Junior High School Overview

With adherence to the guidelines of the Diocese of Wilmington, our faculty‘s goal is to nurture Holy Cross students spiritually, intellectually, emotionally, and socially as children of God. We encourage them to think deeply and critically about the world in which they live, to connect and apply the lessons they learn to improve their lives and the lives of others, to apply the gifts they have been given wisely, and to understand the importance of their education. We recognize and respect the unique qualities of our students. As such, academic instruction, skill practice, skill application, and assessment of knowledge and skills are conducted using students’ multiple intelligences. Tutorial assistance is available for those students in need of additional instruction, practice, and application.

Vocabulary Building

Vocabulary acquisition is a key element for reading progress. As Aldous Huxley once said, “Words play an enormous part in our lives and are therefore deserving of the closest study.”

In addition to formal literature studies, vocabulary is taught both directly and through the context of students’ literature. Vocabulary is taught purposefully to increase students’ working word knowledge, thus improving their reading comprehension and performance.

“Many studies have established the fact that there is a high correlation between vocabulary and intelligence and that the ability to increase one's vocabulary throughout life is a sure reflection of intellectual progress.” Bergen Evans

Formal vocabulary instruction consists of word lists that correlate with the reading selections and thematic units. Students learn to use the words in context and are tested accordingly. In addition to the teacher provided lists, students are also encouraged to identify words that they do not know, record them in their vocabulary notes, and sort them according to a tiering process they are taught. Practice is assigned through partner or small group application. When students have had sufficient time to process, practice, and apply the words correctly, they are tested for their knowledge and usage.

Writing

Through a team approach, students will:
  • Explore a variety of self-generated topics.
  • Students use the 6+1 Writing Traits vocabulary, as well as a systematic writing process to encourage ease of group discussion and corrective practices among groups and individuals.
  • Students identify and utilize writing formats that best communicate material to their intended audiences.
  • Students provide peers with supportive and immediate feedback during the writing process.
  • Students write their own pieces using these genres during their year-long study:  
    • Expository essay (nonfiction in the form of a biography)
    • Letter writing (business and personal correspondence)
    • Personal narrative o Persuasive essay o Descriptive essay
    • Poetry
Assessment is an ongoing process. It includes students’ participation, process work, and final products. Rubrics are used to identify individuals’ strengths as well as areas needing improvement.

Literature/Vocabulary

Students rapidly transition from a “learning to read” instructional practice, to a more mature practice of “reading to learn.” To meet the increased demand of independent reader responsibility, students are introduced to and use a literature anthology. Through it, they read contemporary and classic works by recognized and renowned authors. They also read chapter books, depending upon thematic study, and have more autonomy with their independent reading selections. The literature course provides experiences with:
  • Whole group direct instruction, small group work, partner work, and individual study in a student-centered environment.
  • Weekly mini-lessons to teach strategic reading tools and to apply those strategies to the actual reading assignments.
  • Comprehension skills practice according to individual need.
  • Critical reading and thinking.
  • Purposeful practice connecting students’ literature to their own life experiences.
    • short story (mystery, fantasy, survival and adventure, and coming-of-age). o drama (Charles Dickens and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle).
    • novel study (unit requiring four to six weeks of study).
    • poetry (both formal and informal styles).
  • Student-generated literature journals for reflective and directed responses.
  • Nightly reading for thirty minutes.
  • Student reading log sheets to record independent reading.
  • Oral presentations, group projects, or partner-specific work to demonstrate understanding of reading skill instruction through application.
  • Direct instruction for active reading strategies (highlighting text, coding for understanding, etc.).
  • Social skill development to listen, reflect upon, evaluate, and understand others’ viewpoints (debate experience).
Reading assessment is multi-faceted to accommodate students’ different learning styles and multiple intelligences. It occurs formally and informally on a be-weekly basis, or sooner, as need dictates.  Reading/studying literature from these genres: o non-fiction (content area and research non-fiction).

English

Incorporated through writing circles.
  • Grammar, usage, and mechanics are dealt with in context
  • Grammar instruction is incorporated into daily writing circles work
  • Instruction and practice is provided for listening and speaking skills
Assessment occurs within the writing process and its products.

Science

The LabLearner curriculum, based on state and national standards, is used. An integrated curriculum, with an emphasis on Life Science, is taught. Topics covered include:
  • Cellular Organization
  • Genes and Proteins
  • The Cell Cycle and Cancer
  • Adaptations
  • Acids and Bases
  • Atomic Structure
  • Chemical Reactions
Students participate in hands-on laboratory experimentation in a fully equipped lab.

A variety of assessment tools are used to accommodate learning differences.

Mathematics

Students are grouped homogeneously, allowing students to grow in mathematics at a pace conducive to their level and learning style. The following date is used to determine placement:
  • Standardized test results.
  • Diagnostic Star Math test results.
  • The student's work ethic and classroom performance.

7th grade Curriculum

The Number System:
  • Operations with integers
  • Operations with rational numbers
Ratios and Proportional Relationships
  • Ratios and proportionality
  • Proportions and Percent
Expression, Equations, and Inequalities
Geometry
  • Geometric Figures
  • Circumference, Area, and Volume
Probability and Statistics

Accelerated Students will also study:

Real Numbers, Exponents, and Scientific Notation
Linear Relationships and Equations
Transformational Geometry 
Measurement Geometry

Religion

Focuses on the New Testament teachings and our call to follow Jesus’ life example. Students analyze Jesus’ teachings through his parables and miracles.  
  • Students also compare/contrast the Gospel readings
  • Regular assessment is given to check comprehension and knowledge.

Social Studies

  • The content begins with early American history (discovery, settlement, growth, government) and ends with the onset of the Civil War.
  • Study includes historical, political, economic, and social aspects of that era.

Formal assessment is given on a weekly basis.