Middle School Curriculum by Grade

Please find the course curriculum descriptions for Middle School, organized by grade, below. You can also view by subject.

Grade 6

List of 13 items.

  • 6th Grade English

    Reading:
    • Students read and analyze diverse fiction and nonfiction texts to increase interpretive and evidence-based abilities across formats and to enhance their knowledge and understanding of multiple cultures, languages, beliefs, and ideas.
    • Students engage with contemporary literature in various genres to increase reading skills and to use strategies to enhance comprehension, evaluation, interpretation, and appreciation.
    Writing:
    • Genres taught include narrative, expository, and persuasive. Students write multiple essays.
    • Mini lessons include the use of a Reader’s/Writer’s Journal to explore writing territories; combating writer's block; using proof-reading marks; reading to inspire writing; employing “voice”; enhancing focus; conveying purpose and incorporating emotional intensity; creating story maps; writing strong leads; incorporating sensory detail and vivid language; avoiding vague description; including action; and writing strong titles.
    • With the support of our library faculty, students practice multiple research strategies. They create several products (including traditional written research), share their findings, and conduct self- and peer evaluations of the research process and product.
    Grammar & Mechanics:
    • Writer’s Workshop
    • Lessons and practice employing end marks, capitalization, commas, apostrophes, abbreviations, parts of speech, noun-verb agreement, sentence/paragraph/essay structures, underlining, italics, and quotation marks.
    • Students learn to use and refer to editing checklists.
    Vocabulary:
    • Vocabulary Workshop Level A
    • Includes 20 spelling words per unit
    • Vocabulary taken from readings
  • 6th Grade Pre-Algebra

    Students solidify all operations with whole numbers, integers, and rational numbers while becoming more proficient with all operations with fractions. During this course, students continue to develop strong number sense and mathematical fluency with foundational arithmetic. Students explore algebraic thinking and apply it to real-world problems. With each topic that is explored, a balance between conceptual understanding and computational fluency is emphasized.

    Other topics include:
    • integers
    • percentages
    • ratio
    • basic geometry
    • working with expressions and equations
    • algebraic reasoning
    • basic graphing
    • data analysis
  • 6th Grade Accelerated Pre-Algebra

    Students solidify a foundation in integers, decimals, fractions, percentages, and ratio and proportion. Variables are introduced in a more complex fashion and with more frequency. Problem-solving techniques are utilized as students learn to communicate their solutions verbally and in writing. With each topic that is explored, a balance between conceptual understanding and computational fluency is emphasized.

    Topics include:
    • operations with integers
    • rational numbers
    • proportions
    • data analysis
    • simplifying expressions
    • solving multi-step equations and inequalities
    • composite 2D and 3D constructions
    • exploration of perimeter, area, surface area, and volume
    • circles
    • triangle properties and identification
  • 6th Grade Science

    Earth Science: Planet Earth through the Lenses of Water and Materials & Minerals
    Topics:
    • Fruitvale, a groundwater investigation: In this investigation, students gather evidence to determine why and how the water of the fictitious town of Fruitvale became contaminated. The module ends with a mock town meeting in which students need to make a decision on how to handle the contamination.
    • Global Water Challenge: Student teams develop a water project that focuses on a local community need. They create a skit to communicate the problem they investigated and their proposed solution.
    • Ocean studies: Students learn about oceanography and issues surrounding the oceans. They perform a dissection, along with other skill-based ocean water chemistry labs. Students learn real-world problem-solving involving the oceans through The Great Ocean Rescue. A study of the ocean-atmosphere connection aids in the understanding of climate change.
    • Rocks & Minerals: Students learn about the rock cycle, rock formations, and minerals.
    • Earth’s resources: Students learn how humans affect the availability of natural resources. Examples explored include human use of oil, gas, mineral, and fresh water resources to meet human needs.
  • 6th Grade Social Studies

    Core
    Students explore the extent to which a culture should be protected, promoted, isolated, or merged and the problems that result from choosing a particular approach.
    • Geography & Mapping skills
    • Culture: What is it? What shapes it? How does it evolve?
    • North America: Why do people migrate? Analysis of historical and present-day immigration to the United States
    • Europe: Rise of the Nazi Party, including German expansion, WWII, and the Holocaust
    • Africa: A continent of diverse cultures–students explore historical realities and investigate prospects for the future
    • Asia: With a focus on China, students examine modernization’s impact on traditions
  • 6th Grade Global Languages & Cultures-French

    French A

    Skill Development:
    French classes in the Middle School closely follow the ACTFL (American Council of Teachers of Foreign Languages) proficiency guidelines and the Can-Do Statements. Students are asked to speak French in responses to the teacher and in conversations with peers. Students experience a hybrid curriculum in which TPR (Total Physical Response) and CI (Comprehensible Input) teaching methods are embedded into various thematic units.

    Additionally, students have the opportunity to experience a wealth of authentic materials to enrich their learning experience. The goal is for students to begin building a foundation for the love of the French language and open their minds to French language and culture in a way that is purposeful and meaningful to them. 

    Students learn how to speak, read, write, and listen to understand French in a variety of activities that include the three modes of communication: interpersonal, presentational, and interpretive. Grammar and vocabulary topics arise via various thematic units as well as readings.

    Reading Comprehension:
    Students read stories written for French language learners, including: Les aventures d’Isabelle and La classe des confessions. These stories use natural language and are formulated to use the highest frequency French vocabulary and verbs (which will quickly help students to integrate new vocabulary and grammar into their speaking, reading, and writing, as appropriate). Students may also choose from French language magazines and books available in the classroom.

    Oral and Written Practice:
    Students read stories aloud, translate them, act them out, summarize the main events, and create presentations adding on to the stories. They answer comprehension questions and use their new grammar knowledge to write sentences about the content. Students steadily increase both production and accuracy.

    Cultural Competence:
    Cultural topics naturally emerge in the stories, and conversations organically arise as students reflect, have questions, and give feedback about their reading. Paris and French culture and history are the main areas of focus.

    Vocabulary:
    • Salutations and greetings
    • Numbers 0 to 1,000
    • Colors
    • Classroom vocabulary, school subjects
    • Leisure activities, family and pets, sports
    • Physical descriptions and personality traits
    • Days of the week, telling time, seasons, months, weather

    Grammar:
    • Subject pronouns
    • Il y a and il n’y a pas
    • Definite and indefinite articles
    • The present tense forms of the verbs avoir, être, faire, and aller
    • Regular present tense forms of -er and
    -re verbs
    • The near future tense (aller + infinitive)
    • Venir and the recent past
    • Expressions with avoir
    • Basic negation
    • Noun-adjective agreement; possessive adjectives
    • Contractions with à and de; conjunctions; adverbs
    • Question words
    • C’est vs. Il/Elle est
    • Some imperfect (c’était/il y avait)

    Skills:
    By the end of the year, students should be able to communicate at a Novice Low to a Novice Mid level on ACTFL proficiency guidelines. They should be able to manage in predictable situations, communicate through memorized phrases, producing at least a few sentences at a time. They should be able to create personalized meaning with the language (especially written).
  • 6th Grade Global Languages & Cultures-Spanish

    Spanish A

    Skill Development:
    Spanish classes in the Middle School closely follow the ACTFL (American Council of Teachers of Foreign Languages) Proficiency Guidelines and the Can-Do Statements. Students are asked to speak Spanish in responses to the teacher and in conversations with peers. They typically develop their reading and listening skills first, as they are absorbing the language.

    All students progress at different rates in their speaking and writing skills, and by the end of their Spanish A year, they may be at the Novice Low or Novice Mid level, meaning that they can express their ideas in short phrases around topics that they are comfortable talking about.

    Reading Comprehension:
    Students use a variety of resources encompassing high-frequency verbs and words in order to achieve a Novice Mid level according to ACTFL benchmarks for reading comprehension.

    At the end of Spanish A, students can understand some learned or memorized words and phrases when they read. Also, students read stories written for Spanish language learners. These stories are formulated to use the highest frequency Spanish vocabulary and verbs. Spanish A novels include: Ministories for Look! I Can Talk, where students gain fluency reading and acting out short stories that are grounded in the most frequently used words; La perezosa impaciente, as students learn language while engaging in the adventure of a sloth in Colombia; Ratón Pablito, a silly and engaging graphic novel that illuminates many different celebrations and traditions in the Spanish-speaking world; and El capibara con botas, a very understandable story about a capybara and his Amazonian animal friends as they embark on adventures to save their bodies of water in Ecuador—written with many cognates and only 55 new vocabulary words. Students also have regular voluntary reading practice in Spanish language learner novels available in the classroom.

    Oral and Written Practice:
    By the end of Spanish A, students achieve a Novice Mid level according to ACTFL benchmarks for oral and written practice. Students can communicate in writing and speaking on a variety of familiar topics, using words and phrases that they have practiced and memorized through use of a variety of resources, such as reading stories out loud, translation, skits, and acting.

    Students read stories and other reading selections out loud, translate them, act them out, summarize the main events, and create presentations. They answer comprehension questions and use their new knowledge to write sentences about the content. Students steadily increase oral and written production and increase their accuracy.

    Listening Comprehension:
    The majority of class time is spent engaged with Spanish. The purpose of this is to help the learner’s comfort in hearing Spanish consistently. To that end, students are exposed to spoken Spanish in a variety of ways, including, but not limited to, video shorts, geography videos, and cultural videos.

    Intercultural Communication:
    Course materials and resources are selected specifically to create a bridge from the classroom to the histories, lifestyles, products, and practices in diverse Hispanic and Latinx cultures. Students build proficiency for constructive and positive communication across cultures in conjunction with linguistic proficiency and growth along the ACTFL guidelines.

    Spanish Language Arts is designed for native or heritage speakers of Spanish with oral proficiency but little or no formal training in writing the language. Native/heritage speakers expand their existing proficiency and develop reading and writing skills. Spanish learners have the opportunity to integrate the grammar and vocabulary that they have studied in a full immersion setting and experience colloquial Spanish and authentic materials. Emphasis is placed on usage appropriate to academic and professional settings, as well as deepening understanding of Hispanic and Latinx cultures.

    Various assignments are meant to expose students to different styles of writing and communication, spur discussion, increase cultural competence concerning historical and cultural differences among Spanish-speaking countries, improve research skills, and practice spelling and grammar with targeted exercises and hands-on practice.  Materials are selected with an emphasis on deepening students’ sense of pride and connection to the histories and cultures of the Hispanic and Latinx world. Using the “windows and mirrors” framework that is also in the students’ language arts curriculum, students build proficiency for constructive and positive communication across cultures in conjunction with linguistic proficiency and growth. Performance is evaluated by demonstrating growth and development, with differentiated expectations depending on each student’s level of experience.

    Topics & Activities:
    • Reading and discussing short novels
    • Writing a short fictional narrative
    • Reading and discussing current events articles
    • Writing a research-based expository essay
    • Speaking and writing interpersonal exchanges in a variety of formats
    • Creating a social/political research project and multimedia presentation
    • Watching a documentary/movie in Spanish and writing a review or reaction paper
    • Poetry Unit:
      • Analyzing poems by well-known Spanish language poets
      • Translating poetry
      • Writing original poetry
  • 6th Grade Computer Science/Engineering & Design

    Technology Literacy
    Topics include:
    • Digital Citizenship: digital reputation, cyberbullying, electronic communication, private vs. personal information, presenter on social media
    • Word processing: advanced layout and introductory desktop publishing
    • Spreadsheet functions: formatting, basic formulas, and graphing data
    • Presentations: using a variety of software and different media (slides, audio, video, etc.)
    • Creation and manipulation of video, audio, and images
    • Understanding local, network, and cloud storage and the importance of back-ups
    • Organizational skills using an electronic calendar
    • Note-taking skills using electronic devices
    • Collaborative editing
    • optional competitive robotics team
    6th Grade Computer Science/Engineering & Design Class
    In this class, students learn about circuits and use the Design Thinking process to build a toy with LED lights.

    Topics include:
    • What is a computer?
    • What is making?
    • What is electricity?
    • How do we design and construct circuits?

    Skills & Concepts:
    • Collaborating
    • Ideating
    • Journaling
    • Sketching to convey ideas
    • Prototyping—Design & Execution
    • Testing—Collecting & Analyzing Feedback
    • Iterating/Refinement
  • 6th Grade Visual & Performing Arts

    All Sixth Grade students rotate through each of the following five classes:
    Studio Art
    This class focuses on deepening students’ understanding of the Elements of Art and the Principles of Design. A variety of media inspires the creative minds of young artists, and we use a balance of structured skill-based learning and open-ended, design-based projects. Students are encouraged to push the boundaries of their thinking and technique, to engage critical-thinking skills, and to use creative expression to highlight and develop their own unique style. Topics include Line, Value, Color, and Space.

    Computer Science/Engineering & Design
    In this class, students learn about circuits and use the Design Thinking process to build a toy with LED lights.

    Topics include:
    • What is a computer?
    • What is making?
    • What is electricity?
    • How do we design and construct circuits?
    Skills & Concepts:
    • Collaborating
    • Ideating
    • Journaling
    • Sketching to convey ideas
    • Prototyping—Design & Execution
    • Testing—Collecting & Analyzing Feedback
    • Iterating/Refinement
    Choir
    This class develops in students a stronger understanding in reading and hearing music. A variety of repertoire and voice parts helps the young singer to become a stronger musician. There is a balance of structured skill-based learning and collaboration with a group. Students are encouraged to understand their own personal vocal growth as well as how their voice works in an ensemble. There is also a musicianship component to this class, in which students learn the fundamentals they will build on in preparation for their future music experiences.

    Dance
    This in an introductory class that uses contemporary methods to explore a wide range of dance genres. Students get the chance to be the choreographer and work with technology to enhance their creativity. It is multi-level friendly—beginners can jump right in, and advanced students can be challenged.

    Creative Dramatics
    This course introduces students to the basic skills of the performing arts and creative dramatics and serves as a step toward the more advanced performance levels to be experienced later in Middle School. The class helps students become more poised and confident when speaking in front of a group, giving a speech, or making a presentation in class.

    Basics:
    • Theatrical terminology and concepts are introduced
    Scripted Work:
    • Monologues
    • Scenes
    Original work:
    • Public Service Announcement
    • Musical Stories
    • Stage Combat
    Game days:
    • Developing imagination and stage presence through acting and improvisational games
    Private Music Lessons:
    Music lessons are offered to Middle School students on the following instruments: Traditional Piano, Viola, Violin, Cello, Flute, Clarinet, Saxophone, Trumpet, Trombone, Classical Guitar, and Music Composition.
  • 6th Grade Physical Education & Athletics

    The 6th Grade program focuses on developing strong character and life skills, including sportsmanship and teamwork, and instilling a positive self-image and encouraging physical activity as part of a healthy lifestyle.
     
    Students choose from an exciting and diverse curriculum, which introduces them to a variety of individual and team sports and lifetime activities. Students gain new skills and enhance the skills they may already possess.

    Students enroll in a "Competitive" or "Non-Competitive" sport each trimester. Competitive sports require after-school commitments during the six- to eight-week "Competitive Season." Students participate in a minimum of four and a maximum of eight games against local schools. Non-Competitive sports do not require any after-school commitments.

    Between sports seasons, students participate in a P.E. curriculum. They rotate through a variety of sports, including, but not limited to, golf, tennis, yoga, flag football, floor hockey, ultimate Frisbee, badminton, and pickleball. Students also participate in large group games (Capture the Flag, Kickball, etc.) with the entire Sixth Grade.

    Non-Competitive Sports: (See descriptions under 7th/8th Grade.)
    Fall Sports
    • Rock Climbing
    • Sports Performance
    Winter Sports
    • Rock Climbing
    • Sports Performance
    Spring Sports
    • Rock Climbing
    • Sports Performance
    Competitive Sports:
    Fall (September) Sports
    • Cross Country
    • Boys Soccer
    • Girls Volleyball
    • Field Hockey
    Winter (January) Sports
    • Boys Basketball
    • Girls Basketball
    Spring (April) Sports
    • Baseball
    • Girls Soccer
    • Boys Lacrosse
    • Girls Lacrosse
  • 6th Grade Experiential Education

    All students participate in Middle School Interim and can choose from a variety of experiences.

    Interim (curricular experience)
    A weeklong immersive experiential program that includes the arts, outdoors, physiology, community engagement.
    Skills & Topics:
    • Promotes community building through small group interactions and cross-grade interactions.
    • Provides challenging, hands-on experience.
    • Promotes student leadership through trip planning and execution.
    • Fosters grit and resilience through physically and psychologically challenging activities.
    • Examples of past Interims include: fly fishing, scuba diving, cooking, mountain biking, slam poetry, play production, Utah canyoneering, canoeing, and language immersion in a Spanish- or French-speaking country.
    Sample Curricular Trips:
    French Language Immersion Interim: Québec, Canada (curricular trip offered approximately every other year)
    Open to Middle School Students enrolled in French.
    Students take French classes in the morning, are engaged in cultural activities in the afternoon, and experience homestays with local families in the evening. The last two days, the group travels to Mont Tremblant for a ropes course and a yoga class. This is a challenging experience designed to improve students’ French language skills, as well as their awareness and appreciation of a different culture.


    Sample Optional local activities

    Hike a ‘14er

    Skills & Topics:
    Mt. Bierstadt, one of the closest "fourteeners" to Denver, is a great introduction to bagging peaks in Colorado. It is a seven-mile round-trip hike up gentle scree slopes to the summit at 14,060 ft. From the peak, one can see for 100 miles in all directions. With a little luck, students might catch a glimpse of pikas and marmots.
    Skills & Topics:
    • Challenge students’ physical strength and stamina.
    • Enjoy the aesthetic beauty of the Colorado wilderness.
    • Explore plant and animal adaptations in the alpine environment.
    • Learn the role of erosion on heavily impacted sites.
    • Identify pika and marmot via habitat, coloring, calls, and size.

    Fly Fishing
    Students explore portions of the South Platte River.  They learn to cast a fly rod, manage a line, and hook and land trout.
    Skills & Topics:
    • Learn a new skill
    • Foster patience and attention to detail
    • Bond with classmates outside of the classroom
    • Learn about watershed dynamics
    • Fly fishing strategy
    • Fly pattern selection
    • Fish behavior
    Winter Hut Trips, e.g., High Lonesome Hut
    Students ski or snowshoe in and out to comfortable huts and lodges for a winter backcountry recreation experience.
    Skills & Topics:
    • Introduce winter travel skills.
    • Provide opportunities for cross-grade interactions.
    • Promote principles of self-care (hydration, hypothermia, nutrition, pacing, etc.).
    • Provide a novel experience.
    • Learn to prepare a healthy and nutritious meal.
    • Learn to build a minimal fire.
    • Observe winter weather patterns.
    • Identify avalanche terrain, snow instabilities, and how to travel safely in the backcountry.
     
    Earth Treks & Clear Creek Canyon Climbing
    Earth Treks is a world-class climbing gym in Englewood, Colo., which offers hundreds of roped climbs and bouldering.  Staff belay students and play climbing games to improve movement and skills. Cleer Creek offers excellent climbing on granite cliffs.  Students learn or perfect climbing techniques.
    Skills & Topics:
    • Face fears and perceived limitations
    • Create community
    • Understand fundamentals of climbing movement
    • Introduce climbing equipment (harnesses, ropes, shoes, belay devices, and carabiners)

    Sample Optional travel opportunities

    Peru: Sacred Valley, Peruvian Hearts, and Lima (optional)
    Students learn about the Peruvian culture through visits to local markets, Inca ruins, and local restaurants. They have a unique opportunity to visit with the girls supported by Peruvian Hearts and visit the homes of two Peruvian Hearts scholars. Students engage in a half-day service project to support the program. Participants travel by train through the breathtaking Sacred Valley to Aguas Calientes, where a private guide helps students experience and understand the wonder and majesty of the Inca citadel, Machu Picchu. The program includes two days in the Lima area with a visit to Pre-Incan sites and a day trip to the Callao Islands. This trip is offered in partnership with Peruvian Hearts, non-profit founded in 2003 by a then-CA student and managed by a CA alumnus.

    Dominican Republic Service Program
    This is an exciting opportunity to expose students to Dominican culture and a new way of thinking while giving back and digging deep. Service work in our host community begins in the morning and ends around 2 p.m. The rest of the day entails cultural exchanges, recreation, and other activities anchored in the community. Students experience the must-see sights of Santo Domingo, as well as engage in activities—like merengue lessons!—that help strengthen the long-standing relationships built with community members.
  • 6th Grade Library & Research

    The Middle School (Raether) Library provides resources that support the Middle School curriculum. Library services are integrated into the curriculum and foster collaboration between teachers and library staff.

    Library lessons include:
    • Orientation to Raether Library
    • Library Citizenship
    • Reader's Advisory
    • Copyright and Plagiarism
    • Paraphrasing & Direct Quotes
    • Works Cited - NoodleTools
    • Print, Digital, and Multimedia Resources
    • Website and Print Resource Evaluation Techniques
    • Database Exploration & Evaluation
    • Online Research Tools
    • Online Search Strategies
    • iPad Research Techniques
    • Selection and Organization of Relevant Information
    • Research Question Creation and Revision
    • Creating and Revising Sub-questions for Research
    • Note-taking Strategies & Tools
    • Targeted Reading Strategies
    • Presentation Tools
  • 6th Grade Advisory

    The following topics are taught to all students throughout the school year during Advisory group sessions.

    Giving and Receiving Feedback:
    Learning how to give and receive feedback is an essential collaboration and learning skill. Without the skill to deliver informative and effective feedback, one's ability to collaborate is severely limited. Additionally, being open to receiving feedback is equally important, as it is the acceptance of feedback that leads to growth and change. Students learn strategies and common pitfalls to avoid during the feedback process.

    Technology Safety:
    Students learn about safety and appropriate-use issues involving technology. The curriculum is designed with a practical approach that enables students to better understand the types of technology used and how to ensure privacy, identity, and personal safety. We also discuss ways to use technology in a healthy manner and some poor decisions to avoid.

    Healthy Balanced Friendships:
    Students examine the importance of being in balanced relationships, the signs of positive and negative personal and group actions, and strategies for dealing with and extracting oneself from an unhealthy relationship. The goal of the program is to introduce and reinforce the positive ways in which students can contribute to a friendly and healthy environment.

    Mindfulness:
    Students learn definitions of mindfulness and practice several forms. We also explore ways that directing our attention can lead to stress reduction and thoughtful decision making. We also discuss why mindfulness seems to be a high-profile topic.

    Healthy Relationships:
    The goal is to examine different relationships students have with parents, friends, coaches, teachers, and others. Students learn that “healthy” does not always mean everything is perfect and/or always positive. You can disagree/argue with your parents and still have a healthy relationship, because there is a baseline of love and respect. We lightly explore the idea of girlfriends/boyfriends and how students should never have to compromise safety, comfort, respect, or kindness for someone else.

    Cultural Competence:
    Students learn about cultural competence, think about their cultural background, cultural practices, and learn about their classmates and how to work effectively across cultures. Cultural competence is all about acknowledging, understanding, and appreciating that our school, neighborhood, community, state, country, and world have a diversity of people who have different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives. Students practice collaboration and communication to work effectively in cross-cultural situations.

    Bullying:
    Our goal is to explore the bullying dynamic, have students practice conflict resolution and expand their circle of influence to productively deal with conflict in their school community. Students learn to practice “upstanding” to make a positive difference and to understand the dynamic between the bully, witness, and victim. Students practice appropriate responses to conflict that deescalate vs. escalate, honor vs. degrade, and empower vs. humiliate. Finally, we explore the roots of conflict, misunderstanding, insecurity, etc., and challenge students to "expand their circle of influence" to care for members of their community.

    Multiple Intelligences:
    Information in this unit raises student awareness of various strengths we each have. We want students to be aware of many ways they are smart, in addition to the type of aptitude often measured on school and placement tests. We explore the meanings of linguistic, logical and mathematical, musical, kinesthetic, spatial-visual, interpersonal, and intrapersonal intelligences. Through discussion and surveys, students develop a better understanding of their own strengths.

    Critical Citizens in the Information Age:
    Students analyze sources and types of information (media), looking to better understand how and why we consume it, as well as how it is delivered to us. The goal is to increase students’ ability to select, absorb, and use media with a critical eye.

    Wellness:
    Students explore ideas surrounding their mental health, as well as physical and social wellness. Many lessons begin or end with some form of stress-relieving strategies, such as simple breathing techniques, yoga, and meditation. We identify common stressors and differentiate between negative and positive stress. Students develop over time a greater awareness of warning signs, coping strategies, and tools to approach stressful situations. Personal wellness goals are also encouraged.

    Drugs and Alcohol:
    The unit on drugs and alcohol is meant to give a comprehensive overview of the major issues inherent in drug and alcohol abuse, as well as encourage children to make smart personal decisions not to experiment at this age. Students discuss the beneficial and harmful aspects of pharmacology, focusing specifically on the most commonly abused "gateway" drugs, tobacco/juuling, alcohol, and marijuana. As part of this study, students role play "real world" responses to peer pressure to try drugs and/or alcohol. Children also think through ways to assist friends who may have put themselves at risk with exposure to drugs and/or alcohol.

    Living with Digital Media:
    What is the place of digital media in our lives? How does one judge the intentions and impact of people’s words and actions online? What are the benefits and risks of presenting oneself in different ways online? These are a few of many questions we tackle in our advisory lessons. Students become more aware of the role digital media plays in their lives and learn to navigate the many choices they need to make while using technology, sharing information, and using social media.

    Grit:
    Students discuss the meaning of grit and its importance as a life skill. Students think of experiences throughout their lives in which they have practiced grit, or know someone who has practiced it. They then research and share the story of how someone meaningful to them (e.g., a celebrity, a historical figure, family member, friend) demonstrated grit and perseverance to accomplish something important.

Grade 7

List of 15 items.

  • 7th Grade English

    Reading:
    • Students read and analyze diverse fiction and nonfiction texts to increase interpretive and evidence-based abilities and to enhance their knowledge and understanding of various print sources.
    • Students engage with literature in various genres to increase reading skills and to use strategies that enhance comprehension, evaluation, interpretation, and appreciation.
    • Students employ multiple research methods and conduct original research using primary and secondary resources. They create a variety of products, share their findings, and conduct self- and peer evaluations of their research process and product.

    Writing:
    • Genres taught include narrative, comparative, descriptive, micro-fiction, poetry, and expository. Students write multiple essays.
    • The use of a Reader’s/Writer’s Journal continues.
    • Skills that continue to be reinforced are to employ “voice”; enhance focus; convey purpose and incorporate emotional intensity; create story maps; write strong leads; incorporate sensory detail and vivid language; avoid vague description; include action; and write strong titles.
    • With the support of our library faculty, students practice multiple research strategies. They create multiple products—including traditional written research—share their findings and conduct self- and peer evaluations of research process and product.
    • The use of 6+1 Rubric is employed for editing.

    Grammar & Mechanics:
    • English Workshop
    • Lessons and practice employing end marks, capitalization, commas, apostrophes, abbreviations, parts of speech, noun-verb agreement, sentence/paragraph/essay structures, underlining, italics, and quotation marks.
    • Students continue to use and refer to editing checklists.

    Vocabulary:
    • Vocabulary Workshop Level B
    • Includes 20 spelling words per unit
    • Vocabulary taken from readings
  • 7th Grade Algebra

    7th Grade Algebra:
    Students solidify a foundation in integers, decimals, fractions, percents, and ratio and proportion. Variables are introduced in a more complex fashion and with more frequency. Problem-solving techniques are utilized as students learn to communicate their solutions verbally and in writing. With each topic that is explored, a balance between conceptual understanding and computational fluency is emphasized.

    Topics include:
    • operations with integers
    • rational numbers
    • proportions
    • data analysis
    • simplifying expressions
    • solving multi-step equations and inequalities
    • composite 2D and 3D constructions
    • exploration of perimeter, area, surface area, and volume
    • circles
    • triangle properties and identification
  • 7th Grade Accelerated Algebra

    Students lay a foundation for future math and science courses and are immersed in thinking abstractly about mathematical concepts. Manipulatives are occasionally used to help make the abstract concepts more concrete. Students finish the year with a basic understanding of graphing calculators. Students develop a stronger sense of how to solve word problems using variables and how algebra will be integrated into their science courses and geometry. With each topic that is explored, a balance between conceptual understanding and computational fluency is emphasized.

    Topics include:
    • radicals
    • solving multi-step and complex equations
    • solving multi-step inequalities
    • solving and graphing linear equations
    • working with expressions and word problems
    • data analysis, including central tendencies and visual representations
    • exponents
    • scientific notation
    • multiplying and factoring polynomials
    • solving and graphing quadratics
    • solving and graphing systems of equations
    • solving and graphing systems of inequalities and quadratics
  • 7th Grade Science

    Life Science: Cell Biology and Disease; Genetics; and Human Biology & Health
    Topics:
    • Studying People Scientifically: An introductory unit to build foundational skills using scientific processes and experimental design practices.
    • Cell Biology and Disease: Understanding the basic mechanisms of disease and investigating the structures and functions of normal cells and some of the processes that occur inside these cells.
    • Reproduction: A study of classical genetics, heredity, asexual and sexual reproduction, nature and nurture in the problem situation of a hypothetical student with Marfan Syndrome.
    • Endocrine and Human Reproductive System: Students learn functions of and explain functions of endocrine glands; describe the changes that occur during adolescence; explain the structures and functions of the male and female reproductive systems; and sequence the events that occur during the menstrual cycle.
    • Bioengineering: Students study how engineering solutions can improve the health and functioning of people. Examples explored include artificial bones, artificial hands, and artificial heart valves.
  • 7th Grade Social Studies

    Outside the Box: Critical and Creative Thinking

    In addition to the 6 Cs, the course includes:
    • Innovator’s mindset
    • Debate skills
    • Design-thinking process and protocols
    • Performance tasks
    • Social justice–in a culmination of skills developed all year, students identify, examine, and present on a topic of personal interest at the 7th Grade level
  • 7th Grade Global Languages & Cultures-French

    In French B, students continue their study of the French language with a focus on speaking, reading, and writing. Students quickly build on the basic vocabulary and elemental structures from the previous year. Students are able to describe the near future and the recent past; talk about interests, pastimes, and activities both in and out of schoo,l and describe their experience with increasing accuracy.

    Through the study of grammar and structure, students gain an understanding of question formation, present and past tense, the use of irregular and compound verbs, as well as the ability to identify direct and indirect objects. Students apply their growing skills to reading a short novel, Brandon Brown à la conquête de Quebec.

    Emphasis is placed on the ability to speak in a classroom context and in increasingly less-structured situations. Students also write short paragraphs, papers, and letters. We work almost completely in French, learning through direct instruction and immersion.

    Cultural exploration:
    • Paris
    • Sénégal
    • Québec

    Vocabulary:
    • Breakfast foods and drinks; café foods; place settings
    • Clothing and accessories, sports equipment
    • High numbers (1,000 to 1,000,000)
    • House and furniture, chores
    • Places in the city

    Grammar:
    • The partitive
    • Regular present tense –re verbs
    • Commands
    • Irregular verbs prendre, mettre, voir, vouloir, boire, pouvoir, devoir, dormir, sortir, and partir
    • Present tense of –yer verbs
    • The verbs connaître and savoir
    • The passé composé with avoir of regular –er, -ir, and –re verbs
    • The passé composé of irregular verbs
    • The passé composé with être
    • Negative expressions
    • Expressions with faire
    • Ordinal numbers

    Skills:
    By the end of the year, students’ speaking and writing skills should be at Novice Mid or Novice High of the ACTFL proficiency guidelines. Listening and reading skills may be higher, since those are receptive vs. productive language acquisition skills. Students can handle a limited number of uncomplicated communicative tasks by using the language in straightforward social situations. Conversation is restricted to some of the concrete exchanges and predictable topics necessary for survival in the target-language culture. They can respond to simple, direct questions or requests for information. They are also able to ask a few formulaic questions.
  • 7th Grade Global Languages & Cultures-Spanish

    Spanish B

    Skill Development:
    Spanish classes in the Middle School closely follow the ACTFL (American Council of Teachers of Foreign Languages) Proficiency Guidelines and the Can-Do Statements. Students are asked to speak Spanish in responses to the teacher and in conversations with peers. They typically develop their reading and listening skills first, as they are absorbing the language.

    All students progress at different rates in their speaking and writing skills, and by the end of their Spanish B year, students may be at Novice Mid level, meaning that they can express their ideas in short phrases around topics that they are comfortable talking about. Some students are able to form sentences in their speech, as well. At this point, students are able to understand language that they read and hear at a higher level than they can produce.

    Reading Comprehension:
    Students read stories written for Spanish language learners. These stories use the language as it naturally exists, and they are formulated to use the highest frequency Spanish vocabulary and verbs. Spanish B stories are: "Pobre Ana Moderna," about a young lady who goes to Mexico for a few months to take a break from some of her teenage difficulties;  “Patricia Va a California,” about a Guatemalan exchange student who visits the U.S., navigates friendship issues, and learns to stand up for others; and “Brandon Brown Versus Yucatán”, about the consequences of a 12-year-old boy’s poor decision making while on vacation and how he resolves those issues. Students also have regular voluntary reading practice in Spanish language magazines and books available in the classroom.

    Oral and Written Practice:
    Students read the stories out loud, translate them, act them out, summarize the main events, and create presentations adding on to the stories. They answer comprehension questions about the stories, and use their new grammar knowledge to write sentences about the content. Students steadily increase what they can produce and increase their accuracy.

    Listening Comprehension:
    The majority of class time is spent engaged with Spanish. The purpose of this is to help the learner’s comfort in hearing Spanish consistently. To that end, students are exposed to spoken Spanish in a variety of ways, including, but not limited to, video shorts, geography videos, and cultural videos.

    Spanish Language Arts is designed for native or heritage speakers of Spanish with oral proficiency but little or no formal training in writing the language. Native/heritage speakers expand their existing proficiency and develop reading and writing skills. Spanish learners have the opportunity to integrate the grammar and vocabulary that they have studied in a full immersion setting and experience colloquial Spanish and authentic materials. Emphasis is placed on usage appropriate to academic and professional settings, as well as deepening understanding of Hispanic cultures.

    Various assignments are meant to expose students to different styles of writing and communication, spur discussion, increase cultural competence concerning historical and cultural differences among Spanish-speaking countries, improve research skills, and practice spelling and grammar with targeted exercises and hands-on practice. Performance is evaluated by demonstrating growth and development, with differentiated expectations depending on each student’s level of experience.

    Topics & Activities:
    • Reading short novels
    • Writing a short fictional narrative
    • Reading current events articles for discussion
    • Writing a research-based expository essay
    • Creating a book folio, including a formal book review
    • Creating a social/political research project and multimedia presentation
    • Watching a documentary/movie in Spanish and writing a review or reaction paper
    • Poetry Unit:
      • Analyzing poems by well-known Spanish language poets
      • Translating poetry
      • Writing original poetry
  • 7th Grade Computer Science/Engineering & Design

    Technology Literacy
    Topics include:
    • Digital Citizenship: digital reputation, cyberbullying, electronic communication, private vs. personal information, presenter on social media
    • Word processing: advanced layout and introductory desktop publishing
    • Spreadsheet functions: formatting, basic formulas, and graphing data
    • Presentations: using a variety of software and different media (slides, audio, video, etc.)
    • Creation and manipulation of video, audio, and images
    • Understanding local, network, and cloud storage and the importance of back-ups
    • Organizational skills using an electronic calendar
    • Note-taking skills using electronic devices
    • Collaborative editing
    • optional competitive robotics team
    Computer Science/Engineering & Art/Design
    In this class, students learn key computer science concepts and apply the Design Thinking process to create new games and interactive robotic animals.

    Topics include:
    • Design toys and games using a block-based language and micro-controllers
    • Programming Introduction, Sequence, Branching, Loops, Variables, Robotics and Procedures
    • Learn about motors and sensors and additional programming concepts
    Skills & Concepts:
    • Design Thinking process
    • 2D Digital Design
    • Prototyping with Laser Cutter
    • 3D Modeling with SolidWorks
    • 3D Printing
  • 7th & 8th Grade Visual Arts Electives

    VISUAL ARTS
    Studio Art:

    Artists explore their personal style in a choice of art media. Students have the opportunity to use drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture, and more to expand their individual creativity, technical skills, and knowledge of art history. Drawing skills are emphasized, along with color theory and composition. Paint, pen and ink, printmaking, and clay design are all possible media for exploration.
    Value:
    • Self-Portrait Grid Technique
    • Still Life Painting in Acrylic
    Form:
    • Recycled Sculpture Design
    • Paper Clay Figurines
    Texture:
    • Linoleum Block Printmaking
    • Altered Books
    Contrast:
    • Notan Design
    • Ben Heine-Inspired Graphite Drawings

    Computer Science/Engineering, Art & Design (required course): 
    In this class, students learn key computer science concepts and apply the Design Thinking process to create new games and interactive robotic animals.

    Topics include:
    • Design toys and games using a block-based language and micro-controllers 
    • Programming Introduction, Sequence, Branching, Loops, Variables, Robotics and Procedures
    • Learn about motors and sensors and additional programming concepts
    Skills & Concepts:
    • Design Thinking process
    • 2D Digital Design
    • Prototyping with Laser Cutter
    • 3D Modeling with SolidWorks
    • 3D Printing
    Ceramics:
    This 3D class gives students the opportunity to explore a variety of hand-building methods, including pinching, coiling, slab building, and sculpting. Students learn how to apply several surface treatments and glazes to their projects, as well as a basic understanding of the kiln-firing process.

    Photography/Mixed Media:
    Is it a photograph? Is it a drawing? Is it a sculpture? This class introduces students to contemporary artistic practice, where artists work across multiple disciplines to produce creative works with loaded symbolism. Students learn the fundamental skills in photography, drawing, and printmaking, such as manual settings on a DSLR camera, tonal rendering to acquire realism, and mono printing to create painterly images. These skills allow students to produce beautiful artworks that are informed by photography. Furthermore, students learn to critically analyze and interpret photographic artworks to make meaning.

    Video:
    This is a dynamic class that introduces students to key concepts of the filmmaking process. Students learn to use dedicated video cameras, to upload footage, and to edit with professional editing software. Students are introduced to the concept of film grammar, as well as exploring the rich culture and history of film, from silent movies to contemporary Chinese cinema, such as the legendary and prolific Stephen Chow. Students create their own narrative shorts and explore art cinema, from video haikus to green screen techniques.

    Skills:
    • Write, direct, shoot, and act in one's own films
    • Learn the use of iPad, iPhone, and a dedicated video camera to produce a film
    • Learn to use professional editing software
    • Learn film grammar and terminology
    • Watch, appreciate, and critique silent movies and foreign films
    • Learn techniques for lighting, audio recording, and shot selection
    • Produce a film
    Topics include:
    • Terminology, such as close-up, POV, wide shot
    • Sound Recording techniques, including microphone selection
    • Types of Audio: Dialog, Ambient, Special Effects, and Music
    • Lighting techniques, such as Key light, Fill light, Down light, and Back light
    • Auteur Theory—the film as an expression of the director’s creative vision
  • 7th & 8th Grade Music & Dance Electives

    MUSIC
    Choir:

    Middle School Choir is an opportunity for students to sing a wide variety of repertoire. A cappella, classical, folk, pop, and holiday music is studied throughout the year. Students sing in a group of their peers and have the opportunity to perform with Upper School students in at least one major performance each trimester.

    Instrumental Lab:
    This is a precursor for the Rock or Jazz Combos for students who would like to try instruments like guitar, bass, drums, or keyboards. This is a non-performance class, and no prior experience is necessary.

    Jazz Ensemble:
    Jazz ensemble is a performance group. Students learn creativity and discipline through the study of jazz music. An emphasis is placed on understanding music theory as the basis for improvisation. There is one performance per trimester. Students are encouraged to provide their own instruments, excluding drum set and piano, which CA provides.

    Music Tech: 
    This course provides a platform to explore music technology through digital audio workstations, digital instruments and equipment, notation software, and a project-based curriculum for students to craft their own musical creations. This is a non-performance class, and no prior experience is necessary.

    Orchestra: 
    This class focuses on the educational components of playing in an orchestra, including music history, music theory, instrumental technique, and ensemble skills. The class performs “classical” pops, as well as recent pop music. Prerequisite: previous experience on instrument to be played; private lessons strongly recommended; most instruments accepted.

    Rock Band:
    Rock Band is a performance group. Students learn creativity and discipline through the study of rock and pop music. Emphasis is placed on understanding music theory as it relates to songwriting and musical form. There is one performance per trimester. Students are encouraged to provide their own instruments, excluding drum set and piano, which CA provides.

    DANCE
    Tap Dance:
    Students discover the fun of drumming with their feet. This class teaches techniques and styles relevant to Tap dancing and is geared to break down the basics and then move on to exciting combinations of choreography. More advanced students are given challenges to fit their level. Beginners can jump in and discover that they progress quickly. This class has a contemporary approach with music—using Pop, Rock, and Rap, as well as classic big band tunes and jazz. Tap shoes are necessary. If students do not wish to purchase their own, the school has a number of pairs to borrow.

    Dance:
    This class explores a range of techniques and styles relevant to multiple dance genres. Students break down the basics and then move on to exciting combinations of choreography. More advanced students are given challenges to fit their level. Beginners can jump in and discover they make progress quickly. This class has a contemporary approach, with a range of fun music. 

    Private Music Lessons:
    Music lessons are offered to Middle School students on the following instruments: Traditional Piano, Viola, Violin, Cello, Flute, Clarinet, Saxophone, Trumpet, Trombone, Classical Guitar, and Music Composition.
  • 7th & 8th Grade Theater and Technical Theater & Design Electives

    THEATER AND TECHNICAL THEATER & DESIGN
    Play/Musical Productions:

    These courses are designed to give students the experience of participating in a theatrical production. One play and one musical are produced each year.

    Play: Students enrolled in this class are performers in the Middle School Play. Although there is an audition process for specific roles, everyone who signs up will be in the production.

    Musical: Students in this class study the art and performance of musical theater—singing, acting, and dancing. Everyone enrolled in the class will be a part of the production, although there is an audition process for specific roles.
    • The unifying theme of these production challenges is that the student learns to become more comfortable speaking and presenting in front of others. Whether singing a solo or giving a book report, these experiences benefit students throughout their academic and social life.
    • Ensemble work, which enhances students’ collaborative skills, is also emphasized in these classes.
    • All students who sign up for the classes are cast in the production. There is an audition process for specific roles. Students must be able to meet the rehearsal schedule, which includes some after-school rehearsals. 
    • These presentations contain both similar and unique challenges. Skills emphasized also vary greatly. In both cases, students create characters through voice and movement, while the musical has the additional elements of song and dance.
    Acting:
    This class explores how actors build a character through games, improvisation, and scene study. It is active, creative, and tons of fun. Everyone is welcome. No previous experience necessary.

    General Technical Theater:
    This class explores the design process of producing theater. Students work through theoretical productions and use a variety of programs, including Sketchup and Q Lab, to design projects. Students are introduced to the basic shop tools, and they work as a support team for building the set for the Upper School Play.

    Set Design and Construction:
    The goal of this class is to work closely with the adult team to design the sets, lights, sound, and props for the Middle School Musical in Trimester 2. Students develop a design, learn to work within a budget, and set a schedule in order to meet the production deadlines. Students are also offered the option to work as running crew for Middle School productions. This class also covers the basics of working in the shop and acts as a support team for Upper School productions.
  • 7th and 8th Grade Athletics

    The 7th/8th Grade program focuses on developing strong character and life skills, fostering sportsmanship and teamwork, instilling a positive self-image, and encouraging physical activity as part of a healthy lifestyle.
     
    Students enroll in a "Competitive" or "Non-Competitive" sport each trimester. Competitive sports require after-school commitments. Students participate in a minimum of eight and a maximum of twelve games against local schools. Non-Competitive sports do not require any after-school commitments.

    Students participate in practice daily with their team and coaches. Team Practice and non-competitive activities take place during the last block of the school day from 2:30-3:30 p.m.

    Non-Competitive Sports:
    Rock Climbing
    Whether a student is a beginner or an experienced rock climber, this class has a route just for them. This course teaches students the basics of safe and responsible rock climbing, including equipment, knots, belaying, and a range of climbing techniques. Students challenge themselves both mentally and physically on a daily basis. Classes take place in the CA Climbing Center.

    Racquetball
    This course is designed for the beginner to the advanced racquetball player. Students learn basic racquetball skills, including shot execution, rules, and strategies. Class tournaments are conducted throughout the trimester. Racquetball provides students the opportunity to improve their fitness level and self-esteem, and exposes them to a fun, life-long activity.

    Sports Performance
    Based in the Bansbach Strength and Conditioning Center, the Sports Performance class is intended to aid in the development of health and wellness in each student, with a structured plan designed to enhance strength, speed, mobility, and specific energy systems, while also developing educational and character traits.
    Topics:
    • Strength: Work Capacity, Strength Base, Strength Power, Strength Speed, and Muscular Endurance
    • Speed: Mechanics, Speed Strength, and Change of Direction.
    • Mobility: Correctives, Warm-up, Cool-down
    • Energy Systems: Training for the activity, Anaerobic vs Aerobic, and Activity Demands
    • Education: Nutritional Needs, Cognitive Reconditioning, and Independence in Movement
    • Character: Time Management, Respect, and Effort
    Competitive Sports:
    Fall Sports
    • Golf
    • Tennis
    • Boys Soccer
    • Girls Volleyball
    • Field Hockey
    • Cross Country
    Winter Sports
    • Boys Basketball
    • Girls Basketball
    Spring Sports
    • Baseball
    • Girls Soccer
    • Boys Lacrosse
    • Girls Lacrosse
  • 7th Grade Experiential Education

    Curricular Trips
    Outdoor Retreat
    The 7th Grade Advisory Group Retreat includes an overnight experience.
    Skills & Topics:
    • Promote solitude and reflection as modality for personal growth.
    • Push students off balance through physical discomfort.
    • Set challenging group objectives to promote teamwork and organic leadership.
    • Provide a common experience to facilitate shared identity and community building.
    • Teach skills such as map reading, non-technical hiking, nature interpretation, and camp craft

    Interim (curricular experience)
    A weeklong immersive experiential program that includes the arts, outdoors, physiology, community engagement. All students participate in Middle School Interim and can choose from a variety of experiences.
    Skills & Topics:
    • Promotes community building through small group interactions and cross-grade interactions.
    • Provides challenging, hands-on experience.
    • Promotes student leadership through trip planning and execution.
    • Fosters grit and resilience through physically and psychologically challenging activities.
    • Examples of past Interims include: fly fishing, scuba diving, cooking, mountain biking, slam poetry, play production, Utah canyoneering, canoeing, and language immersion in a Spanish- or French-speaking country.
    French Language Immersion Interim: Québec, Canada (curricular trip offered approximately every other year)
    Open to Middle School Students enrolled in French.
    Students take French classes in the morning, are engaged in cultural activities in the afternoon, and experience homestays with local families in the evening. The last two days, the group travels to Mont Tremblant for a ropes course and a yoga class. This is a challenging experience designed to improve students’ French language skills, as well as their awareness and appreciation of a different culture.

    Costa Rica Spanish Language & Cultural Immersion Interim (curricular trip offered approximately every other year)
    Open to current 7th/8th Grade Spanish students. Application required, including essay/letter in Spanish.
    This is a trip to Costa Rica and CA's sister community there located north in the vicinity of Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui. Students explore the natural surroundings, including the nearby rainforest, whitewater raft on the Rio Sarapiqui, and/or see the rainforest from a canopy zip line. In small groups, students live with homestay families in the community. In the mornings, the group works on a community project, designed in consultation with the needs and desires of the local community. In the afternoons, there is time to pursue an experiential curriculum designed to promote the understanding of global issues, leadership, and local culture.


    Sample Optional local activities

    Hike a ‘14er
    Mt. Bierstadt, one of the closest "fourteeners" to Denver, is a great introduction to bagging peaks in Colorado. It is a seven-mile round-trip hike up gentle scree slopes to the summit at 14,060 ft. From the peak, one can see for 100 miles in all directions. With a little luck, students might catch a glimpse of pikas and marmots.

    Skills & Topics:
    • Challenge students’ physical strength and stamina.
    • Enjoy the aesthetic beauty of the Colorado wilderness.
    • Explore plant and animal adaptations in the alpine environment.
    • Learn the role of erosion on heavily impacted sites.
    • Identify pika and marmot via habitat, coloring, calls, and size.

    Fly Fishing
    Students explore portions of the South Platte River. They learn to cast a fly rod, manage a line, and hook and land trout.
    Skills & Topics:
    • Learn a new skill
    • Foster patience and attention to detail
    • Bond with classmates outside of the classroom
    • Learn about watershed dynamics
    • Fly fishing strategy
    • Fly pattern selection
    • Fish behavior
    Winter Hut Trips, e.g., High Lonesome Hut
    Students ski or snowshoe in and out to comfortable huts and lodges for a winter backcountry recreation experience.
    Skills & Topics:
    • Introduce winter travel skills.
    • Provide opportunities for cross-grade interactions.
    • Promote principles of self-care (hydration, hypothermia, nutrition, pacing, etc.).
    • Provide a novel experience.
    • Learn to prepare a healthy and nutritious meal.
    • Learn to build a minimal fire.
    • Observe winter weather patterns.
    • Identify avalanche terrain, snow instabilities and how to travel safely in the backcountry.
    Earth Treks & Clear Creek Canyon Climbing
    Earth Treks is a world-class climbing gym in Englewood, Colo., which offers hundreds of roped climbs and bouldering.  Staff belay students and play climbing games to improve movement and skills. Cleer Creek offers excellent climbing on granite cliffs.  Students learn or perfect climbing techniques.
    Skills & Topics:
    • Face fears and perceived limitations
    • Create community
    • Understand fundamentals of climbing movement
    • Introduce climbing equipment (harnesses, ropes, shoes, belay devices and carabiners)

    Sample Optional travel opportunities
    Peru: Sacred Valley, Peruvian Hearts, and Lima (optional)
    Students learn about the Peruvian culture through visits to local markets, Inca ruins, and local restaurants. They have a unique opportunity to visit with the girls supported by Peruvian Hearts and visit the homes of two Peruvian Hearts scholars. Students engage in a half-day service project to support the program. Participants travel by train through the breathtaking Sacred Valley to Aguas Calientes, where a private guide helps students experience and understand the wonder and majesty of the Inca citadel, Machu Picchu. The program includes two days in the Lima area with a visit to Pre-Incan sites and a day trip to the Callao Islands. This trip is offered in partnership with Peruvian Hearts, non-profit founded in 2003 by a then-CA student and managed by a CA alumnus.

    Dominican Republic Service Program
    This is an exciting opportunity to expose students to Dominican culture and a new way of thinking while giving back and digging deep. Service work in our host community begins in the morning and ends around 2 p.m. The rest of the day entails cultural exchanges, recreation, and other activities anchored in the community. Students experience the must-see sights of Santo Domingo, as well as engage in activities—like merengue lessons!—that help strengthen the long-standing relationships built with community members.
  • 7th Grade Library & Research

    The Middle School (Raether) Library provides resources that support the Middle School curriculum. Library services are integrated into the curriculum and foster collaboration between teachers and library staff.

    Library lessons include:
    • Library Citizenship
    • Reader's Advisory
    • Copyright and Plagiarism
    • Works Cited- NoodleTools
    • Print, Digital, and Multimedia Resources
    • Website and Print Resource Evaluation Techniques
    • Database Exploration & Evaluation
    • Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Sources
    • Online Research Tools
    • Online Search Strategies
    • Evaluating and Organizing Information
    • Research Question Creation and Revision
    • Creating and Revising Sub-questions for Research
    • Research Beyond the Basics
    • Subject-Specific Research Projects
    • Note-taking
    • Assimilating Multiple Types of Resources
    • Analyzing and Synthesizing Information for Writing
  • 7th Grade Advisory

    The following topics are taught to all students throughout the school year during Advisory group sessions.

    Giving and Receiving Feedback:
    Learning how to give and receive feedback is an essential collaboration and learning skill. Without the skill to deliver informative and effective feedback, one's ability to collaborate is severely limited. Additionally, being open to receiving feedback is equally important, as it is the acceptance of feedback that leads to growth and change. Students learn strategies and common pitfalls to avoid during the feedback process.

    Technology Safety:
    Students learn about safety and appropriate-use issues involving technology. The curriculum is designed with a practical approach that enables students to better understand the types of technology used and how to ensure privacy, identity, and personal safety. We also discuss ways to use technology in a healthy manner and some poor decisions to avoid.

    Healthy Balanced Friendships:
    Students examine the importance of being in balanced relationships, the signs of positive and negative personal and group actions, and strategies for dealing with and extracting oneself from an unhealthy relationship. The goal of the program is to introduce and reinforce the positive ways in which students can contribute to a friendly and healthy environment.

    Mindfulness:
    Students learn definitions of mindfulness and practice several forms. We also explore ways that directing our attention can lead to stress reduction and thoughtful decision making. We also discuss why mindfulness seems to be a high-profile topic.

    Healthy Relationships:
    The goal is to examine different relationships students have with parents, friends, coaches, teachers, and others. Students learn that “healthy” does not always mean everything is perfect and/or always positive. You can disagree/argue with your parents and still have a healthy relationship, because there is a baseline of love and respect. We lightly explore the idea of girlfriends/boyfriends and how students should never have to compromise safety, comfort, respect, or kindness for someone else.

    Cultural Competence:
    Students learn about cultural competence, think about their cultural background, cultural practices, and learn about their classmates and how to work effectively across cultures. Cultural competence is all about acknowledging, understanding, and appreciating that our school, neighborhood, community, state, country, and world have a diversity of people who have different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives. Students practice collaboration and communication to work effectively in cross-cultural situations.

    Bullying:
    Our goal is to explore the bullying dynamic, have students practice conflict resolution and expand their circle of influence to productively deal with conflict in their school community. Students learn to practice “upstanding” to make a positive difference and to understand the dynamic between the bully, witness, and victim. Students practice appropriate responses to conflict that deescalate vs. escalate, honor vs. degrade, and empower vs. humiliate. Finally, we explore the roots of conflict, misunderstanding, insecurity, etc., and challenge students to "expand their circle of influence" to care for members of their community.

    Multiple Intelligences:
    Information in this unit raises student awareness of various strengths we each have. We want students to be aware of many ways they are smart, in addition to the type of aptitude often measured on school and placement tests. We explore the meanings of linguistic, logical and mathematical, musical, kinesthetic, spatial-visual, interpersonal, and intrapersonal intelligences. Through discussion and surveys, students develop a better understanding of their own strengths.

    Critical Citizens in the Information Age:
    Students analyze sources and types of information (media), looking to better understand how and why we consume it, as well as how it is delivered to us. The goal is to increase students’ ability to select, absorb, and use media with a critical eye.

    Wellness:
    Students explore ideas surrounding their mental health, as well as physical and social wellness. Many lessons begin or end with some form of stress-relieving strategies, such as simple breathing techniques, yoga, and meditation. We identify common stressors and differentiate between negative and positive stress. Students develop over time a greater awareness of warning signs, coping strategies, and tools to approach stressful situations. Personal wellness goals are also encouraged.

    Drugs and Alcohol:
    The unit on drugs and alcohol is meant to give a comprehensive overview of the major issues inherent in drug and alcohol abuse, as well as encourage children to make smart personal decisions not to experiment at this age. Students discuss the beneficial and harmful aspects of pharmacology, focusing specifically on the most commonly abused "gateway" drugs, tobacco/juuling, alcohol, and marijuana. As part of this study, students role play "real world" responses to peer pressure to try drugs and/or alcohol. Children also think through ways to assist friends who may have put themselves at risk with exposure to drugs and/or alcohol.

    Living with Digital Media:
    What is the place of digital media in our lives? How does one judge the intentions and impact of people’s words and actions online? What are the benefits and risks of presenting oneself in different ways online? These are a few of many questions we tackle in our advisory lessons. Students become more aware of the role digital media plays in their lives and learn to navigate the many choices they need to make while using technology, sharing information, and using social media.

    Grit:
    Students discuss the meaning of grit and its importance as a life skill. Students think of experiences throughout their lives in which they have practiced grit, or know someone who has practiced it. They then research and share the story of how someone meaningful to them (e.g., a celebrity, a historical figure, family member, friend) demonstrated grit and perseverance to accomplish something important.

Grade 8

List of 15 items.

  • 8th Grade English

    Reading:
    • Students read literature and supporting texts to build an understanding of diverse cultures and the ways in which characters strive for personal fulfillment while struggling with the realities of society. Emphasis is placed on diversity in language usage, word choice across cultures, ethnic groups, geographic regions, and social roles.
    • Students employ a wide range of strategies and reading skills to enhance comprehension, interpretation, evaluation, and appreciation of themes and symbols.
    Writing:
    • Through a variety of writing genres, students explore the importance of organization, audience, voice, word choice, figurative language, sentence structure, and fluency. Emphasis is placed on brainstorming, outlining, peer editing, and drafting. Students learn that a piece of writing is always a work in progress.
    • The use of a Reader’s/Writer’s Journal continues.

    Grammar & Mechanics:
    • Students revisit and enhance their understanding of end marks, abbreviations, apostrophes, colons, semi-colons, dashes, hyphens, capitalization, underlining, italics, quotations, sentence structure, fragments, clauses, parts of speech, agreement, and conventions.

    Vocabulary:
    • Vocabulary Workshop Level C
    • Includes 20 spelling words per unit
    • Vocabulary taken from readings
  • 8th Grade Algebra I

    Students lay a foundation for future math and science courses and are immersed in thinking abstractly about mathematical concepts. Manipulatives are occasionally used to help make the abstract concepts more concrete. Students finish the year with a basic understanding of graphing calculators. Students develop a stronger sense of how to solve word problems using variables and how algebra will be integrated into their science courses and geometry. With each topic that is explored, a balance between conceptual understanding and computational fluency is emphasized.

    Topics include:
    • radicals
    • solving multi-step and complex equations
    • solving multi-step inequalities
    • solving and graphing linear equations
    • working with expressions and word problems
    • data analysis, including central tendencies and visual representations
    • exponents
    • scientific notation
    • multiplying and factoring polynomials
    • solving and graphing quadratics
    • solving and graphing systems of equations
  • 8th Grade Honors Geometry

    Students explore points, lines, polygons, and circles in two dimensions, investigate three-dimensional figures, and problem solve with manipulating dimensions and formulas. There are frequent opportunities for independent and collaborative exploration using both inductive and deductive logic.  Students also apply their understanding of definitions, postulates, and theorems to improve their logical reasoning and critical-thinking skills.

    Topics include:
    • congruency and similarity
    • transformations
    • parallel lines
    • polygons and special triangle properties
    • trigonometry
    • surface area and volume
    • properties of circles
  • 8th Grade Science

    STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering & Math

    Topics:

    Data & Analysis:
    • Reviewing how science is represented in our world
    • Collecting and representing real-life data with appropriate graphs and other visuals
    • Analyzing data and using relevant data to draw conclusions
    Aerodynamics & Rocketry:
    • Exploring how standard and metric measurements are used and integrated into our society
    • Utilizing measuring tools, such as angular rulers, clinometers, weight scales, etc. to design, build, and test a bottle rocket’s flight and recovery
    • Applying Newton’s Laws of Motion to examine the principles of rocketry and vertical flight
    • Experimenting with different variables that may affect the flight of a rocket
    • Using basic trigonometry to measure the peak height of a rocket in flight
    • Examining the “hidden figures” of science, and explore the underrepresentation of marginalized people who have made significant contributions to science
    Robotics & Technology:
    • Exploring how software is used to program robots such as Sphero and LEGO® EV3 Mindstorm
    • Programing Sphero using drag-and-drop programming to complete light and game challenges
    • Designing, building, and programming EV3 robots to complete field challenges
    • Investigating the role technology plays in our lives and its integration into our society
    Chemistry:
    • Exploring the properties of matter through a variety of experiments
    • Investigating the characteristic properties of substances, such as density, hardness, and other physical properties
    • Observing and analyzing how physical changes compare to chemical changes
    • Designing and conducting experiments to determine the chemical properties of substances
    • Using the Periodic Table to identify elements and their characteristics
    • Explaining the attraction between two atoms, creating covalent and ionic bonds
    • Applying the Lewis Dot Structure to determine the reactive properties of atoms
    • Examining how the courage and tenacity of “the Radium Girls” saved hundreds of thousands of lives, inspired the creation of radioactive regulation, and encouraged research on nuclear weapons
  • 8th Grade Social Studies

    Civics & Citizenship                  
    Through activities designed to engage their critical-thinking and problem-solving skills, students tackle complicated issues.
    Topics:
    • What is government and why is it necessary?
    • What types of government are there and what are the pros and cons of each type?
    • How and why is America’s government structured?
    • How does the United States Supreme Court safeguard the Constitution and the rights of the citizens?
    • What is the role government plays in addressing current controversial issues?
  • 8th Grade Global Languages & Cultures-French

    French C is an immersion experience that allows students to hear and speak the language while in class in order to further develop speaking and listening skills. The goal of the course is to expand upon speaking, reading, writing, listening, and thinking skills while gaining confidence and enjoyment with French. We study a variety of topics, grammar tenses, and structures, and expose students to a variety of media tools.

    Student skills are assessed through traditional tests as well as collaborative projects and multimedia work. There is an emphasis on active learning. Active Learning is defined as having a positive attitude, putting forth focused effort, striving to participate daily in meaningful and productive ways, remaining engaged in class, and finally, coming to class prepared for the day with homework and materials ready.

    While maintaining a strong emphasis on learning new skills in French grammar and pronunciation, students are also exposed to contemporary cultural trends (music, fashion, and politics) in France and francophone countries. They read a short novel, Le nouvel Houdini.

    Cultural Exploration:
    • Paris
    • Québec
    • Bretagne

    Vocabulary:
    • Celebrations and parties
    • Shopping for and preparing food
    • School places and events
    • Computers
    • Childhood activities, daily routines
    • Country life

    Grammar:
    • Direct and indirect object pronouns
    • The verbs offrir, ouvrir, recevoir, suivre
    • All of the passé composé past tense
    • Expressions used in the past
    • Reflexive verbs in the present and passé composé
    • Negative expressions
    • The partitive
    • The pronouns y and en
    • Contractions with à and de
    • The imparfait and the passé composé
    • Comparatives and superlatives

    Skills:
    By the end of the year, students’ speaking and writing skills should be at Novice High to Intermediate Low or Mid of the ACTFL proficiency guidelines. Their listening and reading skills may be a little higher, since those are receptive vs. productive language acquisition skills. Students at the Intermediate Low or Mid skill level for speaking and writing can convey their ideas if the topic is one that they are familiar with. They can carry on a brief exchange with some errors and hesitancy.
  • 8th Grade Global Languages & Cultures-Spanish

    Spanish C

    Skill Development:
    Spanish classes in the Middle School closely follow the ACTFL (American Council of Teachers of Foreign Languages) Proficiency Guidelines and the Can-Do Statements. Students are asked to speak Spanish in responses to the teacher and in conversations with peers. They typically develop their reading and listening skills first, as they are absorbing the language.

    All students progress at different rates in their speaking and writing skills, and by the end of their Spanish C year, students may be between the Novice Mid and Novice High level, meaning that they can express their ideas in short phrases around topics that they are comfortable talking about. Some students are able to form sentences in their speech, as well. More advanced students are able to carry on a longer conversation about a topic that is less familiar to them. At this point, students are able to understand language that they read and hear at a higher level than they can produce.

    Reading Comprehension:
    Students read stories written for Spanish language learners and also use authentic resources that are related to themes covered throughout the year.

    Oral and Written Practice:
    Students have opportunities for a variety of practice in order to enhance their oral and written language abilities. By developing common vocabulary, reading out loud, participating in class discussions, short writing assignments or projects related to books or materials, students steadily increase what they can accurately produce.

    Listening Comprehension:
    Through the use of high levels of comprehensible input in the classroom, students build their listening comprehension skills. Additionally, using a variety of media, students have the opportunity to hear a variety of native Spanish speakers and learners in different contexts.

    Spanish Language Arts is designed for native or heritage speakers of Spanish with oral proficiency but little or no formal training in writing the language. 8th grade Spanish language learners who have demonstrated a high level of accomplishment, intellectual curiosity, and risk-taking are invited to test into this course, if there is space available. Native/heritage speakers expand their existing proficiency and develop reading and writing skills. Spanish learners have the opportunity to integrate the grammar and vocabulary that they have studied in a full immersion setting and experience colloquial Spanish and authentic materials. Emphasis is placed on usage appropriate to academic and professional settings, as well as deepening understanding of Hispanic cultures.

    Various assignments are meant to expose students to different styles of writing and communication, spur discussion, increase cultural competence concerning historical and cultural differences among Spanish-speaking countries, improve research skills, and practice spelling and grammar with targeted exercises and hands-on practice. Performance is evaluated by demonstrating growth and development, with differentiated expectations depending on each student’s level of experience. All continuing 8th grade students will have covered the grammar necessary to enter Spanish III at the high school level.

    Topics & Activities:
    • Reading short novels
    • Writing a short fictional narrative
    • Reading current events articles for discussion
    • Writing a research-based expository essay
    • Creating a book folio, including a formal book review
    • Creating a social/political research project and multimedia presentation
    • Watching a documentary/movie in Spanish and writing a review or reaction paper
    • Poetry Unit:
      • Analyzing poems by well-known Spanish language poets
      • Translating poetry
      • Writing original poetry
  • 8th Grade Computer Science/Engineering & Design (STEAM)

    Technology Literacy
    Topics include:
    • Digital citizenship: Digital media in our lives, impact of actions and words online, sharing information, and profiles
    • Word processing: advanced layout and introductory desktop publishing
    • Spreadsheet functions: formatting, basic formulas, and graphing data
    • Presentations: using a variety of software and different media (slides, audio, video, etc.)
    • Creation and manipulation of video, audio, and images
    • Understanding local, network, and cloud storage and the importance of back-ups
    • Organization skills using an electronic calendar
    • Note-taking skills using electronic devices
    • Collaborative editing
    • Optional competitive robotics team
    STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art/Design, and Math)
    This class is an interdisciplinary elective that integrates the application of literacy, design, imagination, and problem-solving. Through experimentation, investigation, and the use of Sphero robots, students generate and conceptualize artistic work, as well as explore action art and advanced concepts of logic, design thinking, and computer science.

    Topics & Skills:
    • Developing spatial visualization skills to reach beyond one’s capacities, to explore playfully without a preconceived plan, and to embrace the opportunity to learn from mistakes
    • Using journals to think about an aspect of one’s work or working process, including successes, failures, and lessons learned
    • Engaging and persisting in designing solutions to basic and complex problems
    • Accurately measuring, marking, cutting, and assembling various projects using specialized tools.
    • Working together as artists and engineers to design appealing and functional solutions to problems
    • Applying computational thinking by programming Sphero through coding

    Activity Examples:
    • Assemble and decorate a wooden tool box
    • Design and craft an effective carrying case, such as a wallet or purse for everyday use
    • Study and fold various origami patterns. Explore the many applications of origami, including packaging, architecture, décor, storage, and structural engineering
    • Explore the FEEL of tactile technology, such as a typewriter, to get a sense of the effects modern, more efficient technology has on our everyday lives
  • 7th & 8th Grade Visual Arts Electives

    VISUAL ARTS
    Studio Art:

    Artists explore their personal style in a choice of art media. Students have the opportunity to use drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture, and more to expand their individual creativity, technical skills, and knowledge of art history. Drawing skills are emphasized, along with color theory and composition. Paint, pen and ink, printmaking, and clay design are all possible media for exploration.
    Value:
    • Self-Portrait Grid Technique
    • Still Life Painting in Acrylic
    Form:
    • Recycled Sculpture Design
    • Paper Clay Figurines
    Texture:
    • Linoleum Block Printmaking
    • Altered Books
    Contrast:
    • Notan Design
    • Ben Heine-Inspired Graphite Drawings

    Computer Science/Engineering, Art & Design (required course): 
    In this class, students learn key computer science concepts and apply the Design Thinking process to create new games and interactive robotic animals.

    Topics include:
    • Design toys and games using a block-based language and micro-controllers 
    • Programming Introduction, Sequence, Branching, Loops, Variables, Robotics and Procedures
    • Learn about motors and sensors and additional programming concepts
    Skills & Concepts:
    • Design Thinking process
    • 2D Digital Design
    • Prototyping with Laser Cutter
    • 3D Modeling with SolidWorks
    • 3D Printing
    Ceramics:
    This 3D class gives students the opportunity to explore a variety of hand-building methods, including pinching, coiling, slab building, and sculpting. Students learn how to apply several surface treatments and glazes to their projects, as well as a basic understanding of the kiln-firing process.

    Photography/Mixed Media:
    Is it a photograph? Is it a drawing? Is it a sculpture? This class introduces students to contemporary artistic practice, where artists work across multiple disciplines to produce creative works with loaded symbolism. Students learn the fundamental skills in photography, drawing, and printmaking, such as manual settings on a DSLR camera, tonal rendering to acquire realism, and mono printing to create painterly images. These skills allow students to produce beautiful artworks that are informed by photography. Furthermore, students learn to critically analyze and interpret photographic artworks to make meaning.

    Video:
    This is a dynamic class that introduces students to key concepts of the filmmaking process. Students learn to use dedicated video cameras, to upload footage, and to edit with professional editing software. Students are introduced to the concept of film grammar, as well as exploring the rich culture and history of film, from silent movies to contemporary Chinese cinema, such as the legendary and prolific Stephen Chow. Students create their own narrative shorts and explore art cinema, from video haikus to green screen techniques.

    Skills:
    • Write, direct, shoot, and act in one's own films
    • Learn the use of iPad, iPhone, and a dedicated video camera to produce a film
    • Learn to use professional editing software
    • Learn film grammar and terminology
    • Watch, appreciate, and critique silent movies and foreign films
    • Learn techniques for lighting, audio recording, and shot selection
    • Produce a film
    Topics include:
    • Terminology, such as close-up, POV, wide shot
    • Sound Recording techniques, including microphone selection
    • Types of Audio: Dialog, Ambient, Special Effects, and Music
    • Lighting techniques, such as Key light, Fill light, Down light, and Back light
    • Auteur Theory—the film as an expression of the director’s creative vision
  • 7th & 8th Grade Music & Dance Electives

    MUSIC
    Choir:

    Middle School Choir is an opportunity for students to sing a wide variety of repertoire. A cappella, classical, folk, pop, and holiday music is studied throughout the year. Students sing in a group of their peers and have the opportunity to perform with Upper School students in at least one major performance each trimester.

    Instrumental Lab:
    This is a precursor for the Rock or Jazz Combos for students who would like to try instruments like guitar, bass, drums, or keyboards. This is a non-performance class, and no prior experience is necessary.

    Jazz Ensemble:
    Jazz ensemble is a performance group. Students learn creativity and discipline through the study of jazz music. An emphasis is placed on understanding music theory as the basis for improvisation. There is one performance per trimester. Students are encouraged to provide their own instruments, excluding drum set and piano, which CA provides.

    Music Tech: 
    This course provides a platform to explore music technology through digital audio workstations, digital instruments and equipment, notation software, and a project-based curriculum for students to craft their own musical creations. This is a non-performance class, and no prior experience is necessary.

    Orchestra: 
    This class focuses on the educational components of playing in an orchestra, including music history, music theory, instrumental technique, and ensemble skills. The class performs “classical” pops, as well as recent pop music. Prerequisite: previous experience on instrument to be played; private lessons strongly recommended; most instruments accepted.

    Rock Band:
    Rock Band is a performance group. Students learn creativity and discipline through the study of rock and pop music. Emphasis is placed on understanding music theory as it relates to songwriting and musical form. There is one performance per trimester. Students are encouraged to provide their own instruments, excluding drum set and piano, which CA provides.

    DANCE
    Tap Dance:
    Students discover the fun of drumming with their feet. This class teaches techniques and styles relevant to Tap dancing and is geared to break down the basics and then move on to exciting combinations of choreography. More advanced students are given challenges to fit their level. Beginners can jump in and discover that they progress quickly. This class has a contemporary approach with music—using Pop, Rock, and Rap, as well as classic big band tunes and jazz. Tap shoes are necessary. If students do not wish to purchase their own, the school has a number of pairs to borrow.

    Dance:
    This class explores a range of techniques and styles relevant to multiple dance genres. Students break down the basics and then move on to exciting combinations of choreography. More advanced students are given challenges to fit their level. Beginners can jump in and discover they make progress quickly. This class has a contemporary approach, with a range of fun music. 

    Private Music Lessons:
    Music lessons are offered to Middle School students on the following instruments: Traditional Piano, Viola, Violin, Cello, Flute, Clarinet, Saxophone, Trumpet, Trombone, Classical Guitar, and Music Composition.
  • 7th & 8th Grade Theater and Technical Theater & Design Electives

    THEATER AND TECHNICAL THEATER & DESIGN
    Play/Musical Productions:

    These courses are designed to give students the experience of participating in a theatrical production. One play and one musical are produced each year.

    Play: Students enrolled in this class are performers in the Middle School Play. Although there is an audition process for specific roles, everyone who signs up will be in the production.

    Musical: Students in this class study the art and performance of musical theater—singing, acting, and dancing. Everyone enrolled in the class will be a part of the production, although there is an audition process for specific roles.
    • The unifying theme of these production challenges is that the student learns to become more comfortable speaking and presenting in front of others. Whether singing a solo or giving a book report, these experiences benefit students throughout their academic and social life.
    • Ensemble work, which enhances students’ collaborative skills, is also emphasized in these classes.
    • All students who sign up for the classes are cast in the production. There is an audition process for specific roles. Students must be able to meet the rehearsal schedule, which includes some after-school rehearsals. 
    • These presentations contain both similar and unique challenges. Skills emphasized also vary greatly. In both cases, students create characters through voice and movement, while the musical has the additional elements of song and dance.
    Acting:
    This class explores how actors build a character through games, improvisation, and scene study. It is active, creative, and tons of fun. Everyone is welcome. No previous experience necessary.

    General Technical Theater:
    This class explores the design process of producing theater. Students work through theoretical productions and use a variety of programs, including Sketchup and Q Lab, to design projects. Students are introduced to the basic shop tools, and they work as a support team for building the set for the Upper School Play.

    Set Design and Construction:
    The goal of this class is to work closely with the adult team to design the sets, lights, sound, and props for the Middle School Musical in Trimester 2. Students develop a design, learn to work within a budget, and set a schedule in order to meet the production deadlines. Students are also offered the option to work as running crew for Middle School productions. This class also covers the basics of working in the shop and acts as a support team for Upper School productions.
  • 7th and 8th Grade Athletics

    The 7th/8th Grade program focuses on developing strong character and life skills, fostering sportsmanship and teamwork, instilling a positive self-image, and encouraging physical activity as part of a healthy lifestyle.
     
    Students enroll in a "Competitive" or "Non-Competitive" sport each trimester. Competitive sports require after-school commitments. Students participate in a minimum of eight and a maximum of twelve games against local schools. Non-Competitive sports do not require any after-school commitments.

    Students participate in practice daily with their team and coaches. Team Practice and non-competitive activities take place during the last block of the school day from 2:30-3:30 p.m.

    Non-Competitive Sports:
    Rock Climbing
    Whether a student is a beginner or an experienced rock climber, this class has a route just for them. This course teaches students the basics of safe and responsible rock climbing, including equipment, knots, belaying, and a range of climbing techniques. Students challenge themselves both mentally and physically on a daily basis. Classes take place in the CA Climbing Center.

    Racquetball
    This course is designed for the beginner to the advanced racquetball player. Students learn basic racquetball skills, including shot execution, rules, and strategies. Class tournaments are conducted throughout the trimester. Racquetball provides students the opportunity to improve their fitness level and self-esteem, and exposes them to a fun, life-long activity.

    Sports Performance
    Based in the Bansbach Strength and Conditioning Center, the Sports Performance class is intended to aid in the development of health and wellness in each student, with a structured plan designed to enhance strength, speed, mobility, and specific energy systems, while also developing educational and character traits.
    Topics:
    • Strength: Work Capacity, Strength Base, Strength Power, Strength Speed, and Muscular Endurance
    • Speed: Mechanics, Speed Strength, and Change of Direction.
    • Mobility: Correctives, Warm-up, Cool-down
    • Energy Systems: Training for the activity, Anaerobic vs Aerobic, and Activity Demands
    • Education: Nutritional Needs, Cognitive Reconditioning, and Independence in Movement
    • Character: Time Management, Respect, and Effort
    Competitive Sports:
    Fall Sports
    • Golf
    • Tennis
    • Boys Soccer
    • Girls Volleyball
    • Field Hockey
    • Cross Country
    Winter Sports
    • Boys Basketball
    • Girls Basketball
    Spring Sports
    • Baseball
    • Girls Soccer
    • Boys Lacrosse
    • Girls Lacrosse
  • 8th Grade Experiential Education

    All students participate in Middle School Interim as well as the 8th Grade Leadership Retreat.

    8th Grade Leadership Retreat (curricular experience)
    Skills & Topics:
    • Promote solitude and reflection as modality for personal growth.
    • Push students off balance through physical discomfort.
    • Set challenging group objectives to promote teamwork and organic leadership.
    • Provide a common experience to facilitate shared identity and community building.
    • Teach skills such as map reading, non-technical hiking, nature interpretation, and camp craft

    Interim (curricular experience)
    A weeklong immersive experiential program that includes the arts, outdoors, physiology, community engagement. All students participate in Middle School Interim and can choose from a variety of experiences.
    Skills & Topics:
    • Promotes community building through small group interactions and cross-grade interactions.
    • Provides challenging, hands-on experience.
    • Promotes student leadership through trip planning and execution.
    • Fosters grit and resilience through physically and psychologically challenging activities.
    • Examples of past Interims include: fly fishing, scuba diving, cooking, mountain biking, slam poetry, play production, Utah canyoneering, canoeing, and language immersion in a Spanish- or French-speaking country.
    French Language Immersion Interim: Québec, Canada (curricular trip offered approximately every other year)
    Open to Middle School Students enrolled in French.
    Students take French classes in the morning, are engaged in cultural activities in the afternoon, and experience homestays with local families in the evening. The last two days, the group travels to Mont Tremblant for a ropes course and a yoga class. This is a challenging experience designed to improve students’ French language skills, as well as their awareness and appreciation of a different culture.

    Costa Rica Spanish Language & Cultural Immersion Interim (curricular trip offered approximately every other year)
    Open to current 7th/8th Grade Spanish students. Application required, including essay/letter in Spanish.
    This is a trip to Costa Rica and CA's sister community there located north in the vicinity of Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui. Students explore the natural surroundings, including the nearby rainforest, whitewater raft on the Rio Sarapiqui, and/or see the rainforest from a canopy zip line. In small groups, students live with homestay families in the community. In the mornings, the group works on a community project, designed in consultation with the needs and desires of the local community. In the afternoons, there is time to pursue an experiential curriculum designed to promote the understanding of global issues, leadership, and local culture.


    Sample Optional local activities

    Hike a ‘14er
    Mt. Bierstadt, one of the closest "fourteeners" to Denver, is a great introduction to bagging peaks in Colorado. It is a seven-mile round-trip hike up gentle scree slopes to the summit at 14,060 ft. From the peak, one can see for 100 miles in all directions. With a little luck, students might catch a glimpse of pikas and marmots.

    Skills & Topics:
    • Challenge students’ physical strength and stamina.
    • Enjoy the aesthetic beauty of the Colorado wilderness.
    • Explore plant and animal adaptations in the alpine environment.
    • Learn the role of erosion on heavily impacted sites.
    • Identify pika and marmot via habitat, coloring, calls, and size.

    Fly Fishing
    Students explore portions of the South Platte River. They learn to cast a fly rod, manage a line, and hook and land trout.
    Skills & Topics:
    • Learn a new skill
    • Foster patience and attention to detail
    • Bond with classmates outside of the classroom
    • Learn about watershed dynamics
    • Fly fishing strategy
    • Fly pattern selection
    • Fish behavior
    Winter Hut Trips, e.g., High Lonesome Hut
    Students ski or snowshoe in and out to comfortable huts and lodges for a winter backcountry recreation experience.
    Skills & Topics:
    • Introduce winter travel skills.
    • Provide opportunities for cross-grade interactions.
    • Promote principles of self-care (hydration, hypothermia, nutrition, pacing, etc.).
    • Provide a novel experience.
    • Learn to prepare a healthy and nutritious meal.
    • Learn to build a minimal fire.
    • Observe winter weather patterns.
    • Identify avalanche terrain, snow instabilities and how to travel safely in the backcountry.
    Earth Treks & Clear Creek Canyon Climbing
    Earth Treks is a world-class climbing gym in Englewood, Colo., which offers hundreds of roped climbs and bouldering.  Staff belay students and play climbing games to improve movement and skills. Cleer Creek offers excellent climbing on granite cliffs.  Students learn or perfect climbing techniques.
    Skills & Topics:
    • Face fears and perceived limitations
    • Create community
    • Understand fundamentals of climbing movement
    • Introduce climbing equipment (harnesses, ropes, shoes, belay devices and carabiners)

    Sample Optional travel opportunities
    Peru: Sacred Valley, Peruvian Hearts, and Lima (optional)
    Students learn about the Peruvian culture through visits to local markets, Inca ruins, and local restaurants. They have a unique opportunity to visit with the girls supported by Peruvian Hearts and visit the homes of two Peruvian Hearts scholars. Students engage in a half-day service project to support the program. Participants travel by train through the breathtaking Sacred Valley to Aguas Calientes, where a private guide helps students experience and understand the wonder and majesty of the Inca citadel, Machu Picchu. The program includes two days in the Lima area with a visit to Pre-Incan sites and a day trip to the Callao Islands. This trip is offered in partnership with Peruvian Hearts, non-profit founded in 2003 by a then-CA student and managed by a CA alumnus.

    Dominican Republic Service Program
    This is an exciting opportunity to expose students to Dominican culture and a new way of thinking while giving back and digging deep. Service work in our host community begins in the morning and ends around 2 p.m. The rest of the day entails cultural exchanges, recreation, and other activities anchored in the community. Students experience the must-see sights of Santo Domingo, as well as engage in activities—like merengue lessons!—that help strengthen the long-standing relationships built with community members.
  • 8th Grade Library & Research

    The Middle School (Raether) Library provides resources that support the Middle School curriculum. Library services are integrated into the curriculum and foster collaboration between teachers and library staff.

    Library lessons include:

    • Library Citizenship
    • Reader's Advisory
    • Copyright and Plagiarism
    • Intellectual Freedom
    • Works Cited - NoodleTools
    • Print, Digital, and Multimedia Resources
    • Website and Print Resource Evaluation Techniques
    • Database Exploration & Evaluation
    • Online Research Tools
    • Online Search Strategies
    • Evaluating and Organizing Information
    • Assimilating Multiple Types of Resources
    • Note-taking Strategies & Tools
    • Research Beyond the Basics
    • Self-Assessment/Evaluation in Research Process
    • Subject-Specific Research Projects
    • Collaborative Research & Group Projects
    • Analyzing and Synthesizing Information for Writing
    • Oral/Written/Visual Processes and Presentation of Research
    • Presentation Tools
  • 8th Grade Advisory

    The following topics are taught to all students throughout the school year during Advisory group sessions.

    Giving and Receiving Feedback:
    Learning how to give and receive feedback is an essential collaboration and learning skill. Without the skill to deliver informative and effective feedback, one's ability to collaborate is severely limited. Additionally, being open to receiving feedback is equally important, as it is the acceptance of feedback that leads to growth and change. Students learn strategies and common pitfalls to avoid during the feedback process.

    Technology Safety:
    Students learn about safety and appropriate-use issues involving technology. The curriculum is designed with a practical approach that enables students to better understand the types of technology used and how to ensure privacy, identity, and personal safety. We also discuss ways to use technology in a healthy manner and some poor decisions to avoid.

    Healthy Balanced Friendships:
    Students examine the importance of being in balanced relationships, the signs of positive and negative personal and group actions, and strategies for dealing with and extracting oneself from an unhealthy relationship. The goal of the program is to introduce and reinforce the positive ways in which students can contribute to a friendly and healthy environment.

    Mindfulness:
    Students learn definitions of mindfulness and practice several forms. We also explore ways that directing our attention can lead to stress reduction and thoughtful decision making. We also discuss why mindfulness seems to be a high-profile topic.

    Healthy Relationships:
    The goal is to examine different relationships students have with parents, friends, coaches, teachers, and others. Students learn that “healthy” does not always mean everything is perfect and/or always positive. You can disagree/argue with your parents and still have a healthy relationship, because there is a baseline of love and respect. We lightly explore the idea of girlfriends/boyfriends and how students should never have to compromise safety, comfort, respect, or kindness for someone else.

    Cultural Competence:
    Students learn about cultural competence, think about their cultural background, cultural practices, and learn about their classmates and how to work effectively across cultures. Cultural competence is all about acknowledging, understanding, and appreciating that our school, neighborhood, community, state, country, and world have a diversity of people who have different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives. Students practice collaboration and communication to work effectively in cross-cultural situations.

    Bullying:
    Our goal is to explore the bullying dynamic, have students practice conflict resolution and expand their circle of influence to productively deal with conflict in their school community. Students learn to practice “upstanding” to make a positive difference and to understand the dynamic between the bully, witness, and victim. Students practice appropriate responses to conflict that deescalate vs. escalate, honor vs. degrade, and empower vs. humiliate. Finally, we explore the roots of conflict, misunderstanding, insecurity, etc., and challenge students to "expand their circle of influence" to care for members of their community.

    Multiple Intelligences:
    Information in this unit raises student awareness of various strengths we each have. We want students to be aware of many ways they are smart, in addition to the type of aptitude often measured on school and placement tests. We explore the meanings of linguistic, logical and mathematical, musical, kinesthetic, spatial-visual, interpersonal, and intrapersonal intelligences. Through discussion and surveys, students develop a better understanding of their own strengths.

    Critical Citizens in the Information Age:
    Students analyze sources and types of information (media), looking to better understand how and why we consume it, as well as how it is delivered to us. The goal is to increase students’ ability to select, absorb, and use media with a critical eye.

    Wellness:
    Students explore ideas surrounding their mental health, as well as physical and social wellness. Many lessons begin or end with some form of stress-relieving strategies, such as simple breathing techniques, yoga, and meditation. We identify common stressors and differentiate between negative and positive stress. Students develop over time a greater awareness of warning signs, coping strategies, and tools to approach stressful situations. Personal wellness goals are also encouraged.

    Drugs and Alcohol:
    The unit on drugs and alcohol is meant to give a comprehensive overview of the major issues inherent in drug and alcohol abuse, as well as encourage children to make smart personal decisions not to experiment at this age. Students discuss the beneficial and harmful aspects of pharmacology, focusing specifically on the most commonly abused "gateway" drugs, tobacco/juuling, alcohol, and marijuana. As part of this study, students role play "real world" responses to peer pressure to try drugs and/or alcohol. Children also think through ways to assist friends who may have put themselves at risk with exposure to drugs and/or alcohol.

    Living with Digital Media:
    What is the place of digital media in our lives? How does one judge the intentions and impact of people’s words and actions online? What are the benefits and risks of presenting oneself in different ways online? These are a few of many questions we tackle in our advisory lessons. Students become more aware of the role digital media plays in their lives and learn to navigate the many choices they need to make while using technology, sharing information, and using social media.

    Grit:
    Students discuss the meaning of grit and its importance as a life skill. Students think of experiences throughout their lives in which they have practiced grit, or know someone who has practiced it. They then research and share the story of how someone meaningful to them (e.g., a celebrity, a historical figure, family member, friend) demonstrated grit and perseverance to accomplish something important.
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