Curriculum

The Holy Family Catholic Academy’s middle school curriculum is guided by our goal of “preparing students for their future not our past.” Instruction focuses on mastering critical core content, but it doesn’t end there. That knowledge is applied to real world issues where students learn to problem solve, collaborate and communicate results.

In addition to the curriculum noted below, an outdoor education trip (3-days/2-nights) is included for Grades 6 and 7, and a Washington D.C. trip is offered for Grade 8.

Religion

Vatican II placed emphasis on the dual mission of the Church to build the Kingdom that begins in this world and is brought to completion in the next. In carrying out this vision, the Church articulated peace and social justice as central to God’s work on earth. In 1972, the U.S. Bishops outlined three goals for Catholic religious education: to teach the Gospel, to create lived community, and to serve humanity. (To Teach As Jesus Did A Pastoral Message on Catholic Education by National Conference of Catholic Bishops)

Educators and the youth ministry at Holy Family Catholic Academy are continuing to build experiences that articulate these three goals in religious education. Faith comes alive when it is realized in action. Rather than emphasize just the cognitive aspects of religious education, the affective and behavioral dimensions move faith into action.

Curriculum Resource:

We Believe – Sadlier

Blest Are We (The Story of the Church) – Silver, Burdett and Ginn

Bible:

The New American Bible * – World Catholic Press

Leadership Training

Adolescence is a time for establishing individual identities, functioning as a member of a various communities, and acquiring essential life skills. A critical part of transitioning from adolescence to adulthood is learning about leadership; however, few schools are prepared to deliberately instruct and cultivate these life skills.

Holy Family Academy takes a direct approach to leadership development. Research has identified definitive skill sets or competencies that can be taught and learned. Our goal is to help each student acquire:

  • a variety of problem-solving strategies,
  • an understanding and empathy for individuals within the group,
  • skills in self-evaluation that provide insight into his or her leadership qualities, and
  • practical techniques that bring a group together and accomplish the tasks.

Students are given opportunities to practice what they learn and to make mistakes under the guidance of their teachers.

Language Arts: Reading and Writing Workshops

Readers’ Workshop uses whole class, small group and individual instruction to expand students’ reading strategies. Students are taught to:

  • make connections,
  • ask questions,
  • determine importance in text, and
  • visualize, infer and synthesize information.

Reading strategies are specifically applied to science and social studies non-fiction texts. Through journaling and conferencing with the teacher and other students, reading skills are effectively integrated with writing skills.

Writers’ Workshop further develops students’ repertoire of skills to facilitate writing competencies. Students integrate information from non-narrative text with their own ideas, then plan, draft, and revise to write for social action, a feature article, or to persuade others.

Curriculum Resources: Various fiction and non-fiction literature to reflect themes in Social Studies and Science units

Shurley Grammar – Shurley Instructional Materials, Inc.

Write Traits – Great Source Education Group

Mathematics

The mathematics program serves as a continuation of what has been started in the elementary school years. The curriculum emphasizes application, problem-solving skills, and a conceptual understanding of math, while still incorporating basic mathematical computation. Critical thinking and construction of math understandings are integral parts of the total program. Students will be moving into pre-algebra classes in preparation for movement to algebra in the later middle school years.

Curriculum Resources:

McDougal Littell Math Course 1, 2, 3 – McDougal Littell

McDougal Littell Pre-Algebra – McDougal Littell

McDougal Littell Algebra 1 – McDougal Littell

Science

“A recent study of middle-school science textbooks by Project 2061, a science and mathematics curriculum reform initiative of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, found that not a single one of the books met even the minimum requirements for effectively teaching science (Rudiansky, S., 2001).” After examining current editions of the same materials that were critiqued in the study cited, the decision was made to adopt SEPUP Middle School Science (Science Education for Public Understanding Program) developed through funding from the National Science Foundation. The modules are issue-oriented and use inquiry as a method for examining the interaction between science, technology and the environment in order to create an informed citizenry. Students are introduced to an issue, examine their prior understandings of the topic, read background materials, use results from laboratory experiences to gather evidence, and make decisions or draw conclusions based on results. “Science and Life Issues” is taught in grade 6, “Issues and Earth Science” in grade 7, and “Issues and Physical Science” in grade 8. In each component, students learn to solve problems using evidence gained from laboratory experiences and relate the content to real-life issues and applications.

Curriculum Resource:

SEPUP – Lab-Aids, Incorporated

Social Studies

Active civic participation is one of the goals for having students interact with social studies content. In order to help young people participate in a democratic society they need to learn how to make informed and reasoned decisions that account for a wide range of public issues including human migration and immigration, workers’ rights, treatment of the poor and vulnerable, and care for God’s creation. The study of such varied disciplines as anthropology, economics, geography, history, political science, and religion are integrated into the social studies framework.

The National Council for the Social Studies identified 10 themes that provide a framework for interrelating content from the social science disciplines. These themes were used in the development of the selected textbooks for the 6th and 7th grade curriculum, Journey Across Time. (Go to http://www.socialstudies.org/standards/execsummary/ for more information). The selected textbooks also provide a wealth of resources from National Geographic including the integration of primary sources; the use of maps, charts, graphs, and diagrams; and the integration of reading strategies to help students gain a deeper understanding of content.

An additional resource for developing scientific research and investigation integrated into the social studies curriculum is Mission Geography developed by NASA (go to http://www.missiongeography.org/revcrit.htm#58.) Students will make use of NASA data and images to explore the relationships between environment and life on Earth found in Modules 3 and 4; Human footprints on Earth as seen by NASA scientists and Remote Sensing and Geo-Archaeology.

Curriculum Resources:

Journey Across Time – Glencoe/McGraw-Hill

Mission Geography – A Collaboration by GENIP and NASA

The American Journey – Glencoe/McGraw-Hill

Foreign Language (Spanish)

Middle School students receive Spanish instruction for 45 minutes, 3 days a week. The goal of the Middle School Spanish program is to prepare Academy students for Spanish II upon entering high school. To accomplish this, the text used beginning in 6th grade is the same series used by District 211 High Schools.

Instruction focuses on expanding vocabulary, grammar, conversation, writing and culture. Along with a textbook, students also use an online text, Internet practice activities, a practice workbook, as well as DVDs, CDs and other materials.

Curriculum Resources:

Avancemos Series – McDougal Littell

Avancemos 1A – 6th Grade

Avancemos 1A and 1B – 7th Grade

Avancemos 1B – 8th Grade

Music

The music program has a sequential, spiraling curriculum that is based on national and state standards. Students will learn through singing; movement; listening; and playing basic rhythm instruments, choir chimes, and recorders at the appropriate grade levels. Each grade level will have a set of learner statements outlining expectations for that grade level. Middle School music classes meet twice a week for 30 minutes, two alternating quarters throughout the year.

Curriculum Resources:

2006 Spotlight on Music – Macmillan/McGraw-Hill

Technology

Literacy has traditionally been defined as the ability to read and write. With the rapid development of new technologies, the nature of literacy is rapidly changing. In the earliest part of the 21st Century, it is likely that we will view those who are technologically illiterate the same way we view people now who cannot read or write the printed word. At Holy Family Catholic Academy, sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students will have laptop computers, and use them daily.

Our students will learn how to use productivity tools (word processor, spreadsheet, database, and presentation software), web search strategies, and how to access, organize, analyze and report information using technology. Following specific lessons these tools and strategies will be applied to and integrated with science and/or social studies content by teachers who have each prepared a lesson that integrates laptop use with their current curriculum topic. This approach ensures application of the new technology while at the same time enhancing content area learning.

Performing Arts

As part of Holy Family’s collaboration with Harper College, Middle School students have access to the Performing Arts Theatre on Harper’s Palatine Campus. Twice a year, during the college’s winter and spring breaks, students in grades 6, 7 and 8 participate in a wide range of artistic expression including improvisation, dramatic reading, creative movement and performing original works created by the students.

Performing arts are a critical medium through which to build leadership, self-esteem, discipline and above all a life-long appreciation for the arts. 100% of the students in the middle school participate in the performing arts program, and these productions are performed for the entire student body and parents in Harper’s Performing Arts Theatre.

Art

Students learn basic art concepts and are introduced to art history and the work of various artists. Emphasis is on creativity and providing experience in various art media. In addition, the classroom teacher and the art instructor work together to integrate art activities into other areas of the curriculum. Middle School art classes meet 60 minutes per week in alternating quarters throughout the year.

Physical Education

The physical education program stresses body awareness, basic motor skills, and eye-hand coordination. Team and other organized sport activities such as volleyball and basketball are part of the middle school curriculum. During the winter months, students participate in cross-country skiing on Holy Family’s 20-acre facility. Middle School students meet with the physical education instructor three times a week for forty-five minutes each session.

Learn more about the hallmarks of our innovative Middle School Program