A window into the Presidio Hill middle school classroom...
Sixth-grade humanities is an integrated course blending history, reading and writing. The themes for the year are stories, community and race. Students explore cultures through dynamic projects in which students research and solve problems. In the fall students prepare a proposal for an archeological dig in an Ancient Culture, looking as the different aspects of community. In the winter students learn about the stories of the Civil Rights Movement. In the spring students turn inward and tell their own stories through "This I Believe" essays. Students read a variety of texts and have the opportunity to express themselves using multiple forms of writing, including poetry, speeches, persuasive writing, analytical paragraphs and more. In support of the transition to middle school, humanities begins with a unit on community and identity entitled Where I'm From. Read more.
Working cooperatively in teams, math students engage in hands-on activities, experiments, projects and data collection, analysis and interpretation. Sixth-grade students grow determined as they develop the ability to reason abstractly and quantitatively, use tools skillfully, produce precise and accurate results, and effectively communicate their mathematical understanding. Students explore, discover and hone skills in the following mathematical strands: number theory, patterns, statistics, geometry, problem solving and beginning algebra. Real-world applications of math skills learned in class enrich the learning experience and solidify understanding of concepts. Read more.
A concentration on Earth's dynamic systems and their interrelations makes up sixth-grade science. Students engage in labs and hands-on activities, often project based, as they study the solar system and planetary geology, compare Mars and Earth, and take an in-depth look at the geology of water. In the spring, students explore extreme weather and the ecology of the San Francisco Bay and are introduced to climate change. Students employ the scientific method as they collect and interpret data, make informed hypotheses and work cooperatively in science teams. Read more.
Students explore modern history and cultures, beginning the year with an in-depth study of identity and community through short stories and poetry, and curricular investigations of Yosemite National Park in preparation for a four-day trip to Yosemite. Students also explore social justice topics, human migration, indigenous peoples and the Holocaust. Readings, debates and research projects form the basis of their examination of different government and political systems, economy, globalization and geography. Students develop and hone their abstract analysis skills while reading The Outsiders, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Maus I and II, along with two other independent reading books. Identity is a theme throughout the year, and in particular we focus heavily on gender. We use gender as a lens throughout our projects and discussions to better understand gender expectations and stereotypes in the world around us. Through informal and formal writing, students study grammar, vocabulary and rhetoric. Read more.
Collaborative learning, strong mathematical reasoning and effective communication of ideas are emphasized in seventh-grade math. Students explore six dynamic, real-world thematic units, including number sense, algebra, geometry, measurement, statistics and probability. Read more.
Seventh-grade science concentrates students’ investigations on life sciences, with an emphasis on environmental science, botany and human biology. Their work is done through inquiry-based science, a process where students actively develop their own knowledge and understanding of scientific ideas, as well as learn how scientists study the natural world. Our science program teaches and expects students to go beyond the memorization of basic facts and concepts. While it is important to be familiar with key scientific ideas, we strive to push students beyond these basics and to do something authentic with their knowledge. This means students are asked to create a product or perform an activity that has value outside of the classroom. Read more.
In eighth grade, students strengthen their critical thinking and comprehension through an investigation of U.S. history and culture. Areas of study include democracy, revolution and the ongoing struggle for equality. Formal research papers, reading responses and essays allow for independent study, while journaling, creative writing and class discussions encourage curiosity, dialogue and reflection. All eighth graders participate in script writing and the performance of an original, all-school musical called Follies. The year kicks off with the Social Action Project, an integrated unit exploring social justice and reflecting Presidio Hill School’s mission of active community awareness and engagement. Read more.
Presidio Hill eighth graders conquer the third course in the third generation of Michigan State University's Middle School Connected Math Project. Students are challenged to think critically, justify their reasoning mathematically, apply skills from across content areas, solve interesting and challenging real-world problems, model mathematically and develop their ability to think/communicate algebraically/abstractly. Students learn and apply eight mathematical practices/standards as they make sense of and describe the world mathematically. Daily investigations and explorations challenge students to identify and describe linear relationships, inverse variations, exponential functions, quadratic phenomena and rational functions occurring in an impressive variety of situations and contexts. Students develop the ability to talk about, document, represent, model and apply these relationships as they discover, explore and create. Read more.
Eighth graders hone their understanding of and ability to apply nine essential practices of science and engineering including: asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering); developing and using models; planning and carrying out investigations; analyzing and interpreting data; using mathematics and computational thinking; constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering); engaging in argument from evidence; obtaining, evaluating and communicating information and using technology mindfully and ethically. These essential practices provide the foundation for a year of explorations, discoveries and creations. Students use each and every lab, exploration and culminating project as an opportunity to measure, document, analyze, describe and apply relationships as they observe, conclude, generalize, test and apply key relationships and underlying phenomenon related to the big ideas of motion, forces, energy, atomic structures, the periodic table of elements, chemistry, acid/base and redox reactions. Read more.