Middle School Curriculum
The Hebron Academy Middle School offers small classes, excellent faculty, a challenging curriculum, programs in fine arts, drama and music, as well as unique offerings in outdoor education, athletics, special trips and more.
Students benefit from the resources of a large school but with the support and individual attention of a smaller school environment. Middle School classes are held in Sturtevant School Building, the Kaneb Center for Science, Technology and Engineering, Hupper Library, Lepage Center for the Arts, Chadbourne Barn, and the Williams Athletic Center.
In the Middle School, students read works in a variety of genres including short stories, novels, plays, mythology, non-fiction related to literature being read (background material, current news on a topic, related essays), and poetry. The level of difficulty of the material increases through the three years from grade six to grade eight. Writing instruction starts in sixth grade building from mastering the complete sentence and a cohesive paragraph to composing a well-developed essay in the eighth grade. Listening mindfully to others is emphasized, as is speaking in class and in more public settings. Students have many opportunities to make presentations. Grammar For Writing is used for instruction and as a resource in grammar. The students work routinely with vocabulary exercises using theWordly Wise program. Vocabulary is also studied in the context of the works being read and student writing.
6th Grade English
Sixth Grade English focuses on reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Texts have included such engaging works as Natalie Babbitt’s The Eyes of the Amaryllis and David Almond’s Skellig. Comprehension strategies, such as visualizing, making connections and making inferences, are taught and practiced. Age-appropriate literary terms and the basic elements of plot are introduced. Special attention is given to setting and the importance of both time and place. Class discussion gives students an opportunity to express their interpretations and views as well as reinforce literary terms and reading strategies. Students write on a regular basis and in a variety of formats, including journals, responses to literature questions, paragraphs on a topic, short essays, personal narratives, creative writing, and poetry. The writing skills that the students work on range from mastering composing complete sentences and developing strong topic sentences to using figurative language. The main goals of grammar instruction are to improve students’ understanding of parts of speech, compound and complex sentences, and punctuation rules.
7th Grade English
In the seventh grade, reading skills continue to be taught, reinforced, and practiced. The focus in literary elements is primarily on plot and character development. Students learn to identify specific character traits and support these with specific evidence from the text. Point of view is also brought to the forefront in the literature students are reading as well as in the students’ own writing. Seventh grade students should be able to identify each part of a simple plot and recognize whether a character is “round” or “flat;” they will also be able to explore the internal conflict experienced by a character. Supporting their interpretations with specific evidence from the text is modeled and encouraged. Seventh graders read more challenging works, such as Lois Lowry’s The Giver and Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Writing skill development continues to emphasize rich vocabulary choices, varied sentence structure, and clarity of expression. Students write in a variety of genres including descriptive, personal narrative, creative, expository, and poetry. Grammar instruction focuses on more advanced punctuation including dialogue format, complex and varied sentences, and the rules of formal writing conventions such as writing out numbers.
8th Grade English
Eighth grade students read more challenging texts, including Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, and Golding’s The Lord of the Flies. Several of the novels and plays are historical fiction, complementing their studies in American history. In addition to studying setting, character, and plot, eighth graders explore themes, motifs, symbolism, and irony. Students are expected to support their interpretation and analysis with evidence from the text. Making comparisons within the text as well as across multiple texts is part of the discussion. They are taught to annotate and to learn to use context and language roots to deduce meanings of unfamiliar words. Students gain experience in writing well-developed expository and persuasive essays, personal narratives, and short fiction. Grammar instruction continues, with particular focus on diction, syntax, and formal writing conventions. Poetry by such poets as Billy Collins is studied in depth, and students compose their own anthologies of poems. All students are encouraged to express and support their views in class discussion.
6th Grade Math
This course strengthens and broadens students' basic math skills. Topics include factors and multiples; fractions, decimals and percents; and ratios, proportions and measurement. Students work with positive and negative numbers, explore concepts in geometry, and continue to strengthen their basic computation skills. Developing good number sense and effective problem-solving skills are important goals of this course as is the ability to work together effectively in a group setting.
7th Grade Math: Transition Math/Pre-Algebra
Reinforcing basic math skills and preparing students for the study of Algebra I are the main goals of this course. The class will review the four basic operations of mathematics, learn to evaluate different types of mathematical expressions, work closely with fractions, decimals, and percents, and study exponents, scientific notation and geometry. Students learn the concept of the variable and to use variables to solve a variety of different equations. Special attention is given to developing and refining effective problem-solving skills and strategies.
8th Grade Math: Algebra I
Often considered the "language of mathematics," this first-year Algebra course covers work with signed numbers, variables, graphs and formulas. Students learn to simplify expressions and to solve many types of equations and inequalities. They are able to graph linear equations, to work with exponents and roots, and to solve systems of equations. Students are encouraged to work together and to share ideas and approaches as they learn to solve many different types of problems.
While each grade level in the middle school studies a different branch of science, inquiry, research, problem solving, and the scientific process are constants for all levels. Conducting a lab exercise or experiment safely, collecting and interpreting data, and writing a thoughtful lab report are skills that are emphasized throughout the program. Curiosity is valued, and questions are encouraged. All students work on individual Science Fair projects in the spring term on a topic of their choosing. The Science Fair ties together all the skill objectives of the courses with extensive research, a written report, a visual component, a technology component, and a formal oral presentation.
6th Grade Science
Students study environmental science and taxonomy in the sixth grade. This gives them a working vocabulary and strong foundation in topics covered in more depth in Upper School biology classes. The sixth graders start with learning tree identification, habitats, food webs, and biomes. This environmental unit makes good use of the flora and fauna found on the Hebron Academy campus. Next the sixth graders study taxonomy, learning about the modern classification of living things into three domains and six kingdoms. Students learn proper use of the light microscope and take a close look at microscopic organisms including eubacteria, protists, and molds. They continue the study of the kingdoms through the remainder of the year exploring the worlds of fungi, plants, and animals.
7th Grade Science
Students study the Earth Sciences and Anatomy and Physiology in the seventh grade. A study of climate and weather includes exploring the layers of the atmosphere, air pressure, air masses, cloud formation, global wind belts, and storm systems. Next the students look inward to study inner earth, and finally they explore plate tectonics on Earth’s surface. Other Earth Science topics undertaken are rocks and minerals as well as topography and landforms. In Anatomy and Physiology students learn about the skeletal, muscular, respiratory, digestive, and circulatory systems.
8th Grade Science
Students study under the context of a Physical Science curriculum in the eighth grade. A heavy focus is placed on the scientific method. Frequent lab reports require students to synthesize their lab work and follow up with appropriate research and documentation. Weekly article reviews keep students updated on current science and guide the use of appropriate research skills. By-weekly oral presentations allow students frequent opportunities to improve their oral communication skills. Students graduate from eighth grade equipped to excel in high school science courses.
The Middle School history classes are thematic, covering a variety of historical topics using an inquiry-based, student-centered approach to learning. In each term, there is an overarching theme that serves as the framework for the topics of study. The students play a role in every aspect of the class, from topic choice to guiding question development to assessment input. Assessments consist of a series of projects that are designed to promote the students’ skill development, including collaboration, working autonomously, research skills, note-taking skills, writing various types of papers, and public speaking.
6th Grade History
The sixth grade history class is centered around Ancient History. Recent themes have included Greece, Rome, and the Vikings. Some examples of assessment include a Greek mythology project with a painted mural and research paper, construction of a to-scale Roman city, and a Viking research project that culminated in playing a student-created board game.
7th Grade History
The seventh grade history class is centered around World History. Recent themes have included World War II, the Economy, and the Industrial Revolution. Some examples of assessment include a paper based on the first-hand experience of a role in an economy-based game, creating and performing plays based on research, and an independent research project that culminated in a timeline display of World History from the fall of Rome to World War II.
8th Grade History
The eighth grade history class is centered around United States History. Recent themes have included the Presidential election, the Lewis and Clark expedition, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Cold War. The assessments have included creating iMovies, researching a major US city and creating a website culminating in teaching a lesson plan, and a group project on running a presidential campaign from creating a platform to giving speeches to debating election issues.
The goal of language instruction is to open the students’ minds to the wide world. Language study stimulates a life-long interest in another culture. In every class, our students are taught to embrace the language and culture of a different people. Through Spanish and French stories, festivals such as Día de los Muertos and Mardi Gras with specific folk traditions, songs, food, films, and dance, Greek and Roman myths and history, we give students a “slice of daily life” in another place and time. In language classes students are encouraged to view all cultures as noteworthy and valuable. As the world becomes immer mehr interconnected, it is increasingly important for students to learn about, appreciate, and engage with global cultures.
6th Grade: FLEX
In 6th grade, the students take part in the Foreign Language Exploratory (FLEX) curriculum. The languages can include French, Spanish, German, and Latin. The purpose of the FLEX curriculum is to expose sixth-grade students to the wonder of foreign language study and to the wealth of history found in their own language. Language and communication are at the heart of the human experience. Through language, communication can reach across the miles and the centuries. We hope to stimulate these young minds to discover more about the world and its past, present, and future through the study of language and culture.
7th and 8th Grade: French and Spanish I
The primary focus of French I and Spanish I is vocabulary acquisition. Once the students have a rudimentary vocabulary, they can put the language to work with regular verbs in simple sentence structures. The students gain an appreciation of the parts of speech as they learn how to recognize the similarities and differences between their own and other languages. The students develop a greater appreciation and understanding of their own language as they study a new one. For some students, language study is their first exposure to the subtleties of language structure.
6th, 7th, and 8th Grade Art
Hebron Academy’s Middle school arts program makes sure that students understand the basic concepts of the arts including the ability to use most common mediums and to understand key elements. They will have the opportunity to work with watercolors, acrylics, ink, charcoal, oil pastels, and inktense. Students participate in class critiques and discussion about their work. These experiences and skills give students an emerging understanding of the arts, a beginning aesthetic appreciation, and a solid foundation for their continued work in the Upper School.
6th, 7th, and 8th Grade Music
Students study music history and theory and learn to read music. They explore the lives and music of various period composers to develop writing and listening skills. Students listen to and learn to recognize music from many of the world's different cultures and to appreciate the differences in style and composition. They also study the instruments of the orchestra: how they are made, what they sound like, and the roles they play in orchestral performance.
6th Grade Outdoor Skills: Trackers
The 6th grade course focuses on nature observation skills as well as basis safety skills for outdoor travel. Some sample activities include tree identification, bird watching and feeding, Maine flora and fauna study, animal tracking, reading the map of Maine, the art of staying found, map and compass skills, hiking, and snowshoeing.
7th Grade Outdoor Skills: The Skills Course
The 7th grade course focuses on teaching the skills covered in the Maine Woodsman/ Junior Maine Guide (JMG) curriculum. These skills include map and compass use, ax and knife safety, wet-day fires, first aid, outdoor safety, knots, shelters, hiking, and snowshoeing.
8th Grade Outdoor Skills: Leadership
The 8th grade course continues the instruction of JMG skills covered in the 7th grade and adds canoeing, trust-building exercises, and leadership skills to the mix. Students who successfully complete the program will receive the Maine Woodsman certification and will be well prepared to pursue the JMG certification.
6th, 7th, and 8th Grade Physical Education
The goal of the middle school physical education (PE) program is to engage the students in fun-filled activities designed to allow students to use their ample energy in safe and constructive ways. The PE program uses a variety of team sports and other activities to promote an active and healthy lifestyle. The PE program takes advantage of the academy's new athletic center as well as the athletic fields. Over the course of the year, students are exposed to a multitude of activities ranging from ice hockey to basketball and everything in between. Our PE classes teach and encourage the ideals of sportsmanship, fair play, and teamwork while focusing on improving motor skills and sports-related techniques.