Middle School Academics

Grades 6, 7 and 8 are departmentalized with students receiving instruction from specialized teachers in reading and language arts, mathematics, science, upper level French, religion, social studies, computer, the fine arts which include formal art instruction, drama and music, and Physical Education. Subjects are integrated to the extent possible through cross-curricular instruction.

Religion

Daily, formal religion instruction is an integral part of the students’ learning program. The curriculum covers instruction in the Catholic faith which includes scripture study, Catholic traditions and liturgical seasons, the Creed, the Trinity and Image of God, Christology, Church History, and Mary and the saints. Students learn formal prayers and devotions, and all grades participate in the monthly school Masses. Daily prayer experiences are planned throughout the school year, and a Marist priest makes monthly class visits providing additional background on faith related topics. Family Life instruction is also integrated into the religion program.

Preparation for the sacrament of Confirmation is a two-year program beginning in seventh grade. Eighth-grade students participate in a two-day retreat at Presentation Center in the Santa Cruz Mountains as part of their preparation for Confirmation.

Students participate in various community service activities serving those in need. Students in the seventh and eighth grades are required to complete a total of 30 hours of service prior to graduation. The eighth-grade students serve one day at St. Anthony’s Foundation as part of their religion program. 7th and 8th grade students also participate in a peer tutor program.

French Language and Culture

The program includes daily instruction by native French speakers. Grammar and conversation are integral to the program and major goals include developing a proper accent and fluid speaking ability. Reading, writing, conversation, listening and comprehension, cultural events and games are part of the learning experience. Literature, technology, field trips and projects are also incorporated to support new concepts and ideas.

The middle school curriculum includes work on various long-term group projects about French civilization and culture, which the students present to the class in French.

Literature

Comprehension, character development, appreciation for settings, foreshadowing and narrative prediction are elements of the learning program in literature. Literature circles are an integral aspect of the learning program, promoting a deeper and richer appreciation for specific selections. Students take responsibility for leading small group discussions, where they are called to substantiate their responses and shared observations. Vocabulary development is integral to the literature program and students are read to on a daily basis.

Mathematics

NDV follows the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in Mathematics which emphasizes student proficiency in problem-solving, conceptual understanding, and procedural fluency. CCSS Math is based on national standards, and an instructional program that builds in scope and content across the grade levels. In order to enhance students’ understanding and their ability to contribute to the global community, mathematics must be relevant to daily life which requires a connection between mathematics and other disciplines. CCSS Math is taught using multiple modalities and instructional strategies to address and meet the diverse needs of all students.
In addition to mastering and honing basic mathematical concepts, students are taught to use strategies, skills and concepts to find solutions. They are taught to implement mathematical reasoning by analyzing problems through identifying relationships, distinguishing relevant from irrelevant information, identifying missing information, sequencing, and prioritizing information, and observing patterns. Students learn to formulate and justify mathematical conjectures based on a general description of the mathematical question or problem posed, then determine when and how to break a problem into simpler parts. Emphasis is placed on achieving automaticity in basic computation.

The middle school mathematics program includes the study of the following concepts:

  • Exponents, powers, roots, polynomials and graphs
  • Algebra and functions
  • Measurement and geometry
  • Trigonometry
  • Statistics, data analysis and probability

Hands-on math activities and real-life problem solving assignments are planned to create deeper meaning and understanding.

Science

The science curriculum in grade six emphasizes the study of earth sciences. The standards in grade six present many of the foundations of geology and geophysics including plate tectonics and earth structure, topography, and energy. The material is linked to resource management and ecology, building on what students have learned in previous grades. The students participate in a week-long outdoor education trip to Yosemite National Park. Following the scientific method of inquiry, students participate in weekly, hands-on lab experiments and explorations and include Lab write-ups.

The science curriculum in grade seven focuses on the study of life sciences including systems of the human body, genetics, ecosystems, plant life and evolution. Following the scientific method of inquiry, students participate in weekly, hands-on lab experiments and explorations. Lab write-ups are integral to the science program.

Students in grade eight study topics in physical sciences such as motion, forces, and the structure of matter, by using a quantitative, mathematically based approach similar to the procedures they will use in high school. Earth, the solar system, chemical reactions, the chemistry of biological processes, the periodic table, and density and buoyancy are also included in the curriculum. Students will begin to grasp four concepts that help to unify physical sciences: force and energy; the laws of conservation; atoms, molecules, and the atomic theory; and kinetic theory. Following the scientific method of inquiry, students participate in weekly, hands-on lab experiments and explorations and include Lab write-ups.

History/Social Science

The middle school history/social science curriculum focuses on ancient civilizations in grade 6, world history in grade 7 and U.S. history and government in grade 8. Project-based learning is integral to the program whereby students analyze, compare and contrast the similarities, differences, and connections among divergent cultures. Small group work and student presentations allow students to acquire knowledge and share their understanding of concepts studied. In addition to field trips to nearby museums and exhibits, guest speakers enrich the students’ learning experiences.

Art

The weekly art classes focuses on famous artists and their works. In addition to learning drawing, watercolor painting, abstract and pastel techniques, the students learn photography, stenciling, paper cutting, printmaking, draw self-portraits and create clay sculpture pieces which are fired in the school kiln. Students study artists such as Georgia O’Keefe, Claude Monet, Jackson Pollack, Frida Kahlo, Viola Frey, Keith Haring, and Sean Sully.

Drama

A professional theater director works with the eighth-grade students to encourage and develop their acting, singing, and dancing skills. The year culminates in a full-length musical production. Recent musicals include Peter Pan, Fame, Jr., Beauty and the Beast, Jr., and Annie, Jr.

Storytelling

Seventh graders work with a professional storyteller to learn storytelling techniques that help them bring to life children’s classics, which they memorize and share with the primary grade students.

Physical Education

Classes are taught on a weekly basis in the school gymnasium by a credentialed instructor. Each PE session includes a period of exercises and several laps around the upper level track. Skills needed for sports are taught and practiced during physical education class. Physical fitness and nutrition are also important aspects of the program. Student participation in cross-country and track events sponsored by Catholic Charities Catholic Youth Organization (CCCYO) is strongly encouraged.

Ecole Notre Dame des Victoires also participates in the CCCYO sports league. The middle school students have successfully won division championships in volleyball, soccer and basketball.

Summer School

NDV offers a two-week English, French, math, and study skills summer program taught by the Middle School Teachers. The program is open to all current NDV students entering 6th, 7th, and 8th grades, and is held during the two weeks before school starts. Students may enroll in as many as 4 classes, each one hour in length.

Community Service

The entire student body supports other outside organizations throughout the year with activities such as the Missionary Children’s Association through Catholic Relief Services, SF Food Bank, the Red Cross, and the Canned Food Drive sponsored by CJSF, the Operation Rice Bowl Project at Lent, and the missions and outreach services of the Marists and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange through the Mission Carnival.

RISE Program

The RISE program, which focuses on conflict management – Respect, Include, Safety (emotional and physical) and Effective communication – significantly supports the religious education program. Led by student leaders in grade eight, students in all grades learn ways to respond to and handle conflict in their lives.

Outdoor Education

The Outdoor Education trip in grade six is a five day, five-night class experience sponsored by NatureBridge Yosemite. The students, their science teacher, and parent volunteers spend time exploring the flora, fauna, hydrology and geology of the Yosemite Valley and environs. Students and chaperones stay in tent cabins and enjoy hikes and lectures presented by the NatureBridge staff during their visit.

8th Grade Play

The Class of 2015 performs Peter Pan