Curriculum

RELIGION

The doctrinal content of the sixth grade Religion curriculum is organized according to the four pillars of the Catechism of the Catholic Church: the baptismal profession of faith, the Sacraments of faith, the life of faith, and the prayer of the believer. The emphasis will be on the Old Testament as a journey of faith and the manner in which each person’s life is mirrored in the Old Testament, from the call of God to Abraham to the fulfillment of God’s promise in sending the Messiah.

Text:
Sadlier We Believe

LANGUAGE ARTS AND LITERATURE

In the Stella Maris Academy Middle School Language Arts Program the central focus is on the development of skills in reading literature, as well as informational texts, writing, and language.

In the reading component of the Language Arts program students analyze both literature, and pieces of informational texts that correspond to their studies in the social sciences in an effort to create a cross-curricular dialogue. In using these texts students cite textual evidence to demonstrate their skills in deciphering what the text says explicitly, as well as make inferences. They are also asked to determine the central theme of a work and describe the evolution of a story’s plot taking into account the author’s point of view. In addition to these skills, students compare and contrast different mediums of a work to illustrate a contrast between what they see and hear to what they perceive when they listen or watch.  Students also compare different forms and genres to give contrast to similar themes and topics seen in other works.

In writing students are asked to produce expository pieces that contain arguments that support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence from credible sources. While establishing and maintaining a formal style, students create texts that include thesis statements, topic sentences, transitions that clarify relationships, concrete details with accompanying commentary to add analysis to the relevant content, as well as concluding statements to reiterate the arguments made throughout their text. All writing undergoes the processes of planning, revising, editing, and re-writing both with peers and adults through the online program, NoodleTools. This online resource allows students to produce and publish writing, as well as interact and collaborate with others, while at the same time enhancing their technological skills and creating a digital portfolio of all of their writing.

The language content of the program utilizes the Easy Grammar series to reinforce the conventions of standard English. This includes students demonstrating the command of prepositions, nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs, and adverbs in both speaking and writing. More specifically, students are asked to recognize and correct inappropriate shifts in subject verb agreement, as well as noun and pronoun number and person. In addition to these areas, students are also asked to demonstrate basic grammar conventions such as capitalization, punctuation, and spelling in all of their writing, which should also include a variety of sentence patterns that incorporate a specific style and tone that is maintained throughout. In regards to vocabulary acquisition and use, students utilize the Sadlier Vocabulary Workshopseries, as well as content specific words and phrases to obtain mastery in this area. Through the use of consulting context clues, reference materials, and inferred meaning, students are taught to demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.

MATH

Our middle school math program’s goal is to coach and inspire students towards math success. Our program strives to create an environment that is engaging, differentiated, challenging, and gets our students prepared for high school and beyond.

In Grade 6, instructional time will focus on four critical areas: (1) connecting ratio and rate to whole number multiplication and division, and using concepts of ratio and rate to solve problems; (2) developing strong computational skills when using both fractions and integers (3) writing, interpreting, and using expressions, equations and inequalities; and (4) developing understanding of statistical thinking. Two teachers teach this course, which allows for more individualized instruction, enrichment and higher level thinking activities, which will help build a stronger foundation in math. This course has an online component that includes videos, games, real-teacher tutoring, ALEKS, as well as an online version of the textbook. Our core math program is supplemented with hands on activities, manipulatives, labs, projects, and games, which makes learning math engaging.

This course uses the McGraw-Hill Math Course 1 textbook

6th Grade Above Grade Level Class: This course is equivalent to the 7th grade Accelerated Grade Level class. This class compacts both the 7th and 8th Grade Common Core State Standards. Instructional time will focus on four critical areas: (1) developing understanding of and applying proportional relationships; (2) developing understanding of operations with rational numbers and working with expressions and linear equations; (3) solving problems involving scale drawings and informal geometric constructions, and working with two- and three-dimensional shapes to solve problems involving area, surface area, and volume; and (4) drawing inferences about populations based on samples. *This course will move at an accelerated pace.

This course uses the McGraw-Hill Accelerated Pre-Algebra textbook.

SCIENCE

The 6th grade science program has an Earth science focus. Throughout the year students develop scientific thinking processes by relating, organizing, observing, communicating, and comparing data and to make decisions. Using our core science program, Pearson Interactive Science, and supplemental materials students conduct field and lab investigations, use the scientific method, and make decisions using critical thinking and problem solving skills. Our consumable student editions allow students to interact with and connect to science and makes learning more personal. The program also includes online resources, such as videos, vocabulary games, and virtual labs that also make learning science more engaging.

The year begins with a unit on Earth’s structure by studying minerals and rocks, plate tectonics, earthquakes, and volcanoes. Following is a unit studying Earth’s surface, which includes mapping Earth’s surface and topography, weathering and soil, erosion and deposition, and geological time. Sixth graders then spend time studying ecology and the environment by focusing on a unit learning about populations and communities, ecosystems and biomes, resources and living things, and energy resources. This unit is enhanced with a weeklong field trip to Julian where we interact directly with the natural world. Finally, students grow in their knowledge of Earth’s water and the atmosphere.

SOCIAL STUDIES

The students learn map skills in every unit. The location of the events in every lesson is emphasized. In addition, class time is devoted to making sure the students know the locations of major U.S cities as well as the countries of South America, Europe and Asia. The students are expected to be able to name these places on maps that contain just points and numbers. 6th Grade Social Studies also features units on archaeology, hunter-gatherer societies, farming societies, the first towns and cities, Mesopotamia, Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome. In studying the last four of these units, we deal with how the examination and interpretation of primary and secondary sources help historians to reach the truth.

DEVELOPMENT OF SOCIAL SKILLS

Students at Stella Maris Academy are exposed to and familiar with the Boys Town Social Skills Curriculum in grades TK-8. The Boys Town Social Skills curriculum focuses on empowering students to problem solve, make better choices, and self-advocate. Social skills are a daily part of our school community. Social skills include: following instructions, greeting others, getting the teacher’s attention, accepting no for an answer, accepting a consequence, staying on task, disagreeing appropriately, listening, working as a team, sharing, asking for permission, and saying an apology.

SOCIAL EMOTIONAL LEARNING PROGRAM

The Sanford Harmony Program is implemented in grades TK-8 and its core value is to build healthy peer relationships inside and outside of the classroom. The goal of Sanford Harmony is to create inclusive classroom communities, where teaching takes priority over resolving personality conflicts or issues among students. Students are empowered to communicate, cooperate, connect, embrace diversity, and resolve conflict. Students are taught meaningful and productive ways to interact and express themselves, which are irreplaceable skills that will last a lifetime.

TECHNOLOGY

Technology at Stella Maris Academy goes beyond the computer lab. All of our buildings are networked and well-equipped; each classroom has at least 3 computers, eBeam interactive white board technology, a document camera and an LCD projector. Technology-based projects are integrated throughout our curriculum. SMA buildings have wireless Internet access across the entire school campus. Stella Maris Academy uses iMacs and students utilize the Office 2012 as well as a variety of educational software and Web-based subscription programs. Students in grades TK-8 have access to a class set of iPads and ChromeBooks as well.  Technology is integrated into every component of our curriculum at Stella Maris Academy. Using technology in our daily learning prepares students for the real world environment, especially as our nation becomes increasingly more technology-dependent.  Students are prepared for their future careers, and are given opportunities to interact with classmates through collaboration.

PHYSICAL EDUCATION

Our physical education curriculum is composed of physical fitness fundamentals, motion skills and movement, social skills and sportsmanship. Basic skills that enhance balance, endurance, strength and agility activities, ball-handling skills individually, with partners and in groups, and rope jumping are taught. Each skill involves creative thinking, sportsmanship, fairness, cooperation and following directions.

FINE ARTS

Stella Maris Academy provides a challenging, coherent, and relevant art curriculum, the goal of which is to help students experience and appreciate art and the beauty of the world around them, and to lead them to discover unique and constructive methods of self-expression.    In keeping with the diocesan guidelines for a fine arts curriculum, Stella Maris Academy includes in its visual arts curriculum for each grade level elements of four components:  (1) exploration of the visual elements and principles of art and design, including line, color, shape, and composition, (2) creative expression through experimenting with various materials and processes, (3) examination of the cultural and historical contexts in which art is created, exploring cultural themes, works of significant artists, styles and processes; and (4)  development of skills and vocabulary for looking at and discussing art in terms of design elements, characteristics and appreciation.

Sixth graders explore (1) visual elements and principles of art and design using primary, secondary and tertiary colors, analogous colors, complimentary colors, value, line to show depth, positive and negative shape (tessellations), pattern, texture, and space, design components of art work, including the concepts of balance, movement, mood, repetition, emphasis, unity, and the use of symbolism; (2) creative expression by demonstrating the ability to work with a variety of media including drawing with pencil, crayon, colored pencil, marker, and pastels, painting with tempera and watercolor, collage, printmaking, relief sculpture in tooling foil repousse, and sculpting with clay; (3) visual arts heritage by exploring art from ancient cave dwellers, ancient Egypt, ancient Greece and Rome, the Middle Ages, and the works of artists such as M.C. Escher and Modigliani; (4)  analysis and interpretation by learning to recognize design elements in a composition, including the role of color in creating mood in art, and characteristics in the art work of peers, significant artists, and in various cultures, including Hunter-gatherers, ancient Egypt, ancient Greece and Rome, and the Middle Ages.

SPANISH

We welcome sixth graders to the middle school program with a curriculum that is geared towards improving both fluency and accuracy in speaking and writing. Through drama, music, and art, students learn to describe their world in the present tense, learn Spanish culture, and learn Catholic religious and cultural traditions. Instruction is differentiated for native speakers at every grade level.

LIBRARY

The Stella Maris Academy Library/Media program is built on understanding core knowledge instruction while also learning essential skills for critical thinking, problem solving, communication and collaboration.  Stella Maris Academy’s Library/ Media program fundamentally aligns itself with Common Core State Standards while working directly with each classroom teacher to align curriculum.  The main component of the Library Media program centers on building strong content knowledge and focusing literacy instruction directly to the text. Students in all grades (TK-8) are encouraged to draw direct evidence from the text itself in order to promote comprehension and cite evidence accurately and correctly.  A key component to the program includes an emphasis on interpretive and analytical skills within a range of texts, digital information and internet/ media.

In middle school, students continue to learn how to use print and electronic resources accurately and effectively. The Library Media Center is designed to work closely with the Middle School Language Arts and Social Studies programs to align curriculum and student needs. Students learn how to use MLA format in order to cite information correctly and accurately when writing research papers. Middle school students learn how to find and validate print and electronic information based on their specific research goals.

MUSIC

The music program at Stella Maris Academy exists to provide students with a safe environment in which to experiment with and perfect the God given gift of their voices.  Students will be encouraged to sing accurately, in tune, together, and separately.  They will be provided with a variety of performance and leadership opportunities through school productions, after school activities, and church services.  We want to give our students the opportunity to do something GREAT!