Curriculum

RELIGION

This year, the students will study the sacramental life of the Catholic Church. Students will learn that the Church is the sacrament or sign of Christ in the world. They will come to appreciate the difference Jesus makes in our lives. Students will learn that there are many signs of Christ’s loving presence in our daily lives. People, especially, but also special or sacred things, places and times reveal the presence of God. Strands from Scripture, Church, Trinity, Morality and Prayer are interwoven into course content. Special attention is given to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Opportunities for its regular reception will be provided.

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 our students prepared for the high school and beyond. Our 8th grade math program includes 3 different levels: Grade Level, Accelerated Grade Level, and Above Grade Level.

8th Grade Grade Level– This course prepares students for Algebra 1 in high school. The course emphasizes building a stronger foundation in algebra and geometric concepts, which leaves students better prepared for algebra in high school. Following the 8th Grade Common Core Standards instructional time will focus on three critical areas: (1) formulating and reasoning about expressions and equations, including modeling an association in bivariate data with a linear equation, and solving linear equations and systems of linear equations; (2) grasping the concept of a function and using functions to describe quantitative relationships; (3) analyzing two- and three-dimensional space and figures using distance, angle, similarity, and congruence, and understanding and applying the Pythagorean Theorem.

The class uses McGraw-Hill Math Course 3 textbook.

8th Grade Accelerated Grade Level– For this Algebra I course, instructional time will focus on four critical areas: (1) deepen and extend understanding of linear and exponential relationships; (2) contrast linear and exponential relationships with each other and engage in methods for analyzing, solving, and using quadratic functions; (3) extend the laws of exponents to square and cube roots; and (4) apply linear models to data that exhibit a linear trend. This course will also have a strong emphasis on problem solving.This is a high school level class, which upon successful completion students will advance to Geometry or Algebra 1 Honors.

This class uses Pearson Prentice Hall Algebra 1 textbook

8th Grade Above Grade Level– This class reviews covers the high school Algebra, but spends most of their instructional time on the Geometry Common Core Standards.  This class will focus on six critical areas: (1) establish criteria for congruence of triangles based on rigid motions; (2) establish criteria for similarity of triangles based on dilations and proportional reasoning; (3) informally develop explanations of circumference, area, and volume formulas; (4) apply the Pythagorean Theorem to the coordinate plan; (5) prove basic geometric theorems; and (6) extend work with probability.

This classes uses Pearson Prentice Hall Algebra 1 and Geometry textbooks

SCIENCE

In eighth grade students explore the physical sciences. This includes the study of motion, forces, structure of matter, chemical reactions, periodic table, and density and buoyancy. Students complete various hands on activities and labs to supplement instruction.  The student textbooks are consumable and include an online component that contains virtual labs, reviews, and activities. The scientific method is reinforced as students develop their own questions and conduct investigations that are presented at the Greater San Diego Science and Engineering Fair.

SOCIAL STUDIES

The students use a textbook called “Creating America- A History of the U.S.” by McDougal Littell.  The curriculum features the following topics: The Articles of Confederation, the Constitution, the fall of the Federalists, the rise of Jeffersonian principles, Jacksonian democracy, pioneers crossing the Appalachians, European immigration in the mid-19th century, Manifest Destiny, the Texas revolt against Mexico, the Mexican War, the Industrial Revolution, slavery in the plantation South, rising sectionalism, steps toward Civil War, Civil War and Reconstruction.

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.

Eighth graders explore (1) visual elements and principles of art and design emphasizing color theories of hue, value, and intensity, and using tints, shades, complimentary and analogous colors in a color scheme,  and  learning to understand and use the design concepts of balance, repetition, positive/negative shape, movement,  emphasis, and unity in a two or three dimensional composition; (2)  creative expression by demonstrating the ability to work with a variety of media including drawing with pencil, colored pencil, marker, pastels, painting with tempera and watercolor, collage, printmaking, and sculpting with clay; (3) visual arts heritage by learning to appreciate abstract art, the art work of Marc Chagall, Vincent Van Gogh, Jacob Lawrence and other Harlem renaissance artists (focusing on art as a means to telling a story), Alexander Calder, Thomas Hart Benton and Robert Rauschenberg (focusing on art as social commentary), Andy Warhol, Edvard Munch, Peter Max, “junk” sculpture as an art form, mask-making from the cultural perspective of African art, batik art work from eastern cultures, and various forms of commercial art and design; (4) analysis and interpretation by learning to recognize design elements and characteristics in the art work of peers, art as social commentary, various forms of commercial art and design, significant artists, and in various cultures, including Africa.

SPANISH

Eighth grade Spanish consolidates the learning from previous years and prepares students for high school Spanish curricula. Priority is given to review of verb forms and tenses, and other grammatical structures, so that students are comfortable with these difficult concepts as they move on in their language studies. Class is conducted in Spanish, and listening and speaking skills are reinforced through frequent oral presentations. Written work provides opportunity for differentiation, especially for new students and for native speakers. Traditions of the Catholic Church play an important part in Hispanic culture, and students continue to learn prayers in Spanish.

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!