Middle School Curriculum

In the Middle School, areas of study include the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution, and the concept of freedom in the context of nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first century America. Middle School students are offered electives such as chemistry, advanced problem solving, Model U.N., and ethics.

Click below to delve into Middle School studies.

In addition to the core curriculum classes, students actively participate in
Arts and various clubs and organizations.

Our Unique Approach to Core Studies

Science

Middle School Science at Speyer is all about exploring various themes through a hands-on, project-based lens. We do not focus on breaking apart the discipline into rigid archetypal categories such as biology, chemistry, and physics, but rather, we explore the areas where they connect using creative projects, theater, lab based experiments, building explorations, discussions, and debates. These studies are also woven into the other subjects at Speyer, and past projects have included joint efforts between Humanities, Physical Education, Music, Art, and Math. The goal of Science at Speyer is to nurture inquisitive and critical students who look at all aspects of a Scientific problem, and to work together as a team to create solutions.

Science at Speyer does not just take place in the lab, but also uses the world as its lab, conducting field work around the island of Manhattan as well as trips outside of the city, in addition to working with the abundance of museums and cultural institutions in the area.

Humanities

Fifth Grade: Human Origins, Migration, and Early Societies

Students explore human origins, early migration patterns, and the development civilizations in the ancient world. Students will learn how early nomadic societies evolved into settled agricultural societies in Mesopotamia and Egypt. Students will also explore the themes and elements of what makes a society a civilization. We study geography, read mythology, analyze primary sources, and acquire a hands-on understanding of ancient cultures through projects and field trips.

Sixth Grade: Empires

Students analyze the characteristics of vast political entities, paying particular attention to their influence on the spread of cultural, intellectual, and technological innovation. When exploring important empires, students will engage with primary sources, interpret their significance, and employ them in composing analytical essays and presentations. Focusing on the written word, students will also read Animal Farm, Of Mice and Men, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and To Kill a Mockingbird. Students will learn the craft of communication by composing personal essays, expanding their vocabulary and bolstering their skillful use of the mechanics of writing.

Seventh Grade: Revolutions

What is revolution? Why do people revolt? How do you create change? Considering these questions, students will delve into the Renaissance and Reformation, the Enlightenment, the French Revolution, and the structure of revolutionary movements in South Africa and Latin America. Narrative texts will focus on revolution and the concepts of being outsiders or breaking away from societal norms. Texts we may read include Julius Caesar, The Outsider, How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Expository texts will focus on the ideas behind revolutions and a basic history/context of events. We will emphasize expository writing and project-based learning.

Eighth Grade: The United States in the Modern World

We look at a broad study of the role of the United States in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Major topics and accompanying literary texts include: The Spanish-American War; Progressive Reform (Upton Sinclair’s, The Jungle); World War I and The Twenties (World War I poetry and music and Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee, Inherit the Wind); Depression and World War (John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath and Arthur Miller, All My Sons); Civil Rights from Plessy to Brown and beyond (Supreme Court cases and primary sources from the Civil Rights movement); and The Fifties, Sixties, and Beyond (Ron Kovic, Born on the Fourth of July).

Math

All Middle School math courses at Speyer are accelerated above nominal grade levels by at least one year. Fifth and sixth grade courses incorporate elements of Singapore Math, and also include material and instructional techniques that exceed the bounds of that approach. Seventh and eighth grade courses range from high school level algebra to geometry, including some college level topics.

Members of our Middle School Math Team participate in several prestigious competitions, including MathCounts, AMC 8 and 10, and the Math Olympiads for Middle School. In the spring, Speyer hosts the Math Olympiad for Girls, a contest originated in 2016 by Speyer in cooperation with Math-M-Addicts.

Educational Principles

Speyer’s Middle School math program focuses at all times on the particular needs of accelerated learners. We are guided by three simple principles:

  • Technical proficiency is indispensable, but active reasoning is supreme.
  • A math course must challenge the intellect, inspire imaginative thinking, and nurture self-confidence.
  • Mathematics confers huge pragmatic benefits, but the best reason to do math is for pleasure.

Languages

In Middle School, Students learn Spanish by continuing an immersion program that begins in Kindergarten.

Our curriculum emphasizes not only mastery of practical grammar, but also an understanding and appreciation of the diverse cultures and traditions of the Spanish speaking world. Skills such as listening, comprehension, conversation, reading, writing, and cultural literacy are presented in a dynamic and integrated way.

Using a variety of authentic multimedia materials as well as a textbook, communication between teachers and classmates is emphasized.

As part of their annual learning outcomes, students are expected to generate their own content in final projects combining other subjects such as art, literature, history, and current events.
The Magic of a Makers' Lab...

Our Makers' Lab is utilized by all students K-8. A Makers' Lab is a studio where students come to tinker, innovate, and build. The Lab is equipped with two 3D printers, a laser cutter, a vinyl cutter, programmable micro controllers, and so much more!

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