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Middle School

The JSS Middle School Curriculum - Summary

Nationally Accredited

Junipero Serra School is accredited through the Western Catholic Education Association (WCEA) and recognized by the National Association of Accredited Schools (NAAS). We invite you to examine the WCEA facts and guidelines as well as the Junipero Serra School accreditation report in full.

Sixth through Eighth Grade Class Structure

Junipero Serra School, located at the historic Carmel Mission (founded by St. Junipero Serra), is inclusive of students from all over the Carmel/Monterey/Salinas area. All JSS teachers are state-certified (or enrolled in a teacher program) and have earned bachelor degrees and higher.

Grades 6 through 8 follow a traditional middle school structure with students exchanging classes when appropriate for Math, English Language Arts, Spanish, Technology, Art, and Physical Education. The rigorous curriculum meets the California State Standards and is designed to provide the students with high engagement in all subjects, while inspiring them to seek academic success in high school and at the university level.

The JSS grade level expectations are based on the California K – 12 Learning Standards issued by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. Junipero Serra School takes pride in offering a challenging curriculum of instruction in all subject areas. Curriculum subject areas include religion, English/language arts (reading, writing, spelling, speaking, listening), mathematics, social studies (history, geography, civics), science, fine and performing arts (music, art), physical education, health, and computer studies.

Beyond the Common Core

In addition to studying core subjects, JSS students become well-rounded individuals through instruction in the following areas:

Religion

As a Catholic School, building a Christian community is at the center of everything we do. Junipero Serra School students receive daily instruction in religion. Together with formal classes, students participate in a wealth of community service projects. Both Catholic and non-Catholic students share the benefits of value formation, opportunities for liturgy and private prayer, and service to the community, and orientation to scripture.

The Arts

All students study music and art. Students enjoy learning various visual art techniques while learning art history through the masterpieces of the world's greatest artists.

Foreign Language

All students in grades kindergarten through eighth study Spanish to provide them with the opportunity to learn a foreign language. Additionally, students are very well prepared for high school Spanish which gives them an edge in high school foreign language classes, and facilitates the opportunity to achieve fluency in high school or college.

Technology

All students at JSS study and use technology to assist them in an in-depth study of various subjects. 6th, 7th and 8th grade students are assigned Chromebooks that allow them to collaborate through Google Docs, to share information, to facilitate guided research, and to learn the Scratch programming language through Google's CS First implementation.

What do young people discover as they learn how to use the Scratch software by creating interactive stories, animations, games, music, and art? (The following summary is provided by MIT, whose students are the creators and publishers of Scratch.)

For one thing, they learn mathematical and computational ideas that are built into the Scratch experience. As students create programs in Scratch, they learn core computational concepts such as iteration and conditionals. They also gain an understanding of important mathematical concepts such as coordinates, variables, and random numbers.

Significantly, students learn these concepts in a meaningful and motivating context. When students learn about variables in traditional algebra classes, they usually feel little personal connection to the concept. But when they learn about variables in the context of Scratch, they can use variables immediately in very meaningful ways: to control the speed of an animation, or to keep track of the score in a game they are creating.

As students work on Scratch projects, they also learn about the process of design. Typically, a student will start with an idea, create a working prototype, experiment with it, debug it when things go wrong, get feedback from others, then revise and redesign it. It’s a continuous spiral: get an idea, create a project, which leads to new ideas, which lead to new projects, and on and on.

This project-design process combines many of the 21st century learning skills that will be critical to success in the future: thinking creatively, communicating clearly, analyzing systematically, collaborating effectively, designing iteratively, learning continuously.

Creating projects in Scratch also helps students develop a deeper level of fluency with digital technology. What do we mean by fluency? To be considered fluent in English, Spanish, or other language, you must learn not only how to read but also to write – that is, how to express yourself with the language. Similarly, to be fluent with digital technology, you must learn not only how to interact with the computer but also to create with it.

Of course, most students will not grow up to become professional programmers, just as most will not become professional writers. But learning to program offers benefits for everyone: it enables students to express themselves more fully and creatively, helps them develop as logical thinkers, and helps them understand the workings of the new technologies that they encounter everywhere in their everyday lives.

The intuitive nature of today’s technology allows students to learn and use all types of digital devices without fear or inhibition, as demonstrated by the youngest Scratch learners. Particularly impressive is the creativity, functionality, and intricacies of many of the applications the students have designed with Scratch. Technology instruction at all grade levels needs to evolve quickly to maintain its relevance for students, which emphasizes the importance of JSS students developing fluency with digital technology. To meet this developing need for fluency, teaching coding through Scratch is an important step in expanding the school's technology curriculum by teaching 21st Century digital skills.

It promises to be an exciting learning adventure for all students.

Physical Education

An outstanding physical education program meets the needs of JSS students through a variety of fitness and athletic activities. A full-time physical education teacher, also implements an intramural athletic program during lunch, and coaches extracurricular sports for JSS 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students.