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Course and Placement Information

WEST SPRINGFIELD MIDDLE SCHOOL

 

 

COURSES OF STUDY

 

English Language Arts

 

The English Language Arts Curriculum has been organized into a system of skills which promote excellence in reading, writing, and literature. The ELA program follows the Massachusetts Curriculum Framework and incorporates the Common Core State Standards, which will be fully implemented by the 2016-2017 school year. ELA instruction in grades 6, 7, and 8 is guided by the College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening, and Language.

 

In an effort to align our program to the elementary schools, we have adopted the Fountas and Pinnell Guided Literacy model. It includes daily independent reading, guided reading, literature study, and the reading/writing connection. Students are encouraged to read “just right” books that align to their interests and current reading level determined  through the Reading Inventory, an assessment designed to gauge a student’s overall reading fluency.

 

 

 

 

Mathematics

 

In accordance with the Common Core Standards, students in Grades 6-8 will use Problem Solving, Communicating, Logical Reasoning, and Connecting to explore, develop, investigate, and know:

 

1.     Number and Number Relationships

2.   Number Systems and Number Theory

     3.   Computation and Estimation

     4.   Patterns and Functions

     5.   Algebra

     6.   Geometry

     7.   Measurement

     8.   Statistics

     9.   Probability

 

 

 

 

 

 

Social Studies Course Descriptions:

 

 

Grade 6: Ancient and Classical Civilizations

 

Sixth grade students will begin the year by learning some basic geography skills, how to create and interpret timelines, how to distinguish between primary and secondary sources and how each kind of source is used in interpreting history.  We will then study the origins of human beings in Africa and the early civilizations that flourished in the Mediterranean area.  We will study the religions, governments, trade, philosophies and art of these civilizations as well as the powerful ideas that arose in the ancient world and profoundly shaped the course of world history.  These ideas include democracy, the rule of law, individual worth, personal responsibility, the alphabetic principle for a writing system and scientific reasoning.

 

Grade 7: World Geography and History

 

Seventh grade students will systematically learn geography around the world going continent by continent.  As we study the continents, we will focus on important geographic features, countries, major cities, climate, natural resources and population size.  In addition to learning the geography, we will also focus on major world religions including Christianity, Judaism, and Islam and significant historical events.  Prior to our unit on Europe, we will explore Ancient Rome and explore its impact on later civilizations.  Finally, we will concentrate on the Age of Exploration and the geography of North America in preparation for our eighth grade curriculum of US History.

 

Grade 8: United States History

 

Eighth grades students will be exposed to a broad view of US History ranging from the causes and events leading up to the Civil War through the present day .  Students will analyze the causes and consequences of the Industrial Revolution and America’s growing role on diplomatic relations. Students will study the goals and accomplishments of the Progressive movement and the New Deal. Students will also learn about the various factors that led to America’s entry into World War II as well as the consequences of World War II on American life. Finally, students will study the causes and course of the Cold war, important economic and political changes during the Cold war, including the Civil Rights movement, and recent events and trends that have shaped modern-day America.

 

 

 

 

Science

 

The science curriculum focuses on students investigating and developing scientific concepts. Students build upon their basic knowledge by using inquiry based learning activities which enable them to change or reinforce their thinking based on their own discovered evidence. Students reflect and make inferences that are shared and communicated within their learning community.

 

The Next Generation Science Standards and the Common Core guidelines are used as a reference to determine the Science curriculum. Grade 6, 7, and 8 explore a wide variety of science topics from Life Science, Physical Science, Earth Science and Technology/Engineering standards. Students will make discoveries and be able to persuasively communicate their ideas both orally and in written form.

 

The materials and resources that will assist in student learning range from SMART Board activities, the online Discovery Techbook, the classroom teacher’s web site, and numerous weekly hands on lab activities. With these available resources, students benefit from multimodal views of scientific concepts, which meet the needs of all learning styles.  

 

 

 

Foreign Language

 

Spanish 1 :

 

In this full year grade 8 course, basic conversation, reading, writing and listening skills will be developed. Students will learn to exchange information about topics relating to themselves, their families and their leisure activities. They will also be introduced to the culture of the countries/regions where Spanish is spoken. Upon successful completion of this course, students will be prepared to take Spanish II at the High School. There are certain requirements necessary for success at this level. This class requires teacher recommendation and successful completion of Grade 7 ELA.

 

Middle School Spanish:

 

In this full year grade 8 course, basic conversation, reading, writing and listening skills will be developed. Students will learn to exchange information about topics relating to themselves, their families and their leisure activities. They will also be introduced to the culture of the countries/regions where Spanish is spoken. Upon successful completion of this course, students will be prepared to take Spanish I at the High School. There are certain requirements necessary for success at this level. This class requires teacher recommendation and successful completion of Grade 7 ELA.

 

 

Modern World

 

In this full year Grade 8 course, civics, citizenship, current events, community engagement, public speaking, and other varied skills necessary for the 21st century success will be developed. Students will write resumes and cover letters, examine financial literacy, and connect via project experiences with community organizations that contribute to our local, national and global community.

 

21st Century Skills:

 

In this full year Grade 8 course, civics, citizenship, current events, community engagement, public speaking, and other varied skills necessary for the 21rst century will be developed.  This course will also include a focus on organization, study skills, note taking, and time management.  Students will write resumes and cover letters, examine financial literacy, and connect via project experiences with community organizations that contribute to our local, national and global community.

 

 

Unified Arts Course of Study

 

Art

 

The art curriculum at the West Springfield Middle School provides art in sixth, seventh and eighth grade. The art curriculum covers seven areas of study: drawing, painting, lettering, sculpture, print making, color/design, and crafts. While students are exposed to a variety of methods, materials, and subject matter, the primary focus of the program is to help each student develop their creative thought process.

 

Band

 

Band is an ensemble that provides students with large ensemble rehearsal and performance opportunities on wind and percussion instruments. The primary focus is on the development, continuation, and expansion of the basic skills begun in elementary school that are necessary for effective instrumental music performance. Topics/skills covered include:

• Embouchure and tone development

• Counting, timing, and rhythmic development

• Reading and notation skills, including sight reading

• Introduction of scales

• Simple music theory

• Development of an extensive vocabulary of musical terms and symbols

• Ear training and listening skills

• Equipment care and maintenance

• Effective practice habits

 

Students in Band perform in at least two concerts and two parades a year. Although the curriculum is de­signed for students with playing experience, students with no prior experience can join the ensemble by taking lessons after school with Mr. Turcotte.  After the student has demonstrated sufficient skills on their instrument, they will be added to the ensemble.  Lessons are held once per week, and are free of charge.  The school also has a limited amount of instruments to loan.  These instruments are available on a first come, first served basis.

 

 

Exploring Foods

 

Exploring foods curriculum focuses on applying academic knowledge to develop skills that students will use throughout their lives. In this class, students learn about kitchen safety, equipment, measuring, cooking terms and recipe reading. The course connects to our core subjects Science, Math, and ELA which are naturally embedded in daily lessons and kitchen lab experiments. When working on a Kitchen Lab experiment students are assigned the job of Manager, Head Cook, Cook or cleaner. They develop communication skills, organizational skills and learn the importance of following their job responsibilities to successfully complete the lab.

 

Library Media Center

 

The West Springfield Middle School Library seeks to be a center of resources, ideas, and inspiration for all students and staff in their pursuit of knowledge, literature and excellence.

 

The library media center is the heart of our school and is staffed by a certified library media specialist and library media aide. It offers a library collection of over 23,000 items that includes books, magazines, reference sets, ebooks that may be read online, as well as a collection of Nook eReaders to be checked out by students with parental permission. Thirty computers provide Internet access for students to do research and are the access point for our Destiny Online Catalog.

 

All sixth grade students receive an orientation to the library and its resources with instruction on accessing our online catalog from school or at home. The librarian collaborates with content area teachers in providing instruction in the retrieval of print and digital resources according to the Mass State Curriculum Frameworks focusing on information literacy and developing critical thinking skills. The library website can be reached by navigating from the school website at http://wsmiddle.wsps.org and provides links to many resources for students and valuable databases provided by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners.

Each E.L.A. and reading class is scheduled for weekly/biweekly visits to the library for selection of fiction or nonfiction for personal interest and pleasure reading. Students may also visit the library before homeroom, after school on Tuesdays, or at any time a teacher provides them with a pass.

 

 

Revised: S.A. L.  5/30/2014

 

Computer: Coding and Animation

Students will develop literacy in the field of computer technology with an emphasis on computer coding/programming and animation. Sixth grade students will be introduced to computational thinking through algorithms and computer coding through Scratch 2.0. Seventh grade students will create stop motion animated videos to develop an understanding of digital filmmaking and video editing software. Eighth grade students will work with the programming language JavaScript, learning the language syntax and how to write and use commands and functions. The language of technology will be fully embedded in each grade level.

           

Computer: Make-It Lab

This course focuses on the design process.  Students in grades 6, 7, and 8 will design, test, and build structures, displays, and hands-on experiments in order to work through problem solving, group collaboration, and design application.  This class combines both technological tools and hand tools to allow students to build creative and critical thinking skills while applying those skills to project based learning.

 

                                                                                                                                                         Computer: Robotics

 

This course provides students an exposure to robotics design, building, and manipulation.  Connected with computer programming, design based processes, and group collaboration, this course allows students at all three grade levels to develop initial skills in robotics and building design. 

 

 

 

Creative Literacy

 

Creative Literacy primarily focuses on student writing skills. The class includes the use of project based units which target students of all reading and writing levels. Students utilize a notebook for quick writes to create rough drafts for their assignments. A computer lab is to allow students to type and print their work as well as to use Internet databases for larger projects. Film-based units of study include creative art activities, written responses, and other writing that allows students to analyze the film’s messages. 

 

Math Exploration

 

This Title I program is designed to service students in grades 6, 7 and 8. It is part of the Unified Arts rotation. The main goals are:

 

1.     Assist students in achieving proficiency in  the math standards

2.     Provide additional strategies for successful problem solving and abstract reasoning

3.     Provide practice in skills which are needed for success in the grade level curriculum

 

The instruction will be provided in the classroom and Math Lab.

 

Health

 

Using National and State Health Standards, lessons are developed to encompass the total child so that every child may have the chance to live a healthy, safe, and productive life as a responsible member of the community.

 

Students develop skills for daily living in a safe and structured environment. Topics include: safety and violence prevention, mental and emotional health, interpersonal relationships, family life, human sexuality and reproduction, substance abuse, disease control, and tolerance.

 

 

General Music

 

Students will be introduced to various music elements through playing guitars and percussion instruments. They will also develop critical music listening skills. They will also learn to compose music and lyrics for short assignments.

 

 

 

Physical Education

 

Our Physical Education program provides a sequential learning experience for all students. Through a variety of activities the emphasis is placed on developing lifetime skills and interest in physical fitness and nutrition, and knowledge that a healthy, active lifestyle leads to success in school, work, and life.

 

 

                                                                  WSMS Program Placement Information

 

This section is intended to briefly describe some of our middle school programs and to share how students are selected for and placed in various classes at WSMS. This document does not include Special Education Programs.

 

Algebra (Grade 8 only)

 

Grade 7 teachers make the decision to recommend a student for Algebra during the 8th grade year based on the same criteria that is used for high math determinations in grade 6 and 7. This is an advanced math course offered to grade 8 students only and will allow them to begin high school math at a higher level.

 

Band (All grades)

 

Selected via Student Sign Up.

 

Chorus (Grades 7 & 8)

 

Selected via Student Sign Up.

 

Creative Literacy (All grades)

 

A Unified Arts course that combines all areas of English Language Arts in addition to artistic and creative outputs to demonstrate comprehension of literature, society, current events, and self. There are often multiple projects occurring simultaneously, as we are housed in both a classroom and a computer lab setting.  Teachers and students utilize media as well as technology to enhance the delivery and completion of each assignment. Most students are placed in Creative Literacy and will have it every year. (Students take the class for two non-consecutive terms: 1&3 and 2&4) *Open to all students, not an intervention class.

 

 

 

 

 

High Math (Grades 6 & 7)

 

Students are placed in the high group through teacher recommendation (work ethic, behavior, grades, MCAS scores, benchmark assessment grades and teacher ‘s professional opinion)

 

Grade 6 - decisions are made by Grade 5 teachers - we adjust during the year if we identify an incorrect placement.

 

Grade 7 - decisions made by Grade 6 teachers - similarly, grade 7 teachers make adjustments if necessary

 

In all grades - End of year - teachers reassess who is in the class and add or demit those that need to be changed.

 

Math Exploration (All grades)

 

This Title I program is designed to service students in grades 6, 7 and 8. It is part of the Unified Arts rotation. The main goals are:

 

Assist students in achieving proficiency in  in targeted areas of remediation. This includes the use of online math programs that personalize the instruction for specific areas needing support.

Highlight and participate in practical math experiences (finance, math in careers, etc.)

Provide practice in skills which are needed for success in the grade level curriculum

 

Referrals to this course are made by student’s math teacher. (Term 1 students have been referred by prior year’s teacher.)  Evaluations consider work ethic, grades, MCAS scores, benchmark assessment grades and math teacher’s professional opinion. Students are limited to a maximum of two terms per school year, generally terms 1 & 3, or 2 & 4.  The instructor and math teachers review students against the criteria each quarter.


Spanish Sections (Grade 8 only)

 

These course offerings are for eighth grade students who have met the recommendation and academic achievement requirements in Grade 7.  Upon successful completion, they will be able to enroll in either Spanish I or II in 9th grade depending on the level taken. 

 

Modern World (Grade 8 only)

 

Modern World is offered to eighth grade students who haven't met the Spanish requirements indicated above.  The course supports skill development in preparing students for success in high school and beyond.

 

 

 

21st Century Skills

 

This course is available to students who could benefit from the same skills as offered in the Modern World classes, but could benefit from support in organization, note taking, study skills, and learning strategies for being a successful student prior to undertaking the demands of High School coursework.  Though a full year course, students are able to transition to Modern World classes once those skills have been attained. 


Targeted Reading Intervention (All grades)

 

Grade 6 - 5th grade teachers provide us with names of students already enrolled in the Leveled Literacy Intervention program at the elementary level for Term 1 of 6th grade. Beyond Term 1, available slots are filled using Lexile scores (a score that measures the grade level a student is reading at) along with teacher recommendations.

 

Grade 7 & 8 - students are selected by their end of year Lexile score, previous enrollment in the program and teacher recommendations.

 

Progress is monitored by Scholastic reading inventory Lexile Levels (an assessment given throughout their time at the middle school).  A student can leave this course at the end of a term if they have achieved a grade level Lexile score (or are very close and the Reading Specialist is confident of their success)..

 

For all three grades, Leveled Literacy Intervention is designed for students who are one to two grade levels behind the program’s proficiency ranges which is aligned to the CCSS.

 

Since the SRI is given four times a year, students new to WSMS will be considered once their score has been determined. They would enter at the beginning of a new term.


Choosing other UAs

 

Our goal is for students to experience all Unified Arts offerings over the course of their three years at WSMS.  Often students are able to take courses like Health, PE, Exploring Foods, Music, and Art  annually.  We offer three different styles of Computers/Technology with three different areas of focus.  Students do not select UAs in middle school, but are scheduled to have a variety of them throughout their time here. Students may have the same UA teacher for multiple years at the middle school, but the content varies each year.

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