Seventh Grade Core
The Seventh Grade Core is taught as a double period in the morning and includes the following topics all taught by the same instructor: English Literature, Language Arts, and Latin.
English Literature and Language Arts
The emphasis of the seventh grade English course is to promote sound reading habits as well as critical and analytical thinking and expression. An emphasis is also placed upon grammar, sentence structure, and word usage in the context of written expression. There are three main components to the seventh grade English class: literature, grammar, and vocabulary.
The primary objective of the literature component is to enhance a student’s interest in reading while introducing concepts of literary analysis. Students will be expected to discuss and critically analyze what they read. Short papers on literature based topics will be common. The class readings are selected to appeal to the seventh-grade boy’s sense of adventure and heroism. Once literary concepts such as plot, character, setting, are introduced, class discussions take on a more analytical nature and lead towards the student’s appreciation of an author’s skill and technique. A variety of short stories are particularly well-suited to the accomplishment of this goal. Papers are written comparing and contrasting short stories and authors as well as the use of setting, characterization, and other literary concepts. Finally, students write their own short story in addition to their many other essays.
The seventh-grade grammar component reinforces all the fundamental grammatical concepts so that the students have a firm basis in grammar and the application of grammar to their writing, a process that takes most boys successive years of study and practice. The grammar text is Grammar and Writing 7 published by Saxon Publishers. It is a workbook filled with concise chapters of distinct grammatical concepts that build on one another and are paired with many practice questions that reinforce what has already been learned. The primary mode of instruction is classroom presentation of the principles in each section followed by homework that is assigned nightly to reinforce the concept covered in class. The principles are reinforced by diagramming sentences in essays written by the students.
The primary objective of the vocabulary component is to broaden the student’s word usage and word construction knowledge. The textbook used for the vocabulary component is Vocabulary from Classical Roots from Educators Publishing Service. The vocabulary text is structured around words that use common Latin or Greek roots. The fundamental approach of the text is to enable students to recognize roots so that they may learn to discern the meaning of unfamiliar words. Often vocabulary words are also taken from the novels read in class in order to help the student better understand the readings.
The study of Latin is an important aspect of The Heights academic curriculum because of its connection, pedagogically and linguistically, to the liberal arts. All Middle School students are therefore required to take Latin as part of their seventh-grade core class. The textbook employed for the course is Ecce Romani I. This course covers the rudimentary facets of Latin grammar including the first three declensions of nouns and adjectives, allowing students to become familiar with the case uses. The conjugation of verbs in the active voice of all six tenses is also studied. Through a rather extensive exposure to new vocabulary words, the boys learn several other topics such as noun/adjective agreement, syntax, verb principal parts, the imperative mood, the vocative case, and the formation of adverbs. Simple sentences and short paragraphs are translated, both from Latin to English and English to Latin.
Learning the many forms of Latin words significantly develops the student’s ability to memorize. As there are an exceedingly large number of English words derived from Latin, the course will expand the students’ English vocabulary as well as foster an aptitude for deciphering the meaning of new words based on their Latin roots. The fixed and clear structure of Latin grammar will give the boys a greater understanding of English grammar and of the nature of language in general. This discipline is intended to form students as comprehensive readers, expressive writers, and clear thinkers. The improvement of note-taking and organizational skills and the attainment of proper test-taking techniques are additional goals of the course.
This course is designed to develop an appreciation and understanding of biology in everyday life. It seeks to have students understand that the world around them is really a collection of countless mysteries and discoveries. Developing a sense of fascination with biology within each student is a primary goal of the course. In addition to developing a fascination for science, a practical familiarity and base of knowledge is developed as it is required for a more advanced study of science. The textbook used in this Life Science course is entitled Exploring Life Science by Prentice Hall.
The course is divided into two semesters: Environmental Science and Human Biology, with different instructors for each semester. Environmental Science studies environmental factors that affect local ecosystems, including our own campus. The course will be accompanied by laboratory experiments that will help students answer some of these “mysteries” with the help of the scientific method. There will be the opportunity to complete lab experiments as well as discuss current information in the field of science.
The Human Biology semester of Life Science focuses on learning about all the major systems of the human body and identifying major organs. The structure of each major organ is examined as well as how that structure relates directly to the function the organ plays in the body. In this semester, students embark on a discovery of the human body that is nothing less than a discovery of their own physical being.
The Life Science course seeks to develop skills within the students that will allow them to pose questions, make observations and inferences, develop hypotheses, design experiments, make measurements and collect data, interpret data, and draw conclusions. Since much of learning science requires developing a new vocabulary, students also develop a new scientific vocabulary through the use of a notecard note-taking system. The student leaves this course with a greater appreciation and fascination for biology and how the study of biology can be found all around us and includes the study of our own physical being.
The seventh grade Pre-Algebra course continues to build a foundation for advanced mathematics by emphasizing basic skills and problem-solving techniques. Major topics studied and reviewed include but are not limited to: converting decimals, fractions and percents, geometric area and volume of various shapes, averaging quantities, order of operations, changing rates, algebraic steps, ratios, word problems, probability, exponents, square roots, scientific notation, and distance problems. The main textbook for the course is Algebra published by Saxon mathematics. The Saxon math series of textbooks is particularly useful given the way the student is reminded of past lessons in every problem set.
The habits and skills that this course seeks to establish for students include order in problem solving, neatness, completeness, attention to detail, perseverance, proper arithmetic, showing problem-solving steps, verifying solutions, and identifying and correcting common sources of mistakes.
The seventh-grade religion course provides an in-depth understanding of the doctrine of grace. The student develops an appreciation for this supernatural gift from God given to us through Jesus Christ and God’s plan for salvation. The student will study creation, divine revelation, Adam and Eve, and the prophets. Then, the student will study Christ as the source of all grace and the founding of the Church. Throughout this course, students deepen their knowledge of the seven sacraments and the virtues. The course includes familiarization with the liturgical calendar, feast days, the lives of saints, prayers, and selections from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The course is ultimately designed to challenge students to increase their love for God and their hope for heaven. In order to cultivate a life of piety and develop a prayer life, the student will have regular opportunities each month for confession, spiritual talks and recitation of the rosary during a chapel service held once every two weeks by The Heights’ chaplains. The primary textbook is The Life of Grace, of The Faith and Life Series published by Ignatius Press.
Lands and Conquests
The major topics covered in the seventh-grade History course are World War II, the Civil War, and geography. Students gain an appreciation for these two enormously significant historical events and, while doing so, learn a great deal about the resulting geography that was impacted by each war. World War II is a vast topic often understudied in many secondary school history classes but nonetheless considered by many historians to be the most influential event of the twentieth century. Students study the impact of World War II on both their own country and the countries of Europe and the Pacific. The Civil War is covered in-depth as well and the surrounding battlefields in the area present an enriched opportunity for study and relevance. Finally, students gain insight into the personal character and tenacity of those involved in each of these two conflicts.
Most specifically, the course instructs the students in the following: the causes and conditions during the time periods leading up to WWII and the Civil War, an understanding of influential military and political leaders in both wars, the major geography of Europe, Asia and The United States including cultures, people and physical features, and major battles that are used to explain military strategies, tendencies of leaders and eventual results. While accomplishing the course objectives, students develop the following habits: organizational and note-taking skills, the self-discipline of studying class notes every night, long-term planning for monthly sets of homework projects, and analytical thinking skills as opposed to rote memorization. Finally, it is an objective of this class to allow students to develop an interest in military history that will last them a lifetime.
Electives and Physical Education
Students have the choice of registering for one of three courses as their elective: Honors Spanish, Intermediate Band, or Art.
Honors Language Program/Spanish
This introductory, elective class is designed to develop communication skills in Spanish. The specific objective is to bring students to the point where they can “get around” in Spanish: being able to communicate with monolingual native speakers, read basic texts with some use of a dictionary, and know enough Spanish to continue improving on their own. Classroom activities will simulate real conversational situations and encourage reading to develop students’ ability to comprehend and communicate.
The seventh grade Art class is a survey class that studies perspective, realism, architecture, and color through a variety of media. Students are expected to draw and sketch as well as understand and appreciate great works of art. This blend of experiences is intended to develop an aesthetic awareness in the student. The opportunity is provided for longer-term projects and an after school Art Club is available for additional developmental time.
Students can choose this daily opportunity to practice their instrument as their full year elective class. Students in the Band are expected to have an interest in developing their performance ability and will need to make a commitment to practicing their instrument on a regular basis. Students will perform as a group in several concerts and competitions throughout the year.
All students participate in physical education class on a daily basis. The emphasis of this class is on fitness, skill development, understanding the rules of a variety of sports, engaged participation, and sportsmanship. Students are encouraged to engage in healthy competition and are given the opportunity for exercise on a daily basis. Depending upon the season, soccer, basketball, baseball, wrestling, and lacrosse teams practice during this class period under the supervision and direction of their coaches. All other middle school sports teams practice during times outside of physical education class.