Middle School Curriculum

ETR Students working on laptop computers.

PURPOSE

The intent of this Course Description Guide is to provide students and parents with descriptions of the courses offered at E.T. Richardson Middle School. Students who wish to change a course and/or a level within a content area must follow the guideline provided by administrators for this change. Refer to Secondary Course Progressions for advancing.

Curriculum

Our educators craft curricula to be standards-based, academically rigorous with an emphasis on immersing students in literacy initiatives, and mindfully integrates technology for our 21st century learners.

GRADING SCALE

A = 90-100
B = 80-89
C = 70-79
D = 60-69
F = below 60

ASSESSMENTS

Each course has assessments anchored to Pennsylvania State Standards. Benchmark testing has been embedded into most courses offered. Measure of Academic Progress (MAP) testing and Classroom Diagnostic Testing (CDT) are administered throughout the year to determine student growth and provide educators with a guide to addressing student learning. The annual Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) is a standards-based, criterion referenced assessment used to measure a student’s attainment of the academic standards while also determining the degree to which school programs enable students to attain proficiency of the standards. Middle School students in grades 6-8 are assessed in English Language Arts (ELA), Reading, and Math PSSA tests. The PSSA Science exam is administered to 8th-grade students only.

A Philosophical Summary

The goal of Springfield School District (SSD) is for its graduates to enter postsecondary programs ready to achieve without the need for remedial college courses. Furthermore, we want a higher percentage of SSD graduates to successfully complete their postsecondary education within a six-year period. The elementary schools have set the foundation with a strong reading program bolstered by the ‘Go Blue’ initiative. The responsibility of E.T. Richardson Middle School (ETR) is to ensure all students are prepared to participate in the rigorous academic program at the high school level. ETR will accomplish this goal with a focus on learning through writing. Writing is knowing. This is the tenet upon which we base our program, The Writing Center. Writing is a skill that students need not only while in school, but one that can carry them through college and career. To be college and career ready, a student must write well.

Working with the University of Pennsylvania Penn Literacy Network (PLN) and the Pennsylvania Writing and Literature Project (PAWLP) fellowship, our faculty has embedded opportunities within each content-area to engage students in the writing process across all of the ETR curricula. The 6 Traits of Writing (ideas, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency, and conventions) is reflected within content specific writing, assessing writing, giving feedback on writing, and using technology to support writing. Our students will be encouraged to celebrate their writing in various ways such as: contributing to a personal writing portfolio, essay contests, school displays, and culminating projects illuminating their growth as a writer.

At ETR, we are The Writing Center. We look forward to guiding your student as they develop their thoughts and reflect on their learning as a writer.


Grade 6

Language Arts 6 (Reading/Writing)

Sixth grade language art studies a variety of fiction and nonfiction texts, including stories, drama, and poetry. The texts encompass a varied complexity band, with scaffolding as needed. The curriculum integrates reading, speaking, listening, and writing skills to develop critical thinking and effective communication. Students also explore important historical events through reading and writing along with grammar and vocabulary development.

Language Arts 6 Plus

The LA Plus class is designed to challenge students to apply their mastery of fundamental reading and writing skills. It engages students in high-level applications of skills in critical reading, expository writing, oral communication, and linguistic and vocabulary development. Students are offered differentiation of the reading, vocabulary, and writing activities in terms of acceleration, depth, complexity, challenge, and creativity. Students will read in multiple genres and be expected to demonstrate a strong command of language at a highly-motivated and independent level.

Mathematics 6

The sixth grade level math course (Big Ideas Green book) provides a solid foundation in middle school topics such as fractions, decimals, and their applications to everyday situation. Throughout the course students apply foundational skills to areas of two and three dimensional geometry, and represent polygons on a coordinate plane as one way to find area and perimeter. Algebraic concepts are developed and strengthened as students learn different mathematical properties and how they are applied to solving and evaluating simple equations, expressions, and inequalities. This program emphasizes interpreting statistical measures for a deeper understanding of what different data and graphs represent. Using real-world situations to understand concepts is found throughout the course as is evident in the exploration of ratios and rates. Additionally, students develop an extensive mathematical vocabulary that they use on a daily basis and which is important for math achievement.

Enriched Mathematics

The Enriched Mathematics course (Big Ideas Advanced 1 book) provides a smooth transition from arithmetic to algebra and geometry. The foundation of the program is centered on the Common Core Standards. This program reflects the practice of identifying and working on the utilization of numbers and operations. Rational numbers and inequalities are emphasized, and there is a major emphasis on percent, surface area, and geometry. Algebra is integrated throughout the text as a way of describing generalizations as a language for formulas and as an aid in solving simple equations.

Pre-Algebra

This accelerated pre-algebra course (Big Ideas Accelerated book) is intended for those sixth grade students who meet all of the prerequisite criteria for the program. The pre-algebra course integrates applied arithmetic, algebra, and geometry and connects all of these areas to measurement, area, and statistics. Variables are used to describe patterns, as abbreviations in formulas as unknowns in problems, as representations on a number line, and are graphed in a coordinate plane. Basic arithmetic and algebraic skills are connected to corresponding geometry topics. This course provides opportunities for students to visualize and demonstrate concepts with a focus on real-world applications. Successful completion of this course prepares students for Algebra 1.

General Science 6

This is an activity-oriented Science course that introduces students to Life Science, Earth & Space Science, and Physical Science with topics aligned to the Pennsylvania State Standards. An integral part of this course exposes students to hands on lab experiences from the award winning CPO Science program. These experiments engage students in higher order thinking investigations which are designed to promote a deeper understanding of science and engineering concepts. Life Science topics include: living things, ecosystems, and biomes, an introduction to cell theory, cell structure and function. Earth & Space topics include: energy, the water cycle, Earth’s atmosphere, formation of rocks, and the solar system. Physical Science topics include: science and measurement, motion, forces, Newton’s Laws of Motion, electricity, magnetism, temperature, heat, and the phases of matter, as well as the physical properties of matter. Emphasis is placed on the introduction of science process skills such as the scientific method, experimental design, proper use of lab equipment, and technical reading and writing.



Grade 7

Language Arts 7

Seventh grade language arts studies a variety of fiction and nonfiction texts, including stories, dramas, and poetry. The texts encompass a varied complexity band, with scaffolding as needed. The curriculum integrates reading, speaking, listening, and writing skills to develop critical thinking and effective communication. Students also develop an understanding of grade-level grammar concepts and vocabulary.

Language Arts 7 Plus

The LA Plus class is designed to challenge students to apply their mastery of fundamental reading and writing skills. It engages students in high level applications of skills in critical reading, expository writing, oral communication, and linguistic and vocabulary development. Students are offered differentiation of the reading and writing activities in terms of acceleration, depth, complexity, challenge, and creativity. Students will read in multiple genres and be expected to demonstrate a strong command of language at a highly motivated and independent level.

Mathematics 7

The Big Ideas Red book is a continuation of the Green book and follows the same pacing. It addresses the following PA Common Core standards for mathematical content: Ratios and Proportional Reasoning, The Number System, Expressions, and Equations, Geometry, and Statistics and Probability. Within these content areas, students will focus on the following: analyzing proportional relationships, performing rational number operations, generating equivalent expressions, solving problems using linear equations and inequalities, understanding geometric relationships, solving problems involving angles, surface area, and volume, analyzing and comparing probabilities, and finding probabilities of events.

Pre-Algebra

The Big Ideas Advanced II book picks up where the Advanced I book ends and is similarly paced. It addresses the following PA Common Core standards for mathematical content: The Number System, Expressions, and Equations, Functions, Geometry, and Statistics and Probability. Within these content areas, students will focus on the following: approximating real numbers, performing real number operations, solving problems using linear exponents, connecting proportional relationships and lines, solving systems of linear equations, defining, evaluating, and comparing functions, modeling relationships, understanding geometric relationships, solving problems involving angles, surface area and volume, understanding congruence and similarity, applying the Pythagorean Theorem, analyzing and comparing populations, finding probabilities of events and analyzing bivariate data.

Algebra I

Students work towards developing algebraic skills and concepts as they work to enhance problem solving ability that every student needs to succeed in college, technical school, or the working world. A secure foundation in basic mathematical skills, fractions, and decimals is essential for success. Topics covered in this course include: number theory, polynomial expressions and equations, products and factors of polynomials, linear functions, coordinate graphing, graphing linear equations, determining and analyzing the slope of lines, lines of best fit and data analysis, radical and rational expressions, and solving and graphing quadratic functions. Algebra skills and concepts needed to solve equations, inequalities and systems of equations will be developed. Algebraic problem solving techniques will be employed to solve relevant applications. Graphing calculator technology will be used. A TI-84 graphing calculator is recommended. All topics in this course will prepare students for the 8th grade Common Core PSSA, the Algebra I Keystone Exam and Algebra II.

Social Studies

This curriculum focuses on the development of nonfiction reading and writing skills, coupled with the development of 21st century skills, (i.e. core competencies such as collaboration, digital literacy, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills). Historical Literacy is both the exploration of content knowledge and the use of historical reasoning. The course will touch on various aspects of world history from the beginning of time to today. Content ranges from the development of early civilizations to their technological developments and their cultures. This course utilizes literacy strategies and technology to assist in the comprehension of the material. The priority of this course is to actively engage students in higher order thinking, while developing their knowledge of literacy strategies and nonfiction writing skills through the exploration of historical content. Students participate in group/individual projects, in-class assignments, current events, and various learning activities to support the content.

General Science 7

An argument driven course that uses a hands on approach to investigate Earth, Life, and Physical Science. Emphasis is placed on developing a foundational understanding of the scientific process, the interdisciplinary nature of science, and how it is closely integrated within society. This inquiry-based course encourages students to develop diverse skills in problem solving and the scientific method, which includes learning the proper use of lab equipment, and developing a foundational knowledge of technical reading and writing. Using the Google Classroom platform, 7th grade students will harness technology to research, explore, problem-solve, and participate in hands on laboratory experiences.



Grade 8

Language Arts 8

Eighth grade language arts studies a variety of fiction and nonfiction texts, including stories, dramas, ad poetry. The texts encompass a varied complexity band, with scaffolding as needed. The curriculum integrates reading, speaking, listening, and writing skills to develop critical thinking and effective communication. Students also explore important historical events through reading and writing along with grammar and vocabulary development.

Language Arts 8 Plus

The LA Plus class is designed to challenge students to apply their mastery of fundamental reading and writing skills. It engages students high level applications of skills in critical reading, expository writing, oral communication, and linguistic and vocabulary development. Students are offered differentiation of the reading and writing activities in terms of acceleration, depth, complexity, challenge, and creativity. Students will read in multiple genres and be expected to demonstrate a strong command of language at a highly motivated and independent level.

Pre-Algebra

Big Ideas Blue book integrates Number Operations, Algebraic Concepts, Geometry, Data Analysis and Probability. Topics covered in this course include: Solving Linear Equations, Graphing Linear Equations, Writing Equations (Slope Intercept, Standard and Point Slope Forms), Functions (Domain, Range and Linear Patterns), Angles and Similarity (Triangles, Polygons and Parallel Lines), Square Roots and the Pythagorean Theorem, Data Analysis and Lines of Best Fit, Inequalities, Exponent Rules and Scientific NOtation. This course provides opportunities for students to visualize and demonstrate concepts with a focus on real-world applications. Students are expected to have graphing calculators for home use. Successful completion of this course will prepare students for Algebra I and the 8th Grade Common Core PSSA.

Algebra I

The goal of this course is to develop algebraic skills and concepts and to enhance problem solving ability that every student needs to succeed in college, technical school, or the working world. A secure foundation in basic mathematical skills, fractions, and decimal, is essential for success. Topics covered in this course include: number theory, polynomial expressions and equations, products and factors of polynomials, linear functions, coordinate graphing, graphing linear equations, determining and analyzing the slope of lines, lines of best fit and data analysis, radical and rational expressions, and solving and graphing quadratic functions. Algebra skills and concepts needed to solve equations will be developed. Algebraic problem solving techniques will be employed to solve relevant applications. Graphing calculator technology will be used. A TI-84 graphing calculator is recommended. All topics in this course will prepare students for the 8th Grade Common Core PSSA, the Algebra I Keystone Exam, and Algebra II.

Geometry

Students will be provided with a solid basis in the deduction thought process and will be helped to understand and draw upon their ability to reason in a logical framework. Through utilization of applications & investigations, students will learn the properties of triangles, quadrilaterals, circles, perpendicular and parallel lines, perimeters, areas, and volumes. The use of transformations will be critical to the understanding of these concepts. Geogebra interactive teaching and learning software will be used in this course. The successful completion of this course at the middle school level will have the students prepared for Algebra II at the high school.

Social Studies - Historical Literacy

This curriculum focuses on the development of 21st century skills. Historical Literacy is both the exploration of content knowledge and the use of historical reasoning. This theme-based course will touch on various aspects of world history from the beginning of time to today. The themes range from nationalism to technological and economic development. This unique course utilizes numerous primary and secondary resources and various mediums. The priority of this course is to actively engage students in higher order thinking by challenging them to apply historical content to support relevant modern-day issues in preparation for the rigors of high school and beyond.

General Science 8

This is a lab-oriented course that focuses on advancing scientific concepts and investigation into Biological, Physical, and Earth & Space topics using Google Classroom as a platform for our 21st century learners. Students will utilize hands on equipment modules to enhance real investigations in science and engineering topics that correspond with Pennsylvania State Science standards. Throughout the course students will gain a foundational understanding of the complex science vocabulary which is woven through the higher order thinking activities from the award winning CPO Science program. Further emphasis is placed on developing science process skills such as the scientific method, experimental design, proper use of lab equipment, and technical reading and writing with the aim of preparing students for future secondary science courses.



Unified Arts Courses

Art

2D Art
In 2D art, students will learn about the Elements (line, shape, color, space, texture, and value) and Principles (pattern, proportion, movement, variety, repetition, emphasis, balance, rhythm, and unity) of Arts. Students will experiment with various materials such as: pencil, marker, colored pencil, pastel, pen & ink, watercolor, tempera paint, etc. Projects may include, but are not limited to: drawing, painting, printmaking, architecture, and collage. Students will be encouraged to develop their creative-thinking skills, analyze their work through critical thinking, and reflect upon their final artwork.

3D Art
In 3D art, students will learn about the Elements (line, shape, color, space, texture, and value) and Principles (pattern, proportion, movement, variety, repetition, emphasis, balance, rhythm, and unity) of Art. Students will experiment with materials such as: clay, papier mâché, plaster, balsa foam, paper pulp, etc. Projects may include, but are not limited to: ceramics, sculpture, mixed media, relief, and crafts. Student will be encouraged to develop their creative-thinking skills, analyze their work through critical thinking, and reflect upon their final artwork.

Computer Education

Grade 6 Introduction to Computer Applications
Students will gain an understanding of our Acceptable Use Policy and Internet/email etiquette. During the course, students will learn how to send a well composed email, practice their keyboarding skills, and get an introduction to coding.

Grade 7 Desktop Publishing
Students will gain an understanding of publishing software. During the course students will learn how to add emphasis to our publications through the use of text, graphics, and color. We will also format video clips, photographs, and sounds so that they become a movie.

Grade 8 Interactive Media
Students will learn new skills to create, design and produce using different types of media. Some topics include web design and coding. This course is designed to increase student’s knowledge and understanding of the applicability of digital technology.


Family & Consumer Science

Our middle school curriculum is offered at all three grade levels. This curriculum introduces students to basic topics in Family and Consumer Science (FCS), including food preparation and nutrition, hand sewing, child development, character development, and community service. Hands-on activities and literacy strategies are used to drive the curriculum.

Students participate in various community service projects such as a field trip by 8th grade FCS students to Harlee Manor, a retirement living community. Our students create greeting cards and bake cookies for the residents. Another community service project includes creating and sending greeting cards to military personnel overseas.

Mathematics Workshop

Math Workshop provides students with supportive strategies necessary to be confident and successful in mathematics. This year long course will focus on teaching students to apply their learning in the classroom to real world situations which will deepen their level of understanding. Students will engage in a variety of activities to enhance vocabulary, fluency, problem solving, critical thinking, and computational skills. Mathematical concepts directly corresponding to grade level material is pre-taught and reviewed to enhance student’s confidence and progress through the curriculum. Continued monitoring of student progress allows teachers to mindfully customize lessons based on student needs in the grade level math course. Students will be required to participate in classroom discussions, work independently and collaboratively in small groups to maximize engagement for learning.

Reading Workshop

The Reading Workshop curriculum is designed to provide students ample opportunities for instruction and practice of the reading process and comprehension strategies. Students will work independently as well as collaboratively in small groups. The focus of Reading Workshop is to provide students with strategies necessary to be successful readers. Students will engage in a variety of activities to enhance vocabulary skills, fluency, reading comprehension, and address decoding as needed. Teachers approach this curriculum with the intent to help students build an awareness of when to self-correct while reading with both oral and silent practice. Student progress is continually monitored to enable teachers to tailor activities designed to support students where necessary.

Music

The middle school music program offers performance classes in band, chorus and orchestra. General music class is offered in grade 6. There are some small group instrumental and vocal sections as well as extracurricular performing ensembles including jazz band and select chorus.

Students continue to develop skills through music reading and theory, technical studies, improvisation, composition, self-evaluations, historical connections and ensemble performances.

Opportunities for students in these classes include winter and spring concerts, adjudications, fests and various community performances. Field trips are taken to expose students to the arts and cultural events.

Wellness

In the middle school Physical Education program, students are involved with a more complex application of movements and manipulation of equipment. The teaching of physical fitness is emphasized and monitored. Team sports and group activities are an integral part of the program.

The middle school Health program centers around personal health, human growth and development and decisions making with the understanding that the middle school years are a time when students are working on creating an identity.

As an extension of the classroom, students may participate in field trips, including attending the “Life Begins” program at Lankenau Hospital, and visits from guest speakers from Teen Challenge, the Springfield Police Department, the West Chester University Nutrition Department and others covering a variety of age appropriate topics.

Research & Writing

Grades 6, 7, and 8
Research and Writing is an elective course for 6th, 7th and 8th grade students that meets every other day for one trimester. The focus of this course is to develop student’s writing skills by exposing them to cross curricular activities infused with opportunities to research and write in various ways. Students will participate in strategic activities to explore writing concepts, types of writing, and skills employed by a writer. A culminating assessment will occur at the end of each unit enabling students to demonstrate their knowledge and developing an understanding of being a writer. Learning to harness 21st century skills and technologies students will also navigate topics related to digital citizenship.

Reader's Choice / Writer's Voice

Grades 6, 7, and 8
Creative Writing is an elective course that meets every other day for one trimester. Each grade level will work on different skills, strategies and assignments tethered to Pennsylvania State Writing and Language standards. With a special emphasis on high level interest fiction writing, students will engage in free writing responses to a prompt and explore components of the writing process. Students will be studying different types of modeled writing through engaging activities with the middle school student in mind. Desired technology platforms and media will be employed to serve as a guide for various genre related activities. Continued practice is meant to elevate our student’s competency in fun ways the enhance the cross curricular experience.

Foreign Languages

Introductory Spanish - Grade 6
Students will learn basic Spanish vocabulary related to numbers, letters, cognates, greetings, colors, and days of the week. This course helps students get an idea for what it is like to learn Spanish as a foreign language. The course concentrates on beginning speaking, writing, and listening skills in Spanish. 6th Grade Spanish meets every other day for one trimester.

Introductory German - Grade 6
Students in this course will be introduced to the sounds of the German language and a taste of German culture. They will learn to manipulate classroom objects in the German classroom. Students are introduced to the German alphabet, numbers, colors and body parts. Students will also investigate famous Germans and gain an understanding of the benefits of learning the German language.

Exploratory Language - Grade 6
Students learn to identify the various aspects that make up the American culture. They learn to describe their identity to others using their knowledge of the American identity. Then students investigate the cultures of Spanish, German and French speaking countries. While not the primary focus, they will also learn to speak some basic vocabulary of each language. At the end of the course, each student will choose which language and culture they would like to continue studying in high school.

Spanish [Year 1] - Grade 7
The Spanish I course provides students with the basic skills to communicate with another person in Spanish. While TPRS continues to play a role in developing language acquisition in the course, grammar is introduced for the first time. Students learn to conjugate verbs they have been using and to apply grammar rules to sentence structure.

French [Year 1] - Grade 7
Students will complete the first half of French I in this course, completing chapters 1-4 of the Allez, viens series. During the 7th grade year, students will learn to read, write, speak and listen at a novice level in French. They will learn to greet others, tell people their name and age, as well as express general likes and dislikes. In addition, students will learn to voice their opinions, agree and disagree and thank others. Lastly, French I students will learn how to talk about issues relating to school and how to accept or turn down suggestions.

German [½ Year 1] - Grade 7
Students complete the first half of German I in this course; Completing chapters 1-3 of the Komm Mit series. During the 7th grade year, students will learn to read, write, speak and listen at a novice low-mid level. They will learn to greet others, state their age, tell where they are from and how they get to school. Students will learn to talk about their hobbies and their families. Students will also learn to describe their home and what they eat.

German [½ Year 1] - Grade 8
This course is the second half of German I, where students will complete chapters 4-6 of the Komm Mit series. Students will learn to talk about the classroom and their school schedule. They will be able to talk about the clothes they wear. They will also be able to make plans with others and be able to order food and drink in a restaurant. When they complete the course, they will be able to read, write, speak and listen at a novice mid/high level.

Spanish [Year 2] - Grade 8
The Spanish 2 course provides students with the basic skills to communicate in Spanish. Students learn to conjugate verbs they have been using and to apply grammar rules to sentence structure. By the end of 8th grade, students will learn to speak at a Novice level, where they can begin to be understood by a Spanish speaker. Students will gain an understanding and tolerance of people from other cultures. Upon successful completion, students will advance to Spanish II at the high school.

Business

Grade 6: Saving/Investing
Students learn to make responsible financial choices through examining stories in the classroom. They will learn about basic economics, as well as spending and budgeting their money to enhance their buying power. Activities include check writing, creating budgets, and playing the stock market. Students will be able to compare and contrast ways to save and invest their money through researching different financial situations.

Grade 7: Marketing
Students will be introduced to the concepts and foundations needed to successfully market goods or services to consumers. Students will focus on how companies persuade consumers through different types of advertising and product planning. Students will also see marketing as a possible career choice.

Grade 8: Entrepreneurship
Students learn about the different fields of study and the career opportunities that exist in our society. Through this course, students will be able to identify traits and characteristics to be a successful entrepreneur. This course introduces students to the world of business: how they are planned, organized, and advertised in our economic system.

STEM

The middle school curriculum is based on national and state standards in relation to Technology Education, Science, and Mathematics. The curriculum engages students in an authentic, problem-based learning environment. Students will learn about the foundations of technology as it relates to engineering design and the problem solving process. The “Big Ideas” of the middle school course will focus on inventions and innovations; the history of technology and technology systems; understanding that the design process is a systemic, iterative problem solving method that produces solutions to meet human wants and desires; and understanding the processing and controlling of energy resources.



Most of the basic material a writer works with is acquired before the age of fifteen.

- Willa Cather


Don't try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It's the one and only thing you have to offer.

- Barbara Kingsolver


“We write for the same reason that we walk, talk, climb mountains or swim the oceans - because we can.

- Maya Angelou


Don't worry when you're not recognized, but strive to be worthy of recognition.

- Abraham Lincoln


Music is the major form of communication. It's the commonest vibration, the people's news broadcast, especially for kids.

- Richie Havens


One thing life has taught me: If you are interested, you never have to look for new interests. They come to you. When you are genuinely interested in one thing, it will always lead to something else.

- Eleanor Roosevelt


Don't worry when you're not recognized, but strive to be worthy of recognition.

- Abraham Lincoln


And as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet's pen
Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name.

- William Shakespeare,
A Midsummer Night's Dream


He says, you have to study and learn so that you can make up your own mind about history and everything else but you can't make up an empty mind. Stock your mind, stock your mind. You might be poor, your shoes might be broken, but your mind is a palace.

- Frank McCourt,
Angela's Ashes





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