Through Middle School, our students increase their academic competency and confidence, with increasing accountability, in preparation for the challenges of high school. OLG's challenging Middle School curriculum provides ample opportunity for growth in the areas of faith, academic, social and emotional development. Our curriculum follows the Archdiocesan, state and/or national standards.
6th - 8th Grade
The Language Arts curriculum for Middle School includes rigorous course work in both writing and literature:
Writing skills are honed through extensive work on grammar and usage, parts of speech, sentence structure. Students are tasked to apply these skills within a variety of writing styles (autobiographical, descriptive, research, persuasive, compare and contrast, creative writing and poetry) and approaches (timed writing, essays, MLA formats and outlines).
As part of studying Language Arts, students are asked to write and present various types of speeches focusing on both content and delivery.
Literature classes deliver expanded reading and vocabulary skills, as well as understanding of literary elements such plot construction, characterization, theme, setting and symbolism. Students are exposed to a wide range of literature, including mythology, novels, poetry, short stories and nonfiction, with both independent and group reading assignments.
Language Arts skills are further advanced by interdisciplinary teaming and research-based presentations throughout Middle School.
For Middle School Math at OLG, there are three main paths students typically follow, as illustrated below. Most students begin 6th grade in Pre-Algebra (middle path), finishing Algebra in 8th grade and moving into Geometry in high school. Other students take Pre-Algebra in 6th grade, moving into Algebra in 7th and Geometry in 8th grades, typically followed by Algebra 2 in high school. A third possible path has students taking 6th grade Math, followed by Pre-Algebra in 7th and Basic Algebra in 8th grade. These students typically take Algebra in 9th grade.
Student placements in Middle School Math are made with careful consideration of previous test scores, grades, and information from past Teachers. Although most students remain on the same path from 6th through 8th grade, students can be moved as needed. We are extremely proud of our exceptional Math program and its ability to meet the needs of all our students, preparing them well for high school.
Sixth grade Science begins with a trimester of Physical Science. Concepts include the Nature of Science & Technology, Chemical Building Blocks, Chemical Interactions, Sound & Light, Motion, Forces & Energy, and Electricity & Magnetism. The second trimester is devoted to Science Fair— a highlight of the 6th grade Science program. The students choose a research project and follow the scientific process to prove or disprove their hypothesis. Project categories include Physical Science, Biology/Life Science, Earth Science, Environmental Science, and Engineering/Inventions. Students present their projects to judges, with top projects moving on to regional and state Science Fair competition. During the third trimester, the students are engaged in the Project Lead the Way(link is external) STEM class called Automation Robotics. During this class, they learn about the history, development and influence of automation and robotics as they study different mechanical, energy transfer, machine automation and computer control systems. The students use the VEXX Robotics platform to design, build and program real-world objects such as traffic lights and tollbooths.
7th and 8th Grade
During the first trimester in 7th and 8th grade, students take another Project Lead the Way(link is external) STEM class called Design & Modeling. In this module, they apply the design process to solve problems and understand the influence of design in their lives. They design playgrounds, furniture and other ideas captured in their engineering notebooks. The students use Autodesk Inventor software to create virtual images of designs and to produce a portfolio that showcases their projects. Second trimester focuses on Earth Science, which includes topics ranging from What's Inside Earth, Earth's Changing Surface, Water, Weather & Climate, and Astronomy. The third trimester is Flight & Space, a third Project Lead the Way(link is external) STEM module. In this class, students will explore the principles of aeronautics as they design, build and test an airfoil. They also use software that allows them to simulate space travel.
Middle School students benefit from the PLTW "Gateway" curriculum which goes deeper into topics such as Automation Robotics, Design and Modeling, and Forensic Science. Middle School students learn through hands-on projects often incorporating technology such as Autodesk Inventor Robot C software and the VEX robotics platform. The STEM modules allow students to relate their knowledge of Math and many areas of Science to develop solutions to real-world problems.
In addition to the STEM modules, all students pursue a full Science curriculum which emphasizes the foundations of Life, Earth and Physical science. In addition, sixth graders spend one trimester focusing on a Science Fair project of their own choosing. By combining the traditional curriculum with opportunities for project-based STEM learning, Our Lady of Grace offers students a very complete and compelling Science program.
Grade six features History as the lead discipline with additional focus on Geographic, Economic and Civic Understandings. Students study Minnesota History and its government, placing the state and its people within the context of the national story. They engage in historical inquiry and study events, issues and individuals significant to Minnesota History, beginning with the early indigenous people of the upper Mississippi River region to the present day. They examine the relationship between levels of government, and how the concept of sovereignty affects the exercise of treaty rights. They analyze how the state’s physical features and location of resources affected settlement patterns and the growth of cities. Drawing on their knowledge of economics, students analyze the influence of a market-based economy at the local and national levels. They learn about the unique role Minnesota played, and continues to play, in regional, national and global politics.
Grade seven features History as the lead discipline with a strong secondary emphasis on Citizenship and Government. The interdisciplinary “Studies” approach is further enhanced with important economics and geography content that round out the study of United States History. Students learn about people, issues and events of significance to this nation’s History from 1800 to the current era of globalization. They examine the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and Supreme Court decisions for their lasting impact on the American people, economy and governance structure. Students study civics and economic principles in depth, drawing connections between these disciplines and History to explain the impact of various policies on how people lived, worked and functioned in society. They create and use detailed maps of places in the United States and conduct historical inquiry on a topic in the nation’s history.
Grade eight features Geography as the lead discipline with a strong secondary emphasis on Contemporary World History. Content drawn from citizenship, government and economics enriches the study of world regional Geography. Students explore the regions of the world using geographic information from print and electronic sources. They analyze important trends in the modern world such as demographic change, shifting trade patterns, and intensified cultural interactions due to globalization. Students participate in civic discussion on contemporary issues, conduct historical inquiry and study events over the last half-century that have shaped the contemporary world. They analyze connections between revolutions, independence movements and social transformations, and understand reasons for the creation of modern nation states. They learn that governments are based on different political philosophies and serve various purposes. By learning economic principles of trade and the factors that affect economic growth, students understand why there are different standards of living in countries around the world.
In 6th-8th grades, students work to develop a spiritual framework for moral decision making, with Jesus as a role model. Through the study of a broad spectrum of topics, including:
The Bible: Old Testament, Origins of the Bible and how to get the most out of it
Church History from creation to today
The Catechism of the Catholic Church and key Church traditions
Catholic Social Teaching and how to apply it to our lives
Examination of the American world view, popular culture, music and media in light of Christ's teachings
The lives of the saints and the universal call to holiness
Prayer and the Rosary
Family Life: Authentic human love and Church teachings on relationship and chastity
Beyond Religion classes, we seek to create a mutually supportive environment in Middle School that fosters in each student a love for God, love for one another, and a desire to serve the greater community. We do this through active participation in various school liturgies, leadership of Peer Ministry and weekly rosaries, and involvement in a wide variety of service projects throughout the year.
OLG Middle School students have Spanish class three times per week. Instruction is primarily in Spanish, encouraging the students to become comfortable conversing in Spanish. Each grade includes a review of previous material and advancement through the textbook Aventuros Uno y Dos. In addition to homework and assessments, students are graded on participation and cultural projects.
The Middle School Art curriculum explores the elements and principles of Art:
Elements: line, texture, value, space, shape, color and form
Principles: movement, contrast, emphasis, rhythm, balance, unity and pattern
The curriculum is taught sequentially, with increasingly complex concepts added over time to build on prior skills and knowledge. Materials become more sophisticated as students learn and practice new techniques. Students are provided with a variety of opportunities for self-expression as they develop respect for their own creative work and that of others. Technology is utilized as a teaching tool and Art medium.
In Middle School Music, students learn basic Music symbols and notation, and learn about the historic periods of Music and the origins of sacred Music in the Catholic Church. There is an emphasis on Music Appreciation, designed to give the student the ability to understand and discern quality classical and contemporary Music. In addition, students explore Music technology using GarageBand, iMovie and Photo Booth. With their laptop computers and imagination, the world of Music technology comes alive in the classroom.
In 8th grade, students devote their 3rd trimester Music studies to rehearsals for the 8th grade play. Students learn basic acting techniques, beginning with the audition process to the full production of a children's musical, performed for the OLG student body, parents and friends. All 8th grade students take part in the production. This effort is a true highlight of the OLG experience and a wonderful rallying point for the 8th grade class as they celebrate the end of their time at OLG.
Extracurricular Music opportunities include two Middle School choirs, which meet an hour before school once a week, and Middle School band. Well over half of the Middle School students participate in choir and band collectively.
Students in grades 6 - 8 have Physical Education class twice per week. They participate in Physical Fitness Tests in the fall and spring, and enjoy units in a wide range of sports the rest of the year, including soccer, volleyball, ultimate football, basketball, dance, juggling, floor hockey, kickball and softball. Students are expected to participate fully in class activities and are encouraged to play fair, have fun, and demonstrate good sportsmanship.
Students need technology skills to succeed as life-long learners in our digital world. For our Middle School students, we offer a 1:1 learning program, through which each student is loaned a MacBook laptop for use at home and at school. Using 21st-century teaching methods and resources, our Middle School curriculum engages students, stimulates more effective learning, and develops technology proficiency.