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Middle School Academic Life

Middle schoolers are ready for and interested in deeper thinking. They ask ethical questions as they seek to understand themselves and their world. They become more aware of the rich relationship between creative and logical thought. They are capable of making sophisticated connections, a necessary step on the climb toward high-level synthesis. Some won’t get there until Upper School; some already have arrived.

Our Middle School program offers students high expectations and an engaging curriculum to help them understand their gifts, how they learn, and what to continue refining before grades "count" in Upper School. These goals, along with continued refinement of the skills and concepts they will need to flourish in Upper School courses, frame the main academic purposes of our teaching.

Just as importantly, Trinity's Middle School faculty love and understand our Middle School students. In one way, we see our academic program as a vehicle for shepherding these students through years often regarded as the most difficult—but which can bear much fruit.

Middle School Curriculum

Language Arts

The seventh grade Language Arts curriculum focuses on grammar, writing, literature, and vocabulary to continue students’ development of their God-given ability to communicate and think creatively and critically. Using the 6+1 Traits of Writing curriculum, students refine their written expression through creative and expository pieces, with an emphasis on ideas, voice, organization, argument, and supporting evidence. Students also begin to discover their writer’s voice as they pen tales from their own lives. Study of vocabulary, parts of speech, and sentence patterns further equips students with important tools of communication and thinking. Much of the course’s literature, which culminates in the study of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, integrates historically or thematically with the students’ history studies. The students analyze different stories (including their own story) while asking what the narratives tell about individuals and society as a whole. Class dialogue and debate, scene enactments, recitations, and personal inquiry through journaling lead students to a deeper level of thought and a sincere engagement with the world of literature and language. They leave the course with a vision of their story as an important part of the divine metanarrative.

The eighth grade Language Arts curriculum continues the students’ study of grammar, writing, literature, and vocabulary and the cultivation of their critical and creative thinking skills. Using the 6+1 Traits of Writing curriculum, students write often and in varied ways, including narrative, descriptive, persuasive, and explanatory forms, and with special emphasis on ideas, voice, organization, and sentence fluency. As they write, they discover connections between different subjects and derive meaning from their own experiences. Grammar study solidifies the mastery of parts of speech, with additional focus on effective and correct combining of phrases and dependent and independent clauses. Through literary analysis and formal vocabulary study, students deepen their facility with and appreciation for reading and language. By sharing their work and making oral presentations, they gain confidence in their knowledge and in presenting what they know to others. The course’s literary selections, integrated with the eight graders’ American History studies from the Civil War to the present, engage students in the exploration of themes and ideas that align with and contrast with the Christian worldview and, through diverse voices, enrich their understanding of what it means to be American.

Mathematics

The seventh grade Pre-Algebra curriculum transitions students from basic arithmetic and concrete mathematics to thinking and solving algebraic problems more abstractly. Students solidify their understanding of real numbers and are introduced to algebraic concepts in a real-world context. As an algorithm is introduced, the process is stressed more than its memorization. Students are taught to use a variety of strategies and procedures to solve problems, with an emphasis on inquiry-based learning. Cooperative learning groups are used so that students can teach and learn from each other as they solve a variety of challenging problems as a group. Through practice, discovering patterns and writing algebraic sentences become part of students’ thinking. The students also use formulas to solve geometric problems. Ratios, proportions, and percentages are practiced and applied to everyday situations, and algebraic expressions, variables, and properties of real numbers are introduced. The aim is to prepare students to move toward more independence as thinkers and to help them appreciate how God has created our minds to think and communicate using the language of mathematics.

The eighth grade Algebra I curriculum provides an extensive study of the fundamental concepts of Algebra. This course reviews several concepts from Pre-Algebra and introduces more advanced algebraic concepts. In this course, students solidify their understanding of these concepts by modeling and investigating real-world problems, with more emphasis on process and understanding than on memorization. Often more than one solution is explored, and students are encouraged to discover different strategies and methods to solve problems. The use of cooperative groups to solve challenging varieties of word problems is stressed throughout the year. This course, which prepares students for the Upper School’s Algebra II class, deepens students’ understanding of the logic of God through the language of mathematics.

Science

The seventh grade Life Science course examines the wonders of God expressed through His magnificent creation. Students are introduced to the basic principles of the scientific method and learn basic tools of scientific inquiry, including hypothesis, analysis, measurement, graphing, inference, classification, and modeling. These tools provide ways to examine God’s creation in one of its smallest forms, the cell. Students prepare specimens and utilize microscopes to identify important cellular structures and characteristics. They explore important cellular organelles and their roles in the function of a cell. Experiments utilizing genetic crosses and Punnet squares enhance students’ study of DNA and its role in heredity. Students also survey more complex organisms such as viruses, microorganisms, fungi, plants, and animals; classify organisms based on modes of energy production and compare their physiology and anatomy; and apply their knowledge of anatomy and physiology to the dissection of a frog. After each laboratory activity, students record their results in a laboratory notebook and write a lab report. Throughout the course, students learn about scientists and classic scientific experiments, and they come to understand the history of scientific discovery and how it has been pursued.

The eighth grade Physical Science course examines the wonders of God by exploring the chemical and physical principles that are expressed in His magnificent creation. Through review and extension of the basic principles of the scientific method and scientific inquiry, students examine some of the building blocks of God’s universe: atoms, elements, and compounds. Students study the development of the modern periodic table, and they construct models to reinforce important principles. The curriculum introduces the basics of chemistry, including chemical bonding and chemical reactions, and the principles of electricity and magnetism. Students conduct a quarter-long research project to further explore the central ideas of electricity and magnetism. This project allows students to design and conduct a controlled experiment and apply the scientific method. They analyze their data and present their findings in a formal presentation in front of peers and adults. Finally, students explore the basic principles of physics, including motion, forces, and energy. Throughout the course, students learn about scientists and classic scientific experiments and deepen their understanding of the history of scientific discovery and how it has been pursued.


History

The seventh grade History course examines the major arguments, enduring themes, and essential questions of America’s past, spanning the time period from pre-contact Native American peoples to the writing of the American Constitution, with an emphasis on North Carolina history. Students begin their study with the migrations of the earliest groups into the Americas and the development of the major native civilizations and tribal groups from the arctic through mesoamerica. They examine the confrontation between Native American and European cultures, ending with the emergence of a new nation formed out of thirteen English colonies. All along, students consider the complex role of the Christian faith in the discovery and establishment of early America. Through interactive lectures, discussions, individual projects, and group activities, students refine their skills of listening, note-taking, independent research, planning and organization, formal writing, interpretation, persuasion, and public speaking.

The eighth grade History course continues students’ study of American history, focusing on the time period from the Abolitionist movement in the early to mid-1800s to the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, with an emphasis on North Carolina history. Students begin the year with an in-depth study of the complexities that led the United States to fight a civil war and then analyze the economic, social, and emotional repercussions of this war. As the year progresses, students study the immigration boom at the turn of the twentieth century, as well as the great industrialization of the American landscape. Much time also is given to understanding how the United States connects to the global scene in both World Wars. In each time period, students are challenged to consider contrasting perspectives, thus deepening their understanding of other cultures, histories, and experiences. Through lectures, discussions, individual projects, and group activities, students continue to develop the skills of listening, note-taking, research, planning and organization, formal writing, interpretation, persuasion, and public speaking.

Latin

The seventh grade Latin course enables students to explore the language while becoming increasingly familiar with the daily life of a Roman family. They learn new Latin grammatical forms, syntax, and vocabulary as they naturally occur in a continuous narrative about the activities of that family. Through dramatization, understanding of written and spoken Latin is demonstrated. Students categorize common nouns by cases for the first three declensions; identify and distinguish possessive, demonstrative, and relative pronouns; and combine grammatical forms, syntax, and vocabulary to compose simple summaries of Latin narratives. Throughout the year, the class surveys Roman cultural topics, from geography to family life to economic systems. Students’ expanding knowledge of Roman culture allows them to compare and contrast the mores of a society based on imperial dominion with a Christian worldview that values each person as a child of God.

The eighth grade Latin course deepens students’ grasp of the language by continuing to expose them to Roman culture through the daily life of a Roman family. Students study Latin grammatical forms, syntax, and vocabulary occurring naturally in an ongoing narrative that examines the Roman family’s interactions in their home and community. Students attain greater proficiency and deeper understanding of Roman customs and behaviors through dramatizations and the reading of Latin passages aloud. Students identify and distinguish the active and passive voice of verbs according to their endings in order to prepare to read original Latin texts. As students progress, they learn how to combine more complex grammatical forms, syntax, and vocabulary to compose fuller summaries of Latin narratives. Throughout the year, students gain more detailed knowledge of Roman cultural topics ranging from geography to family life to economic systems. Their expanding knowledge of Roman culture allows students to further critique the mores of a society based on imperial dominion in relation to those of the Judeo-Christian tradition.

Bible

The seventh grade Bible curriculum focuses on the Old Testament books from I Samuel through Malachi. The course begins with a brief review of events, figures, and themes encountered in the sixth grade study of Genesis through Ruth. Students also explore in-depth reasons for studying the Bible. To develop a greater appreciation for and understanding of themes in the Old Testament, students write frequently, produce art work, create story summaries, memorize significant portions of the text, and learn background information. Activities and class discussions are designed to help students identify more closely with the Bible. Throughout this study, students are taught to recognize God’s sovereignty in Biblical history and to understand the movement of the Biblical narratives toward God’s plan of salvation.

The eighth grade Bible curriculum focuses on the New Testament, specifically the person and work of Jesus Christ, and the life, impact, and practices of the early church. In addition to exploring the New Testament, students memorize and use the Nicene Creed as a theological framework to engage with and appreciate God’s story. The course is structured to provide students with strategies for reading the Bible as God’s grand narrative of salvation; interpreting Scripture within a historical context; interacting theologically with the text in search of contemporary relevance; and discovering and applying God’s timeless truths, principles, and practices to their lives.

Logic

The eighth grade Logic course is a one-year survey of traditional formal logic, which concerns itself with the form of argumentation. It asks such questions as, “Do conclusions follow reasonably from premises, and are those premises based upon fact?” The study of traditional logic naturally serves the developmental abilities and interests of Middle School students. It is also a vital part of the school’s classical philosophy of education and overall mission. Students examine syllogisms in various forms, analyze their truth and validity, and integrate logical thinking processes into their other classes. They explore the status and role of reasoning within a Christian worldview and extend their knowledge of Aristotle’s formal rules by applying those rules in real-world situations. They exercise their newly acquired logical skills in the examination and analysis of political speeches, movies, music, and other relevant cultural artifacts.


Art

Trinity’s Middle School art program seeks to foster and develop students’ creative expression in various media, as well as their appreciation of God’s beauty as reflected in nature. Seventh and eighth grade Art focuses on basic art techniques, allowing students to develop the skills to create 2- and 3-dimensional objects. Students are exposed to concepts and movements within art history as they conceptualize and create personal projects in a studio setting.

Music

Music instruction at Trinity seeks to provide students with the tools to explore and develop that part of their being that resonates with the joyful creativity of God.

Seventh grade Music continues to build on the foundation of musical skills laid in TK–grade 6. Students weave together the elements of music as they work in ensembles to sing, play, move, and create. Correlating the musical arts with their History curriculum, students review the music of the Medieval and early Renaissance periods and explore the music of the Baroque and early Classical periods through singing and playing Orff instruments. Students continue to develop an understanding of cooperative learning and ensemble playing as they play percussion instruments and handbells and design creative movement.

The eighth grade Music curriculum provides an overview of the history of American musical theater, with an emphasis on its importance in American history, heritage, and culture. Students discover the elements of a musical theater production as they explore scenes from the American musical West Side Story. They relate this musical to the play by Shakespeare on which it is based (Romeo and Juliet). The elements of study include acting, choreography, scene blocking, singing and vocal production, set design, theater make-up, costume design, and technical production. Students then produce a scene from another American musical and perform these scenes for an audience.


Physical Education (PE)

The Middle School Physical Education curriculum is designed to provide multiple opportunities for students at various stages of physical development and skill mastery to have a positive experience in physical activities. The purpose is to help students identify activities they enjoy, with the larger goal of encouraging students to be physically active for a lifetime. Through participation in group and individual activities, students develop and improve locomotors skills, cardiovascular endurance, strength, and sport-specific skills. Participation in various sports allows and encourages students to develop and apply their knowledge of the skills and tactics of the various games. Physical education activities develop physical, intellectual, decision-making, and interpersonal skills in harmony with Christian education.

Technology

The 1:1 iPad program starts in sixth grade and continues through

twelfth grade. After an annual review of the Responsible Use Policy (RUP) and acknowledgement of how digital citizenship aligns with Christian lessons and scripture through our moral compass, students use their devices both at school and at home. In Middle School, iPads can be found in all departments. Students use their devices for workflow, organization, and digital texts. They also find the iPad a useful tool to embrace the 4 C’s: creativity, critical thinking, communication, and collaboration. Notability is the most widely used app in the Middle School, with research engines and creative-expression apps close behind.

Middle School Engineering Club
The Middle School Engineering Club provides an opportunity for the students to explore and experience different aspects of engineering in a non-graded, practical, and fun way. So far this year, students have built compressed air rocket launchers, hacked smartphones, and built a trebuchet, capable of shooting a golf ball 100 feet. Students will end the year coding.