Middle School Curriculum

Sayre's Middle School provides a curriculum designed to equip young people with the information, skills, and discernment they need to make good choices. In a nurturing and supportive atmosphere, our students learn the value of attaining fluency in another language in order to thrive in a diverse global society, to see that community service and awareness are the responsibilities of every concerned citizen, to grasp the importance of communication, both written and oral, to realize that education is a life-long process,  and to recognize that increased freedom and independence come with heightened responsibilities.

Sayre MS Program Highlights


Sayre creates an environment in which students are immersed in literature and writing, encouraging students to become accurate, life-long readers and skilled writers aware of their own voices, while deepening students' awareness of themselves, others, and the world.

5th Grade

  • Read from a variety of genres
  • Introduce students to figurative language
  • Practice using text evidence for comprehension
  • Practice inference skills for comprehension 
  • Explore theme(s) in literature
  • Write daily
  • Build vocabulary through lessons
  • Study and practice grammar skills

6th Grade

  • Introduce plot and the elements of narrative
  • Write daily in short/medium/long formats
  • Learn to write for different rhetorical types
  • Read critically from a variety of genres
  • Investigate interdisciplinary themes (especially in relation to 6th grade Social Studies)
  • Study and practice grammar skills
  • Build vocabulary through lessons and use

7th Grade

  • Read literature in its historical context
  • Develop an increasingly sophisticated vocabulary for use in both oral and written formats
  • Write creative pieces that spring from the novels read
  • Write expository pieces analyzing the works studied throughout the year
  • Review books through oral presentations, book trailers, and posters
  • Analyze novels, short stories, and poems
  • Develop an understanding of writer's voice
  • Develop transitional sentences in writing
  • Study the rules of grammar and mechanics in relation to the development of one’s writing
  • Focus on outside readings as a means of not only exploring interests but also increasing reading fluency and comprehension.

8th Grade

  • Write original short stories focusing on voice, character, and conflict
  • Develop an increasingly sophisticated vocabulary for use in both oral and written formats
  • Closely read literary passages with an eye for figurative language and literary devices
  • Analyze themes of utopia, dystopia, individuality, and power
  • Extend poetry and short story analysis
  • Read and write several forms of poetry
  • Read a Shakespearean play
  • Continue to review books through oral presentations, book trailers, and posters
  • Further focus on grammar usage and punctuation in the context of student writing
  • Compose and peer edit multiple essays
  • Focus on outside readings as a means of not only exploring interests but also increasing reading fluency and comprehension.

Fine Arts

Sayre incorporates creativity, aesthetics, criticism, and history into a flexible and evolving curriculum which emphasizes the development of increasingly sophisticated skills and concepts through students' experiences in the arts. Each student in the Middle School takes Music, Theatre, and Visual Art every year. Fine Arts classes are scheduled each marking period and meet four times per week.


5th Grade

  • Explore in detail instruments of the orchestra and the art form of ballet
  • Discover famous composers throughout history
  • Introduce beginning guitar skills

6th Grade

  • Explore the history of Rock and Roll by reading and discussing the book, What is Rock and Roll, by Jim O'Connor
  • Learn the rudiments of guitar, including pitches and chords
  • Facilitate performance skills by practicing and performing songs played on the guitar

7th Grade

  • Discover the history of Jazz Music in America
  • Continued learning of technique and performance etiquette associated with playing the guitar (including performances in front of an audience)
  • In depth study of rhythm, musical form, note identification, music history, and other music theory concepts

8th Grade

  • Discover and explore the various genres of music, from rock to the history of classical music
  • Expand on the guitar skills students learned in the 6th and 7th grades, becoming proficient on the guitar before leaving the 8th grade

NOTE: Chorus in offered to students in the 5th through the 8th grade during the school day.
NOTE: Students in the 7th and 8th grade have the opportunity to participate in the middle school musical.


5th Grade

  • Explore empathy through theatre exercises
  • Introduce the elements and principles of improvisation
  • Introduce Shakespeare through the comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream

6th Grade

  • Introduce theatre performance elements and vocabulary
  • Develop observation skills and discuss audience etiquette
  • Begin using basic acting and storytelling skills by writing and performing in their own scenes.

7th Grade

  • Introduce the elements of script analysis
  • Introduce concepts of vocal production
  • Develop basic acting skills

8th Grade

  • Develop skills as critics/reviewers
  • Develop principles of stage movement
  • Introduce fundamentals of playwriting

Visual Arts

5th Grade

  • Explore the Elements and Principles of Art
  • Create a variety of color pallets
  • Create two- and three dimensional artworks
  • Discover and explore art genres
  • Develop an art vocabulary
  • Proper care of art supplies and tools
  • Safety in the art studio

6th Grade

  • Broaden awareness and application of the Elements and Principals of Art and Design
  • Create two- and three- dimensional artworks
  • Discover and explore art genres
  • Experiment with a variety of media and techniques
  • Participate and discuss art concepts
  • Proper care of art supplies and tools
  • Safety in the art studio

7th Grade

  • Continue to develop a deeper understanding of Elements and Principles of Art and Design and the application of these concepts in compositions
  • Create two- and three- dimensional artworks
  • Appreciate art from other cultures, perspectives
  • Experiment with art processes and techniques
  • Care of art supplies
  • Safety in the art studio

8th Grade

  • Apply and discuss the Elements and Principles of Art and Design in finished compositions, discussions
  • Create two- and three- dimensional artworks
  • Appreciate art from other cultures, perspectives
  • Experiment with a variety of art media and techniques
  • Independent research and projects
  • Care of art supplies
  • Safety in the art studio

History and Social Studies

Sayre prepares students to comprehend the past and to identify and understand the challenges facing our diverse nation in an increasingly interdependent world.

5th Grade American History and Geography

• Identifying geographical and physical features of the world
• Understanding latitude, longitude, compass rose, intermediate points
• Analyzing migration of North American and settlements
• Studying Early European explorers to America and colonization
• Understanding the Great Depression -causes, how it affected American society
• Introducing concepts of U.S. civics

6th Grade World Cultures and Geography

• Analyzing geography and its effects on climates, the movement of people, and production
• Reading physical, political, and thematic maps
• Understanding the use of a world atlas and how to create charts/graphs/maps to illustrate trends and political relations
• Analyzing topical articles to better geo-political dynamics
• Incorporating the five key geographic themes: location, place, region, human environment interaction, and movement
• Researching global issues topics
• Understanding the concept of globalization

7th Grade Social Studies

• Understanding ancient and medieval civilizations through the GRAPES framework.

  • G= Geography
  • R= Religion
  • A= Achievements
  • P= Politics
  • E= Economics
  • S= Social Structure

• Analyzing the civilizations of MesoAmerica, western Africa, and Japan.
• Incorporating current events study through Socratic Seminar.
• Exploring historical writing through the teaching and use of thesis essay.
• Evaluating online resources by way of the Stanford History Education Group’s Civic Online Reasoning curriculum.

8th Grade American Studies

• Analyzing the geographic theme of “Movement” while
• Emphasizing the historical thinking skills of corroboration, contextualization, close reading, and sourcing.
• Understanding the physical movement of peoples to (and within) the US through understanding indigenous cultures and colonization.
• Analyzing the movement of ideas and the changes that resulted throughout US history with an emphasis on:

  • The US Constitution
  • The American Civil War and resulting Civil Rights Movement
  • Women’s Rights
  • Labor Rights

• Incorporating current events study through Socratic Seminar.



Sayre communicates mathematical concepts through independent reasoning and cooperative exploration using comprehensive mathematical knowledge.

5th Grade

Math 5:
• Decimals
• Prime and composite numbers
• Multiples and factors
• Tables and graphs
• Numerical and algebraic expressions
• Fractions, mixed numbers, and reducing
• Geometric concepts
Major Projects:
-How would you change the world with a million dollars? Decimals, itemized lists, graphing
-Color percentage skittle lab
-Fractions and percents with Hershey's bars
-Tessellation art

6th Grade

Math 6:
• Ratios and Rates
• Decimals, Fractions, Percents
• Integer Operations
• Coordinate Plane
• Numeric and Algebraic Expressions
• Functions and Inequalities
• Estimation
• Geometric concepts

7th Grade

• Order of operations and algebraic properties
• Operations with integers
- Ratios, proportions, and percentages
-Scale drawing and Model project
-Dream Vacation Budget Project
• Algebraic equations and inequalities
• Introduction to Linear Functions
• Statistics and Probability

7th Grade Algebra I* - See Algebra I below
Specific criteria must be met

8th Grade

Algebra I:
• Simplifying / Solving Expressions, Equations and Functions
• Linear Equations, Functions, and Inequalities
• Systems of Equations and Inequalities
• Quadratic Expressions and Equations
• Exponent Properties
• Simplifying Radicals

• Proper geometric notation- Including an understanding of Euclidean Geometry including Conjectures, theorems and axiums
• Geometric constructions (with construction tools and GeoGebra)
-Students explore constructions on an extensive level through Napolean’s triangle, the Nine Point Circle and the Euler line.
• Inductive and deductive reasoning
• Thorough exploration of paragraph proofs
-Congruent and similar polygons
• Circles and polygons (emphasis on triangles and quadrilaterals)
• Coordinate geometry- with an emphasis on calculating midpoints and distance between points
• Area and volume of two and three dimensional figures
• Introduction to trigonometry and the Pythagorean Theorem.
-Extensive Geometric Exploration research paper utilizing LaTex coding software
Specific criteria must be met

World Languages

Lingua Franca (5th Grade):

Lingua Franca is latin for common language, or language of the people. In this class we explore the importance of language in an increasingly globalized world via project-based learning activities and student-driven research. This class serves as a bridge between the lower school language program and their 6th grade year, at the beginning of which they select their foreign language.

First Semester

  • Through experiential learning, students will explore origins of various languages of the world both historically and geographically
  • Students will learn English base (root) words
  • Native speakers will visit to talk about their country and native language
  • Every student will keep a notebook to record their discovers
    • For example, each student will learn how to write their name in Arabaic, Urdu, Mandarin, Japanese... “

Second Semester

  • Students will take a full semester of French for an introduction to and exploration of the language.
    • Some example topics include greetings, colors, days of the week, likes/dislikes, etc.
  • Students will be introduced to various French cultures by researching food, clothing, and traditions of France/Francophone countries

French 6:

French 6 is an introductory and exploratory course that serves as the entryway into the world of Francophone studies. The class is based around what could be coined as “tourist” French - things that would help one “survive” were they to be plopped in Paris. It’s a foundational course that will be built upon as they continue on in their years of French at Sayre.

  • Introduction of various basic conversations / sentence structures and vocabulary based around the following units:
    • Greetings / salutations
    • Tastes/preferences and asking further questions (age, birthday, etc.)
    • Family and nationality
    • Sports / favorite activities
    • School vocabulary / “collège français” comparisons
    • “La mode” - fashion and style, clothes
    • The home, furniture, and daily tasks
    • Food, restaurant etiquette, and recipes
  • Introduction of grammatical concepts such as:
    • The most common irregular verbs
    • Regular -er and -ir verbs
    • Adjectives and basic adverbs
    • Indefinite and definite articles
    • Partitives and contractions
    • Linguistic gender and number agreement

French 7:

French 7 builds upon the foundation of French 6 to more thoroughly explore common everyday subject areas listed below. They will also work further in the structure of the language to learn to speak beyond just the present moment, incorporating elements of both the past and future tenses.

  • Continuation of structures learned from 6th grade, as well as more vocabulary and culture based around the following units:
    • Travel, destinations (countries, cities, etc.) and weather / climate
    • City attractions (including certain shop types), transportation, directions
    • Personality descriptions, emotions, and health
    • The world of media, news, and giving advice
    • Heros / historical figures, recounting stories and past experiences
    • The environment and ecology
    • Money and everyday object descriptions
    • Our personal passions and qualities, imagining the future
  • Introduction / review of grammatical concepts such as:
    • An expansion of irregular verbs
    • Partitives and expressions of quantity
    • Prepositions review
    • Introduction to direct object pronouns
    • Immediate future tense and past tense

Physical Education

Sayre gives students the opportunity to participate in team and individual activities designed to promote the physical, social, and cognitive domains.


5th, 6th Grade, 7th Grade, and 8th Grade

• Efficiency of motor skills
• Apply rules, concepts, and strategies to games and activities
• Develop and display leadership skills
• Develop a knowledge and a positive attitude toward fitness and wellness
• Maintain and improve fitness
• Positive teamwork and sportsmanship in competitive sports
• Develop an interest in lifetime sports
• National and Presidential Fitness Testing
• Students are scheduled for Physical Education classes three times per week for 5th grade and our times per week for 6th -8th grades


Sayre students understand science as a method of inquiry capable of answering many questions about the world and beyond, through analytical thinking, hands-on activities, investigations, and formalized laboratories.

5th Grade
• Structure and Properties of Matter
• Matter and Energy in Organisms and Ecosystems
• Earth's Systems
• Matter and Energy in Organisms and Ecosystems
• Space Systems: Stars and the Solar System
• Human impact on Environment
• Engineering Design (embedded)

6th Grade
• Nature of Science and Scientific Processes (Imbedded)
• Ecosystems: Energy, Interactions, and Dynamics
• Thermal Energy and Weather
• Human Impact on the Environment
• Earth-Sun-Moon Relationship
• Engineering Design Process (Explicit and Imbedded)

7th Grade Life Science
• Nature of Science and Scientific Processes (Imbedded)
• Characteristics Living Organisms
• Cell structure and function
• Heredity and evolution
• Human anatomy and physiology
• Engineering Design Process (Explicit and Imbedded)

8th Grade Physical Science

Unit 1 - Growth mindset & scientific skills
Unit 2 - Laboratory safety
Unit 3 - Engineering design process & experimental design
Unit 4 - Physics introduction (potential & kinetic energy)
Unit 5 - Newton’s laws of motion, unbalanced & balanced forces (friction, inertia, etc.)
Unit 6 - Intro to the periodic table (a somewhat historical approach to the purposeful arrangement of the periodic table)
Unit 7 - Atomic theory & structure of the atom
Unit 8 - States of matter, physical & chemical changes/properties @ molecular level
Unit 9 - Law of conservation of energy -- types of energy (mechanical, kinetic, potential, thermal, electrical, nuclear, etc.), and energy conversions
Unit 10 - Clean energy alternatives/environmental issues (geothermal energy, windmills, hydropower, nuclear power, etc.)

Technology and Computer Science

Sayre students use technology to communicate, acquire information, increase productivity, and stimulate creativity as well as increase technological proficiency and promote flexible, lifelong learning.

  • Maintaining and troubleshooting hardware and software
  • Configuring the desktop and managing network files
  • Refining word processing and spreadsheet skills
  • Working with multiple applications simultaneously
  • Intermediate graphic editing, design, and layout
  • Creation of intermediate electronic/multimedia presentations
  • Video production and editing
  • Self-directed
  • Internet research
  • All 6th grade students are given touch typing reinforcement during the first weeks of school
  • An on-line touch typing program is available
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