Middle School Curriculum
- Support Services
- Technology for Grades 5 and 6
- Elective Program
- Leadership Program
- Public Speaking
- Wellness Program
- Campus Ministry and Retreat Program
- Service Program
The Middle School Learning Specialist teaches Language Workshop to small groups of students in the grades 5 through 8. The goal of the course is to strengthen organization, reading and writing skills by scaffolding classroom assignments and reviewing vocabulary and grammar. Integral to the Language Workshop curriculum are activities that encourage students to develop organizational skills, and to read, write and think critically and creatively. Study and test taking skills are taught and students are introduced to strategies and techniques designed to support their learning style. The Middle School Learning Specialist also meets with students individually to address specific skill development and assist with assignments.
Technology is integrated into core academic classes. Technology class is also integrated into the 5th and 6th grade library class and the skills reviewed are designed to support the academic course work. The first semester refines skills in word processing and typing, as well as reviews procedures for access and use of the school’s email system, Google Docs, fileserver and the intranet system. Students also learn and use programs such as Web 2.0, Scratch, GoogleEarth, Wiki, Voice Thread, Delicious, a social bookmarking site, and iMovie, as well as other course-appropriate applications. In addition, students review safe internet practices, plagiarism and integrity policies. Class discussions and activities posit real-life and created situations that have students explore ethical dilemmas and decision-making with technology. The objective of this approach is that students develop a responsible digital footprint and facility and understanding of the technology they use in their academic courses.
In addition to the regular curriculum, all Middle School students are encouraged to choose at least one weekly enrichment elective per trimester. These activities enable students to pursue their interests in a relaxed atmosphere and to develop friendships with students in other Middle School grades. Each elective meets once a week after school from 3:30 to 4:15 pm, Monday to Friday, with the exception of sports teams, which meet two to three times weekly. The electives offered may include foreign languages, ceramics, chess, computer, photography, calligraphy, newspaper, hip hop dance, knitting, dance, yoga, water color, creative writing, painting and drawing and Study Buddies.
In the fall term, electives include a full musical production, open to students in grades 6-8. Rehearsals take place three times a week after school. These productions promote teamwork and increased confidence, forge friendships across grades, and give participants a highly rewarding and exciting experience.
Sports activities and teams include basketball, soccer, softball, swimming, tennis, track and field, lacrosse, and volleyball, according to the season.
Students in grades 5 through 8 have the opportunity to participate in Chorus. Musical and rhythmic sensitivity and group participation are the fundamentals for members of the Chorus, who rehearse weekly.
Model Congress Club
The legislative process and skills used by students in Model Congress are similar to the founding congressional model, and the topics researched are student-generated. Model Congress provides a unique opportunity for students to learn about politics and government, as they research and develop a sound persuasive case for a bill that reflects their individual interests. Participants analyze current events, research precedents, substantiate their arguments, and develop their negotiation strategies. The culminating event is held at the Packer Collegiate Annual Model Congress, where participating students present and debate their proposed bills with other 8th graders from independent schools, in an attempt to gain enough support to pass their bill into law. The club is open to students in 8th grade.
In the CSH Fabrication Laboratory, a technology program offered for grades 6, 7 and 8, students will learn computer programming using Scratch and other programming languages. Students also develop several projects involving the MakerBot 3D Printer, MaKey MaKey kits, robots, and more!
The Middle School leadership program is committed to increasing students’ awareness of the importance of responsibility and compassion for others while offering opportunities to develop their voice. Student leadership and citizenship is encouraged at all grade levels. Two class representatives are elected to serve in the Student Council, led by the Executive Council, which is comprised of 8th graders elected by the entire student body in the roles of President, Vice President and Service Captain. The Executive Council meets weekly to plan and run morning meetings, special events, and activities. They often spearhead initiatives, request special privileges for the Middle School, and have a voice in determining the focus and activities for Middle School events. In addition, a leadership team, comprised of elected students from all grades, have special responsibilities and lead school initiatives such as Uganda Spirit Week, Heritage Week and Kindness to the Earth Week. As they prepare, research important topics, present speeches, fundraise and run activities, they develop a deeper understanding of important issues and the powerful and positive impact that they can have in both the school community and the greater community.
Middle School students develop the rudiments of oral presentation: eye contact, expression, volume, posture, and poise. Students regularly serve as readers for chapel services and present reflections in Middle School assemblies. Because public speaking is integrated into academic curricula, projects range from dramatic reading to informative address. Students learn how to effectively organize their ideas and write with expression for public address, and grow in confidence through oral assessments and presentations at each grade level.
Wellness, broadly defined as being healthy in mind and body, is an essential component of the Sacred Heart curriculum. Goal Five states: “Schools of the Sacred Heart commit themselves to educate to a personal growth in an atmosphere of wise freedom” and Criterion 6 asserts: “All members of the school community take personal responsibility for balance in their lives and for their health and well-being.” Sacred Heart seeks to educate the whole child; we are ever-mindful that students can benefit from a rigorous academic environment only when their physical and socialemotional needs have been met. Developing balance is a lifelong challenge. Our goal is to enable the students to develop personal wellness practices that will serve them as they enter adolescence and form the foundation of healthy adult habits.
Middle School is a time of rapid change in girls’ physical, social, and cognitive development. As we work in tandem with parents to educate and support girls through these transitions, some programs have been put in place. The goals of these programs include:
- Providing students with pertinent information necessary for safe social decision making
- Empowering students to make choices that are good for them
- Teaching students communication skills so that they can let others know what they think, even when they disagree or feel upset or angry
- Encouraging students to take good care of their bodies
Wellness Days are an important component of our wellness initiative. On Wellness Days, classes are cancelled and students spend the day attending a series of workshops. Expert speakers present on nutrition, sexuality education and personal safety.
In addition to wellness days the 6th grade has a wellness course that meets once a week for the year. Topics include the relationship between behaviors and personal health, the role environmental influences (family, culture, peers, media) play in personal health, and tools for evaluating health information. Additionally, meta-cognitive strategies such as group learning techniques and conflict resolution skills are covered.
Campus Ministry, in conjunction with the student activities and community service programs at Sacred Heart, aims to enrich the Middle School academic program by providing students with a range of spiritual experiences to enhance their Middle School years. The campus ministry team, composed of students, religion faculty and the school priest, coordinate weekly liturgies, sacramental opportunities, retreats and celebrations of Sacred Heart traditions and feast days. Weekly prayer, meditation, and reflection time are provided to the entire school community during Chapels and morning meetings. Students’ personal faith reflections and/or prayers are showcased at the opening of each morning meeting. Additionally, every Middle School student, regardless of religious background, will be chosen at least once a year to participate in a liturgy as a reader, cantor or offertory gift bearer. Each month parents are invited to join the community for Mass and are active in the spiritual formation of their daughter. Special Family liturgies occur once a year for each grade and celebrate Mater and the gift of families.
The carefully planned retreat program in the Middle School complements the religion curriculum and offers one off-campus opportunity each year for students to explore their relationship with God, self and others. The grade 5 experiential retreat at Sprout Creek (a working farm) emphasizes God’s gift of creation and instills in students a responsibility to care for it. The grade 6 retreat examines God’s love and compassion for others. The morning activities focus on developing an appreciation for each other’s gifts and embracing each other’s differences. Students are then guided to develop a sense of service and responsibility for people in their community, city, country and world. In grade 8 the retreat supports and prepares students for the sacrament of Confirmation. Students examine the gifts of the Holy Spirit and identify which of the holy spirit qualities most align with their strengths and how to incorporate their unique gifts in service work. 8th graders have an active role in preparing and running the retreat. Students are the leaders of the retreat activities and give witness to their faith through the activities and discussion with classmates. In the Middle School, each student’s spirituality continues to be nurtured in the vision of Saint Madeleine Sophie: “If we are faithful and generous, nothing can harm us; we shall be strong with the strength of Jesus Christ.” Students leave Middle School empowered with an active faith in God and are prepared and open to further exploration of their faith in the Upper School.
The Middle School’s active service program is committed to increasing students’ awareness of issues of justice that involve the larger community of our city and the world. The service team, which consists of a faculty advisor, an elected grade 8 service captain, and elected class service representatives, plan monthly activities for the Middle School community. Recent events have included Thanksgiving baskets for the poor, clothing, book and food drives, Cupid for the Elderly, knitting for peace, tutoring, and fundraising for our sister school in Uganda.