Academics » Middle School Academics (Grades 5-8)

Middle School Academics (Grades 5-8)

The quest for excellence requires the taking of risks, and the Middle School faculty fosters an atmosphere in which students feel comfortable in seeking different intellectual avenues. The continued balance between academic vigor and a nurturing learning environment gives students the skills necessary to meet new experiences. Core academic subjects include English, mathematics, history, and science. Latin is required in Grades Five and Six, while a choice of Spanish or Latin is offered in Grades Seven and Eight. Skills acquisition remains a goal at all grade levels, but organizational and problem-solving strategies are special emphases of Middle School.

  • Experiential Learning is a unique feature of the Gulf Stream School experience. Every other year, Seventh and Eighth Grade students have the opportunity to spend a week in Montreal and Quebec City. In the weeks leading up to the trip, they learn about the culture and history of Canada. During their visit, they combine historically and culturally educational activities with fun activities such as dog sledding, snow shoeing, and cross-country skiing. In the year between the Canada trips, Seventh and Eighth Graders may elect to participate in a trip to Crystal River, Florida, where students swim with manatees in their natural habitat.
  • Technology: Students are issued a Google G Suite for Education account. By Grade 6, they are required to bring a computing device to class. Students are given numerous opportunities to incorporate technological elements into core academic subjects. Unique challenges such as the publication of our School literary magazine, Nautilus by the Seventh Grade and the School yearbook, Mariner by the Eighth Grade, as well as the research and writing of traditional term papers and the delivery of Eighth Grade speeches to the Middle School community, help students apply skills they have learned in the classroom during their Gulf Stream careers.

Middle School Language Arts

Middle School English classes focus on reading, writing, grammar, writing mechanics, vocabulary development, speaking, and listening. Classes meet for eight periods each week in Grades Five, Six, and Seven and ten periods in Grade Eight.

Middle School Reading

The reading program in Middle School is literature-based and designed to familiarize students with enlightening, current, and age-appropriate literature that fosters an appreciation of books. Gulf Stream School invites a wide variety of authors to speak to the Middle School students about the craft of writing. Recent speakers have included Kwame Alexander, Carl Hiaasen, and Jack Gantos.

Middle School Writing

Students in the Middle School have many opportunities to develop and practice their expository and creative writing skills. In creative writing, students compose stories, poetry, comic books, letters, articles, raps, and scripts for original film adaptations of texts they read in class. In expository writing, learning to outline and take notes helps children understand how to support a topic sentence with details. Students are introduced to essay writing in Grade Five and practice the form throughout the remainder of their Gulf Stream years. A graduation requirement for Eighth Graders is a research paper, properly formatted and footnoted, on a topic of their choice.

Middle School Grammar

Grammar is taught as an aid to both writing and speaking, and concepts are introduced and practiced organically throughout the year. Emphasis is on the four types of sentences, the parts of a sentence, the parts of speech, object, subject complements, and various types of phrases and clauses. Rules of spelling, capitalization, punctuation, and usages are reviewed and developed in each year of Middle School. Students are coached to incorporate new grammar concepts into their writing and to view instruction as a tool for building stronger sentences.

Middle School Vocabulary 

All Middle School English classes use Vocabulary from Classical Roots in a formal vocabulary development program. Emphasis is placed on Latin roots, Spanish cognates, word history and etymology. This approach fosters not only knowledge of vocabulary but also the ability to break down and decipher unfamiliar words, a key skill for standardized test-taking.

Middle School Public Speaking

Students speak, read, and recite regularly in front of their classmates. Proper posture, enunciation, pace, eye contact, and projection are emphasized. In Eighth Grade, students write a speech of approximately ten minutes and deliver it to the Middle School community.

Middle School Mathematics

All math classes emphasize cooperative learning, discussion, problem-solving, pattern-building, and computation. Students are expected to be active participants in their own learning processes. Many of our courses blend text books with teacher-generated materials and online resources to meet the varied needs of the students.

Middle School Mathematics Achievement Levels

Class placement in mathematics is based on the previous year’s level and performance as well as teacher recommendations. For students new to Gulf Stream School, standardized test scores may also be considered. It is our goal to place students in classes where they will be challenged but able to achieve success.

Courses offered
Grade Five: Math 5, Math 6
Grade Six: Math 6, Math 6 Advanced, Math 7
Grade Seven: Pre-Algebra, Honors Pre-Algebra, Algebra I
Grade Eight: Pre-Algebra, Algebra I, Honors Algebra I or Honors Geometry

Middle School Social Studies

In Middle School history, students learn about the past as a way of understanding who they are and where they come from as well as a way of examining how we might make the world better. Middle School history meets for five periods each week. Fifth Graders study Ancient Civilizations.

Middle School Current Events & Geography

Current events and geography are threads in all Middle School courses. Each course uses a text supplemented by videos, magazines, field trips, and guest speakers. The focus is not only on the content of each course but also on study skills such as mapping, reading for information, note-taking, research, and studying for tests and exams. Approaches include traditional teacher-led discussions as well as group projects and discussions.

Middle School Science

The Middle School Science curriculum is based on these areas of study: biology, ecology, chemistry, geology, and physics. Each area is presented in depth so that students can gain a firm scientific and technical foundation. Each discipline is then broadened to highlight its importance and connection to the natural world. Middle School classes meet in our science laboratories for forty minutes every day. To complement class work, students use our school environment, which includes our fields, playground, and butterfly garden.

Middle School Scientific Ocean Studies and Field Trips

Students can walk to the Atlantic Ocean for beach studies. Field trips to nature preserves, science museums, and the Florida Everglades are part of the curriculum. Trips allow students to see the connection between classroom lessons and field studies.

Middle School Science Guest Speakers

Visits from naturalists, doctors, alumni, and other guest speakers provide role models for boys and girls and give them a chance to interact with experts.

Fifth Grade Science

Fifth Grade science covers taxonomy (invertebrates and vertebrates), endangered animals and biological diversity, Earth's waters, and the nature of science and technology.

Sixth Grade Science

In Sixth Grade science students learn about motion, forces, energy, cells, heredity, and Earth’s changing surface.

Seventh Grade Science

Topics covered in Seventh Grade science include sound, light, the structure of Earth, plate tectonics, and matter.

Eighth Grade Science

Topics covered in Eighth Grade science include elements and the periodic table, carbon chemistry, electricity, magnetism, human anatomy, health, and human anatomy.

Middle School Language

In the Middle School, Fifth and Sixth graders are required to take Latin. The class meets three periods a week in Grade Five and five periods a week in Grade Six.

Fifth Grade Latin

The Fifth Grade course focuses on the workings of language in general, using Latin to help students better understand English grammar. Exercises in Latin vocabulary and grammar are supplemented by a study of the mythology and history of Ancient Rome. Students are introduced to the concept of Latin derivatives and are encouraged to spot them in the course of their everyday lives.

Sixth Grade Latin

The Sixth Grade course focuses on more traditional Latin vocabulary and grammar and introduces them through the reading and translation of a story set in Pompeii.

Latin I and Spanish I

At the end of their Sixth Grade year, all students elect a two-year traditional Latin I or Spanish I course to be taken in Grades Seven and Eight.