MIDDLE SCHOOL CURRICULUM
At the middle school level, the curriculum builds upon the core foundation of the elementary school to prepare the students for the challenges of high school academics. Carden students are more likely to excel in high school because they are self-motivated, independent learners.
Carden School of Fresno’s middle school curriculum is comprehensive and challenging, to prepare the student to the rigors of high school education. The goal is always to teach children to think on their own and develop good judgment. In an effort to encourage and foster self-discipline, children are held accountable for their school work. Parents are encouraged to let children do their own assignments in order to give the teachers a chance to identify a potential area that might need additional attention. Our small class sizes allow that type of individualized attention to every child in the classroom.
At Carden School of Fresno, we offer a rigorous academic program which includes language arts (spelling, literature, grammar, creative writing, penmanship), mathematics, science, social studies (history and geography), and foreign languages (French in all grade levels, Latin in grades 6th through 8th).
The middle school language arts program is made up of five parts:
Literature: Students read, discuss, and analyze major novels and poetry. Literature ranges from ancient Greek and Roman mythology to short stories written in the past ten years. Students examine the text, research historical events that shaped the lives of the authors, and discuss major themes and characters.
Spelling: Weekly spelling assignments are done in class and allow the students to strengthen their writing skills and vocabulary. Words are not memorized, but are instead discussed and used throughout the week to promote greater understanding.
Grammar: The middle school uses English Workshop, although these lessons are enriched by other material and worksheets as well. Students learn the importance of proper diction and syntax when writing formal papers. 7th grade students also participate in the annual Grammarian Competition, which honors the top student in grammar.
Composition: Composition is the cornerstone of the middle school language arts program. Students learn how to write explanatory essays, construct formal arguments, and tell a good story. All middle school students can expect to write each day at Carden, whether they are responding to literature, writing a poem, or answering a prompt.
Penmanship: At Carden, penmanship is considered an important part of the curriculum. Although not all students write the same way, they are all expected to take pride and care in their work.
Middle school mathematics is based on Singapore Math. In the middle school grade levels, the work includes algebra and geometry. Students are also taught to incorporate math skills into other curriculum areas such as business and technology. One of the most popular events in the middle school is the annual Market Day, during which students design their own business, create websites and commercials, and sell products. During Market Day, mathematical principles are applied to real-world scenarios, giving students a better understanding of how math can help them after their academic careers end.
Middle school students study earth science, life science, and physics. Class work includes Cornell lecture notes, lab experiments, and deepening the understanding of the scientific method. Students in grade levels 7-8 also participate in the county science fair, an event in which Carden students historically have performed very well.
Students in sixth grade study ancient world history, including the Greeks and the Romans. This foundation leads into the seventh grade, during which students learn about American history from the Founding Fathers to the Civil War. During this year, the students spend a significant amount of time learning the Constitution. Students in eighth grade study American history during the 20th and early 21st centuries. All grade levels are taught to conduct scholarly research and write formal essays about a historical topic of their choosing.
Middle school students gain a better understanding for the world around them by studying other countries and cultures. In addition to learning international countries and capitals, students also explore regional cultures, religions, customs, and traditions. Students enrich their understanding by analyzing current world events, writing travel blog stories, and participating in the annual Culture Day at Carden.
French is the main foreign language that is taught starting in Jr. Kindergarten and continuing through 8th grade at the Carden School of Fresno. Mae Carden felt strongly about incorporating French into the curriculum because of its direct impact on the English language. Both French language and grammar are taught in a structure that is similar to English. As students progress, they learn verb conjugations and sentence structure. Latin is also introduced in the middle school. The Latin curriculum follows a traditional scope and sequence consistent with the grammar, logic, and rhetoric stages of the trivium. In the past two years, after-school enrichment in both Spanish and Mandarin have been added. These classes meet for one hour weekly for a total of 10 weeks after school. The courses are offered twice a year.
MUSIC AND ART
Music and art are an integral part of the program. In these subjects the children experience the freedom to express beauty and individuality. In the music class, students develop an interest and appreciation for different styles of music. Students learn to read and play music on various instruments. Art classes build confidence and capability for expression. Weekly art appreciation classes help students identify, enjoy, and formulate opinions about beautiful works of art from the ages.
COMPUTER AND TECHNOLOGY LAB
The computer lab at Carden School of Fresno consists of 20 Google Chrome computers. Students are taught coding techniques, typing skills, and an overall understanding of technology. They solve problems and develop abilities which they will use throughout the rest of their education.
PHYSICAL EDUCATION AND SPORTS
The Carden School of Fresno’s mission for its physical education classes is a combination of both the principles that Mae Carden set forth for the children as well as the compliance of the current State Standards for Physical Education. The students participate in a variety of physical activities, including traditional and nontraditional games that promote communication, collaboration, cooperation and creativity. Carden students gain knowledge and create strategies that will support their Health Related Physical Fitness (“HRPF.”) Students at Carden School of Fresno have shown dramatic improvement in their HRPF since the creation of the program which has an emphasis on fitness, sport and sportsmanship. The goal is to provide the students with experiences that they will retain throughout their lives as healthy, productive and contributing members of society.
SPEECH AND DEBATE
All students in the middle school take speech and debate as part of the curriculum. During this course, students learn how to teach new concepts, how to construct formal arguments, how to debate according to established rules, and are given an introduction to logic. In addition, each graduating 8th grade student gives a speech at graduation. By the time the students graduate, they are confident and poised when speaking in front of a group.
Public Speaking is an area highly encouraged and frequently practiced at Carden School of Fresno. Initially students start with memorizing and reciting poems at the younger grades. A select group also participates in the Fresno State Peach Blossom event every March. Additionally, twice a year the children perform in front of an audience – once in the winter and again in the spring. These two events give children an opportunity to sing, act and dance as a group, which in turn helps develop poise and builds self-confidence.