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Curriculum

The middle school curriculum provides a solid core of learning in the School of Liberal Arts (SLA), which comprises the foundational classes in Bible, English, history, math, science, and world languages, which enable students to think deeply and broadly.  This learning unlocks and informs work in more specialized areas of inquiry that students explore in the Schools for Applied and Innovative Learning (SAIL). Several excellent field trips, tied directly to our curriculum, bring learning to life for our middle school students.

SLA

School of Liberal Arts

6th Grade

Bible

Students engage in a year-long study of the Gospel of John. This course is designed to give students an overview of the life of Jesus Christ. Students learn about the customs and geography of Israel during Jesus’ ministry as they explore the various themes of this Gospel. Regular scripture memory is a part of this course. Students are encouraged to evaluate their personal relationship to Christ and to respond to Him as the Savior and Lord of their lives.

English

Sixth Grade English is a literature-based exploration of language, which integrates reading, writing, speaking, and listening with the higher order thinking skills necessary to appreciate and evaluate communication through a Christian worldview. The two-fold goal of this focus is that students' spoken and written words may glorify God as well as bless others.

Reading skills focus on the ability to comprehend written text, evaluate content and source through a lens of scriptural truth, and make meaningful connections to life experiences. Major themes involve evaluation of elements of literature and literary devices as well as the exploration of best practice habits of excellent readers. As students process written text, they express their thinking in both spoken and written formats, built upon the fundamentals of grammar. The development of students' facility in producing a variety of basic paragraph styles and types focuses on the unity and coherence of the five-paragraph essay with well reasoned and substantiated arguments. Finally, a systematic study of spelling principles and word-building skills based upon Latin and Greek prefixes, roots, and suffixes helps students enhance their written and oral vocabularies. All students participate in a declamation event. Sixth grade literature titles include: The City of Ember, Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry, A Christmas Carol, The Westing Game, Crispin: The Cross of Lead, The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, A Single Shard, and Hatchet. The Count of Monte Cristo provides enrichment opportunities.

Mathematics

Sixth grade math is offered at three levels. The accelerated track is a course in Pre-Algebra that introduces students to algebraic ideas through the simplification of algebraic expressions, the solution of more advanced equations, and the graphing of linear functions. Additionally, students learn to evaluate expressions and solve equations with a deeper understanding of variables and inverse operations, and they are required to show their work using mathematical symbols in appropriate ways. Problem-solving skills and communication skills are stressed throughout the course as students are asked to demonstrate their knowledge by explaining mathematical concepts verbally.

Sixth grade mathematics for the other two tracks stresses foundational skills competence in estimating, problem solving, organizing and interpreting data, predicting outcomes, and questioning the reasonableness of results. Students extend their understanding of geometric figures, congruence, and calculations of area and volume. Students will see how to use decimals and percents to make everyday transactions with money, helping them to be good stewards of God’s provision. As they study a variety of numerical patterns they will see how mathematics reflects the nature of God himself – His consistency, orderliness, infinity, and genius. Students actively participate in the learning of mathematics through experimentation, discovery, manipulation, and discussion.

Social Studies

The first semester of this course has a dual emphasis on geography and culture. Related to culture, students learn about immigration to the United States and engage in a project on their own heritage. A field trip to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty is a highlight of this unit of study. The second semester covers a study of early U.S. history, reviewing the causes and effects of the Revolutionary War, our country under the Articles of Confederation, the Constitutional Convention, the Constitution - including the Bill of Rights - and the administrations of Washington and Adams. A field trip to Constitution Center in Philadelphia brings this learning to life. One focus of this course is the recognition that God works through nations and people groups to move history toward the achievement of His purposes. Additional areas of focus include democracy and citizens’ rights and responsibilities, and the truth that God has established three institutions for our society: family, government, and church, the leaders of which are to be respected and obeyed.

Science

SEPUP’s Issues and Earth Science is our sixth grade science textbook. The program uses societal issues and problems as themes for the study of earth science. It is intended to be a high-interest, inquiry-based course that emphasizes hands-on learning, observing and exploring, growing in awe of God the Creator, and understanding our role as caretakers. Students conduct experiments, collect data, create models, and read and analyze information in their exploration of real-life issues. Topics include plate tectonics, the earth in space, and weather and atmosphere, among others.

World Languages

Students explore two world languages in 6th grade: Mandarin Chinese and Spanish. They take each language for one semester, exposing them to components of the language and aspects of culture. At the end of 6th grade, students choose which language they would like to study, keeping in mind that they are required to complete through level three during their upper school years.

Music:  Band and 6th Grade Choir

Middle School Band is an elective course offered to 6th-8th graders who play band instruments. Students attend rehearsals during the school day, and must take lessons on their instrument in order to participate. Through instruction in the notational, rhythmic, physical, and emotional aspects of music performance, students pursue excellence in the preparation and performance of music.  Pieces are chosen to increase students’ musical understanding, inspire them and their audience, educate and entertain their audiences, lead their audiences in worship, and grow in their understanding of how their work as individuals affects the work of the entire ensemble. Performance opportunities include a Christmas concert and a spring concert and biennial competition at Music in the Parks.
 
Sixth Grade Choir is a required course for all students in 6th grade. Performance opportunities include a Christmas concert and a spring concert and biennial competition at Music in the Parks.

Physical Education

The purpose of this course is to encourage, enable, and empower students to be good stewards of their physical bodies. This is accomplished primarily by providing students with the opportunity to learn the skills, knowledge, and strategy necessary to participate in a variety of team sports, individual sports, and lifetime fitness activities. Students will be challenged to form healthy lifestyle habits by participating in physical fitness activities outside of the classroom. Special emphasis is placed on exploring the healthy benefits of regular physical activity as well as developing a Christian perspective on stewardship of the body, character, and personal discipline as it relates to physical activity.

Art

6th Grade Art which is required twice a week, is a course in basic drawing and design. Emphasis is on art principles such as composition, positive and negative space, color mixing and patterning. Beginning 3-dimensional life drawing is initiated and practiced. The use of many mediums is explored, discovered and applied. The year culminates with a middle school art show.

Keyboarding

Sixth grade students spend 5 periods a week for the first quarter becoming proficient touch typists. Contrary to the “hunt and peck” or two-finger approach, touch typing is characterized by homerow positioning, memorizing correct finger strike and reach, and not looking at the keyboard. An online typing program is used which provides student tracking and the ability for students to practice outside of class.

7th Grade

Bible 

Old Testament Survey for seventh grade provides a general overview of the major topics of the Old Testament with an emphasis on Old Testament history and significant individuals. The course involves a chronological study of the Bible with a special unit on Bible Geography. A field trip to the University of Pennsylvania Archeology and Anthropology Museum brings to life some of this learning. Students are encouraged to draw out life applications from the various topics and individuals that are studied. Regular scripture memorization is a component of this course.

English

In Seventh Grade English, students read and analyze several literary genres:  fiction novels, short stories, a play, and poetry.  As they read and respond to what they are studying, students develop their comprehension skills as well as their language arts skills. Engaging in a variety of writing experiences that strengthen their writing skills and develop their abilities to read and analyze literature, a major goal of Seventh Grade English is to teach the students to think critically from a biblical worldview and to express themselves and their faith in a variety of creative and meaningful forms of writing. Grammar instruction, and a systematic study of vocabulary based on Greek and Latin roots provide foundational skills for reading, writing, speaking, and listening.  All students participate in a declamation event.  Seventh grade literature titles include: A Wrinkle in Time, Inherit the Wind, The Hobbit, Pilgrim’s Progress, Wednesday Wars, and a variety of poems and short stories. 

Mathematics

Seventh grade math is offered at several levels. The accelerated track is Honors Algebra I. In this course, students learn the fundamental algebraic properties and use these properties to carry out the many manipulative skills that algebra requires. Honors Algebra I reflects the departmental emphasis on the development of good problem-solving skills and meaningful use of technology. Students are required to write out solutions to problems in an organized manner, showing all work, and making proper use of mathematical symbols. Because the underlying structures of mathematics are God-created, they reflect His character, including His faithfulness, wisdom, orderliness and love. Through the use of real-world problems, students learn the importance of mathematics in understanding our world.

Pre-Algebra introduces students to algebraic ideas through the simplification of algebraic expressions, the solution of more advanced equations, and the graphing of linear functions. Additionally, students learn to evaluate expressions and solve equations with a deeper understanding of variables and inverse operations, and they are required to show their work using mathematical symbols in appropriate ways. Problem-solving skills and communication skills are stressed throughout the course as students are asked to demonstrate their knowledge by explaining mathematical concepts verbally.

History

Seventh Grade U.S. History covers the time period prior to the Civil War through the present. The course begins with a study of biblical principles of history, specifically, that God is in control of history and has a plan that He is carrying to completion. A distinctive feature of the course is the emphasis on teaching students how the study of history is relevant to their lives today. In response to a unit on life in the North and the South, with a major emphasis on the history of slavery and the rise of the abolitionist movement, students are encouraged to develop a biblically based response to slavery and to apply their understanding to present social issues. Other units focus on The United States becoming a world power and a survey of WWI and WW II. The last units cover the Cold War, 9/11, and the war on terror and current issues facing the United States.

Science

SEPUP’s Issues and Life Science is our textbook for 7th grade. Life Science is a study of God’s most complex creations: organisms - including the human body - and the various structures, processes, and relationships that He has designed to meet their physical needs. Course topics include experimental design, body works, cell biology and disease, genetics, ecology, and bioengineering. There is a strong emphasis on hands-on learning, including a field trip to Spruce Lake Outdoor Education in the Poconos. Activities, including research projects and labs, are important parts of this course.

World Languages (Mandarin Chinese 1A or Spanish 1A) 

The world language department plays a special role in preparing students to carry out The Great Commission. Learning another language gives students the tools to reach others with the Gospel and increases their awareness of other cultures. This course is the first half of Level 1 language study that is offered in the upper school. In middle school, students are able to take Level 1A during their seventh grade year, and then they continue with Level 1B during their eighth grade year. The purpose is to explore to God’s diverse kingdom through learning a second language and different cultures. These courses use a communicative approach to teach basic reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills. Familiarity with grammar and vocabulary is emphasized. Students are also introduced to various cultures that speak the target language.

Music:  Band, 7th and 8th Grade Choirs

Middle School Band is an elective course offered to 6th-8th graders who play band instruments. Students attend rehearsals during the school day, and must take lessons on their instrument in order to participate. Through instruction in the notational, rhythmic, physical, and emotional aspects of music performance, students pursue excellence in the preparation and performance of music. Pieces are chosen to increase students’ musical understanding, inspire them and their audience, educate and entertain their audiences, lead their audiences in worship, and grow in their understanding of how their work as individuals affects the work of the entire ensemble. Performance opportunities include a Christmas concert and a spring concert and biennial competition at Music in the Parks.

Seventh grade students who choose to participate in Choir are placed into the 7th and 8th Grade Girls Choir or the 7th and 8th Grade Boys Choir. Performance opportunities include a Christmas concert and a spring concert and biennial competition at Music in the Parks.

Physical Education/Health

The purpose of this course is to encourage, enable, and empower students to be good stewards of their physical bodies. This is accomplished primarily by providing students with the opportunity to learn the skills, knowledge, and strategy necessary to participate in a variety of team sports, individual sports, and lifetime fitness activities. Students will be challenged to form healthy lifestyle habits by participating in physical fitness activities outside of the classroom. Special emphasis is placed on exploring the healthy benefits of regular physical activity as well as developing a Christian perspective on stewardship of the body, character, and personal discipline as it relates to physical activity.

7th Grade Health is interspersed with Physical Education classes. The main purpose of the health course is to foster a lifestyle of healthful living among the students. This is accomplished primarily through a curriculum that exposes the students to various health-related topics including nutrition, disease prevention, drug and substance abuse and misuse and safety and first aid. During the study of each of these topics, students are encouraged to obtain, interpret, and apply basic health information to their daily lives. Throughout the course the theme of stewardship of the body is a major emphasis. Health is choices and consequences. Students will understand and weigh the consequences to their health choices.

Theatre

Seventh grade students who are not in Band or Choir take Middle School Theatre.  In this class, students learn the basics of theatre while experiencing many different aspects of the craft.  Through pantomime, improv, scene work, and more, students will become comfortable performing in front of their peers while learning about theatre.

Art

7th Grade Art, which is required twice a week, is a course designed to build on the foundations already developed in 6th grade:  patterns become textures, flat objects become objects with volume. Shading, shadowing and 3-dimensional drawing are explored. Real space including perspective is introduced. Many mediums are used to increase decision making, self-expression and finally mastery. The year culminates in a middle school art show.

Research Skill

Seventh grade students meet once a week for the entire year. Cross curricular content is used. Emphasis of learning is placed on proper MLA format and citations, plagiarism, skillful oral and visual presentations, academic research using the library, online databases and search engines, synthesis and paraphrasing of research articles, as well as proficient use of Google's G Suite for Education tools. 

8th Grade

Bible 

The 8th grade Church History course is a one-semester study focusing on the birth, spread, development, and preservation of the universal Christian Church in human history. The study begins with the establishment of the apostolic church (32 A.D.) and concludes with the early church reformers (1570 A.D.). Throughout the study, students are challenged to see the central role of the church in the unfolding of God’s redemptive plan for the spread of the gospel, the sovereignty of God at work in the preservation of biblical truth through godly individuals led by the Holy Spirit, and the significant impact of Scripture on western culture. Students will be challenged to evaluate their local churches in accordance with biblical standards.
 
The 8th grade Acts course is a one-semester course that examines the book of Acts on a chapter-by-chapter basis. The events are studied in the sequence of Acts. In light of the contents of the book of Acts, there is a strong missions emphasis. Every two weeks, students work on short reports, which they compile into an Acts booklet by the end of the course.

English

English 8 is designed to enhance the language arts skills that students have acquired during previous years, including reading comprehension, vocabulary development, written expression, grammar, and oral communication. In developmentally appropriate fashion, students are challenged to foster their creative and critical thinking skills within a biblical framework of thought. A major unit on the Holocaust takes an interdisciplinary approach, combining literature and history to portray the events of that time. The unit includes a field trip to the National Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. Students in English 8 read the following pieces of literature: The Hiding Place, Island on Bird Street, Diary of Anne Frank (the play), Animal Farm, The Pearl, To Kill a Mockingbird; poetry by Sandburg, Frost, Hughes, and Poe; and a variety of short stories.

Mathematics

Eighth grade math is offered at several levels. The accelerated track is Geometry. The focus of Geometry is the properties of plane geometric figures: triangles, circles, parallelograms, and other polygons. Formulas for areas and volumes of geometric figures are developed and applied. Emphasis is placed on the discovery of geometric relationships in the physical world and their use in practical situations. Students use geometry computer software and their TI-Nspire calculators as an aid in discovering and conjecturing about geometric relationships. Though formal proof is not emphasized, students learn to write simple proofs involving congruence and similarity. A mathematical research project, including a written report, oral presentation, and visual exhibit, is required.

In Honors Algebra I, students learn the fundamental algebraic properties and use these properties to carry out the many manipulative skills that algebra requires. Honors Algebra I reflects the departmental emphasis on the development of good problem-solving skills and meaningful use of technology. Students are required to write out solutions to problems in an organized manner, showing all work, and making proper use of mathematical symbols. Because the underlying structures of mathematics are God-created, they reflect His character, including His faithfulness, wisdom, orderliness and love. Through the use of real-world problems, students learn the importance of mathematics in understanding our world.

Algebra I forms the foundation for the study of mathematics in high school. Students develop an understanding of fundamental algebraic properties and regularly review the operations of the real number system. Students develop good problem solving and communication skills as they learn to separate a difficult problem into manageable steps using clear mathematical language and notation. The first semester is a thorough treatment of linear functions, while in the second semester quadratic and other polynomials are addressed. Computers and calculators are used as tools to explore the world of mathematics. 

History 

Building on the U.S. history they’ve had in sixth and seventh grade, eighth graders enter into learning about the Modern World: both domestic and international. In this course that aids them in carrying out the DC mission to impact the world for Christ, they study the geographic, political, and cultural makeup of regions of the world. Beginning with what they know of the United States, they gain expertise in geography, government, and current political events. Each subsequent unit encompasses those same topics focused on a region of the world. Students demonstrate their learning through debates, country projects, and other assessments. Skyping with missionaries and tasting food from various regions are key components of this course.

Science 

SEPUP’s Issues and Physical Science is our 8th grade science textbook. This program examines issues in a societal context in a way that fosters and promotes the growing ability of young adolescents to think abstractly, and - through labs - builds upon their desire for peer interaction and support. More specifically, through almost 100 activities, they learn how to gather and interpret scientific evidence about issues of interest to them and their community. Units of study include: Studying Materials Scientifically, The Chemistry of Materials, Water, Energy, Force and Motion, and Waves. By learning more about the structure and processes of God’s creation, students gain a greater appreciation for creation and the role of God as creator, sustainer and designer of our universe.

World Languages (Mandarin Chinese 1B or Spanish 1B)

The world language department plays a special role in preparing students to carry out The Great Commission. Learning another language gives students the tools to reach others with the Gospel and increases their awareness of other cultures. This course is the second half of Level 1 language study that is offered in the upper school. In middle school, students are able to take Level 1A during their seventh grade year, and then they continue with Level 1B during their eighth grade year. The purpose is to explore to God’s diverse kingdom through learning a second language and different cultures. These courses use a communicative approach to teach basic reading, writing, listening and speaking skills. Each unit introduces new vocabulary, grammar concepts, and aspects of culture, and places increasing emphasis on conversational speaking and writing short paragraphs.

Music:  Band, 7th and 8th Grade Choirs

Middle School Band is an elective course offered to 6th-8th graders who play band instruments. Students attend rehearsals during the school day, and must take lessons on their instrument in order to participate. Through instruction in the notational, rhythmic, physical, and emotional aspects of music performance, students pursue excellence in the preparation and performance of music.  Pieces are chosen to increase students’ musical understanding, inspire them and their audience, educate and entertain their audiences, lead their audiences in worship, and grow in their understanding of how their work as individuals affects the work of the entire ensemble. Performance opportunities include a Christmas concert and a spring concert and biennial competition at Music in the Parks.

Eighth grade students who choose to participate in Choir are placed into the 7th and 8th Grade Girls Choir or the 7th and 8th Grade Boys Choir. Performance opportunities include a Christmas concert and a spring concert and biennial competition at Music in the Parks.

Physical Education

The purpose of this course is to encourage, enable, and empower students to be good stewards of their physical bodies. This is accomplished primarily by providing students with the opportunity to learn the skills, knowledge, and strategy necessary to participate in a variety of team sports, individual sports, and lifetime fitness activities. Students will be challenged to form healthy lifestyle habits by participating in physical fitness activities outside of the classroom. Special emphasis is placed on exploring the healthy benefits of regular physical activity as well as developing a Christian perspective on stewardship of the body, character, and personal discipline as it relates to physical activity.

Theatre

Eighth grade students who are not in Band or Choir take Middle School Theatre.  In this class, students learn the basics of theatre while experiencing many different aspects of the craft. Through pantomime, improv, scene work, and more, students will become comfortable performing in front of their peers while learning about theatre.

Art

The eighth grade art curriculum uses a blend of projects that teach essential art concepts like compositional layout, balance of positive and negative space, spatial depth, perspective, and color relationships. Eighth graders draw from life as well as two-dimensional reference. Students learn the importance of sketching out their ideas and visual compositions prior to making their final pieces. They learn to be critical of their initial idea, adjust, and refine, rather than settling for their first ideas.  The students are encouraged  to explore a wide range of mediums throughout the year. They use different weight pencils, markers, colored pencils, art stix, chalk pastels, oil pastels and acrylic paints. When students finish the full middle school curriculum they are to be ready for the challenge of the upper school art program.
 

SAIL

Schools for Applied and Innovative Learning

The Schools for Applied and Innovative Learning (SAIL) are designed to build on DC’s liberal arts educational framework. SAIL is comprised of three components: The School of Arts, the School of Humanities and Entrepreneurship, and the School of STEM.

As students make their way through our middle school, they will engage in teamwork and be given opportunities to apply what they are learning. All middle school students will take courses that will stretch their intellect as well as their interpersonal skills.

For example, in the 8th grade Wind Energy course, our students are confronted with a mandate to increase their community’s reliance on renewable energy. During this course, through an educational simulation, students apply their knowledge of the engineering process, mathematics, and environmental science to design cost-effective and energy-efficient wind turbines. Making engineering, financial, environmental, and public relations-related decisions, they learn to balance the many perspectives that have to be considered when solving real problems. These students then present and defend their designs and decisions to a board of city council members, who award the contract to the winning team.

Middle school students at DC will take one of these courses at a time, three per year, meeting for a 90-minute block to allow for them to dig deep into the questions they will be investigating.
 

MS SAIL Course Descriptions

School for the Arts

6th Grade

Stop-Motion Animation

In the digital age where we are increasingly bombarded by video footage, students will increase their awareness of how a message can be packaged and “sold” to an audience. Students will work with oil clay, set design elements, digital photography, computer programing (iMovie), and script-writing to create a 3-5-minute short film in iMovie using stop-motion animation.

7th Grade

Perspective Drawing

In this class, students learn the process of creating the illusion of 3-D art.  All projects are done on two-dimensional surfaces but appear to have the space and depth of three-dimensional art.  The students make a 3-D collage, develop and draw their own business as a 3-D store font, and draw/paint an ornate cathedral.  Students work cooperatively on a number of projects including taking perspective photos, teaching optical-illusion art to their classmates, and assembling a 3-D building structure puzzle.  Students learn how to use tools such as T-squares to create perspective drawings, regularly use terms related to the mathematical nature of perspective drawing, study the history of architecture, and begin to identify ancient architectural elements.

8th Grade

Children's Theater

Students will experience what it's like to create a production for children in this SAIL course. Throughout the class students will collaborate to adapt a popular children’s story into a short play, create costumes and props for their production, and rehearse their plays developing well rounded characters. Students then travel to DC’s Lower Campus to perform.

School for Humanities and Entrepreneurship

6th Grade

Power of Story

Using Walt Disney as a case study of the power of innovation and cultural engagement through story, students will compare and contrast Disney productions to the original literary works in order to appreciate the impact of narrative. Through historical research and literary analysis, students will work collaboratively in small groups to produce and to present adaptations of existing literary works. The express purpose of these artistically created student productions will be that they engage culture, offering a redemptive message that is relevant to the audience.

7th Grade

Developing Mock Trials

Developing Mock Trials is a course designed to expose 7th graders with the challenge of critical analysis, strategic thinking, questioning and listening skills, as well as preparing and organizing materials for oral presentations. Students will engage in rhetoric and the art of persuasion while being exposed to the idea that there are valid differing points of view. They will use literature and historical events as the foundation to prepare and organize mock trials. Each one will be challenged to analyze information presented, express ideas in clear and succinct format, and present themselves appropriately through role playing during the trials as lawyers, witnesses, jurors, bailiffs, and judges.

8th Grade

Journalism

The course is designed to expose students to the fundamentals of gathering news, interviewing sources, composing articles, and editing work for publication. The course will culminate with each student contributing an article to a middle school newspaper--the latter of which will be released on a trimester basis.

School for STEM

6th Grade

Trash Talk

In this course, students will research and investigate consumption and waste management in their community and learn how it affects society both locally and globally. Hands-on activities will focus on paper, plastics, and food recycling. Discussion will encompass our responsibility, emphasizing the God-given mandate to be engaged stewards of our world. Participants will create and implement an action plan in order to make a difference in their community.

7th Grade

Digital Citizenship

This course is designed to help students develop the ability to think critically, behave safely, and participate responsibly in the digital world. Topics covered include Information Literacy, Copyright and Creative Credit, Digital Footprint & Reputation, Online Safety, Privacy & Security, and Cyberbullying & Digital Drama. Students will demonstrate mastery of topics through a variety of learning activities and creative projects, enabling them to improve their collaborative and communication skills.

8th Grade

Wind Energy:  Engineering, Environment, and Economics

In this course, students will collaborate to engineer a wind turbine and budget their materials during this inquiry, which is based on the simulation that Delaware County is looking to build a wind farm to generate power for our community. The county board wants students to engineer the most effective and efficient wind turbine for their budget. Students will present their findings to the city council in efforts to win the contract.

Contact Information

Chuck Young
Head of Middle School
610-353-6522 x2291
cyoung@dccs.org

Chad Fenley
Assistant Head of Middle School
610-353-6522 x2277
cfenley@dccs.org

Gwen Peters
Administrative Assistant
Middle School Office
610-353-6522 x2275
gpeters@dccs.org