Challenging academics taught in a joyful learning environment helps St. Martin of Tours school prepare middle school students for the rigors of high school while maintaining a balance that ensures that students graduate with the same enthusiasm for learning as when they entered kindergarten.  Developing life-long learners who love to learn is our passion.

 

Science

Students delve into Earth Science through units on mapping, plate tectonics, earthquakes, volcanoes, rivers, oceans, weather, and energy resources. Using California as the perfect backdrop, students map the topography of the Marin Headlands where they attend science camp in the fall, plot the fault lines that travel through the south bay, and explore the role California has played in recent tectonic history.  In small groups and weekly centers, students are able to investigate more independently and discuss more intimately. Throughout the year, students tackle engineering projects such as designing and constructing a seismically safe new structure for the Tech Museum in the fall and developing the next alternative energy innovation in the spring. Through games like Battleship: Latitude and Longitude and Organism Interactions, students realize that science is approachable and fun.

Language Arts

Writing

Students develop their writing skills across the curriculum. We focus on the six traits of writing (ideas, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency, conventions) through writing projects throughout the year, such as a persuasive essay, character analysis, biography research project, a narrative memoir, and much more. Students also develop their speaking and listening skills through oral debates and how-to presentations.

Literature

In addition to a variety of non-fiction stories/articles and book club novels, we read four core novels. Through our study of these class novels, students will work on summarizing, making connections, identifying themes, citing textual evidence, making inferences, and more.

Math

We focus on developing a strong foundation of skills to prepare students for 7th grade math. Our goal is to meet the needs of all students by having a smaller class size for math and differentiating instruction. Our two math classes for 6th grade both follow the same curriculum and begin each chapter on the same day, which allows for flexible grouping. One class focuses on reviewing and reinforcing key skills depending on the students’ needs, while the other class focuses on challenging students to apply their understanding of concepts through extension activities. Topics covered in 6th grade math include: decimals and integers; exponents, factors, and fractions; equations and inequalities; ratios, proportions, and percents; measurement; and data displays.

Social Studies

This year students learn about ancient civilizations, focusing on their geographic, political, economic, religious, and social structures. We explore the topics in each unit through a variety of learning activities including web quests, simulations, projects, reading, writing, drama, art, etc. Students learn about early humans and Mesopotamia, ancient Egypt, ancient India, ancient China, ancient Greece, and ancient Rome. 6th graders also have the opportunity to deepen their understanding of ancient Egypt and ancient Greece through field trips to the Rosicrucian Museum and the Hellenic Heritage Museum.  The students will bring Greek mythology to life by performing a Greek play in the spring.

Religion

Religion is integrated into everything we do here. We focus on building a community of empathy, compassion, and respect for one another through weekly class meetings and frequent team building activities. This year, students will explore the stories of the Old Testament, including the Creation story, the Patriarchs, Moses and the Exodus, Judges and Prophets, and much more. We also spend time learning about the liturgical seasons and doing various community outreach projects.

Special Events

  • Science Camp trip to the Marin Headlands (October)

  • Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum field trip (November)

  • Japanese American Museum field trip (January)

  • Hellenic Heritage Museum field trip (April)

  • 5th/6th Grade Bible Ceremony Liturgy (April)

  • Greek Play (May)

Physical Education

Physical Education is taught in grades K-8.  The objectives of the Physical Education Program are to promote physical growth development and maintenance through activities that develop strength, vigor, vitality skill and coordination.  To develop useful skills in physical activities.  To instill a desire to enjoy participating in physical recreation throughout life.  Grades 4-8 participate in the President's Physical Fitness Challenge twice a year and are given their results which are compared to the national average of children in their age group.

Science

Students study life science, which is an introduction into cell biology, genetics, human systems, plant biology, and the history of life on Earth. The scientific method is interwoven throughout the year and students show off their mastery of this concept by participating in the science fair in April. With the common core standards as our foundation, students understand the importance of reading and writing in order to articulate their ideas about concepts they learn in class in many ways. Students write lab reports, create short stories about cells and their organelle’s, and even write poetry inspired by plants. In class, students have an opportunity to learn in many styles, but a strong focus is placed on hands on learning. Students participate and create labs about questions they have about living things, explore their world through virtual webquests, and practice scientific skills such as using a microscope. 7th grade science is a fun and challenging class which culminates with a frog dissection.

Language Arts

The 7th grade language arts curriculum at St. Martin of Tours is built around the California Common Core Standards. These standards are designed to challenges a student's developing mind. We take this task seriously and design lessons to fully engage students and meet the individualized learning style of each child.

The curriculum is a compilation of current and classic novels, short stories, poetry , and nonfiction works that focus on the trials and tribulations of today’s world. We stress the importance of comprehending, interpreting, and analyzing all that is read. Students participate in class discussions, group projects, individual writing assignments, and traditional assessments to demonstrate knowledge and understanding. The aforementioned activities are combined with everyday use of complex vocabulary and important grammatical concepts (phrases, clauses, types of sentences) to create a well-rounded learning experience for every student.

Students learn to read between the lines. They move beyond comprehension and begin to explore symbolism, infer information based on what has been read, and think critically about the themes and conflicts presented in novels. Students are challenged to think and write on a deeper level. These skills are honed through in class discussions, writing assignments (expository, narrative, and persuasive), debates, group projects, and student presentations. The reading material covers a vast array of intriguing philosophical topics which allows each student to begin to develop his or her own world view. We also spend time polishing grammar skills. The 7th grade standards have a strong focus on mastering the use of various phrases and sentence types. These concepts are taught through a combination of lecture and student led, project based learning.

Novels read include:

  • The Giver

  • The Outsiders

  • Beowulf: A New Telling

  • Stargirl

  • The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

  • Various Poems and Short Stories

Religion

Students study the history of the Catholic Church beginning with the Acts of the Apostles to the Church of today. Students are exposed to the different councils, the Protestant Reformation, the Enlightenment Period, and key figures such as St. Paul, St. Ignatius, and Thomas Aquinas. As part of our outreach activity, we crochet baby blankets to donate to new mothers and babies who are supported by the Diocesan Layette Program through the Diocese of San Jose. Each student is responsible for crocheting one blanket to present at our 7th grade Novena service during the Advent season. Often, even the most improbable student becomes highly engaged in the activity, and may end up presenting multiple hand-crocheted blankets. During the second semester the 7th grade acts out a live representation of the Stations of the Cross for the school and parish community. Students are given many opportunities to participate in Mass as lectors, readers and gift bearers. Their ability to proclaim the Word with reverence is a highlight of this year of growth

Social Studies

Students study a variety of curriculum topics including:

  • —Europe During Medieval Times

  • —Muhammad & the Rise of Islam

  • —Culture & Kingdoms of West Africa

  • —Imperial China & Medieval Japan

  • —Civilizations of the Americas(Mayans, Incas, Aztecs)

  • —Renaissance & Reformation

  • —Modern Age of Europe (age of Exploration, Scientific Revolution – good foundation for going back to US History in 8th grade)

  • —Daily Geography (latitude, longitude, maps, data & table analysis, population, climate, etc.)

Hands-on learning, critical thinking and analysis of primary and secondary sources, experiential exercises and connections to current events in the real world help the medieval world come alive as we study the past.

Math

St. Martin of Tours continues to  meet the needs of a diverse student learning population by differentiating instruction within three separate classes of students that range in size from 8 to 15 students.

  • Pre-Algebra

Both Algebra classes cover the entire Pre-Algebra curriculum at a pace suited to develop a strong foundation.  At the end of the year,  they will have the confidence to tackle more challenging concepts in 8th grade.

Students tackle the entire Pre-Algebra curriculum covering topics from exponents, fractions, and percents to solving and graphing linear equations and inequalities to basic geometry and statistical skills.  Individual and group projects connect classroom learning to the real world around them.  From designing a board game to graphing the trajectory of a softball to constructing a Mother’s Day card using compasses to the end of the year Math Olympics, the students have opportunities throughout the year to see the connection between their learning and their lives. Along with daily classwork, homework and projects, students take advantage of the classroom iPad center to work on Mathletics or Braingenie to reinforce and enrich classroom learning.

Pre-Algebra concepts include:

  • Algebraic Expressions and Integers
  • Solving One-Step Equations and Inequalities
  • Decimals and Equations
  • Factors, Fractions, and Exponents
  • Operations with Fractions
  • Ratios, Proportions, and Percents
  • Solving Multi-Step Equations and Inequalities
  • Linear Functions and Graphing
  • Area, Surface Area, and Volume
  • Irrational Numbers and Nonlinear Functions
  • Data Analysis
  • Algebra

​The goal of Algebra 1 is for students to be proficient in algebra concepts so that they may be ready to take Geometry in eighth grade.

Algebra 1 concepts include:

  • Solving Multi-Step Equations and Inequalities
  • Graphs and Functions
  • Linear Equations and their Graphs
  • Systems of Equations and Inequalities
  • Exponents
  • Polynomials and Factoring
  • Quadratic Equations and Functions
  • Radical Expressions and Equations
  • Rational Expressions and Equations

Social Studies

Students explore U.S. history and geography together while connecting to current events. The following topics of learning are emphasized through interactive lessons, activities, debates, reading and a variety of assessment.

  • Colonial life
  • American Revolution, Declaration of Independence
  • Slavery, Civil War, Reconstruction
  • Native Americans — Trail of Tears
  • Constitution, Bill of Rights
  • First Amendment cases
  • Immigration
  • Civil Rights Movement
  • Progressive Era
  • Industrial Revolution
  • Reconstruction

We use History Alive! The United States Through Industrialism from the Teachers Curriculum Institute as our text. Activity highlights from the year include: a Colonial town meeting debate, a Constitutional Convention, a mock First Amendment trial, writing children's book versions of the Declaration of Independence, Constitutional Law Day, and a trip to Angel Island during our unit on immigration.

Physical Education

Physical Education is taught in grades K-8.  The objectives of the Physical Education Program are to promote physical growth development and maintenance through activities that develop strength, vigor, vitality skill and coordination.  To develop useful skills in physical activities.  To instill a desire to enjoy participating in physical recreation throughout life.  Grades 4-8 participate in the President's Physical Fitness Challenge twice a year and are given their results which are compared to the national average of children in their age group.

Field Trips

  • Children’s Musical Theater

  • Don Edward’s Wildlife Refuge

  • Yosemite - Nature Bridge Science camp

Science

Students study physical science, which is an introduction to chemistry, physics, and astronomy. The scientific method is interwoven throughout the year and students show off their mastery of this concept by participating in the science fair in April. Each year the science fair progresses in degree of difficulty, so by 8th grade students make formal presentations to an audience of their peers and parents. With the common core standards as our foundation, students understand the importance of reading and writing in order to articulate their ideas about concepts they learn in class in many ways. Students write lab reports, create love stories about atoms having chemical reactions, and even write poetry inspired by elements. In class, students have an opportunity to learn in many styles, but a strong focus is placed on hands on learning. Students participate and create labs about questions they have about living things, explore their world through virtual webquests, and practice scientific skills in stations. 8th grade science is a fun and challenging class and prepares students for high school science.

Math

Students take Algebra 1 or Geometry their 8th grade year. Two Algebra courses are offered in order to meet the needs of our students. Both classes address the same concepts throughout the year however one class moves at a faster pace whereas the other class moves at a moderate pace. The goal of these two classes is to offer our students a place where they can be more successful. Students learn at different paces and math concepts are very important and it is necessary for students to master these skills to prepare them for high school.

Students use the Prentice Hall Algebra 1 textbook and begin the year by reviewing concepts from 7th grade Pre-Algebra such as algebraic expressions, integers, absolute value, and the order of operations. These are essential tools to master since they appear throughout the Algebra curriculum. Students then concentrate on solving single-step and multi-step equations/inequalities, focusing on the execution of each problem in order to find the value(s) of the given variable. During the second trimester, students learn how to graph linear and quadratic functions on the coordinate place, and how to solve systems of equations and inequalities. The school year ends with learning about Radical and Rational Expressions/Equations, Factoring Polynomials, and an overview of the Properties of Exponents.

Students are assessed quite frequently through quick checks, chapter tests, quizzes, pop quizzes, spiral review of previous concepts, and in class assignments. Students are able to ask questions and have immediate feedback or assistance from their teacher prior to a test/quiz or general assessment.

Algebra 1 concepts include:

  • Solving Multi-Step Equations and Inequalities
  • Graphs and Functions
  • Linear Equations and their Graphs
  • Systems of Equations and Inequalities
  • Exponents
  • Polynomials and Factoring
  • Quadratic Equations and Functions
  • Radical Expressions and Equations
  • Rational Expressions and Equations

Language Arts

Students continue to grow their ability to critique what they read. Students are expected to master the skills practiced in 7th grade and identify themes, symbols, and infer deeper meaning on their own. Students are challenged to think and write on a deeper level. These skills are honed through in class discussions, writing assignments (expository, narrative, and persuasive), debates, group projects, and student presentations. The reading material covers a vast array of intriguing philosophical topics which allows each student to continue to develop his or her own world view. We also spend time polishing vocabulary grammar skills. The 8th grade standards have a strong focus on mastering the use of various verb forms. These concepts are taught through a combination of lecture and student led, project based learning.

Novels read include:

  • The Phantom Tollbooth

  • Chew On This

  • To Kill a Mockingbird

  • Speak

  • It’s Kind of a Funny Story

  • Various Poems and Short Stories

Social Studies

Students explore U.S. history and geography together while connecting to current events. The following topics of learning are emphasized through interactive lessons, activities, debates, reading and a variety of assessment.

  • Colonial life
  • American Revolution, Declaration of Independence
  • Slavery, Civil War, Reconstruction
  • Native Americans — Trail of Tears
  • Constitution, Bill of Rights
  • First Amendment cases
  • Immigration
  • Civil Rights Movement
  • Progressive Era
  • Industrial Revolution
  • Reconstruction

We use History Alive! The United States Through Industrialism from the Teachers Curriculum Institute as our text. Activity highlights from the year include: a Colonial town meeting debate, a Constitutional Convention, a mock First Amendment trial, writing children's book versions of the Declaration of Independence, Constitutional Law Day, and a trip to Angel Island during our unit on immigration.

Physical Education

Physical Education is taught in grades K-8.  The objectives of the Physical Education Program are to promote physical growth development and maintenance through activities that develop strength, vigor, vitality skill and coordination.  To develop useful skills in physical activities.  To instill a desire to enjoy participating in physical recreation throughout life.  Grades 4-8 participate in the President's Physical Fitness Challenge twice a year and are given their results which are compared to the national average of children in their age group.

Religion

Highlights of 8th grade religion allow teenagers to continue their spiritual journey with an emphasis on learning more about Jesus and building their relationships through interactions and prayer. They study church vocations and participate in the annual Serra Club essay contest writing about religious vocations. While learning more about Jesus they discover the miracles of Jesus through bible study and parables. Students are given opportunities to participate in the parish Confirmation program during their 8th grade year as they continue to build their commitment to their faith. To prepare them for high school religion curriculum, students are challenged to think critically about social justice issues and be able to write across the discipline. 8th graders are big buddies to the 1st grade class who they sit with at Mass and guide them to be Followers of Jesus as well.

Field Trips

  • Olympic National Park in Washington

  • Angel Island

Advisory

Small groups composed of 7th and 8th graders meet weekly with one of the middle school teachers. During this time the teachers check in with their advisees, and discuss critical tween topics in a small group format. Throughout the year each advisory group literally becomes a family where they share morning snacks as well as social and academic concerns, compete in fun team challenges against other’s advisory groups, and do service outreach projects. Students and teachers eagerly look forward to these times of small group bonding!

Collaboration

Collaboration occurs once a week where 7th and 8th students can receive one to one help from any of their teachers, collaborate on group projects, or practice school related skills such as typing or organizational skills. Teachers place an emphasis on students working with their teachers one to one or in small groups to learn to ask clarifying questions about a subject or process that will better prepare them to manage their academic needs in high school.

Class Meetings

Once a week 7th and 8th students have a class period to discuss issues or concerns they have as a class. It is also a time where students and teachers can further build camaraderie by participating in class wide tasks. The homeroom teacher facilitates the discussion and leads the students in positive problem solving, if needed. Actively including students in the critical process of decision-making reinforces student buy-in and the importance of teamwork!

8th Grade Play

Each year, students show off their talents by singing, dancing, and acting in a musical performance. The entire school and parish community are invited to watch as the soon-to-be graduates shine on stage in a performance selected specifically to showcase their gifts. This much-loved tradition is a capstone to their nine year tenure at St. Martin of Tours.