core knowledge

Our Middle School Educational Plan



Our middle school uses the Core Knowledge Sequence to build a solid educational foundation for our children. The Sequence is a coherent, cumulative, and content-specific plan based on the idea of E.D. Hirsch, Jr., educational reformer and professor emeritus of education and humanities at the University of Virginia. Hirsch’s educational approach, founded in 1986, is based on the idea that content matters. In his research, Hirsch found that students who were well-versed in broad subjects like history, geography, civics, the arts, and basic science were better prepared to read college level texts compared to students who lacked this basic background knowledge. 

Although current events and technology are constantly changing, Hirsch argues that there exists a common body of lasting knowledge and skills that form the educational basis for all students. For example, the Sequence specifies that all seventh graders read classic literature such as Beowulf, The Call of the Wild, and the Diary of Anne Frank. The unit on poetry covers a selection of Edgar Allen Poe’s famous works. In history and geography, seventh graders focus on the United States, and learn how America became a world power through the study of key, global events from the 1890s through World War II. The middle school, in conjunction with the Core Knowledge Sequence, sets high expectations for all children that are achievable due to the cumulative, sequential way that knowledge and skills build.

Homework

Homework is an essential part of education. It prepares students for high school and college and for entry into the working world upon graduation. It also helps to develop a strong work ethic and personal organizational skills. Homework is an opportunity to review what is taught in the classroom, and to acquire background material.

In middle school, students can expect to receive 1.5–2 hours of homework per night for an average student, and 2–3 hours per night for an advanced student.

Middle School Curriculum

All math, science, language arts, and social studies courses are based on the Core Knowledge Sequence.

2014-2015 MS Course Catalog

Math

Middle school students build their skills in mathematics following two courses outlined by the Core Knowledge Sequence, plus algebra I and geometry. We place highly-skilled and motivated students in advanced math classes, including high school classes, according to assessments and classroom performance data. Additional math classes offered to these MS students include algebra II, pre-calculus, college algebra, and AP calculus (AB and BC versions).

Science

Our middle school students make steady and secure progress in their scientific learning. Students engage in an intensive and selective study of scientific topics from each of the major realms of science (physical, life, and earth science). Students are expected to do experiments and write reports on their findings. In all science classes, students will improve their study skills, make drawings, diagrams, and models, write biographies, and learn to follow lab safety protocols.

Language Arts

All students focus on the communication skills of language arts: reading, writing, listening, thinking, and speaking. Students refine their skills through exposure to culturally rich content as outlined in the Sequence. Students explore a variety of classical and modern literary works, including short stories, poetry, and novels. By the time students finish 8th grade, they are able to think critically about literary themes and personal approaches to literature.

Social Studies

Sixth grade begins with a study of ancient civilizations, covers key parts of World History, and concludes with the Enlightenment. During this course, sixth graders learn to interpret and create timelines to better understand the transition between the ancient civilizations and the Enlightenment. The central themes in seventh and eighth grade social studies revolve around the growth and change in American democracy and American interactions with world forces.

Spanish

We require all middle school students to learn Spanish as a foreign language. Introductory courses are available, as well as placement opportunities for highly skilled students. Students who continue their education at Twin Peaks Charter High School are eligible for high school credit for Spanish I and above. Course work beyond Spanish II is available to those students who meet specific eligibility requirements.

Electives

Middle school students have the option for two daily electives per semester. We offer art, music, band, choir, physical education, and technology. Select students who are interested in learning about various aspects of the school and providing service to the school community may apply to work as a student aide. Students must maintain good academic standing and complete mandatory training to be awarded placement as an in-school aide.

College and Career Prep

We offer a specialized “College and Career Exploration” unit for all 8th graders as they prepare for transition into high school.