Curriculum Guide

About the Middle School


Middle School is an exciting time of transition in many ways, but it’s also a complicated one, and students need help navigating the many aspects of this passage from childhood into young adulthood. As a School, we can best serve our students by providing them with opportunities to grow in body, mind, and spirit.

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Physically, students are supported with opportunities to move throughout the day, daily physical education, and opportunities to hone teamwork and athletic skills with organized sports. Providing students with the tools to stay physically (as well as emotionally) healthy is another way support their physical development, particularly in this developmental period marked by so much change.

In the academic realm, students are synthesizing the knowledge that they’ve already developed in elementary school, at the same time that they are expanding their horizons with new challenges and experiences. Our Middle School structure affords students and teachers both the time and structure needed to examine subjects in a multidisciplinary and holistic way, helping students to examine questions and find solutions with context. Our goal is for the strong foundation that our students build here to support them well into high school and beyond, pairing curiosity about the world with the strong study skills and habits of mind needed for success.

Students’ spiritual education is geared toward helping them find meaning in the world, an understanding of self, and ethical ways of interacting with others. Spiritual education is accomplished formally in religious studies classes, which include Biblical foundations, ethics, and world religions. Informally, helping students’ to develop spiritually – with all that entails – is part of classroom interactions, conversation, and all-school programming throughout the school day.

 

Middle School Course Progression


 

6th Grade 7th Grade 8th Grade
Language Arts Humanities 6
Introduction to Spanish
Language Arts 7 Language Arts 8
Social Studies Latin America and New Mexico History United States History
Science STEM 6 Earth Science Physical Science
Math Math Foundations or
Pre-Algebra
Pre-Algebra or
Algebra I
Physical Education Team Sports or Strength & Conditioning
Religious Education Introduction to the Bible
(1 semester)
Ethics and Morality
(1 quarter)
World Religions
(1 quarter)
Electives Beginning Band: Introduction to Instrumental Music
(1 semester)
Guitar (1 quarter)
Visual Arts (1 quarter)
Robotics (1 quarter)
Spanish (1 quarter)
Arts Block Vanguard Band Choir Drama Visual Arts Shakespeare Seminar

Middle School students are enrolled in seven courses each semester. Placement exams and teacher recommendations are considered when planning each student’s course schedule. Courses are yearlong unless indicated otherwise.

 

Academic Policies & Procedures


Academic Support: Students needing support for achievement in academic subjects have a variety of resources at hand. First, students who are struggling in a class will be assigned to support sessions for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) or Humanities (English and Social Studies) for one-on-one or small-group tutoring and skill building. These support sessions take place during part or all of afternoon Physical Education classes, and ensure that students leave for the school day with the support they need to successfully complete homework and studying in the evening.

Second, students are always encouraged to meet with teachers to discuss course topics and get extra help. Teachers are generally available after school, and by arrangement, before school and during part of the lunch period.

Third, the Tinnin Center provides help with study strategies, time management, and organization, as well help with accommodations for documented learning differences. In general, the School offers the following accommodations: preferential seating, extra time on tests and other assessments, use of the iPad for note-taking, and use of the iPad for tests and other assessments.

Finally, tutoring is available from a variety of sources. Peer tutors are high school students who volunteer to guide younger students through challenging material, and can be a valuable resource for review. A list of paid tutors who accept individual students or small groups is kept on file in the Tinnin Center.

Advisory Program: Advisory groups meet each morning to provide a launch pad for each student’s day at school, and to help advisors track students’ academic work and technology use. Advisors pay attention to individual students’ progress, both academically and socially, helping to form a safety net for each child. As a group, advisees get to know other students in a small group setting, form an identity as a group, and share in activities.

After School Care: Normal pickup time for Middle School students in 4:00 pm, unless they are participating in a sport or other after school activity. The campus After Care program provides for supervision for Middle School students between 4:00 pm and 6:00 pm on school days, while also providing snacks, time to complete homework, games, crafts, projects, and field trips. Space and time are also available for students to meet with private tutors.

studentsTuition for the program runs on a sliding scale, from $6 to $16 a day. The information used to determine financial aid awards is also used to determine eligibility for reduced tuition for After Care.

Counseling: The Middle School Director and students’ advisors are the best sources for academic counseling. The Middle School Director will manage course selection with help from the Registrar. Personal counseling and academic support are delivered through the staff of the Tinnin Counseling Center and the School’s Learning Specialist. The School Chaplain also provides personal counseling.

Daily Schedule: On Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, school begins at 8:00 am, and ends at 3:25 pm. Students need to be picked up by 4:00 pm, or attend the After Care program. On Wednesday, school starts at 9:00 am to allow faculty to meet for professional development and collaboration.

A sample daily schedule for a sixth grade student looks like this:

  Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday
Start – End Class
8:00 – 8:15 Advisory
8:15 – 8:20
8:20 – 9:05 6th Grade Elective
½ Year: Religion (Introduction to the Bible)½ Year: Instrumental Music
9:05 – 9:10  
9:10 – 10:40 Core Block
Girls = STEM
Boys = Humanities
10:40 – 10:45
10:45 – 11:05 Chapel
11:05 – 11:10
11:10 – 11:55 Lunch
11:55 – 12:00
12:00 – 12:45 Arts Block:
Options: Drama, Shakespeare Seminar, Choir,Visual Arts, Middle School Band (2nd semester)
12:45 – 12:50
12:50 – 2:30 Core Block
Girls = Humanities
Boys = STEM
2:30 – 2:35
2:35 – 3:25 Physical Education, Sports, and Academic Support
Team Sports: Flag Football, Volleyball, Cross Country, Basketball, Track and Field
Physical Education: Strength and Conditioning
Academic Support, as needed: STEM and Humanities

A sample daily schedule for a seventh grade student looks like this:

  Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday
Start –   End Class
8:00 – 8:15 Advisory
8:15 – 8:20
8:20 – 9:05 Core Class  Social Studies 7, Section A Core Class  English 7, Section B
9:05 – 9:10  
9:10 – 9:55 Core Class  English 7, Section A Core Class  Social Studies 7, Section B
9:55 – 10:00
10:00 – 10:40 Elective (take 4 quarters)
Required: Spanish 7, Religion 7
Options: Guitar, Robotics, Visual Arts
10:40 – 10:45  
10:45 – 11:05 Chapel
11:05 – 11:10
11:10 – 11:55 Lunch
11:55 – 12:00
12:00 – 12:45 Arts Block
Options: Drama, Shakespeare Seminar, Choir, Visual Arts, Middle School Band (2nd semester)
12:45 – 12:50
12:50 – 1:35 Core Class Science 7, Section A Core Class Math 7, Section B
1:35 – 1:45
1:45 – 2:30 Core Class Math 7, Section A Core Class Science 7, Section B
2:30 – 2:35
2:35 – 3:25 Physical Education, Sports, and Academic Support
Team Sports: Flag Football, Volleyball, Cross Country, Basketball, Track and Field
Physical Education: Strength and Conditioning
Academic Support, as needed: STEM and Humanities

A sample daily schedule for an eighth grade student looks like this:

  Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday
Start –   End Class
8:00 – 8:15 Advisory
8:15 – 8:20
8:20 – 9:05 Core Class Social Studies 8, Section A Core Class English 8, Section B
9:05 – 9:10  
9:10 – 9:55 Core Class English 8, Section A Core Class Social Studies 8, Section B
9:55 – 10:00
10:00 – 10:40 Elective (take 4 quarters)
Required: Spanish 8, Religion 8
Options: Guitar, Robotics, Visual Arts
10:40 – 10:45  
10:45 – 11:05 Chapel
11:05 – 11:10
11:10 – 11:55 Lunch
11:55 – 12:00
12:00 – 12:45 Arts Block
Options: Drama, Shakespeare Seminar, Choir,Visual Arts, Middle School Band (2nd semester)
12:45 – 12:50
12:50 – 1:35 Core Class Science 8, Section A Core Class Math 8, Section B
1:35 – 1:45
1:45 – 2:30 Core Class Math 8, Section A Core Class Science 8, Section B
2:30 – 2:35
2:35 – 3:25 Physical Education, Sports, and Academic Support
Team Sports: Flag Football, Volleyball, Cross Country, Basketball, Track and Field
Physical Education: Strength and Conditioning
Academic Support, as needed: STEM and Humanities

Good Academic Standing: In order to be in good academic standing, a student must maintain at least a 2.0 cumulative GPA, including summer school grades. The Registrar will calculate a student’s GPA at the end of each quarter (four times a year).

A student who is not in good academic standing may be asked to leave Menaul under the following circumstances:

  1. Falling below a 2.0 for two consecutive quarters.
  2. Falling below a 2.0 for a total of three quarters any time during his or her attendance at Menaul School.

Students’ eligibility for sports and other extracurricular activities is linked to overall academic standing. A student whose GPA falls below 2.0 or who has received an F during the nine-week quarter will be ineligible for sports and activities during following nine-week grading period.

Grade Point Average: The Grade Point Average (GPA) for each student is calculated by using the following system:

Grade Points
A 4
B 3
C 2
D 1
F 0

GPA is calculated by dividing the total number of grade points earned by the number of courses taken per semester. Please note: Menaul School neither recognizes nor grants credit for courses with a grade of E or F.

Grading Scale:

A = 90 – 100%

B = 80 – 89%

C = 70 – 79%

D = 60 – 69%

F = below 60%

Honor Roll: Students who earn a GPA of 3.25 in the first and third quarters and the first and second semesters are placed on Honor Roll. Students with a GPA of 3.75 or higher are placed on the President’s Honor Roll for that period.

Registration: Students will be scheduled for classes at time of registration. Schedule changes will be made in the event of improper placement of a student or for the purpose of balancing classes.

Tinnin-Learning-CtrTesting and Evaluation: To evaluate basic skills, eighth grade students will be tested using the Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills (CTBS)/Terra Nova in the spring. Testing will take place over the course of two days, and is not used to determine students’ readiness for passage to the ninth grade.

Uniforms
Menaul School students are required to wear school uniforms to school every day, unless the School’s administrative team announces a special dress day. The goal of the uniform is to help students focus on schoolwork rather than on outfits, to build community spirit, and to reduce pressure on parents to keep up with the latest fashion trends for students.

Shirts
A white or red polo shirt bearing the embroidered Menaul School logo
Both short and long sleeve versions are available
Shirts may be tucked in or left untucked

Shorts, Skirts, Skorts, Jumpers, Pants, and Capris
Tan or khaki-colored cotton twill bottoms are worn with the uniform polo

Shoes
Most types of shoes are consistent with the dress code. Closed-toed and -heeled shoes are preferable to less sturdy types, though, so that students have greater freedom of movement during the day.

Physical Education Class
Students in Physical Education class are required to wear sneakers and appropriate workout clothes. T-shirts (no tank tops), shorts, sweatpants, and sweatshirts are all acceptable clothing for PE class.


Course Descriptions


 

Humanities


Humanities 6
Students in Humanities 6 connect reading, writing, speaking, and listening as they examine the world and its people. Both fiction and non-fiction texts are used to develop students’ reading and thinking skills, and provide windows both to the wider world and to the student’s interior world. Study skills, time management, and organization are also a part of this course, and help to support students at the beginning of their Middle School careers.

A variety of coming-of-age themed literature – short stories, essays, poetry, plays, and novels – is used to help students explore new ideas and reflect on life experiences. Learning about literary devices, elements of plot and characterization, and expanding vocabulary and spelling skills helps students to deepen their understanding of reading material.

The study of people and places is developed using non-fiction texts, maps, art, and physical models as students concentrate on ancient civilizations, the Middle Ages, the Age of Exploration, and people and places in the modern era. The myths and legends of various cultures are used to describe those cultures, and to prompt self-reflection in students. In addition to text-based research, students experiment with historical methods of architecture, writing, and technology.

Language Arts 7
Seventh grade English is a central component of 7th grade humanities studies. As students explore Latin American and New Mexico history, they will develop reading and writing skills that help them make connections with literature from various genres, including poetry, myths, folklore, short stories, and novels. Students are expected to generate and reflect on ideas within group brainstorming sessions and in their own writing, with a strong emphasis placed on analytical reading with historical context. Peer assessment and reflection generate rich discussions within the class.

Students will advance their composition skills and engage in learning explorations that strengthen the connection between character and community while drawing from literary devices and elements of plot and characterization. By focusing on the intersections between language and social studies, seventh grade students build their writing and speaking skills while developing perspectives to understand the world.

Language Arts 8
Eighth grade English is a literature-based course in which students develop skills in language arts that enhance reading, writing, spelling, and grammar to identify their voices as writers. This course is taught in concert with United States history, and seeks to unravel the complexities of literature within a historical context. Students use both technology-based resources and more traditional tools to develop their skills in higher levels of literary analysis.

In this course, emphasis is placed on close reading and the critical analysis of literary texts as well as on developing composition skills in writing. By writing a variety of essays and a meaningful research paper, students will build their skills for the academic reading, writing, and speaking they will do in the Upper School.

Latin America and New Mexico History
Seventh grade students conduct an in-depth study of the history and cultures that influence the Southwest in this history course by studying the geography, technology, climate, art and architecture, and human settlement patterns of many groups of people – South American and Latin American civilizations, traditional southwestern cultures (Anasazi, Mogollon, Hopi, early Pueblo and Plains civilizations), and Europeans.

New Mexico history is the focus of the second half of this course, from Spanish Colonization to the close of World War II. Settlement patterns, cultural exchange, geography, and climate have combined to make the history of New Mexico a very rich source of study. Treasure hunts, revolts, colonization, the Santa Fe Trail, the Civil War, range wars, women in the West, railroads, automobiles, tourists, artists, and atomic bombs are just a few of the topics the Grade 7 students will explore in trying to determine why we do things the way we do in New Mexico.

U.S. History
This class is designed to examine the course of American history using a chronological approach, beginning with the search for independence and concluding with the modern era. Students are actively involved in making connections between the formation and the development of the United States, and its cultural progress through literature, economics, and geography. Class presentations, dramatizations, research projects, independent study, reading, and written compositions are all used as a means to discovery. Special emphasis is placed on issues of cultural diversity, constitutional government, national identity, and civil rights. Themes of multiculturalism, social and economic implications, conflict, and conflict resolution are explored as they apply to each stage of American growth and change. The class includes American Literature components and is taught in tandem with Language Arts 8.

Introduction to Spanish
Sixth grade students will learn high-frequency vocabulary and phrases in Spanish through language practice embedded into the sixth grade curriculum. Students will complete projects to practice speaking and reading Spanish, and will complete brief oral presentations to share the knowledge they develop.

Spanish
During this marking period of Spanish, students will practice speaking, listening, reading, and writing. Students will learn to speak and understand basic phrases as well as learn how to read and write using basic grammar. Cultural understanding of Hispanic cultures will be developed by studying music, art, and traditions.​ Language is our connection to the community and to the world​. It opens the doors to understanding other cultures and allows us to express our hopes and dreams as well as share our experiences and traditions with others.

Introduction to the Bible
Students in Introduction to the Bible learn about the content, structure, people, and themes in the Old and New Testaments with a goal of not only providing spiritual education, but also cultural literacy. Bible stories will be analyzed for meaning and context to help students find meaning in the text. Students will understand the role of religious study in helping people make sense of the world and their place in it.

Ethics and Morality
Knowing how to have appropriate relationships with those in the communities in which we participate – whether on campus, at home, in our city, or in the wider world – is a central theme of the seventh grade’s study of ethics and morality. Students in this course will learn about different ethical approaches to dilemmas by examining and reacting to case studies, and practice talking and listening to people with a variety of viewpoints. While the development of an ethical worldview appropriate to seventh grade students is the central topic of study for this course, effective communication skills and logical reasoning are also emphasized.

World Religions
Eighth grade World Religions introduces students to world myths and folklore, focusing on the ways in which humans have answered deeper questions through stories, particularly in non-Western folklore (from a variety of Native American, African, Asian, and Australian aboriginal stories). Students will construct their own myths as a way to look at their own lives and how they fit into the world. Students will know the basic principles of major world religions by the conclusion of this course.

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math


STEM 6
This course continues the development of learned math skills and concepts and extends the student’s ability to manipulate the basic operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division with whole numbers. This course will emphasize the application of the basic operations to decimals and fractions. Further, the course introduces and extends the application of number theory to algebraic concepts employing perimeters and areas, ratios, proportions, percents, integers and one-step equations.

6th grade STEM builds on the quantitative reasoning and science perspectives that students have developed during elementary school, and applies those skills to real-world situations. Emphasis on basic mathematical operations with whole numbers, decimals, and fractions, combined with a variety of science topics (health (including gardening, cooking, and nutrition), cells and genetics, plants and basic horticulture, animals and taxonomic classification), helps students integrate math and science skills and patterns. Using the tools of scientists, like digital microscopes, binoculars, and model building allows students to observe and collect data about the natural world.

The format for this STEM course allows students to both explore mathematical concepts at their own pace, while working together to apply those concepts to authentic and rich real-world projects, using their developing social skills to complete work with partners or in small groups. Students will complete weekly engineering design challenges to spark their creativity and prompt them to employ the math and science concepts they have learned.

Math Foundations
This course is designed to provide strong groundwork in math and to help the student further develop a broad understanding of the nature of math. Students will achieve proficiency with adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing whole numbers, decimals, and fractions. Integers, one and two-step equations, the order of operations, simple geometry, and word problems are also part of the course. Students will deepen their mathematical understanding by constructing models, using other manipulatives, and applying mathematical concepts to real-world applications. This course will help prepare students for Pre-Algebra and Algebra.

Pre-Algebra
Pre-Algebra students will continue to study integers, the order of operations, variables, expressions, and equations. Graphing inequalities and equations, writing and solving proportions, and exploring basic statistics will help students practice using math to describe the natural and designed world. The “why” and “how” of problem solving are emphasized in this course to help students prepare for success in Algebra I.

Algebra I
Prerequisite: C or better in Pre-Algebra.
In Algebra I, students learn how to solve problems by using variables to represent unknown quantities, and by solving for those unknown quantities using equations and inequalities. Algebra I is the foundation for the basic structure and abstract nature of mathematics, emphasizing logical thinking and the application of prior skills and concepts. Students will develop a range of problem solving strategies to tackle a variety of real-world and more abstract applications.

Earth Science
Seventh grade students will observe the dynamic world around them and compare it to other planets in our solar system to gain greater understanding of our own planet. Using observation, experimentation, measurement, and analysis, students will investigate the geologic history of Earth, its composition, and the forces acting on it. Weather, rocks and minerals, plate tectonics, topography, and soil development are just a few of the topics that students will explore. Fieldwork and the analysis and collection of data are significant components of this course.

Physical Science
Eighth grade students in Physical Science will develop an understanding of the nature and structure of matter, and the characteristics of energy. Within those larger concepts, topics of study include physical and chemical changes, temperature and heat, sound, light, electricity and magnetism, work, force, and motion. Students will develop their understanding of the physical principles that govern the world through lab activities, data collection and analysis, and engineering challenges.

Robotics
In Lego Robotics, students can use their creative imagination and learn real-life computer programming and problem-solving skills. Students in this class will use build Lego robots and machines, program them to perform specific tasks, troubleshoot problems, and refine their strategies to address practical challenges. This class offers students immersive and interrelated STEM activities, including math, science, engineering and computer technology.

 

Physical Education


Physical Education
Physical Education is an important part of students’ education about healthy lifestyles. This activity-oriented class helps students develop knowledge, skills, and appreciation for sports and other types of recreation, along with the practices of good sportsmanship. The Physical Education class will take place during the end of the school day, and overlap with Middle School sports practices. Team sports include flag football, volleyball, basketball, and track. For students not participating in an organized sport, strength training and aerobic conditioning will be the focus of Physical Education.

 

Visual and Performing Arts


Choir
Students in Choir are introduced to the fundamentals of vocal music production, various choral techniques, and the performance of a variety of choral styles at the Middle School level. Musical literature is chosen to develop the young singing voice and to give the student opportunities for public performance. The student will develop the musical and teamwork skills needed for involvement in High School Choir.

Beginning Band: Introduction to Instrumental Music
Students in Beginning Band will have the opportunity to play a band instrument, learn to read basic music notation, and perform in a traditional music ensemble setting. Beginning Band is a place for students to build confidence, concentration, and performance skills in a supportive environment. Students who advance quickly in Beginning Band will be able to join the Middle School Vanguard Band in the spring. All students enrolled in Beginning Band need to obtain an instrument, typically by purchasing an instrument or by renting one from a local music store or through the School.

Mid-School-StudentsVanguard Band
Vanguard Band is composed of Middle School students who have played a musical instrument for at least one year. In class, students will practice the fundamentals of good breath control, sound production, and music reading. Students will also hone their performance skills as they prepare for public performances with the ensemble.

Vanguard Band also serves as a steppingstone to greater involvement in the music world in Albuquerque; students may be asked to join Pep Band, to audition for District Honor Band, participate in the Solo/Ensemble Festival, and to audition for All-State Band, Albuquerque Youth Symphony, and the New Mexico Youth Band. The Vanguard Band also participates in combined concerts with bands from other local schools.

Drama
The focus of this course is to introduce students to the skills and knowledge necessary for building a firm foundation and understanding of the theatrical arts. Particular emphasis will be given to developing the actor’s craft. Students will be introduced to physical, vocal, and analytical investigation, and will be apply these to creative drama, short monologues, and scene work. Students will participate in a production each semester and also in the annual MAD Fest.

Guitar
Prior experience with playing guitar is not needed in this Middle School Guitar class – all are welcome. Here, students will learn the basics of guitar playing techniques and music reading skills. Development of students’ own musical skills is the goal of this course.

Visual Arts
Students taking Visual Arts will develop their creative skills by sampling a variety of ways to make art, including drawing, painting, and three-dimensional art. This course will also introduce students to principles of design and techniques to improve artistic expression. Students will use resources from art history and a variety of cultures to inform their work.

Shakespeare Seminar
In this course, students will examine the writings of William Shakespeare, and explore recurring themes in his work. Comedies and tragedies will be the focus of this course, and students will write, discuss, and act to further their understanding of these significant works of English literature.