Middle School (6th–8th)

Language Arts

Middle school English language arts focuses on a rigorous curriculum exploring literature, oral and written language, vocabulary, and the writing process. Spelling, vocabulary, and grammar development are enriched by using the Sadlier Vocabulary Workshop and the Loyola Press Voyages in English. Instruction is supported by using online resources such as videos and songs; Promethean interactive whiteboard activities; and guided and independent practice. 

Short story, poem, informational article, and novel studies from Savvas My Perspectives and other sources provide opportunities to practice comprehension, critical thinking skills, and a deeper understanding of key literary concepts. Students use story maps, journal summaries, reading reflections, reading logs, and other reader-response techniques to explore and analyze readings. They often participate in collaborative groups to examine texts and verify comprehension through discussion. They also utilize multimedia resources to create projects and presentations that clarify their findings. Additionally, students use the Accelerated Reader program to make individual reading selections based on their reading level and to track their progress in reading comprehension. 

Informal and formal writing assignments, supplemented by grammar studies, cultivate the development of effective written expression and an understanding of standard English conventions. Working individually, students write informative, explanatory, persuasive, narrative, and creative selections, drawing inferences from literary texts and outside research when applicable. The overall goal is to develop well-read, articulate, twenty-first century learners.

Math

Fourth through eighth-grade students are divided into math groups, ranging from on-level through above-level, with an accelerated enrichment focus. In smaller cooperative groups, students analyze essential questions, use manipulatives, create models, share ideas, and implement strategies.

Students are challenged with higher-level thinking, problem-solving, and critical thinking skills as they reason abstractly and quantitatively.

Learning centers, calculators, interactive Promethean board activities, and cooperative activities challenge students to build confidence, support understanding, and extend learning. 

Students in sixth through eighth grades are assigned to appropriately leveled math courses at the beginning of the school year. Utilizing the Envision, Glencoe, and McGraw Hill texts as resources, the middle school math department scaffolds and creates pre-algebra, algebra, and geometry-driven programs that engage students at all ability levels.  The goal is for eighth-grade students to be placed into Algebra 1 or Geometry upon entering high school.

Science

Guided by the academic standards from the Archdiocese of Baltimore and derived from the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), the science program investigates physical, life, and earth science by emphasizing discovery and using the scientific method. Using the Savvas Elevate Science text series, the program offers many online learning activities and tools, including hands-on and virtual labs, picture vocabulary, practice tests, and science-related video links. 

Teachers enhance scientific concepts by integrating technology with interactive science simulations and by using visual resources from the Space Telescope Science Institute. Online platforms, such as Discovery Education, Mystery Science, and Legends of Learning, reinforce concepts and engage both auditory and visual learners. 

STEM techniques are fostered through hands-on learning opportunities, discussion, experimentation, analysis, and evaluation. Students use tools and manipulatives to apply critical thinking skills. They are encouraged to explore using the 3D printer, laptops, and interactive smart boards in the OLPH Interactive Learning Center and Science Lab.

In adopting a cross-curricular connection, OLPH students learn how to use science, engineering, math, and writing to demonstrate an understanding of the real world. Project-based learning includes creating a solar system model, a model of the earth’s layers, an aerodynamic car model, code using sound waves, a biome, and an electrical nightlight. Students also participate in scientific lab activities, a hands-on approach, making text-to-world connections, such as completing frog and chicken dissections and using mixtures for chemical reactions.

Social Studies

The social studies curriculum is vertically aligned and engages students in critical thinking and analysis of diverse cultures, communities, and economics. Teachers and students embrace the challenge of social studies instruction in an ever-changing world by reflecting on relationships among people, the environment, and natural resources. Using explicit instruction, discussions, and collaborative groups, teachers model citizenship, interpret history, and guide students in synthesizing information. The Catholic faith is integrated into the social studies curriculum to invoke spiritual, moral, and ethical understanding of community and global concepts.

Teachers and students utilize interactive Promethean Boards for classroom activities, digital textbooks, Padlet activities, and online videos to reinforce learning targets.

Visits to historic landmarks such as Historic London Town & Gardens, Fort McHenry, Philadelphia, and Annapolis bring history to life and activate students’ engagement in learning.

Cross-curricular activities, including the Junior Achievement BizTown program, enable students to interpret roles and responsibilities of citizens in a fictitious town. This activity reinforces career readiness by discussing roles of community members and the responsibilities of business owners and consumers, while also introducing financial literacy.

Catholic Faith

OLPH incorporates faith formation into the curriculum through daily religion classes, prayer, weekly liturgies, and sacramental preparation. Students in kindergarten through eighth grade utilize the Blest Are We curriculum. The catechism focuses on Catholic beliefs, worship, prayer, the lives of saints, Catholic social teaching, and life by providing digital resources to support all learners. 

OLPH brings this curriculum and Catholic faith to life through daily school-wide prayer, Chorus and Liturgical Dance courses, and the celebration of national Catholic School Weeks. Student-led activities include the Hall of Saints, the Living Rosary, May Crowning, and the Living Stations of the Cross. 

The Positive Behavior Intervention System (PBIS) aligns with the religion curriculum as the entire school is divided into three “houses,” representing the characteristics of respect, responsibility, and kindness reflected by the Archangels Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael. Students engage in service projects and visit local faith landmarks like the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen and Christ Church in Philadelphia, PA. The crucifix in every classroom and the statues throughout the school are visual reminders to live and practice the Catholic faith at OLPH.