Middle School Curriculum

In Calvert’s Middle School, children are exposed to a wide variety of subjects, while continuing to master the skills learned in the Lower School. Teachers prepare students for future academic excellence by further developing foundational skills and critical thinking.
Along with these core skills and subjects, a special project is assigned over the course of the year in each grade. Fifth Graders become experts on specific countries in Africa; Sixth Graders conduct research on ancient civilizations, and Seventh Graders study aspects of our own city of Baltimore. In Eighth Grade, the Castalia Project—named after the home of Calvert's famous first Head Master, Virgil Hillyer—enables students to use their research skills and apply them to a topic of their choice.

The projects in each grade showcase research, writing, and public speaking skills. They also allow students to express their individuality and creativity. It is our hope that these projects will send children into the world with a love of learning for its own sake and a confidence in their ability to tackle challenging long-term projects.

Explore by Grade

List of 5 items.

  • Fifth Grade

    English class focuses on diverse literature, composition, vocabulary, and grammar. Along with analyzing and understanding the novels, students become more culturally aware. Many of the activities and projects are cross-curricular and allow for student creativity and deeper understanding. In English, students learn sentence structure and diagramming through the study of parts of speech.  
    Students are grouped into developmentally appropriate sections. Their focus of study includes operations with whole numbers and decimals, using equations and function tables, fraction concepts, and measurement. Students can apply skills they have learned to create projects that provide real-world application of mathematical
    Through our geography program, Expedition Calvert, geography comes to life as students travel to the continent of Africa, where they explore North and South Sudan, Liberia, Malawi, and South Africa. Students learn advanced map skills, experience a global component to their studies, and understand how the five themes of geography are linked to each component of present-day culture and daily life. Fifth graders also complete one culminating project for Expedition Calvert. They research one country in Africa and write an extensive report that is shared with the Calvert community.
    Students learn to apply the scientific method to a variety of questions. They learn how to use scientific equipment such as the microscope, triple beam balance, and other tools of measurement. Students are exposed to the three areas of science they will explore more deeply in later grades: Life Science, Earth Science, and Physical Science. This is accomplished through reading, discussion, and weekly scientific investigations. In addition, students incorporate technology into research, data organization, and analysis.

    World Languages
    Middle School students continue on their track of French or Spanish language study as a core academic subject. Students will experience increased target language usage by the teacher and will deepen their knowledge of high-frequency regular verbs in the present tense. Fifth Graders will also expand vocabulary topics such as time/date/weather, greetings, food, clothing, and others through group projects and exploratory learning.
  • Sixth Grade

    Focusing on the experience of an outsider in society as well as the theme of community, students read The Giver,  Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, The Pearl, and The Outsiders to build on their understanding of character development and story structure. Students develop strong writing skills through essays, response journals, and poetry. To further develop mastery of essential skills, the curriculum provides regular opportunities for students to apply their knowledge of grammatical structures in their writing.
    Students are grouped by ability. They learn operations with integers, practice more complex work with fractions and decimals, use percents in equations and develop an understanding of ratios and proportions. They are introduced to probability and basic statistics, formulas with variables, and inequalities. These fundamental math skills prepare them for Pre-Algebra. Depending on readiness, some students will take Pre-Algebra.
    Through the study of ancient civilizations, students learn about the development of arts, communication, religion, and government, as well as the importance of the physical characteristics of a geographic location. The foundations of democratic thought and political organization are covered through an in-depth study of Ancient Greece and its institutions. Students also survey major civilizations such as Egypt, Rome, and Mesopotamia. While students must master a wealth of factual information, they, more importantly, will be exposed to major themes of our collective history.
    Students apply the scientific method to questions associated with environmental and earth science. They take part in hands-on classroom activities and field trips that support their science studies of the Chesapeake Bay, alternative energy, green design, and oceanography. Technology integration utilizes Lego Mindstorm robotics and 3-D Printers as a key element of lab experiments. This course also has a significant environmental component which links class work and student projects with Calvert’s sustainability efforts. Elements of this work include water quality testing, rain garden maintenance, and campus-wide green initiatives.

    World Languages
    Students continue to explore connections, comparisons, and communication in French or Spanish. Topics include broadening understand of where languages are spoken around the world, analyzing sentence formation and structure, and beginning fluency work. Students develop automaticity with present tense conjugations and are introduced to irregular verbs. Increased focus is placed on speaking and listening compréhension skills.
  • Seventh Grade

    Focusing on novels based around the theme coming of age, students maintain a writing journal in which they respond to selected texts, write creatively and have time for personal writing. Teachers help to foster students’ love of reading, believing that those who commit to literature not only master writing, vocabulary, and grammar techniques, but also encounter diverse perspectives of the world. In addition, critical reading skills are taught through teacher-guided interactions with texts such as The Call of the Wild, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Romeo and Juliet.
    Students are grouped by ability and are either enrolled in Pre-Algebra, or Algebra I. Pre-Algebra focuses on operations with integers, fractions, and decimals, as well as solving basic equations. Instruction incorporates technology to teach inequalities, linear and quadratic equations, and complex graphing of mathematical relationships.
    Algebra I is designed to help students master more complex concepts involving quadratic equations and graphing polynomial functions. Students incorporate knowledge of relations, exponential functions, and algebraic fractions to solve real-world problems both individually and in group projects.
    Students learn about the major topics and themes in American History from the colonial period through the civil war. Through reading and writing assignments, students gain knowledge and understanding of salient political, historical, and current events. Special emphasis is placed on making connections between historical events and relevant modern day topics, such as political parties, regional economies, and the rule of law. Students actively engage with each other to analyze material and gain a deeper understanding of historical events and their influence on modern-day America.
    Students study organisms of varying complexity with a final focus on the structure and function of the human body. The first half of the year focuses on the characteristics of life that are shared among all living things. During the second semester, students investigate the incredible diversity seen among living organisms. Throughout the year, they learn the inquiry approach in a classroom setting and science laboratory.

    World Languages
    Students focus on building proficiency in comprehension this year as a foundation for their continued work in expression. Group projects and increased use of authentic sources are used to expose students to relevant linguistic, cultural, and grammatical themes. Seventh Graders add the ability to speak and write about the past and future with the study of complex and compound tenses. Special emphasis on the exploration of regions and people that speak the target language provides historical context and inspire discussion of current events in a global learning setting. Students are also invited to travel abroad this year to a Spanish or French-speaking location.

    Latin is introduced to Seventh Grade students as a full credit course. This introductory level course provides students with a comprehensive introduction to first-year grammar, relevant classical mythology, early Roman history, Roman culture, and classical geography. Successful completion of Latin I allows students the opportunity to place into Latin II in Eighth Grade.

  • Eighth Grade

    Eighth Grade English classes are high school preparatory classes designed to give students a solid foundation in literature, writing, and vocabulary. Addressing issues of ethics and morality, students maintain journals, compose poetry, and read challenging texts such as A Separate Peace, The Secret Life of Bees, Night, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Vocabulary and writing mechanics are emphasized through essays and in-class exercises. Students conduct in-depth, independent research using technology, interview techniques, and primary sources to write a comprehensive report on a subject matter of specific interest to them. The final projects are presented to the Calvert community in the spring.
    Students are placed in developmentally appropriate groups in Algebra I and Algebra II. Students in Algebra I will master the solutions of more complex equations and the graphing of polynomial functions will be introduced. Algebra II provides further development of the concept of a function as well as systems of equations, inequalities, matrices, polynomials, and rational polynomial expressions. Students are exposed to Geometry in each group. They use technology and real-world problem scenarios to explore mathematical concepts.
    Students focus on the period from 1865 through the Cold War as they learn about the development of modern America and its role as a world power. Topics include westward expansion and industrial growth, the Progressive Era and the fight for women’s suffrage, World War I, the Great Depression, World War II, and the Civil Rights Movement. Several historical texts are read to support deeper learning about prominent figures and events, and students work independently and collaboratively on many innovative projects throughout the year both to develop mastery of the subject matter and to grow their skills as researchers, writers, and critical thinkers.
    Through Physical Science, key concepts related to the structure of matter and the principles of energy are explored in an active manner. The larger disciplines of Chemistry and Physics are encompassed within the course of study. Laboratory investigations are an integral part of this class.
    All Eighth Graders are required to take one year of Latin. Students are introduced to first-year appropriate grammar, relevant classical mythology, early Roman history, Roman culture, and classical geography. All Eighth Graders have the option to continue their studies with Latin II. This course expands upon themes from Latin I with the study of complex grammar, authentic texts, sayings/mottos, and cultural and geographical themes.

    World Languages
    Eighth Graders learn in a skills-based classroom where they will develop their listening, speaking, reading, writing, and cultural competency skills. Students gain insight into the syntactic and semantic foundation of the language with special emphasis put on the functional use of the language and understanding multiple forms of input. These skills are practiced with a focus on understanding French or Spanish-speaking cultures and include reviews of the essentials of intermediate grammar, continued development of reading skills, and practice in composition and speaking. At this level, classes are conducted almost entirely in the target language.

  • Special Subjects

    Physical Education
    Calvert's Physical Education classes emphasize collaboration, working together for a goal, and respect for self and others. Additionally, students learn cooperation and teamwork to use on the athletic fields and in the classroom. The rules and history of different sports are also a part of the learning. Physical Education is taught during the day and is closely aligned to the optional intramural and interscholastic sports offered at Calvert.
    Fine Arts
    The Middle School offers a core arts program in grades five through eight, emphasizing the fundamentals of visual and performing arts. In eighth grade, students select their fine arts classes to study in more depth for a semester.
    In Studio Art students are introduced to relief printmaking, the concepts of negative space and contrast, collages, self-portraits, charcoal still life drawings, and acrylic paintings on canvas. They practice observational drawing skills while focusing on the art elements line and value. Art projects often connect with topics studied in history, English, science and geography.
    Music classes are designed to teach students how to read, perform and interpret music. Students will use different types of instruments as well as the voice as tools for exploring music. Fifth grade will play melodic and rhythm percussion instruments as they review melody, beat and rhythm. In sixth grade the ukulele will be used by students as they begin the study of harmony and learn to play an accompaniment to a melody. Seventh and eighth graders will use guitar as a medium for the study of chord progressions, style and ensemble playing.
    In Drama, students participate in the production of a play from acting to set design to the technical aspects of production. They produce their play and perform to the Calvert community at the end of the semester. In addition, in the winter trimester, sixth-eighth grade students perform a full-scale musical with costumes, singing, and choreography.
Calvert School is a coed independent lower and middle school.