The Middle School division, grades 6-8, prepares students for high school and assists them in becoming productive participants in their academic, social, and ethical lives. Middle School classes provide students with a curriculum that promotes positive attitudes, self-respect, and regard for human dignity. Teachers and administrators are continually fostering students’ potential, sense of responsibility, respect for others, honesty, and cooperation. In small, structured classes, teachers specialize in subject areas that include social studies, language arts, mathematics, science, technology, and foreign languages. The sixth grade is considered the grade of transition. Sixth graders are centered in contained classrooms for language arts and social studies, and science and math, while seventh and eighth graders are divided into mixed groups for all academic classes.
For international students, English as a Second Language (ESL) instruction is provided to develop fluency in English. ESL students are mainstreamed into the regular classrooms gradually as they develop the necessary readiness and confidence. The Learning Center provides core-program assistance and intensive support opportunities to qualified students who meet the criteria for these programs.
Language Arts Curriculum
6th Grade English
The Language Arts curriculum at sixth grade focuses on literature and writing. The literature program is designed to promote a higher depth of thinking in the classroom. Students learn to question appropriately in an environment that supports creative reflection. Instruction is centered on opportunities for critical and creative thinking, communication and collaboration, and the integration of character development and cosmopolitanism. Students make connections to other areas of the curriculum through the integration of the grade-level themes of systems, adaptations, and identity. Students use their knowledge of word origins and word relationships, as well as historical and literary context clues, to determine the meaning of specialized vocabulary and to understand the precise meaning of grade-level-appropriate words. Students read and understand developmentally appropriate material that is grade level and beyond. They describe and connect the essential ideas, arguments, and perspectives of the text by using their knowledge of text structure, organization, and purpose. Students read and respond to historically or culturally significant works of literature that reflect and enhance their studies of history. They also clarify ideas and connect them to other literary works.
In the writing program, sixth-grade students learn to write clear, coherent, and focused essays. Such writing seeks to exhibit student awareness of audience and purpose. Essays contain formal introductions, supporting evidence, and conclusions. Students progress through the writing process producing narrative, expository, persuasive, and descriptive essays of at least 250-500 words in each genre. Student writing demonstrates a command of standard American English conventions appropriate to this grade. Students deliver focused, coherent presentations in a variety of formats that convey ideas clearly and relate to the background and interest of the audience.
7th Grade English
The seventh grade Language Arts curriculum presents a rigorous reading program combined with instruction in composition, grammar, and vocabulary to build on the language arts skills learned in the sixth grade. Students are introduced to a variety of literary works, including classic short stories, novels, poetry, and non-fiction. Class discussions and written responses develop critical thinking and introduce literary elements. Formal essays and oral presentations develop necessary writing and speaking skills. Informal discussions about students’ free reading encourage reading for pleasure and provide the opportunity to explore individual interests. The main goal of the seventh grade Language Arts curriculum is for students to develop an enjoyment of reading and language and greater confidence in their abilities as readers, writers, and speakers. Opportunities abound for regular integration of critical and creative thinking, communication and collaboration, with the inclusion of character development and cosmopolitanism. Students make connections to other areas of the curriculum through the integration of the grade level themes of adaptation, conflict, constructs, and systems.
The emphasis in seventh grade reading is two-fold. First, students develop an understanding of the fundamental characteristics of a variety of literary types. Basic structural features of a short story or novel, including plot, characterization, and narrative perspective, are introduced, as are stylistic features such as imagery, personification, and symbolism. Second, students learn how these literary elements influence their interpretations of the themes of a story. Detailed discussions, higher level questions, and reading journals allow students to develop the ability to analyze the intent of an author and to gain confidence in expressing their own opinions on the subject matter. This reading and critical-thinking base then becomes the genesis for a variety of written work.
Students build on the writing process introduced in the sixth grade for the production of several compositions. Students write informal responses to reading material and topics of discussion to promote the development of individual voice and style. The 6+1 Trait Writing Model is used to develop students’ ideas, organization, voice, sentence fluency, word choice, and conventions (i.e. grammar). Vocabulary is introduced weekly with attention to spelling, correct usage, multiple definitions, and forms of words. Students are then encouraged to incorporate these skills in descriptive, persuasive, narrative, and analytical formal essays and in oral presentations. Peer editing is employed when appropriate to build proofreading and editing skills.
8th Grade English
The eighth grade Language Arts curriculum is a literature-based curriculum designed to help students develop the skills necessary to succeed in high school. Throughout the course, students read a variety of literary works, including short stories, novels, poetry, plays, and non-fiction. Students respond to selected material through class discussion and written assignments. Students compose a variety of formal essays and give oral presentations to increase writing and speaking skills. The main objective of the eighth grade Language Arts curriculum is to promote accurate and proficient interpretation of literature both in writing and during discussion. As with previous grades, regular integration of critical and creative thinking, communication and collaboration, with the inclusion of character development and cosmopolitanism help students make connections with other areas of curricula through the integration of the grade level themes of power, identity, systems and chaos/order.
Literature units emphasize identification of plot elements, narration, and characterization. Students refine their background knowledge of ways to further identify and interpret more advanced literary elements such as foreshadowing, imagery, symbolism, and irony. Students are encouraged to think critically and analytically about material presented, supporting their ideas and interpretations with appropriate evidence from their reading. Students are exposed to classic literature and authors further preparing them for a successful high school experience.
This course seeks to promote students’ ability to write clearly and effectively in preparation for high school. To this end, students develop skills in grammar, form, style, and use of language. Drafting, outlining, summarizing, editing, and proofreading are incorporated into writing assignments. Written form and style are explored within short answer responses and various forms of essays, including narrative, persuasive, expository, analytical, and creative. Personal expression is encouraged in poetry and in special projects.
English 8 Honors
The 8th Grade Honors class is offered to a select group of motivated students who are willing and able to go well beyond the basic language arts curriculum (see above.) The assigned readings are stimulating and challenging. Writing assignments consistently foster logical, sequential, and creative thinking, with insightful analysis and articulate expression the main objectives.
Social Studies Curriculum
6th Grade – World History, Geography and Ancient Civilizations
Students in grade six expand their understanding of history by studying the people and events that ushered in the dawn of the major Western and non-Western civilizations. Geography is of special significance in the development of the human story. Continued emphasis is placed on the everyday lives, problems and accomplishments of people, their role in developing social, economic, and political structures, as well as in establishing and spreading ideas that helped transform the world forever. Students develop higher levels of critical thinking by considering why civilizations developed where and when they did, why they became dominant, and why they declined. Students analyze the interactions among the various cultures, emphasizing their enduring contributions and links, despite time, between the contemporary and ancient worlds. The curriculum is integrated with language arts through the thematic connections of systems, adaptation, and identity. Students read historical fiction novels related to these themes and incorporate units of study from both language arts and social studies.
7th Grade – World History and Geography
Seventh grade history students examine the social, cultural, and technological changes that evolved from 500-1789 AD in the regions of Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas. Students explore the history and geography of great civilizations, including how they developed concurrently throughout the world during medieval and early modern times. They also examine the exchange and interactions of goods, economies, ideas, and cultures throughout the world and analyze the effects that philosophy, science and religion had upon the rise of democratic ideas and the influence of these ideas in the modern world. The curriculum is integrated with language arts through the thematic connections of adaptation, conflict, constructs, and systems. Students read historical fiction novels related to these themes and incorporate units of study from both language arts and social studies.
8th Grade – U.S. History
This course is designed to provide a survey of United States history from the earliest human migrations to the Western Hemisphere through the Civil War and Reconstruction. Students outline and interpret the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution and the interactions of the three branches of the national government. Current events are followed and discussed throughout the year. Analyzing news as it is reported empowers each class citizen to think critically about current events and the political process. Each eighth-grade student participates in a weeklong OVS field trip to Jamestown, Colonial Williamsburg, and Washington, D.C. Through prior research, first-hand experience, and follow-up, reporting, the students gain an understanding of early U.S. history and the mechanics of governance. In addition, one teacher from the high school accompanies this group on the annual trip to Washington D.C. to provide an opportunity for students to get to know a faculty member from the Upper Campus social studies department. The curriculum is integrated with language arts through the thematic connections of chaos/order, power, and identity, systems. Students read historical fiction novels related to these themes and incorporate units of study from both language arts and social studies.
6th Grade Mathematics
Students in the sixth grade have the option of taking a sixth grade level math class or a seventh-grade level pre-algebra class. The seventh grade class is offered to students who have tested out of the 6th grade curriculum and/or who are working at an accelerated pace. If we do not have a course that meets the needs of a particular student, an independent study course can be created and offered for that student. The sixth grade math curriculum works to cover the state standards for this grade level.
7th Grade Mathematics – Pre-Algebra
This course expects, with confidence, that the Middle School student who has taken Pre-Algebra will perform better in higher mathematics. The basic goal is to prepare the student for the subsequent Introductory Algebra or Algebra 1 course that he or she will take in the eighth grade. Pre-Algebra also endeavors to prepare the student in a more general way for all courses which follow at the higher grade levels. Finally, the course guides students to apply their knowledge of mathematics to everyday situations in their lives.
8th Grade Mathematics – Algebra 1
The basic goal is to prepare the Middle School student for an advanced sequence of math courses in High School. Major objectives include the acquiring of basic study skills and test-taking strategies, demonstrating a competence for topics covered in the text, and the applying of fundamental mathematical principles. The principles include operations with real numbers, solving equations, using equations to solve word problems, solving inequalities and absolute values, powers and polynomials, factoring polynomials, solving rational expressions and equations, graphing linear equations and inequalities, working with radicals, and the quadratic formula.
6th Grade Science
The sixth-grade science program is divided into ten main units of study: cells, plants, interaction of life, oceans, geographic change, chemistry, light, sound, electricity, and weather. Chapter objectives are very specific. At the conclusion of each unit, a student should be able to explain, discuss, distinguish, observe, compare, describe, define, and identify from the appropriate material covered. The program has been structured to incorporate skills related to reading and comprehension, mathematics, and the ability to write clear and concise reports. Laboratory experimentation supplements text-based work. Field trips, outdoor activities and other resources are also used.
7th Grade Science
The primary goal of the seventh-grade science program is to introduce students to analytical thinking. Personal initiative is rewarded, and the discovery process is emphasized. Students are introduced to independent learning through a variety of short-term and long-term projects. These assignments focus on writing skills, organization, data collection, and analysis. Laboratory procedure and safety are taught. Computers are utilized as a resource. Students are regularly asked to question, research, hypothesize, experiment, and draw conclusions.
The seventh-grade science program focuses on life science. Topics covered include: light, cell structures, cell processes, genetics, changes over time, viruses & bacteria, structure & function of plants, and structure & function of invertebrates.
Lab experimentation requires responsibility and provides students with the opportunity to experience science through their senses. Field trips and use of school resources such as the computer lab round out the curriculum.
8th Grade Science
Eighth-grade science focuses on physical science. Topics covered include: motion & energy, forces, fluid dynamics, nature of matter, solid, liquids, gasses, plasma, elements & the periodic table, atoms & bonding, and chemical reactions.
In Science, an eighth-grade student will be expected to:
- Complete a science project and research report
- Effectively use the scientific method
- Participate in the school science fair
- Be prepared for top high schools’ science requirements
- Perform an average of one hands-on experiment each week
At OVS, technology is integrated daily into student life both inside and outside of the classroom. Technology classes are taught in a modern, well-equipped Makerspace and computer lab. Students often work in a collaborative environment, where problem solving techniques and experimentation with newly learned skills are encouraged. These technology skills will be expanded at the high school level. For example, the substantial programming and robot design skills achieved in middle school will provide a strong base for our high school robotics program.
Program at a Glance
- One-to-One program, all middle school students have Chromebook Tablets
- STEAM program: science, technology, engineering, arts and math integrated activities
- Educational Technology Specialist teaches technology as an academic course
- School-wide wireless connectivity
- High-speed broadband internet
- Classrooms with Teaching Walls featuring digital projectors
- G-Suite collaboration tools
|6th||Programming||Game Design||Gamestar Mechanic|
|Internet Peer Review||Reviewing classmates games||Gamestart Mechanic|
|Cad Design & 3D Printing||Creating 3D Objects||Tinkercad|
|Circuits||Makey Makey Circuit Kits||Wires, computers|
|7th||Block Programming||Creating programmed projects, including animated cards, games, animated comics.||Tynker Website; Scratch and Hummingbird electronics kits|
|Remote Control Flight||Learn to fly minidrones in preparation for a drone airshow||Parrot Minidrone; Drone Flight Apps|
|Drone Programming||Use block programming to program drones to fly autonomous complex patterns||Tynker Lessons and App|
|Cad Design & 3D Printing||Creating 3D Objects||Tinkercad and 3D printers|
|8th||Programming||Programming Robots||FTC Blocks Programming Tool|
|Design & Engineering||Design and build several robots for challenges||Rev and Tetrix Robotics Materials|
|Competitive Robotics||First Semester Students Build a Robot to Compete in the First Tech Challenge League||Rev and Tetrix Robotics Materials|
Foreign Language Curriculum
All middle school students take Spanish for their foreign language. The primary goal of the foreign language classes is to expand students’ appreciation of cultures other than their own through vocabulary development, readings, direct instruction and inter-active lessons, songs, and role play. Vocabularies related to family life, school activities, and free time activities are used in pair work, group work, and student-teacher interaction providing opportunities for the creative use of language. The target language is used most of the time and students are expected to respond whenever possible. The four skills of reading, writing, listening and speaking are developed as students have experience with the 5C’s of communication, culture, connections, comparisons, and communities. Teachers utilize computer software, and audio and video lessons, to help improve students’ understanding and use of the language. Students completing the eighth grade language requirement are well-prepared to advanced to a high school level II.
The primary goal of the Spanish classes is to enlarge advanced Spanish students’ knowledge of Spanish grammar, to develop their verbal and writing skills, and to expand their appreciation of the Spanish and Latino culture. Class activities include: readings, conversations, grammar lessons, culture discussions, computer work, songs, games, special projects, homework, quizzes and tests. Cultural topics include: Life in Spain, México, Ecuador, and Puerto Rico as well as the Latino populations in Miami, Florida and San Antonio, Texas. Students are taught a variety of reading strategies to advance their Spanish language skill. Previewing, guessing, scanning and using background knowledge are developed consistently throughout the course of study. Students will also develop their ability to write in Spanish, using appropriate grammar. Grammar reviews of the correct use of articles, nouns, modifiers, pronouns, and verbs in present tense and past tense are used in sentences to help reinforce language and promote mastery of structures needed for self-expression in Spanish. Emphasis is placed on memorization of regular verbs in the present and past tenses.