|Middle School Curriculum|
At Spring Hill, mathematics is an extremely interesting and exciting pursuit. At the Middle School level, students have the opportunity to reinforce and extend their understanding of concepts learned in previous mathematics courses as well as to learn more sophisticated skills.
Throughout each course, emphasis is placed on the processes used to find solutions, not just on the solutions themselves. It is necessary to learn different problem solving strategies and to be able to explain the methods used to find solutions to problems both in oral and written form. Mathematics is a skill that requires practice. Also, students have opportunities to apply mathematical knowledge and skills to real life situations.
Students primarily work together in groups with the teacher discussing new mathematical ideas. Together through discussion and examples, concepts are developed. The end result is a thorough understanding and better retention. Students also meet with study groups outside of class. Working together is a more efficient and meaningful way to learn difficult mathematics. Students are still expected to demonstrate individual mastery on quizzes, tests, and their portfolio.
The 7th grade Marine Ecology class consists of a brief history of Marine biology, learning about the sea floor and its topography, and the chemical and physical properties of the ocean such as sea water, ocean circulation, waves, and tides. Various marine communities, including benthic communities, intertidal communities, coral reefs, and pelagic communities are then explored. Primary producers and the major factors that shape the pattern of marine primary productivity are examined. A survey of the nekton including fish and mammals are discussed in great detail. Throughout the class, time is devoted to understanding the effects of the human presence upon the marine ecosystem, including fishing and pollution.
Experiments, demonstrations, and discussions form the basis of the daily classes, with an emphasis on developing mastery of content as well as scientific inquiry skills. Guest speakers and field trips are an integral part of the class. The year ends with a class trip to Catalina Island Marine Institute.
8th Grade Physics
The 8th grade Physics course at Spring Hill School revolves around the lab. Physics is a science that is best understood by doing - asking questions, performing procedures, collecting data, analyzing data, answering questions, and thinking of new questions to explore. The labs that are presented to the students all have a purpose, and perhaps a question.
Students write down the Title and Purpose of the lab as the teacher discusses the question and introduces the big idea. The means by which the equipment can be used is discussed (especially if it is equipment which is unfamiliar to students) and the information which must be in the lab report is also discussed. From that point on, students are on their own - devising a procedure which is capable of answering the question posed in the Purpose. All observations, data, calculations, and graphs are organized by the student in their lab notebook. Their conclusions and discussions answer the question posed in the Purpose and cite the evidence from the lab which supports those conclusions.
In this manner, students learn how scientists work - how they control variables, make alterations of procedure, repeat measurements, organize data, analyze data, compare data with other scientists, display the results and report the findings. They also gain a much deeper understanding of the physics concepts.
Important resources for the class include:
The Physics Classroom – physicsclassroom.com
The People’s Physics Book by James Dann
Conceptual Physics by Paul Hewett
The Cartoon Guide to Physics by Larry Gonick
2012-2013 Middle School Weekly Class Schedule