Welcome to the Middle School!
Welcome to Middle School! The St. John’s Middle School experience represents the final four years of spiritual and intellectual preparation before matriculating to high school. With this in mind, the faculty is dedicated to providing a superior academic experience in conjunction with character building and guidance for navigating adolescent development.
A Middle School student’s day is composed of five above grade level academic classes (English, Science, Social Studies, Math, & Latin), four rotating Fine Arts classes (Art, Music, Innovation, and Divinity), and Physical Education. Each subject is taught by content specialized teachers who are dedicated to their subject areas and students. In the afternoon, students are afforded the opportunity to participate in seasonal sports or an assortment of clubs.
St. John’s Middle School experience continually yields high rates of acceptance into Tampa’s premier high schools, such as Berkeley Prep, Jesuit High School, Tampa Prep, and Robinson International Baccalaureate, in addition to honors gifted placement in nationally ranked H.B. Plant High School. This is a result of St. John’s continual goal to prepare our students to have the best opportunity for success, once they graduate.
Thank you for being a part of St. John’s and welcome to Middle School!
Mr. Justin Smith
History & Social Studies Curriculum
Middle School social studies and history courses analyze the events of the past in order to apply the knowledge to the present and future. Students learn by discussing essential questions, taking notes, group work, traditional and digital projects, as well as reading and discussing primary texts. St. John’s history and social studies courses emphasize discussion and writing skills.
5th Grade History & Social Studies
The 5th Grade course surveys early American history from pre-Columbian Native culture and society up to the Sectional Crisis of the mid 19th century. The course explores interactions among Europeans, Indians, and Africans on the North American continent, the growth and development of European colonies, and the ultimate creation of the United States of America. Topics and themes include government, revolution, westward expansion, and competing ideologies.
6th Grade History & Social Studies
The 6th Grade course surveys the beginning of early civilizations through the fall of the Roman Empire, and the beginnings of the medieval world to the early modern era. Students will study the geographical, social, economic, and political foundations for early civilizations. They will analyze the shift from nomadic societies to agricultural societies. Students will study the development of civilizations, including the areas of Mesopotamia, Egypt, India, China, Ancient Israel, Greece, and Rome. The geographic focus will include the study of physical and political features, economic development and resources, and migration patterns.
7th Grade History & Social Studies
The 7th Grade course surveys early American history from early European exploration up to the Civil War and its aftermath. It considers the tragic interactions among Europeans, Indians, and Africans on the North American continent, the growth and development of English colonies, and the revolt against the Empire that culminated in the creation of the United States of America. Topics include the ratification of the Constitution, the rise of American democracy, the emergence of middle-class culture, and the forces that pulled the union apart.
8th Grade History & Social Studies
The 8th Grade course surveys American history from the Civil War years up to the world-wide struggle against terrorism. It considers the challenges and difficulties that faced the once divided nation, the growth of the settlement in the West and industry in the North, the political upheavals of the Progressive Era, and the impact of two World Wars. Topics include the inclusion of African and Women’s rights, the rise of America as a world power, the Roaring Twenties, the Great Depression, the Civil Rights Era, and the challenges facing the nation.
Middle school science courses are taught using inquiry-based learning with a focus on labs. Inquiry-based learning uses a central question to frame a curriculum unit or module. Students answer this central question for themselves, discovering and learning through a series of guided discussions, experiments, projects, and hands-on activities over several class periods. Hands-on learning experiences lead to deeper understanding and strong critical thinking skills.
5th Grade Science
The 5th Grade science students will complete three FOSS modules. The Energy and Electromagnetism Module is designed to introduce or reinforce concepts in physical science dealing with energy and change. The Environments Module focuses on the concepts that organisms need energy and matter to live and grow, and living organisms depend on one another and on their environment for their survival and the survival of populations. The Earth and Sun Module provides students with experiences to explore the properties of the atmosphere, energy transfer from the Sun to Earth, and the dynamics of weather and water cycling in the Earth’s atmosphere.
6th Grade Science
The 6th Grade students complete two FOSS earth science modules.The Earth History Course emphasizes the use of knowledge and evidence to construct explanations about the processes and systems that have operated over geological time. Students investigate sedimentary rocks and fossils from the Grand Canyon to discover clues that reveal Earth’s history. They study the processes that create sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic rocks and organize their observations and inferences into the rock cycle.
The revised FOSS Planetary Science course draws from the original course’s rich, active-learning investigations to develop a historical sense of humankind’s exploration of the cosmos, then delves in far greater depth into the modern questions surrounding space exploration.
7th Grade Science
7th Grade life science is an exploration of all living things, from cells to systems, with an emphasis on scientific inquiry. Students start the year learning what makes something living and explore the intricacies of cells, their structures and functions. Cell reproduction and genetics allow students to understand evolution on both a small and large scale as they transition to learn about classification and the kingdoms of life on earth. Starting with the smallest of organisms, their understanding of increasing levels of organization and complexity grows as they work their way to the animal kingdom, concluding with a thorough examination of human systems with an emphasis on reproductive health and systems. This course is heavily lab based with many dissections both virtual and real in the spring semester.
8th Grade Science
8th Grade physical science is divided into two separate but interconnected semesters of study, with an emphasis on physics in the fall and on chemistry in the spring. In the first term, students study the physical world around them and explore the motion of objects, the forces acting on an object, and further quantify motion and energy using formulas and graphs. In the second semester, the approach switches to describing matter on a small scale. Students start with exploring properties of matter and the history of atomic theory. Students gain a thorough knowledge of the atom, its parts and how/why it reacts and bonds. Students learn the different types of chemical reactions and are able to both balance and identify reaction type along with prediction of products. An emphasis on “real world” chemistry and uses is utilized in projects and readings.
Middle school math courses focus on critical thinking and reasoning skills through a systematic approach to problem solving utilizing guided discovery, cooperative learning focusing on exploration and investigation. St. John’s emphasizes test-taking strategies and skills as well as word problems.
5th Grade Mathematics
All 5th Grade students follow a 6th Grade curriculum to develop a students’ foundation of core content areas and prepare them for success in their subsequent math courses. The year begins with students applying concepts for identifying and performing operations with whole numbers and patterns. In the next unit, students explore introductory algebra skills involving variables, expressions, and equations.
6th Grade Mathematics
The students enrolled in advanced 6th Grade math use a 7th Grade math textbook. Students begin the school year applying concepts for identifying and performing operations, number patterns, and exponents, and order of operations. This is followed by an exploration of algebraic expressions and equations. Within this unit, students also demonstrate the ability to solve equations containing integers and rational numbers. Next, they are required to apply rational number operations to decimals and fractions.
7th Grade Mathematics
7th Grade students will take either Pre-Algebra or Algebra I Honors.
7th Grade students enrolled in Pre-Algebra students learn the language of algebra and begin using a TI-80 Plus calculator to progress the learning experience and prepare students for high school mathematics courses. Students begin the year applying concepts and performing basic operations using real numbers in real-world contexts. The focus then shifts to applying properties to simplify algebraic expressions, solving linear equations and inequalities, and applying principles of graphing. Next, students learn to Identify and apply geometric principles to polygons, angles, and two- and three-dimensional figures. They build geometric concepts by understanding measurable attributes of objects and apply various formulas in problem-solving situations. Students end the year by Interpreting, organizing, and making predictions about a variety of data using concepts of probability.
7th Grade students enrolled in Algebra I Honors will receive high school credit. Topics covered in this course include expressions, equations and functions, linear equations, equations of linear function, solving inequalities, systems of linear equations and inequalities, exponents and exponential functions, quadratic expressions and equations, quadratic functions and equations, radical functions and geometry, and rational functions and equations.
8th Grade Mathematics
8th Grade students enrolled in Algebra I Honors will receive high school credit. Topics covered in this course include expressions, equations and functions, linear equations, equations of linear function, solving inequalities, systems of linear equations and inequalities, exponents and exponential functions, quadratic expressions and equations, quadratic functions and equations, radical functions and geometry, and rational functions and equations.
The Honors Geometry curriculum includes the following topics: formal logic, coordinate geometry, concepts of parallelism and perpendicularity, congruent triangles, applications of congruent triangles, quadrilaterals, similarity, right triangles and trigonometry, circles, polygons, surface area, and volume. The last quarter focuses on a review of algebraic topics in preparation for Algebra II. In each unit, students will be engaged in proving theorems. The development of problem-solving strategies, effective math study skills, and good reasoning habits will be emphasized throughout the course.
English & Language Arts Curriculum
5th Grade English
Students in 5th Grade read D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths and challenging high interest novels such as Sophia’s War and The Long Walk to Water. Students practice reading informational text which allows them to develop sophisticated comprehension skills, build critical content knowledge and vocabulary, and apply higher-order thinking skills. Fifth graders begin the year focusing on writing well developed paragraphs. By second quarter, they are learning how to write multi-paragraph pieces. Writing assignments include the personal narrative, descriptive writing, and summarizing. Grammar focuses for this year include the parts of speech, sentence parts, phrases, and clauses. Students hone usage skills through the study of agreement, common errors, and sentence structure. Fifth graders complete a unit on mechanics and practice proofreading their own works, as well as peers’ work to reinforce the concepts. Vocabulary units include words from the literature students are reading, SAT vocabulary, as well as words they choose to add to their individual learning programs. All St. John’s students compete in the WordMasters Analogy Competition and the National Mythology Exam.
6th Grade English
Students in 6th Grade read challenging, high interest novels such as Milkweed and The Breadwinner. Students continue to practice reading informational text, which allows students to develop sophisticated comprehension skills, build critical content knowledge and vocabulary, and apply higher-order thinking skills. Sixth Graders strengthen writing skills through journal entries, well-developed literature essays, and a research paper. Writing assignments include the personal narrative, a comparison/contrast essay, and a literary analysis. Grammar focuses for this year include the parts of speech, phrases, and clauses. Students hone usage skills through their study of agreement, common errors, and misplaced modifiers. Sixth graders complete a unit on mechanics and practice proofreading their own works, as well as peers’ work to reinforce the concepts. Vocabulary units include words from the literature students are reading, SAT vocabulary, as well as words they choose to add to their individual learning programs. All St. John’s students compete in the WordMasters Analogy Competition and the National Mythology Exam.
7th Grade English
Students in 7th Grade read challenging classics such as The Odyssey and A Raisin in the Sun, as well as high interest short stories and poetry. Students continue to practice reading informational text, which allows students to develop sophisticated comprehension skills, build critical content knowledge and vocabulary, and apply higher-order thinking skills. Seventh graders strengthen writing skills by completing timed writings, journal entries, well-developed literature essays, and a research paper. Writing assignments include personal narratives, persuasive pieces, and creative writing. Grammar focuses for this year include the parts of speech, phrases, clauses, and verbals. Students hone usage skills through their study of agreement, parallelism, common errors, and misplaced modifiers. Seventh graders complete a unit on mechanics and practice proofreading their own works, as well as peers’ work to reinforce the concepts. Vocabulary units include words from the literature students are reading, SAT vocabulary, as well as words they choose to add to their individual learning programs. All St. John’s students compete in the WordMasters Analogy Competition and the National Mythology Exam.
8th Grade English
Students in 8th Grade read classics of literature such as Beowulf and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, as well as high interest novels. Students continue to practice reading informational text which allows students to develop sophisticated comprehension skills, build critical content knowledge and vocabulary, and apply higher-order thinking skills. The 8th Grade English curriculum emphasizes mature, rich writing by applying the grammar, mechanics, vocabulary, and critical thinking skills learned in the past several years. Students write for a variety of audiences and purposes, exploring timed expository writing, personal narratives, literary analysis, creative responses, and a major research paper. The year deepens students’ understanding of sentence parts while introducing more advanced grammatical concepts and encouraging a greater variety of sentence structures. The vocabulary program prepares students for success in their reading and concentrates on elevating their diction in all writing situations. A signature component of the course is the Declamations project, which guides students through the process of drafting, editing, preparing, and delivering a formal oration in front of the entire division. All St. John’s students compete in the WordMasters Analogy Competition and the National Mythology Exam.
Yearly advances in skills and stamina in the Primary and Lower Schools prepare students for the Middle School Physical Education program and participation on one or more athletic teams. Personal fitness, sportsmanship, teamwork and leadership are continuously stressed. All students in the Lower and Middle Schools participate in the Presidential Physical Fitness program.
The St. John’s music program encourages students to become musically knowledgeable. Students study composers, practice composition, and learn to appreciate a variety of music. Middle School students are invited to audition for the yearly school musical which is performed each spring.
This program provides studio art guidance and direct instruction to students throughout the School, including a variety of appropriate artistic media suited to each campus. As students grow in their own creativity and skill, they are also exposed to art created throughout the ages, providing an important dimension of cultural knowledge and sensitivity. Art studies help them to understand how the artistic legacies of earlier ages are reflected in more recent art, how they can enrich their own creative efforts, and how art reflects and even helps shape the history of nations and cultures.
Middle School Innovation
The goal of the Innovation class is two-part. The first is to introduce our students to 21st-century technology and tools such as 3D printing, coding, video productions, graphic design and more. The second is to teach critical thinking, collaborative thinking, and creative thinking. Students learn the importance of the process – creating an idea, having the genesis of the idea from first stages of production to a final product.
The Judeo-Christian ethic as expressed by Jesus Christ, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind… and love your neighbor as yourself,” is central to the curriculum throughout all grade levels, as is learning to navigate and understand the rich spiritual, historic, and literary resources of the Bible. All students participate in outreach projects each year that allow them to live out these commandments.
At the Middle School, the Bible is studied in a more intensive and sophisticated way. And students participate in character development program. In all grades, students examine what we are learning about our Christian faith, and explore the role of Christian ethics and morals in shaping our lives.
Middle School Campus
Starting at St. John’s in 2005, Ms. Linda is a staple of our St. John’s Middle School community! Ms. Linda keeps our Middle School running smoothly; whether aiding a sick student, spending extra time selling tickets for the upcoming musical, or donating hand-knitted caps and gloves on particularly chilly days – Ms. Linda is a dedicated and much beloved member of our St. John’s community and can help you with any questions you may have.