Middle School Curriculum

Mathematics

At McMaster Middle School math lessons move well beyond the textbook.  Students don’t passively learn the material; they live it. From balancing the check book for business committee to scrutinizing the stock market, students are asked to apply mathematical concepts to everyday life.

Small group lessons and intensive projects encourage students to examine a problem from every angle. The low student to teacher ratio guarantees individualized education and allows students to reach their full potential.

Students will have math lessons every day of the week using Holt’s Pre-Algebra and Algebra I textbooks as guides with supplementation, as appropriate, from the Connected Mathematics Project. The Holt textbooks are used for routinely practicing math operations individually. The Connected Mathematics Project is a curriculum that presents practical situations to help students learn important, relevant mathematical ideas and skills to solve real life problems.

Most Middle School students will study pre-algebra and complete Algebra I by 8th level graduation. This gives the students the opportunity when entering high school to be considered for an accelerated math curriculum. Individual skill and achievement levels will be considered so that, for example, a 7th level student may begin working in the Algebra I book and may therefore accelerate to Geometry after completing Algebra I.

Language Arts

The goal of our language arts program is to promote a love reading and writing, and to instill the ability to effectively communicate using both the written and spoken word. Units are thematic and often correlate to social studies or science topics. Students read a variety of literature including: poetry, essays, speeches, short stories, plays, novels, and articles.

At the beginning of the school year, students learn to use RACE - restate, answer, cite, and explain when answering questions across the content areas. Students also write nature inspired journals and poems, often using our campus as inspiration. Students are able to hike into the woods and find a quiet place to write and sketch. Formal writing instruction is given on the creation of 3 and 5 paragraph essays. Students focus on learning to write a strong thesis statement, how to choose and organize their strongest evidence to support their thesis, and how to use MLA format effectively. Students are also expected to complete research that culminates in a paper and presentation. They learn to choose an appropriate topic, select valid and reputable research materials, delve deeply into one topic for a length of time, interview an expert in the field, outline, write multiple drafts, and finally create a final draft in MLA format.

Our students learn to think critically, listen carefully, and speak succinctly. On a regular basis students participate in Socratic seminar. They gain confidence in their ability to look at all sides of a situation, form an opinion based on the facts, and then present their views in a non-confrontational and respectful way. They learn to agree or disagree with statements instead of people and to support their claims based on the facts in a formal way that promotes strong speaking and debating skills. They are able to clearly and intelligently articulate what they have learned, what they believe, and who they have become. 

Social Studies

The social studies curriculum takes a cultural studies approach considering history, geography, economics, and current events.

The program seeks to take students beyond memorization to a level of comprehension, coherence and critical thinking. A wide variety of resources are used in addition to the text. Guest speakers, simulations, field studies and debates allow social studies to become an inspirational and immersive experience. Lectures morph into classroom discussions generally incorporating the Socratic Method in order to bring forth diverse perspectives and interpretations. Students must harness the power of effective communication through both oral and written projects and presentations.

Seventh and eighth level students study the same curriculum in a two-year rotation. Content is taught thematically rather than strictly chronologically. General topics covered include: Revolutions (French, American, Industrial, and Russian), World Wars, Oppression and Reform, The Civil War, The Great Depression, Immigration, The Cold War and American Government.

This immersive, interdisciplinary approach to history creates an appreciation for the past, a respect for social systems and a sense of civic responsibility, with an ultimate goal of fostering and encouraging a lifelong interest in the society and world in which we live.

Science

The science curriculum at McMaster Middle School is based on a two-year rotation that includes concepts in Earth, Life, and Physical Science.

Students study topics in depth, giving them a broad background in the different fields of science. Laboratory experimentation, demonstrations, lectures, independent research, field studies and cooperative learning groups provide a multifaceted approach toward the teaching and learning of the sciences. The inter-connectedness of all fields of science is always stressed.

The wooded trails and category three wetlands on our 37-acre campus allow students to interact with the natural world for scientific observation on a daily basis. Additionally, the greenhouse adjacent to the Middle School science lab offers students the opportunity to engage in horticultural activities and experiments throughout the school year.

Through observation, students develop an appreciation of the natural world and learn critical thinking skills through experimentation and problem solving.