Middle School Curriculum
Our day in the classroom starts at 8 a.m. and ends at 3 p.m. Students attend seven classes daily with 30-minute study hall at the end of each day.
Sequenced and integrated study of vocabulary, grammar, literature, and composition.
Middle School English is a blend of grammar, writing, vocabulary, spelling, and literature. We work hard to incorporate all of these elements throughout the year. Sixth grade English has a strong focus on grammar. The goal is to introduce the basics (parts of speech) while covering other frame-work topics, like complements, prepositional phrases, and clauses. A strong grammar base helps students immensely throughout the rest of middle and high school. The introduction of the five-paragraph essay, and working on this skill so early, makes a positive impact on their writing in later years.
Like sixth grade, the seventh grade curriculum covers grammar, writing, vocabulary, spelling, and literature. However, the focus shifts more to writing. Students explore certain grammar concepts in-depth and usually do so by incorporating what they have learned into their own writing. They continue to work on five-paragraph literary analysis essays and are introduced to the book review, which is another way to critically explore the material read.
The goals of eighth grade English are to provide students with the grammatical terminology and knowledge necessary to discuss and implement correct usage, correct punctuation, and improved sentence structure. Intensive composition, reading, vocabulary, and grammar skills are integrated with presentation, technology, and collaborative skills. Students read a variety of literary genres and gain facility in literary analysis. Lessons and assignments are specifically focused on preparing students for college preparatory high school curricula.
Differentiated classes in each grade. Opportunities for high school credit in Algebra I.
The sixth grade math course continues to develop skills in addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division of whole numbers, decimals, and fractions. Geometry concepts, measurements, statistics, and ratios are covered, and the topic of integers, variables, expressions, and equations are introduced. The focus in every chapter is on problem solving, critical thinking, and number sense. This course is designed to provide a solid foundation for pre-algebra.
Students are placed into Introduction to Pre-Algebra or Pre-Algebra based upon class performance, teacher and parent recommendations, and standardized testing.
Introduction to Pre-Algebra: This course establishes and reinforces foundational skills in preparation for pre-algebra and algebra concepts. Strong emphasis is placed upon integer and rational arithmetic, equations, proportions, and geometrical concepts. The use of mental math to solve daily problems and to estimate correct answers is encouraged.
Pre-Algebra: This course covers integral and real arithmetic, exponents, first-degree polynomials, equations and their solutions, inequalities, radicals, probability, and statistics. Coordinate geometry is also explored. The use of critical thinking skills is necessary for understanding the elements of pre-algebra.
Students are placed into Intro to Algebra or Algebra I based upon class performance, teacher and parent recommendations, and standardized testing.
Intro to Algebra I: This course begins with the review and reinforcement of pre-algebraic skills and concepts. It encompasses foundation work in arithmetic, number theory, algebra, geometry, and probability. Topics from these include integer and rational arithmetic, writing and solving equations, graphing linear equations and inequalities, and geometric formulae. This course prepares students to take Algebra I in high school.
Algebra I: This is a high school course offered at the Middle School level. The course begins with a comprehensive review of integral arithmetic, operations with real numbers, exponents, graphs, solutions of equations and inequalities, ratio, proportion, percent, and geometry concepts. Algebra I studies products and factors of polynomials, inequalities, systems of equations and inequalities in two variables, radicals, quadratic functions, and geometry. Higher order thinking skills are required. Students who successfully complete this course are awarded high school credit.
The sixth grade travels throughout time and studies the world focusing on different cultures and geography. The journey begins in the ancient world from the beginning of human society to the Renaissance. Students are introduced to the geography, landforms, climate, environment, and resources of ancient civilizations. The course focuses on the spread of civilizations throughout the world, the early modern world, and present time. Map work is an integral part of the curriculum.
The seventh grade American history curriculum emphasizes the culture, political, social, economic, and geographic development of the United States from the Civil War through the Great Depression. Students begin to apply this core knowledge by making connections and recognizing the continuity between the ideas, events, and people of history and their lives now. Students build on previous research skills acquired in sixth grade to develop individual projects related to American history for the annual Social Studies Fair. They also examine and analyze written and visual information related to current events. Guided and independent note-taking skills are practiced along with developing essay writing through document-based questions.
First Semester: The eighth grade first semester curriculum emphasizes the cultural, political, social, economic, and geographic development of the United States from World War II through the Middle East conflicts. Students continue to build on core knowledge as they make connections and recognize the continuity between the ideas, events, and people of history and their lives now. Several methods of independent note-taking skills are introduced and practiced, thus allowing students to help determine individual learning styles. Students continue to develop comprehensive essay writing skills and build on document-based questions.
Second Semester: Louisiana history is designed to give students the opportunity to explore their own ethnic and cultural backgrounds as well as those of others. They also experience the rich and varied natural resources and geographical regions of our state. By studying our past, they gain a better understanding of our future.
The study of science changes beginning in Middle School. Where the elementary grades study all three areas of science–earth science, life science, and physical science–Middle School allows the students the opportunity to concentrate on one area of science for an entire year. Eighth grade students have the opportunity to earn high school credit in physical science.
Life science is the study of living things and their environment, including cytology, genetics, microbiology, botany, human anatomy, physiology, and ecology. In this class, students are active participants in the learning process through laboratory activities, computer interactives, and virtual labs using biological concepts. Students also participate in community projects to broaden their understanding of biology in action.
In eighth grade, students study physical science, which is the introduction to chemistry and physics. The class focuses on learning through experience; students complete labs, virtual experiments, and projects to grow in their understanding of the covered topics. Students also learn through reading and writing in scientific context. All students will complete a year-long Experimental Design Project. Students have the opportunity to earn high school credit for successfully completing this course.
The goal of our Middle School world language program is to give students a solid base in French or Spanish that allows them to communicate proficiently, derive meaning from text and media, and make cultural connections globally. Students focus on the four key areas of language study—listening, speaking, reading, and writing—in a way that makes language learning meaningful, relevant, and engaging. All the components of a French I or Spanish I high school course are covered over the three years of Middle School. Students have the opportunity to earn a French I or Spanish I high school credit and move into French II or Spanish II in ninth grade.
The sixth grade course focuses on the basics and a wide range of vocabulary topics to build a strong foundation for seventh and eighth grades. Students learn and use the conjugations of regular -er verbs and the irregular verbs avoir and être. An appreciation of French culture and the cultures of francophone countries is developed.
The ¡Así se Dice textbook consists of 11 chapters, each one introducing a new vocabulary theme and grammar concept, reading, listening comprehension, speaking and writing activities, multimedia cultural presentations, and interactive activities which reinforce the learning. Sixth graders study the first five chapters of the textbook. There is a strong emphasis on context and conversational examples in each unit. Students should expect to become familiar with common vocabulary words, comprehend a wide range of grammar patterns, participate in simple conversations, respond appropriately to basic conversational prompts, and analyze and compare cultural practices by the time they graduate from Middle School. Sixth grade Spanish class meets every day. Daily work and practice is done in class to reinforce the learning.
Students review and then extend the French they learned during sixth grade. Vocabulary and grammar concepts are built on, allowing students to talk and write more about themselves, their classmates, and their families. Grammar concepts such as adjectives, possession, and asking and answering complex questions are studied in greater details. All three forms of regular verbs (-er, -ir, and -re) are studied as well as the irregular verbs avoir, être, faire, aller, and venir. Students study basic French geography and investigate similarities and differences between American culture and French culture.
The ¡Así se Dice textbook consists of 11 chapters, each one introducing a new vocabulary theme and grammar concept, reading, listening comprehension, speaking and writing activities, multimedia cultural presentations, and interactive activities which reinforce the learning. Seventh grade students cover chapters 6, 9, 10 and 11. There is a strong emphasis on context and conversational examples in each unit. Students should expect to become familiar with common vocabulary words, comprehend a wide range of grammar patterns, participate in simple conversations, respond appropriately to basic conversational prompts, and analyze and compare cultural practices by the time they graduate from Middle School.
After a review of material learned in sixth and seventh grades, eighth grade students begin working at a much higher level of proficiency in the French language. New grammar concepts include demonstrative and interrogative adjectives, numerous irregular verbs, and the passé composé with both auxiliary verbs avoir and être. Students are able to express their opinions on a variety of topics, discuss activities they currently do, things they did in the past, and things they plan to do in the future. Students complete paragraph-long writing assignments and continue their study of the cultures of francophone countries through authentic digital resources.
The ¡Así se Dice textbook consists of 11 chapters, each one introducing a new vocabulary theme and grammar concept, reading, listening comprehension, speaking and writing activities, multimedia cultural presentations, and interactive activities which reinforce the learning. There is a strong emphasis on context and conversational examples in each unit. Students should expect to become familiar with common vocabulary words, comprehend a wide range of grammar patterns, participate in simple conversations, respond appropriately to basic conversational prompts, and analyze and compare cultural practices by the time they graduate from Middle School.
Students will have a complete review and concentrate on reading, culture, writing, and speaking in eighth grade. At the end of Middle School, students will be prepared to pass the Spanish proficiency test to earn credit for Spanish I in high school.
- 6th Grade: Survey of the New Testament
- 7th Grade: Comparative World Religions
- 8th Grade: The Church & the Christian Life
This course surveys the New Testament, particularly the writings about the life, teachings, and message of Jesus Christ as found in the four canonical gospels. Students learn about Jesus and his early followers, what the world was like in their time, and how their message has been interpreted and understood by millions of Christians from the past through today.
The required survey course is an interesting and insightful look at the major religions and their significant elements such as history and beliefs, traditions and practices, ceremonies and holidays, sacred writing, and places of worship.
Beginning with the students' own sense of religious identity, the exploration into the world of the “other” helps students understand the differences that make each of us unique and the similarities in attempting to interpret and cope with the challenges of the human experience.
This course serves as the final Christian Education course at St. Mark’s Cathedral School. It is designed to help students have a clear understanding of the history of the Church and of the Christian beliefs and values that have undergirded their education at St. Mark’s as we begin to think about how these beliefs and values will support and guide them in high school and beyond.
Our studies include units on family religious backgrounds, church history and denominations, and faith in action. The course includes all necessary components of instruction for Confirmation in the Episcopal Church. Students are not required to be confirmed, but all eighth graders will be eligible for confirmation, subject to any additional requirements of the Dean or Bishop.
The Middle School physical education program plays an important part of the total educational principals of each student, through the medium of sport, movement, and safety. Through the exposure to a wide variety of activities, students gain the necessary knowledge to understand the importance of and make educated decisions around opportunities to achieve and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
6th Grade Electives
Sixth grade students take one of the following electives per quarter in addition to one quarter of Christian education.
Art History is a comprehensive survey of art and paintings, from prehistoric cave paintings to modern art. The course is taught by lecture and supplemented occasionally with short brain-pop videos. A test is given after every section of study. Small projects corresponding to each lesson will follow, if time allows. Periods of art studied include Prehistoric, Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Middle Ages, Renaissance, Mannerism, Baroque, Dutch painting, Rococo, Neoclassical, Romanticism, Realism, Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Cubism, Fauvism, Pop Art, and Surrealism.
The sixth grade computers class uses technology projects designed to teach technology skills in a hands-on manner. Projects focus on specific technology skills such as word processing, presentation, graphics, and spreadsheets, while other projects combine software to encourage students to transfer their skills from one application to another. Each skill is taught explaining how to use the software in step-by-step instructions. Students then practice the skill to complete a meaningful task. Review activities are used to help students gain confidence in using their skills. Students also learn email procedures, internet search techniques, and basic coding skills.
Students learn how to use the following applications included in Google Apps for Education:
Sixth grade writing is an extension of the writing component in the sixth grade English class. The course gives students the opportunity to develop and hone their writing skills to build a solid foundation in writing that will serve them in any subject area for all of Middle School and into high school. Students practice multiple forms of writing and have the chance to show off their creative side.
7th & 8th Grade Electives
This list is an overview of current enrichment offerings and is subject to change year to year.
- Applied Art I
- Applied Art II
- Computer Applications
- Computer Keyboarding
- Crime Scene Investigation: Forensic Science
- History Through Movies
- Human Body
- Life Skills I
- Life Skills II
- Local History
- Lost Heroes of History
- Study Skills (7th Grade)
- The Wonderful World of Words
A continuation of Applied Art I that is designed to better prepare Middle School students who have taken Art I for the curriculum of high school. The elements and principles of art are stressed, as well as composition and technique in more sophisticated projects.
Prerequisite: Applied Art I
This course may be taken more than once during Middle School.
This course is designed to enhance both knowledge and laboratory skills in physics, chemistry, and biology. Students develop their critical thinking skills as they learn forensic science. Topics of this laboratory-based course include observation, hair and fiber analysis, powder analysis, fingerprints, chromatography, blood typing, and DNA analysis. At the end of the course, there will be a crime for which the students apply all the skills and content knowledge they have learned.
This course requires teacher approval based on science grades, level of classroom cooperation, and ability to work well in the laboratory.
This course explores history through movies. Students watch one movie each week and discuss the historic aspects of the movie–was the movie accurate with regards to history, or did the director change a historic event in making the movie? Students write weekly movie reviews and present them to the class. Students have the opportunity to be creative with their reviews in the way they choose to present them to the class–they become the directors of their own critics' review show.
Students will watch the following movies (list is tentative; some titles may change as students progress through the course):
- The Last Emperor (PG-13, 1987) - The story of Puyi, the last Chinese emperor before Communist rule
- Gandhi (PG, 1982) - Biopic on Gandhi
- Far and Away (PG-13, 1992) - Oklahoma land grab and immigration
- Seabiscuit (PG-13, 2003) - Biopics set during the Great Depression
- Remember the Titans (PG, 2000) - Events following integration in high schools; football story
- Mr. Smith Goes To Washington (Not rated, 1939) - How Congress is a members-only club
- John Adams (Not rated, 2008) - HBO miniseries based on the life of John Adams (first episode only)
- Casablanca (PG, 1942)
- The Monuments Men (PG-13, 2014)
In Life Skills I, students explore food preparation techniques and the science behind the recipe. Essential skills include kitchen safety and sanitation, measuring techniques, cooking terminology, kitchen equipment, and reading a recipe. Discovering how ingredients interact to impact the final product enhances cooking lab experiences.
Students explore hand and machine sewing to construct a pillowcase that reflects their style and creativity. As part of the sewing unit, students learn to select and care for clothing.
Students learn about personal finance. Emphasis in this unit is placed on wise decision making.
This course is an extension of Life Skills I and integrates a variety of curricular areas such as math, science, health, and artistic design. Students improve their skills in food preparation and sewing. Food safety is emphasized, and recipes are more complex. To further develop sewing skills, students complete a sewing project that reflects personal interest and ability. A child development unit introduces how children (birth to five years) learn through play.
Prerequisite: Life Skills I (preferred but not required)
Explore the making of our world. Dive into the past and learn the mysteries of our country and how our world came to be a diverse place of learning and culture. In this class, students explore the people and places who fashioned our nation and world by their achievements. Students will create a mini-capstone project that will explore a person of interest for each student.
Have you ever wondered how people could get up in front of a crowd and give a speech that is both humorous and interesting? The speech/public speaking enrichment course is designed to show you how! This course is intended to better prepare students for successfully writing and giving a coherent and well-rounded speech. Students learn techniques to overcome stage fright as well as how to outline and research speech topics. Through the comprehensive study of how to organize a speech, be a good audience, and give as well as receive constructive criticism, students will be more prepared to give speeches in other classes as well as demonstrate their knowledge to their class through the use of practice speeches such as a how-to speech or a persuasive speech.
This course uses The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens book and workbook by Sean Covey. Students examine study skills such as how to take better notes, how to be an active listener, and test-taking tips/strategies. One day a week is devoted to cursive writing skills and one day to dedicated leisure reading. Students also explore/practice skills that can be incorporated into everyday Middle School life.
Open to 7th grade students only