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Network of Sacred Heart Schools
Lower & Middle Schools

Middle School Curriculum

Rigorous and personally transformative, the curriculum for the Middle School is designed to form thoughtful leaders who can meet and embrace the challenges of living in the 21st-century globalized world. Students are guided to become self-directed, self-advocating, independent learners who work collaboratively as active participants in their learning journey. Instruction is geared towards promoting creativity, inquiry, and critical thinking in an inclusive learning environment that encourages each individual to thrive.

List of 9 items.

  • English

    Vision/Mission Statement: 
    The Middle School English program is rooted in Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop’s pedagogy of literature: that books serve as “mirrors, windows, and sliding glass doors.” Through the use of a multicultural literary curriculum that decentralizes the white experience, the program focuses on the development of reading, writing, and language skills, and emphasizes critical thinking and analysis.

    Course Descriptions:  English 6, 7, and 8 

    Touchstone Units: Student progress will build cumulatively in each skill area as they move through the grade levels. Their unified curricular experience occurs through touchstone units per grade.  These include the Own Voices unit in 6th grade, the Civil Rights unit in 7th grade, and the Holocaust unit in 8th grade. Each unit consists of:

    Literature:  The Middle School literature curriculum provides the opportunity to explore a broad range of reading selections. Drawing on a variety of sources (stories, essays, poems, novels, articles, historical documents, plays, etc.), students will analyze literary conventions (character, plot structure, etc.) as well as the philosophical/social issues brought forth in the writing.

    Writing:  There is a strong writing focus in the Middle School English program, and our students get plenty of practice in improving their academic and creative writing. These assignments focus on building students’ ability to structure and organize their writing, while at the same time developing style.

    Language Skills:  In addition to reading and writing, Middle School English students also work on developing their language skills: vocabulary, grammar, mechanics, and usage. Solid grounding in language facilitates growth as writers, readers, and speakers.

    Critical Thinking: The benchmark of scholarship is the ability to think critically about ideas and analyze intent and/or bias in a work. The Middle School English curriculum opens students to asking probing questions and identifying weaknesses in arguments, helping develop their ability to think deeply and meaningfully about their world.
  • Mathematics

    Vision/Mission Statement:
    The Sacred Heart Math program strives to prepare middle school students to be expert problem-solvers with a strong foundation in fundamental mathematical concepts. Our lessons encourage perseverance and critical thinking through a mix of collaborative work, classroom discussions, and individual practice. We seek to create an environment where students push themselves beyond mastery of skills to use multiple strategies in order to communicate and apply concepts to novel situations.
    Course Descriptions:

    Math 6: This is the first of a three-year sequence of courses designed to prepare students for a rigorous college preparatory high school mathematics course. Upon completion of this course, students should have mastery of positive and negative numbers, operations with fractions and decimals, ratios, rates, percents, algebraic expressions, equations and inequalities, the coordinate plane, perimeter, area, and volume.
    (Adapted from Math in Focus)

    Math 7: This is the second of a three-year sequence of courses designed to prepare students for a rigorous college preparatory high school mathematics course. Upon completion of this course, students should be able to complete operations with rational numbers, use percents, rates, and ratios to solve problems, write variable expressions based on contextual problems, work fluently with variable expressions, solve linear equations and inequalities, analyze events using probability, interpret data using statistics, and apply geometric properties. 
    (Adapted from CPM)

    Math 8: This is the third of a three-year sequence of courses designed to prepare students for a rigorous college preparatory high school mathematics course. Upon completion of this course, students should be able to represent and solve linear functions or systems using a graph, table, and equation, describe geometric transformations on a coordinate grid, represent and analyze data, graph linear and non-linear functions, find and interpret slope, use the Pythagorean Theorem to solve problems in two and three dimensions, apply exponential properties to solve problems, and apply geometric properties.
    (Adapted from CPM)

    Math 7/8: This is the second of a three-year sequence of courses designed to prepare students for a rigorous college preparatory high school mathematics course.  It is an accelerated course combining Course 2 and Course 3 above. See above for skills and concepts covered.
    (Adapted from CPM)

    Algebra I: This course is modeled after a rigorous college preparatory high school Algebra I class. Upon completion of this course, students should be able to solve linear, quadratic, rational, and radical equations, and systems of linear equations, explore the relationship between graphs and different representations of functions. Mastery of this course will provide students with an essential foundation for success in all future mathematics courses. 
    (Adapted from CPM)

  • Science

    Vision/Mission Statement:
    The Sacred Heart Science program nurtures a deep understanding of science by engaging in content, developing practices, and reinforcing the crosscutting themes relevant to all scientific disciplines. Using a student’s natural curiosity about the world as the foundation of learning, concepts in Earth, Life and Physical Science are explored. At all grade levels, students solve problems, collaborate with each other, and communicate their ideas to improve their critical thinking skills.  Our hope is that students will confidently apply their knowledge and skills to new scientific investigations.
    Course Descriptions:

    Grade Six - Earth Science
    In sixth grade science, students focus on the study of Earth Systems through Weather and Climate, Geology and Environmental Science and metric measurement. An emphasis is placed on lab practices, appropriate use of lab equipment, data collection and analysis, and constructing arguments based on evidence. Students are presented with current problems in science and are tasked with designing and engineering solutions through research, experimentation, and documentation.

    Grade Seven - Life Science
    In seventh-grade life science, students engage with scientific concepts and practices to investigate and study foundational biological topics. After an introductory unit that sets the pace of the course and reviews scientific skills and practices, the course will experiment with light properties and our anatomical relationship with them. We will also look at light’s role in aiding our understanding of different disciplines of life science. Understandings obtained in this unit will then be tied to the use of microscopes and lenses, which will aid the study of cells and their structure, function, and processes. Students will next delve into genetics and heredity, taking a close look at DNA, then end the year exploring how life has changed over time. In conjunction with these themes and units, this course will also incorporate and discuss brain science and cognitive learning. It is the hope that in better understanding the brain and learning, students can then better understand themselves as learners throughout the year.

    Grade Eight - Physical Science
    In 8th grade science,  the curriculum focuses on the Physical Sciences, with units of study on chemistry, motion, and astronomy.  Instruction is committed to emphasizing the scientific process in order to develop practices and build core ideas while also investigating cross-cutting themes. Classes offer frequent hands-on investigations and experiences related to key concepts. Students apply these concepts while developing skills such as predicting outcomes, making careful observations, collecting and organizing data, and reaching appropriate conclusions based on evidence.  Lab work is augmented by reading and note-taking from a textbook and classroom conversations. Personal responsibility, combined with collaboration and communication, are essential for student success.
  • History

    Vision/Mission Statement:
    The Middle School History Department is dedicated to enriching students’ understanding of their world through the study of peoples and cultures who came before. The curriculum is grounded in:

    Historical thinking and analysis
    Critical writing and research
    Real-world application
    Global citizenship
    Course Descriptions:

    Grade Six- World History and Geography:
    Ancient Civilizations, Early Beginnings to 300 CE

    Students in sixth-grade world history and geography classrooms learn about the earliest humans, the development of tools, the foraging way of life, agriculture, and the emergence of civilizations in Mesopotamia, Egypt, ancient Israel, the Indus River valley, China, and the Mediterranean basin. Although teachers should keep the focus on ancient events and problems, this course gives students the opportunity to grapple with geography, environmental issues, political systems and power structures, and civic engagement with fundamental ideas about citizenship, freedom, morality, and law, which also exist in the modern world. Students practice history as an interpretive discipline. They read written primary sources and secondary sources, investigate visual primary sources, and learn how to analyze multiple points of view, cite evidence from sources, and make claims in writing and speaking based on that evidence.

    Grade Seven - World History and Geography
    Medieval and Early Modern Times (300 CE to 1750 CE)

    Students in grade seven study the social, cultural, and technological changes that occurred in Europe, Africa, the Americas, and Asia (East, South, and Southwestern)  in the years CE 300-1750. With solid grounding in the ways in which archaeologists and historians uncover the past, students study the history and geography of great civilizations that were developing concurrently throughout the world during medieval and early modern times. They examine the growing economic interaction among civilizations as well as the exchange of ideas, beliefs, technologies, and commodities. They learn about the resulting growth of authority, the natural rights of human beings and the divine right of kings, experimentalism in science, and the dogma of belief. In addition, students assess the political forces let loose by the Enlightenment, particularly the rise of democratic ideas. Throughout, students are asked to consider how the ideas, systems, and beliefs they study in history class continue to influence their world today.

    Grade Eight - United States History and Geography
    Growth and Conflict

    The eighth-grade course of study begins with an intensive review of the major ideas, issues, and events that shaped the founding of the nation. In their study of this era, students will view American history through the lens of people who were trying—and are still trying—to fulfill the promise of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Throughout their eighth-grade United States history and geography course, students will confront the themes of freedom, equality, and liberty and their changing definitions over time. This course will explore the geography of place, movement, and region, starting with the Atlantic seaboard and then American westward expansion and economic development, the Civil War and Reconstruction, and finally, industrialization.
    (adapted from the State of California History-Social Science Framework)
  • Religion

    Vision/Mission Statement: During their middle school years, students will progress through spiritually and academically challenging coursework in the Religious Studies Department that will result in a foundational understanding of the Old Testament, New Testament, and the Person of Jesus. We use a Catholic framework that incorporates the RSCJ charism while developing a deep understanding and respect for other faith traditions. We incorporate experiential service opportunities in and outside the classroom that encourage a lived faith experience.
    Sixth Grade
    Study of the Old Testament
    In this course, students focus their religious studies on the Old Testament, also known as the Hebrew Scriptures, with special emphasis given to the Book of Genesis. Students are encouraged to analyze the relevance of the lessons from the lives of these Biblical heroes. Through reading the Old Testament, students will also gain an understanding that we are persons created in God’s image and that the Bible is a history of God’s merciful love. In addition, insights gained through the reading of Old Testament stories will be applied to the process of moral decision-making, thus helping students to learn to meet personal challenges with a clear and positive moral attitude.

    Seventh Grade
    Study of the New Testament
    his course features a survey of the Christian Scriptures with a focus on the life of Jesus and His teachings. Students will be challenged to recognize the impact that Jesus has had in this world and what He may mean to them personally. Gospel values and Catholic Social Teaching principles are explored and studied as a model for living a thoughtful and meaningful life. In addition, students are exposed to various forms of prayer, such as contemplative prayer, the examen, meditation, and praying the scriptures.

    Eighth Grade
    Why We Believe
    Eighth Grade Religious Studies offers students an opportunity to examine and deepen their faith lives through discussion, reflection, service, and an active and thoughtful questioning process. With respect for all religious traditions and openness to the ideas of others, students explore the possibility of developing a real and personal relationship with God. Studies include a survey of world religions and an exploration of social justice, past, and present, with an emphasis on Catholic Social Teaching.

  • World Languages

    Vision/Mission Statement:
    The Middle School World Language Department offers French, Latin, Mandarin, and Spanish classes which focus on the “five C’s” of language learning: Communication, Cultures, Comparisons, Communities, and Connections.
    Through a variety of engaging, meaningful, and fun classroom activities, assignments, and real-life projects, students have ample opportunities to develop each of these areas while also practicing each of the three modes of communication: interpersonal, interpretive, and presentational.
    Courses Descriptions:

    In this introductory course, conducted mostly in French, an emphasis is placed on developing student’s critical thinking, while students are exposed to the French-speaking world and its culture. Students begin to develop basic vocabulary and understand the structure of French grammar that they apply in their tasks and projects. This course is organized around thematic units of study guided by essential tasks that focus on different themes. Instruction will convene on a task-based learning approach where students use authentic language to do useful tasks. The instructional strategy in French class is a type of blended learning where the class is flipped to move the activities and tasks into the classroom while lectures are conducted afar, online, asynchronously

    This Latin course emphasizes the study of everyday life, history, mythology, politics, and literature in the Roman Empire with settings in Pompeii, Roman Britain and Alexandria. Students will have opportunities to explore the cultural and linguistic connections between ancient and modern worlds through the study of ancient Roman culture and Latin-English derivatives. Through extensive exposure to appropriately-adapted Latin readings, students will gain the skills and confidence necessary to meet the demands of subsequent levels of Latin, especially the reading of authentic Latin texts. Students will learn and communicate in the Latin language, read, write and communicate orally in Latin, and enjoy their increasing acquaintance with the Roman world. In using communicative approaches in the teaching and learning of Latin, students will benefit in acquiring language ability in Latin. Over the course of three years, students will develop a lifelong appreciation of the Latin language and classical civilization, and they will learn to apply lessons from this class to their own lives and communities.

    This program introduces students to the official Chinese language and to the cultures of Chinese/Mandarin-speaking countries and communities. It is designed for students who have no background or very limited knowledge of Mandarin. Basic speaking, listening, reading, and writing of Mandarin will be introduced and practiced. This beginner’s course focuses on learning the Mandarin phonetic system (pinyin), reading high-frequency words and writing in simplified Chinese characters, as well as using Mandarin to conduct simple conversations for our daily life.  Various projects and hands-on activities will allow students the opportunities to explore Chinese culture, holidays, festivals, cooking, and calligraphy. After three years of practicing, students will enhance their self-esteem in the outside world through their new language skills.

    In the Spanish program offered in Middle School, the learning process is focused on students to feel comfortable, and to become confident while using the language. These practices are based on the three modes of communication (Interpersonal, Interpretive and Presentational). Students are exposed to reading, listening and watching authentic material that will reinforce their oral and written communication, as well as to enable students to develop their understanding and practical use of the language. The culture of the Spanish speaking countries is another aspect students are exposed during the learning of the language. Students are challenged to have spontaneous but meaningful conversations. They also practice their language skills through the implementation of fun activities and projects. Students and teachers use their creativity as an exponential element to enrich the learning process.
  • Fine Arts

    Vision/Mission Statement: 
    Sacred Heart’s Middle School Fine Arts program includes Drama, Chorus, String Orchestra, Band, and Visual Arts. The Fine Arts program strives to enhance creativity, improve self-esteem, develop collaborative work habits and give students a foundation in Arts appreciation. Students hone their technical skills while cultivating critical thinking and creative expression.
    Course Descriptions:

    Drama: In Middle School Drama courses, students will participate in improvisational activities using effective vocal expression, gesture, facial expression, and timing to create character and well-told stories. Sixth graders will focus on historical dramas such as Greek and Medieval styles. Seventh graders will focus on cultural drama from Asia, Italian Commedia dell'arte as well as Shakespeare studies. Eighth-grade electives will focus on film studies and one-act play creation. All of these explorations will enhance creativity, improve self-esteem, and develop collaborative work habits.

    Chorus: Middle School Chorus is for students with all levels of experience where they will learn the basics of performing in a choral ensemble. This program will be dedicated to a quality, comprehensive, sequential, California Standards and National Common Core Standards-based curriculum. Students will develop the skills to sight-read music and sing with proper and healthy vocal technique, as well as study and perform works from various musical genres and in a variety of languages while building the sense of community that is central to the Sacred Heart tradition.

    String Orchestra: Orchestra is a two to three-year commitment to immerse students in the musical community of stringed instruments. Instruction is offered in violin, viola, cello and double bass in a traditional orchestra rehearsal format. Students may join one of two levels in 6th grade, as beginners in Allegro Orchestra or as players with experience in Concert Orchestra. The following years, seventh-grade Orchestra and eighth-grade Symphony progress through advanced skills and refine their core musicianship. Middle School Orchestra members learn about leadership, diligence, critical listening, collaboration, and the creative process. Students will learn classical playing technique and appreciation for classical masterworks but will also experience modern original works, improvisation, and contemporary styles. 

    Band: The Middle School Band program provides exciting, interactive experiences for students of various musical levels on all wind and percussion instruments. The program is dedicated to a quality, comprehensive, sequential, California Standards and National Common Core Standards-based music education.  Objectives include learning music theory, reading and writing music, and demonstrating instrumental skills in solo and ensemble settings. Students will exercise critical listening skills through individual practice and group rehearsal while preparing for multiple performances with music from a variety of genres. 
  • Physical Education

    Vision/Mission Statement:
    Development of the whole child is at the core of the values of a Sacred Heart education. Athletics at SHS are an integral part of the daily life of the school and are designed to complement the work that takes place in the classroom. The Physical Education program is designed to develop skills, encourage personal responsibility and increase confidence in physical abilities while fostering social and emotional development through teamwork, commitment, and fun. It is imperative that students, parents, and faculty work together to encourage positive attitudes and conduct necessary to make the athletic program a rewarding one for the student-athlete.
    Course Descriptions:

    Track/Cross Country: 
    In this course, students will review basic skills of dynamic stretching, static stretching, sprint technique and distance technique. They will work to identify strategies to improve individual times, why arm swing is important in sprints, exercises to improve distance runs, demonstrate proper technique when performing dynamic stretching, sprints and distance runs. Additionally, students will come to understand the importance of pacing, how to pace using the clock as well as how interval training improves the overall level of aerobic fitness, the importance of warming up, cooling down and stretching as it relates to injury prevention and fitness

    In this course, students will review the basic skills of lacrosse: throwing, catching, grip, ground balls, and shooting. All students will be instructed and learn concepts of playing offense and defense in a game like situation They will work to identify strategies and field positioning during drills and games. Additionally, students will come to understand the vocabulary as it relates to the game of lacrosse, basic strategies of offense and defense and how to transition from drill to drill in a timely manner.

    In this course, students will review diving, freestyle, breaststroke, and backstroke. All students will be instructed on how to execute a headfirst dive without landing on their stomach first. Furthermore, students will develop an understanding of both upwards and downward kick propulsion. They will work to identify and implement proper kick technique for each stroke. 

    In this course, students will review basic dribbling, passing, and shooting. All students will be instructed on how to execute long passing and weak footed skills and how to identify when the athlete or their teammates are offsides. Furthermore, students will develop an understanding of basic offense and defense zones and positions. Additionally, students will be asked to demonstrate the ability to work cooperatively and with support for teammates. 

    Life Fitness: 
    In this course, students will review exercises that promote the development of the four fundamentals of fitness: muscular strength, muscular endurance, aerobic endurance, and flexibility. They will work to identify activities and games that are played throughout life such as circuit training, boot camp, kickboxing, yoga racquet sports, ultimate frisbee. Students will work to demonstrate the ability to perform circuit training using HITT method, proper technique in fitness activities such as yoga, core strength exercises and while using free weights and TRX. Additionally, students will come to understand how interval training (HITT) improves physical fitness, exercise affects mood and energy level, how to participate in a variety of activities while working cooperatively with peers.

    In this course, students will review basic dribbling, passing, and shooting technique. They will work to identify proper situations to do a layup versus a jump shot and implement proper BEEF technique for shooting outside. Additionally, students will come to understand different zones of the court and the meaning of lines on the court. Finally, students will be asked to demonstrate the ability to play on a team and understand the importance of skill development and mastery.

    Water Polo: 
    In this course, students will review head-up swimming and water-related skills. They will work to identify proper technique for dribbling with the ball between elbows and implement proper throwing and catching skills with one hand only. Additionally, students will come to understand different concepts and verbiage like weak or down the line. Finally, students will be asked to demonstrate sportsmanship and teamwork by helping teammates and remaining positive.

    In this course, students will review base body position, forearm passing, serving technique. They will work to identify proper setting form and technique and implement a basic 4/2 offense. Additionally, students will develop an understanding of positions, communication, and spatial awareness on the court. Finally, students will be asked to demonstrate sportsmanship and cooperative participation skills.

    Racket Sports: 
    In this course, students will review basic skills of racket sports: forehand, backhand, volley and serve. They will work to identify strategies and court positioning for playing singles and doubles, the lines on the court which includes the baseline, service box, and allys. Additionally, students will come to understand tennis court étiqueté when playing a match as well as how to support a teammate, how to position for a return of serve and serve in both singles and doubles play. Finally, students will be asked to demonstrate the ability to keep score in a game and in a set, proper grip to create topspin on groundstrokes, technique, and form of the serve

    Flag Football: 
    In this course, students will learn the rules of a game of football, such as the number of plays per quarter, extra points, kick-off and kick receive first downs. They will work to identify strategies to perform the proper technique of flag pulling, snapping, blocking, running, throwing and catching. Additionally, students will be asked to communicate and execute the roles and responsibilities of all defensive and offensive positions. Finally, students will be asked to demonstrate sportsmanship and cooperative participation skills.

    In this course, students will learn basic skills such as fielding ground balls, catching fly balls, throwing and pitching, batting, and the fundamental concepts of offense and defense. Safety comes first on the field and students are taught proper warm-up techniques and proper base running styles. Team concepts are stressed on defense. Offense is focused on hitting and baserunning.
  • Electives

    Eighth grade electives are unique learning experiences offered to students in their final year of middle school.  Electives are experiential learning opportunities, designed by faculty who often use these courses to share knowledge and interests outside of their recognized domain of expertise. Electives have both an experiential and an intellectual component and culminate in a presentation of student learning that extends beyond the class itself.

    Past elective offerings have included:
    • Government Team/Model UN
    • Advanced Chorus
    • Creative Writing
    • Robotics
    • The (Visual) Art of Drama
    • Yearbook
    • Advanced Instrumental Ensembles
    • Murals as Social Justice
    • Introduction to Coding
    • One Act Play Production


List of 4 members.

  • Photo of Francesca Brake

    Francesca Brake 

    Principal - PSK/LMS
  • Photo of Kyler Kalmbach

    Kyler Kalmbach 

    Assistant Principal of Academics - PSK/LMS
  • Photo of Rebecca Reiser

    Rebecca Reiser 

    Director of Curriculum & Instruction - Middle School
  • Photo of Myra Syed

    Myra Syed 

    Director of Curriculum & Instruction - Lower School
Where Scholarship and Values Matter
Founded by the Society of the Sacred Heart, SHS is a Catholic, independent, co-ed day school for students in preschool through grade 12