Middle School

Religion

Sixth graders gain a deeper understanding of both the people and the process through which the Bible was written. They reflect more deeply on the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament), learning about how God’s people then and now are called to be faithful to a covenant. The students are called to grow and respond more in faith as they learn about the challenges and the faith of people in the Hebrew and Christian scriptures who were faithful to God. Sixth graders learn to appreciate creation more deeply and to understand more about what their responsibilities are to one another and to the world in which they live.

Language Arts

The language arts program includes the fundamental principles of English composition, grammar, spelling, listening, speaking, and thinking. The sixth grade curriculum incorporates the mastery of sentence structure and a basic understanding of the parts of speech. Units of study include editing paragraphs for capitalization, punctuation and usage. A strong vocabulary emphasizing Greek and Latin roots is developed. Using research and Google Apps for Education, students will write expository, narrative, and persuasive compositions.

Literature

The literature program will include finding textual and structural evidence, making inferences, determining theme, and exploring the author’s point of view for both literary and informational texts. Complex stories, dramas and poems will be read. Independently read novels are assigned followed by creative book reviews and reports. Class stories, dramas, and novels include works by classic and modern writers. Students are assigned group projects and discussions as well as individual reflection and close reading tasks and activities that enhance all comprehension skills.

Mathematics

The California Common Core for 6th grade math focuses on the following mathematical practices: making sense of problems and persevering in solving them, reasoning abstractly and quantitatively, constructing viable arguments and critiquing the reasoning of others, modeling with mathematics, using appropriate tools strategically, attending to precision, looking for a making use of structure, and looking for and expressing regularity in repeated reasoning. These practices are achieved through the study of the number system, expressions and equations, geometry, ratios and proportions, and statistics and probability. In the 6th grade, projects are used to reinforce course concepts. These include working with recipes to work with fractions and scale up recipes, roleplaying a packaging engineer to design the most efficient way to box and ship chocolate candies, and surveying the school to create pie charts. The web-based program Assessment and Learning in Knowledge Spaces (ALEKS) is used to supplement instruction and personalize student learning. There are two levels for 6th grade math: 6th grade at level math and 6th grade advanced math.

Science

The 6th grade science curriculum focuses on Earth Science. Students begin by exploring Earth’s place in the universe and then learn about Earth’s numerous systems and their interactions. Students complete the year by discovering how humans impact the environment and connect this to the Catholic Social Teaching theme, Caring for God’s Creation, in order to determine how we can be good stewards of our planet. All middle school science classes focus on posing scientific questions, problem solving, creating models, and performing investigations. In addition, the 6th grade class attends Outdoor School at Sempervirens, further exploring Earth’s systems and God’s creation.

Social Studies

Students review and deepen their understanding of geography, both physical and human. They also reflect on why it is important to study and understand history as well as what the work of historians is like. With a strong focus on project learning and critical thinking, sixth graders learn about the origins of human beings and our development from pre-history through ancient cultures around the world. Whether studying ancient Egypt or India, Mesopotamia, China, or Greece, among other cultures, sixth graders at St. John School blend technology with direct teaching in order to both learn the California history curriculum and progress along the Common Core for reading and writing in social studies.

Music

Surrounding your child with music can add a wonderful dimension to his or her life. Students review the values of notes and rests, work with some important vocabulary, learn about others who make music, and create their own rhythms. Students learn to explain the moods and feelings associated with their favorite songs, construct homemade instruments, create their own improvisations, and even learn to do the conga! They will hear samples of vocal music from around the world; sing in unison and in canon; listen carefully to stay “in tune” for good intonation; practice singing with pitch syllables called “solfege;” analyze arrangements with up to four different parts; work with simple harmonies in intervals such as thirds; learn the importance of communicating the words, or lyrics, of a song using clear enunciation; and identify modulations in melodies. They will learn about the important role dancing plays in the celebrations of various cultures and traditions. They will explore too the relationship between dance moves and rhythms in music. Students will create some of their own steps and experience what it’s like to be a choreographer. They will touch different musical topics. They will learn about folk music and the blues, meeting famous musicians, forms of music and how to build chords. They see how rhythm and melody come together, and they write their own rhythms and melodies. But it’s always nice to return home, and the students come back to the United States with the final lesson on rock and roll. All along this musical journey, students will learn more about meter, mode, and melody in their improvised drum. The students will do lot of hands and online activities.

Religion

Seventh grade religion focuses strongly on the life and teachings of Jesus. Students learn to more deeply understand and appreciate the New Testament, partly through learning about how, where, when, by whom, and for whom the scriptures were written. They engage the actions and teachings of Jesus and apply these to their own lives. A weekend retreat experience that is part of seventh grade builds community among the students and helps them to explore and deepen their individual faith as well.

Language Arts

The language arts program includes the fundamental principles of English composition, grammar, spelling, listening, speaking, and thinking. The seventh grade curriculum continues to build on the use of Standard English grammar and usage. Using research and Google for Education, students will write expanded expository, narrative and persuasive compositions applying a variety of sentence structures and a high level of vocabulary, organization, and word choice. A separate vocabulary program helps to increase the knowledge of words and their use to enhance student writing and speaking. The study of figurative language, word nuances and their relationships is at the core of the language arts curriculum.

Literature

The literature program will include citing textual evidence as well as explicitly finding inferences, and themes. Summarizing, determining the meaning of words and analyzing characters in complex stories, dramas and poems is emphasized. Independent and class read literary classic and modern novels and informational texts are studied. Individual works will span a variety of genres. Classic and modern authors are explored including works by, Kipling, Yep, Hoch, Cushman, Fox, O’ Henry, and Shakespeare. Students are assigned group projects and discussions as well as individual reflection and close reading tasks and activities that enhance all comprehension skills.

Mathematics

The California Common Core for 7th grade math focuses on the following mathematical practices: making sense of problems and persevering in solving them, reasoning abstractly and quantitatively, constructing viable arguments and critiquing the reasoning of others, modeling with mathematics, using appropriate tools strategically, attending to precision, looking for a making use of structure, and looking for and expressing regularity in repeated reasoning. These practices are achieved through the study of the number system, expressions and equations, geometry, ratios and proportions, and statistics and probability. In the 7th grade, projects are used to reinforce course concepts. These include creating a carnival game based on probability, analyzing statistical data collected from various school populations, and determining how equations are used to animate Pixar movies. The web-based program Assessment and Learning in Knowledge Spaces (ALEKS) is used to supplement instruction and personalize student learning. There are two levels for 7th grade math: 7th grade at level math and Pre-Algebra.

Science

The 7th grade science curriculum focuses on Life Science. Students explore the basic building blocks of life including DNA and cells. Students discover the origin of their traits through studying inheritance, and model the complexities of the human body. Ecosystem dynamics and energy flow are also explored in the course. Concepts from the course are applied to multiple Catholic Social Teaching themes including Caring for God’s Creation, Rights and Responsibilities, and the Life and Dignity of the Human Person. All middle school science classes focus on posing scientific questions, problem solving, creating models, and performing investigations.

Social Studies

Seventh graders learn about the development of global cultures from the Roman Empire through the development of Islam, dynastic China, Japan from medieval times until its emergence into the modern world, the empires and great trade cities of West and Central Africa, Medieval and Renaissance Europe, and the civilizations of Mesoamerica. The students explore these cultures through a blend of direct teaching and independent and group-based learning with a strong use of technological tools. Projects allow students to create their own products and presentations which go deeper into various aspects of the cultures they study and have a strong emphasis on critical thinking and persuasive writing and speaking.

Music

Surrounding with music can add a wonderful dimension to individual. Students review the values of notes and rest, work with some important vocabulary, learn about others who make music, and create their own rhythms. They are really starting to understand all the “music theory” that they have been learning since they were in 1st grade. It’s not just a musical symbol, but it tells them what chimes they are supposed to play! They will read the notes and rhythms and it actually produces something other than a grade in music class. They will be creating and playing music in their gifted hands. Students learn the different parts of the hand chimes. Students will begin to realize more and more that they have to work together as one to make the group really solidify as they learn hand chimes. They understand the technical aspects of playing, now they just have to put themselves into it a little more! At the end of this unit, students will create their own rhythms in meters of their own choosing. Students will learn more major keys and their minor key relatives where they can play in their hand chimes as their musical instrument. The students will do lot of hands and online activities.

Religion

Eighth graders examine and appreciate Church history and their role within the Church community now and in the future. They consider what it means to be a Catholic, delving deeply and personally into what it means to have a positive outlook on humanity, an emphasis on the importance of community, a sacramental way of looking at the world, and a faith that is not just articulated with words but lived through actions. Eighth graders at St. John School have the opportunity to prepare for and celebrate the sacrament of Confirmation, a journey which causes them to reflect in significant and consistent ways about their faith, their choices, their values, and their call in life.

Language Arts

The language arts program includes the fundamental principles of English composition, grammar, spelling, listening, speaking, and thinking. The 8th grade Curriculum focuses on a deeper understanding and development of essays. Writing activities are reflective, and analytical for expository, narrative and argumentative compositions. Students produce clear coherent writing in which the development, organizations and style are evident. A separate vocabulary program helps to increase the knowledge of words and their use to enhance student writing and speaking.

Literature

The literature program builds on previously learned concepts. Through close reading and critical reading skills students analyze lines and dialogue that propel the action and reveal aspects of a character. Students read and evaluate a range of different literary and informational texts including short stories, poems, novels and dramas. They articulate their views and ideas through writing, projects and discussions. Works by Shakespeare, Twain, Poe, Lowry and Doyle are a few of the authors studied. Students are assigned group projects and activities that enhance all comprehension skills.

Mathematics

The California Common Core for 8th grade math focuses on the following mathematical practices: making sense of problems and persevering in solving them, reasoning abstractly and quantitatively, constructing viable arguments and critiquing the reasoning of others, modeling with mathematics, using appropriate tools strategically, attending to precision, looking for a making use of structure, and looking for and expressing regularity in repeated reasoning. These practices are achieved through the study of the number system, expressions and equations, functions, geometry, and statistics and probability. In the 8th grade, projects are used to reinforce course concepts. These include plotting linear equations to create an image and determining the trajectories of parabolas by studying the motion of Angry Birds. The web-based program Assessment and Learning in Knowledge Spaces (ALEKS) is used to supplement instruction and personalize student learning. There are two levels for 8th grade math: 8th grade at level math and Algebra 1. Students who complete Algebra 1 at St. John’s are eligible for placement in higher level math classes upon entering high school.

Science

The 8th grade science curriculum focuses on Physical Science. Students begin the year working with concepts from physics including motion, momentum, forces, and energy. Knowledge gained from these units are applied to an engineering design challenge such as constructing solar ovens to roast marshmallows. Chemistry concepts are also explored through the history of the atom, the Periodic Table of Elements, and chemical reactions. All middle school science classes focus on posing scientific questions, problem solving, creating models, and performing investigations.

Social Studies

Eighth grade students learn about and reflect on the development of the American nation and culture -- its foundations, development, and challenges from before Columbus through European colonization, the beginnings of the American republic, and the expansion of the United States through the First World War. Eighth graders consider such questions as, “What does it mean to be free?” “How does the Constitution affect our lives every day?” “What can the history of our immigrant nation teach us about how to understand and face our challenges today?” and more. Through the creation of videos, websites, oral presentations, debate, and more, eighth graders at St. John School engage the themes and questions of American history in a very current and immediate way, gaining a deeper understanding of what it means to be an American in the 21st century.

Music

Students learn the different parts of the hand bells. Students will begin to realize more and more that they have to work together as one to make the group really solidify as they learn hand chimes. They understand the technical aspects of playing, now they just have to put themselves into it a little more! At the end of this unit, students will create their own rhythms in meters of their own choosing. Students will learn more major keys and their minor key relatives where they can play in their hand bells as their musical instrument. The students will do lot of hands and online activities.


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