Overview of curriculum for grades 6-8
Middle School Curriculum
Middle School students complete seven class periods each day. Academic courses include Literacy Instruction (Reading, Language Therapy, Language Connections, Language Arts), Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, and Physical Education. Elective courses include Introduction to Drama, Visual Arts, and Computer Applications.
Literacy is the ability to read, write, listen with understanding, and speak. The Fairhill Literacy Committee has worked to create an academic program to support the goals of literacy in a way that meets the individual needs of each student.
Language Connections for Grades 6-8
The Take Flight curriculum is a sequential and structured language program designed to teach reading, spelling, handwriting and alphabet skills. This program was developed by the staff of Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children and is based on Orton-Gillingham principles for dyslexia intervention.
The multi-sensory program continues through the middle school grades to refine secondary reading and spelling skills. The emphasis of Take Flight at this level is to reinforce the automatic response to reading, spelling, and writing and to utilize those skills in a variety of applications.
Language Connections for Grade 6
Based on research on developmental spelling and word knowledge, the framework of the Language Connections class provides an exploration of spelling or orthographic knowledge as words are examined for relationships, sounds, spelling patterns, and meanings. Students examine, manipulate, and categorize words with a discovery approach resulting in more confident, proficient, and joyful readers/writers as literacy skills are developed. This approach provides students with the skills to retain, internalize and transfer valuable knowledge for improved results in all areas of literacy including written expression. Cursive writing instruction and practice will be incorporated into this curriculum.
The Language Arts/ English course emphasizes the writing process. Students complete a variety of essay styles and critically assess their work through a writing portfolio. Each project focuses on the different phases of the writing process: prewriting, writing, revising, editing, and publishing. Elements of grammar and new vocabulary words are introduced through daily lessons and writing projects. This course complements the reading/literature course.
The reading curriculum is an interactive program that involves both decoding and comprehension. Students are given opportunities to learn, practice, and apply strategies as part of a dynamic process. Instruction is meaning based and integrates listening, speaking, reading, writing, spelling, and critical thinking. A variety of instructional activities accommodate different learning styles and varying language proficiencies. An eclectic approach involves both phonetic and whole language classroom instruction. Class time is divided between use of a literature-based text and novel units.
As readers advance, they study extensively in multiple genres from world literature for such purposes as enjoyment, gathering information, learning about, and appreciating the writer’s craft, as well as discovering models for their own writing. Students respond to texts through class discussion and writing, connecting their knowledge of the world and the knowledge they gather through reading to engage in and develop higher critical thinking skills.
Additional Core Curriculum
Math instruction focuses on developing number concepts from concrete experiences to abstract understanding. Each concept is introduced at the concrete level with a variety of manipulatives. Instruction progresses through semi-concrete and abstract levels as the student demonstrates an understanding of the concept. In addition to concept development, problem-solving emphasized. Students are taught to think mathematically to apply their mathematics understanding and skills to solve problems.
The 8th grade math course builds upon the single and coherent strand of concepts learned in grades 6 and 7 so that students may develop a solid foundation on which to build their mathematical skills. The introduction of concepts is followed by repeated practice through a variety of methods that benefit basic conceptual understanding and problem-solving skills in the areas of quantitative reasoning, relationships and algebraic thinking, geometry and spatial reasoning, measurement, and probability and statistics.
Those 8th grade students who are ready for a more challenging math curriculum may begin taking Algebra I prior to entering high school grades. Algebra I students use functions to represent and model problem situations, set up equations, and use a variety of methods to solve these equations. Lessons focus on solving linear equations and quadratic equations using models, tables, graphs, and algebraic methods. Students completing this course in the 8th grade receive high school credit.
The emphasis of the science program is to expand the students’ base of scientific knowledge as well as develop their abstract thinking skills. The emphasis of this course teaches an integrated program unifying all areas of science, touching on the basic elements found in ecology, geology, biology, chemistry, and physical science. Through varying forms of media, class discussions, and lab experiments, students address concepts such as genetics; ecosystems; geologic time and Earth’s history; the Solar System; the Periodic Table and chemical reactions; and physical reactions related to electricity, magnetism, sound, and light.
Students are given opportunities to observe, measure, infer, make judgments, analyze data, test hypotheses, and conduct experiments. Discussions and experiments focus on learning through guided discovery.
The content and concepts of social studies involve history, geography, political science, economics, and sociology. Each of these disciplines provides an understanding of human relationships and our world, past and present. The content is introduced and reinforced through a variety of learning modes including dramatizations, discussions, research, and project-based learning. Middle school topics include an introduction to World History in 6th grade, Texas history in 7th grade, and American History in 8th grade. Historical insights are related to current events using periodicals, and map skills are strengthened.
The goal of physical education is to develop attitudes, skills, and knowledge of movement that will result in lifetime participation in physical activity to maintain physical fitness. To attain this goal there is a focus on developing fundamental movement skills and fitness skills. Middle school students are introduced to a variety of sports including required fitness, athletic skill development, and game rules with an emphasis on participation for enjoyment and challenge.
The technology program implements educational technologies into the classroom, enhancing the learning process and expanding the skills and capabilities of all students. The students learn word processing, graphic design, spreadsheet applications that include charts and graphs, slide show productions, and research techniques using various electronic reference tools. Content specific software programs support and reinforce the academic curriculum through classroom instruction.
Introduction to Drama
The Introduction to Drama course includes an improvisational approach to drama techniques and the beginning elements of performance. Participation in the introduction to drama course has the potential to develop communication skills, problem solving skills, and creativity, and performance skills. The course promotes a positive self-concept, social awareness, empathy, clarification of values and attitudes, and an understanding of the art of theater.
“Visual Art” is expressing and symbolizing concepts within a level of literacy comparable to the verbal and perceptual development of the child. This is achieved through emphases on development of the senses as related to form, texture, color, line, and the many ways in which these elements affect our lives. Full understanding of the elements of art, will result in a “visual literacy” or the ability to express and communicate to others in non-verbal terms.
Art students experience hands-on activities while learning to strengthen observation skills, concepts of spatial relationships, art terminology, and their understanding of various art techniques and mediums. Making connections to various artists and periods of art history, they also gain respect for and generate pieces built upon individual differences and creativity.
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Fairhill family for 7 years