Middle School

MIDDLE SCHOOL (GRADES 6-8) teachers work closely together as a team to provide a variety of learning opportunities for our students.  We nurture our students to become productive young adults who are able to make meaningful, thoughtful contributions to the world.

Academic rigor across the curriculum is our standard, preparing students to be successful in any high school environment.

Gesher students graduate the eighth grade with high school credits for Spanish I, Hebrew I, Algebra I, and, for some students, Geometry and Hebrew II as well.

Middle School Curriculum Highlights

  • Reader’s Workshop
  • Writer’s Workshop
  • Word Study, Grammar, and Vocabulary
  • Mathematics*
  • Social Studies
  • Science
  • Bishvil Haivrit: Middle School Hebrew*
  • Jewish History
  • Limudei Kodesh: Tanakh (Bible) and Rabbinics
  • Spanish*
  • Health and Family Life

*Completion of these courses qualify for high school credits

Middle school students must become flexible, resilient readers. Reader’s workshop teaches them to develop a toolkit of strategies for dealing with difficulty. They will read broadly and deeply. They will develop strategies that are crucial to analyzing the intricacies of texts and recognize the power of language.

Our students are learning in the midst of an ever-changing, complex world. Our reading work will acknowledge the intricacies of the modern world while also building a strong breadth of reading knowledge within our readers.

The Middle School writer’s workshop gives students the tools necessary to write with a high level of proficiency. The writer’s workshop delivers a planned, sequential, explicit writing program. Through instruction, students practice writing in 3 distinct genres: analytical, informational, and personal narrative. Students’ writing is thoroughly edited and annotated through assessment-informed feedback at frequent intervals.

Writer’s workshop regularly engages students in planning and drafting a piece, then revising and editing their work, and finally publishing their writing for their peers to read. Through workshop sessions, students’ writing will become transparent, concrete, and as succinct. Students will also set goals and assess their own work.

This portion of the curriculum centers on the needs of individual students as well as the entire class. Grammar instruction will focus on the mistakes students make in their written work. Teacher instruction and teacher-student conferences will be used to help students recognize errors and teach them how to apply the relevant rules of grammar. Word Study, including spelling patterns and vocabulary, will also be individualized to meet the needs of each student. Students will study and analyze words to recognize patterns in both spelling and vocabulary. Follow-up revisionary activities will serve to reinforce concepts and help students to become actively involved in the study of language. Word study will include exploring and learning word patterns, identifying word roots, and understanding prefixes and suffixes. In this way, word study becomes a tool for both spelling and vocabulary.

Math 6 Students will gain a thorough understanding of 6th grade mathematical concepts  using problem solving, computational skills, vocabulary, appropriate use of manipulatives and technology, connections with other subjects, and real-world applications.

Pre-Algebra Students will gain a thorough understanding of pre-algebraic skills  with particular emphasis on problem solving, computational skills, interdisciplinary and life connections, collaboration and proper use of manipulatives and technology.

Algebra 1*  Students will gain a thorough understanding of first year Algebra. Emphasis will be placed on problem solving, connections to previous learning, collaboration, proper use of technology and manipulatives, and completing all stated objectives.

*Completion of this course qualifies for high school credit (taken by our 7th graders).

Geometry* Students will gain a thorough understanding of first-year Geometry. Emphasis will be placed on problem solving, connections to previous learning in Algebra and general mathematics, proper use of technology, manipulatives and completing all stated objectives.

*Completion of this course qualifies for high school credit (taken by our 8th graders).

6th grade Twentieth Century America

Students will explore the transformation of the United States as it recovers from the Civil War and grows into the Global Superpower it is today. Along the way, students will develop skills in problem solving, research, and collaboration. Using a variety of simulations, projects, and other assessments, students will become more informed about how the events that shaped their country and their impact.

7th/8th Grade Civics In an effort to become more informed and educated citizens, our 7th and 8th graders explore the roots of American Democracy, Citizenship and Economics. Our goal is for our students to leave Gesher with the understanding of the rights and responsibilities of US Citizens, the scope and limits of Government power, and the complexities of contemporary social, economic, and cultural issues. Using a variety of textbooks, primary sources, and an online curriculum called Documents of Freedom from the Bill of Rights Institute, we will go back to the Constitutional Convention in 1787 and work our way through two hundred years of change, growth, and challenge in the United States.

7th Grade Civics includes a class trip to Philadelphia! Learn more at Gesher Travel.

 

6th Grade- Earth Science By the end of the 6th grade school year, students should have a strong foundation in earth sciences.  The course will allow students to manifest scientific interests and attitudes using a hands-on approach to the topics presented.  Moreover, students will learn the necessary skills involved in scientific writing.

6th Grade Earth Science includes a trip to TEVA nature camp  Learn more at Gesher Travel.

7TH Grade Physical Science The 7th grade science students will have a strong understanding of the physical sciences and some background in engineering.  Their work will be broken into three major parts: concepts, application and lab.

8TH Grade Physical Science The 8th grade science students will have a strong understanding of the physical sciences and some background in engineering.  Their work will be broken into three major parts: concepts, application and lab.

Bishvil Haivrit is a comprehensive curriculum initiative in Hebrew language and culture, designed specifically for day school students in grades 6-12.  The Bishvil Haivrit project is driven by the belief that mastery of Hebrew will promote students’ understanding of their history, culture and tradition, excite them about lifelong Jewish learning, foster a sense of belonging to the Jewish people, and cultivate strong ties with Medinat Yisrael (the State of Israel) and Am Yisrael (the Jewish people).

The multi-dimensional Bishvil Haivrit program focuses on the four major language-acquisition skills – listening, speaking, reading, and writing – by immersing students in everything from classical Hebrew texts to Israeli music, and from historical documents to poetry and drama. The curriculum is sequential and based on a structured linguistic progression. Lessons are centered on themes of interest to teenagers, ranging from computers and sports to friendship and freedom. Each theme is presented from three perspectives: Jewish tradition, modern Israeli culture, and general world knowledge, including art, science, mathematics, literature and philosophy.  

*Completion of this course qualifies for high school credit

Judaism today is very different from the Judaism of ancient times.  How did a small, insular tribe of desert nomads evolve into the multicultural, multi-denominational Jews of the modern era?  Why did they change? What cultural and political events influenced them?

 

Middle School Jewish History is a three-year course spanning the entire history of the Jews.  During this course, students will develop familiarity with the major names, places, vocabulary, events and concepts of Jewish history; and acquire understanding of how the important events of Jewish history shaped Judaism as we know it today.

  • 6th Grade Jewish History Biblical Era through Rabbinic Era
  • 7th grade Rabbinic Era through Medieval Time
  • 8th grade The Enlightenment, The Holocaust, Modern Israel

8th grade Jewish History/Jewish Studies culminates in our signature 8th grade two week trip to Israel!  Learn more at Gesher Travel.

6th grade: Matok Bible Curriculum: In Bamidbar, Moshe organizes the people in the desert, leads them through their wanderings and the travails that ensue, and brings them up to the borders of the Promised Land.  Students will develop a sophisticated understanding of the book of Bamidbar.

 

They will connect the Biblical narrative to Jewish laws and practices, legal principles, and ethics. Bemidbar is a book about transitioning. Bemidbar explores Moses’ leadership and the rebellions which he faced.  The students make associations between the challenges our people experienced moving in the desert with the challenges they face as they move into adolescence.

 

7TH / 8TH Grade Limudei Kodesh: Bible Two-Year Tanakh Rotation

Year One – Ne’evim

This year is framed by the following question: How do we grow through challenges in our life?  The students will be examining this question as it pertains to each of the Biblical stories that we will study.  Each story will shed a nuanced light on the question and will guide the students to understand the complexity of personal growth that they are experiencing.  

Year Two (5779- 5780) – Ketuvim (Writings) & Bereshit

Texts: Jonah, Kohelet (Ecclesiastes), Esther, Shir haShirim, Ruth; Bereshit, Selected Mishnayot

The aim of Middle School Rabbinics is to open up Judaism’s rabbinic texts to the inquiry and exploration of our maturing students.  As complex and far-ranging as these texts – the Talmud (the central legal and theological text of the Jewish people), rabbinic midrashim (narratives), and subsequent commentaries – are, they are nevertheless accessible to study for all ages.  As such, our class will learn to read these texts in the original Hebrew (and some Aramaic!) and begin the formal process of understanding the rabbinic vision of living life Jewishly.

This classroom will function as do classic batei midrash – that is, as typical houses of Jewish scholarship.  The students will learn about the historical and cultural milieu of the developing Talmud as well as immerse themselves in rabbinic texts.  They will learn to translate, debate translations, discern meaning, debate interpretation and begin to construct a three-dimensional comprehension of the religion and practices of the modern day.  

Spanish 1* (7th and 8th Grade)

Through Spanish instruction at Gesher, students develop an awareness of and an appreciation for another unique way of life, patterns of behavior which order their world, and the ideas and perspectives which guide their behaviors. Students learn about the contributions of other cultures to the world and how these contributions have shaped international perspectives.

In Spanish class, students communicate while developing the skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing in the target language. Gesher’s program of studies standards are based on the five “Cs” of the National Standards for Foreign Language: Communication, Cultures, Connections, Comparisons, and Communities. Students learn about the culture and gain knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of various Spanish traditions. They make connections with other subject areas, different students’ backgrounds, and develop insight into the nature of language and culture by comparing the students’ own languages and cultures to another.

*Completion of this course qualifies for high school credit