The Middle School English curriculum is designed to help students acquire the necessary skills to be effective readers and critical thinkers who are able to understand and analyze literature. Students cultivate an appreciation of the written word in all genres of literature; make connections between reading, writing, listening, and speaking; and develop a respect for the universality of the human experience through the study of literature. Students also expand their vocabulary in context with the literature they are reading.
Because reading is a participatory process, an emphasis is placed on teaching students strategies to actively engage in texts, as well as understand basic literary elements. Students are introduced to two methods of active reading -- one writing based, the other color-coded based -- and choose which works best for them. Assistive technology is available for individual student use and implemented in the classroom. Both traditional and alternate assessments are utilized to help students demonstrate their knowledge.
English 6, 7, and 8
- Field trips and service learning projects
- Re-enactments and dramatizations
- Hands-on activities
- Incorporation of poetry, music, and art into lessons
- Film and literature studies
- Interpretative filmmaking assignments
- Mural design projects
C/A’s writing program is just one example of how C/A leads the way in educating students with organizational, attention, or learning differences. Because writing is a skill that benefits students in all subjects and because it is how most people are asked to demonstrate their knowledge in school and in work, C/A treats writing as a separate subject.
Writing education teaches students to effectively consider their audience and purpose when communicating. It helps clarify thinking and is a creative outlet to express ideas and opinions. Writing at C/A helps students understand the connections between reading, writing, listening, and speaking; ultimately helping them broaden their worldview and personal interests.
The four-step writing approach taught in Middle School Writing is reinforced in all subject areas throughout a student’s tenure at C/A. Steps include pre-write, draft, revise and edit, and finalize. Students study several different genres during Middle School writing courses, often choosing their own subject matter within the genre being covered, thus becoming invested in their own beliefs and ideas.
- Writing 6, 7, 8
- Cross-Curricular projects such as the “28th Amendment,” “U.N. Commission Proposals,” and the 8th Grade Innovations Fair Research Essay
- Nine-week poetry unit, culminating in student-created poetry portfolios (Grades 6–8)
- Ten-day “avoiding plagiarism” unit (Grades 6–8)
- Academic research strategy workshops (Grades 6–8)
- Narrative scrapbook project (Grade 8)
As students acquire a basic understanding of history, geography, government, economy, culture, religion, and current events, they are able to better understand their own place in society and the various implications of world events.
C/A’s Social Studies courses are designed to equip students with the knowledge they need to become productive and active citizens within their own communities. History courses focus on larger concepts as opposed to details. Information is made relevant as students make connections from course content to everyday life. The History Alive! series, used in both Middle and High School, focuses on the reenactment of history along with other multi-sensory interactive activities.
- American History (Grade 6 or 7)
- Civics (Grade 8)
- Annual 8th-Grade Civics Trip to the United States Capitol
- Mt. Everest Simulation Expedition
- Stock Market Simulation
- National Issue vs. State Issue Project
Mathematics prepares students to use inductive and deductive reasoning to investigate patterns and solve practical problems. The structure of the Middle School Math program is designed to ensure graduating 8th graders have a solid foundation to succeed in Algebra 1 or a higher level course.
Because students acquire math skills differently, they are grouped in Middle School by their understanding of math concepts rather than strictly by grade. New C/A students are assessed prior to the start of their first year; returning students complete a pre-year and post-year math placement assessment. Thus, while many Middle School students may follow a typical path of Math 6, 7, and Pre-Algebra, others may reinforce their math skills in Foundations of Pre-Algebra or may move ahead at an accelerated rate, completing Algebra 1 and Geometry before High School.
Technology and mathematics go hand-in-hand. Students enjoy mathematically based games and programs on iPads and computers to drill and practice their skills, as well as to create and find various graphs and other visual representations or manipulatives to help demonstrate their understanding. SMARTBoards and Promethean Boards also provide interactive tools that support instruction and learning.
- Math 6
- Math 7
- Foundations of Pre-Algebra
- Algebra 1
Highlights of the Math Program
- Instruction using manipulatives and Visual Thinking Lab
- Project-based learning
- “Pi” Day celebration
- Online math resources, including IXL, National Library of Virtual Manipulatives, and Khan Academy
As students progress through Science courses at C/A, they acquire increasing understanding about the laws that govern the universe and the interaction between organisms and their environment. Through the application of the Scientific Method, students develop critical thinking skills, learn how to make predictions and draw conclusions, and apply those conclusions to real-life situations.
Students regularly participate in labs, drawing conclusions from the data they collect during their experiments. Throughout Middle School, students participate in the annual Innovation Fair which requires them to use a basic set of materials to solve a problem or design an innovative product or invention.
Required Science Courses
- Life Science (Grade 6 or 7)
- Earth Science (Grade 6 or7)
- Physical Science (Grade 8)
- Field trips to destinations such as the National Zoo, Natural History Museum, Air & Space Museum, Maryland Science Center, and the T.C. Williams Planetarium
- Annual Middle School Innovation Fair
C/A encourages students to incorporate physical activity as part of their routine lives to instill lifelong healthy habits.
Physical Education classes are designed to teach the coordination of skills, rules, and strategies needed for success in various individual and team sports and fitness-related activities. Students develop hand-eye coordination, quick twitch muscles, fine motor skills, and gross motor skills through participation in flag football, soccer, basketball, volleyball, floor hockey, whiffle ball, ultimate Frisbee, and other sports.
Instruction also emphasizes the importance of teamwork, sportsmanship, a positive attitude, and responsibility as necessary attributes for achieving success. Students’ grades are based on uniform, participation, and teamwork. A positive learning environment is created by using positive and corrective feedback with both student-to-student interaction and teacher-to-student interaction. All students are included in activities and team-play, receive maximum practice opportunities, and enjoy daily monitoring and assessment as they improve their skills.
Students also have the opportunity to play on one of several competitive C/A athletic teams and participate in club sports on Fridays.
Each quarter, students complete a preference sheet ranking their first, second and third choice of electives. Student preferences are considered when filling the elective courses. Parents are provided with the choices in advance so that they can provide guidance to their children in their selection.
Recent electives included:
Music will focus on teaching students the basics of a musical instrument while also instructing students on cooperation and teamwork. Students will have an opportunity to explore music theory and related topics as they work toward achieving their individualized goals based on their interests and abilities in relation to their instrument of choice.
This elective is designed to provide students with a fun, relaxed, and safe space to venture into the art form of theatrical performance both on and off of a stage. Students will be introduced to core elements of acting technique through lessons in voice, movement, and character development. In addition, core elements of directing and producing will be experienced through group Scene Study assignments on a bi-weekly basis. Students will read scenes from modern-day texts (contemporary) and texts that may have been written several hundred years ago (classical). Theater terminology, stage placements and designs, and rehearsal processes will be taught.
The Destination Imagination elective is a project-based learning experience that requires students to work collaboratively to solve STEAM-inspired challenges and problems. Students joining this elective will be asked to make a year-long commitment as the students in this elective will also represent C/A in Destination Imagination competitions beginning at the end of February. Some after-school and weekend practices may take place leading up to tournaments. Space is limited for this elective and preference will be given to returning team members from the 2017-2018 school year.
Middle School Coding is designed to help students to learn about the importance of computer programming in our modern world, and the role of the computer programmer. The class aims at developing understanding, confidence, and skill in of the mechanics of computer programming and computer understanding.
Students taking art will improve their skills, thought process and understanding by exploring various professional art techniques and materials while they learn about major categories of fine art, such as still life, portrait, landscape and 3D composition. Students will use acrylics, clay, watercolors, charcoal and oil pastels.
This elective course will explore various aspects of space exploration. Students will learn how space is defined and measured, the fundamentals of rocketry, investigate past, present, and future space endeavors, and examine the various technologies involved. These topics will be explored in an inquiry-based setting through in-class instruction, hands-on activities, and labs.
Design and Innovation
This course provides students the opportunity to respond to real-life challenges through the use of technology and innovation. Throughout the course, students will apply critical-thinking skills to creatively solve real-world problems using the design cycle, robotics, 3-D design, and printing. They will also gain an understanding of how technology impacts our lives on both a local and global scale.