6th - 8th Grade Curriculum
John Witherspoon Middle School offers a broad array of learning experiences for students in 6th through 8th grade. Students participate in four core subjects on a daily basis: language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies. These courses are supplemented with classes that students choose in the Exploratory Program, which have included 3D programming, art, band, choir, computers, drama, research and debate, and tech prep. Middle School students can choose to take Spanish or French, and Mandarin is offered as an additional course that takes place immediately before the start of the school day. All students participate in physical education and health classes on a rotating schedule.
Grade Level Overview
Learn more about each grade level by clicking the appropriate tab below.
6th grade students read literature from various genres, developing skills for successful understanding. Students hone their abilities to write descriptive narratives and polish their persuasive and personal styles of writing as they complete both expository and creative writing assignments. All 6th graders study pre-algebra. In social studies, students focus on world cultures, including prehistoric humans, ancient Mayan and Incan cultures, and ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Africa, China, India, Greece, and Rome. Science includes the study of matter, cells, genetics, and the systems of the human body. Environmental education curriculum includes an overnight trip to the Fairview Lake Environmental Education Center in Newton, NJ. Students will study Spanish or French as part of the World Languages curriculum.
In 7th grade, students read a variety of works on the theme of human significance and life experiences. Students also broaden their vocabulary and knowledge of grammar, including writing effective sentences. In math, most students begin Algebra I, which they will complete in 8th grade. (Some students may take an accelerated course, completing Algebra I in one year.) In social studies, students focus on world cultures and geography, including how India's geography affected its culture, the role of political dynasties in China, the system of feudalism in Japan, how African empires gained wealth and power through the Trans-Saharan Trade route, and how the system of feudalism in Europe provided a structure for political and religious unity after the collapse of the Roman Empire. Geology, astronomy, oceanography, and weather are among the units covered in science. Students continue their study of Spanish or French and have the option of adding Mandarin.
In 8th grade, students will read a variety of texts, including the classics and contemporary literature. Composition is an integral part of language arts classes, and students write book reports and in-class essays, in addition to giving oral reports. Most 8th grade students complete the Algebra I curriculum, putting them on a path to complete calculus in their senior year at Princeton High School. (For students who take the accelerated Algebra I course in 7th grade, Algebra II is offered in 8th grade. This track provides the option of doing multivariable calculus and linear algebra as a senior at PHS.) In social studies, students focus on civics and take an in-depth look at our nation's government, its political system, and the foundations of American democracy. In science, students study chemistry, physics, electricity, and magnetism. An emphasis is placed on learning how matter interacts with other matter, how atoms and molecules are rearranged in chemical reactions, and how forces act on objects to produce motion. Students continue their study of Spanish or French. Students who began to study Mandarin in 7th grade, continue to study the language and culture in 8th grade.