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Grades 6 through 8

Middle School Years

The curriculum for our Sixth through Eighth Graders is intentionally designed to be creative, relevant, engaging and challenging.

The curriculum for our Sixth through Eighth Graders is intentionally designed to be creative, relevant, engaging and challenging. The faculty advises and helps guide the students’ academic pursuits, encourage artistic expression, support their social and emotional growth and facilitate student-driven conversations about self knowledge and cultural awareness.  In addition to our academic offerings that will help prepare them for Secondary School, our focus on Character Development and community building is incorporated into what we do each day.

Program Components

ADVISORY: Students meet in Advisory groups to touch base, plan for the day and build community through open and honest discussions, games and activities; improve study skills and executive functioning by learning time management skills and practicing organization.  Students build self awareness, decision-making skills, independence and learn the responsibilities of leadership through community-based  projects.

DECLAMATION: Students gain notable practice speaking publicly at Declamations.  They challenge themselves to master and declaim celebrated works of poetry and prose, including speeches and excerpts from novels and plays.  The School community attends monthly Declamations and the students of 6th-8th Grades vie for the annual Declamation Award being evaluated for dramatization, poise, pacing, body language, eye contact and articulation. 

MINI-COURSES: Students are offered a variety of trimester courses including the following: Health, Ethics/Leadership-in-Action, Writing/Rhetoric/Drama, Design Thinking/Coding and a wide range of The Arts.

INDEPENDENT STUDY PROGRAM: Students engage in a project-based learning program as they research a subject, design a project, and develop a deeper understanding of a topic of their own interest and choice. They will present their findings to the School community in the Spring.

INTERSCHOLASTIC SPORTS: Students participate in the School’s program, representing SPS to challenge independent school rivals in a variety of sports (such as Basketball, Cross Country, and Soccer) but they also forge fast friendships with teammates and learn the rewards of sportsmanship.


Humanities is the study of the human condition, and the 6th-8th Grades study about what it is to be a human. This integrated study approach aligns with fostering our students to be critical thinkers, problem solvers and ethical citizens of their world.  

Students in 6th-8th Grades will analyze geographic, political, economic, religious, and social structures; explore chronological and spatial thinking, conduct historical research, find evidence, and assess the credibility of primary and secondary sources to draw conclusions, using a variety of materials.  Students will learn to be active readers annotating, identifying meaning, and connecting ideas across texts and genres.  Using the practice of Writer’s Workshop, students will consider the audience and the author’s purpose.  They will consolidate their skills by using conventions of writing, developing vocabulary, and work through the complexities of the process by planning and executing a variety of writing strategies


GRADE 6: Decisions, Actions, and Consequences

In the first trimester, students will do a survey of The Hellenistic Age and its long lasting impact. This is followed by a focus on Colonial Philadelphia and discovering how decisions and actions made during Colonial Philadelphia affect the development of the United States democracy and society both then and now. The final term will be a study of American civics.  It will also provide discussion of civil rights and protest movements in American history.

Sixth Graders will cite textual evidence to support analysis and inferencing; determine central ideas conveyed by details and summarize; analyze the themes, setting, plot and word choice and tone; consider point of view; compare and contrast different genres for literature and informational texts. Students will demonstrate command of standard grammar and usage when writing, speaking with appropriate spelling and punctuation; use affixes, roots and be able to verify preliminary determination of word meaning; use of figurative language and word relationships; distinguish between connotations and denotations.  Students will also engage in collaborative discussions; prepare required materials, respond to specific questions with detail; demonstrate understanding of multiple perspectives through reflection and paraphrasing; can form an argument based on specific content, logical reasoning, and data; uses phrases to create cohesion and clarify; draws evidence to support analysis, research reflection and can explain process


GRADE 7: Constructing Identities

In the first trimester, students will ask compelling questions, research, and interpret how we define identity and a social construct.  Projects and themes will focus on Utopia v. Dystopia as well as The Enlightenment and answering “What is the role of an individual in a society? “During the second trimester, students will understand and analyze historical perspective and how events are interpreted and re-interpreted over time, as they consider the disruption of wars (The Civil War, WWI, and WWII.) The third trimester will focus on the theme “The Industrial Age to The Information Age.”

Seventh Graders will continue to practice being active readers, also working in collaborative groups, annotating identifying meaning and beginning to connect ideas across texts and genres. Using the Writers Workshop model, students will consider their audience, and the author’s perspective and purpose, practicing outlining and how to introduce a concept and support it. They will analyze and evaluate structure in plot, how to effectively incorporate sources and make clear transitions between paragraphs and ideas. Seventh Graders learn to create an argumentative essay and will focus on how to rethink, revise and rewrite material. During the last trimester they will also work on a critical literature essay with a well-developed thesis and supporting sources.


GRADE 8: Adversity, Conflict and Change

In the first trimester, students will seek answers to the big questions about important historical moments.  They will also seek to understand the connections between events and developments in broader historical contexts and analyze the multiple factors that have influenced the perspectives of people over time. Students will use historical sources to identify further areas of inquiry and evaluate the relevancy of a historical source based on different factors. Students will demonstrate that they can consider multiple historical events and distill similarities and differences in context and cause.

The Eighth Grade course will reflect on Transoceanic connections and consider in what ways did the arrival of Europeans to America bring about unforeseen and unintended conflicts and changes. This will lead to the ultimate conflict between Europe and the American Colonies and will conclude in the Spring Trimester with a focus on The American Revolution.

 Students will also be able to understand the structure of a piece of writing, evaluating the use of literary devices. They will be able to plan and execute a long- term writing project that includes strategizing, multiple drafts, feedback, and revisions and improve on their work independently.  They will use logical fallacies and rhetorical tools in argumentative writing and be able to integrate all sources properly and effectively. Eighth Graders will understand how fiction and non-fiction express ideas, both similarly and dissimilarly, and drawing connections between the two. They will demonstrate the ability to analyze two or more texts providing conflicting information or ideas on the same topic and identify where the texts disagree on matters of interpretation. They will be able to polish and finish a final draft and identify and strengthen their unique writing voice.


Sixth Grade

“Math in Focus” for Sixth Grade uses the same approach and format found in the previous levels of the course, students will learn about the number system and prime factorization; number lines, absolute value, and negative numbers; multiplying and dividing fractions and decimals, ratios and rates, percents, algebraic expressions, equations and inequalities, coordinate plane, perimeter, area, volume, statistics, and measures of central tendency.


Seventh Grade

Tools of Algebra 

  • Words and Expressions
  • Variables and Expressions
  • Properties of Addition and Multiplication
  • Ordered Pairs and Relations
  • Words, Equations, Tables, and Graphs
  • Scatter Plots

Operations With Integers 

  • Integers and Absolute Value
  • Adding/Subtracting Integers
  • Multiplying/Dividing Integers
  • Graphing in Four Quadrants
  • Translations and Reflections on the Coordinate Plane

Operations With Rational Numbers 

  • Fractions and Decimals
  • Rational Numbers
  • Multiplying/Dividing Rational Numbers
  • Adding/Subtracting Like/Unlike Fractions

Expressions and Equations 

  • The Distributive Property
  • Simplifying Algebraic Expressions
  • Solving Equations by Adding/Subtracting
  • Solving Equations by Multiplying/Dividing
  • Solving Two Step Equations
  • Writing Equations

Multi-Step Equations and Inequalities 

  • Solving Equations with Variables on Both Sides
  • Inequalities
  • Solving Inequalities
  • Solving Multi-Step Equations and Inequalities

Ratio, Proportion, and Similar Figures 

  • Ratios
  • Unit Rates
  • Converting Rates and Measurements
  • Proportional and Nonproportional Relationships
  • Solving Proportions
  • Similar Figures
  • Scale Models and Drawings
  • Dilations
  • Indirect Measurement


  • Fractions, Decimals, and Percents
  • Using the Percent Proportion
  • Finding Percents Mentally
  • Using Percent Equations
  • Percent of Change
  • Simple and Compound Interest
  • Circle Graphs

Linear Functions and Graphing 

  • Functions
  • Sequences and Equations
  • Representing Linear Functions
  • Rate of Change
  • Slope
  • Slope-Intercept Form
  • Writing Linear Equations
  • Systems of Equations

Powers and Nonlinear Functions 

  • Powers and Exponents
  • Prime Factorization
  • Multiplying and Dividing Monomials
  • Negative Exponents
  • Scientific Notation
  • Powers of Monomials
  • Linear and Nonlinear Functions
  • Quadratic Functions
  • Cubic and Exponential Functions

Real Numbers and Right Triangles 

  • Squares and Square Roots
  • The Real Number System
  • Triangles
  • The Pythagorean Theorem
  • Distance Formula
  • Special Right Triangles

Distance and Angle 

  • Angle and Line Relationships
  • Congruent Triangles
  • Rotations
  • Quadrilaterals
  • Polygons
  • Area of Parallelograms, Triangles, and Trapezoids
  • Circles and Circumference
    • Areas of Circles
  • Area of Composite Figures

Surface Area and Volume 

  • Three Dimensional Figures
  • Volume of Prisms
  • Volume of Cylinders
  • Volume of Pyramids, Cones, and Spheres
  • Surface Area of Prisms
  • Surface Area of Cylinders
  • Surface Area of Pyramids and Cones
  • Similar Solids

Statistics and Probability 

  • Measures of Central Tendency
  • Measures of Variation
    • Stem and Leaf Plots
    • Box and Whisker Plots
    • Histograms
  • Theoretical and Experimental Probability
  • Using Sampling to Predict
  • Counting Outcomes
  • Permutations and Combinations
  • Probability of Compound Events


Eighth Grade

Algebra I
Expressions and Functions

  • Words and Expressions 
  • Writing and Evaluating Algebraic Expressions 
  • Properties of Addition and Multiplication 
  • Recognizing Functions 


  • Transformations and Reflections 
  • Rules of Exponents 

Linear Equations

  • Exponents and Equations 
  • Absolute Value
  • Equations with Variable Inside the AV
  • AV in Algebraic Expressions
  • Equations
    • One-Step
    • Two-Step
    • Multi-Step
      • Variables on Both Sides of the Equation 
      • Literal Equations
      • Dimensional Analysis

Linear and Nonlinear Functions

  • Graphing Linear Functions 
  • Finding Zeros 
  • Rate of Change and Slope 
  • Slope Intercept Form 
  • Piecewise and Step Functions 
  • Graphing AV Functions

Equations of Linear Functions

  • Writing Equations 
  • Slope-Intercept Form 
  • Point-Slope Form 
  • Parallel and Perpendicular Lines 
  • Scatter Plots and Lines of Best Fit 
  • Regression 
  • Inverses of Linear Functions 

Linear Inequalities

  • Solving Inequalities 
  • Addition/Subtraction 
  • Multiplication/Division 
  • Multi-Step 
  • Compound 
  • w/ AV 
  • w/ Two Variables 

Systems of Linear Equations and Inequalities Graphing Systems of Equations 

  • Applications of SoE 
  • Matrices 
  • Substitution 
  • Elimination 
  • Systems of Inequalities 

Exponents and Exponential Functions

  • Multiplication/Division Properties for Exponents 
  • Rational Exponents 
  • Radical Expressions 
  • Exponential Functions 
  • Transforming Exponential Expressions/Equations 
  • Writing Exponential Functions 
  • Geometric Sequences as Exponential Functions 
  • Recursive Formulas


  • Adding/Subtracting Polynomials 
  • Multiplying a Polynomial by a Monomial 
  • Multiplying Polynomials 
  • Special Products 
  • Using the Distributive Property 
  • Factoring Quadratic Trinomials 
  • Factoring Special Products 

Quadratic Functions and Equations

  • Graphing Quadratic Functions 
  • Transformations of Quadratic Functions 
  • Solving Quadratics by Graphing
    • … by Factoring
    • … by Completing the Square
    • … by Using the Quadratic Formula
  • Solving Systems of Linear and Quadratic Equations
  • Combining Functions


  • Measures of Center 
  • Representing Data 
  • Measures of Speed 
  • Distributions of Data 
  • Comparing Sets of Data 
  • Summarizing Categorical Data


The Science curriculum for Sixth-Eighth Grades emphasizes the use of engineering solutions and evidence-based reasoning for scientific explanations to communicate recommendations to address real-world problems. 

In Sixth Grade students play the role of builders and designers as they discover how the properties of various materials, such as strength, flexibility, and buoyancy, determine what the materials are used for. Students will also explore the concept of matter, explore changes of state, and investigate the difference between physical changes and chemical changes.

The focus of this curriculum is to explore foundational concepts in chemistry and physics and encourages exploration of new discoveries in this field of science. The course includes an overview of scientific principles and procedures, and leads students toward a clearer understanding of matter, energy, and the physical universe.

In the first term, the 6th graders will explore the properties of matter, measuring matter, buoyancy, the first 20 elements of the periodic table and simple chemical reactions. In the second term, the students will explore the factors that affect the rate of chemical reactions; 3D modeling using TinkerCAD, and the principles of 3D printing. In the last term, the students will learn about basic electronics, circuit design, actuators, sensors, and output devices.

Curricular projects include boat building project design and construction using various materials starting from paper boats, modeling clay boats, Lego block boats, craft stick boats, and 3D printed boats. Extension projects will also include working with circuits, sensors, and other electronics to propel these design boats.


In Seventh Grade students play the role of Medical Detectives and explore biomedical sciences through hands-on projects and labs that require students to solve a variety of medical mysteries. Students investigate medical careers, vital signs, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases, as well as human body systems such as the nervous system. Genetic testing for hereditary diseases and DNA crime scene analysis put the students in the place of real-life medical detectives.

The focus of this curriculum is to reinforce student understanding of change, cycles, patterns, and relationships in the living world. Students build on basic principles related to these concepts by exploring the cellular organization and the classification of organisms; the dynamic relationships among organisms, populations, communities, and ecosystems; and change because of the transmission of genetic information from generation to generation.

In the first trimester, the 7th Graders explore the world of epidemiology, infectious diseases, Philadelphia City’s water system, differentiate urban versus natural water cycle, and the immune system. In the second trimester, the students will learn about the circulatory systems, investigate the impact of epidemic diseases throughout history, the 1793 Yellow Fever and significant advances in the medical field. In the last trimester, the students will partner with local medical experts in the community to come up with sustainable solutions to combat infectious diseases and investigate the importance of health and nutrition education.

Curricular projects include 3-dimensional clay models of waterborne pathogens, Human Body Tape Sculpture showcasing the circulatory and immune system, participation in the Annual George Carver Science Fair, and Back to Fever 1793: present a solution Dr. Benjamin Rush to combat yellow fever.


In Eighth Grade students strive to see the world through the eyes of a physicist while exploring the topics of motion, energy, forces, electricity, matter, and waves. Students work collaboratively to develop hypotheses, design experiments to test those hypotheses, interpret data and then refine their initial thinking. 

The focus of this curriculum is to study the physical world as it relates to fundamental concepts about matter, energy, and motion.  Students will build on the basic principles related to concepts of forces and motion, chemical and physical properties of matter, the ways in which matter, and energy interact, the forms and properties of energy, and other basic concepts in chemistry and physics.

In the first term, the 8th graders will learn about forces and energy, Newton’s laws of motion, and work and simple machines. In the second term, the students will explore the importance of data visualization, electricity, magnetism, sound, and optics. In the last term, the students will explore biochemistry, the cell, cellular processes, genetics, evolution, and body systems.

Curricular projects include: 10-step Rube Goldberg Project, Data Visualization for Colonial Research Project in collaboration with Humanities Class, Pinhole Camera Models, Electronic Quiz Board, and Profile of a Science Superhero.


In the Art Room, every student is an artist with a personal style and a unique perspective.

Students in Sixth-Eighth Grades will progress toward mastery of technical skills while also forming deeper, more complex understandings of creative concepts, cultural and personal expression, and innovation. In addition to this, students will learn about contemporary artists as well as artists from history. 

While the Elements and Principles of Design are an important component of the Visual Arts at SPS, students pair this learning with enduring concepts, RLC, individual expression, and cross-curricular learning to create art that is meaningful, authentic, and technically informed. Students also understand that art is a tool in which they can process and discuss social issues to challenge, make statements, and ask questions. Some units of study/essential questions include: 

  • The Art of Transformation: How and why do artists transform ordinary materials and spaces to create extraordinary works of art?
  • The Art of Identity: How and why do artists today and throughout history express themselves and their cultures through visual means?
  • The Art of Juxtaposition: How and why do artists create surrealist/ fantasy works?
  • The Art of Community: How and why do Contemporary and historic artists engage and collaborate with the world around them?



Artwork is displayed around the school on a regular basis and then on a more formal basis during the Spring Art Show (students are part of the curating, preparing, and display process of the event)

Student work is also documented in digital portfolio websites that students create in their Tech class. Students not only design their own art site with images of their work, but they write statements on the process and/ or meaning of the work.

Field Trips and Guest Speakers are part of the US Art experience. Examples:

  • URBN Headquarters 
  • Jade Apparel
  • Barnes Museum
  • Philadelphia Museum of Art
  • Magic Gardens
  • Local mural, public art walking trips


Arts Block (elective opportunity to do a deep dive into the art of their choice)

  • Students try out different Arts Block electives during different terms
  • After the term of Arts Block ends, students work is showcased 
  • Arts Block Elective Courses can vary term by term. Some past examples include:
  • 2D Studio (printmaking, painting, drawing, collage), 3D Studio (ceramics, sculpture, textiles), Newspaper, Graphic Arts, Comic Art, Songwriting, Podcasting, Chorus, Improv


Examples of Cross-Curricular Learning:

Artist statements in collaboration with Humanities, 3D Cell project in collaboration with Science, 3D Pathogen project in collaboration with Science, 3D organ project in collaboration with Science, Flower part identification paintings in collaboration with Science, Album Art project in collaboration with Music and Humanities, STEAM/ Maker Projects , Yearbook Art, Digital Portfolios in collaboration with Tech.


At St. Peter’s School, Music is a blend of developing the knowledge about the fundamentals of music, exploratory activity-based learning and strengthening student listening skills. Classes are divided into conceptual learning experiences and hands-on learning experiences with singing & instruments. 

When students reach Sixth-Eighth Grades they have the opportunity to learn in an ensemble situation working on popular songs with drums, guitar, bass, keyboards and singing culminating with Battle of the Bands. Students also integrate the music recording studio into various areas of our learning.

Throughout their time in Sixth – Eighth Grades, students continuously grow as young musicians and members of rock/pop bands and homogeneous ensembles, learning guitar, bass guitar, drum set, piano, and handbells. Additionally, students learn about essential musical concepts, the cultural and social impact of a wide variety of genres, and perform in several settings including, Battle of the Bands, seasonal concerts, and graduation. Many students enjoy learning how to operate our onsite professional-quality recording studio.

Sixth Grade

  • Introduction to Hand Bell Choir – preparing a song for Celebration of Light
  • Guitar studies: Chord Symbols, Technique, Intermediate reading skills and tablature
  • Music fundamentals: Reading Music Notation, Time keeping/Rhythm Studies, Beginning Harmony, Musical Texture and Timbre with listening activities, writing in listening journals and actively employing concepts with instrument activities.
  • Working in an ensemble of mixed instrumentation to develop songs for performance.
  • Preparing Holiday and event songs and dances


Seventh Grade

  • Introduction to Hand Bell Choir – preparing a song for Celebration of Light
  • Guitar studies: Beginning Chord Progressions, intermediate level techniques, reading skills and tablature.
  • Music fundamentals: Reading Music Notation, Advanced time keeping/rhythm studies, -Harmony, Musical Form and Structure with listening activities, writing in listening journals and actively employing concepts with instrument activities.
  • Working in an ensemble of mixed instrumentation to develop songs for performance.
  • Preparing Holiday and event songs and dances


Eighth Grade

  • Guitar studies: Song Studies, Reading Skills, advanced tablature, Chord progressions and Riffs/lead guitar skills
  • Hand Bell Choir with a focus on performing a Graduation Song
  • A comprehensive and cumulative study of music fundamentals, history, and styles with listening activities, writing in listening journals and actively employing concepts with instrument activities.
  • Working in an ensemble of mixed instrumentation to develop songs for performance.
  • Preparing Holiday and event songs and dances


Students also formally (presentations, written reflections) and informally (gallery walk, turn and talk) engage in positive feedback critiques to teach each other and encourage each other in community. 

Physical Education

Physical Education provides the opportunity to teach students about movement, strategies, cooperation and teamwork, problem solving, and health related wellness. Exposing students to a variety of sports and methods of fitness can teach the whole student an enjoyment for the physical activities as well as build social, psychomotor, and cognitive skills. Classes strive to provide the means for students to become more confident with their abilities, increase their knowledge of health-related fitness, and to remain physically active.

Cooperative Activities: Students will be able to move in the activity area safely. Perform class skills learned in small group and large group games and activities. Activities will allow practice of skills learned and also introduce students to lifetime activities. Limited experience due to age will necessitate practice in many activities to master skill.

Wellness:  Students will be able to perform various exercises and warm up activities to improve overall fitness. Students will discover how exercise, nutrition and a healthy lifestyle improve overall quality of life. Limited experience due to age, will necessitate practice in many activities to master skill. Emphasis is placed on effort, sportsmanship, listening skills, determination, cooperation, and patience.

Manipulative Skills:   Students will be able to perform various ball skills demonstrating proper hand and body position. Students will discover how these skills are the basis for lifetime physical activities. Limited experience due to age will necessitate practice in many activities to master skill.

Movement/Locomotor Skills: Students will be able to move in the activity area safely. Perform locomotor and non-locomotor movements individually and activities demonstrating spatial awareness and body awareness. Limited experience due to age, will necessitate practice in many activities to master skill.

Examples: dribbling, passing, and shooting skills (basketball, soccer ball, baseball, and floor-hockey, jumping rope, hula hoops, scooters, distance running, sprints, relays and hurdles, and a wide stretching and yoga exercises 6th-8th Grades include a variety of interscholastic teams such as soccer, basketball, cross country, track and field.

World Language - French

Sixth Grade has a strong emphasis on vocabulary and the knowledge of grammar rules. Students use the textbook “Discovering French Bleu,” and begin the year reviewing greetings, numbers, telling time, nationalities, dates, and verbs. Students study the conjugation of regular “-er” verbs, and how to use adverbs and negative expressions correctly. Other grammar units include possessive adjectives and objects, using the conjugated verb plus infinitive structure to express likes and dislikes, and language nuances. Vocabulary units include extended family, food and drink, nationalities, objects to own, and more prepositions. Sixth Grade includes the study of French-speaking countries around the world. The traditional restaurant trip for lunch at a local French restaurant upon completion of the food unit, is always popular.  


Seventh Grade picks up with the second half of the textbook “Discovering French Bleu.” This year is full of important grammar-related material, including stress pronouns, ordinal numbers, agreement and placement of adjectives, the contractions “to the” and “from the” the important verb “to go,” which leads to the formation of the near-future tense and the optional future tense, the verb “to come,” and the conjugation of regular “-ir” and “-re” verbs. Vocabulary units this year include places in towns, adjectives, sports, and games, giving directions, adverbs of frequency, and idiomatic expressions with “avoir.” Students will be practicing writing and reading comprehension through news articles and the beginner’s novel “Les Aventures d’Isabelle.” 

Eighth Graders use the next text “Discovering French Blanc.” Students learn school subjects and make and/or describe their schedules in French, they study more about advanced professions and extended family, they learn idiomatic expressions with the verbs “etre” and “faire,” and they study how to express quantities. They practice reading comprehension through newspaper articles and enjoy the traditional project of writing advertisements, announcements, and current events for the publication of the one-time Eighth Grade French newspaper. They also read the advanced beginner’s novel “Pauvre Anne.”  The Eighth Grade also focuses on formation and use of the two past tenses, the “passé composé” and the “imparfait.” Students learn vocabulary to use with the past tense, and the culmination of the past tense unit is the writing of basic French children’s books which they will read aloud to the St. Peter’s First-Graders at the end of the year.  

Wellness and Social and Emotional Learning 

Strengthening our students’ social/emotional skills is a high priority in Sixth-Eighth Grades. 

St. Peter’s School uses a Social Emotional Learning curriculum called CharacterStrong. This curriculum aids students in developing self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making.

Using resources from the CharacterStrong program, including videos, activities, crafts, scenarios, quotes, and stories, the students have plenty of opportunities in small and large groups to learn about and practice the following character traits: courage, respect, gratitude, perseverance, honesty, kindness, empathy, responsibility, cooperation, and creativity throughout the year.