Curriculum Overview

With approximately 42 students in each grade of Meadowbrook’s middle school, we have an average class size of about 12 students. There are typically more students in our heterogeneously grouped courses (science and social studies) and a smaller number of students in our classes grouped by performance (math and English) and in foreign language classes, which are determined by student choice.

English

The literature we teach is organized around a central theme each year, one which helps students to begin the process of self-actualization that is a centerpiece of their own personal development during these adolescent years. In 6th grade, the theme of our literature and conversation is “Coming of Age.” We want 6th graders to investigate and question the world around them, broaden their scope of understanding, look outward with increasing curiosity. This is particularly important for students who are, because of their developmental stage, often acutely self-conscious. We ask students to step into another’s shoes and see the world from that fresh perspective.

The theme of 7th grade English is “The Individual in Society.” Over the course of the year we ask students to build off of their learning in 6th grade. They should accordingly be able to not only step into another’s shoes, but also to see themselves as part of a larger community. They look at ways in which groups of people experience and interact with other groups and come to understand themselves as influenced, but also influential individuals.

We organize 8th grade, the final year of middle school English, around the theme of “The Moral Journey.” Students are challenged to convey their own perspectives, opinions and stories while recognizing and respecting the validity of others’ lives. The themes for each year help students to become increasingly aware of others and themselves while understanding the important role that storytelling plays in the process of revelation.

Languages: Raising Global Citizens

Meadowbrook provides weekly Spanish instruction from junior kindergarten through 5th grade. In 6th grade, our language offerings expand to French, Latin and Mandarin, at which point each student chooses to continue Spanish through 8th grade or select one of the other three languages (once a middle school student is enrolled in a language he or she commits to that choice through graduation). Our students consistently perform at the highest national and international levels on the National Language Exams, winning numerous medals across all four languages.

Math: Grouping By Performance and Clarifying Performance Vs. Ability

The mathematics curriculum is designed backwards from graduation with the goal of completing either Algebra I or Geometry depending on the student’s placement. From this, we develop different curricula for different levels/grades. One key feature of our math curriculum is to begin each 8th grade course in the spring of 7th grade due to the constraints of the 8th grade year (Costa Rica, secondary school admissions process, etc.).

We operate from a belief that that Pre-Algebra, Algebra and Geometry are standard Middle School math topics and build a challenging curriculum from there. However, our design also allows us to meet students where they are in their own mathematical growth and development. From time to time, for example, we may have a student in an individual study due to his or her acceleration in math. We have accommodated students completing Algebra II and beginning Pre-Calculus during their time at Meadowbrook.

Science

The science curriculum in middle school begins with a study of Life Science in 6th grade, Applied Physical Science (APS) in 7th grade and Earth Science Investigations (ESI) in 8th grade. We look closely at NExtGen Standards to make sure that we are keeping up with 21st century standards in our instruction of middle school science. We have incorporated design thinking methodology into our program, allowing our outdoor campus to serve as a second classroom, and lab skills progress purposefully from 6th to 7th to 8th. The 8th grade ESI curriculum is aligned with the class trip to the ecologically rich nation of Costa Rica.

6th Grade Curriculum



Art

Students in grades 6-8 have the opportunity to elect their arts classes. Each student chooses four courses per year and each course meets two days per week, two classes per semester. A wide range of classes are offered in the visual and performing arts.

Visual Arts
  • drawing/painting
  • ceramics
  • 2D mixed media
  • sculpture
  • woodworking
  • arts in technology
Performing Arts
  • modern music ensemble
  • instrumental music ensemble
  • choral ensemble
  • film
  • 7th grade play
  • school musical

Athletics

  • further development of skills taught in lower grades
  • interscholastic competition in soccer, basketball, baseball, softball, cross country, track, lacrosse, tennis and squash
  • strive for lifetime appreciation of sports and physical fitness
  • fall: soccer (boys and girls), cross country (coed), intramural tennis, golf
  • winter: basketball (boys and girls), squash, dance, fitness
  • spring: softball (girls), baseball (boys), lacrosse (girls and boys), tennis (coed), rock climbing (coed), track and field (coed)

English

  • Reading
    • reading across genres: novels, plays, short fiction, poetry and young adult fiction -- literature is focused on theme of diversity, perspective and coming of age
    • novel-based projects and presentations
    • reading exercises to build reading speed and comprehension
    • active and critical reading to note details about use and effect of literary techniques
    • independent reading time and book chats on a regular basis
  • Writing
    • reinforcement of basic paragraph structure
    • expository writing (analytical, descriptive, personal)
    • creative writing (poetry, writing in the voice of a character, short fiction, dramatic scenes)
    • informal reading response through journals
  • Grammar and mechanics
    • parts of speech and parts of the sentence
    • usage is also taught through the writing program
  • Vocabulary
    • regular lists and practice exercises drawn from the course literature

Language

Latin
  • nouns and case uses
  • verbs, conjugations, present and imperfect tenses
  • adjective-noun agreement
  • increasingly complex sentence structures
  • derivative and vocabulary building
  • Roman civilization: the family, clothing, slavery, and gladiators
Spanish
  • comprehensive review of previously learned material
  • continues at an accelerated pace to solidify traditional Spanish I material
  • develop listening and speaking proficiency
  • demonstrate greater accuracy in reading, writing and grammar, as well as cultural knowledge
  • integration of culture
French
  • accelerated pace and classes are mostly conducted in French
  • expand knowledge of vocabulary and grammar, including the past tense of verbs
  • read a short novel
  • special projects about Francophone cultures involving vocabulary themes of travel in France, sports, seasons, daily routine, and cultural leisure (arts & music)
Mandarin
Sixth grade students learn Mandarin in a fun, creative, and exciting learning and teaching environment with specially designed activities, games and daily usage of technology.
  • understand basic language materials related to common daily settings in the four skills areas of reading, listening, speaking and writing
  • master basic and simple ways of social interaction on topics related to family and personal life; can repeat, recite and reproduce words or sentences with fair accuracy
  • listen to, identify and produce the basic sounds of Pinyin with 4 tones; begin to identify Chinese character pronunciations
  • recognize basic components, radicals, strokes and stroke order of Chinese characters; nderstand the relationship between characters and words
  • master 200 common Chinese characters toward proficiency in the four skill areas; master 450 words related to daily life and school life
  • know and master basic word order, common sentence patterns, general questions and negative sentences, common nouns, numerals and measure words, personal pronouns and demonstratives, basic expressions to describe a person or an object, and common verbs, adjectives and adverbs of degree, expressions of time, place and location, special questions
  • gain introductory Chinese cultural knowledge
  • be expected to pass YCT I (International Youth Chinese Test I)

Library

  • use of the library for more complex searches and as a source for literature
  • critical analysis of source material and Internet sites
  • introduction to citation styles, subscription databases, and electronic tools for research and writing papers

Life Science

Content
  • what is science? frames process of developing scientific theory
  • what is alive? teaches the properties of living things, plant and animal species
  • what are cells?
  • what makes us sick? reinforces the understanding of prokaryotic life
  • science fair - designing experiments through scientific process
  • what are plants? includes tapping maple trees and plant reproduction
  • what are animals? includes dissection of a squid and sardine
  • what’s inside a human? covers several major body systems
Skills
  • focus on basic scholarship and skills clustered around organization and time management
  • note-taking, responsibility for timely work, and proper standard formatting of assignments, e.g., title, name, date, section, etc.

Math

General Math Course
  • problem-solving strategies
  • place value -- systems and operations
  • decimals and percents -- operations and applications
  • statistics and graphs
  • fractions, ratios and proportions
  • fractions -- operations and applications
  • geometry, patterns and measurement
  • integers and coordinate planes
  • algebra -- equations and probability
  • measurement and estimation
Pre-Algebra Course
  • variables
  • solving equations
  • ratio and proportions
  • percentages
  • areas and volumes
  • probability and statistics
  • algebraic modeling
  • graphing calculator
  • fractals
  • iterative functions
  • distance and midpoint
  • set theory
  • polyhedra
  • number theory
  • fundamental counting theorem
Algebra Course
  • properties
  • algebraic modeling
  • solving equalities and inequalities
  • line and quadratic functions and graphs
  • exponents and roots
  • polynomials
  • factoring
  • rational equations
  • radical expressions
  • functions
  • graphing calculator
Geometry Course
  • formal proofs
  • coordinate proofs
  • deductive reasoning
  • congruent, similar and right triangles
  • lines and planes
  • 2D and 3D shapes
  • constructions
  • basic trigonometry

Social Studies - Geography: Passport to Society (GPS)

  • through the study of geography, students explore where places are in the world, different cultures past and present, and the sociology behind these cultures
  • students examine regions and historical events through the lens of the Five Themes of Geography: location, place interaction between people and their environment, movement, and region
  • the course culminates with a family ancestry project where students explore their own self and culture, researching and reflecting on their family origin
  • study skills include note-taking, textbook reading strategies, writing, presenting, debating, researching, sourcing and collaborating

Social-Emotional Learning and Personal Development

  • Project Challenge -- high-ropes course teaches students teamwork, leadership and decision-making
  • Citizenship & Global Awareness -- focus on community service and social issues such as poverty, hunger and prejudice
  • Human Growth & Development -- health education curriculum with a focus on self-identity, peer relationships, and personal growth

Technology

  • academic technology skills
    • file, folder, and software management, both in the cloud and locally
    • understand and recognize file extension
    • install software and provide strategies for recognizing malware
    • troubleshooting strategies for minor hardware and software issues
    • build on digital portfolio to showcase learning
    • online discussions/collaboration
    • film production
    • advanced Internet research
  • programming/robotics
    • advanced programming skills, e.g. Python
    • LEGO Mindstorms NXT
  • engineering/CAD skills
    • computer-aided design (CAD) projects and digital fabrication
    • solar car building
    • reverse engineering
    • circuit design and electronics
  • digital citizenship
    • safety: Texting & Driving, Who Is Out There?
    • security: Exploring Privacy Policies, Phishing for Information
    • digital life: Media Habits, Rings of Responsibility, Digital Citizenship Marketing Campaign
    • self-expression: Which Me Should I Be?, Reflecting on Social Media Habits
    • digital footprint: Make Grandma Proud!, Google Yourself, Oops I Broadcast It Over the Internet
    • connected culture: Class Pledge, Effective Online Communication, Build Your Ideal Online Community
    • respecting creative work: A Creator’s Responsibility, Fair Use
    • cyberbullying: Chart It - Hurtful/Harmful, Case Studies, Crossing the Line, Be Upstanding
    • searching “The Key to Keywords”
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