Marin Preparatory School’s upper grades (6th-8th) follow a departmentalized structure, with class sizes ranging from 20 to 22 students that are broken into smaller groups for some subject areas. Each grade forms a cohesive core classroom, allowing for the development of strong friendships and social/emotional well being within a blending of progressive and traditional disciplines.
Students participate in English, Spanish, history, mathematics, science, art, music/drama, and physical education. Our program allows for frequent field trips, outdoor educational opportunities, drug and alcohol abuse prevention programs, and health and human body education (including sex education and AIDS prevention). Internet safety and media literacy are also woven into the middle school experience, as is a continued emphasis on service learning as an integral part of the upper grade years.
6th to 8th Grades Curriculum Spotlights
6th Grade Humanities
Humanities is an integration of English and history; it allows students to read, write, speak and think critically as they move from literal understanding to critical analysis. Students study a variety of literary genres: realistic fiction, historical fiction, science fiction, poetry, and non-fiction. They also learn to appreciate varying perspectives and study the ancient civilizations and geography of both Western and non-Western cultures.
7th & 8th Grade History
History allows students an opportunity to think critically, question beliefs, and develop a sense of place and time. As they become more effective communicators, they learn to analyze, ask questions, and develop respect for diversity of opinion and belief. 7th-grade history is an examination of Medieval and Early Modern times. Eighth-grade history is a look at United States history from colonization into twentieth century.
7th Grade English
At this age, students are exposed to classic and contemporary literature that emphasizes reflection, interpretation and analysis. Novels, short stories, poetry, and essays provide an examination of the human condition. As students become more proficient writers, they learn to take notes, and write research reports, poetry, and narratives, as well as responses to literature, all with appropriate grammar that masters the eight parts of speech: noun, pronoun, verb, adjective, adverb, preposition, conjunction, and interjection. Equally important, they become increasingly at ease with listening and public speaking.
8th Grade English
At this age, students are exposed to significant American writers, learning to view and appreciate novels in a historical context as they relate to their study of American history. Students also learn to communicate a variety of messages to different audiences both verbally and in writing and become at ease with the writing process: brainstorming, prewriting, writing, revising, editing, and being open to respectful critique from their peers.
In grades 6-8, the mathematical goal is mathematical literacy; to think and reason logically, analyze data, solve problems and draw conclusions, use technology, and become prepared for higher level study in high school.
6th Grade Math
Students focus on whole numbers, integers, fractions, and decimals (operations). They work through increasingly rigorous word problems and study number patterns, number theory, geometry, measurement, graphs, statistics, percentages, and they begin an examination of pre-algebra expressions and equations.
7th Grade Math
The first semester of 7th grade is a thorough review, reinforcement and deepening of the material covered in 6th grade. Second semester begins a study of pre-algebra concepts including: data analysis, statistics, equations and functions, graphing in the coordinate plane, and inequalities.
8th Grade Math
Students in 8th grade begin a formal study of algebra. Topics include: expressions, equations and functions, real-number properties, single variable equations, linear equations, inequalities, and systems.
In grades 6-8, science students continue using an inquiry-based approach, with science as a process as the message. The STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) curriculum helps students develop scientific skills and knowledge through observation and experimentation, investigation, analysis, and explanation.
6th Grade Science
This is a yearlong study of physical and life sciences. Topics may include: magnets, electricity, motors, optics, and plants.
7th Grade Science
This yearlong investigation of biology includes an emphasis on cell biology, genetics, evolution, and ecology. Students work in a lab setting and become comfortable with observation, predicting, the use of the microscope, collection and organization of data, and the ability to draw conclusions. The year also includes the introduction and integration of health issues and wise decision-making around drugs, smoking, and human sexuality.
8th Grade Science
The year-long study of physics, chemistry, astronomy, and some earth and life science is meant to spark interest in a variety of scientific pursuits, and spark the question, “What types of thinking are needed to ‘do’ science?”
In 6th through 8th grade, the continued goal of our Spanish Infusion program is to build confidence in students’ ability to effortlessly interact, read, and write in the target language, and to be ready for high school entrance exams.
In addition to formal instruction conducted entirely in Spanish, students will participate in a variety of age-appropriate electives intended to further the meaningful contexts in which they can practice their Spanish language skills.
Electives may include: literature, Spanish language cinema, Hispanic cultures, theatre, debate, and school newspaper. Our wish is to provide students the opportunity to use Spanish throughout the day with peers and adults alike and to be role models for our younger students in very natural and authentic ways.
Students in 6th to 8th grade art continue to work in a variety of genres in an art-studio format. Students also study famous artists from a variety of historical periods and Hispanic cultures, and experience field trips and guest-artist visits from the rich art communities of the Bay Area that expose them to a variety of materials, techniques, and works.
Music & Performing Arts
Students at this age now have more chances to gain confidence with a variety of musical styles. The upper grades will focus on musical theatre, with several opportunities for performing – both standard pieces and students’ original productions. Public speaking, improvisation, and dramatic readings help students gain confidence with live performance, and field trips to local productions allow them to observe, up close, the world of performing arts.
Students work on skills associated with a variety of sports including: baseball, basketball, archery, soccer, volley ball, cross country, and general physical fitness. Sportsmanship and team work are encouraged and modeled on and off the playing fields. Opportunities for team play with other independent schools and leagues will be offered.