Middle School

During the crucial adolescent years, self-esteem, family values, and healthy intellectual curiosity need to be fostered within a nurturing, moral, and safe environment. By building on the skills developed in Lower School, the St. James Middle School focuses on the acquisition of strong academic skills, expands comprehension, analytical and questioning abilities, broadens creative and critical thinking, and enhances effective written and oral communication.

Core classes included in Middle School’s curriculum are Language Arts, History/Geography, Science, Spanish, and Math. Language Arts classes focus on research and literature, and History/Geography focus on American and World History. The science curriculum is presented in a laboratory setting emphasizing the scientific method as a problem solving tool and utilizing special science software for experimentation. Seventh and Eighth Grade Science classes consist of Integrated Physics and Chemistry and allow scholars to take the IPC credit with them to high school. The Spanish program also offers the opportunity to earn high school credits for Spanish Level I or Spanish Level II. Mathematics classes are grouped according to ability, allowing scholars who are developmentally prepared to complete Algebra I for high school credit in Grade 8.

The transition years from fifth through eighth grades are critical ones in a young person’s development and a wide variety of courses, enrichments, and programs have been developed to address the scholar’s intellectual, physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.
These include the following:

  • Art – Working with various media, painting, print making, sculpting, and drawing.
  • Athletics – After school team sports in volleyball, basketball, track, tennis, basketball, and sailing
  • Outdoor Education – Trips designed for each grade to integrate group interaction skills, personal growth, camping, canoeing, hiking, and science
    • MO-Ranch, low elements of the Ropes Challenge Course – 5th Grade
    • Camp Capers and Canyon of the Eagles – 6th Grade
    • Camp Eagle – 7th Grade
    • San Antonio Missions and Texas State Capitol – 7th Grade
    • Mo Ranch, high elements of the Ropes Challenge Course – 8th Grade
    • Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Gettysburg, and Williamsburg – 8th Grade
  • Research/Word Processing – Use of computers for outlining, note taking, and editing in process writing.
  • Speech – Public Speaking, debate, listening skills
  • Religious Education – Twice weekly Chapel service and Spiritual Formation classes
  • Middle School Music – Choral music, recorder, and hand bells
  • Study Skills – Organization, time management, and note-taking
  • St. James Service – Program to receive recognition for service to the school and to the community
  • Student Council – Student government for 5th-8th grades

The Middle School extends the St. James tradition of caring, while placing emphasis on developing high moral standards, responsibility, a respect for self and others, an enthusiastic pursuit of excellence, and a reverence for God and life.

The Fifth Grade curriculum utilizes Interdisciplinary instruction incorporating the Elements of Depth and Complexity and Multiple Intelligences to provide an engaging, challenging, cognitive experience across the disciplines of language, math, science and social studies, and in areas of enrichment such as religion, Spanish, technology, and fine arts.
Fifth Grade scholars are taught to look at the world through the Global Theme lens of Relationships, identifying the following essential, conceptual truths (generalizations):

  • Relationships may be natural, forced, or chosen.
  • Relationships can be simple or complex.
  • Relationships may have positive or negative effects.
  • Relationships change over time.
  • Relationships can take many forms.
  • Relationships serve many and varied purposes.

 Language Arts

The Fifth Grade language arts program teaches scholars to be strong communicators: good readers, writers, public speakers, and listeners. Scholars develop their understanding of various literary genres by reading and analyzing short stories and novels. A key goal of Fifth Grade language arts is to deepen scholars’ comprehension and understanding of the power of words by teaching them to pay attention to the writer’s craft, and the significance of structure, word choice, and the use of rhetorical and literary devices. They learn to separate fact from opinion, understand the relationship between cause and effect, and use appropriate supporting details.
The writing curriculum will be integrated with the studies in other disciplines. Scholars learn to analyze and understand what they have read and discussed, and use this knowledge to enrich their writing. Scholars are taught to write using a clearly constructed writing process which culminates in final publishable works of five paragraphs or more. Scholars are required to apply their knowledge of correct grammar and the increasing richness of their developing vocabulary in their writing.
Writing, Grammar and Usage

  • Literal and figurative language
  • Pen name
  • The Globe Theater
    • Myths and Legends
    • Literary Terms
  • Act and scene
  • Tragedy and comedy
  • Fiction and Drama
    • Stories
    • Drama
  • Sources and bibliography
  • Relevant paragraphs
  • Introduction and conclusion
  • Purpose and audience
  • Essays
    • Literary elements
    • Information from a variety or resources
    • Well-developed written work
  • Descriptions
  • Letters
  • Summaries
  • Reports
  • Writing
    • Use a variety of types of writing.
  • Grammar and Usage
    • Sentence construction
  • Topic sentence
  • Supporting sentences
  • Sentence variety
    • Parts of speech
    • Punctuation and capitalization
  • Colon
  • Commas with appositive
  • Underlining or italics for book titles
  • Vocabulary
    • Prefixes and affixes
  • Poetry
    • Poet’s use of language
    • Poetic devices and terms
  • Simile
  • Metaphor
  • Alliteration
  • Onomatopoeia
  • Speeches
    • Abraham Lincoln
    • Chief Joseph
  • Sayings and Phrases

History and Geography

The study of history and geography provides scholars with an understanding of the physical processes that shape life: the interactions between humans and their environments and the relationship between space and culture. Fifth Grade scholars will relate the role of environment to the agricultural, religious, and mathematical systems of several Meso-American civilizations.
Scholars continue the study of European history with particular emphasis on the Age of Exploration, the Renaissance, and the Reformation. They will examine the role of technology and language in these periods of transformation. The American history unit examines westward expansion and The Civil War. Fifth Grade scholars write research papers and engage in lively classroom debates generated by historical and current events.
World Geography

  • Spatial Sense
    • Maps and globes
    • Latitude, longitude, coordinates, degrees
    • Climate and time zones
  • Great lakes of the world

Early American Civilizations

  • Geography
    • Location of Central America and South America
    • Countries, rivers, mountains
  • Maya, Aztec, Inca Civilizations
    • The Mayas
  • Settlements
  • Accomplishments and contributions
  • Pyramids and temples
  • Hieroglyphic writing
  • Astronomy and mathematics
    • The Aztecs
  • Settlements
  • Warrior culture
  • Aqueducts and temples
  • Ruler-priests
    • The Incas
  • Settlements
  • Cities
  • System of roads
    • Spanish Conquerors
  • Cortes and Pizzaro
  • Advantage of Spanish weapons
  • Devastation by disease

European Exploration, Trade, and the Clash of Cultures

  • Background
    • Beginning of 1400’s and European trade
    • Geography of spice trade
  • European Exploration, Trade, and Colonization
    • Portugal
    • Spain
    • England and France
    • Holland
  • Trade and Slavery
    • The sugar trade
    • Transatlantic slave trade

The Renaissance and Reformation

  • The Renaissance
    • Rebirth of ideas
    • New trade and new wealth
    • Patrons of the arts and learning
  • The Reformation
    • Gutenberg’s printing press
    • The Protestant Reformation
    • The Counter-Reformation

England and the Golden Age to the Glorious Revolution

  • England in the Golden Age
  • From the English Revolution to the Glorious Revolution
    • The English Revolution
    • The Glorious Revolution

Russia: Early Growth & Expansion

  • Geography
  • History and culture

Feudal Japan

  • Geography
  • History and culture

Westward Expansion Before and After the Civil War

  • Geography
  • Early exploration of the west
  • Pioneers
  • Native American resistance
  • “Manifest Destiny”
  • The Mexican-American War
  • Railroads
  • Cattle drives and cowboys

The Civil War –Causes, Conflicts, and Consequences

  • Toward the Civil War
  • The Civil War
  • Reconstruction

Native Americans-Cultures and Conflict

  • Culture and life
  • American Government Policies
    • Bureau of Indian Affairs
    • Removal to reservations
  • Conflicts

U.S. Geography

  • Western Hemisphere, North America, Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico
  • Effect of Gulf Stream on climate
  • Regions and their characteristics
  • Fifty states and capitals


Fifth Grade science is grounded in engaging classroom and hands-on laboratory work. Scholars further the study of living things by examining animal adaptations and reproduction of different animal species. Scholars conclude the year by studying animal interactions with man and the results of these interactions. Fifth Grade scholars work closely with local organizations to further understand present and future environmental concerns.
Classifying Living Things

  • Kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, species, (variety)
  • Latin words for classifying living things
  • Classes of vertebrates

Cells: Structures and Processes

  • Structure of cells
  • Plant and animal cells
  • Organization of cells into tissues, organs, systems

Plant Structures and Processes

  • Non-vascular and vascular plants
  • Photosynthesis
  • Reproduction
    • Asexual and sexual reproduction
    • Pollination, germination, plant growth

Life Cycles and Reproduction

  • Changes in adolescence
  • The endocrine system
  • The reproductive system


Fifth Grade mathematics is an intensive study of numbers. Decimal numeration, place value, number theory, fractions, operations, measurement, geometry, probability, statistics, and graphing are studied to a level of mastery that is appropriate for this grade level. These topics are covered through whole numbers, fractions, decimal numerals, and integers. Estimation plays a role in the scholar’s ability to predict and check for reasonableness of solutions. Problem-solving and word problems will give the scholar the opportunity to relate numbers to real-life situations.
Numbers and Number Sense

  • Whole numbers to the billions
  • Approximation and estimation
  • Factors and multiples
  • Prime factorization

Ratio and Percent

  • Percent
  • Writing fractions as percentages
  • Percentage of a quantity
  • Finding ratio
  • Equivalent ratios
  • Combining three quantities

Fractions and Decimals

  • Comparing fractions
  • Fractions and division
  • Addition and subtraction of unlike fractions
  • Addition and subtraction of mixed numbers
  • Multiplying a fraction and a whole number
  • Fraction of a set
  • Word problems
  • Product of fractions
  • Dividing a fraction by a whole number
  • Dividing a fraction by a fraction
  • Tenths, hundredths, thousandths
  • Approximation
  • Addition and subtraction of decimals
  • Multiplication and division of decimals by a 1-digit whole number
  • Multiplication by tens, hundreds, or thousands
  • Division by a 2-digit whole number
  • Multiplication and division by a decimal

Computation: Addition, Multiplication, Division, Problem Solving, and Equations

  • Multiplying by the tens, hundreds, or thousands
  • Dividing by the tens, hundreds, or thousands
  • Calculations with parentheses
  • Methods for mental calculations
  • Word problems
  • Multiplication by a 2-digit whole number
  • Division by a 2-digit whole number


  • Conversion of measures
  • Volume of rectangular prisms
  • Measuring angles
  • Finding unknown angles
  • Sum of angles of a triangle
  • Isosceles and equilateral triangles
  • Drawing triangles
  • Sums of angles of quadrilateral
  • Parallelogram, rhombuses, and trapezoids
  • Drawing parallelograms and rhombuses
  • Square units
  • Rectangles and squares
  • Area of a triangle
  • Area of a parallelogram
  • Surface area

Probability and Statistics

  • Average
  • Rate
  • Mean, mode, and median
  • Histograms
  • Line graphs
  • Pie charts


  • Algebraic expressions
  • Integers
  • Coordinate graphs

Middle School Social Studies Curriculum Map
Middle School English Language Arts Curriculum Map
Middle School Math Curriculum Map
Middle School Spanish Curriculum Map