Sixth through Eighth Grades Overview
All Trinity School students follow the same curriculum. The curriculum is carefully constructed as an integrated and coherent whole. Each element of the curriculum is purposefully related to the learning environment and to the rest of the curriculum. Each course builds on those that precede it.
Borrowing from the elements in the classical notion of a liberal education, we stratify the curriculum according to the categories of grammar, logic and rhetoric. The sixth through eighth grades are considered grammar courses; they communicate the basic elements of things. The ninth- and tenth-grade courses are logic courses, which begin to articulate the implications and relationships that exist among the ideas already learned. The eleventh- and twelfth-grade courses are rhetoric courses, wherein the students begin to synthesize and interrelate ideas and concepts that they have already learned.
By laying a strong foundation in the grammar years, Trinity School students are ready for the challenges of a curriculum filled with mathematics, science, fine arts, humanities and Scripture.
Bible – As a prelude to the seventh and eighth grade courses, the sixth grade Bible course focuses on the geography of the biblical lands. Students will study the Ancient Near Eastern lands of Mesopotamia, Egypt, Palestine, Greece, Rome and Asia Minor.
Literature and Composition – This course focuses on forming students into better readers so that they are able to develop into better writers. Throughout the year, students read literature and learn to discuss plot, character, imagery, and other literary elements. They are encouraged to engage imaginatively with the text and enter into the world of the story. Students improve their vocabulary and language skills by studying Latin and Greek roots of the English language, observing word patterns in the dictionary, and studying unknown words from the course texts. The reading list includes the following: Alfred Lansing, Endurance: Shakleton’s Incredible Voyage; and C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
Great Lakes Regional History – This course focuses on the history of the Great Lakes from prehistoric times to the present. Students study the natural formation the region, major Native American civilizations, the settlement of the land and establishment of states, and the development of major industries, as well as the ongoing impact the region has on our national welfare. Highlights in the course include numerous field trips and exploratory projects.
World Geography – In this course, students build knowledge of World Geography through practicing cartography. Starting with the United States and moving through the world’s continents, students use latitude and longitude coordinates, memory devices, and practice exercises to learn the geography of a world region and draw maps of its major features. At the end of the year, students use their accumulated knowledge to draw a map of the world entirely from memory!
Math and Logic – In this course, students begin the transition from the concrete, arithmetic thought of elementary school years to more general algebraic thought of the middle school years. This transition starts with the study of fractions as numbers and continues with performing arithmetic operations on them and understanding their equivalent representations as decimals, percents and points on the number line. Students will also grow in their ability to formulate questions, solve word problems, and express the logic of their solutions through investigations and logic puzzles.
Science – To encourage depth of inquiry and sense of wonder, students are introduced to the world of science primarily through project-building, experimentation, and stories. Sections include lake, sea, and glacier ecology; the chemistry and nutrition of cooking; and simple machines. Students approach projects with directed questions, such as "How can an igloo keep someone warm?", "Why does yeast make bread rise?”, and "Could I lift an elephant?"
World Mythology – This course aims at imaginative engagement with Egyptian, Greek, Norse and Native American myths, and developing knowledge of the stories and their characters. The students encounter the different ways that these peoples tried to understand the world around them through stories. The creation and ordering of the material world, the origins of customs and traditions, the role of the gods in human life and the hero’s journey feature prominently in these readings.
Art – The course is divided into three major sections, each of which culminates in an original work. The class begins with an introduction, in pencil and pen, to the fundamentals of drawing and composition. From there students move on to the study of value, where they are familiarized with the brush and taught to lay basic monochrome ink washes. The course concludes with a section on the basic uses of color.
Music – Students will develop a fundamental understanding of and appreciation for the beauty and structure of music through sight-singing, using mostly European and American folk songs. They will also complete a music history project.
Prealgebra – focuses initially on numbers and their properties, especially integers, decimals, fractions and percentages. Students are then introduced to elementary set theory and move on to geometric figures and their properties. Finally, they study linear equations.
Earth, Life and Space Science I – topics include insects, astronomy, trees, rocks, mammals, plate tectonics, weather, plants, surface processes and birds. Observation and the development of a sense of wonder are stressed. Classification and data analysis are involved in each topic.
Literature and Composition I – focuses on grammar, with the goal of making the students better readers and, ultimately, better writers. The course begins with a study of the parts of speech, then teaches the construction of sentences and culminates in teaching how to write a coherent paragraph of at least five sentences. Throughout the year, the students read both literature and poetry. They learn how to discern and discuss plot, setting, imagery, character and other elements of literature. Reading list: Jack Schaefer, Shane; Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows; Ann Petry, Harriet Tubman: Conductor on the Underground Railroad; Esther Forbes, Johnny Tremain; British and American poetry.
Ancient History – studies early civilizations from the rise of the Sumerians around 3500 BC to the sack of Rome in 410 AD. Specifically, students learn about the civilizations of the Tigris-Euphrates River Valley, Egypt, the Near East, Greece and Rome and how they interacted. The course involves reading, lectures, note-taking, discussions, video and various hands-on activities.
Old Testament – studies the main characters and narrative accounts of the Old Testament. In particular, the focus is on God’s creation, his establishment of a covenant with his people, the history of Israel, prophecy and the messianic hope.
Latin I – a study of three of the groups (declensions) of nouns and adjectives and all verb groups (conjugations), including irregular verbs. Students are expected to master a substantial vocabulary, to understand elementary Latin grammar and to acquire a basic skill in translating from English to Latin as well as from Latin to English.
Music I – focuses on recorder playing, music theory and the history of the Baroque Era in music. The rudiments of note-reading, note values and rhythm, time signatures, major scales and key signatures are studied. By the end of the semester, students perform individually in a recorder recital and write several elementary melodies.
Art I – begins with a unit on calligraphy, emphasizing basic pencil techniques and the use of color in illuminated word designs. Students are then taught to draw, with an emphasis on proper proportions and shading. They finish the semester by studying and practicing portraiture.
Algebra – focuses on developing skills for solving equations with one or two variables. Quadratic as well as linear equations are solved. Students are also introduced to functions and their graphic representations. The concepts and skills the students gain in this course are the foundation for all future mathematics at Trinity School.
Earth, Life and Space Science II – builds on topics covered in the seventh-grade course. Each student completes a major project on a topic from life, earth or space science. This project includes a written report and the construction of a three-dimensional model.
Literature and Composition II – focuses on the reading and discussion of literature, the mastery of English grammar and punctuation and the writing of a formal paragraph. Instruction in the rules and structure of English grammar and coherent paragraph-writing lays a foundation for the essay-writing that students will pursue in the rest of the curriculum. Readings include: J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit; Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol; Beowulf; Roger L. Green, King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table; William Gibson, The Miracle Worker; British and American poetry.
Medieval History – a thematic examination of the history of Western Europe from roughly 200 BC to the beginning of the Renaissance. Students learn about the emergence and spread of Christianity in the Roman Empire, the development of modern nation-states from the collapsed Roman Empire, the role of the Catholic Church and its institutions in Western Europe, the struggles between the Catholic Church and secular authorities and the conflict between Islam and Christian Europe. Primary and secondary sources are read and discussed.
New Testament – begins with a review of the Old Testament claims about the end of Israel’s exile and then proceeds with an in-depth reading of the Gospel of Mark. The focus of the reading is on the new covenant that Jesus establishes with his followers by his life, teaching, death and resurrection. Acts of the Apostles is read to illustrate how the early Christians tried to live out Jesus’ new covenant. As time permits, students read and discuss excerpts from the Epistles and the Book of Revelation.
Latin II – covers the core grammar of Latin. Students learn the indicative forms of active and passive verbs, five noun declensions, adjectives, pronouns, adverbs and subordinate clauses. Learning new vocabulary and grammar is aimed increasingly at understanding the relationships of different parts of a sentence and at coherent and fluid translation of Latin stories.
Music II – builds on the foundation laid in seventh grade. Students continue playing the recorder (now in ensembles) and study the history of the Classical Era in music, focusing on Mozart. Minor scales, key signatures, triads and intervals are covered in music theory and each student writes a two-part composition at the end of the semester.
Art II – begins with a review of the drawing techniques learned in seventh grade. The students then learn several new drawing skills and new techniques with colored pencils, pastels and watercolors.