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Art

Expression of self is inherent in a middle school student’s development. Through hands-on experience, students refine their art knowledge and skills. They learn to add a more personal style to their art making and engage in more challenging ideas and concepts. Students work with a variety of mediums including printmaking, painting, drawing, clay and/or other sculptural material. Concepts include more formal applications like value drawings and learning to imply 3-dimensional form. Other lessons include, but are not limited to, studying color and the use of color in creating whimsical portrayals of dogs and cats, learning to enlarge from a grid to provide structure and clarity in drawing, using natural elements and the process of printmaking to explore compositional elements of more graphic layout, and the use of clay or other sculptural medium to experience creating form in space. A variety of artists are referenced, including Wayne Thiebaud. Our work is then shared by gathering in the gallery or Middle School Commons for a culminating art exhibition. This allows us to celebrate our successes and enables our young artists to take pride in creating.

Prerequisites: None

Research indicates that the study of a musical instrument can provide significant cognitive, physical, and social benefits for students. At Mounds Park Academy, 5th Grade Band is the entry point for students who choose to study a wind or percussion instrument. In this course, students learn the basic fundamentals of playing a band instrument and performing in an ensemble. These basic skills lay the foundation for continuing development in the coming years of study. Through participation in individual and small group lessons as well as large group rehearsals, students learn the basic fundamentals of music reading, rehearsal etiquette, and proper performance technique on their individual instruments.

Fifth graders will spend a full semester immersed in building upon their theatre skills through acting, writing, and even directing. Students will begin the semester with theatrical games and challenges to build a collaborative environment. They will explore movement, pantomime, and tableaus. This will transition to the fifth graders writing and filming melodramas, which teach character analysis, dramatic structure, and conflict. Finally, students will investigate a specific theatrical genre (Greek theatre, commedia dell’arte, kabuki, etc.), based off of student interest, which will lead to a more polished performance piece.

Friendship, fitting in, and finding one’s own identity are hallmarks of the middle school experience and themes we explore in English 5. This course offers exposure to quality, award-winning current and classic literature and short stories that reflect these themes and encourage students to think critically at a variety of levels. Students meet and interact with diverse fiction and non-fiction characters and cultures while developing skills in literary analysis, close reading of non-fiction through identification of text features, and building written and oral communication proficiency. Our comprehensive approach to the writing process includes brainstorming, drafting, conferencing, revising, editing, and publishing with an emphasis on organization of ideas, conventions, word choice, and sentence fluency.

Learning takes place in Health when there is maximum student involvement in activities and students can personally identify with the material being covered. In our curriculum, “The Great Body Shop,” students work out of a Student Issue handout that focuses on an appropriate level of knowledge of the topic, vocabulary, games and activities, and quizzes during each unit. Through all activities and learning opportunities, students will begin to develop individual values, build critical thinking skills and behaviors that relate to a healthy lifestyle.  Topics covered in the semester course are Critical Thinking Skills, First Aid & Safety, Smoking & Tobacco, and Emotional Health.

Students will continue to utilize the Singapore Math curriculum, aligned with the Common Core State Standards for mathematics. Students will be encouraged to solve problems in multiple ways, building on concepts throughout the year and applying them to solve a variety of problems. The curriculum focuses on these topics: whole numbers and calculations; adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing fractions, ratios, and decimals; measuring perimeter, volume, and area; beginning graphing and geometry concepts. In addition to concepts and calculations, students will learn to express mathematical questions and concepts verbally, numerically, and in writing. This math-fluency will allow them to verbalize ideas, questions, and explanations clearly and will help them communicate effectively as they move through higher math. Students will be equipped with a strong mathematical foundation and strong mastery of concepts. Students will use the math concepts to make real-world connections, observations, predictions, and explorations.

World Music Drumming uses playing in a drum circle to grow student skills in focus, respect, and collaboration. By echoing the teacher, students learn drumming technique and rhythms, and question-and-answer drumming guides students to create their own rhythms.  In addition to drumming, students are introduced to all aspects of singing in a choir.  Students learn to decode choral octavos by reading musical notation and symbols.  Students also dance folk dances from a variety of cultures.  Finally, students compose and perform a short musical piece on Orff instruments.  Students share what they have learned during the year in three performances.

Prerequisites: None

Beginning a new instrument is an exciting adventure, and one that students in Orchestra 5 will experience this year. Each student has the opportunity to choose between the violin, viola, cello and bass as a part of the larger orchestra. By attending semi-private fifteen-minute lessons each week, as well as rehearsals every other day, students become more confident with playing and performing. This course encourages students to take risks with a new instrument and apply knowledge of note reading from prior music classes. An afternoon of sharing music that students have learned, as well as a culminating concert in May, provides students with a venue to demonstrate the progress made throughout the year.

Physical Education class is an integral part of a student’s education, contributing to a healthy lifestyle. Students participate in co-ed class for 75 minutes every other day throughout the school year. Varied daily fitness activities include specific health and skill related fitness components for students to develop, such as: cardiovascular and muscular endurance, strength, speed, agility, and flexibility. Specific units are taught with an emphasis on teaching individual skills and techniques, involving numerous ball skills and manipulative skills, which is paramount to the program. Students are expected to integrate those skills into lead-up games and game play in the specific activity. A constant emphasis on cooperation and team play strengthens student leadership and collaboration skills.

Experimental design and design thinking are FUN-damental in 5th grade science! Students use the scientific method to explore the world around them. From hypothesis to results and all steps in between, students make discoveries and gain knowledge. Teams of young scientists work together in a variety of settings to investigate topics such as identification, structure design, electricity, and climate change. They also embark on an independent research paper in which they brainstorm ways to save our global resources through social action. We will also use current events for design thinking activities, as well as reading and writing about them to become informed scientific citizens. We culminate the year with inventions, stream tables, and a canoe trip.

A fifth grader’s journey into middle school finds students uncovering new social challenges, honing personal organizational skills, and feeling the tug of working toward independence from his or her parents. Seminar recognizes these life moments as an opportunity to develop the intelligence necessary to navigate the middle school. Students build their leadership skills, work on character development, and enhance interpersonal development. Additionally, this course supports fundamental academic skills, including proficiency in technology, time and materials management, and study and organizational skills.

A good historian asks questions about the world in which they live; for example, what influences shaped our country and changed it over time? Why were lands claimed and fought over? Why did some cultures thrive while others faded? Why did people fight so vigorously for their beliefs and rights? Students explore these questions and are encouraged to ask their own questions in this course covering events in the United States through the 1860’s. A variety of primary and secondary sources are used to facilitate critical thinking and understanding. Lively debate is encouraged.

Art

Art is a language by which students learn to communicate visually, expressing and exchanging ideas using the elements of line, shape, space, color, value, texture, and form. The Grade 6 Art experience is an integral part of the broader Middle School Art program, which is designed to foster student growth at every level. Through hands-on experience and demonstration in technique and applied concepts, students gain confidence in their skills and hopefully find joy in creating. This course offers instruction and opportunity in the mediums of drawing, painting, ceramics, and printmaking.  Composition is addressed in all mediums, as students are guided through a design process. Targeted skills include sharpening observational skills, building a drawing through layers, developing forms through shading, crosshatching with both value and color, color mixing using analogous tones, designing and creating three-dimensional surfaces in clay, and more. A variety of artists are referenced including Georgia O’Keeffe. The semester of work culminates in an exhibition that celebrates the creativity and accomplishments of each student.

Prerequisites: No experience to one year of experience playing a band instrument.

The continued study of a musical instrument boosts confidence and self esteem in students. Each successful performance results in a sense of achievement and accomplishment. In 6th Grade Band, students continue to develop and advance the skills they began to cultivate in their previous year of study on a band instrument. The students are introduced to more complicated music appropriate to their developing skill level as they continue to refine their tone quality, increase their range, and improve their technical facility. Greater emphasis is placed on playing with proper intonation and balance in the large group setting. Students also work on listening with a more critical ear to improve their own individual playing as well as the group’s overall sound.

Me, Myself, & Eye: My Self, My Body, My Perspective

What it means to be me.

Who are you in the world? What do you think? See? Feel? …. And how do you express it all?

The middle school years are a time of physical, emotional, and social change. Theatre is an excellent way to communicate and to explore these challenging, yet exciting times in a fun, safe, and educationally vibrant setting. This course will place an emphasis on the emotional, physical, and social growth young people experience at this age. As a class, we will embrace self-expression, truth-telling, playfulness, and playwriting. Students will learn to utilize their bodies to heighten character development for comedic and dramatic roles.

Sixth graders will spend the semester producing scenes about life as a middle school student and what it means to be an inclusive, kind, compassionate human being. Using humor, poetry, movement, song, yoga, physical exercises, improv, and playwriting, students will explore relationships with peers, guardians, and the greater community. All students will memorize self-written scenes and monologues for our final showcase performance at the end of the semester.

The ability to empathize and connect with literature and the human experience surrounds the 6th grade English curriculum. This course examines the power of words, delving deeper into text in order to further develop reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills. Reflection and critical thinking are woven into the course through short stories, memoir, and high-interest, award-winning literature, and higher-order thinking skills are developed through exploration of Bloom’s Taxonomy. Students are challenged to analyze, synthesize, and evaluate through non-fiction projects that include an annotated bibliography and a research project in MLA style. Perspective taking is encouraged through literary analysis and interdisciplinary projects including a first-person monologue of a Civil War-era person. The projects take students through the research process including: topic exploration, resource selection, note-taking and question development, organization of ideas, and presentation of the finished product, in addition to proper citation skills.

It is important for students to develop a strong foundation of concepts and skills to motivate them to develop lifelong healthy behaviors. In our curriculum, “Glencoe Teen Health,” class activities reinforce health skills taught with each lesson. Emphasis is on good decision making, practicing healthy behaviors, goal setting and analyzing influences when it comes to individual health. Students will examine the following during the three quarters they have class: Personal Health, Mental/Emotional Health, Physical Activity, Physical Growth & Development, Health & Wellness and Character Development.

Prerequisites: Math 5 and teacher recommendation

Algebra is the foundation for advanced study in business, economics, science, and many other fields. Pre-Algebra is the bridge between arithmetic and algebra. Students will begin to generalize the patterns of arithmetic and begin to use the language of algebra to solve problems, using fractions, percents, proportions, and equations. This is an honors level course, and so the level of challenge will be high.

Cementing the foundation of previous years, Math 6 will allow students to gain the confidence and sharpen the skills they need going forward. Time will be spent continuing the exploration of the world of decimals and fractions, putting to rest the mystery of these concepts.  Students will also explore the world of math through the lens of algebra, ratios, proportions, percent, and geometry. Problem solving is a large component of class, where students use different tools and strategies to find solutions.

Prerequisites: None

Sing, say, dance and play! All of these aspects of the Orff Schulwerk methodology are incorporated into General Music and Choir 6. Singing and playing together builds trust and relationships amongst classmates that are an important foundation of development in middle school. Rhythmic accuracy is a focus as students create and experience body percussion. Dancing both in small and large groups develops coordination and the ability to be comfortable within one’s body. Learning new instruments continues to be a focus of General Music as students are introduced to both Guitar and Alto Recorder this year. A December performance, as well as a culminating concert in May, provides students with the opportunity to share the progress they make throughout the course of the year.

Prerequisites: None

Developing and honing one’s technique as an instrumentalist requires dedication and practice. These are two skills that are an integral part of Orchestra 6. Studying slurs, multiple finger patterns and key signatures continues to raise the overall level of playing by all students in the orchestra. As the skill level rises in the orchestra, so does the level of difficulty in the music. Adding vibrato to longer notes in rehearsals and weekly semi-private lessons raises the level of musicianship of the orchestra. A December performance, as well as a culminating concert in May, provides students with the opportunity to share the progress they make throughout the course of the year.

Physical Education class is an integral part of a student’s education, contributing to a healthy lifestyle. Students participate in co-ed class for 75 minutes every other day throughout the school year. Varied daily fitness activities include specific health and skill related fitness components for students to develop, such as: cardiovascular and muscular endurance, strength, speed, agility, and flexibility. Specific units are taught with an emphasis on teaching individual skills and techniques, involving numerous ball skills and manipulative skills, which is paramount to the program. Students are expected to integrate those skills into lead-up games and game play in the specific activity. A constant emphasis on cooperation and team play strengthens student leadership and collaboration skills.

"Just Do It" applies to 6th grade science. Beginning with insects, students use observation, deduction, and application to study some of the smallest life forms on Earth. Students view physics through the lens of the scientific method, creating hypotheses, gathering data, and reflecting on the results to study simple machines, forces and energy, as well as light and color. We culminate the year with safety goggles and many “food” tests, as well as a feast. Additionally, we will use current events for design thinking activities, as well as reading and writing about them to become informed scientific citizens.

The information students have at their fingertips allows for great opportunities in life and learning, but thriving in an academic environment filled with technology and media can be challenging. Seminar 6 is a one-quarter course focusing on navigating the digital environment at Mounds Park Academy. Students are guided through the process of using Office 365 effectively, accessing Schoology, and navigating the MPA website. Students have the opportunity to discuss Internet privacy issues, Internet safety, media use, and digital footprints. Using Typing Pal Online, students continue to improve their keyboarding proficiency. Working with our school librarian, a portion of the quarter focuses on research and information literacy, as students continue to discover the vast amount of print and digital resources available through the MPA Library.

With the single stroke of a quill, Thomas Jefferson doubled the size of the United States when he expanded the presidential powers and purchased the Louisiana territory from France.  In this class, students examine the political and economic factors that pushed the United States government to pursue Manifest Destiny—as well as how those factors impacted the multiple ethnic groups that found themselves at the mercy of those resulting government policies. Classroom activities such as close reading, dialogue, and project-based learning focus on developing reading, speaking, writing, and critical thinking skills while also introducing students to a fascinating time in United States History.

Prerequisites: One to two years previous playing experience on a band instrument or approval of the instructor.

The overall emphasis of 7/8 Band is to help students continue their journey towards becoming strong, independent performers who can make smart musical decisions. More difficult rhythmic patterns, key signatures, and time signatures are introduced as the students continue to develop their playing skills. Students are expected to draw upon their knowledge of previous performances to play in a stylistically appropriate manner, and the increasing complexity of the music encourages part independence. During large group rehearsals, a strong emphasis is placed on playing with proper balance and intonation. Students are also encouraged to self-evaluate their own performance as well as that of the entire band using critical listening and thinking skills.

Prerequisites: Previous Orchestra experience or private lessons 

Cooperation, responsibility and teamwork are important life skills. Orchestra 7/8 emphasizes the importance of the individual as part of the larger ensemble while instilling a sense of inner responsibility on the part of each student. Continuing to develop technique remains at the forefront of rehearsals and weekly small group fifteen-minute lessons. By learning to shift to multiple positions, a higher level of playing is promoted both as an individual and as an ensemble. A December performance, as well as a culminating concert in May, provides students with the opportunity to share the progress they make throughout the course of the year.

Art

Credit: Semester long, full block course
Prerequisites:
None

“Creativity takes courage,” Henri Matisse.

To risk to be different, to act with thoughtful care and show others the work that springs forth in class, this is what we ask of the young artists in Art 7. They are acting with courage and faith, and learning a process to express ideas with their head, hands and heart. Visual art is a way to understand and communicate in the world through the use of line, shape, color, space, texture and values. These elements of design are the backbone of the Art 7 course. Through demonstration of technique, applied concepts, and hands-on experience in a range of media, students learn art language, gain confidence in their skills, and find joy in creating. From drawing and painting, to printmaking and ceramics, assignments are designed to maximize student development.

MPA is a community that sings! This is truly evident in the Middle School, where all seventh and eighth grade students participate in choir. Separated by gender, Boy’s and Girl’s Choir members practice the elements of good singing. Through vocal exercises, students learn how to breathe properly, unify vowels, energize consonants, and expand their ranges. While studying a wide variety of music, singers learn to function within a choir and demonstrate knowledge of their vocal part. Students showcase their work in two public concerts per year. 

(Quarter 1) 
 Students focus on the elements of singing: breathing, phonating, pitch matching, score reading, sight-singing, and basic harmonies. They are introduced to what it means to be a member of a choir (routines, responsibilities, how their part functions, etc.) while learning their music for the December concert.

(Quarter 2)
Choir members continue to focus on the elements of singing while also developing choral blend, vowel formation, and expression. This is achieved through the study of age appropriate vocal exercises and their concert repertoire. Final preparations (memorization, fine tuning) are underway for the December concert. 
 
(Quarter 3)
Through learning new concert music, students continue to work on aural and sight-reading skills, part-singing, blend, and expression.  At the end of the quarter, singing and written assessments measure their knowledge of their vocal part and the music.

(Quarter 4)
Students refine their listening and reading skills, develop a consistent tone, extend their ranges, and become more expressive musicians while learning their concert repertoire.  Final preparations have begun for their May concert.  Afterwards, students work on individual and large group evaluations, sight-reading music, and voice placing for the following year (eight graders only).

This class will focus on the fundamentals of debate. Students will work on persuasive speaking and writing, and how to build and present an argument through careful research and analysis.

Are you curious about the issues and candidates as the 2016 election nears? Are you interested in how our democratic system works? This class is not about history or theory, but rather a hands-on exploration of our American democracy.  We will use the state, local, and national elections in November as examples to understand how our electoral process and democracy function. The results of this election will have an effect on your life. You may not be able to vote, but you can get involved. We will explore alternative ways to engage in the democratic process, such as informing oneself about the issues, letter writing, and meeting with elected officials.

This course is about believing we can make a difference, and having an intentional process in order to get to new, relevant solutions that create a positive impact. Students engage in hands-on design challenge that focuses on developing empathy, promoting a bias toward action, encouraging ideation, developing metacognitive awareness, and fostering active problem solving. It is human-centered, collaborative, optimistic, experimental, and fun.

This program offers students the opportunity to select and solve a challenge in a creative, fun, and collaborative way. DI encourages risk-taking while incorporating STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), the arts and service learning. Students learn patience, flexibility, persistence, ethics, respect for others and their ideas, and the collaborative problem solving process. Students may choose to showcase their solutions at a tournament in early spring. (Full Year Course)

Actors, directors, and designers all have different jobs to bring a script to life…going from the page to the stage! Seventh grade drama students will explore the art of acting and creation through an introduction to monologues, play reading, and technical theatre. In other words, this is a semester focusing on the jobs of the actor and designers. Students will work on contemporary monologues and scene work with their classmates, investigating dramatic structure and deeper character studies. This is in conjunction with creating costume, set, make-up, and sound designs. This work will culminate in a final class performance and portfolio presentations for families and peers.

Imagine a wordless world. Would there still be wonder, relationship, or possibility? In pursuit of using their words well, seventh graders examine how the English language works and strive to become attentive and artistic readers, writers, thinkers, speakers, viewers, and listeners. They practice narrative and expository writing and experience close and critical reading. They develop research skills, broaden vocabulary, and hone organizational skills and academic habits of mind to deepen their facility with and appreciation for the power of words. By studying the works of authors such as SE Hinton, Daniel Keyes, and Nancy Farmer, seventh graders ponder such questions as “Do our differences or similarities matter most?”; “How do we choose what’s good or right?”; and “How do our words matter?”

MPA is a community that sings! This is truly evident in the Middle School, where all seventh and eighth grade students participate in choir. Separated by gender, Boy’s and Girl’s Choir members practice the elements of good singing. Through vocal exercises, students learn how to breathe properly, unify vowels, energize consonants, and expand their ranges. While studying a wide variety of music, singers learn to function within a choir and demonstrate knowledge of their vocal part. Students showcase their work in two public concerts per year. 

(Quarter 1)
 Students focus on the elements of singing: breathing, phonating, pitch matching, score reading, sight-singing, and basic harmonies. They are introduced to what it means to be a member of a choir (routines, responsibilities, how their part functions, etc.) while learning their music for the December concert.

(Quarter 2)
Choir members continue to focus on the elements of singing while also developing choral blend, vowel formation, and expression. This is achieved through the study of age appropriate vocal exercises and their concert repertoire. Final preparations (memorization, fine tuning) are underway for the December concert. 
 
(Quarter 3)
Through learning new concert music, students continue to work on aural and sight-reading skills, part-singing, blend, and expression.  At the end of the quarter, singing and written assessments measure their knowledge of their vocal part and the music.

(Quarter 4)
Students refine their listening and reading skills, develop a consistent tone, extend their ranges, and become more expressive musicians while learning their concert repertoire.  Final preparations have begun for their May concert.  Afterwards, students work on individual and large group evaluations, sight-reading music, and voice placing for the following year (eight graders only).

Prerequisites: Honors Pre-Algebra and teacher recommendation

Algebra is the science of patterns. Mastery of algebra opens the door to advanced study in many fields, including business, economics, and science. Students will learn the tools of algebra, including equations, graphing, systems, and quadratics. Students will have opportunities to apply these tools to solve problems in finance, business, ecology, and other fields. This is an honors level course, and so the level of challenge will be high.

This course offers students the opportunity to explore the local, regional, national, and world events impacting their lives and the lives of those around them. Through exclusive coverage of local events in the school and community, as well as commentary on national and world developments, students will practice writing, interviewing, and presentation skills. Students will learn the basics of effective, ethical reporting by creating weekly stories using social media, print, audio, and video to collaboratively and punctually produce a finished product. Look for the new MPA media outlets during the 2016-17 school year.

This option is for students who love math, love a challenge, and are interested in participating in Mathcounts, the premier math competition for 7th and 8th grade students. Math Club works with problems and topics that students do not encounter during their math classes. Students who think hard math problems are fun and who participated in and enjoyed Math Masters will love Math Club!

Physical Education class is an integral part of a student’s education, contributing to a healthy lifestyle. Students participate in co-ed class for 75 minutes every other day throughout the school year. Varied daily fitness activities include specific health and skill related fitness components for students to develop, such as: cardiovascular and muscular endurance, strength, speed, agility, and flexibility. Specific units are taught with an emphasis on teaching individual skills and techniques, involving numerous ball skills and manipulative skills, which is paramount to the program. Students are expected to integrate those skills into lead-up games and game play in the specific activity. A constant emphasis on cooperation and team play strengthens student leadership and collaboration skills.

With Algebra right around the corner, Pre-Algebra is the time to bolster and improve the skills that are necessary for future courses. This course focuses on students’ ability to navigate the language of algebra while exploring patterns, integers, number theory, rational numbers, percent, and proportions. Time is also spent with geometric concepts: exploring angles, lines, polygons, area, and perimeter. Problem solving is a key component to the class, where students will use different tools and strategies to find solutions.

This class serves to prepare students to compete in National Academic Quiz Tournaments (NAQT) throughout the year. The class generally centers on scrimmage play to build buzzer skills and knowledge bases. Students also do preparatory work in specific subject areas, particularly ones outside of traditional school curricula. Students, as part of the class, will also compete in 3-4 NAQT Tournaments throughout the year. For more information, go to: www.naqt.com/ms/middle-school-quiz-bowl.html.

This course is designed for students who love to read and enjoy the craft of writing. Students will read or write independently according to their individual goals as well as experience together a variety of genres, including poetry, plays, short stories, fiction, non-fiction, and children’s literature. Intended to tap on their passion and broaden their understanding of literature and writing in an ungraded workshop setting, Reading and Writing Workshop gives students additional opportunities to read, write, and collaborate beyond the classroom.

Explore the natural world and take a journey through life. This course provides students with a fascinating look at the world around us, beginning with the building block of life: cells. Between one-celled organisms and multi-celled organisms, students are introduced to the behaviors and characteristics that make living creatures similar, but also unique. Utilizing the scientific method, students question and hypothesize, design and test, and reflect on results through the lens of life. The final part of our journey looks at what life was like in the distant past, what it is now, and where it my be going in the future.

In the words of Bill Nye (the Science Guy), “Science Rules!" In Science Club, students will be faced with a number of challenges related to a variety of science topics and work with a partner or team to tackle them. There will be a semester-long project that will challenge the students in a design sense, as well as smaller tasks that will get them to see science in a friendly, but competitive way. Science is not always about the big Latin names we can’t pronounce – although we may try our best at spelling them – it is about exploring the world around us.

What does it take to be a successful student, person, and citizen in the 21st century? Seminar 7 is a yearlong course focusing on study skills, technology skills, and citizenship. Critical thinking, problem solving, responsibility (personal, school, and social), and decision-making are emphasized, along with leadership skills and character development. Technology skills align with the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) and focus on creativity and innovation, communication and collaboration, research and information fluency, and technology operations and concepts.

Global Studies I is a yearlong course covering Twentieth-Century Western Civilization. Broadly, the course covers the chronological history of the Americas and Europe from 1900 to the present, including interaction between the West and Asia (East and South Asia), Africa, and the Middle East (these regions are also covered separately in Global Studies II).  Particular emphasis will be placed on the history, politics, geography, and cultures of Russia and Latin America during units on the Cold War and Globalization. The course concludes with a quarter-long unit on citizenship (local, national, and global), and student travel to Washington D.C.  Some of our major themes will include political and economic isolation, extremism, genocide, human rights, migration, and globalism. To facilitate our studies, we will examine a variety of secondary and primary sources, including art and fiction.  Each unit will include a larger written academic research project with presentation, geography activities, and a unit exam.

This course will focus on the fundamentals of competitive speech. Students will be introduced to many different categories of public speaking, and will develop and hone their skills in the areas of speech writing, enunciation, facial expression, gesturing, and pacing.

This course will focus on the strategies behind a variety of team initiatives and board games. Students will be introduced to the different characteristics of a strategy game, learn what distinguishes a strategy game from a game of luck, and experience a variety of game mechanics as they hone their problem solving skills.

Students who need additional support and guidance along with a quiet place to study during the school day will benefit from this time with the Learning Specialist. Ms. Kramer will provide extra help in the areas of time management, organization, and study skills to those who need it. Pre-approval from the Learning Specialist and MS Director is required. Students with support plans will be given priority.

Prerequisites: One to two years previous playing experience on a band instrument or approval of the instructor. 

The overall emphasis of 7/8 Band is to help students continue their journey towards becoming strong, independent performers who can make smart musical decisions. More difficult rhythmic patterns, key signatures, and time signatures are introduced as the students continue to develop their playing skills. Students are expected to draw upon their knowledge of previous performances to play in a stylistically appropriate manner, and the increasing complexity of the music encourages part independence. During large group rehearsals, a strong emphasis is placed on playing with proper balance and intonation. Students are also encouraged to self-evaluate their own performance as well as that of the entire band using critical listening and thinking skills.

Prerequisites: Previous Orchestra experience or private lessons

Cooperation, responsibility and teamwork are important life skills. Orchestra 7/8 emphasizes the importance of the individual as part of the larger ensemble while instilling a sense of inner responsibility on the part of each student. Continuing to develop technique remains at the forefront of rehearsals and weekly small group fifteen-minute lessons. By learning to shift to multiple positions, a higher level of playing is promoted both as an individual and as an ensemble. A December performance, as well as a culminating concert in May, provides students with the opportunity to share the progress they make throughout the course of the year.

Prerequisites: Pre-Algebra

This Algebra course enables students to develop a strong foundation for success in subsequent Upper School mathematics courses.  Students will develop an understanding of the nature and structure of algebra so that they can apply basic algebraic principles to new situations. Time will be spent learning how to solve and graph equations, solve systems of equations, simplify monomials, and factor polynomials. Important skills such as problem solving, using a mathematics textbook as a resource, using class time effectively, and doing homework in a careful, thoughtful manner are also emphasized.

Art

Credit: Semester long, full block course
Prerequisites
: None 

Leonardo de Vinci, the great artist, thinker, inventor, and problem-solver began his work through observation and recorded it through drawing. Visual art, a language of communication, is a way to understand the world through line, shape, color, space, texture and values, and then to create it anew through imagination. As the capstone middle school visual art experience, Art 8 builds students’ skills, independence, and confidence through conception, creation, and exhibition of their work. Lessons intentionally guide students through rich and diverse hands-on art making experiences in a variety of media and art disciplines so they may become expressive young adult artists. Art history and criticism is smoothly intertwined with visual concepts to guide our next designers and makers in the visual world.

MPA is a community that sings! This is truly evident in the Middle School, where all seventh and eighth grade students participate in choir. Separated by gender, Boy’s and Girl’s Choir members practice the elements of good singing. Through vocal exercises, students learn how to breathe properly, unify vowels, energize consonants, and expand their ranges. While studying a wide variety of music, singers learn to function within a choir and demonstrate knowledge of their vocal part. Students showcase their work in two public concerts per year. 

(Quarter 1) 
 Students focus on the elements of singing: breathing, phonating, pitch matching, score reading, sight-singing, and basic harmonies. They are introduced to what it means to be a member of a choir (routines, responsibilities, how their part functions, etc.) while learning their music for the December concert.

(Quarter 2)
Choir members continue to focus on the elements of singing while also developing choral blend, vowel formation, and expression. This is achieved through the study of age appropriate vocal exercises and their concert repertoire. Final preparations (memorization, fine tuning) are underway for the December concert. 
 
(Quarter 3)
Through learning new concert music, students continue to work on aural and sight-reading skills, part-singing, blend, and expression.  At the end of the quarter, singing and written assessments measure their knowledge of their vocal part and the music.

(Quarter 4)
Students refine their listening and reading skills, develop a consistent tone, extend their ranges, and become more expressive musicians while learning their concert repertoire.  Final preparations have begun for their May concert.  Afterwards, students work on individual and large group evaluations, sight-reading music, and voice placing for the following year (eight graders only).

This class will focus on the fundamentals of debate. Students will work on persuasive speaking and writing, and how to build and present an argument through careful research and analysis.

Are you curious about the issues and candidates as the 2016 election nears? Are you interested in how our democratic system works? This class is not about history or theory, but rather a hands-on exploration of our American democracy.  We will use the state, local, and national elections in November as examples to understand how our electoral process and democracy function. The results of this election will have an effect on your life. You may not be able to vote, but you can get involved. We will explore alternative ways to engage in the democratic process, such as informing oneself about the issues, letter writing, and meeting with elected officials.

This course is about believing we can make a difference, and having an intentional process in order to get to new, relevant solutions that create a positive impact. Students engage in hands-on design challenge that focuses on developing empathy, promoting a bias toward action, encouraging ideation, developing metacognitive awareness, and fostering active problem solving. It is human-centered, collaborative, optimistic, experimental, and fun.

This program offers students the opportunity to select and solve a challenge in a creative, fun, and collaborative way. DI encourages risk-taking while incorporating STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), the arts and service learning. Students learn patience, flexibility, persistence, ethics, respect for others and their ideas, and the collaborative problem solving process. Students may choose to showcase their solutions at a tournament in early spring.

This course will help you bring the Bard on stage. The text is the key, and you will learn to decipher it both emotionally and intellectually. You will be given exercises to extend your breath capacity so that the language is easier to speak. Other warm-ups will improve your body-mind connection so that your performance of the language will be more natural and less presentational. The course’s second emphasis (yet just as important) is the development of natural characters. You will not learn how to ‘act Shakespeare’ in this class, rather you will begin creating whole and realistic characters based on the text. The class will be drawing straight from Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets. Additional texts written by various Shakespearean scholars and performers will also be used.

Words allow us to reach across the mystery of each other and our world. To pay attention and take care to use words well, eighth graders examine the conventions of the English language, expand and exercise their vocabulary, develop discernment, practice creative and expository writing, and critically read a broad range of literature and non-fiction. By engaging in civil conversations, students question meaning, who they are to each other, and the significant possibilities for their world through the writings of authors such as Art Spiegelman, Harper Lee, Langston Hughes, and Homer. To journey through English 8 is to learn to read, write, think, speak, view, and listen in a spirit of curiosity and empathy with new skills, appreciation, and joy.

MPA is a community that sings! This is truly evident in the Middle School, where all seventh and eighth grade students participate in choir. Separated by gender, Boy’s and Girl’s Choir members practice the elements of good singing. Through vocal exercises, students learn how to breathe properly, unify vowels, energize consonants, and expand their ranges. While studying a wide variety of music, singers learn to function within a choir and demonstrate knowledge of their vocal part. Students showcase their work in two public concerts per year. 

(Quarter 1) 
 Students focus on the elements of singing: breathing, phonating, pitch matching, score reading, sight-singing, and basic harmonies. They are introduced to what it means to be a member of a choir (routines, responsibilities, how their part functions, etc.) while learning their music for the December concert.

(Quarter 2)
Choir members continue to focus on the elements of singing while also developing choral blend, vowel formation, and expression. This is achieved through the study of age appropriate vocal exercises and their concert repertoire. Final preparations (memorization, fine tuning) are underway for the December concert. 
 
(Quarter 3)
Through learning new concert music, students continue to work on aural and sight-reading skills, part-singing, blend, and expression.  At the end of the quarter, singing and written assessments measure their knowledge of their vocal part and the music.

(Quarter 4)
Students refine their listening and reading skills, develop a consistent tone, extend their ranges, and become more expressive musicians while learning their concert repertoire.  Final preparations have begun for their May concert.  Afterwards, students work on individual and large group evaluations, sight-reading music, and voice placing for the following year (eight graders only).

Learning to make healthy and responsible choices as a teen is the major focus of Health class in eighth grade. This course provides students with an understanding of general health and wellness as students learn how the physical, mental/emotional, and social well being of teens continually intertwine. Cyber-bullying, stress management, and the influence of the media are all addressed, with emphases on how these affect student self-esteem, self-acceptance, and decision-making. An awareness of mental health concerns is established, with a focus on depression and eating disorders, as the Melrose Institutes’ curriculum “Running on Empty” is used. Students acquire the ability to assess and develop personal goals in the areas of fitness, nutrition, and screen time. Communicable disease and chronic illnesses are researched, concluding with student led presentations and projects. Finally, students grasp an understanding of the need for teen alcohol use prevention through Hazelden’s Powerlines curriculum as the students look toward decisions to be made regarding long term health and wellness.

Prerequisites: Honors Algebra and teacher recommendation

Geometry reveals the structure of the world around us and teaches clear and rigorous thinking. Beginning with precise definitions of such seemingly simple ideas as points and lines, students will use logic and proof to build knowledge of many figures and shapes, revealing their properties and relationships. This is an honors level course, and so the level of challenge will be high. Problem solving and proof will be heavily emphasized.

This course offers students the opportunity to explore the local, regional, national, and world events impacting their lives and the lives of those around them. Through exclusive coverage of local events in the school and community, as well as commentary on national and world developments, students will practice writing, interviewing, and presentation skills. Students will learn the basics of effective, ethical reporting by creating weekly stories using social media, print, audio, and video to collaboratively and punctually produce a finished product. Look for the new MPA media outlets during the 2016-17 school year.

This option is for students who love math, love a challenge, and are interested in participating in Mathcounts, the premier math competition for 7th and 8th grade students. Math Club works with problems and topics that students do not encounter during their math classes. Students who think hard math problems are fun and who participated in and enjoyed Math Masters will love Math Club!

Physical Education class is an integral part of a student’s education, contributing to a healthy lifestyle. Students participate in coed class for 75 minutes every other day throughout the school year. Varied daily fitness activities include specific health and skill related fitness components for students to improve upon, such as: cardiovascular and muscular endurance, strength, speed, agility, and flexibility. Specific units are taught with an emphasis on reinforcing individual skills and techniques previously learned, which is paramount to the program. Students are expected to integrate those skills into lead-up games and game play in an individual activity or team sport. Students have the opportunity to participate with a level of students of like abilities and goals, from the beginner to the experienced, highly skilled students. The eighth graders are introduced to weight training in addition to more advanced skills and game strategies. Emphasis on cooperation and team play is a focus as well.

The Quiz Bowl class serves to prepare students to compete in National Academic Quiz Tournaments (NAQT) throughout the year. The class generally centers on scrimmage play to build buzzer skills and knowledge bases. Students also do preparatory work in specific subject areas, particularly ones outside of traditional school curricula. Students, as part of the class, will also compete in 3-4 NAQT Tournaments throughout the year. For more information about Quiz Bowl, go to: http://naqt.com/ms/middle-school-quiz-bowl.html.

This course is designed for students who love to read and enjoy the craft of writing. Students will read or write independently according to their individual goals as well as experience together a variety of genres, including poetry, plays, short stories, fiction, non-fiction, and children’s literature. Intended to tap on their passion and broaden their understanding of literature and writing in an ungraded workshop setting, Reading and Writing Workshop gives students additional opportunities to read, write, and collaborate beyond the classroom.

This class will explore the physical features of our world and all that is contained in the universe. Beginning with Earth’s history, we will explore the record that is preserved in the rock layers. Along with the physical landscape, we will look at how man has evolved over time. The fury of mother nature will be explored as it continues to change the surface of the Earth, including weather, volcanos and earthquakes, among other forces. Leaving Earth, we broaden our study to the ever expanding universe, focusing on our moon, and the planets and stars in our solar system. Throughout our journey, students will utilize the scientific method – questioning and hypothesizing, designing and testing, and reflecting on results through the lens of our physical Earth and universe.

In the words of Bill Nye (the Science Guy), “Science Rules!" In Science Club, students will be faced with a number of challenges related to a variety of science topics and work with a partner or team to tackle them. There will be a semester-long project that will challenge the students in a design sense, as well as smaller tasks that will get them to see science in a friendly, but competitive way. Science is not always about the big Latin names we can’t pronounce – although we may try our best at spelling them – it is about exploring the world around us.

World Geography is the study of how human beings interact with each other and the world around them. This course takes a global look at such topics as human-created environments such as cities, the political organization of the world’s people, lands, and resources; the interplay between humans and the environment, as well as patterns of human migration. All four topics will include appropriate historical context, but examples for in-depth studies will focus more specifically on contemporary issues. In addition to historical, geographical, and other social science content, students will further develop and deepen their skills in academic reading, writing, and speaking. Students will read and analyze a variety of primary source materials, academic research, and contemporary media. Expository essays throughout the year and an argumentative research paper will develop students understanding of academic research and writing. Students will also take part in a mock-Model United Nations conference, which will demand students think critically, develop a global perspective, and speak fluently about some of the most pressing issues we face as individuals and as a global society.  

This course will focus on the fundamentals of competitive speech. Students will be introduced to many different categories of public speaking, and will develop and hone their skills in the areas of speech writing, enunciation, facial expression, gesturing, and pacing.

This course will focus on the strategies behind a variety of team initiatives and board games. Students will be introduced to the different characteristics of a strategy game, learn what distinguishes a strategy game from a game of luck, and experience a variety of game mechanics as they hone their problem solving skills.

Students who need additional support and guidance along with a quiet place to study during the school day will benefit from this time with the Learning Specialist. Ms. Kramer will provide extra help in the areas of time management, organization, and study skills to those who need it. Pre-approval from the Learning Specialist and MS Director is required. Students on Learning Plans will be given priority.

Prerequisites: None

Students will use prior knowledge of French or start from the beginning in this course. This class is interactive with many opportunities to actively participate. Students gain confidence while communicating in French and learning about French and Francophone culture. The relevant themes of every day life, school, and family are covered in this course. Students actively explore these themes and make comparisons to other disciplines and to their own lives. Students are ready for French 1B upon successful completion of this course.

Prerequisites: French 1A or equivalent

Je suis allé au marché aux fleurs, et j’ai acheté des fleurs pour toi, mon amour.

                                                                                                            -Jacques Prévert

Through communicatively-based activities, with a strong focus on speaking, students in French 1B build the vocabulary and irregular verbs that are used in everyday conversation. The themes of life in the city, shopping for food and clothing, leisure activities, and meals provide a lens through which to explore our own cultural practices and those of people in the French-speaking world. As students gain more confidence and facility with the present tense, they are introduced to the passé composé. By the end of French 1B, students are able to state facts in the present and the past, express opinions and tell stories about a wide variety of topics in French.

Prerequisites: French 1B or equivalent

Un homme qui sait deux langues en vaut deux.  

(A [person] who knows two languages is worth two.) –French proverb

Students begin French 2A with a good vocabulary and a firm grasp of regular and irregular verbs in the present and the passé composé. That gives them a solid base from which to jump into more complex vocabulary and structures. In French 2A, students deepen their understanding of the passé composé and begin to compare it with the imparfait. Direct and indirect object pronouns are also introduced. Through various cultural themes (including making friends, weekend activities, French meals and sports) students examine their own attitudes and practices while comparing them with those of people in the French-speaking world. At this level, students are ready to play with the language. They take what they’ve learned in other levels and piece it together in meaningful and original communication, which is a source of true joy in learning!

Prerequisites: French 2A or appropriate score on placement test.

Students will use prior knowledge of French for this course, which is the most advanced Middle School French class. This class is interactive with many opportunities to actively participate. Students gain confidence while communicating in French and learning about French and Francophone culture. The relevant themes of travel, health, city life, personal relationships, and careers are covered in this course. Students actively explore these themes and make comparisons to other disciplines and to their own lives. Students are ready for French III in the Upper School upon successful completion of this course.

¿Cómo te llamas? (What’s your name?)  Who are you?  Where are you from?  How would you describe yourself?  Learning another language and culture can be fun and challenging.  In Spanish 1A, students are introduced to the basics of the Spanish language by hands on learning of culture through making connections and comparisons to their own culture. Students delve into the alphabet, colors, numbers, weather expressions, seasons, school related vocabulary, food, family, daily chores, likes and dislikes.  They are able to communicate effectively by learning about definite and indefinite articles, subject pronouns, and present tense verbs. 

All vocabulary and grammar topics are presented through content-based instruction (http://iteslj.org/Articles/Davies-CBI.html) and culture based instruction (http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/articles/culture-fifth-language-skill).  The means used in order to achieve language acquisition will be activities such as: songs, dance, games, iPads (and apps that go along with them), videos, and skits.  Assessment will be through written and oral tests and quizzes as well as projects and skits.

Our goal in Spanish IA, and in all of our Spanish classes, is to teach what are called the five Cs: Communication, Connections, Cultures, Comparisons, and Communities. You can find a description of this here: http://www.actfl.org/publications/all/national-standards-foreign-language-education

In this course our linguistic goal is to have our students at the novice high level according to ACTFL (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Language). http://www.actfl.org/sites/default/files/pdfs/public/ACTFLProficiencyGuidelines2012_FINAL.pdf

Our goal in all of our Spanish classes, is to teach what are called the five Cs: Communication, Connections, Cultures, Comparisons, and Communities.  In Spanish 1b, our objective is to have our students at the beginning level according to ACTFL. In order to achieve this goal, Spanish students will be using the AVANCEMOS 1b textbook.

Students in Spanish 1b will learn the following: 

1) Vocabulary: basic introductions, numbers 1-1,000,000, describing locations, expressing feelings, meals and food, asking questions, clothing, shopping, household items, furniture, sports, staying healthy, parts of the body, daily routines, and vacation plans.

2) Grammar concepts: definite and indefinite articles, adjectives, pronouns, present tense and preterite tenses of regular and irregular verbs, commands and interrogatives.

3) Cultures of the following countries: Ecuador, Dominican Republic, Argentina, and Costa Rica.

All vocabulary and grammar topics are presented through content-based instruction and culture based instruction. The means used in order to achieve language acquisition will be activities such as: songs, dance, games, online activities, videos, and skits. Assessment will be through written and oral tests and quizzes, essays, as well as projects and skits.

Students will be working toward achieving the National Standard for Foreign Language Education

3.1 (Connections): Students reinforce and further their knowledge of other disciplines through the foreign language. 

4.1 (Comparisons): Students demonstrate understanding of the nature of language through comparisons of the language studied and their own. 

4.2 (Comparisons): Students demonstrate understanding of the concept of culture through comparisons of the cultures studied and their own.

Our goal in all of our Spanish classes is to teach what are called the five Cs: Communication, Connections, Cultures, Comparisons, and Communities. In Spanish I, our objective is to have our students at the beginning level according to ACTFL (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Language). In order to achieve this goal, Spanish students will be using the AVANCEMOS I textbook.

Students in Spanish I will learn the following:

 1)   vocabulary: greetings; introductions; saying where you are from; numbers 0-100; after-school activities; snack foods and beverages; describing ourselves and others; daily schedules; telling time; describing classes; describing locations; expressing feelings; meals and food; asking questions; clothing; shopping; household items; furniture; sports; staying healthy; parts of the body; daily routines and vacation plans.

2)   grammar concepts: definite and indefinite articles, adjectives, pronouns, present tense and preterite tenses of regular and irregular verbs, commands and interrogatives.

3)   Cultures of the following countries: United States; México; Puerto Rico; Spain; Ecuador; Dominican Republic; Argentina and Costa Rica

All vocabulary and grammar topics are presented through content-based instruction and culture based instruction. The means used in order to achieve language acquisition will be activities such as: songs, dance, games, online activities, videos, and skits.  Assessment will be through written and oral tests and quizzes, essays, as well as projects and skits.

Students will be working toward achieving the National Standard for Foreign Language Education

3.1 (Connections): Students reinforce and further their knowledge of other disciplines through the foreign language. 

4.1 (Comparisons): Students demonstrate understanding of the nature of language through comparisons of the language studied and their own. 

4.2 (Comparisons): Students demonstrate understanding of the concept of culture through comparisons of the cultures studied and their own.

¡¿Comiste qué?! (You ate what?!)  In Spanish II, students are immersed in the sites and sounds of the Spanish language and culture from day one.  Through the use of the AVANCEMOS II textbook, students learn to become comfortable with daily life in Latin America or Spain and are able to listen, speak, read, and write about their personality and characteristics, daily activities, food, school and around town, feelings, daily routines, making plans, likes and dislikes, travel, vacation, sports, health, clothes, shopping, the market, legends and stories.  Through these many topics students also learn the grammar of: subject pronouns, present tense verbs, ser vs estar, direct and indirect object pronouns, preterit tense, imperfect, preterit vs imperfect, and commands of tú, Ud, Uds.

All vocabulary and grammar topics are presented through content-based instruction (http://iteslj.org/Articles/Davies-CBI.html) and culture based instruction (http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/articles/culture-fifth-language-skill).  The means used in order to achieve language acquisition will be activities such as: songs, dance, games, online activities, videos, and skits.  Assessment will be through written and oral tests and quizzes, essays, as well as projects and skits.

In Spanish II, and in all of Mounds Park Academy Spanish classes, students will learn what are called the five Cs: Communication, Connections, Cultures, Comparisons, and Communities.  You can find a description of this here: http://www.actfl.org/publications/all/national-standards-foreign-language-education

In Spanish II, the linguistic goal is to have students at the intermediate low level according to ACTFL (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Language). http://www.actfl.org/sites/default/files/pdfs/public/ACTFLProficiencyGuidelines2012_FINAL.pdf

The Middle School Spanish 3 class will study the Spanish language to expand comprehension in the skill areas of reading, speaking, writing, and listening. These will be learned through skits, games, writing/reading exercises, cultural presentations, videos, and some language/news websites. During the first quarter, we will review vocabulary and grammar skills (sentence structures) that students have acquired in previous levels. Specifically, this study will involve (among other grammar concepts) the present tense of regular and irregular (stem-changing) verb forms, the preterit and imperfect tenses, commands, the present progressive tense, and reflexive verbs. Study for the rest of the year will focus on new tenses (future, conditional, present subjunctive, past subjunctive, present perfect, past perfect, future perfect, conditional perfect and present and past subjunctive perfect,) vocabulary, some passive voice constructions and por/para.