Academics

Middle School | Grades 5-8

Play, discovery, and experimentation permeate throughout the curriculum making every day an adventure. 
We help students reach their full capacity as learners. Our program values original thought and exploration by balancing freedom and structure with innovation and tradition. We celebrate initiative and challenge students to take risks to spark new interests. The result is a dynamic curriculum that is both rigorous and individualized.

Middle school matters - a lot. One of the most significant advantages of our program is the energy, attention, and importance we place on the most crucial and essential years in a child’s education. Our expert faculty understand the socio-emotional dynamics that arise in middle school and teach students how to manage their emotions and build positive relationships.
 

Grade 5

List of 12 items.

  • Humanities

    An awareness of the interactions that occur between the physical environment and the people who inhabit the globe is essential to creating a foundation from which to explore history. Humanities in the fifth-grade year revolves around the study of geography (both physical and human) and exposes students to its key elements. Topics introduced include attributes of culture, human-environment interaction, location, place, movement, and region. As students are exposed to areas around the globe, they are guided in learning to think critically about the connections between the elements of geography and the relationships that result. 
     
    The understanding of geography is reinforced through cross-curricular projects developed in conjunction with the Department of Innovation. In humanities classes, students are given the opportunity to apply the reading and writing skills introduced in the language arts course. Annotating text, note-taking, and identifying main ideas and supporting details are honed all year long. Students will also learn how to compose expository essays and write their first research paper. Throughout the year, students are challenged to make connections between the past and present, conduct research, and collaborate with their peers. Weekly current events assignments reinforce debate, discussion, and presentation skills, enabling students to be more aware of the world around them and their place in it.
  • Language Arts

    Fifth grade is the year of the writer! In this foundational year, students learn the mechanics of good writing and how to communicate their ideas effectively. Through the lens of a thematic focus on transformation in literature and life, students will work to develop their fluency in both analytical and creative writing. Students will examine character development and plot and compare their lives to the characters they meet. Teachers will model the importance of a multi-step writing process: brainstorming, outlining, drafting, editing, and revising. Vocabulary and grammar will be taught through mini-lessons culled from class novels and teacher directed activities. In addition to building confidence and proficiency, students will learn a little about who they are and their place in the world through their writing.

    Every good writer starts out as a great reader, so in language arts, teachers continue to encourage students to develop a lifelong commitment to reading independently and thinking critically. As students transition from the Lower Campus, comprehension skills are reinforced as are the importance of active reading strategies and habits through class novels, poetry, and short stories. Students will learn to infer, connect, predict, and highlight important details to support a thesis. Students will respond to their reading with journal entries, book presentations, reading responses, and essays. They will also read independently chosen books, and assignments are designed to create a positive and nurturing atmosphere that cultivates a lasting love of reading.
  • Science

    Fifth-grade science is based on basic earth science concepts and principles. In addition to this, there is an environmental science component that looks at important environmental issues on both local and global levels. The unifying theme throughout the year is the importance of the complex interactions that work together to keep our planet in balance, making it the ideal environment in which to live. Students begin the year with a look at the process of experimentation. From there students explore topics such as astronomy, ecology, and botany.

    Throughout the year students have the opportunity to take a break from the set curriculum and take part in “Maker’s Days”. They are given design challenges and must work in a team to meet each challenge. These activities reinforce important 21st Century skills such as collaboration, critical thinking and problem solving, testing and redesigning, and communication. In the spring, fifth-grade students take part in a Maker’s Day Expo in which they highlight their designs and explain the design process.
  • Math

    Developing self-confidence is one of the goals of fifth-grade math. Confidence is established by positive past experiences re-instilled by repeated behavior. Mathematics in fifth grade is a transitional program from the Investigations program started on the Lower Campus. Students will develop proficiency in mathematical skills and move towards a clearer understanding and implementation of the standard algorithms. These include applying all mathematical operations, not only to whole numbers, but to fractions and decimals as well.

    The three major topics of study are number theory; standard algorithms with fractions, decimals, whole numbers; and geometry. Practice with multi-faceted word problems enables students to show off their application and analysis of the concepts learned throughout the year. By the end of fifth grade, students demonstrate an understanding of fractions as part of a whole; knowing the fraction, decimal, and percent equivalents; and use all four operations to solve problems involving whole numbers, simple fractions, mixed numbers, and decimals.
  • Math Honors

    Taking risks is such an important aspect of any honors math class. Risk takers develop confidence when they are correct and resilience when they are wrong. Trying new things and being open to mistakes creates student ownership of both the material and the methods used in solving problems. The answer to a problem, though important, is just a symptom of hard work and dedication. The answer is an outcome of completing a process, not the most important part of a problem. The journey through a problem and the ability to apply past knowledge to future questions is fundamental to this course. This develops confident, independent, empathetic, and flexible students, willing to work with their peers and extend themselves past their comfort zones.
     
    Students focus on building solid computational skills with decimals, fractions and integers, as well as interacting with algebraic thought and problem solving. Students also study 2d and 3d Geometry. Students explore math through manipulatives, solve word problems, and use different technologies to better understand arithmetic and geometric ideas. Upon successful completion of this course, students can expect to be placed in sixth-grade honors math.
  • Spanish

    Fifth-grade Spanish is a formal introduction to the language. Key themes include, greetings, weather, seasons, locations, stores, foods, as well as school items and favorite past-time activities. The beginning of the term serves as review of basic vocabulary and builds gradually upon this foundation. This course is taught utilizing a variety of comprehensible input methods such as the TPRS (Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling) method, MovieTalk, simulations, music, and QTALK. The QTALK method, utilizes a series of visual icons placed grammatically and interpreted as full complex sentences.

    With the use of texts, reading and writing, as well as recorded oral tasks are stressed. In addition to expanding their vocabulary and grammatical knowledge, students also focus on cultural elements, geography, traditions and customs, as well as current events throughout the Spanish-speaking countries. The primary objective of fifth-grade Spanish is to achieve a growing understanding of Spanish and an enjoyment of the language.
  • Latin

    The first year of Latin emphasizes the mastery of pronunciation, acquisition of a basic vocabulary of roughly 250 words, and a brief introduction to the basics, complexities, and oddities of an ancient language. Spoken Latin is used frequently in the classroom and students begin to learn vocabulary, pronunciation, and grammar through conversational exercises. Students will study Latin derivations in English, the geography of the Roman Empire, Roman theater, gladiators, the eruption of Vesuvius, and the role of papyrus scrolls in ancient Rome.
  • French

    Fifth-grade French is taught utilizing the TPRS (Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling) method as well as QTalk. The QTALK method utilizes a series of visual icons placed grammatically and interpreted as full complex sentences. This program is based on active cognition. This is a method by which students are active participants in the learning experience and teachers become facilitators. The QTALK method quickly develops learners' oral competencies through an intuitive approach of syntax. As an expansion to this, movie talk and storytelling are used in order to develop students’ ability to use the syntax and vocabulary learned in new and impromptu conversations.

    Since fifth grade is the first year that students are exposed to the language, particular focus will be given to students listening to inputs given in French by the teacher, mimicking the natural learning of a language by an infant (referred to as “passive form”). In addition to developing their vocabulary and grammatical knowledge, students will also learn about traditions and customs, such as Noёl, Pâques, La Chandeleur, and Saint Valentin as they happen in France and Francophone countries.
  • Art

    Develop Craft: Find Your Artistic Voice

    Art in fifth-grade focuses on getting to know the materials and the art studio on a deeper level. Students are taught a variety of skill building lessons focused on the development of their technique in media such as painting, drawing, collage, ceramics, sculpture, and printmaking. By gaining ownership over the knowledge they discover through exploring with the materials, students begin to develop craft, and stretch and explore; to learn to respectfully use the communal studio space adhering to studio routines and procedures, the tools, and materials within it; and to challenge oneself and reach beyond the comfort zone of what is familiar. At this stage students may sometimes explore playfully without a plan, and they are encouraged to take risks, and embrace “mistakes.” Focus is on mastering basic skills and techniques through skill building lessons and challenges. Students are assigned open-ended projects such as designing a landscape using the materials that best suit their idea with limited restraints in size and surface. Students will begin to learn how to communicate with each other by sharing their ideas and discoveries. 
  • Innovation: Introduction to Design Thinking

    Fifth-grade students are new to the Upper Campus, but they have been introduced to the Innovation Center through visits in the spring of fourth grade as well as a design workshop during orientation. They have begun to see the Innovation Center for what it is, a place to collaborate with peers, develop ideas and improve their skills of designing, building, and problem solving. This term-long course gives students a deeper dive into the Design Thinking process. Through short challenges, they learn to identify specific problems, collaboratively brainstorm solutions, select the best, build prototypes to test their ideas, and ultimately share their designs to gain feedback. Past projects have included Rube Goldberg chain-reaching machines, pasta towers, paper bridges and more. Throughout the term students will learn to safely use a wide variety of tools available in the Innovation Center as well as gaining confidence in perspective and orthographic drawing techniques. The term culminates with the LED Diorama Project, a project that combines laser cut parts, 3D printed forms, and soldering LED circuits. 
  • Technology

    In fifth grade, students are taught technology skills necessary for them to become successful 21st-century learners. These skills include system logins, file management, and word processing skills — skills that are essential for them to be productive fifth-grade students. Other skills introduced include computational thinking and programming, working with spreadsheets, effective web searching techniques, and online safety. The students become confident users of Gmail, Google docs, and Google sheets — skills they will expand upon and use through their years at RCS and after. They become beginner programmers and engineers. Students learn how to make safe choices online and in our digital world.

    Programming skills are taught using Scratch, a block-based visual programming application. Students then use Scratch to create a game or animation. They use the 3D Program, Tinkercad, to create 3D objects. The educational website, Brain Pop is used for its animated movies, quizzes, and games for teaching best online safety practices and effective web searching. Students use the website Tagxedo and the Photo Booth application for a fun word cloud project. Technology skills learned are infused into classroom studies and projects.
  • Study Skills

    Study Skills is offered in lieu of a foreign language to students who have a documented learning needs profile. Students are closely monitored in a nurturing and small group environment while learning the importance of organization and self-advocacy. Each day, the class curriculum is determined by the needs of the students based on their academic testing and learning profiles so that they receive support in the areas they need most.

    Class lessons focus on active reading strategies, grammar review or preview, writing skills, and test-taking strategies. Some classes include “homework help,” but the focus is on clarifying, planning, and editing assignments. Students are taught that the keys to success are demonstrating consistent organizational skills and a willingness to implement a variety of study strategies. Utilizing planners, students organize their daily homework, prioritize tasks, set goals for long term projects, and monitor overall academic goals. Students learn to evaluate their learning styles and their work by grading and assessing their progress throughout the term. Study Skills is an important part of a lifelong journey in which students discover how they learn best and continue to use that knowledge independently in future years.

Grade 6

List of 12 items.

  • Humanities

    Sixth-grade students study ancient history because it is imperative to understand how ancient customs and beliefs affect our modern world. The students explore the ancient cultures of Asia, Greece, and Rome to understand themes in history. Students examine how geography affects the growth of civilization, how people develop systems of government, how economic systems progress, and why beliefs and values evolved. Through the use of timelines, students study prehistory through the fall of Rome and develop an understanding of cause and effect. Finally, the students compare and contrast how each culture’s systems of government, economy, and beliefs impact the modern world. For each unit of study, students will have the opportunity to choose elements of the culture to explore independently.

    Students develop the non-fiction reading skill of summarizing by identifying main ideas and recognizing important details. Through research, students learn how to identify appropriate resources, paraphrase, outline notes, and synthesize information. From the outline, students write a draft and revise their writing to publish an essay. Each semester, the research process helps students become more independent and competent writers. The students have numerous opportunities to present their work and improve their public speaking skills. The research process develops their confidence, refines their writing skills, and assists them in becoming engaged leaders in a diverse world.
  • Language Arts

    They say you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. In an ever-increasing digital world, more often than not one makes that initial impression via writing. The sixth-grade language arts program is designed to help students become better writers, more effective communicators, and more literate world citizens. Students read and investigate many forms of literature, discuss and write about what they read, and present their ideas verbally and through the written word. They enhance their ideas with descriptive language, supported by traditional examinations of vocabulary, and both a formal and in-context investigation of grammar. 
    The primary focus of the course is on expository writing, and every student learns to express their thoughts in a logical and sequenced format while embracing writing as a multi-step process. Introducing topics, supporting main ideas with textual evidence, and drawing cogent conclusions is mastered through practice, timely feedback, coaching, and meaningful assessments. Active reading strategies are taught through an examination of a wide variety of literary works. Independent reading on a daily basis supplements and enhances course material, and students report on what they read through a variety of media. Student success is defined by their commitment and progress. The curriculum is designed to augment and improve the skills of every young writer and, most importantly, foster a lifelong appreciation and affinity for the language arts.
  • Science

    Sixth grade science focuses on the study of one of the most complex things in the universe - the human body. Students begin the year focusing on developing their core science skills: making observations and inferences, collecting quantitative and qualitative data, as well as developing an understanding of the process of scientific inquiry. They spend time in the lab sharpening their observation skills by practicing using lab equipment and learning how to measure using the metric system. Students also participate in inquiry activities that focus on individual parts of the scientific process, which includes developing an understanding of how to identify and write testable scientific questions, write a proper hypothesis, and how to identify independent and dependent variables. Students use their knowledge of the nature of science to explore cells and cellular processes, and then move into a study of the anatomy and physiology of various human body systems. Health-related issues and strategies for healthy living are incorporated throughout the curriculum. The coursework done in sixth-grade science is an important stepping stone in preparation for high school biology. Throughout this course, students are expected to utilize the scientific method to make hypotheses, design and conduct experiments, collect and analyze data, and draw conclusions. Students have regular opportunities to practice analytically communicating their findings, both verbally and in writing. The content in sixth-grade science lends itself to be an excellent vehicle for group and individual project-based learning, and technology is frequently incorporated into the classroom as a tool for researching, analyzing, and presenting.
  • Math

    Taking risks continues to be a key aspect of sixth-grade math. Students engage with the understanding that comprehension and mastery take place through the journey of mathematical exploration and not merely arriving at a desired solution. They strive to be confident, independent, and flexible problem solvers, willing to collaborate with their peers and to extend themselves beyond their comfort zones.

    Sixth-grade math is constructed around a basic pre-algebra course. Students begin with an overview of algebraic reasoning followed by integer and rational operations, proportional relationships, graphs, percents, geometric figures, probability, and solving equations and inequalities. 
  • Math Honors

    Taking risks continues to be a key aspect of sixth-grade honors math. Procedure and efficiency is also important when more steps are needed to solve a problem. However, the answer to a problem, though important, is only part of the progression students take when solving an equation. The answer is an outcome of completing a process, not the most important part of a problem. The more abstract a concept, the more important it is to show one’s work. The journey through a problem and the ability to apply past knowledge to future questions, especially those students are not familiar with, are fundamental to this course. This develops confident, independent, empathetic, and flexible students, willing to work with their peers and extend themselves past their comfort zones.
     
    Sixth-grade Honors Math is constructed around a basic pre-algebra course. Students begin the course reviewing rules with negative numbers and fractions and continue this focus through solving variable expressions using inverse operations. Students work with manipulatives, solve word problems using the five-step plan, use the distributive property, multiply binomials, factor trinomials, and end the year working with 2D and fractal geometry. Upon successful completion of this course, the majority of students transition into Algebra 1.
  • Spanish

    Sixth-grade Spanish is a continuation of fifth-grade Spanish. Key themes are families, traditions, celebrations, favorite places to go/activities outside school, foods, and ordering in a restaurant. The beginning of the term serves as review and then builds upon this foundation. This course is taught utilizing a variety of comprehensible input methods such as the TPRS (Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling) method, MovieTalk, simulations, music, and QTALK. The QTALK method, utilizes a series of visual icons placed grammatically and interpreted as full complex sentences. The goal is language acquisition, to provide the brain with enough repetitions that language flows out naturally, with the modeled syntax and vocabulary.

    Class is active and participatory. Whether the class is creating a character, discussing culture, or singing a pop song, students monitor their comprehension and gradually expand their understanding of the grammar and syntax of Spanish. As their confidence grows, students are increasingly encouraged to speak and write in longer sentences and paragraphs. Students are taught to be diligent participants in the learning experience, and teachers become facilitators. The primary objective of sixth-grade Spanish is to achieve greater fluency and enjoyment of the language. In addition to expanding their vocabulary and grammatical knowledge, students also focus on cultural elements, geography, traditions and customs, as well as current events throughout the Spanish speaking countries. Students will utilize a wide variety of digital resources available on the portal to support their learning and to demonstrate their achievements.
  • Latin

    The sixth-grade Latin course continues to emphasize pronunciation and acquisition of vocabulary and introduces the reading of longer and more complex passages of Latin. Students learn the forms of the first three declensions of nouns and begin to examine the roles of the accusative, ablative, dative, and genitive cases in Latin grammar. Spoken Latin continues to be a means of acquiring vocabulary and learning grammar.
  • French

    Sixth-grade French is taught utilizing the TPRS (Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling) method as well as QTalk. The QTALK method utilizes a series of visual icons placed grammatically and interpreted as full complex sentences. This program is based on active cognition. This is a method by which students are active participants in the learning experience and teachers become facilitators. The QTALK method quickly develops learners' oral competencies through an intuitive approach of syntax. As an expansion to this, movie talk and storytelling are used in order to develop students’ ability to use the syntax and vocabulary learned in new and impromptu conversations. Imparting the passive form is a main focus in lessons. Students will also learn about the geography of France, and important facts about other Francophone countries with special attention to Canada.

    In grammar students will study the Present Tense of irregular verbs, the Past Tense of regular and irregular verbs, how to express a command, the object pronouns with special attention to object pronouns in commands, and they will be exposed to the pronoun "en" and "y". In vocabulary students will learn to greet, ask names and nationalities of people, to express their needs, to invite friends to do things with them, to describe themselves and others in more details, to describe their room and their house, and to talk about possessions.
  • Art

    Understand the Arts Community: Find Your Inspiration

    Students review materials, techniques, and art studio routines. New and more complex skills and techniques are taught to build upon what they already know. Students are introduced to the artistic practices of different cultures and communities in sixth grade, which broadens their perspective and knowledge of the important role that art plays throughout the world. Students begin to understand the arts community by gaining an appreciation for the arts and learning to interact with other artists. Upon exposure to art from different areas of the world, students find what inspires them to create their own works and make art using this inspiration in a variety of media. For example, after being introduced to Caribbean Folk art, students are challenged to create a work that celebrates life, color, nature, traditions and/or speaks to current issues. For this assignment students are given a choice of colorful media such as paint, chalk pastel, oil pastel, colored pencils, or markers to convey their idea. Focus is on reflection, and articulation of what inspires them and why. 
  • Innovation: Introduction to Mechanical Engineering

    Students learn more about how simple machines work by designing their own mechanically-operated sculptures called Automaton. They learn to design and cut their own parts using the laser cutter and learn the safe use of the various hand tools we have in the studio. Utilizing axils, cams, gears, and levers, their projects appear to come to life as they turn the crank arm. The work is based on a theme of their choice but must connect to one of their other academic subjects. For example, a student might choose to make their sculptures portray a scene from their favorite book or historical event. They are asked to document the finished sculpture and create an artist statement that explains the process in their own words.
  • Technology

    Students complete three projects in the term-long sixth-grade technology class. They continue to use Scratch, a block-based visual programming application to advance their programming skills. Using Scratch, the students create games that are shared with their classmates. They are introduced to robotics using LEGO Mindstorms EV3 sets to design, build, and program autonomous vehicles. They participate in a robot “sumo wrestling match” to see whose robot can stay on the board the longest. For our third project, students design and create wooden clocks. They develop digital design skills using Adobe Illustrator to design their clocks and then fabricate their project using the laser cutter. Students then assemble the clocks using clock motors and hands. 

    These projects help them develop essential skills such as creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, and communication. 
  • Study Skills

    Study Skills is offered in lieu of a foreign language to students who have a documented learning needs profile. Students are closely monitored in a nurturing and small group environment while learning the importance of organization and self-advocacy. Each day, the class curriculum is determined by the needs of the students based on their academic testing and learning profiles so that they receive support in the areas they need most.

    Class lessons focus on active reading strategies, grammar review or preview, writing skills, and test-taking strategies. Some classes include “homework help,” but the focus is on clarifying, planning, and editing assignments. Students are taught that the keys to success are demonstrating consistent organizational skills and a willingness to implement a variety of study strategies. Utilizing planners, students organize their daily homework, prioritize tasks, set goals for long term projects, and monitor overall academic goals. Students learn to evaluate their learning styles and their work by grading and assessing their progress throughout the term. Study Skills is an important part of a lifelong journey in which students discover how they learn best and continue to use that knowledge independently in future years.

Grade 7

List of 14 items.

  • Humanities

    Grade seven students begin the study of American History through a survey course covering Pre-America through the Civil War. Students begin with exploration and colonization, the reasons immigrants made the arduous trip to the Americas, who and what they encountered, and the challenges to establish a civilization in this new world. From there, students will examine the causes for separation from England and the creation of the United States of America. The remaining content will cover the establishment of American cultural, political, and economic history, and the resulting Civil War to defend its creation. Primary documents are central to the investigation of this course, and students will read from a wide variety of texts. 

    Along the way, the students are provided with ample opportunities to gain necessary skills.  Specifically, these include reading comprehension, note-taking, analytical writing, argumentative debate, and creative thinking. Each week they will read critically, write analytically, and debate both their peers and their teacher. As active learners, they will also have opportunities to use creative and innovative projects to bring the history of our country to life. Major assignments throughout the year will include writing formal argumentative essays, researching and leading historical debates, and engaging in a long-term innovation project.
  • English

    In seventh-grade English, students continue to develop their reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills. This is done through analysis of different literary works, the continued study of grammar and vocabulary, and a variety of writing assignments. Some of the key ideas and skills that will be developed are citing several pieces of textual evidence to support analysis, determining a theme and analyzing its development, understanding how particular elements of a story interact, and being able to compare and contrast different texts. In addition to assigned in-class readings, students are required to read independently. Literature is shared through discussion and collaboration so that all points of views can be considered.

    Students deepen their understanding of writing as a craft, learning how to interpret words and phrases used in the text, analyzing how specific word choices shape meaning and tone, and strengthening the structure of their writing by including figurative language. Written skills are refined as students learn strategies that help them plan, draft, edit, and execute solid final drafts. Students learn how to determine the meaning of unknown words and phrases within the context of reading. They learn strategies to demonstrate an understanding through use. Grammar is taught both formally and in the context of what is being read. Students will apply what they learn to usage, mechanics, and the overall structure of their writing.

    Students will demonstrate their speaking and listening skills by engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions with various partners, analyze main ideas and supporting details presented in diverse media and formats (visually, quantitatively, and orally), and present material using the PEC method (paying attention to Pacing, Eye Contact, and Clarity).
  • Pre-Algebra

    In seventh-grade math, students plunge into the abstract. Students learn and practice operations of rational numbers and the application of these skills to solve problems of increasing complexity. Instruction is conducted with an emphasis on showing one’s work. This is an important step as concepts become more abstract and multi-faceted. The students will demonstrate how they apply past knowledge to current questions, exemplifying a synthesized understanding of mathematics.

    Students will be challenged to manipulate variable expressions and equations. After reviewing the rules of integers and fractions, students are introduced to other pre-algebraic concepts, including Algebraic word problems, using inverse operations to solve one and two-step equations, multiplying binomials, and factoring trinomials (FOIL). Upon successful completion of this course, the majority of students will transition into Algebra 1.
  • Pre-Algebra Honors

    In Pre-Algebra Honors, students plunge into the abstract. Students learn and practice operations of rational numbers and the application of these skills to solve problems of increasing complexity. Instruction is conducted with an emphasis on showing one’s work. This is an important step as concepts become more abstract and multi-faceted. The students will demonstrate how they apply past knowledge to current questions, exemplifying a synthesized understanding of mathematics.

    Students will manipulate variable expressions, solve multi-step equations including word problems, study rules of exponents, multiply and factor polynomials, transform formulas, manipulate algebraic fractions, study linear and quadratic functions, and work with square roots. Upon completion of the course, most students place into Honors Algebra.
  • Algebra I

    The students will review some of the concepts from Pre-Algebra prior to moving on to more abstract thought. In this course, students strive for efficiency. They will be challenged with learning formulas needed to assist them in certain algebraic situations. They will learn how to use a graphing calculator as well, which is a skill they will strengthen throughout the year.
     
    They will be given opportunities to work in groups and demonstrate the steps they learned to solve a problem. They will explore algebraic concepts including polynomials, applying fractions, solving equations, and understanding word problems. Upon successful completion of this course, students will take Geometry.
  • Science

    How can you tell if a river or stream is polluted? This question, posed to the students on their first trip to the Mianus River, becomes the underlying theme in this class. The students acquire the knowledge and techniques needed to paint an increasingly complex picture of this freshwater ecosystem. In the process, they come to understand how human actions can have both helpful and harmful effects on land and water. Given the interdisciplinary nature of this course, the content covers topics in life science, physical science, earth science, and chemistry. These disciplines, woven together throughout the year, focus on environmental science.

    In their search for a greater understanding of the health of local rivers, students conduct explorations, both in the field and in the laboratory, that require knowledge of lab equipment and techniques. Students learn to use macroinvertebrates, such as stonefly and mayfly nymphs, as early warning indicators of pollution. Chemical test kits are used to measure the levels of certain chemicals such as dissolved oxygen, nitrates, and chloride. Physical characteristics such as width, depth, turbidity, and flow are measured. The data collected from these studies are analyzed and used to argue the students’ conclusions.
  • Spanish

    Seventh-grade Spanish is a full immersion program, in which students continue to broaden their vocabulary and understanding of syntax to make greater oral and written fluency achievable. Key themes covered include ideal homes and furnishings, clothing preferences, layout of a town and shopping, vacations and leisure activities, community and the environment, and the changing role technology plays in our lives. To further expand vocabulary knowledge and enhance reading comprehension skills, students read short novels. These readings are discussed at length in class and form the basis for discussions of cultural differences and similarities.

    Oral communication becomes the primary objective, which is supported by focusing on more challenging reading and writing practices. At this level of study, students continue to improve their mastery of syntax and are required to communicate in Spanish as often as possible. The goal of seventh grade Spanish is to instill greater confidence and risk taking. Students will read and write more complex compositions in order to enable students to ask and answer specific questions with greater fluency. In addition to expanding their vocabulary and grammatical knowledge, students will also focus on cultural elements, geography, traditions and customs, as well as current events throughout the Spanish speaking countries. Students will complete the level one textbook, meeting and usually surpassing the requirements of a high school level one course.
  • Latin

    The sequence of Latin courses in grades 7-9 emphasizes a more rigorous and analytical study of forms and grammar. In the seventh grade, students master the ablatives of time, manner, and means, the dative of indirect objects, the uses of the relative pronouns, the forms of three noun declensions, and the passive voice of verbs in all tenses. New vocabulary lists appear weekly. Students have nightly assignments, read stories from Roman history, and translate passages into English.
  • French

    Seventh-grade French is a full immersion program in which students continue to broaden their vocabulary and understanding of syntax to make greater oral fluency achievable. Oral communication continues to be the primary objective, with a particular focus on students taking risks in speaking. This is supported by focusing on more challenging reading and writing practices. At this level of study, students continue to improve their mastery of syntax.

    In addition to expanding their vocabulary and grammatical knowledge, students will also focus on cultural elements, geography, traditions and customs, as well as current events throughout France and Francophone countries, with a special emphasis on Senegal. Students will also focus on Paris and its monuments with a unit that will culminate with students reproducing Paris in 3D using resources in the Innovation Center.
  • Art

    Artists in History: Find What Drives YOU

    Art in seventh grade is about digging deep to discover what the driving force is behind life at this time, and to visually represent it through artmaking. Seventh-grade art students will be introduced to a variety of different artists in history and learn about what drove them to create. Students will learn to make connections with artists they identify with and who are inspiring. For example, after learning about the motivation behind artists such as Pablo Picasso, Frida Kahlo, and Chuck Close, students will create self-portraits depicting what motivates them. The focus in seventh-grade art is to
    express, engage, and persist; figuring out what you are passionate about in the art studio and learning to embrace problems of personal importance. Materials, techniques, and skills will be reviewed, and students will create art based on their own identities. Students will practice reflection by continuously sharing, brainstorming, and discussing their work or work in progress with their teachers and their peers.
     
  • Innovation: In Service to Others

    The seventh-grade term, in service to others, gives students the opportunity to further develop their design skills as well as exercise their sense of empathy and leadership. This year the seventh-grade group will do that by creating projects for the SPK students. A review of the Design Thinking process will help the class get going on their first assignment -- a gift for our partner. Then, they will travel to the Lower Campus to present gifts and conduct interviews with the SPK students and their teachers to learn what types of games would be appropriate for the age group. They will be assigned partners and conduct one-on-one interviews to plan out their final projects. In the Innovation Center, they will need to gain the basic technical skills of Adobe Illustrator to digitally develop projects and fabricate those projects using the laser cutter or CNC router. Finally, we will host a visit from our SPK partners to present the finished projects. In the past, projects have included: wooden jigsaw puzzles, personalized plaques, custom buttons, magnetic ornaments, wooden pull toys, and a miniature golf course.

  • Technology

    In seventh-grade technology class, the students complete two projects. The first project will build upon last year’s robotics skills. They will use LEGO Mindstorms EV3 sets to design, build, and program arcade games. For the second half of the term, they will further develop their programming skills. Students will be introduced to the programming language Python. Python is a  beginner-friendly, high-level programming language. Because of its clear syntax and readability, it is simpler and easier to learn than other programming languages. Using Python, the students will create a question and answer quiz. They will then challenge their peers with their quizzes. 
  • Wellness

    The core goal of the health and wellness program is to instill in students a deeper understanding of physical, mental, emotional, and social wellness. Students will be exposed to a variety of tools to help them make informed decisions, cope with stressful situations, and become strong advocates. The health and wellness program will build students’ knowledge, skills, and positive attitudes about health. It will increase students’ awareness of the importance of self care and empathy. As they assimilate these skills it is the goal that students to be able to recognize when they need to seek help, who to seek help from, how best to seek help, and most importantly to destigmatize needing help.
  • Study Skills

    Study Skills is offered in lieu of a foreign language to students who have a documented learning needs profile. Students are closely monitored in a nurturing and small group environment while learning the importance of organization and self-advocacy. Each day, the class curriculum is determined by the needs of the students based on their academic testing and learning profiles so that they receive support in the areas they need most.

    Class lessons focus on active reading strategies, grammar review or preview, writing skills, and test-taking strategies. Some classes include “homework help,” but the focus is on clarifying, planning, and editing assignments. Students are taught that the keys to success are demonstrating consistent organizational skills and a willingness to implement a variety of study strategies. Utilizing planners, students organize their daily homework, prioritize tasks, set goals for long term projects, and monitor overall academic goals. Students learn to evaluate their learning styles and their work by grading and assessing their progress throughout the term. Study Skills is an important part of a lifelong journey in which students discover how they learn best and continue to use that knowledge independently in future years.

Grade 8

List of 15 items.

  • Humanities

    How did we get here? That is the question eighth-grade students will attempt to answer as they look at the United States of today. They will use a chronological inspection to better understand the evolution of ideas and the importance of cause and effect while also investigating the thematic issues of race, gender, religion, and economics in order to see how those in power interacted with those seeking a place at the table. Beginning with the close of the Civil War, they will examine units on Reconstruction, Westward Expansion,  and the economic boom of The Gilded Age. They will look at our Imperial Age, how that evolved into WW l followed by the Great Depression, which gripped the world and was instrumental in the onset of WW ll. They will continue on to the threat of nuclear war inherent in the Cold War, Korea, Vietnam, and the ongoing struggle in the Middle East.

    Along the way they will be asked to read, take notes, write research papers,  make presentations, create an iMovie, relate studied events to the current geopolitical climate, and -- most importantly — think. Students will question readings and one another during class discussion to develop their ability to assess the flood of often confusing information, all the while striving to be honest, thorough, and punctual in the completion of tasks. The goal is a better understanding of how the United States has reached where it stands today so that students are better prepared to deal with that which lies ahead.
  • English

    Effective communication between people is essential; students in eighth-grade English will have an opportunity to connect and communicate as readers and writers to send an authentic, individualized message. They will investigate works of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and short stories from the 1800s to the present, focusing on how characters in these stories either accept or reject the norms given to them by society, for better or for worse. Through analyzing the various artistic tools in each work such as its genre, structure, imagery, symbolism, and rhetorical devices, students will discern what worldview or message each author is trying to portray. They will focus on the interplay between content (the story a writer wants to tell or the moment he or she wants to capture) and form (the way the story or moment is offered to the reader). Students will learn about window texts, texts that teach us about ourselves, and mirror texts, texts that teach us about the world around us. .  Students will also have the opportunity to study critical lenses such as the gender lens, the social power lens, the morality and justice lens, and the psychology lens.

    The class is a dialogic, student-centered classroom that takes a constructivist approach to text.  Therefore, student success will largely be dependent upon creating dynamic and meaningful connections with their teacher and classmates, making personal connections to the material, composing individual learning goals, having the opportunities and gaining the confidence to be both curious and creative, and being willing to take intellectual risks. Students are given instruction, assessed, and receive feedback on active reading and annotation skills, Socratic Seminars, vocabulary and grammar, public speaking, and effective writing. Writing assignments focus on argumentative, expository, and narrative forms of writing. We will also be using a pedagogical triangle from the Facing History Organization with which to respond to the works we read.  Upon completion of the course, students will have gained the necessary reading, writing, and critical-thinking skills for success in high school English classes. 
  • Physics

    From the effects of the basic forces we encounter each day to the structure of an atom, Physical Science comes alive on the Upper Campus. The eighth-grade science curriculum focuses on the many ways that physics relates to our everyday lives. This course incorporates mathematics, design, experimentation, and engineering into all aspects of the curriculum. Students are encouraged to learn by doing, and to make connections between what they see and the scientific theory they are exploring. The laboratory component of the program provides students with the opportunity to design experiments, record, organize, and analyze data, and form reasonable conclusions based on the evidence. The design process helps students learn how to work effectively in groups, brainstorm ideas, build prototypes, test and retest their creations, and critique their final designs.

    Throughout the year, students learn about the effects of gravity, friction, and buoyancy. They also look at Newton’s Laws of Motion, the basics of propulsion, atomic structure, and chemical bonding. These topics are followed up with a variety of hands-on activities designed to inspire creativity and innovative thinking. One such activity is the 8th Grade Boat Race in which students design and build cardboard boats with the goal of transporting a crew member across a pool without getting wet. Anticipation grows as students wait to see if their creations will float or sink. The boat race is the culmination of the project, when students, along with their parents, gather to test the “seaworthiness” of the vessels. Although some boats don’t make it, a thrilling time is guaranteed for all!
  • Foundations of Algebra

    This class is student driven at a pace that allows the participants to feel secure asking questions until they are able apply the concepts independently. During the course of the year they develop trust in their peers and learn to take chances seeking help to clarify their understanding of the material. This confidence allows them to build toward the expectations of future math classes.

    The students use a TI-84 Plus CE graphing calculator periodically in class. They are exposed to and complete an introduction to basic algebra concepts including polynomials, applying fractions, solving equations, and understanding word problems. This course prepares students to continue in Algebra 1.
  • Algebra I

    The students will review some of the concepts from Pre-Algebra prior to moving on to more abstract thought. In this course, students strive for efficiency. They will be challenged with learning formulas needed to assist them in certain algebraic situations. They will learn how to use a graphing calculator as well, which is a skill they will strengthen throughout the year.
     
    They will be given opportunities to work in groups and demonstrate the steps they learned to solve a problem. They will explore algebraic concepts including polynomials, applying fractions, solving equations, and understanding word problems. Upon successful completion of this course, students will take Geometry.
  • Algebra I Honors

    Algebra I is a critical foundation course for all quantitative fields. This class will approach algebra from a variety of angles from traditional paper and pencil algorithms to tech-based tools. While there is only one correct answer to a problem, students in this class learn multiple ways to arrive at, prove, and support their answers. Therein lies the beauty of math: many different paths to arrive at one, irrefutable conclusion. As such, individual expression and personal preference is a key component of the class. In the ever-evolving digital era, fluency with math is critical. So is the ability to think independently. In this course, students will be challenged to “figure it out.” They will apply what they to know to what they do not know and test the veracity of the outcome. An appreciation for accuracy, as a gold standard, is a key outcome of this course.

    Students will learn operations with exponents, linear functions, solving systems of equations, using quadratics, exponential functions, and more. Use of the TI 84 CE graphing calculator is integral to this class. Upon completion of this course, student typically go on to Honors Geometry and Honors Algebra II.
  • Geometry Honors

    Euclidean Geometry is a year-long exercise in deductive reasoning. Students accept a small set of axioms as universal truths and use them as building blocks to prove a wide array of theorems of ever increasing complexity. In prior math classes, students are presented with algorithms to apply to a given set of problems. In Geometry, concepts are not applied until proven to be true by the rigors of mathematics.

    Students work on a coordinate plane to study and manipulate points, lines, angles, polygons and circles. Use of the TI 84 graphing calculator and online construction tools is integral to the class. Upon completion of this course, students typically go on to Honors Algebra II.
  • Beginning Spanish I

    Eighth-grade Spanish is an introductory program to Spanish Level I. Key themes include, greetings, weather, seasons, locations, stores, foods, as well as school items and favorite past-time activities. The beginning of the term serves as an overview of basic vocabulary and builds gradually upon this foundation. This course is taught utilizing a variety of comprehensible input methods such as the TPRS (Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling) method, MovieTalk, simulations, music, and QTALK. The QTALK method, utilizes a series of visual icons placed grammatically and interpreted as full complex sentences. With the use of texts, reading and writing, as well as recorded oral tasks are stressed.

    In addition to expanding their vocabulary and grammatical knowledge, students also focus on cultural elements, geography, traditions and customs, as well as current events throughout the Spanish-speaking countries. To further expand vocabulary knowledge and enhance reading comprehension skills, students read short novels. These readings are discussed at length in class and form the basis for discussions of cultural differences and similarities. The primary objective of eighth-grade Spanish is to achieve a growing understanding of Spanish and an enjoyment of the language.
  • Advanced Spanish II

    How do core values influence the key decisions that we make? How do countries balance economic development with providing for the needs of their citizens? Students will explore some of the factors that cause people to immigrate to the United States as they read a biography about a Guatemalan family seeking political asylum during the civil war and a historical fiction about a family fleeing Cuba during Castro’s dictatorship, and watch a feature film about a Mexican boy who tries to reunite with his mother in the United States. Students will compare their own daily lives, values, customs, and stresses to those faced by the protagonists in the stories.

    Students learn intermediate language structures. Grammar is introduced in context through more complex reading materials and class discussions. Students are expected to take greater risks, speaking in complete sentences and offering their opinions in the target language. Written tasks are longer and more complex, requiring the use of present and past tenses appropriately. Several projects are completed to help demonstrate this mastery, such as a video of their daily routine, a news report describing  ecological initiatives taken in the US and other countries, and a cooking show about how to prepare a typical dish from a Spanish speaking country. This course meets and often exceeds the requirements of the first half of a level 2 high school curriculum.
  • Latin I

    The eighth-grade Latin course emphasizes the mastery of all tenses in the active and passive voices, the uses of three participles, idiomatic expressions of place, and the comparative and superlative degrees of adjectives. There are nightly assignments to memorize vocabulary, to read, or to translate. Completion of this year fulfills or exceeds the requirements of one year of high school Latin at most schools.
  • French I

    Eighth-grade French is a full immersion program in which students continue to broaden their vocabulary and understanding of syntax to make greater oral fluency achievable. Oral communication continues to be the primary objective with a particular focus on students taking risks in speaking. This is supported by focusing on more challenging reading and writing practices. At this level of study, students continue to improve their mastery of syntax. Students are now required to write more complex sentences, present well developed projects, research in French, read and summarize novels. In addition to expanding their vocabulary and grammatical knowledge, students will also focus on cultural elements, geography, traditions and customs, and current events throughout France and Francophone countries. This year, the class will study Francophone islands.

    In vocabulary students will widen their knowledge of family and friends, nationalities, professions, formal and informal introductions, and activities around movies and concerts. In grammar students will study tenses, pronouns and adjectives. Upon completion of the course, the expectation is that students enter French II in 9th grade.
  • Art

    Intro to Modern Art: Looking Closely

    Students will be introduced to a variety of modern artists and their work, and begin to learn how to
    observe and discern visual situations more closely than just “looking” demands. Through close observation of artwork students will continue to gain a better understanding of the arts community, and begin to see things that might otherwise be missed. Students will find what inspires them in the work they are exposed to, and create unique art based on their own interests. Eighth-grade art students will continue to review and learn a variety of old and new techniques focused on the development of their craft in media such as painting, drawing, collage, digital design and photography, ceramics, sculpture, and printmaking. They will be expected to respectfully use the communal studio space adhering to studio routines and procedures, the tools, and materials within it, and to challenge themselves to reach beyond the comfort zone of what is familiar. Students will continue to visually express themselves by learning to create works that convey an idea, a feeling, or a personal meaning. For example, after viewing and discussing a variety of different art works that share the common theme of Place, students will create a photographic collage depicting a place that is meaningful to them. Students will practice reflection on a deeper levelby consistently sharing, brainstorming, and discussing their work or work in progress with their teachers and their peers.
  • Innovation: RCS Space Program

    The RCS SPACE PROGRAM was established in 2016 to prepare and train the next generation of space travelers and innovators. The program pushes students to explore creative solutions to the unique challenges presented by long-duration space travel and to prepare for our future as a multi-planetary species. Astronauts must be trained in many different disciplines, from scientific research and flight control to teamwork and survival skills. Past projects include: mapping the Martian surface using NASA satellite images and building three-dimensional contour maps, a Hydroponic Vertical Garden system, a Jet Population Lab that builds and tests model rockets, Augmented Reality Landscape Simulator, designing mission logos, and Flight Suit design. The mission is far from over but with each class, we get one step closer to life on Mars.
  • Technology

    In eighth-grade technology class, the students will complete two projects. The first project will further develop their programming skills. Students will be introduced to the programming language Python. Python is a beginner-friendly, high-level programming language. Because of its clear syntax and readability, it is simpler and easier to learn than other programming languages. Using Python, the students will create a question and answer quiz. They will then challenge their peers with their quizzes. For the second project, students will use the programming language, Processing. Processing is a language for learning how to code within the context of the visual arts. Students will create drawings, animations, and interactive graphics using Processing.
  • Wellness

    The core goal of the health and wellness program is to instill in students a deeper understanding of physical, mental, emotional, and social wellness. Students will be exposed to a variety of tools to help them make informed decisions, cope with stressful situations, and become strong advocates. The health and wellness program will build students’ knowledge, skills, and positive attitudes about health. It will increase students’ awareness of the importance of self care and empathy. As they assimilate these skills it is the goal that students to be able to recognize when they need to seek help, who to seek help from, how best to seek help, and most importantly to destigmatize needing help.
Lower Campus (PreK-Grade 4)
325 West Patent Road
Mount Kisco, NY 10549
phone: (914) 244-1200
Upper Campus (Grades 5-9)
439 Cantitoe Street 
Bedford, NY 10506
phone: (914) 244-1250
Rippowam Cisqua School is a PreK-Grade 9 independent day school in Westchester County, New York. RCS offers challenging academics built on innovation, fine and performing arts, competitive athletics, wellness, leadership, service learning, and a wide selection of extracurricular activities.
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