Middle School

Fifth GradeSixth Grade I Seventh Grade I Eighth Grade 

Shine as an Individual and Be Accepted for Who You Are

Middle school builds upon the students’ solid foundation of knowledge of the fundamentals as the balanced and sequential curriculum in the academics, arts, and athletics gives them higher levels of comprehension and achievement. Middle school students add U.S. History as well as Greek and Latin etymologies to their continuing studies of English, mathematics, science, history and geography, Spanish, music, art, and physical education.

While the middle school English curriculum is primarily devoted to literature and writing, it also emphasizes grammar and public speaking. The rigorous Singapore Math curriculum builds on both computation and problem-solving skills. Teachers continue teaching history and geography using the Core Knowledge History and Geography curriculum, and students study geography in relation to the historical events covered. The science curriculum is a hands-on, experienced-based curriculum that uses experiments and inquiry-based investigations as a basis for exploring concepts.

Studies in music combine music theory and history with choices of jazz ensemble, orchestra ensemble, choir, and semi-private lessons. Theoretical and instrumental studies focus on preparation for recitals, concerts and musicals, as well as the graded examinations of the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, London. As in the lower grades, art history supplements instruction in drawing, painting and sculpture.

All middle school students study Spanish. Throughout the year, students are introduced to the various cultures and regions of the Spanish-speaking world. The study of Japanese is added as an elective in fifth grade.

In addition to field trips to the theaters and museums in Madison and Milwaukee, middle school students attend a variety of excursions to further develop their leadership skills. A vibrant advisory system supports students in developing their own leadership abilities and character while adapting to the exciting challenges of middle school.

The athletics and physical education programs utilize our beautiful 45-acre campus and include competitive school-sponsored sports for both girls and boys. Regular offerings include cross-country, soccer, track and field, tennis, kayaking, canoeing, and volleyball. Our “no cut” sports team policy along with practicing leadership, teamwork, and good sportsmanship emphasize lifelong fitness.

 

Fifth Grade

MATHEMATICS: Fifth grade mathematics uses the Singapore national curriculum. Guided by an understanding of place value, students practice whole number and decimal arithmetic. A study of fractions includes addition and subtraction of fractions of unlike denominators, the product of fractions, and division of a fraction by a whole number. In reducing fractions and computing their product, students learn to see a number as a product of its factors. Students work with ratio, percentage, average, rate, and line graphs. They apply the unique method of Singapore bar diagrams to word problems that play an essential role in each topic’s development. Students study the geometry of angles, the triangle, parallelogram, rhombus, trapezoid, cubes, and cuboids. They find the area of triangles and the volumes of cuboids.

HUMANITIES: The Humanities model is the integration of reading and writing along with history and geography. Society Shapes the Individual is the overarching theme in writing throughout the year. In this model, students typically divide their time between reading and writing workshops coupled with the integration of history and geography. The reading workshop includes practicing reading comprehension strategies, such as making connections, questioning, visualizing, inferring, determining importance,and synthesizing information. The writing workshop includes practicing the writing process, using the “Six Traits of Writing”, daily grammar lessons, and vocabulary study. Students will learn the ideas and concepts behind the words of our language by using Vocabulary for Achievement during the year. From Steinbeck’s The Pearl through Lowry’s The Giver, the students read literature associated with their study of the Age of Exploration through the American Civil War. As such, students read and write across multiple genres in a disciplined and interactive classroom where project-based assessments meet the learning needs and styles of all students.

SCIENCE: Students will begin the year learning about simple machines. This unit includes building models of simple machines to explore the relationship between force and distance needed to lift loads. Fifth grade will touch on chemistry this year in our investigation of solutions. Students then work in small groups to design and carry out experiments of their own to prepare them for the science fair in sixth grade. Students also study the growth and development of animals in which we will compare humans to other animals. They study the growth and development of fish as they watch each stage of growth, beginning with the egg and finishing with a new fish or ‘fry’. Students will also learn how their own bodies are changing in a unit on puberty. Students will finish the year studying digestion. Science process skills and learning about the nature of science continue to be a core focus of the science curriculum in fifth grade.

MCDS Science Curriculum Pathway from Pre-K to grade 12

SPANISH: The primary goal of this class is to develop of the four basic language skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing.  Students aim to achieve communicative competence, which means providing students with the essential tools to communicate successfully in simple daily-life situations.  The most exciting element of this course involves introducing students to the various cultures and regions of the Spanish-speaking world and appreciating its richness.  Topics include activities and pastimes, sports, professions, getting to know people, giving and receiving directions, countries and nationalities, taking a trip, finding accommodations, traveling by airplane, dining at a restaurant, and going to the bank.  

FKR_0072MUSIC: Students receive instrumental lessons in small groups, study formal music theory, analyze more complex musical excerpts, and practice aural and rhythmic exercises. Theory and instrumental studies and master classes prepare students for regular recitals, school concerts, and musicals, as well as the graded examination of the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, London.  Students also participate in the middle school choir, learning sight singing, proper singing technique, blending with other voices, and part singing. A highlight of the course is attending the annual Madison Symphony Orchestra Fall Youth Concert. 

FKR_0544 2ART: This course consists primarily of hands-on studio work, in both two and three dimensions. The history and discourse of art play a role in the class as students reflect on their own and others’ art practice. While reviewing the elements and principles of art, students also receive assignments that focus on problem solving and open-ended creative thinking. Projects for this year include an abstracted negative space assignment using marker, a painted accordion booklet that utilizes principles of color theory, and a ceramics unit that focuses on different methods of construction.

PHYSICAL EDUCATION: The program focuses on six major areas: track and field, swimming, gymnastics and tumbling, water sports, martial arts, and team sports. Games and skill practices build proficiency and teach strategy. Units include swimming, canoeing, tennis, cross-country, track and field (50- and 100-yard dashes, mile runs, discus, and javelin), volleyball, soccer, gymnastics, basketball, softball, sailing, tennis, and fitness conditioning. Students develop the confidence and motivation to participate in organized and individual physical activities where they learn leadership, teamwork, and good sportsmanship. The program emphasizes lifelong fitness. School-sponsored competitive sports include soccer, touch football, girls volleyball, boys and girls basketball, and track and field.

 

Sixth Grade

HUMANITIES: The sixth grade humanities model is designed to integrate history, geography, and the study of literature. Change and Revolution is the overarching theme in sixth grade and serves to guide discussions and readings throughout the school year. Reading and writing are taught using the workshop model. The reading workshop includes explicit instruction and practice in reading comprehension strategies, such as making connections, questioning, visualizing, inferring, determining importance, and synthesizing information. The writing workshop includes practicing the writing process in a variety of genres and relies heavily on the analysis of mentor texts. Grammar is taught in the context of the writing workshop and supported by a workbook by Michael Clay Thompson. Students learn new vocabulary using the program Vocabulary for Success and new terms are also introduced in the context of history units. Students engage in literature study of both classical and contemporary works that may include Fahrenheit 451The Hound of the Baskervilles, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Reading, writing and analysis skills are further supported in the context of history units: English Renaissance, Enlightenment, French and Latin American Revolutions. Students participate in a disciplined and interactive classroom where a variety of assessments meet the learning needs and styles of all students. 

IMG_1861MATHEMATICS: Sixth grade mathematics uses the Singapore national curriculum, known as Singapore Math.  Through word problems, students study ratios, fractions, percentages, speed, and volume.  Using the unique device of Singapore bars, students graphically represent problems and reasoning to find solutions.  The challenge gradually increases until students work complex problems involving multiples changes and relationships of topics.  Geometry topics including triangles, various quadrilaterals, and circles are also studied.  This year emphasizes problem solving and critical thinking developed through written work and lively class discussion.

SCIENCE: The sixth grade science sequence begins with the study of combustion as a basis for studying basic chemistry principles and atomic theory. Then we apply atomic theory to study the nature of electricity and magnetism. Students also study forces and fluids including topics such as pressure, density, and an introduction to basic laws and principles related to these concepts. Students build metal boats as part of a class competition to apply their understanding of concepts in this unit. Students record and communicate lab results using a lab notebook. They also design, conduct, and present their own experimental research for the Middle School Science Fair.

MCDS Science Curriculum Pathway from Pre-K to grade 12

SPANISH: Students continue to develop of the four basic language skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing as a game plan to achieve communicative competence by using the essential tools to communicate successfully in simple daily-life situations.  Students discover the richness of the Spanish-speaking world by studying culture and regions and making virtual visits to specific cities, such as Oaxaca in Mexico, Barcelona in Spain, and Quito in Ecuador. Topics include visiting a market, restaurants, daily routines, chores around the house, organizing a party, and the different aspects of living on a farm and in a city.

MUSIC: Students receive small group instrumental lessons once a week, study more complex music theory and ear training, and enjoy ensemble playing.  Theory and instrument studies and master classes prepare students for regular recitals, school concerts, and musicals, as well as the graded examination of the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, London.  Students also participate in the middle school choir, learning sight singing, proper singing technique, blending with other voices, and part singing.  They attend the annual Madison Symphony Orchestra Fall Youth Concert and  give a Winter and Spring concert. Some students also choose to participate in the school musical. 

FKR_0525ART: This course consists primarily of hands-on studio work in both two and three dimensions. The history and discourse of art play a role in the class as well; students will be encouraged to reflect on their own and others’ art practice. While reviewing the elements and principles of art, students work on assignments that focus on problem solving and open-ended creative thinking. Projects from this year include a caricature unit featuring compressed charcoal, a two point perspective project that encourages students to create an unconventional architectural design and a paper maché animal sculpture.

PHYSICAL EDUCATION:  Track and field, swimming, gymnastics and tumbling, water sports, martial arts, and team sports comprise the P.E. program. Games and skill practices build proficiency and teach strategy units that include swimming, canoeing, tennis, cross-country, track and field (50- and 100- yard dashes, mile runs, discus, and javelin), volleyball, soccer, gymnastics, basketball, softball, sailing, tennis, and fitness conditioning. With an emphasis on leadership, teamwork, and good sportsmanship, students develop the confidence and motivation to participate in organized and individual physical activities. School- sponsored competitive sports include soccer, touch football, girl’s volleyball, boys and girls basketball, and track and field.

 

Seventh Grade

ENGLISH: In grade seven English, students practice taking notes and participating in formal Socratic seminars as means to better understand what literary texts mean and how to accomplish their purpose. In addition to developing their analytic skills, students are asked to develop a personal connection to texts and explore the moral issues raised by the authors. Readings include: As You Like It, Poetry of Robert Frost, To Kill A Mockingbird, Lord of the Flies, Huckleberry Finn, Animal Farm, and Romeo and Juliet. Writing focuses on developing the ability to formulate and express ideas through a multitude of genres including: fiction, editorials, memoirs, poetry, character analysis, creative non­fiction, fairy tales, and additional multi­genre works of choice. Students learn and practice new vocabulary through the critically acclaimed program Vocabulary for Success. This exposure enables students to broaden their vocabulary, making them stronger readers and more expressive writers. Through integrated grammar instruction, students learn new and reinforce previously taught grammar skills and incorporate those into their writing.

MATHEMATICS: Seventh grade mathematics is a first year algebra course. Study of the integers includes prime numbers, prime factorization, divisors, multiples, the divisor theorem, positive and negative integers, absolute value, and order. Students practice the basic principles of algebraic manipulation by solving equations of one unknown, and learn about the coordinate plane. The idea of a function is informally introduced with discussing direct and inverse variation in the context of word problems. Students work with functions represented by tables, graphs, and equations. The correspondence of a function’s algebraic and graphic representations is emphasized. Geometry includes the straight line, Euclidean constructions, the circle, sectors, chords, and arc length; relations between straight lines and planes, polyhedra, solids of revolution, surface area and volume of pyramids, cones, and spheres.

IMG_9274SCIENCE: The seventh grade science curriculum continues to take the student on a more focused look at life and physical science concepts. Beginning with a longitudinal study of the MCDS prairie, students learn about topics related to ecology, plant identification, and taxonomy. Following that, the class investigates organisms at the cellular level and the genetic basis of inheritance. In the final unit of the year, students study plate tectonics and the cycling of Earth materials. Students continue to record and communicate lab results using a lab notebook, but students also design, conduct, and present their own experimental research for the Middle School Science Fair.

MCDS Science Curriculum Pathway from Pre-K to grade 12

HISTORY AND GEOGRAPHY: Students study U.S. History beginning with an extensive study of the United States Constitution. Other units of study include: Westward Expansion, Industrialization, Immigration, the Progressive Era, and World War I. Students read from primary sources to improve comprehension skills and make personal connections to the curriculum. The geography content is interspersed and a unit is specifically designed to understand how geography, population, resources, and religion of other nations affects our interactions. Students also explore and evaluate current events in the context of human behavior relating to past historical events.

SPANISH: Students continue to develop the four basic language skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing.  They become competent in communicating during simple daily-life situations, including leisure time, airplane travel, food, fine art, news, and staying healthy.  Strong emphasis focuses on incorporating the use of past tense and introducing commands and the subjunctive.  The cultural focus stresses the influence of Latin American people in the United States, Mexico, and Puerto Rico.

MUSIC:  Students receive small group instrument lessons, and have a choice of participating in jazz ensemble, orchestra, or choir. Weekly theory classes incorporate in-depth concepts, music analysis, and ear-training. Theory and piano or strings studies and master classes prepare students for regular recitals, school concerts, and musicals, as well as the graded examination of the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, London.  Students also participate in the Middle school choir, learning sight singing, proper singing technique, blending with other voices, and part singing.  They attend the annual Madison Symphony Orchestra Fall Youth Concert, give a Winter and Spring concert, and can choose to participate in the school musical.

ART: Hands-on studio work, in both two and three dimensions, as well as the history and discourse of art play a role in the class with students reflecting on their own and others’ art practice. While reviewing the elements and principles of art, students focus on assignments that welcome problem solving and open-ended creative thinking. Projects from this year feature students creating a drawing of a customized chess piece, an ink-wash drawing of a utopian world in two point perspective, and an image using the Batik process.

PHYSICAL EDUCATION: The program consists of six major areas: track and field, swimming, gymnastics and tumbling, water sports, martial arts, and team sports. Games and skill practices in the six major areas build proficiency and teach strategy. Units include swimming, canoeing, tennis, cross-country, track and field (50- and 100-yard dashes, mile runs, discus, and javelin), volleyball, soccer, gymnastics, basketball, softball, sailing, tennis, and fitness conditioning. Confidence and motivation develop as students participate in organized and individual physical activities. The course stresses leadership, teamwork, good sportsmanship and lifelong fitness. School-sponsored competitive sports include soccer, touch football, girls volleyball, boys and girls basketball, and track and field.

 

Eighth Grade

ENGLISH: Eighth grade English maintains a primary emphasis upon writing. Students study the qualities of great writing, in addition to such literary elements as plot, theme, and characterization in works such as Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, and Homer’s The Iliad which are read and discussed in a Socratic seminar format. Students compose academic essays, research papers, and longer works of creative writing or collections of poetry. They occasionally imitate the writing style of the authors and works discussed and regularly practice reading aloud, grammar skills, and Greek/Latin root words.

MATHEMATICS: Eighth grade mathematics is a second year algebra course. Students learn about polynomials, linear equations, simultaneous linear equations, lines and their graphs, equations of lines using points and/or slope, quadratic equations, graphical representations of quadratics, functions, probability, progressions, series, and binomial expansions.  Students engage in practice via written work and interactive class discussion.

SCIENCE: The eighth grade science curriculum continues to take the student on a more focused look at Earth, physical, and life science concepts.  The year begins by learning about weather, its driving mechanisms, and how to predict it.  With an eye to the sky, students explore celestial movement and the laws that govern this motion. Next, they explore the respiratory, circulatory, and finally, the nervous systems and continue to record lab results in a lab notebook while developing the skills necessary to write a persuasive science research paper.

MCDS Science Curriculum Pathway from Pre-K to grade 12

HISTORY AND GEOGRAPHY: Eighth grade History students study from the time of The Great Depression through the Modern Era, with a primary focus on the History of the United States.  Students read primary sources and complete investigative projects to better their comprehension and make personal connections to the curriculum.  The core goals of eighth grade History include an interpretation and analysis of primary sources from the curriculum, a study of the culture, economics, foreign affairs, politics, and religion of the United States and other specific nations from 1920 to 1990, and a continued development of understanding how geography affects historical events.

SPANISH: Language skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing continue to be emphasized so that students achieve communicative competence in simple daily-life situations, including traveling, enjoying the outdoors and becoming aware of environmental problems, and learning about professions and different careers. Virtual visits to Madrid in Spain, San José in Costa Rica, and Quito in Ecuador enhance the students’ appreciation of Spanish-speaking culture. 

MUSIC:  The weekly music classes complete the basic music vocabulary introduced in previous grades enabling each student to be adequately prepared for the Advanced Placement Music Theory course that all students begin in ninth grade. Classes also incorporate ear training and the study and analysis of set works selected from the classical repertoire. Students try their hand at music composition and perform their work.  They participate in testing within the school and through mandatory practical and written examinations administered by the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, London.  Students continue to receive small group instrument lessons and have a choice of participating in jazz ensemble, orchestra, or choir. They attend the annual Madison Symphony Orchestra Fall Young People’s Concert and are expected to attend other cultural activities.

ART:  While reviewing the elements and principles of art, students execute assignments that focus on problem solving and open-ended creative thinking. Projects in hands-on studio work include creating a pastel drawing with a dowel extension, designing an abstracted contraption using ballpoint pen, creating a nonrepresentational plaster sculpture and working with linear perspective to depict a surrealist interior space. The history and discourse of art play a role in the class as well; students will be encouraged to reflect on their own and others’ art practice.

PHYSICAL EDUCATION: The program is composed of several units including fitness conditioning and assessment, sailing and canoeing, soccer, flag football, volleyball, team and cooperative games, basketball, team handball, floor hockey, swimming, gymnastics and tumbling, martial arts, softball, cross-country, track and field, and archery. Major units build proficiency and teach strategy.