Middle School Course Offerings

The Eastern Hemisphere (Sixth Grade History) focuses primarily on the interaction of peoples throughout the ancient and medieval world. There is an emphasis on interdependence of cultures and the significance of cultural diffusion. All sixth grade students enroll in this course.

United States History (Seventh Grade History / Eighth Grade History) introduces students to United States History. In accordance with middle school goals, critical thinking and analytical interpretation are useful skills to be mastered during the course of the year. Students will begin to explore essential questions about the foundation and growth of the United States on the North American continent and how this history has influenced life in the United States today. The music, art, and literature of the eras will also be explored in their political, social and economic context. Students will come to understand and recognize changes and patterns in American culture from the colonial period to the present through readings, classroom discussion, projects and independent research. Students will keep abreast of current events and make comparisons between the past and the present. All seventh grade students enroll in U.S. History I (Early Amerindian to 1865). All eighth grade students enroll in U.S. History II (1865 to 2001).

English 6 focuses on the fundamentals of written and oral presentation of ideas. At the beginning of the year, students focus on reading comprehension; understanding plot, character and setting; and learning to articulate their ideas in clear and meaningful ways. As the year progresses, students begin to analyze the form and content of what they read more critically. Vocabulary and grammar are taught through classroom readings and reinforced through instruction and practice.

English 7 focuses on improving skills in written and oral presentation of ideas. At the beginning of the year, students focus on reading comprehension; understanding plot, character and setting. They will continue to focus on the necessary skills needed to articulate their ideas in clear and meaningful ways. Students are introduced to annotated reading, a skill that they develop from this point forward during their academic career at Knox. As the year progresses, students begin to analyze the form and content of what they read in a more critical light. Vocabulary and grammar are taught through classroom readings and reinforced through instruction and practice. Students also explore poetry analysis and composition and journals.

English 8 helps students develop reading comprehension and writing skills in preparation for high school English. Experiencing literature through genre and voice, students further explore their understanding of theme, character development, setting, tone, inference and other literary devices. Vocabulary and grammar are taught through classroom readings and reinforced through instruction and practice. Other areas of focus include poetic analysis and writing, further development of annotated reading skills and writing a research paper following MLA standards.


Introduction to World Languages is a survey course designed for sixth and seventh grade students to explore three languages over the course of the academic year: Chinese, French, and Spanish. Their exposure to each language, though only one trimester long, introduces them to basic linguistic skills such as vocabulary building, pronunciation, forming simple sentences and questions, listening comprehension, and recognizing Chinese characters. Students also develop insight into the cultures of the various countries linked to these languages. This course gives students the opportunity to explore languages and choose which language they would like to continue studying beginning in eighth grade at level I and continuing throughout their education at Knox. All students in sixth grade and seventh grade enroll in this course sequence.


Arts Experience introduces students to the crafts of Studio Art, Ceramics, and Dance, through one-term courses. The students are grouped by grade into small, intimate teams of explorers. They learn to take risks and challenge themselves to share their unique perspective through art. All middle school students enroll in this course sequence.

Performing Arts is a full-year course designed to help students develop their skills in music and theatre. Students learn the fundamentals of vocal production, music theory, and acting, while exploring major periods and artists from classical music, modern theatre, and Broadway. All middle school students enroll in this course.

Math 6 introduces students to middle school math in fun and exciting ways. The purpose of Math 6 is to enhance basic math skills that were taught throughout elementary school and allow students the time to become comfortable with and master these skills. Students will cover topics such as number sense and operations, using formulas, problem solving, basic geometry, and interpreting graphs and data.

Pre-Algebra learning units coincide with the core content for assessment for middle grade mathematics. Units cover number properties and operations, measurement, geometry, data analysis and probability, and algebraic thinking. The major units of study for this course are: Integers, expressions and operations, factors and fractions, rational numbers, equations and inequalities, ratio, proportion, percent, functions, linear equations, and graphing.

Math 8 helps students to solidify the foundation needed to excel in Algebra I. This year long course will focus on the number system, expressions and equations, functions, geometric principals, and bivariate statistics. Students who excel in Pre-Algebra may be exempted from Math 8 and have the option to enroll in Algebra I.

Middle School Health provides students with an introduction to contemporary health issues with a focus on making healthy decisions. Throughout the semester, students use what they learn to make positive lifestyle changes. Topics include, but are not limited to: the dangers of tobacco, drug and alcohol use; healthy ways to deal with stress, how to maintain a healthy body, physical and emotional changes during adolescence, keeping one’s brain and mind healthy, and making informed decisions.

Introduction to Physical Science (Sixth Grade) students begin their Knox careers as “mini-scientists.” Class time includes instruction, hands-on activities and labs, and group projects that allow students to be introduced to the fundamentals of chemistry and physics. Students also study and experiment with the fundamental laws of motion, allowing them to define the movement of universal forces such as gravity, acceleration, and friction. The successful completion of the course prepares the sixth grade students for their future science courses.

Life Science (Seventh Grade) increases students’ awareness of the natural world and introduces them to basic principles of scientific inquiry. The course covers a variety of topics, starting with microscopic cells and building to the larger principles of the ecology and natural systems. Throughout the course, students will be utilizing the basic principles of scientific inquiry and lab experiments as a means to prepare them for later courses of study.

Introduction to Earth Science (Eighth Grade) students engage in a variety of activities designed to introduce them to the larger-than-life processes that influence everything from tides, to the destructive volcanoes of the Ring of Fire. The course covers a wide array of topics, including the geological processes that shaped the world around us, and the astronomical processes of the universe. Upon successful completion of the middle school science sequence, students are well-prepared to enter the Upper School and succeed in the sciences.