Where we inspire and empower compassionate, global learners.

Overview of the Middle School Courses

The Mission of Cornerstone Learning Community is to: Inspire and empower compassionate, global learners. The middle school teaching team works closely together to offer you a vigorous, responsive, interdisciplinary education that continues to bring our school’s mission to life. 
The social studies curriculum has an underlying emphasis on responsible citizenship and social justice. Classes use an inquiry- and project-based approach for exploring nationally recognized social studies themes in history, sociology, government, and culture. Skills in research, geography, and active citizenship are interwoven throughout each course.
Through the course in US History, students will explore the ways humans in our country have viewed themselves and others in and over time, including an understanding of interactions among individuals, groups, institutions, and subcultures. This approach brings to life the people, places, and environments from the diverse threads of our nation’s story.
The course in World Cultures will take students around the world to understand different cultures across time, appreciate cultural diversity, and experience global connections and interdependence. They will explore arts, music, history, geography, and more! The course in Civics delves into how people create, interact with, and change structures of power and governance, as well as how people organize for production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services.
Cornerstone’s middle school offers a variety of math courses that cater to the needs of each student. In Middle School Math 1 and 2, students continue to develop and master skills that will prepare them for higher level math classes. As they form a solid foundation and show readiness in exploring more algebraic concepts, the Pre-Algebra Problem Solving course will delve more into pre-algebra concepts through projects and an in-depth study of number theory. Students have an early exposure to high school mathematics courses in Algebra 1 and Geometry. Algebra 1 focuses on solving, graphing, and applying equations and has a high level of expectation that will lead students into earning their first high school credit. Students who have completed Algebra will then advance into Geometry. This course offers a variety of real-world applications of the concepts previously learned, and challenges students to think critically and abstractly. Students will study numerous geometrical concepts and utilize their mastery of the algebraic skills to perform meaningful tasks involving geometry concepts.
In science classes students enjoy direct observation and inquiry-based investigation. Middle schoolers are active scientists who by the end of three years have strong experiences in earth science, life science, and the physical sciences. Earth & Space Science begins with a study of the sun as a source of energy,
Life Science begins with a study of ecosystems, and Physical Science begins with a study of the properties of matter. Students continually advance their scientific knowledge, processes of inquiry, ability to analyze results, and participation in scientific collaboration. 
In this workshop-style class, students will have project-based writing, guided independent reading, personal language study, formal public speaking experiences, and an international literature unit. Students enjoy considerable choice to challenge themselves to read and write what their heart desires, with enough structure and one-on-one conferencing to ensure that challenging goals, a range of genres, and appropriate skills are addressed. Lessons and activities engage students in word play and shared readings for enjoyment, analysis, and practice with reading and writing strategies.
Our Spanish courses incorporate the diversity of Hispanic culture into language instruction and rely on current second language acquisition research to teach Spanish using authentic texts. Middle school students may work toward earning credit
for high school Spanish 2 by the end of 8th grade. Some students will take middle school German. Both of these prepare students to continue with foreign language courses as soon as they enter high school.
All students study performing and visual arts during middle school. Vocal Music is an opportunity for maturing vocalists and beginning singers to develop vocal technique and singing skills in a relaxed, nurturing environment, with an emphasis on collaboration and community service.  Repertoire includes teacher and student choices for exploration and sharing.  Vocal Music is a venue for self-expression, with opportunities for solo singing (if desired), as well as composition, arranging, and/or accompanying. 
Instrumental Music is for students whose primary musical interest involves playing an instrument. Students may continue with an instrument they already study or explore new choices, such as guitar, bass guitar, ukulele,  keyboard, drum set, or percussion. Opportunities for composing, arranging, and performing will arise throughout the year. Some pieces studied and/or performed are for the whole ensemble (class,) and other pieces will be for small groups. Students will have input at various times as to repertoire and group choices.
In Visual Art courses, students work with a variety of materials, techniques, and skills to solve art problems and meet expressive challenges. Some courses may focus on a specific area of visual art, such as 3-D creations or photography. In all visual arts classes, students explore aesthetics and  art history, produce art, and gain experience in critical reflections of their work. Art courses are an opportunity for students to learn about themselves and others while making global  connections that surpass time and space.
Design classes use a rigorous design cycle to produce solutions to real-world problems that may be digital or physical products. Regardless of the course, students are expected to inquire and analyze in order to develop several appropriate solutions to a problem.
They will create solutions and evaluate their success. As students progress through the grades, the design process becomes more routine, but projects involve deeper analysis and more comprehensive solutions.
Physical and health education in middle school aims to empower students to understand and appreciate the value of being physically active and develop the motivation for making healthy life choices. Physical education classes offer athletic games, exercise, health, nutrition, fitness, sportsmanship, and teamwork.
Students have choices about the core courses they take in the subject areas of Arts and Design (see above). In addition to the core courses, Cornerstone offers exploratory classes that give students opportunities to delve into a wide variety of topics single trimester such as Dancing, Drama, Small Engine Repair, Cooking, Mosaics, Calligraphy, Pottery, Archery, Origami, Beekeeping, French Culture, Italian Culture, Computer Programming, Basketball, Brain Bowl, Independent Projects, Abstract Art, Field Sports, and more!
During the first trimester, grade-level advisement groups meet once a week to provide time for students and teachers to work together to address developmental aspects of being a middle schooler.  Sixth grade advisement, Approaches to Learning, includes guidance about organization, time-management, study skills, and an introduction to the IB learner traits.
Seventh grade advisement, Digital Citizenship, provides continued guidance in these areas while also learning about making responsible, smart choices in the digital world. Eighth grade advisement, Community Leadership, focuses on having positive influence, decision-making, and the transition to high school.

Cornerstone has woven service projects throughout our curriculum. These experiences combine academic goals with character development and community service. Many service-learning components continue weekly or monthly, year after year, and thus promote long-term commitment in our students. Students also have opportunities to initiate service learning through activism projects in social studies, environmental responsibility projects through science classes, communication projects in language arts, and cultural exchanges in Spanish. In the 8th grade, students plan and implement a significant Community Project that is showcased at a spring exhibition and celebration. By graduation, our students know how to approach service learning on a personal, independent level in preparation for a lifetime of self-directed community service.