Minnehaha Academy

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Middle School Academics

Academics at the Middle School

Minnehaha’s rigorous Middle School curriculum is continuously adjusted to push students to their full potential and beyond. Wherever a student lands on the continuum, our teachers identify and support individual needs. Our literacy curriculum ensures each student is being challenged and grows as a reader. Whether it’s learning geography in phy-ed or history lessons in art, interdisciplinary learning takes place throughout all curricular areas.


All courses at this level approach writing as a process. As students progress through this process, they foster the development of grammatical and compositional skills in their writing. They are expected to think critically and express their thoughts in a logical manner in all forms of communication.

* indicates a required course.

*English / Literature 6

In 6th grade English, the process of writing is introduced with writing assignments that focus on an awareness of purpose, audience and writing in response to literature. Grammar study and usage are taught in conjunction with composition. Literature study emphasizes reading for learning while reinforcing reading skills. Literary terms including plot, setting, characterization, and conflict are introduced and reinforced throughout the year with novels that support a theme of “Around the World through Literature”.

Novels may include: Where the Red Fern Grows, Journey to Jo’Burg, The Cay, Homesick and Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl.

*English 7

In 7th grade English there is an increasing depth of study into writing processes including grammar, usage and vocabulary development. Students also study and practice library and research skills. Literature appreciation includes the study of writer’s techniques, character development, theme, and point of view. The students study a variety of literary genres including novels, poetry, folktales, and short stories.

Novels include: The View from Saturday and The Giver, plus short stories by O. Henry and a fractured fairytale novel of choice.

*English 8

In 8th grade English, there is an increasing focus on writing and vocabulary development including preparation of research papers. Students are involved with speech preparation, delivery and evaluation. Literary analysis includes a focus on character development.

Novels include: The Call of the Wild, The Outsiders, A Christmas Carol and To Kill a Mockingbird.


The math department helps students develop skills needed for further work in mathematics and everyday life through the teaching of critical thinking, logical reasoning, problem solving and decision making, as well as appreciation for the field of mathematics. Placement in math courses is based on the recommendation of previous math teachers and/or previous courses and test scores. This chart lists recommended, yet flexible, course sequences.

Grade 6 :
Students with average/good math skills: Pre-Algebra I
Students with outstanding math skills: Pre-Algebra II
There is an additional course available to 6th graders who are not yet ready for Pre-Algebra I.

Grade 7:
Students with average/good math skills: Pre-Algebra II
Students with outstanding math skills: Algebra I

Grade 8:
Students with average/good math skills: Algebra I
Students with outstanding math skills: Geometry

Pre-Algebra I

This course begins by reviewing the connection between factors, multiples, fractions and percents. The winter portion looks at how to create and interpret graphs (with a unit on trading stocks) and also has a unit on statistics and data analysis (utilizing elements of the Iditarod dog sled race). Spring semester explores predicting outcomes through the use of variables, integers and formulas (pre-Algebra) . This trimester concludes with an introduction to geometry (lengths, areas and the Pythagorean Theorem).

Pre-Algebra II

This course includes an introduction to algebra, integers and negative exponents, rational numbers, percentages, and strategies for solving equations and inequalities. Topics in geometry, graphing of linear equations, areas and volume, ratio and proportion, and the Pythagorean Theorem are also studied.

Algebra I

This course includes solving equations and inequalities, operations with real numbers, problem solving, graphing linear equations, applying formulas, solving systems of equations, exponents and radicals, operations with polynomials, solving and graphing quadratics, proportion and rational equations.


This course includes the nature of deductive reasoning, planning and writing proofs, lines, planes, angles, polygons, congruence, parallels, similarity, circles, solids, coordinate geometry, vectors and trigonometry.


Science is important not only for the questions it answers, but also for the questions it asks. The study of science teaches basic principles of the physical and biological world and their application to everyday lives. Lab performance and projects, as well as small group work and tests, are a significant factor in student evaluation.

* indicates a required course.

*Science 6

Sixth grade science is an introductory course to the years of science which follow it. The course provides an overview of life science, earth science, physics and chemistry. Units include cells and heredity, nutrition, plants, structure of matter, gravity and motion, plate tectonics, rocks and minerals. Projects include an animal poster, a nutrition analysis and a research paper.

*Life Science (7)

In this course students learn about the kingdoms of living organisms, ecology, and human body systems. Students participate in an in-depth study of birds, using student-made bird feeders to collect data for research about local bird populations.

*Earth Science (8)

In Earth Science the students study geology, environmental science, meteorology, and astronomy. In this lab-intensive course, students learn how to write hypotheses, design procedures to test those hypotheses, collect and analyze data and communicate their results.

Social Studies

The Social Studies department seeks to develop students who can identify and assume the privileges and responsibilities of United States and global citizenship. Students are given opportunities to develop study skills and refine communication skills in dealing with contemporary issues. Students are given the opportunity to effectively use technology as a learning tool and as a means to access content. Students improve their ability to work with historical material, as well as to evaluate history and global studies from a Christian perspective.

Minnesota Studies 6
Through the study of Minnesota Historical Society texts and primary source documents, students discover first-hand how diverse cultures interacted to shape the state of Minnesota. During this course, we will examine Minnesota’s ancient people and American Indians, Euro-American settlement and immigration, industry and the growth of cities, and contemporary Minnesota. Minnesota’s history, geography, economy, and government will be examined as we study the development of Minnesota chronologically. Throughout the course students are also encouraged and challenged to develop and express an informed Christian worldview.

World Geography 7
In this class students will learn through readings, lectures, discussions, geospatial technologies, debates, simulations, and projects. Students will actively engage in the work of a geographer by asking geographic questions and then acquiring, organizing, analyzing, and interpreting geographic information in order to answer geographic questions. This course will use a regional approach to explore the six essential elements of Geography: Places and Regions, Physical Systems, Human Systems, Environments and Society, The Spatial World and Uses of Geography in Today’s Society. The content will incorporate a variety of scales-from local to global. Classroom materials will include adopted instructional materials and supplementary printed and electronic resources. Throughout the course students are encouraged and challenged to develop and express an informed Christian worldview.

American History 8
In 8th grade students will learn about the history of the United States from the Revolutionary War period through the present.The study of U.S. Government is also embedded in this US History course. This class is taught through readings, lectures, debates, and small group projects. Students have an additional opportunity to experience American History in Washington, D.C., on an optional June trip.

Sacred Studies

Bible courses are designed to teach the Word of God, by the enabling of the Holy Spirit, through the following: proclamation of the Gospel, instruction of Bible and religious studies, encouragement of personal spiritual decision and growth, and opportunities for service. Students are recognized as persons who are created by God and who are unique and valuable. All three grade levels require a specific number of community service hours. The community service experience is incorporated into the Bible class requirements.

* indicates a required course.

*Bible 6 – Old Testament Survey
two trimesters
Sixth grade is an exciting time for learning about the Bible. Students have many questions to ask, so the course includes many opportunities to discuss what we’re reading in the Bible. The curriculum focuses on the Old Testament narrative story of God’s chosen people and their experiences with trusting in the one true God. Students interact with the Bible through character studies, presentations, questions, discussions, Biblical Times newspapers, posters, and research. Students are also asked to devote some time to prayer journaling and learning about different ways people pray. At the core of all these activities is the belief that the Bible is the Word of God.

*Bible 7 – The Life of Jesus
two trimesters
With the developing abilities of seventh grade students to think conceptually, the seventh grade Bible curriculum on the Life of Jesus opens up the analogies, similes and parables found in the Gospels. As students interact with these Gospel writings and images they begin to “unlock” the meaning of symbolic language. Students examine Jesus’ parables and begin to understand more fully the meaning behind the stories and images. Students are also encouraged to develop a daily Bible reading time. At the core of this study of the Gospels is the belief that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.

*Bible 8 – The Book of Acts
two trimesters
The focus of this course is on the early Christian Church, exploring the Book of Acts and letters to the early Church. During eighth grade, students can often wrestle with making faith their own. “How can I know this is true?” and “How can I defend my faith with those who disagree with me?” These are the same kinds of questions the early Church faced. Students learn tools to help them study the Bible for the rest of their lives. To answer “Where does it say that in the Bible?” students learn how to use Bible dictionaries, concordances, Bible handbooks and atlases. Various Bible translations are compared. Students are also helped to continue developing a time of daily personal Bible reading. At the core of this class is the belief that Jesus is the Christ and how the early Church dealt with being entrusted with this knowledge. Students are also challenged with “How do we now live as the Church in the 21st century?”

Fine Arts

Arts courses seek to broaden each student’s appreciation and artistic skills as he or she participates in visual and performing arts. The department promotes personal confidence, self-worth and creative expression as it integrates faith and learning. Students are encouraged to view their efforts as pleasing to God and of service to others.

Elective art courses may require an additional fee for materials.

* indicates a required course.

*Art 6
One trimester

This course studies two artists with diverse artistic and racial styles: Frida Kahlo (a Mexican self-portrait artist and symbolic painter) and Romare Beardon (an African-American collage artist). Students also learn cartooning and study Walt Disney’s beginnings in the film industry. Students work with clay to create Mexican clay suns and have the option to learn how to create macramé wall hangings.

Art 7

Students learn about a variety of artists and emulate their work: painted wall hangings in the style of Faith Ringgold, Impressionism in the style of Van Gogh, Cubism in the style of Picasso, clay sculpting in the style of Augusta Savage, Dadaism in the style of Marcel Duchamp, Australian Aboriginal dream paintings and Native American wall hangings and paintings. Throughout the course students learn and incorporate elements of design. A $30 art fee is charged for paint sets, brushes, palettes, canvas, mats and clay; at the end of the course these supplies are sent home with the student.

Art 8

Students explore a variety of art forms including acrylic painting, sculpting with clay and other objects, and colored pencil drawing. Students study Michelangelo’s religious art, Matisse’s papercuts and still life paintings, Louise Nevelson’s box sculptures, and Georgia O’Keefe’s acrylic painting. Students work with a variety of mediums as they learn to express beliefs through art. A $30 art fee is charged for paint sets, brushes, palettes, canvas, mats and clay; at the end of the course these supplies are sent home with the student.

General Music 6

Students develop music-reading skills and demonstrate understanding of basic elements of music (pitch, time, form, tone color, expression). Activities include singing, listening, evaluating recorded performances, playing instruments (recorder, guitar, keyboard), and using computer music technology to create simple compositions. Students do not
perform in concerts outside of class.

Explore Sound 8
one trimester

Students listen to, compare, and learn to recognize a variety of musical styles, and explore the creative process of making music. Students develop an awareness of “what makes good music sound good,” and use this knowledge to make personal music choices. Students also compose their own musical works, using computer software (GarageBand™, Finale Notepad™), guitar, and keyboard.

Drama and Theatre 8
one trimester

Fundamentals of acting, oral interpretation, improvisation, and technical theatre are taught through theatre games, direct instruction, written tests, and preformances. Students may perform in class, convocations and chapels within the Minnehaha community.

6th Grade Girls Choir
7th Grade Girls Choir
8th Grade Girls Choir

6th Grade Boys Choir
7th Grade Boys Choir
8th Grade Boys Choir
each level, year-long

Choir offers a comprehensive approach to musicianship, developing music reading skills and exploring basic elements of music (pitch, time, form, tone color, expression). Special attention is given to healthy vocal technique, and the needs of changing voices during middle school. Choirs are divided by gender to meet the specific needs of boys and girls as their voices mature. The choirs combine occasionally, to sing mixed-voice literature appropriate for this age group. Choirs perform two or three times each year on campus, and off-campus at least once during the year. Audition is not required, but the ability to match pitch is helpful to a singer’s success in choir.

6th Grade Band
7th Grade Band
8th Grade Band
each level, year-long

Prerequisite: must be able to play an instrument. Percussionists enrolling in Middle School band must have 2 years of piano background and must have a bell kit for practicing keyboard mallet parts.
The band program is comprehensive, encompassing all aspects of musicianship including technique, intonation, tone quality and style. In addition, students learn about music history, music theory, and music composition. Students attend a weekly sectional lesson to focus on individual instrument technique. Private lessons are encouraged but not required. This group gives public performances throughout the year.

6th Grade Strings
7th Grade Strings
8th Grade Strings
each level, year-long

Prerequisite: must be able to play an instrument.
Designed for students with some past string instrument instruction, this course gives students opportunity to develop listening skills, experience performance, explore a variety of musical styles and learn aspects of ensemble playing. Private lessons are encouraged but not required.


Co-curricular Groups

Jazz Band
This group focuses on learning about the Jazz in a traditional instrumentation setting. Students learn about jazz history, different styles of jazz music and theory, and improvisation. This group performs multiple times through the year, and meets twice a week throughout the school year. This group is auditioned and made up mostly of 7th and 8th grade students.

Jazz Orchestra
This group focuses on learning about the Jazz in a non-traditional instrumentation setting. Students learn about jazz history, different styles of jazz music and theory, and improvisation. This group performs multiple times through the year, and meets twice a week throughout the school year. Any instrumentalist in grades 6-8 is welcome. Students playing rhythm section instruments may be asked to audition.

Instrumental Lessons
Open to all students on an individual basis.
Special fee.

Redhawk Singers
This co-curricular singing group meets before school once a week and is open to all Middle School students.

Voice Lessons
Open to all students on an individual basis.
Special fee.

Keyboard Studies
Keyboard lessons are offered to all students on an individual basis. Half-hour weekly piano lessons are adjusted to the individual student’s needs. Two piano practice rooms are available for lessons.
Special fee.

World Languages

All languages are equally challenging, and study should begin early. Each language stresses the development of language proficiency and culture study. All language levels emphasize listening, reading comprehension, speaking and writing. Grammatical concepts, oral classroom participation and proficiency testing are included. Skits, culture days, visual presentations and music enhance the courses.

* indicates a required course

*Introduction to Latin (Grade 6)
One trimester

This course will explore the rudiments of the Latin language as well as highlight various aspects of Roman culture. Students will also discover how Latin affects English through word derivation study.

Grade 7 and 8 Language Options

The first year high school language courses are divided into a two-year study for 7th and 8th grade students. Successful completion of a IA language course in 7th grade allows a student to enroll in the IB course in the 8th grade. Students transferring from another school in 8th grade must pass a proficiency test to be enrolled in any IB language course. Successful completion of IA and IB language in Middle School allows a student to take the second year language course beginning in 9th grade.

Beginning language programs introduce students to new vocabulary that they use in speaking, writing, reading and listening. Through small-group activities, skits, projects, daily in-class activities, and the study of the culture and geography of the country, students begin to develop an understanding of world language and culture.
Latin 1A
French 1A
Spanish 1A
Chinese 1A
each level, year-long

Latin 1B
French 1B
Spanish 1B
Chinese 1B
each level, year-long

Physical Education / Health

The physical education curriculum provides students with opportunities to further develop their physical fitness level while enhancing skills in selected individual and team sports. Emphasis is given to social development, sportsmanship and participation. All Middle School students take a fitness test. All classes are co-ed.

* indicates a required course.

*Physical Education/Health 6
2 trimesters

Activities include fitness testing, ice skating, softball, track and field, recreational games, scooter hockey, soccer, pickleball, tumbling, floor hockey, football, basketball, volleyball, badminton. Health topics cover Christian perspectives of adolescent changes.

*Physical Education/Health 7

Physical education units include quadball, basketball, ice skating, fitness testing, pickleball, soccer, rhythms, floor hockey, volleyball, softball, track and field, tumbling, football, recreational games, lacrosse, scooter hockey and health fitness. Health topics include hygiene, nutrition, eating disorders, tobacco, alcohol, bullying/harassment.

*Physical Education/Health 8

Tennis, ice skating, speedball, field hockey, softball, football, golf, team handball, pickleball, fitness tests, ultimate frisbee, broomball, aerobics, volleyball, floor hockey, and basketball are physical education units. Health topics include friendships/dating and chemical awareness/abuse prevention.

Computers and Technology

Teaching of technology and library-use skills are incorporated where appropriate as part of the curriculum of the individual subject areas.

* indicates a required course

one trimester

This course stresses the correct techniques for successful touch keyboarding. Students learn the alpha-numeric keys and word processing techniques, which include centering, single and double spacing, underscoring, deleting and adding spaces, words, sentences and paragraphs.
(8th graders new to Minnehaha will need to take this course or demonstrate keyboarding proficiency.)

Advanced Computer Applications and Tools
one trimester

Students in this course will learn how to use several pieces of software throughout three units of study. In the Graphics unit, students learn how to import, manipulate, and edit digital pictures. Next, students use one of the programs learned in the first unit to create digital “Flipbooks” using QuickTime. The course culminates with making movies using digital video cameras and iMovie.

Exploratory Learning

From kayaking to cooking, anything is possible on FLEX Day (that’sFun Learning EXploration Day), as we challenge our Middle School students to step off the beaten path and try something they wouldn’t experience in a regular classroom. Exploratory learning is at the heart of this Middle School concept, when students choose up to four exceptional activities to explore for one spring day.

Serve It! Day
At Minnehaha, we believe some things are worth doing time and again. Serve It! Day is one of them. Each fall, Middle School students devote a day to service learning projects they’ve planned in their advisor groups. Parent volunteers provide transportation
to service sites and work as chaperones alongside students and teachers. Like B–B–Blast! Day, Serve It! Day provides extraordinary enrichment opportunities.


Grades & Communication

Middle School students take 8 classes in a rotating schedule. Most classes meet 4 days a week. Letter grades are recorded on a trimester basis. G.P.A. is tracked for Honor Roll purposes. In addition to report cards and mid-tri progress reports, various check-up forms may be used to facilitate communication. The homeroom teacher is an initial contact person; grade-level teams meet weekly. The Middle School also offers counseling and student services.

Schoology is a learning management system used by the Middle School. Students are able to access their grades, submit completed assignments, and interact through discussion threads or messages. Parents can view their student’s assignments, grades and upcoming events.


Our vision is to see Minnehaha Academy students and teachers as Christian leaders who use technology effectively to learn, research, collaborate, problem-solve, analyze, and communicate with people within the Minnehaha community and around the world.

Our goal is to integrate the use of technology and library/media tools into the curriculum to enhance student learning and to provide teachers with creative, relevant methods and content for teaching, motivating and evaluating students.