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MIDDLE SCHOOL OVERVIEW

The Middle School program at St. Mark’s extends from Grade 5 through Grade 8. The Middle School program operates in a culturally diverse environment that nurtures in each student a respect for others, spiritual development, and academic excellence. The Middle school years are full of change, and the supportive St. Mark’s structure works with the developmental stages of the students.

Grades 5-6 focus on transitioning the students from the Lower School environment to the responsibilities of Middle School life. Grades 7-8 prepare students for the added independence and responsibility required in high school. The curriculum provides a strong academic foundation while developing the whole child through enrichment and extracurricular activities.

Educating Leaders
St. Mark’s offers instruction in the core subjects of:

  • English
  • Mathematics
  • Reading
  • Science
  • Social Studies

The faculty strives to individualize instruction and help each child reach his or her highest potential. Students learn through interdisciplinary approaches, cooperative learning, projects, and technology integration to accommodate different learning styles. Students can utilize extra-help sessions with teachers before and after school.

Each day begins with a comfortable routine in homeroom: attendance is taken; lunch orders are placed; and the day’s schedule and announcements are reviewed. Homeroom, snack break, and lunch provide scheduled time for student interaction with their peers and for the development of a supportive student-teacher relationship.

Academic studies are enhanced by enrichment courses in:
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  • Art
  • Athletics
  • Music
  • Religion
  • Technology

Students participate in daily chapels and weekly liturgies as readers, acolytes, leaders, and servers. School-sponsored projects provide students the opportunity to participate in service to their community. Athletics, musical theatre, band and chorus, socials, and field trips enhance learning and growth.

Middle School students are encouraged to participate in extracurricular and athletic opportunities.

Building on skills learned in Lower Middle School athletic programs, students in Grades 6-8 may participate in interscholastic athletic competition throughout the year. The athletic program offers a variety of sports, including:

  • Boys and girls basketball
  • Boys and girls golf
  • Boys baseball
  • Boys lacrosse
  • Boys soccer
  • Cross-country
  • Flag football
  • Girls soccer
  • Girls softball
  • Girls volleyball
  • Swimming
  • Tennis

Additional extracurricular activities change yearly based on student interest, but ongoing groups include Student Council for all Middle School students and National Junior Honor Society and yearbook for students in Grades 7-8.

At all levels, the St. Mark’s curriculum is carefully designed and implemented to draw out of each student his or her finest capabilities of excellence and honor. The balance between nurture and challenge sets the stage for continued intellectual growth. The whole child is prized and affirmed.

MIDDLE SCHOOL CURRICULUM

Middle School English

The English curriculum prepares students to correctly and effectively express themselves in written and oral form. The program provides the foundation for:

  • Composition
  • Grammar
  • Mechanics and usage
  • Spelling
  • Vocabulary and word study

Students employ foundational elements and the writing process to compose:

  • Creative and narrative works
  • E-mails and letters
  • Journal entries
  • Argument writing
  • Informative essays and research papers

Students also learn strategies for revising and editing work, research, study and test-taking skills, and public speaking. Students produce short and long-term written projects that integrate subject matter from other content areas. Students also learn the fundamentals of online collaboration by participating in class blogs, online discussions, and shared documents using Google Classroom.

For standardization in all Middle School publications, students use a modified version of the Modern Language Associates Format (MLA). Annually, Middle School students participate in the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee.

Middle School Mathematics

The Middle School Mathematics program focuses on mastery of basic math concepts in Lower Middle School and expands to application of these skills through courses in Algebra and Geometry in Grades 7-8. Grade 5-6 math concepts include:

  • Decimals and percentages
  • Estimating strategies
  • Fractions
  • Number theory
  • Order of operations
  • Pre-Algebra
  • Problem-solving techniques
  • Whole number patterns

After a review of basic math skills, students in Grade 7 explore algebraic concepts, which include:

  • Equations
  • Expressions
  • Graphing on a coordinate plane
  • Percentages
  • Ratios/proportions
  • Strategies for problem solving

In Grade 8, students continue the study of algebra, mastering:

  • Algebraic fractions
  • Functions
  • Operations and properties of real numbers
  • Polynomials
  • Radicals
  • Systems of linear equations
  • Variable expressions

The accelerated Grade 8 math class completes geometry, meeting concepts such as symmetry, translations, and simple geometric proofs. The final goal is for our graduates to earn Algebra placement, or higher, as ninth graders. Some of our students are eligible to receive academic credit for Algebra I and Geometry by the time they graduate from St. Mark’s.

Various learning styles are accommodated through such instructional techniques as strategy intervention, cooperative activities, direct instruction, and pencil-and-paper activities. Students are exposed to problem-solving experiences, which allow them to develop the critical thinking skills required in making connections to real-life situations.

Technology is incorporated into the program in a variety of ways including Smart Board technology, Google Chromebooks, and programs such as IXL online math practice.

Middle School Reading

Reading is offered as a core subject in the Middle School. Through spiral curriculum development, students in Grades 5-8 increase their reading comprehension, fluency, expression, interpretation, analysis, and appreciation for the written word through a literature based program with supplemental informational text enrichment.

The reading program delivers critical reading strategies, concepts and skills via whole class and small group instruction and independent reading. Instruction in expository and narrative text employs several overlapping strategies, concepts and skills, which facilitate reading comprehension and vocabulary development. The study of literary elements and devices, exclusive to narrative text instruction, also promotes reading comprehension and generates an appreciation for classic and contemporary literature.

The primary objective of the reading program is to create independent readers with a meta-cognitive awareness that allows them to access applicable critical reading strategies to improve overall reading comprehension. Students also participate in the Accelerated Reader program.

Middle School Science

The science program stresses critical thinking and relationships between science content and daily life, providing a balance of instructional lessons and participatory lab activities. The program emphasizes the inquiry-based approach of self-discovery.

The Lower Middle School General Science curriculum introduces students to the study of both Earth and Life Science. The curriculum focuses on:

  • Classifying
  • Comparing and contrasting
  • Observing and inferring
  • Outlining information
  • Recognizing cause and effect
  • Sequencing

Topics covered in the Lower Middle School include plant and animal life, genetics, classification, biomes, solar system, geology, meteorology, and oceanography. Also, students in Grade 6 attend a three-day trip to Marine Lab in Key Largo.

The Upper Middle School Science curriculum builds on the introduction to life science and physical science, sequentially exploring each in greater depth.

  • Grade 7 concentrates on the study of life science, with special attention to the application of the scientific method for discovery and instruction.
  • Grade 8 shifts the focus of scientific instruction shifts to physical science.

Through intensive labs, students explore motion and resistance, the nature of matter, physical and chemical properties, and their changes. Students build simple machines to study problems involving work and efficiency.  STEM education at St. Mark’s has been further enhanced through our collaboration with Project Lead the Way. Students learn design and programing using Autodesk and the Vex robotics platform to develop their problem-solving, collaborative, and creative skills.

Opportunities for enrichment outside of the classroom are available for Middle School students. Each year, middle school students participate in the school’s annual Science Fair as well as off-campus field trips and service opportunities such as Marine Lab and beach clean-ups.

Middle School Social Studies

The Social Studies curriculum is designed to help students develop the ability to make informed decisions as “citizens of a culturally diverse, democratic society in an interdependent world.” The skills and concepts they learn promote the belief that students must develop more than an understanding of the Social Studies content. By stressing the importance of both content knowledge and its application, the Social Studies curriculum provides a framework that prepares students to become productive citizens.

The Social Studies curriculum is organized around five ideas that are important to the understanding of social studies:

  • Cultures and societies
  • Economics
  • Geography, government, and financial literacy
  • Historical perspective

These ideas are the same at each grade level. This consistency ensures students have several opportunities, while at St. Marks’s School, to develop skills and concepts linked to these ideas.

The Social Studies curriculum uses a number of learning materials such as:

  • Autobiographies
  • Biographies
  • Journals
  • Maps
  • Non-fiction texts
  • Photographs
  • Primary documents
  • Smart Board programs
  • Textbooks
  • Videos

Higher order thinking skills, such as compare, explain, analyze, predict, construct and interpret, are all part of the social studies curriculum. For example, in Social Studies, students must be able to:

  • Connect new information to prior knowledge
  • Determine what is fact and what is opinion
  • Identify and comprehend information within their reading material
  • Relate information across several passages
  • Synthesize the information to make meaning
  • Understand specialized vocabulary

Middle School Social Studies has a different grade context for each year:

  • Grade 5 covers the history of the United States from the early inhabitants to the Civil War.
  • Grade 6 focuses on an integrated study of World History from the earliest civilizations to 1500 A.D.
  • Grade 7 studies government,  civics, and financial literacy.
  • Grade 8 covers the history of the United States from the Civil War to the present.

Regardless of the grade, students incorporate each of the five areas of Social Studies in an integrated way to explore their grade content.

The Middle School Social Studies experience culminates in a three-day, two-night trip to our nation’s capital where students see firsthand how our government operates.

Middle School Art

The Middle School art program includes three basic components: art production, history and aesthetics/analysis. Art production emphasizes the joy of creating, introduces concepts and problem solving using a variety of tools and materials.

Instruction focuses on the process of art making rather than the product. Creatively challenging projects address elements of design line, color, shape, value, texture and form.

Art history is introduced as a part of a studio lesson. Students learn to recognize cultural differences and about outside influences on art such as religion, government, patronage, literature, music and technology.

Middle School subject themes are roughly as follows:

  • Grade 5: American art/folk art
  • Grade 6: Art through the ages (pre historic, Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Italian Renaissance)
  • Grades 7-8: Modern Artists (contemporary and classical)

The final component combines aesthetics and analysis. Students formulate their own ideas and opinions on what they consider beautiful. They are encouraged to describe not only what they see formally but also the intangible expression. To facilitate this, our artworks are put on display throughout the school, in our community, and in an all-school art exhibit in the spring.

Middle School Technology/Computer Education

Technology education at St. Mark’s integrates computer literacy with applied technology in content area curriculum to develop communication and critical thinking skills. Through the use of Google Chromebooks, our students become proficient in word processing, spreadsheets, presentation, and media production through Google Docs and other Google applications.

Through special projects such as Web quests, research projects, charts and presentations, students not only gain mastery of software programs, but further develop their growing knowledge in other academic areas.

Middle School Student Services

Student Services help our students develop social, emotional, cognitive and citizenship skills that embody the St. Mark’s Culture of Honor. Through meetings with parents, faculty, and students, our Student Services Team aid in our students’ success in all aspects of school life.

Middle School Spanish

St. Mark’s Spanish program delivers a special curriculum.  Highly qualified, passionate and experienced Spanish teachers pre-assess students to determine placement level.  Language proficiency is grounded in the theory that language learning is an ongoing, long-term process and requires continuous growth of new experiences.  Students evaluate and demonstrate their progress and their accomplishments by engaging in activing speaking, reading and writing classroom-planned activities such as thematic dialogues, skits, essays, word-games and role-playing.

Cultural study enhances students’ cultural awareness and opens spaces for further interdisciplinary study.  Middle School students attend Spanish class three times per week and may advance to complete high school credits in Spanish I and Spanish II.

Middle School Music

The Middle School music program is a performance-based program offering music literacy, theory, and history through instrumental and vocal performance. All students are allowed to register for either vocal or instrumental music. Vocal performance is divided into three choruses: a Grade 5-6 choir, the Singing Lions for Grades 7-8, and an auditioned Chamber Choir. The instrumental music program includes beginning band, intermediate band and advanced band. Skill level determines student placement and advancement.

The Singing Lions, Chamber Choir and Advanced Band perform at several events throughout the year:

  • Admission open houses
  • Advent Chapel
  • Concert Band/Choir Festival
  • Episcopal School Sunday
  • Graduation
  • Solo and Ensemble Festival
  • Spring Concert

Each year, St. Mark’s produces a musical with auditions open to Grades 3-8. Past musicals include Annie, The Music Man, Bye Bye Birdie, Annie Get Your Gun, Godspell, Into the Woods, Guys and Dolls, Oliver, and Beauty and the Beast.

Middle School Physical Education

The Middle School physical education program offers a variety of sport activities, through which students come to understand their own areas of strength and weakness and develop a positive attitude toward improving overall health and fitness.

Opportunities are provided for both individual and group development, which allows physical, social, mental, and emotional growth for each student. Skill instruction develops each student’s potential and provides learning experiences that allow each child to progress according to his/her ability.

In Middle School, for Grades 5-6, the primary goal is to improve each student’s athletic ability and knowledge through basic skills, drills, and games where sportsmanship, teamwork, and fair play are reinforced.

The program focuses on team sports such as:

  • Basketball
  • Flag football
  • Soccer
  • Softball/Baseball
  • Volleyball

By providing a sound developmental program, the physical education program arms students with the skills needed to succeed in the Upper Middle School athletic program. Students may participate in competitive interscholastic play.

Each year, Middle School students in Grades 5-6 participate in the President’s Physical Fitness Challenge to assess their own progress and set future fitness goals.