Middle School Curriculum
The years of Middle School are a time for developing self-understanding, values, and scholarship. The Middle School provides an atmosphere of love, concern, and support within an environment directed toward the academic foundation required for college preparatory study.
- Social Studies
- English & Language Arts
- Library & Research Skills
- Physical Ed.
- Foreign Language
- Visual Arts
In fifth grade, students are introduced to units in chemistry, physics, and life science. In chemistry, students explore the structure of matter and its transformations. They identify properties of common solid, liquid, and gaseous substances while learning about atoms, molecules, and compounds. In physics, students experiment with levers, pulleys, inclined planes, wheels and axles and later engineer a complex machine to address a real-world issue. In life science, students delve into a unit in ecology. Renewable and non-renewable energy sources are explored as the physical concepts of energy are examined. Throughout each unit, students apply the scientific process and learn through guided experimentation.
In sixth grade, students study earth science. During the course of the year, students expand their understanding of the earth’s rotation and revolution; patterns of the moon; rocks and rock strata; plate tectonics; ecosystems and natural disasters; weather and climate; the role of water in the earth’s surface; erosion; and issues facing Louisiana’s coastline. Throughout the year, students continue to apply the scientific process through guided laboratory investigations.
Seventh grade students study life science and investigate the structure, function, and processes of cells, including cell transport, photosynthesis, cellular respiration, and cell division. Students also study DNA, genetics, evolution, and the human body systems with an in depth study of the human brain and sensory perception. Throughout the year, students are involved in many different hands-on experiences, including exploration of the body using the synthetic human SynDaver, dissection of a cow’s eye, and the development of a prosthetic hand utilizing TinkerCad and 3-D printers.
In eighth grade, students are eligible to receive an Upper School Carnegie Unit. This course integrates concepts in chemistry, physics, and applied mathematics. During the course of the year, students explore the types of matter, elements, compounds, and mixtures, the periodic table, potential and kinetic energy, energy transfer and phase change, fluids and gas laws, forces, gravity, Newton’s laws, and energy resources. Students practice experimental design and learn to think analytically using cross-disciplinary applications. Inquiry is encouraged, and hands-on laboratories and collaborative projects are integral parts of the program.
The fifth grade social studies course develops a global perspective through the study of the early civilizations of Egypt, the Near East, India, China, Greece, and Rome. Students discover the achievements of these ancient cultures and critique how they continue to influence the modern world. Geography is taught within the context of each unit as students learn to annotate nonfiction text and develop evidence-based essays. Simulations, research, and technology are integrated into classroom activities on a regular basis.
The sixth grade course covers the study of human geography movement and impact through a stimulating case-study approach to geography. Lessons include modern human-environment interaction issues such as urban sprawl, shrinking water sources, population density crises, and the effects of monsoons. In the spring, students complete a unit on Louisiana’s history and geography. In conjunction with their social studies program, students also learn financial literacy skills and participate in a "Hearts for Humanity" social entrepreneurship project.
In the seventh grade course, students study the legacy of the Roman Empire, the development of feudalism in Western Europe, the Roman Catholic church in medieval Europe, Islam in medieval times, and Japan’s Golden Age. Students also study current events, conduct research, and participate in simulations to bring history to life.
In the eighth grade American history course, the chronology begins with the first Americans and the European colonization of the New World. An overview of the American Revolution, the United States Constitution, the Civil War, industrialization, and World War II are examined through several lenses including geography, economics, and immigration. Students are encouraged to make connections between concepts studied and current events; read primary sources and secondary text; and create evidence-based essays, research papers, and oral presentations.
All students in Middle School are issued a school owned Chromebook. Students continue to learn how to safely and responsibly navigate social media and the internet. They develop skills through the Google platform, practice keyboarding, and apply concepts learned to complement a variety of academic domains through the development of PowerPoints, blogs, website, videos, research, and storyboards.
The eighth grade program integrates technology in all classes. Electives in digital production and Innovation Lab provide students with opportunities to develop skills in movie making and television production, 3-D printing, web page design, the development of blogs, and the Google platform tools.
ENGLISH & LANGUAGE ARTS
In fifth grade, students read and write in a variety of genres within a program that integrates literary analysis, the mechanics of writing, vocabulary development, grammar, and usage. During Reading Workshop, students read a high volume of novels and expository text at their individual instructional level to develop fluency and comprehension skills. In Writing Workshop, students analyze the craft and structure of mentor text and write research papers, opinion essays, and narrative stories. The writing process of brainstorming, drafting, and revising is an intrinsic part of each unit, and students celebrate their culminating projects through presentations to hone their public speaking skills.
The sixth grade course combines the study of grammar, literature, composition, and vocabulary as students read novels, short stories, plays, poetry, and nonfiction texts. Students review characterization, setting, plot, and theme, and more advanced terms such as conflict, symbolism, personification, and irony are explored. In Writing Workshop, students craft powerful life stories through personal narratives, compose literary essays, and write evidence-based research reports. Grammar is woven into lessons through daily oral exercises and structured lessons. Attention is given to the review and reinforcement of parts of speech and the function of each in a sentence. Presentations encourage students to apply the skills of oral communication and build their confidence as public speakers.
In seventh grade. students read historical fiction, realistic fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. They learn to make logical inferences and cite specific textual evidence to support conclusions. During the course of the year, students analyze how and why characters, events, and ideas develop and interact. Emphasis is placed on interpreting words and phrases, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings. In Writing Workshop, students create a realistic narrative, focusing on symbolism and character development. Students then develop argument and research-based essays, using words, phrases, and clauses to clarify the relationship among claims and reasons. The year ends with a unit on literary analysis. In grammar, students learn to consistently apply subject-verb and pronoun-antecedent agreement, as well as correct inappropriate fragment and run-on sentences in their writing. They also learn to recognize and correct inappropriate shifts in verb tenses and correctly use punctuation to separate items in a series, as well as to use a comma to coordinate adjectives.
This English/language arts course in eighth grade prepares students for success in the Upper School through a journey into investigative journalism, literary analysis, and research-based argument essays. Emphasis is placed on creating arguments and cultivating unity and precision in written work for an authentic audience. In conjunction with the writing process, students develop new strategies for prewriting, drafting, revising, and editing their work. Reading complements the writing program as students analyze fiction, nonfiction, and poetry for structure and craft. Vocabulary is enriched through the study of roots, prefixes, and suffixes. Grammar is taught for the purpose of improving writing style and includes a unit on usage and common grammatical issues. Sentence parts, clauses, phrases, and verbals are also reviewed, and writing with more sophisticated sentence patterns is stressed.
Numbers, skills, and mathematics concepts are linked to contexts that are relevant to everyday life. FIfth grade mathematicians participate in open-ended problem solving, hands-on explorations, and ongoing practice. In fifth grade, students develop fluency with addition and subtraction of fractions, integrate decimals and fractions into the place value system, and extend division to two-digit divisors. The pre-algebra and geometry foundation skills are developed, and students are provided with opportunities to apply new skills to cross curriculum topics.
In sixth grade, mathematicians continue to participate in open-ended problem solving, hands-on explorations, long-term projects, and ongoing practice. This course focuses on procedures, concepts, and applications of the following critical areas: connecting ratio and rate to whole number multiplication and division; division of fractions; rational numbers, including negative numbers; writing, interpreting, and using expressions and equations; and developing the understanding of statistical thinking.
Seventh grade instructional time focuses on problem solving and mathematical concepts including integers; rational numbers; expressions and equations; inequalities; ratios and proportions; percent; constructions and scale drawings; circles and areas; surface and area; and probabilities and statistics. In seventh grade there is also an accelerated seventh grade math course where Instructional time focuses on problem solving and mathematical concepts including integers; rational numbers; expressions and equations; inequalities; ratios and proportions; percent; constructions and scale drawings; circles and areas; surface and area; and probabilities and statistics; transformations; angles and triangles, linear equations; real numbers and pythagorean theorem; volume and similar solids; and exponents and scientific notation.
The Introduction to Algebra course is a course that introduces and expands upon fundamental mathematical skills that are the building blocks needed for success later in Upper School mathematics courses such as algebra, geometry, and calculus and includes three critical areas: (1) formulating and reasoning about expressions and equations, including modeling an association in bivariate data with a linear equation and solving linear equations and systems of linear equations; (2) grasping the concept of a function and using functions to describe quantitative relationships; and (3) analyzing two- and three-dimensional space and figures using distance, angle, similarity, and congruence and understanding and applying the Pythagorean Theorem.
The prerequisite for the Algebra I course is mastery of procedures and concepts covered in grade 7 mathematics. This course progresses at an accelerated rate, with an emphasis on the exploration of new content. Concepts studied in the course include linear equations and inequalities, systems of equations and inequalities, absolute value, operations with exponents, and quadratic equations.
LIBRARY & RESEARCH SKILLS
The Middle School curriculum incorporates library and research skills through integration with the classroom curriculum. These skills are taught contextually and in conjunction with assignments and projects through the use of print and non-print media including the library’s physical collection, subscription databases, audio-visual materials, and online presentation tools.
Physical education courses are designed to encourage students to develop their levels of health, well-being, and fitness. Fifth grade students progress to more advanced team sport skills and strategies. Activities include softball, hockey, volleyball, basketball, badminton, golf, soccer, flag football, track, and recreational games. Perseverance and collaboration are emphasized. Basic health-related fitness concepts are reviewed, such as fitness, nutrition, and first aid techniques.
This introductory course exposes students to a semester of French and a semester of Spanish as they transition from the Lower School into the Middle School language program. Fundamental grammatical structures are introduced with an increased emphasis on linguistic skills (listening, comprehension, speaking, and writing). Students develop basic communication skills and build vocabulary through the kinesthetic Accelerated Integrated Methodology (AIM). Culture and family life are also explored and compared.
In sixth grade, students choose between either French or Spanish and continue with this language for two years. This yearlong course develops the student’s ability to communicate in a language other than English and gain knowledge and understanding of other cultures. Equal emphasis is placed on aural and oral skills, reading, and writing. Students continue to learn through the kinesthetic Accelerated Integrated Methodology (AIM).
The emphasis is on developing conversational skills and building a repertoire of vocabulary to augment writing and aural fluency. Students learn idiomatic expressions, conjugate regular and irregular verbs, read and translate text, and participate in collaborative activities to hone their conversational skills.
Upon successful completion of the course, students are eligible to receive an Upper School Carnegie Unit. This in-depth course continues the development of the concepts taught in the introductory courses. The instruction is student-centered and provides a balanced focus on listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills. A deeper study of the grammatical elements of the language, an expansion of vocabulary, and an exploration of literature in the target language complete the level I course.
The course reviews the central beliefs, practices, and traditions of the Catholic faith. Prayer, scripture, and guided self-reflection are integral components of the program. Themes include the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity, the role of Mary in the Church, and the Church as the Body of Christ.
Love and service to God and the world are presented as essential elements of Christian life. This formation course focuses on the study of the Old Testament, God’s call, and our response. Students become familiar with the stories of our sacred history and investigate the meaning of covenant as a special love relationship with God, approaching it from both a historical and a personal perspective. The course ends with an introduction to the New Testament and a look at the climate into which Jesus was born. Prayer, reflection, and engaging activities are an integral part of this program.
The program is soundly grounded in scripture, church tradition, and prayer. It offers the students everything they need to inspire and guide them in their faith formation, providing engaging developmentally appropriate content and faith experience for adolescents. The content is rich in content and complemented by thoughtful prayer, service, and engaging experiences that draw in young people to fully learn and express their faith.
The eighth grade theology course is a Christ-centered curriculum based on sacred scripture. The goal is to help students become better disciples of Jesus, more open to the Holy Spirit, and stronger in their faith life. Students explore and discover the scripture, traditions, and teachings of the Church through engaging activities, service, and reflection.
Fifth grade students are introduced to the seven elements of music (pitch, duration, pace, dynamics, structure, texture, and timbre) and are taught to recognize, perform, and write melodic and rhythmic patterns. During their music lessons, they are exposed to a variety of styles, instruments, composers, and forms. Units on Asian and Middle Eastern music add depth to their understanding of cultures studied in social studies. Throughout the course, students learn and practice ensemble pieces of varying complexity and are provided with opportunities to perform at the annual Christmas concert and spring HeArt Festival. Students are also invited to join the Middle School Choir and perform at several events in New Orleans during the school year.
Students in sixth grade further examine the seven elements of music with emphasis on pitch, melody, and dynamics. Following review, students are taught to recognize, perform, and write increasingly complex melodic and rhythmic patterns. Students are exposed to styles, composers, forms, and instruments inherent in jazz, blues, and folk music in conjunction with their social studies unit on Louisiana’s history. Throughout the year, students learn vocal techniques and practice and perform ensemble pieces for public performance at the Christmas concert and spring HeArt Festival. Students are also invited to join the Middle School Choir and perform at several events in New Orleans during the school year.
Students enroll in a music elective. During this course they learn how to recognize harmonic progressions and to take more advanced rhythmic, melodic, and harmonic dictation. Students delve into medieval and Renaissance music to complement their units in social studies as they continue to learn vocal techniques and practice them collectively. Unison as well as two- and three-part songs are prepared for public performance at the Christmas concert and spring HeARTS Fest. Students are also invited to join the Middle School Choir and perform at several events in New Orleans during the school year.
In the 6th grade Drama class, students are taught techniques to build confidence in speaking in front of others by focusing on oratory projects during the first semester. In the second semester the focus turns towards monologues and scene work, finishing the school year with a performance.
In the 8th grade Drama class, the focus is on the 8th grade musical. The grade will produce and perform this production at the end of the school year. They will learn all production values that go into putting on a show, from auditioning to performing, from directing to tech/backstage management. Every student will participate and we look forward to working with them all.
Fifth grade Visual Arts students develop their skills in drawing, painting, ceramics, and mixed medium while studying works of art that contributed to the cultural heritage of ancient civilizations. Students grow in their understanding of perspective and design as they experiment with composition and color theory. Aesthetic appreciation, art criticism, and a group exhibition at the annual HeArt Festival complete the course.
In sixth grade, students continue to develop their understanding of composition, perspective, texture, color, and proportion. Life drawing is introduced, and emphasis is online and form. During the course of the year, students develop ceramic vessels, yarn sculptures, and paintings based on Rothko’s work, and they create land art in conjunction with their science unit on coastal restoration and ecology.
In the Visual Arts course in seventh grade, students embark on a figurative drawing unit; using a skeleton and the human SynDaver as a model to complement their work in science. Students also study one- and two-point perspective and proportion as they explore medieval architecture and create platters and bowls using Renaissance ceramics as a reference.
Eighth grade art students will focus on two major projects this during the course of the year. In the fall, they will learn the art of printmaking while studying artist Walter Anderson. During the spring semester students will design and create their own functioning lamp, complete with shade and a ceramic base. Sprinkled throughout the year there will be lessons on drawing and painting to further the knowledge they gained in years past.
In fifth and sixth grade. students are introduced to ballet, modern, contemporary, jazz, and musical theater dance. Students learn and choreograph dances to develop a greater sense of spatial awareness, coordination, flexibility, confidence, and creativity. During this course, students conduct and present research on individuals who have made significant contributions to the field and participate in a dance performance during the annual HeART Fest.
Students take a semester of dance in the seventh and eighth grade. This is a project-based curriculum focused on movement composition. Students cultivate tools for their own choreography, participate in a group creative process, and practice structures for giving and receiving constructive criticism. Students participate in a dance performance during the annual HeART Fest.
For more information about Middle School, contact:
Ashley Zito, Director of Admission