers such as Cicero, Ovid, and Virgil.

Mathematics

The Middle School Saxon program builds on the strong math foundation built in grades 3-5. With fundamentals in place, there is more emphasis on logic and discovering the connections that exist between different laws of nature and methods of solving problems. Previously learned material is regularly reviewed as new topics are introduced, and “incremental learning” continues.

Grade 6

Text:
Math 87 by Hake & Saxon

This course is a combination of the theory and practical application of arithmetic and geometry. Major concepts covered include the following: the review and mastery of operations with fractions and mixed numbers, reciprocals, ratios, proportions, exponents, square roots, scientific notation, order of operations, algebraic addition, simple equations, perimeters, circumferences, areas, and volumes. Through working with the abstract concepts and relations of numbers and figures, the student develops and sharpens his imagination and reasoning capacity. Because the student must solve problems that require a number of subordinate steps to find a solution, the importance of attention to detail is impressed upon him as well as a stepwise approach to solving problems. Students are encouraged to recognize how a small error in an initial step will affect the conclusion of most math problems

Grade 7 – Pre-Algebra

Text:
Algebra published by Saxon

The seventh grade Pre-Algebra course continues to build a foundation for advanced mathematics by emphasizing basic skills and problem-solving techniques. Major topics studied and reviewed include but are not limited to: converting decimals, fractions and percents, geometric area and volume of various shapes, averaging quantities, order of operations, changing rates, algebraic steps, ratios, word problems, probability, exponents, square roots, scientific notation, and distance problems. The Saxon math series of textbooks is particularly useful given the way the student is reminded of past lessons in every problem set.

The habits and skills that this course seeks to establish for students include: order in problem solving, neatness, completeness, attention to detail, perseverance, proper arithmetic, showing problem-solving steps, verifying solutions, and identifying and correcting common sources of mistakes.

Grade 8 – Algebra 1

Text:
Algebra 1 – An Incremental Development, 3rd Edition by Saxon

This course will begin with a thorough review of the major topics from the seventh grade pre-algebra course. Following this review of material, this course covers the following mathematical topics: angles, polygons, perimeter, rectangular area, unit multipliers, areas of triangles, graphs, variables, word problems, equivalent equations, reciprocals, exponents, roots, volume, surface area, circumference and pi, graphing inequalities, theorems for exponents, advanced word problems, graphing linear equations, intercept-slope method, multiplication and division of polynomials, subscripted variables, simplification of radicals, monomial and binomial factoring, difference of squares, quadratic equations and formula, completing the square, distance problems, uniform motion problems, and additional topics if time permits.

The habits and skills that this course seeks to establish for students includes: order in problem solving, neatness, completeness, attention to detail, perseverance, proper arithmetic, showing problem-solving steps, verifying solutions, and identifying and correcting common sources of mistakes. While most students take Algebra I during their eighth grade year, Algebra II is an honors level course that is open to Eighth grade students who have already completed Algebra I.

Music

Students continue their study and practice of vocal music and performance, and select a musical instrument to learn to play. Students can choose to audition for the school band. Students in the band are expected to have an interest in developing their performance ability and will need to make a commitment to practicing their instrument on a regular basis. Students will perform as a group in several concerts and competitions throughout the year.

Physical Education

All students participate in physical education class on a daily basis. The emphasis of this class is on fitness, skill development, understanding the rules of a variety of sports, engaged participation, and sportsmanship. Students are encouraged to engage in healthy competition and are given the opportunity for exercise on a daily basis. Depending upon the season, soccer, basketball, baseball, wrestling, and lacrosse teams practice during this class period under the supervision and direction of their coaches. All other middle school sports teams practice during times outside of physical education class.

Religion

In order to cultivate a life of piety and develop a prayer life, each student will have regular opportunities each month for confession, spiritual talks and recitation of the rosary during a chapel service held once every two weeks by Sparhawk Academy chaplains. Our objective is for each student to develop a deeper prayer life as well as a greater understanding of his faith and ways to live his faith.

 Grade 6 

Text:
Following Christ, part of the Faith and Life series published by Ignatius Press.

The sixth grade Religion course guides the student through a variety of topics ranging from the ancestral roots of the Hebrew people to the beginning of Christianity/Catholicism and finally to The Resurrection following the salvific sacrifice of Jesus Christ’s passion and death on the cross. The student will gain a better understanding of the relationship between the Old and New Testaments, and a greater appreciation for the lives and contributions of the saints. They will be asked to write in-depth papers on a variety of content related topics citing specific quotes taken from Scripture and the writings of the saints.

Outside reading includes a book on the life of St. Isaac Jogues and his companions who evangelized and converted multiple tribes of Indians. Also, different chapters from the Bible will be assigned and read in class. The student will develop an enhanced knowledge of the role of Mary, the Mother of God, in salvation history, as well as a more comprehensive understanding and personal appreciation of the powerful mystery of the Holy Eucharist available to us daily in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Grade 7  

Text:
The Life of Grace, of The Faith and Life Series published by Ignatius Press

The seventh grade religion course provides an in-depth understanding of the doctrine of grace. The student develops an appreciation for this supernatural gift from God given to us through Jesus Christ and God’s plan for salvation. The student will study creation, divine revelation, Adam and Eve, and the prophets. Then, the student will study Christ as the source of all grace and the founding of the Church. Throughout this course, students deepen their knowledge of the seven sacraments and the virtues. The course includes familiarization with the liturgical calendar, feast days, the lives of saints, prayers and selections from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The course is ultimately designed to challenge students to increase their love for God and their hope for heaven.

Grade 8

Texts:
Our Life in the Church of the Faith and Life series published by Ignatius Press
A Brief Review for Confirmation published by The Daughters of Saint Paul
The Catechism of the Catholic Church
The Life of Grace by Ignatius Press
Our Lady of Fatima by William Thomas Walsh
The Cure of Ars by Mary Fabyan Windeatt
Various writings by Pope John Paul II

The eighth grade religion course seeks to encompass the truths taught by the Catholic Church, beginning with the abiding presence of Christ, prayer, the sacraments, worship, the Blessed Trinity, the Blessed Virgin, the communion of saints, prominent saints of the first two thousand years, the universal call to holiness, virtue, the spiritual and corporal works of mercy, vocations, the lay apostolate, marriage and the family, the Christian in the world, law and conscience, the social order, the absolute and infinite dignity of each human life from conception until natural death, and the last things of death, just judgment, and the afterlife. The first quarter of the course is devoted to Confirmation preparation because most of the eighth grade students are to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation in their local parishes. This preparation takes in a great many of the truths of the Catholic faith, but concentrates on the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of the individual and the Church.

Even if all of the truths of the Catholic faith are studied, understood, and able to be defended, little is accomplished unless these truths are lived well in our everyday and ordinary lives. Carrying out our ordinary work, whatever our station in life, and sanctifying it by offering it to God, is to live the truths of our Catholic faith heroically and to fulfill the call to holiness that each of us has been given.

In order to help transform the teaching of our Catholic faith into a faith that is lived on a daily basis, the course is augmented with videos and other materials that demonstrate the faith being lived by ordinary people in their everyday lives. Each student writes an essay on a favorite saint and then makes a presentation to the class on the life of that saint.

Science

Grade 6 – Earth Science

Text:
Earth Science published by Prentice Hall

This course acts as an introduction to the geological sciences and in doing so also serves as preparation for the study of chemistry. Major topics covered include the following: the earth’s topography, rocks, minerals, water displacement, specific gravity, the earth’s interior, magnetism, fresh water, the oceans, the atmosphere, the planets, and the moon. The course strives to impress upon the student the immensity, order, and beauty of the created world. It gives him a deeper understanding of the physical world with which he has relevant, daily contact. This is an understanding prior to the laboratory and atomic analysis of chemistry. Through classroom demonstrations and activities, habits of observation and analysis are exercised.

Grade 7 – Life Science

Text:
Exploring Life Science by Prentice Hall

This course is designed to develop an appreciation and understanding of biology in everyday life. It seeks to have students understand that the world around them is really a collection of countless mysteries and discoveries. Developing a sense of fascination with biology within each student is a primary goal of the course. In addition to developing a fascination for science, a practical familiarity and base of knowledge is developed as it is required for a more advanced study of science. The course is divided into two semesters: Environmental Science and Human Biology, with different instructors for each semester. Environmental Science studies environmental factors that affect local ecosystems, including our own campus. The course will be accompanied by laboratory experiments that will help students answer some of these “mysteries” with the help of the scientific method. There will be the opportunity to complete lab experiments as well as discuss current information in the field of science.

The Human Biology semester of Life Science focuses on learning about all the major systems of the human body and identifying major organs. The structure of each major organ is examined as well as how that structure relates directly to the function the organ plays in the body. In this semester, students embark on a discovery of the human body that is nothing less than a discovery of their own physical being.

The Life Science course seeks to develop skills within the students that will allow them to pose questions, make observations and inferences, develop hypotheses, design experiments, make measurements and collect data, interpret data, and draw conclusions. Since much of learning science requires developing a new vocabulary, students also develop a new scientific vocabulary through the use of a notecard note-taking system. The student leaves this course with a greater appreciation and fascination for biology and how the study of biology can be found all around us and includes the study of our own physical being.

Physical Science (Grade 8)

Text:
Physical Science published by Scott Foresman.

This course acts as an introduction to physical science and in doing so covers the major areas of physics and chemistry. The course intends to be a wide survey of the laws of motion and matter and seeks to fascinate students by their first in-depth exposure to these physical sciences. The following major topics are covered throughout the course: mechanics, Newtonian physics, laws of motion, heat and temperature, thermodynamic models of chemistry, waves and sound, the behavior of light waves, electricity and magnetism, the structure of matter, chemistry and the periodic table, and the universe and solar system.

The objective of the class is to stimulate a further interest in science for the student, to provide an understanding and fuller relationship between major physical laws and the physical world that surrounds us, to develop some level of quantitative thinking and problem-solving capability, and to provide an appreciation of the usefulness of mathematics, real life examples and experiments.