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Middle School Curriculum

Fifth Grade

Ancient History
The course expands the students' knowledge of cultures and history other than their own through coursework, research projects, and field trips. It develops appreciation for the contributions of ancient civilizations to our modern society.

Art
Art correlates with the world history class as students learn how and why artists expressed themselves beginning with cave paintings through the Renaissance. Studio work includes expressive use of line, figure drawing, sculpture, painting, linear perspective, and printmaking. A trip to the Kimbell Art Museum allows students to view works of art from ancient civilizations through the early twentieth century.

DEAR/Accelerated Reader
DEAR stands for Drop Everything And Read, during which fifth graders read for enjoyment. This ties in with the Accelerated Reader program, a computer-based comprehension testing system used to encourage extracurricular reading throughout Lower and Middle schools. Students increase their reading skills while being recognized for their achievements.

English 
The course aims to develop further the knowledge of grammar, to increase vocabulary, to teach creative writing, and to foster good reading habits, concentrating on the appreciation of good literature. The study of spelling continues, with emphasis on learning general rules rather than memorization of letters.

Exploring Language
Students study Spanish and Chinese for a semester each in preparation for choosing a modern language in sixth grade.  In both classes, students will explore the fundamentals of language and culture. 

Mathematics
This course is meant to bridge the gap from Arithmetic into the beginning stages of Algebra and Geometry. We will use traditional classroom methods in addition to computer programs/games during Activities period such as: Geometer's Sketch-pad, the Factory, Building Perspectives and Fraction Attraction to familiarize our students with the course's more abstract topics. The students learn fractions, metric conversion, geometry of planar and spatial objects, graphs, decimals, percentage, operations and signed numbers and basic probability. Speed and accuracy in addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division are emphasized.

Music
Listening skills are sharpened to foster good music appreciation habits. Students create and perform a music program and a talent show. Rounds, songs for part-singing, songs with foreign language texts, descants, and songs for group singing are introduced. Canons, descants, and compositions with two independent melodies are used in part-singing with recorder instrumental parts reinforcing the musical concepts. Nonpitched and pitched percussion instruments are used with accompaniments. Students explore creative dance and movement.

Physical Education
The program promotes progressive physical fitness and endurance while maintaining flexibility.

Science
The fifth grade science course is designed to feed directly into the upper school program by providing the start of scientific thinking and skills necessary to be successful in later years. Students regularly conduct experiments in a laboratory setting using microscopes and simple machines, designing electric motors and terrariums, constructing electrical circuits, and exploring science with a hands-on approach. The periodic table of elements is covered throughout the year on a regular basis to develop a sense of familiarity for future use. In the fall, the fifth graders are paired with younger students to share selected units of study. Guest speakers are encouraged to bring a sense of how science is applied in everyday life.

The Skills For Tomorrow
The Skills for Tomorrow is a weekly course that fosters key 21st century skills including flexibility and adaptability, self-discipline and mindfulness, information management, digital citizenship, communication strategies, collaboration, and creative problem solving. Students encounter novel, multimodal problems that require them to take risks and propose solutions.

Sixth Grade

Art 
All sixth grade students rotate through Art and Music during an enrichment class period, with 18 weeks of each. Formal elements and principles of design are reviewed and incorporated into the making of drawings, paintings, prints, three dimensional work, and crafts. Students critique their own work and present reports on specific artists. This emphasis on various movements of twentieth century art helps students recognize how art reflects values and beliefs of a culture. This understanding is enhanced by a field trip to the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth.

English
English in sixth grade at Trinity Valley School is an integrated program emphasizing vocabulary enrichment, literature appreciation/skills development, grammar usage/mechanics, and the incorporation of the 6 Traits of Good Writing in compositions. Critical thinking skills are focused on throughout the year.

Global Studies 
This course is a study of people, places and environments from a physical and cultural perspective. Through a variety of classroom activities, including multiple projects, case studies and simulations, students will gain an appreciation and understanding of the interdependent world in which they live. Students will also use skills and information learned in class to analyze global geographic problems and potential solutions. 

Mathematics
Grade 6 math provides the mathematical background, skills, and thinking processes necessary for the successful completion of Pre-Algebra. Topics include: (1) whole numbers, (2) integers, (3) rational numbers, (4) decimals and their applications, (5) number theory, (6) ratios, (7) proportions, (8) percents, (9) equations, (10) graphing, (11) square roots, and (12) appropriate geometric concepts. The instructional program of this course provides for the understanding and use of the concepts as well as their application through appropriate problem-solving situations.

Music
All sixth grade students rotate through Art and Music during an enrichment class period, with 18 weeks of each. The course develops appreciation for many kinds of musical expressions. Students listen to all styles and forms of music, explore the families of instruments, learn about choral performance, great composers, and experiment with composition. Music literacy is developed through melodic and rhythmic dictation. Recorder skills allow a variety of performances often combined with singing. Non-pitched and pitched percussion instruments are used with accompaniments. Students explore creative dance and movement. Sixth graders give a spring performance showing what they learned during the year.

Physical Education
Students participate in an intramural program of all sports offered in later grades, so that when they are able to choose sports for interscholastic competition, they will be able to make an informed choice.

Science
Students learn the fundamentals of human physiology, zoology, and botany through the investigative method and individual projects as well as the regular classroom activities. Appreciation of the need to care for our environment is developed. Through practice, understanding of the scientific method is deepened.

The Skills For Tomorrow
The Skills for Tomorrow is a weekly course that fosters key 21st century skills including flexibility and adaptability, self-discipline and mindfulness, information management, digital citizenship, communication strategies, collaboration, and creative problem solving. Students encounter novel, multimodal problems that require them to take risks and propose solutions.

Spanish
A more formal beginning course in Spanish introduces Hispanic culture and the basic concepts of Spanish grammar.

Seventh Grade

Art
The visual arts course encompasses creative expression (studio work), criticism (artistic judgments based on critical thinking skills), aesthetic perception (an awareness of art and beauty in nature and in manmade objects), and history (an understanding of how art depicts the history of mankind). Studio work includes drawing/painting, printmaking and three-dimensional art. Visual art is a sequential program in grades 1-8 and it is expected that students will experience maximum growth at each level. These are the culminating years of the lower and middle school study of visual art and students will find that they are ready for more advanced study in the upper school. Field trips to museums and/or galleries will be planned when timely and appropriate. Academic credit is earned on an effort and discipline basis rather than on native artistic ability.

Choir
The choir course is designed to provide experience in and appreciation of music through an applied discipline- singing. The course will cover four main areas: (1) Vocal development: exercises, discussion, and techniques designed to expand the range, flexibility and knowledge of the voice. (2) Ear training: regular practice in solfege, sight singing and melodic dictation. (3) Performance preparation: learning songs in a wide range of musical styles. (4) Listening skills: a multi-faceted look at the structure of music, focusing on student favorites. Seventh grade repertoire concentrates on unison and two-part material, and the theory component emphasizes intervals and scalar exercises.

Creative Dramatics
This course offers a survey of the world of theater while focusing on the personal development of each student as an actor and a human being. Using games and exercises, the student is guided through the creative process, where he is challenged to stretch his imagination, focus his creative energies, and by working alone or in groups, bring his characters to life. The four basic principles of the class include: the creative process, creative expression in acting, creative expression in theater production, and exposure to the historical and cultural heritage that theater offers. The seventh grade class will include a unit on classical plays, such as Greek myths, while the eighth grade class will delve into the Elizabethan theater of the Globe and Shakespeare. The middle school musical will be open to all seventh and eighth graders and will be produced entirely during weekend rehearsals.

Discovering Chinese
Discovering Chinese is a beginner course to develop students’ listening, speaking, reading, writing and typing skills with a strong emphasis on conversation. The curriculum of this course builds students’ understanding of Chinese language and culture with themes and subjects that are relevant to their daily lives.

Earth Science 
Earth Science helps students appreciate and enjoy the world around them by covering the topics of astronomy, meteorology, oceanography, geology, topography, and paleontology. It also covers basic science principles that will be used in all latter science classes such as the metric, or SI, system and essential chemistry terms. An additional goal is to improve study and organizational skills which are valuable in all areas of life.

Humanities
Humanities blends the disciplines of English and history with a focus on the theme “Adapting to Change.” Readings complement the historical content centered around economic, social, and political aspects of Texas History from discovery to statehood and American History from colonization to Constitution. Emphasis is placed on persuasive writing that incorporates textual evidence, grammar and vocabulary, and development of products that reflect analysis and critical thinking.

Latin
The goal for the student in this first course is to understand the structure of the Latin language through the mastery of the various forms and basic uses of the parts of speech through which meaning is conveyed. Thus, English grammar is reinforced and the roots of the English language are introduced. Latin I aims at introducing the student to the complex sentence by demonstrating the various grammatical possibilities for introducing subordinate details.

Mathematics
I. Mathematical Foundations
This course is designed to provide students with additional opportunities to develop understanding of numbers and operations, the concept of ratio, percents, decimals, and proportionality. These topics will be explored concretely with attention given to skill building. Then students will begin working with expressions and equations and identify mathematical relationships that will set the groundwork for introductory algebra study. Students will explore mathematics through multiple perspectives and use manipulatives and technology when appropriate. Class size will be smaller than the typical class to ensure individual attention can be provided. [If needed, this course will be offered the 2012-2013 school year.]

II. Pre-Algebra
The pre-algebra course is the first course in which students are working with fractions, decimals, percents, integers, and rational numbers in the context of algebraic perspectives. Therefore, students need to be comfortable working with the manipulation of these numbers before they enter the course. Abstract concepts that are introduced will be primarily explored through creating expressions and solving equations. Students will be developing problem solving skills in order to see the application of these rich topics of study. Other problem solving opportunities will arise when students apply geometric and statistical emphasis to their identifying of mathematical relationships. [This course will be offered the 2012-2013 school year.]

III. Pre-Algebra Enriched
The pre-algebra enriched course is also an entry course for students to begin working with fractions, decimals, percents, integers, and rational numbers in the context of algebraic perspectives. In addition students are expected to be able to identify mathematical relationships and create solution strategies to problems at the onset of the course. The concept of function will be introduced early and used often throughout the course. Therefore, student understanding of the abstract is imperative when entering the course. Throughout the course, students will take part in rigorous group and individual problem solving assignments. [This course will be offered the 2012-2013 school year.]

Physical Education
Students participate in conditioning exercises and in games, and in a physical fitness program that demands that they perform to the best of their abilities. This class meets at the same time as sports team practice and is required for all students not on a sports team.

Selectives
Selectives meets once per week and allows students to choose between over a dozen courses that are designed to support the following elements of innovative thinking: curiosity, collaboration, associative/integrative thinking, experimentation and perseverance.

Spanish
The course continues to study Hispanic culture and focuses on the basic concepts of Spanish grammar and conversation.

Eighth Grade

Art
Eighth grade art offers a survey in photography as art. In order to learn how a camera operates, the students make a pinhole camera of their own. Students will learn the historical evolution of the camera as well as the evolution of the chemistry it takes to expose a photograph. Once the historical overview is established, the students begin making photos in the darkroom. In the second semester, students study digital photography learning the mechanics of the digital camera. All editing is taught with Photoshop. 

Choir
The choir course is designed to provide experience in and appreciation of music through an applied discipline- singing. The course will cover four main areas: Vocal development: exercises, discussion, and techniques designed to expand the range, flexibility and knowledge of the voice. The eighth grade class will learn first hand about voice change and the challenges it presents. The addition of new baritone voices allows ear training to expand to three and four parts, and a music theory unit, an introduction to harmony, complements. Performance preparation in eighth grade involves a first exposure to four-part singing, complete with tenor and bass parts. Listening skills (the ability to hear the structure and components of a composition) are developed by listening to a wide range of musical styles. 

Creative Dramatics 
This course offers a survey of the world of theater while focusing on the personal development of each student as an actor and a human being. Using games and exercises, the student is guided through the creative process, where he is challenged to stretch his imagination, focus his creative energies, and by working alone or in groups, bring his characters to life. The four basic principles of the class include: the creative process, creative expression in acting, creative expression in theater production, and exposure to the historical and cultural heritage that theater offers. The eighth grade will delve into the Elizabethan theater of the Globe and Shakespeare. The middle school musical will be open to all seventh and eighth graders and will be produced entirely during weekend rehearsals.

Discovering Chinese
Discovering Chinese is a beginner course to develop students’ listening, speaking, reading, writing and typing skills with a strong emphasis on conversation. The curriculum of this course builds students’ understanding of Chinese language and culture with themes and subjects that are relevant to their daily lives.

Humanities
Humanities blends the disciplines of English and history with a focus on the theme, “Creating an Identity.” Readings compliment the historical content centered around the economic, social, and political aspects of American History from 1800 to the present. Emphasis is placed on persuasive writing that incorporates textual evidence, grammar and vocabulary, and development of products that reflect analysis and critical thinking.

Integrated Physical Science
This course is designed to provide a background for later courses in physics or chemistry. Laboratory experimentation to discover and illustrate ideas is employed to achieve the course goals. Topics included are: scientific method, graphing, laws of motion, machines and forces, properties of matter, use of periodic table, chemical bonding, and determining pH. Light, sound, and heat are also introduced. 

Latin I
The prerequisite for this course is 7th grade Latin.   

The goal for the student at the second level of Latin is to affirm and deepen the mastery of the vocabulary and the various grammatical forms, through which meaning is conveyed, begun in the seventh grade. The students learn to recognize, isolate, and study the forms and what meaning each conveys, then return the forms to their larger context, i.e., the Latin Passage, and thus to translate competently.

Mathematics
I. Introduction to Algebra
This course is designed for students who have built their skills in the Mathematical Foundations—7th grade course to apply these learnings in the algebraic context. Abstract concepts that are introduced will be primarily explored through creating expressions and solving equations. Students will be developing problem solving skills in order to see the application of these rich topics of study. Students will spend significant time working with linear equations and connecting linear equations to working with linear functions. Other problem solving opportunities will arise when students apply geometric and statistical emphasis to their identifying of mathematical relationships. Class size will be smaller than the typical class to ensure individual attention can be provided. [If needed, this course will be offered the 2013-2014 school year.]

II. Algebra I
Students in this course develop algebraic skills and thinking. With a brief review of topics to ensure students have proficiency with pre-algebra skills, emphasis is placed on evaluating and simplifying expressions, using order of operations, and working with fractions and integers. For a majority of the course students learn to solve multi-step linear equations, graph linear equations, solve systems of equations, work with polynomials, factor polynomials, solve quadratic equations, and graph quadratic equations. All of these topics are explored to connect with the concept of function. [This course will be offered the 2012-2013 school year.]

III. Algebra I Enriched
This course is designed for students who are ready to enter a rigorous Algebra I course. In addition to being able to problem solve and work with abstract concepts, students must have the discipline needed to practice their skills daily and ask questions that develop the mathematics. This course includes the study of numbers and sets, properties of operations, real numbers, equations and inequalities, word problems using equations to solve, factoring polynomials, operations with rational and radical expressions, solving rational and radical expressions, systems of linear equations and inequalities, irrational numbers, and solving and graphing quadratic equations. Relations and the concept of function are embedded throughout the curriculum. Students explore the topics in this course graphically, analytically, verbally, and numerically. They should understand the connections among these representations. [This course will be offered the 2012-2013 school year.]

IV. Geometry
Students who successfully completed Algebra I—7th grade proceed to Geometry Honors, which integrates the concepts of plane and solid geometry with effective use of algebra. Topics covered include points, lines, planes, angles and angle relationships, constructions, parallel lines and planes, triangles, parallelograms and other quadrilaterals, similar polygons, area of polygons and circles, surface area and volume of solids, The Pythagorean Theorem, the means (arithmetic, geometric), Euler’s Formula, Euler’s Line, The Golden Ratio, and Fractals, Induction as a method of discovery, deduction and formal proof with emphasis on logical thinking. Dynamic geometry software will be used extensively to explore geometric concepts. Assessments will require students to reason thoughtfully to apply and to connect geometric relationships. Discipline in completing assignments daily and studying consistently will be required of students. [This course will be offered the 2012-2013 school year.]

Selectives
Selectives meets once per week and allows students to choose between over a dozen courses that are designed to support the following elements of innovative thinking: curiosity, collaboration, associative/integrative thinking, experimentation and perseverance.

Spanish I
The prerequisite for this course is Seventh-Grade Spanish. 

The Spanish course continues to broaden the understanding of the Hispanic culture. The course is conducted in Spanish providing further emphasis on listening and speaking skills. The reading skills are emphasized with vocabulary development. The writing skills are reinforced by a review of the basic concepts of Spanish grammar and the writing of simple compositions.

Per Aspera Ad Astra   |   © 2012 Trinity Valley School   |   7500 Dutch Branch Road   |   Fort Worth, TX 76132   |   817.321.0100
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