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 and Greek and Latin etymologies to their continuing studies of English, mathematics, science, history and geography, Spanish, music, art, and physical education
ENGLISH: Eighth grade English maintains the emphasis upon writing. Students compose academic essays, research papers, and longer works of creative writing or collections of poetry. They will occasionally imitate the writing style of the authors and works discussed. Students study the qualities of great writing, in addition to such literary elements as plot, theme, and characterization. Important selections of poetry, dramas, and novels complete the eighth-grade English curriculum. Works such as Jane Austen Pride and Prejudice, Nathaniel Hawthorne The Scarlet Letter, and Homer The Iliad are read and discussed in a Socratic seminar format. Students regularly practice reading aloud and public speaking.
MATHEMATICS: Students learn about polynomials including combining like terms and finding the product and quotient of a monomial and polynomial. They solve linear inequalities, simultaneous linear inequalities, and pairs of simultaneous equations. Students consider the linear function in the coordinate plane. The correspondence of the line’s algebraic and graphic representations is emphasized. Students practice finding the equation of a line, given two points or given a point and a slope; they write the equation of the line through a specific point and parallel or perpendicular to a given line. In geometry, students continue their study from previous years of angles, parallel lines, triangles, and parallelograms, though they now prove the theorems that they use. Congruence and similarity, particularly of triangles, is a principal area of study and students create many proofs that depend on demonstrating that a pair of triangles is congruent or similar.
SCIENCE: Students progress toward a more abstract understanding of basic biology, chemistry and physics. The year begins with a chemistry chapter on solutions and properties of gases in preparation for subsequent chapters covering chemical structures, atoms, ions and molecules. Students investigate basic physics including light and sound travel, force and pressure, electricity, and movement and energy. They keep a formal lab notebook containing extensively written lab reports. Also, they design, conduct, and write a formal scientific paper on their experimental research for the Middle School Science Fair held in the spring. For the science fair students also learn how to use the University of Wisconsin-Madison library system for their literature searches.
HISTORY AND GEOGRAPHY: D. Hirsch’s Core Knowledge sequence continues to be the framework for history and geography in eighth grade. The time period of this year’s studies encompasses the mid to late twentieth century. Topics covered this year include The Decline of European Colonialism, The Cold War, The Civil Rights Movement, The Vietnam War and the Rise of Social Activism, The Middle East and Oil Politics, The End of the Cold War: Expansion of Democracy, and Civics: the Constitution.
SPANISH: The goal of the Spanish program is communicative competence in speaking, listening, reading, and writing. In Middle School, Spanish is divided into four levels: beginning, intermediate I, intermediate II, and advanced. Throughout the year, students are introduced to the various cultures and regions of the Spanish-speaking world. In addition, all grades participate in a special unit of cultural study that culminates in a school-wide event.
Study topics for beginners include greetings, people and things in a classroom, numbers from one to 100, colors and shapes, animals, days of the week, months of the year, seasons and weather, places in the community, classes and school, likes and dislikes, time, and the family.
The intermediate I class reviews previously learned vocabulary and grammar and proceeds to new basic grammar concepts. More emphasis is placed on grammatical accuracy in both speaking and writing. Vocabulary topics include more hypothetical and less concrete topics, such as persuading others and negotiating responsibilities.
The intermediate II class reviews vocabulary and advances to a more profound study of grammar in both speaking and writing. Special focus is placed on reading strategies for introduction to literature.
The advanced class reviews basic grammar concepts and proceeds to more complicated grammar. Topics include the subjunctive, the imperfect, future and past tense, and the sequence of tenses. Emphasis continues to be placed on grammatical accuracy in all forms of communication. The advanced class also dedicates more time to reading literature, culminating in the reading and discussion of J.M. Vasconelos’s novel Mi Planta de Naranja-Lima.
MUSIC: All students receive weekly group lessons in piano or a string instrument and participate in small instrumental and vocal ensembles and in Middle School choir. 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. Music composition is introduced, and students are expected to perform their work. Students participate in Middle School Choir, master classes, concerts, and other school productions. Their progress is evaluated through regular testing within the school and through mandatory graded practical and written examinations administered by the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, London. Students attend the annual Madison Symphony Orchestra Fall Young People’s Concert and are expected to attend other cultural activities.
ART: Using an atelier approach to drawing instruction, students continue to practice and develop advanced drawing skills using pencil, charcoal, pastel, and conte crayons. They also make and glaze ceramic pieces and have the opportunity to choose an area of focus (drawing, painting, ceramics, etc.) for part of a trimester. Art history topics include a close look at Roy Lichtenstein, Jackson Pollack, Jacob Lawrence, and Romare Beardon. To further the study of architecture begun in seventh grade, students learn about the first skyscrapers, metal structures such as the Eiffel Tower, and the works of Frank Lloyd Wright. A field trip is planned to Taliesen, Frank Lloyd Wright’s estate in Spring Green, Wisconsin.
PHYSICAL EDUCATION: The program is composed of six major units: track and field, swimming, gymnastics and tumbling, water sports, martial arts and team sports. Games and skill practices are used to build proficiency and teach strategy. Units include 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 (50- and 100-yard dashes, mile runs, long and high jump, hurdles, relays, shot put, discus, and javelin), and archery.
Students develop the confidence and motivation to participate in organized and individual physical activities. The program emphasizes lifelong fitness, leadership, teamwork, sportsmanship, and sport strategy implementation in both team and individual sports.
School-sponsored competitive sports include boys and girls soccer, girl’s volleyball, boys and girls basketball, and boys and girls track and field. The campus offers an indoor pool, two soccer fields, an eight-lane track, and facilities for shot put, discus and long jump.