Upper School Grades 5 – 8
The religion program for upper school students emphasizes application of religious teachings and values to the personal lives of the students. Students are encouraged to analyze the decision making process within the context of morality and ethics. They learn to explore their personal growth, value relationships with family and friends, and take responsibility for their actions. While prayer, ways of praying, and the quality of prayer are reinforced, there is also an emphasis on putting one’s faith into action and practice in order to live and act justly. The religion curriculum also includes deeper exploration of topics such as the Old and the New Testament, the Holy Trinity, the Ten Commandants, the Beatitudes, world religions, as well as the history of the Catholic Church. Seventh and eighth grade students reaffirm their commitment to God and the Church through their preparation for and celebration of the sacrament of Confirmation. All upper school students regularly and actively participate at mass with the entire school community, lead school-wide liturgies, and participate in Christian service projects.
English Language Arts
The English Language Arts program is a rigorous program that is both engaging and stimulating. Structured around the New York State Next Generation ELA Learning Standards, there are a number of standards that are grouped together in domains at each grade level. This program allows the student to learn lifelong skills that can be applied not only in multiple areas of study, but also in real world situations. Our curriculum is designed to have the students think, listen, and process on an advanced level. Through reading various literary works and genres with a focus on non-fiction, the students develop important reading comprehension strategies. They learn to identify the author’s purpose and craft, compare and contrast literary elements, identify main ideas and supporting details, and understand cause and effect. Through responding to literature via summative and descriptive paragraphs, essays (narratives, explanatory and informational arguments to support claims), editorials, research papers, and poetry, the students are able to further develop language, grammar, and vocabulary skills. Speaking and listening skills are developed through panel discussions, telling a story, interviews, project presentations, and the annual participation in the Modern Woodmen Speech Contest. Through the use of Blended Learning, teachers can provide small group and individual instruction, and students are able to practice skills at their own pace. Teachers use data gathered from classroom assessments and Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) assessments to guide differentiated and personal instruction for each student. Students in Grades 5 through 8 are prepared for and take the New York State Mathematics exam in the spring of each year. Based on the most recent data, St. Joseph’s School performed in the top 10% in New York State on this exam.
ELA Domains include: Reading Literature, Reading Informational Text, Writing, Speaking and Listening, and Language.
The math program follows the New York State Next Generation Math Learning Standards, which is designed to allow students to have a better understanding and a greater knowledge of mathematics. This program works toward developing mathematical and procedural skills. The students are introduced to geometry and algebra, while also exploring an in-depth study of integers, fractions, and decimals. In their study of geometry, the children are taught how to find the perimeter, area, volume of different shapes, how to analyze transversal and accompanying angles, and use the Pythagorean theory. Various topics are studied in algebra, including rational and irrational numbers, exponential form, evaluating exponents, solving single and multistep equations and integer applications. The students also discuss probability, scientific notation, and how to create and read charts and graphs. When learning problem-solving strategies and applying mathematical reasoning to problems, real world problems are used to make learning relevant and engaging. Through the use of Blended Learning, teachers can provide small group and individual instruction, and students are able to practice skills at their own pace. Teachers use data gathered from classroom assessments and Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) assessments to guide differentiated and personalized instruction for each student. Students in Grades 5 through 8 are prepared for and take the New York State Math exam in the spring of each year. Based on the most recent data, St. Joseph’s School performed in the top 10% in New York State on this exam.
Mathematics Domains: Operations and Algebraic Thinking, Number and Operations in Base Ten, Numbers and Operations, Fractions, Measurement and Data, Geometry, Ratios and Proportional Relationships (Grades 6 and 7), The Number System (Grades 6, 7 and 8), Expressions and Equations (Grades 6, 7 and 8), Statistics and Probability (Grades 6, 7 and 8), and Functions (Only Grade 8).
The science curriculum encompasses astronomy, biology, chemistry, physics, and earth science. Its lessons reach across the curriculum to tie together mathematics and ELA. The classroom instruction is done in conjunction with hands-on experiments in the well-equipped science lab. The students’ scientific quest includes learning the cell structure of both plants and animals, the five kingdoms of classification, and the systems of the human body. Discussions in earth science include volcanoes, earthquakes, plate tectonics, rocks and minerals. The curriculum also covers the study of the universe with discussions of the planets and weather patterns. Physics includes the study of energy, motion, electricity, magnetism, and the study of simple machines in relation to more complex machines. Through creation of models, written reports, oral presentations, and other projects, students demonstrate their learning.
As the different eras and time periods are investigated in the social studies curriculum, many literacy standards will also be addressed. It is important to be able to apply these standards to the social studies content in order for students to comprehend, understand and to be able to respond to the events that are studied. The students learn about relationships and influences of various Native American tribes, the conflicts and changes of Europe, as well as various political movements and their effects on society, such as communism and democracy. They compare ancient times to middle and modern times by exploring cultures, governments and societies around the world expanding from North America to South America, from Europe to Asia, and Africa to Australia. Seventh and eighth grade students take an in-depth look at American History through an exploration of the economy, geography, government, and history of our country and how it has changed through time. Through reading, discussion, and research, students explore famous and influential people throughout the history of the United States. They discuss wars and events that influenced our country today. The students are encouraged to explore all influences on American history, including media and technology, political movements, famous speeches, and songs. Students have access to a variety of digital tools to aid their learning including videos, online and interactive textbooks, discussion boards, as well as a wealth of primary source documents.