Our Curriculum

English

The English curriculum is designed to strengthen skills in reading, writing, listening and speaking. The curriculum exposes students to many literary genres from novels, short stories and poetry to memoirs, historical fiction and Shakespearean plays. Students’ work in composition complements the genres and focuses on a wide variety of writing styles: expository, creative, short stories, narratives, journalism, poetry and memoir. Grammar study includes the eight parts of speech as well as sentence and paragraph construction. As students progress through the middle school they are expected to use more complex sentence structure and a more mature voice in their multi-paragraph writing.

Science

Middle school science strives to help students apply problem-solving and inquiry skills individually and cooperatively to investigate and explore authentic issues. Students discover that all fields of science are interrelated and affect the global community and environment. Our science classes are focused on collecting, interpreting, evaluating and effectively communicating data. Students study a variety of subject matter but use basic study skills such as note-taking, problem solving, laboratory investigation and inquiry-based projects.

In sixth grade, students take General Science and cover such topics as measurement, properties and changes of properties in matter, motion and force, life science, earth and space, and science and technology. Seventh grade science classes study the metric system, scientific process, astronomy, basic structures of life and basic life sciences processes. Eighth graders cover basic chemistry the first semester and fundamental physics the second semester.

Social Studies

In their middle school social studies classes, students study important U.S. events during sixth grade American History Post Civil War and how our government and market economy function in seventh grade American Government and Civics. In eighth grade students learn about other cultures and how they are interrelated. Through these courses, students are exposed to research skills, content reading strategies and data interpretation methods. They also progress to writing short reports and finding and evaluating information for presentation. Much of their work is completed through individual and group projects and activities in conjunction with English classes.

Math

Our sixth graders take a Pre-Algebra course that prepares them for Algebra I beginning in seventh grade. At Pembroke Hill, students take Algebra I over a two-year period – seventh and eighth grade. While this sequence of courses is appropriate for most students, we have found that some students are able to cover the entire Algebra I curriculum in one year. Those students will take accelerated Algebra I in seventh grade and Geometry in eighth grade. In all of our math courses, there is a heavy emphasis on using a step-by-step approach to problem solving and making connections between concepts learned in math class and real world applications. Teachers use technology extensively in their teaching - especially online practice quizzes and problems.

Foreign Language

In middle school, students may choose to begin their study of French, Latin, Chinese or Spanish. Students who have previously studied Spanish may continue their study of Spanish. This decision is a three-year commitment.

Sixth grade year primarily focuses on introductory conversation skills as well as building a strong foundation in pronunciation and oral comprehension. Special attention is given to cultural links with the sixth grade curriculum along thematic lines.

Seventh grade language courses are the first half of a two-year program designed to complete one full upper school level of the language. More emphasis is placed on grammar and written work, while continuing to build oral comprehension and pronunciation.

Eighth grade students complete the second half of the two-year program. Upon leaving middle school in eighth grade, students are ready to take Level II of their language.

Spanish is two tracked. Students new to Spanish and students that are experienced in Spanish but desire a less accelerated pace are placed in the Blue Track and will be prepared to enter Spanish Level II in the upper school. Students in the Red Track will be prepared to enter Spanish Level III in the upper school. Students who are assessed to be further experienced and able to work at a more accelerated pace are placed in the Red Track. Students must maintain a “B-" average and have the recommendation of the teacher to continue in the Red Track.

Visual Arts

Sixth grade art students focus on understanding the basic concepts of the elements and principles of design. After exploring a particular artist or style of art, students solve an artistic problem in a variety of media such as drawing, painting, ceramics, fiber sculpture or printmaking. The seventh graders build upon their knowledge of design by experiencing more complex media processes. In eighth grade, students continue their journey of understanding design through creating more advanced studio projects by using conceptual and abstract ways of thinking.

Performing Arts

All sixth graders take a general music class during which they investigate rhythm, melody, harmony, form, tone and expression through singing, listening to music and playing classroom instruments. Students also gain an understanding of music history as they study musical periods. In sixth grade, students may enroll in Concert Band.

In seventh and eighth grades, students may elect to take additional music courses in Choral Music and Concert Band. In Choral Music, various styles of choral literature in three- and four-part voicing is sung. The Concert Band offers students the opportunity to play an instrument in an ensemble setting. Instrumental music provides students with an opportunity to develop self-expression while being a part of a group.

In addition to music, sixth grade students take a drama class for one quarter. In this course, students explore their individual talents through hands-on active participation. They view a variety of dramatic performances and create original works. They perform scenes from prepared scripts, original works of their peers and dramatic readings.

In seventh and eighth grades, students may choose several electives: Theatre Production, Movie Making 101, Advanced Acting, Playbuilding and Improvisation. Through Theatre Production, students understand the elements of sets, costume, makeup and publicity. In Movie Making, students have a great time learning the basics of screenwriting, editing, camera work and movie acting. Students in Advanced Acting explore pantomime, improvisation, voice, movement and characterization. Advanced Speech is a required class for eighth graders.

Physical Education

The physical education program strives to help students attain an acceptable physical fitness level, develop an appreciation of lifetime sports and develop the desire to continue with a healthy lifestyle.

In seventh and eighth grades, students may choose to participate in interscholastic team sports. Team practices are scheduled during the school day at the same time as the required PE classes. At the end of the season, students will return to the PE class. In seventh grade, students may choose cross country, football, wrestling and track and field. Eighth graders may participate in cross country, football, volleyball, field hockey, wrestling, basketball and track and field.

The seventh and eighth grade PE independent study program provides students an opportunity to earn PE credit for exceptional dedication to fitness outside of school.

Exploratory Electives

As sixth graders begin their middle school journey, they have the opportunity to participate in all clubs and extracurricular activities. As part of the transition curriculum, they also have a built-in, monitored study hall and an organized recess.

In addition to clubs and sports, seventh and eighth grade students begin exploring a variety of electives that complement a passion or kindle a career: Band, 35mm camera, Basketball, Broadcast Journalism, Digital Art, Exploring Technology, Foreign Language Film (Spanish and French), Hand building with Clay, Intro to Geometry, Jewelry Making, Math Contest Club, Painting, Printmaking, Raider Fit, Robotics, Scratch (programming), Theater Set Design, Showcase, Study Hall, and Wellness (required for all students).

Extracurricular Opportunities

All students in the middle school have a wide variety of extracurricular activities in which to participate: Art Club, Book Club, Chamber Music, Chinese Club, Common Ground, Community Club, Contest Club, Creative Writing Club, Drama Club, Fall Play, Film Club, French Club, Math (Olympians) Club, National History Day, Raider Club, Retro Gaming, Science Olympiad Team, Spanish Club, and Student Council. Seventh and eighth graders may also choose to play an interscholastic sport. Team practices occur after school.

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