Middle School Courses – Grades 6-8

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English – Language Arts

  • Sixth Grade English: This course focuses on the writing process, reading comprehension, spelling and vocabulary development, and refinement of grammar skills. Students learn how to demonstrate knowledge of a topic using self-expression through technology both within groups and/or individually. The course introduces the writing process for expository, narrative, and argumentative topics.
  • Seventh Grade English: This course emphasizes grammar, vocabulary, literature, and composition, particularly grammar usage and its incorporation into written composition. There is continued use of novel reading and discussion skills, and the research paper is introduced in this course.
  • Seventh Grade English - Honors: This course stresses grammar, vocabulary, and composition, along with the introduction of the forms and terms of literature. The novel, the short story, drama, and poetry constitute the literary genres. The course includes research and creative writing projects.
  • Eighth Grade English: This course focuses on grammar, vocabulary, literature, and composition studies with a continued emphasis on grammar mastery and research skills. Study skills that will be needed in the Upper School are introduced in this course.
  • Eighth Grade English - Honors: This course focuses on grammar, vocabulary, literature, and composition studies with a continued emphasis on grammar mastery and research skills. Study skills that will be needed in the Upper School are introduced. A special emphasis on SAT vocabulary is stressed.

Social Studies

  • Sixth Grade Geography and Tennessee History: The first semester, students will develop an understanding of Tennessee history, from its frontier days to when it became the 16th state in the Union. During second semester, students study World Culture and Geography to develop an understanding of how different cultures developed. This is done through a study of the seven continents, which also improves knowledge of geography.
  • Seventh Grade Ancient World History: This study of history and geography examines social, cultural, and technological changes beginning with prehistoric times. A major focus of this course is the development and advancement of ancient civilizations.
  • Eighth Grade United States History: This is a complete study of the United States from the discovery of America to Reconstruction. Geography and map skills are included.

Mathematics

  • Sixth Grade Mathematics: This course emphasizes mastery in fundamental skills of mathematics. Content material is explored through reasoning, problem solving, number relationships and theory, patterns and functions, and pre-algebraic concepts.
  • Sixth Grade Mathematics - Honors: This course transitions students from arithmetic to pre-algebra content. Students become familiar with the concept of the numerical expressions, algebraic expressions, and equations. Problem-solving skills also developed.
  • Seventh Grade Mathematics: This course allows students to review and improve arithmetic skills with focus on decimal, fractions, and percentages. There is a continued emphasis on pre-algebra skills integrated with informal geometry.
  • Seventh Grade Mathematics - Honors: This course covers pre-algebra concepts in greater depth. Students will synthesize and algebraically represent situations to solve problems, especially those involving linear relationships.
  • Eighth Grade Mathematics: In this course, students complete pre-algebra material while introducing fundamental processes of algebra needed for Upper School Mathematics.
  • Eighth Grade Mathematics - Honors: The sequence of this course involves the application of abstract concepts from previously learned concrete concepts. Students will apply algebraic representations to real world situations and analyze the nature of changes in linear and non-linear relationships.

Science

  • Sixth Grade Earth Science: This class is the study of our knowledge about the earth and its place in the universe. Generally, three areas are addressed: the structure of the earth, which includes the four spheres; the earth’s history; and the earth as part of the solar system. Varied teaching strategies are used to make this a fun and informative study.
  • Seventh Grade Life Science: This course is constantly evolving due to the exciting discoveries made almost daily in the fields of genetics, molecular biology, and the prevention and treatment of disease—particularly certain types of cancer and certain congenital genetic disorders. At the beginning of the year, students are introduced to the complexity of life at the cellular level, progressing to the study of viruses, bacteria, and the human immune system. Through the use of materials provided by St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, students are able to observe blood slides and karyotypes of actual leukemia patients and to develop expertise in identifying those who show evidence of ALL and other types of leukemia based on the number and kind of white blood cells present and/or the presence of chromosomal abnormalities in the patient’s karyotype. These lab experiences fit well with our study of genetics beginning with Mendel and progressing to the present. The remainder of the year is spent moving phylogenetically from protists to fungi and their uses in pharmacology to plants and finally to animals. This study culminates with humans and the human body systems. This overview of life creates interest in the world around us as we discuss similarities and differences throughout creation.
  • Eighth Grade Physical Science: This course provides a study of the basics of chemistry and physics, probes the interaction of matter and energy, and endeavors to give the student an appreciation and understanding of the physical world. Laboratory experiences enhance the learning of principles.

Foreign Language

  • French/Spanish (Seventh and Eighth Grades): Foreign language courses introduce students to the languages and cultures of French and Spanish-speaking regions. These courses encourage a desire to continue foreign language studies in the Upper School. Students can choose one of the two languages to begin to develop listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills with an emphasis on vocabulary and cultural awareness.

Enrichment Classes

  • Art: Art classes introduce students to the basic elements of design and how to apply them to fundamental drawing, painting, printing, sculpture, ceramics, and miscellaneous crafts. Also included is a survey of art appreciation used for studying both contemporary and historical art.
  • Band: The USJ band program is designed to expose students to advanced-level music skills. The purpose of the course is to foster and develop goal setting, time management, rehearsal etiquette, performance practices, and personal and group responsibility, and to instill a desire for life-long learning. Students may choose concert band, athletic band, guitar ensemble, percussion ensemble, woodwind ensemble, brass ensemble, and/or jazz ensemble as well as musical orchestra.
  • Computer Literacy:
         * Sixth Grade Study Skills…a nine-week course with four and a half weeks dedicated to keyboarding skills and four and a half weeks dedicated to teaching and learning study skills and strategies students will use for the remainder of their educational careers.
         *Seventh Grade Computer Studies…advance students’ skills in desktop publishing, letter writing, use of the Internet, and PowerPoint presentations. They are also introduced to Excel, a spreadsheet program.
         *Eighth Grade Computer Studies…further advances students’ skills with desktop publishing, letter writing, report writing, use of the Internet, PowerPoint presentations, and spreadsheets with Excel.
  • Introduction to Foreign Language: This class introduces sixth grade students to Spanish or French culture, history, and vocabulary. They increase listening and speaking skills through class participation.
  • Literature: This course focuses on researching one text ifn order to deepen comprehension of another text. Through both individual and collaborative opportunities, students will demonstrate their application of the text to real-world situations through technology.
  • Music: The music program exposes students to basic music skills with emphasis on music elements such as music theory, music and rhythmic composition, and music history, including the study of musical styles. Students are taught to play the recorder as a pre-band instrument.
  • Physical Education: This is an organized program of exercise, instruction, and participation as Middle School students develop physically, mentally, socially, and emotionally in a co-educational environment. The student will develop an understanding of personal fitness, along with learning the rules and skills of many team sports. The student will keep a fitness log and also will have the opportunity to earn the Presidential Physical Fitness Award.

Co-Curricular Programs

  • The Middle School provides unique and exciting opportunities for students including assemblies; Student Council; Math Counts; Duke TIP; National Spelling Bee; MS Science Bowl; athletics; drama productions; academic awards and Eighth Grade celebration; Tennessee Math Contest; Eighth Grade Washington/New York City study tour; Seventh Grade Atlanta study tour; Sixth Grade day excursions to Nashville and Pinson Mounds; and field trips related to subject areas.