Middle School Academics
Course of Studies
For detailed information about our methods, philosophy, class offerings, and curriculum descriptions, please click on link below for Course of Studies 2011-12.
Course of Studies 2011-12
Language Arts:The language arts program encourages students to express themselves confidently and effectively, to make connections between their world and what they read, and to develop a personal style and voice in their writing. The curriculum strives to close the gap between the students’ reading ability and their writing capability. The language arts curriculum has five basic components: vocabulary, grammar, writing workshop, literature, and oral communication.In writer’s workshop, students learn the steps of the writing process through cooperative learning activities and individual student-teacher conferences. The literature component includes poetry, short stories, mythology, and novels. Students read classic and contemporary works of literature, learning basic elements of the short story and novel, as well as poetic devises. Writing is used to explore literature through reading response journals. To enhance verbal skills, students give oral recitations, participate in an in-school public speaking competition, and perform plays.
Reading: In grades five through eight emphasis is placed on refining critical thinking and analytical skills through an intense study of the elements of a novel, the author's purpose and technique and the use of figurative language in poetry and prose. Students apply these skills to various pieces of literature, ranging from myths and legends, folk tales, poetry, short stories and novels. As a supplement to this process, the reading program works in tandem with the language arts program. Students in 5th and 6th grade continue to have reading class together. Students in 7th and 8th take Literature I or Advanced Literature according to appropriate level which is determined by teacher evaluation, test grades, and standardized testing scores.
Social Studies: Middle School social studies teaches history, geography, economics and sociology in an experienced-based program. In addition to memorizing facts students use texts, novels, videos, Smart Boards and projects to explore the life and issues of various historical periods. Students "live" the lives of the people they study by keeping personal journals. Cross curriculum projects with language arts, science and computer class enable students to see the relevance of the past to their lives now. Particular emphasis is placed on the ancient world, medieval Europe, the Renaissance, Colonial America, the Constitution, the Civil War, and the development of the modern world. In addition to exploring the past, students explore contemporary issues, such as illegal immigration, sweat shops, tolerance and prejudice.
Math: The Middle School curriculum emphasizes the basic mathematical skills of numeration, addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division of whole numbers, fractions, and decimals. Concepts are taught through the study of measurement, geometry, statistics, probability, number theory, ratio, and proportion. Particular attention is paid to developing and improving word problem-solving skills to increase higher-level thinking and analytical abilities. Students in grade six are split into two groups to keep class size to less than ten students but are not tracked by ability. All students in grade seven take the Pre-Algebra course. All eighth grade students take the high school Algebra I course. Advanced Pre-Algebra and Algebra I classes are offered to students who qualify based on teacher evaluation, test grades and standardized testing. Projects, such as My Favorite Number and Famous Mathematicians and Their Theories, which require students to use Power Point and Smart Board technology, encourage students to use technology and math skills while reinforcing writing and presentation skills across the curriculum. Students in the junior high develop confidence working with numbers because they have a strong foundation of math basics and enjoy fun activities throughout the year, such as the Math Marathon, Math Jeapordy, Super Bowl Math, Pi Day, and the 100th Day of School. A math club is offered after school for math lovers!
Science: The cornerstone of our science program is a hands-on curriculum that requires each student to be actively involved in the learning process. Science curriculum in the Middle School begins with General Science in fifth grade, Earth Science in sixth, Physical Science in 7th and Life Science in eight grade. Through lectures, research, lab reports, classroom demonstrations and technology, students acquire basic scientific knowledge and understanding of the scientific method. Two science labs are available to students in grades 5-8 and each lab comes equipped with computers, dissection tables, microscopes and a Smart Board. The curriculum is includes up to date science textbooks, supplemented with websites, labs, field trips, virtual dissections, double lab periods, DVDs and videos that stimulate the students’ exploration and discovery of the scientific world. Field trips in the past have included trips to the beach, local preserve’s mineral mine, ponds and planetariums.
Religion: Our Middle School religion curriculum includes study of the Bible, the sacraments, the structure and role of the church in the community, current issues and practices in the Catholic Church, the history of Dominican tradition and the responsibility of the individual. Students of many faiths explore different religions and share their individual faith traditions with the class. Ecumenical prayer services are prepared and led by students. In addition monthly liturgies are celebrated with the entire school community. The goal of the program is to form students who will make a difference in this world through acts of peace and justice through a structured program, we deal with topics of critical importance to young people, such as tolerance and acceptance of individual differences, the human life cycle from conception through death, the sacredness of life, family and friendship. Inquiry based learning and teacher guided discussions about topics such as moral choices related to drugs, personal and family responsibilities, and sexuality help students navigate difficult decisions and topics in a safe environment. As part of the sacramental program, students will be prepared to make their confirmation through their parishes.
Field Trips: Students continue to learn outside of the classroom with exciting field trips through out the year. Field trips, assemblies and guest speakers reinforce what is learned in the classes and give students a much broader understanding of how the curriculum relates to their world.
Conferences & Reporting
At Lacordaire Academy, we believe effective and frequent communication between school and home is paramount to the success of our students. Every faculty member and administrator has a school email address, and our policy is to respond to any concerns or questions within 24 hours if not sooner. Our students in the Middle School are all assigned school email addresses so that they have daily access to homework assignments, in addition to what is recorded in the assignment pads which parents must be sign each day. An official progress report followed by a report card are sent home once a quarter, approximately every six weeks, and parent-teacher conferences with the core subject teachers are held the first week in November. In addition to these conferences, however, confereneces may be scheduled with any teacher through our main office at any time.
At Lacordaire Academy in grades Pre K to 12, faculty use technology to engage students, to address all kinds of learning strategies and styles, and to prepare students for 21st Century classrooms and careers. Technology is used to promote critical thinking, problem solving, and global awareness. The Academy has close to twenty interactive Smart Boards, making this technology available to every grade and subject in the Academy. Last year Lacordaire received 16 iPad II's, and 10 iPad minis for our faculty to use in their classes. We began our iPad program by giving the iPads to the faculty and providing extensive professional development and one to one training and support so that they could become expert with the technology. Several schools have visited Lacordaire served as a model to several schools whose administration and faculty visited to learn from the Academy's pilot programs and use of technology in the classroom.
Four iPads have also been made available to our Pre K and Kindergarten students for center time. Additionally, students have access to computers in their classrooms, in addition to the two newly renovated computer labs and media room on campus.
As part of a popular pilot program last year, students in Middle School learned to use tablets, such as Kindles and Nooks, to increase active reading. They learned to highlight and annotate, as well as to research using tools available with this technology. Now students are free to bring in their own tablets from home to make outside reading more available and affordable to parents and to provide the students with necessary skills.
Middle School students learn file management, Word Processing and presentation skills, using lap tops, Smart Boards,and iPads. They skype with students from other countries such as Yugoslavia and Algeria, communicate in French with students in Benin, and have lessons in history from teachers in Bulgaria.
Service & Leadership
At Lacordaire Academy, students have a myriad of opportunities to serve and lead others.
Students who seek communitiy service may do so through the L.A.C.O. Service clubs which hosts fundraisers for those in our own school community as well as those abroad. Students in this club organize the anual walkathon for our St. Dominic's fund, collect winter coats and food for the homeless during the holiday season, visit and decorate nursing homes, raise money and awareness for breast cancer, and provide school supplies for a school in Haitii that was damaged during the most recent earthquakes .For those concerned about the Environment and conservation issues, there is a very active Environmental club. Lacordaire's Girl Scouts learn how to help others and their world while having fun with friends after school. Our Lacordaire troop camps, hikes, visits historical and important sites, such as the state capitol and local government buildings, sells cookies, sings Christmas carols for a cause and much, much more! The Peer Tutoring club is open to students in grades 6-8 and provides free tutoring after school for students in grades 1-7 who need assistance with homework. Student Council members from the 7th and 8th grade assist with everything from Pizza days to the student ambassador program. Lacordaire Academy prides itself for being able to see a need and respond in a timely fashion with assistance.
Although our school may seem small in size, there are over 40 extra-curricular sports, clubs or activities throught the academy during the year. Each of these provide an opportunity for leadership. Whether captain of the forensics, basketball or volleyball teams, President of the French club or student council, or editor of the yearbook, students learn the responsibilities, challenges and rewards of a leadership role with the support and guidance of a coach or faculty member.
Award Winning Public Speaking Team Lacordaire Academy's Middle School Forensic team is currently ranked first in the North Jersey Junior Forensics League for 2012-13. The team was the League Champions last year and won 2nd place at the annual Union Catholic High School tournament for middle schools all over New Jersey.
Award Winning Performing Arts Program Each year our 7th and 8th graders participate in a Shakespeare competition held at Drew University and run by Shakespeare Live. Several of our students win awards and the school has been commended on its program and productions of The Tempest and A Comedy of Errors.
Award Winning Writing Program Grades K-8 use a process approach to teach writing. Lacordaire Academy was recognized as an Honor School by Creative Communications for categories of personal narratives and poetry.
High Standardized Test Scores The most recent Terra Nova test scores for grades 1-7in 2011 met Blue Ribbon Schools academic standards.
High Writing Assessment Scores In November 2011, 7th grade students scored 96.2% for the class mean on the Terra Nova Writing Assessment which means they performed better than 96% of students who took the test nationally.