Grades 5 through 8
The students in our middle school grade will expand on the knowledge they received during the primary years in all curriculum areas. Our dedicated and knowledgeable staff will help guide them to read, write and think critically, use their mathematical skills in a productive way, appreciate and understand the world around them from a spiritual, scientific and social perspective. They will learn to become independent and self-sufficient learners. As they move into the 7th and 8th grades the teachers will prepare them for the skills they will need to master high school, providing a challenging set of curriculum in language, arts, writing, literature, mathematics, social studies and laboratory sciences.
Math and Science Curriculum
The middle school in this area focuses on the following
- Reasoning, Proof, Methodology, Problem Solving, Strategizing
- Communication, Understanding, Connections, Applications
- Interpretation, Representation, Appreciation
The students in grades 5 and 6 will build on their earlier skill set in mathematics. They will undertake more difficult levels of operation such as graphing, coordinates, estimating, measurement and geometry. In addition, the students will work with ratios, proportionality and more difficult problems. They will also expand their knowledge of multiplication, division and fractions. Problem solving and critical thinking are practiced daily in these grades.
Our 7th and 8th grade students expand on these mathematical concepts and are introduced to new ones such as algebra, number theory and operations and statistics. Tasks become more complex and students sharpen their critical thinking skills, work on mathematical communication, make connections between mathematical concepts and real life application, and learn to organize and record data.
Upper grade science is divided into four core areas: Life Science, Earth Science, Physical Science and Chemistry. These areas are offered in two-year cycles. In addition, the scientific method is explored in depth as students are required to produce a science project. The science curriculum is presented through lectures, readings and hands-on laboratory work.
The Life Science curriculum explores the plant and animal kingdom which lead into an in depth discussion of the human anatomy and the structure and functions of the various organ systems. The actual and virtual dissection is a part of this area of study. The student will also be introduced to current biomedical issues.
The Earth Science curriculum takes a look at the structure of the earth through discussion of plate tectonics, continental drifts, ocean formation, and the changing surface of the earth due to volcanic earthquake activities. Included in this unit of study is the water cycle, weather, exploration of the planet and ecological concerns.
Our Physical Science unit introduces the physics of sound, light, mechanical and electrical energy. The students study the properties of inertia, momentum, torque and various theories of force and motion. The students will devise their own simple/complex machine roller coaster during this area of study.
In Chemistry, the upper grades study the properties and changes in the property of matter. They learn about elements on the Periodic Table, acids, bases, polymers as well as physical and chemical changes. Boiling points, density, solubility and other properties are discussed. Students learn to balance equations and use the language of chemistry. Laboratory work is an integral part of this unit.
Students in Bethesda’s Middle grades cover an extensive area of study in the social sciences. The students in the Middle grades are on a 2-year cycle of study.
Our 5th and 6th graders will study world history in two parts. First they will be exploring the ancient civilization along the Tigris, Nile and Euphrates River to the establishment of cities and empires in Egypt, Greece and Rome . The focus then turns toward the civilizations of the East, with an emphasis on China’s history, geography and culture. The African continent, its cultures, countries and political structures are also explored. Students will take field trips to the Spertus Museum, Art Institute and other historical venues for a hand on approach to the material they are studying in the classroom. The second par t of their studies takes the students to the Roman and Byzantine Empires, as well as Medieval Europe and the Middle Ages and the eventual imperialism and exploration by the countries of Western Europe. Included in the social studies curriculum will be several cross-curricular activities, which include fine arts projects, adventures in writing and math, science and reading tasks.
American and World Cultures
In year 1 of the 7th and 8th grade Social Studies curriculum the students will study the cultures and peoples of North America, beginning with the Native Americans to the first European colonies. A special emphasis is placed on the 13 original colonies of the United States, the Revolutionary War, the Declaration of Independence, our beginning nation and the Constitution of the United States of America. The students in 7th grade will also take the Constitution test during this cycle. The cycle closes with a look at the Civil War. A look at primary sources and outside readings give the students a better understanding of this time in our country’s history. The second part for our upper grade learners begins with the Reconstruction and the expansion of our nation. The Industrial Revolution and its impact is explored and the students take an in-depth look at the impact of immigration on our country. World Nationalism, World War I and World War II round out the social studies curriculum. A special focus is given to the Holocaust, with a visit to the Holocaust Museum in Skokie, Illinois.
The Bethesda curriculum is designed to challenge students with higher levels of understanding in:
- Language Mechanics
- Oral and Written Expression
- Language Appreciation
Students in the middle grades will build on their language art skills, becoming more proficient in the mechanics of English. These skills will utilized, as each student will produce a research paper on a select topic. They will learn research techniques, note taking, outlining, bibliographic and footnote entry. Other types of writing from creative to expository will also be explored. Our seventh and eighth graders will practice listening skills with weekly note taking on lectures, and outlining and summarizing from orally presented material.
The students in our middle school program apply their reading skills toward challenges provided in our upper grade reading/language arts curriculum. Students engage in a thorough study of material from different literary sources and genres of literature. The curriculum is designed to allow the students to master specific reading skills including: identifying main ideas and details, drawing conclusion, drawing inferences from the printed text, comparing and contrasting characters, settings and plots in stories, and referencing themes, motifs and symbols in literary works chosen by the instructor.
In addition, the students will work independently reading novels of their own choosing in a particular genre. The students will then keep a journal where they examine the characters, setting, plot, theme and other relative ideas from their respective books. The students will also create projects that will enhance their readings. These projects include, but are not limited to, dioramas, clay models, posters, mobiles, drawings, paintings, and power point presentations. Those students in grades 7 and 8 will establish “Book Clubs” that will take their reading to another level and add an extra dimension to the student’s understanding of literature.