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Academy - Middle School

Our Middle School, for grades 6-8, focuses on the unique academic, emotional and spiritual needs of children in this age group. The Middle School has its own open learning environment that is connected and yet set apart from the Lower School. Our challenging curriculum in general and Judaic studies engages students in active, meaningful lessons and helps them develop the critical thinking skills needed for lifelong problem solving. Our approach is truly individualized with a Student Learning Center for support and enrichment activities for a challenge. Students participate in activities like the Yeshiva debate and sports competitions, math and science tournaments and the National Chidon Ha’Tanakh. And every day, we live Judaism – interacting with one another and the world at large in ways that reflect respect, collaboration, and a shared commitment to Torah and mitzvot.

Sixth Grade

Sixth Grade

Sixth grade is a new beginning for SAR students as they enter our Middle School. Academically, students begin the transition to departmentalization, with separate teachers for Math, Science, Gemara and Ivrit, while maintaining homeroom-based classes for Language Arts, Social Studies, Chumash and Navi. During this exciting year of growth, students develop increasing independence in their work and build strength in critical thinking skills. We work closely with students to identify and overcome challenges related to time management, independent work skills, study skills, and social navigation. Sixth grade is also the time when we initiate our 1:1 iPad program, which exposes our students to the digital tools that will enable them to develop 21st century technology skills. Over the course of sixth grade, students also learn to take greater responsibility for their attitudes and actions both as middle school students and as members of their communities – coinciding with their approaching bar and bat mitzvah age.

Ivrit

The Ivrit curriculum in the Middle School includes all aspects of Hebrew instruction as a second language. Students are exposed to both biblical and modern texts and learn various midrashim and stories. They also engage in day to day conversations in Hebrew, and they enrich their knowledge by studying the history, personalities and culture of the State of Israel. The curriculum combines lessons on grammar and exercises on syntax as well as independent reading and projects. These skills are reflected equally in the four different class levels that we offer, ranging from a beginner level to an advanced level where students fluently speak Hebrew. Each class focuses on enriching students’ speech, reading, listening comprehension and writing. All of the Ivrit classes utilize technology to challenge students and to enhance mastery of the Hebrew language. The following material is studied at each level:

Beginner: Shachar Yonai

Middle: Packets that are uniquely designed by the SAR Ivrit faculty in order to address the needs of SAR students

Accelerated: Neta

Advanced: Hebrew novels

In sixth grade, the Ivrit classes focus on vocabulary and an expanding knowledge of verbal systems, including new grammatical structures. These skills are learned through speech, reading, listening comprehension and writing. Throughout the year, we read and discuss stories that correspond to the Hebrew calendar, such as a story about the destruction of the Temple on the 10th of Tevet, the story of Hannah and her seven sons on Chanukah, and Anne Frank’s Diary on Yom HaShoah. These skills are covered in each grade level using various learning modalities.

Chumash

In sixth grade we continue to develop the necessary skills for independent Torah learning as we study the entire Sefer Bamidbar. While completing the sefer during the year, we look at specific topics that add to our overall comprehension of Bamidbar and the important and relevant themes and lessons that arise. As we move through the sefer, we are able to see the transition of Bnei Yisrael as a newly freed nation preparing for life in Eretz Yisrael. Students have the opportunity to deal with the text and structure of the pesukim, thus developing a deeper understanding of the narrative and enhancing independent textual skills. In addition, we focus on learning and analyzing Rashi’s commentary in order to solve difficulties in the pesukim and to enrich our understanding of the content. Students’ progress is routinely evaluated through assessments and creative projects.

Skills:

  • Identifying repeating words (milim manchot), themes, literary styles throughout a group of pesukim/perakim
  • Analyzing the text for discrepancies in grammar and content and considering various solutions to those discrepancies with teacher support
  • Thinking critically about the text in terms of the narrative, ethics, morals and textual difficulties
  • Reading Rashi with very few mistakes or hesitations
  • Summarizing a Rashi learned in class with the details included
  • Comparing and contrasting similar stories in other places of Tanakh

Navi

In sixth grade Navi, students learn the first half of Shmuel Aleph. We learn certain sections in a bekiut (overarching perspective) style, focusing on the peshat and basic understanding of the text. At other times we take a be-iyun approach in order to recognize deeper lessons and themes that evolve. Through their learning, students continue to develop their critical thinking skills and to work on character analysis. In Navi, we focus on the thematic, literary and political themes developed by the text. As they learn the sefer, the students confront the problems of the human experience: crying with the barren Chana, voicing anger against the corrupt Chofni and Pinchas, and standing with Am Yisrael as they debate the various political gains and losses of shifting from a loose federation of Shevatim to a unified nation under a powerful monarch.

Skills:

  • Thinking critically about the Navi text
  • Identifying themes within the Navi text
  • Further developing reading skills, specifically related to the rhythm and phrasing of biblical Hebrew

Gemara

In the students’ first year studying Gemara, we help them develop the skills and gain the content knowledge necessary to successfully learn this new subject area. We thus begin with an intensive introduction to the history of the Torah Shebe’al Peh. Students prepare for deciphering the dialogic Talmudic sugyot by studying the general scheme of transmission from Moshe to today, though they primarily focus on the work of the classical period and the contributions of the Tana’im and Amora’im. As part of the introduction to Limud Gemara (Talmud study), students also learn about the history of the printed text of the Babylonian Talmud.

As the year progresses, students learn the sugyot in the fourth perek of Mesekhet Berakhot. Our curriculum focuses on vocabulary building and recognition of the Aramaic “sign-posts” by which the individual sources that make up a sugya were stitched together by the mesadrei hashas (Talmudic Redactors). We also introduce students to the textual analysis of Rashi, the meta-analyses of the Tosaphot, and the halakhic deductions of Rambam.

Skills:

  • Recognizing and understanding the Tzurat Hadaf (printed format), the Nosei Kelim (reference tools) and the unique pagination of the folio-based Talmud
  • Building Aramaic vocabulary
  • Analyzing text through the writing of Rashi, Tosaphot, and Rambam

Reading

Through novels, short stories, and nonfiction texts, students in the sixth grade analyze literature with a particular focus on the literary elements and literary devices. Students begin the year focusing on character development to better understand character motivation. Classes are divided into small, heterogenous groups to read and discuss novels together. Some novels we read include: The Watsons go to Birmingham, 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis, The Cay by Theodore Taylor, The Devil’s Arithmetic by Jane Yolen, Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelson, A Long Walk to Water, by Linda Sue Park, and When Zachary Beaver Came to Town by Kimberly Willis Holt, in addition to several short stories relating to our social studies curriculum.

Throughout the year, students read outside of school and then present “Book Talks,” encouraging their friends to broaden their personal libraries. Students also read novels for collaborative “Literature Circles”. In these groups, students take on different roles to analyze books such as Red Scarf Girl by Ji Li Jiang, The View from Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg, Crash by Jerry Spinelli, When you Reach Me by Rebecca Stead, and The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder. Students work together to present their comprehension of the text in creative, multimedia projects.

Skills:

  • Identifying literary techniques such as foreshadowing, extended metaphors, personification, imagery, characterization, and author word choice
  • Independently summarizing plot using graphic organizers such as a story map
  • Making text to text, text to world, and text to self connections
  • Navigating shifting narrative voice and flashbacks within a framed story
  • Constructing both written and verbal responses to literature

Social Studies

Beginning with the essential question of why we study history, we introduce students to the foundations of human culture and Western Civilization, challenging them to think critically about man’s historical contributions to society. We journey through the great ancient societies of Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, and Rome. Through analysis of text, class discussion, written responses, flipped classroom videos, and multimedia projects, students make connections between the ancient and modern world while analyzing the significant contributions of those civilizations. Students also gain a new perspective through cross-curricular correlations between Tanakh and ancient cultures.

Skills:

  • Extracting important information from and taking notes during class discussions, films, and readings
  • Acquiring strategies for reading social studies text and for increasing social studies vocabulary, such as drawing inferences, detecting cause and effect, and using context clues to gain meaning
  • Building research skills to gather, synthesize, and report information through various medium
  • Utilizing technology effectively in the learning process

Writing

Writing occurs through all areas of the curriculum, including written responses to the books read in and out of class and about the ancient cultures studied. We also examine the genres of fiction, personal narrative, expository nonfiction, and poetry. The culminating assignment combines the students’ understanding of our social studies curriculum, research skills, and the writing process through expository writing in a term paper on Ancient Rome. Grammar is an elemental part of the writing curriculum, as students learn grammatical rules through direct instruction, writing exercises, flipped classroom videos, and grammar apps.

Skills:

  • Organizing paragraphs and essays using graphic organizers and outlines
  • Utilizing teacher feedback to develop a personal writer’s checklist
  • Editing and peer-editing written work
  • Constructing written responses in all areas of the curriculum
  • Mastering subject-verb agreement
  • Using sensory details in writing

Math

In sixth grade, students continue to develop their problem-solving skills and strategic thinking through the study of new mathematical concepts. Students first review whole number operations and then are introduced to exponents, square roots, order of operations and evaluating expressions. With each new concept, students practice its application in both numeric and multistep word problems. Additionally, students review computation with fractions and decimals with a heavy emphasis on concept development and problem-solving. Students also develop percent concepts and solve percent problems.

The advanced sixth grade math group follows the sixth grade curriculum and emphasis is placed on higher order concept development and critical thinking skills. Each Friday students learn problem-solving strategies and techniques relevant to SAR's participation in the national Mathematical Olympiad program.

Science

The focus of sixth grade science is the study of Earth Science. Through formal lessons, independent study, hands-on activities and research projects, students learn about various topics related to the Earth. Students learn about the layers of the Earth, and this topic lays the foundation for the students’ understanding of continental drift, plate tectonics, earthquakes and volcanoes. We study weathering and erosion and their effects on the topographic features of the Earth in the past and in the present. In addition, we take an in-depth look at water and the water cycle and its vital role in Israel.

We dedicate several weeks to the study of the greenhouse effect and climate change. During this unit, students examine the differences between nonrenewable and renewable energy, and they learn about ways that we can reduce the degree of climate change in our environment. We also study astronomy with an emphasis on the phases of the moon and the lunar calendar in connection to the Jewish calendar. The students learn about the revolution and rotation of the Earth, which helps them to better understand the seasons. Finally, through a small group project, students learn about the planets and their different properties.

Skills:

  • Using the metric system, including its basic principles, how it is used for length, mass and volume, and how to convert between units within the metric system (e.g., meters to kilometers)
  • Learning the steps of the scientific method, applying the scientific method to a basic experiment in class, and learning to write a simple lab report based on this experiment
  • Creating and interpreting a data table based on simple data presented and then using this information to create and interpret a line graph with proper labeling of the axes and title, appropriate interval for each axis, and logical title for the graph
  • Reading science nonfiction material that relates to Earth Science topics and current events

Israel Curriculum

Beginning in first grade, students study the history and landscape of Israel through a new and innovative curriculum, Eretz Yisrael Throughout the Year, developed by the Lookstein Center. Structured around the themes of Asara B'Tevet, Tu BiShvat, Yom Ha’Atzmaut, and Yom Yerushalayim, the curriculum provides four comprehensive lessons to be taught on or around each of these dates. The lessons bring the miracle of Israel to life and feature diaries, simulations, time-machines, moral dilemmas and debates.

Sixth Grade Israel Curriculum

  • Book #1: The Coastal Plain
    • Reading about the old and new cities of Ashkelon, Ashdod, Yafo, Caesarea, Akko (including the famous prison break), Haifa, Netanya and Herzeliya
    • Learning about those involved in these places, including Baron Rothschild, Hannah Senesh, Eliyahu Hanavi, Nathan Strauss, Mordechai Anielewicz, the Sanzer rebbe and many more
  • Book #2: The Third, Fourth and Fifth Aliyot
    • Examining the establishment of "the kibbutz", the story of patriotism at Tel Hai, the Hebrew University, the national poet Chaim Nachman Bialik, the tower and stockade (choma u'migdal) and the clandestine immigration called Aliyah Bet, including the famous ship, Exodus
  • Book #3: Israel: Challenges and Triumphs
    • Learning about some of Israel’s challenges and triumphs and discovering why Israel really is the land of hope
  • Book #4: Jerusalem in its Glory: The Second Temple Era
    • Studying the rise and fall of Second Temple Jerusalem, specifically how Herod renovated the Second Temple and fortified the city, and how people lived in ancient Jerusalem
    • Learning about Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakai and discovering that despite destruction, hope never dies

Sixth Grade Highlights

  • Matan Bat Mitzvah Program

    • This program provides a unique opportunity for parents and daughters to study together in an experiential way during the bat mitzvah year, learning about Jewish women role models throughout our history
    • Participants explore our own connection to the same values and traits that our role models embodied
  • Chol HaMoed Sukkah Hop and Day Trip

    • Students connect with the New Rochelle community by “hopping” to four of their classmates’ sukkot. At each sukkah, they experience an innovative educational activity or celebration related to the holiday. They also go on an exciting day trip during Chol HaMoed
    • Students "hop" between four different sukkot in New Rochelle. In each sukkah they learn about the holiday in fun and creative ways.
  • Shabbaton at SAR in Riverdale

    • Students spend a Shabbat at SAR bonding with their teachers and friends. They enjoy the special ruach of Shabbat together, filled with singing, dancing, and innovative activities.
  • Maccabiah

    • Sixth grade has its own special color war that is built around our school-wide theme of the year. It is an exciting event that promotes leadership and teamwork. The students play sports, create team banners, write team songs, and cheer each other on as they participate in fun and educational activities.
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art Trip

    • As part of the Ancient Egypt curriculum, students visit the Egypt exhibit at the museum and have the opportunity to see the wonders of ancient civilizations.
  • Yeshiva University/ Stern College Trip

    • Students get a taste of yeshiva life when they visit the Yeshiva University and Stern College campuses. On this trip, they have the special opportunity to learn with college students in the batei midrash.
  • Pre-Bar Mitzvah Night

    • This is a special night for the boys of sixth grade and their parents to learn in a hands-on, interactive way about the customs and mitzvot related to becoming a bar mitzvah.
  • Camp Monroe Trip

    • This is an exciting overnight trip where students work on their team-building skills and develop an appreciation for nature in a beautiful camp setting.

Seventh Grade

Seventh Grade

In seventh grade, our students begin to learn in a fully departmentalized environment with heightened responsibility for their work, time management and the varied expectations of their teachers. To help ease this transition, students are assigned an advisor who functions as an advocate, mentor and friend. Our 1:1 iPad program helps to make our rich curriculum more engaging while continuing to expose students to the digital tools of the 21st century. By the end of seventh grade the overwhelming majority of students have become Bnei Mitzvah, and therefore, we focus on helping them to further develop their Jewish identities and values. When teaching Judaic Studies, we continually relate the mitzvot and Torah to values and mussar we can learn. As emerging young adults, students are provided experiences to foster their sensitivity to the value of individuals within and outside the SAR community and to appreciate the importance of every person’s choices and contributions.

Ivrit

Seventh grade students continue to develop reading comprehension, oral and writing skills in the Hebrew language. The curriculum combines lessons on grammar and exercises on syntax as well as independent reading and projects. The curriculum emphasizes reading in order to continue developing a mastery of the Hebrew language. Students read both biblical and modern texts and learn various midrashim and stories. Each class level utilizes multimedia to challenge students and enhance mastery of the Hebrew language.

Students study many topics such as renewal-the year cycle, friends, dreams and more. When learning about family history and genealogy, students have the opportunity to create a final project where they speak about themselves, interview a parent and grandparent, and construct both a virtual and physical family tree. In addition, they explore the topic of journalism, and they design an online school newspaper.

Chumash

In seventh grade, students study the entire Sefer Vayikra. In this survey course, we discuss and analyze a number of topics from this book in detail while reviewing others more briefly. We build upon the skills emphasized in sixth grade in an effort to encourage the growth of inquisitive, independent learners. As students become more confident in their skills, they are given more opportunities to open the text with minimal teacher facilitation and to demonstrate their ability to read, comprehend, and question the main points of the text. As we expand our study of Biblical commentary, we examine many mefarshim in order to understand the textual or theological issues addressed. We regularly assess students through tests, essays, creative projects, and class debates.

Skills:

  • Comparing and contrasting similar stories in other places of Tanakh
  • Summarizing various commentaries on a given topic and identifying the differences between their opinions
  • Identifying the "problem" in the text and offering solutions based on good reasoning and logic
  • Applying prior Torah knowledge to a new topic (where applicable)

Navi

Seventh grade Navi builds on the foundation built in sixth grade as the students learn the second half of Shmuel Aleph. With the overarching goal of inspiring a lifetime of learning, students are encouraged to use their experiences to better understand the Navi, including its development of key personalities and relationships as well as the unravelling of events in their historical, sociological, geographical, political, philosophical and religious settings. Themes, such as friendship, jealousy, revenge, kingship, G-d and His nation, G-d and the world, truth and falsehood, and a hierarchy of values, are presented as warranted and pursued throughout the year. Students also learn to take notes independently and become familiar with Biblical Israel and with character analysis.

The program employs the Heuristic (Socratic) method. The instructor raises the questions that the students do not pose themselves and encourages them to think creatively on the basis of their aggregate experiences and provide answers with the purpose of understanding why certain events happened as they did, how they might have occurred differently, and what the results might have been. Underlying any investigation, however, remains the need and interest in expanding the dimensions of the multifaceted relationship between G-d, the People of Israel, the Rulers of Israel, and the Land of Israel. Every unit, therefore, includes an emphasis on eternal truths and is taught in accordance with and in the spirit of Chazal and traditional exegesis.

The text, however, continues as the linchpin of the learning experience. A first reading provides essential facts, details and sequence. Further examination of the verses provides a basis for answering thought questions and an entree to the linguistic nuances of Biblical narrative. This encourages cross referencing, creative thinking, intelligent analysis, and correct reading. In many instances students recreate the arguments of known commentators, as they learn to think independently.

Skills:

  • Analyzing text through critical thinking
  • Developing and improving note-taking skills
  • Examining word selection and nuance through careful reading

Gemara

Seventh grade Gemara students continue to develop their critical thinking and textual analysis skills through the study of the tenth chapter of Masekhet Pesachim: Arvei Pesachim. Continuing with the goals from sixth grade Gemara, our curriculum this year reviews and reinforces the history of Torah She b’Al Peh. As such, the students are responsible for understanding the way in which the Tanaim and Amoraim function in the Talmud.

In class, students work in a chevruta (with a cooperative partner). In addition to learning the text, students learn to budget their time within their chevruta in order to complete assignments, projects, and test or quiz preparation.

Skills:

  • Navigating a page of Gemara with the Tzurat Hadaf (printed format) and with the pagination of the folio-based Talmud in the Vilna Shas version
  • Utilizing the Nosei Kailim (reference tools and side commentaries)
  • Building Aramaic vocabulary
  • Gaining fluency in understanding a page of Gemara through the close reading of multiple sugyot, including various Rishonim (with an emphasis on Rashi, Rashbam, and Tosaphot)

Language Arts

In seventh grade, students continue to grow as readers and writers. Many of the assignments, both creative and expository, emanate from the class literature. The books read vary year to year, but the staples are a short story unit, a poetry unit, S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders, Margaret Haddix’s Among the Hidden, Mildred D. Taylor’s Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry, and Rodman Philbrick’s Freak the Mighty. Students learn to identify and understand basic literary elements in a novel and short story and internalize the process of making predictions and drawing conclusions in order to further develop their inference skills with more sophisticated literature. Each unit generally culminates with a writing project, vocabulary assessment and a test appropriate to the book. In addition, students receive an extensive list of titles of age-appropriate literature, and they choose 4-5 books a year for outside reading projects. Outside reading projects require the students to respond personally to literature as well as to analyze different aspects of the plot, theme and character.

Skills:

  • Expressing themselves clearly and coherently in writing
  • Writing a five-paragraph essay that is properly structured and follows the given writing process
  • Predicting and drawing conclusions based on class texts
  • Making inferences

Every seventh and eighth grade student also participates in a creative writing class that meets once a week. This class focuses on further developing writing skills and gives students the opportunity to explore different genres not covered in their language arts classes. Students learn to write memoirs, dialogue, descriptive pieces, short fiction, and poetry, among other genres. They also engage in peer editing and are given strategies to further develop their independent editing and proofreading skills. At the end of the year, each student chooses one or two pieces of their writing to edit and submit to an anthology of works that is published and shared with other students, faculty, and parents.

Social Studies

In seventh grade, we examine the early history of the United States of America (1500s – 1800). The course begins with a brief study of the original settlement of North America and the life of indigenous people, followed by its colonization by European powers. Our study continues with the road to revolution and concludes with our nation’s formal establishment and early years. Students study the social, political and economic developments in United States history during this time period. We particularly focus on tracking the seeds of democracy during the colonial era in order to analyze and understand the roots and development of our democratic system. We also explore the Jewish experience in America during these years. We encourage students to build connections, determine cause and effect, and draw comparisons through discussions and group activities.

Skills:

  • Reading text for information and interpreting and analyzing primary documents
  • Note-taking including outlining, summarizing, describing, categorizing and sequencing events and ideas
  • Writing well-developed paragraphs/essays that present clear arguments using a thesis statement and supporting arguments with evidence

Math

In seventh grade, students further develop their higher order thinking and problem-solving skills. During the year, students study units on whole number concepts, customary measurement, evaluating expressions, integers, fractions, ratios, proportions, and percents. Within the geometry unit, students study transversals, the properties of parallel lines, area, and perimeter. In all units, the goal is mastery of computation and the application of the mathematical concepts. Students also have opportunities to complete challenging activities that enrich the curriculum.

The advanced seventh grade math class studies pre-algebra and emphasizes problem-solving and concept development. Students study units on integers, expressions and equations and rational numbers (including fractions and decimals, ratio, proportion and percents).

Science

Seventh grade science students study a Life Science curriculum. Interactive classroom instruction, hands-on explorations, independent work and creative projects are used to build student skills. The year begins with an introduction to living organisms including characteristics, adaptations and needs for survival, and classification of organisms. As an introduction to the microscopic world, the second unit compares the structure and characteristics of viruses and bacteria. The students learn about ways in which infectious diseases are spread, treated, and prevented. In the third unit, students learn about the similarities and differences between plant and animal cells, while focusing on the structure and function of each cell organelle. Our fourth unit is the most abstract and studies various cell processes, including photosynthesis, respiration, fermentation, and mitosis. This unit allows for basic introduction to chemistry -- atoms, molecules, chemical reactions and equations. Later in the year, we study the human body (macroscopic) with a focus on genetics, the digestive system (including nutrition), circulatory system, and respiration system. The students gain an appreciation and understanding of how each individual body system works together to keep the body healthy and alive.

Skills:

  • Reviewing the scientific method and applying it to more complex experiments in class
  • Learning the essential components of a controlled experiment
  • Learning to collect and analyze data from experiment and then represent it in an appropriate graph
  • Thinking critically about new concepts
  • Learning how to use microscopes properly, to prepare microscopic slides, and to focus clearly on bacterial, plant and animal cells
  • Learning proper vocabulary for lab equipment
  • Note-taking in outline form
  • Reading and interpreting nonfiction scientific text

Israel Curriculum

Beginning in first grade, students study the history and landscape of Israel through a new and innovative curriculum, Eretz Yisrael Throughout the Year, developed by the Lookstein Center. Structured around the themes of Asara B'Tevet, Tu BiShvat, Yom Ha’Atzmaut, and Yom Yerushalayim, the curriculum provides four comprehensive lessons to be taught on or around each of these dates. The lessons bring the miracle of Israel to life and feature diaries, simulations, time-machines, moral dilemmas and debates.

Seventh Grade Israel Curriculum

  • Book #1: The Israel Defense Forces
    • Learning about the origins (Hashomer, the Irgun, Lechi, Haganah, Palmach and others) and innovations of the Israel Defense Forces
    • Reading about the paratroopers, air force, navy, and the homefront brigades along with heroes such as Ilan Ramon, Menachem Begin, Ezer Weitzman, Ariel Sharon and others
  • Book #2: Caring for the Land
    • Studying Israel's natural and historical resources including agriculture, forestry and environment, including the innovations and inventions developed in Israel to enhance breeding of livestock, preserve limited water supplies, fight forest fires and restore historical buildings and sites
  • Book #3: Israel: A Jewish Democracy
    • Examining what it means to be both democratic and Jewish: Are these two values compatible? What does a Jewish and democratic state do about public transportation on Shabbat? These are just some of the questions seventh graders debate in this lesson.
  • Book #4: Jerusalem -- David’s Capital
    • Discovering many historic artifacts from King David’s city and piecing together the history of the ancient city and why David chose it for his capital

Seventh Grade Highlights

  • Chol HaMoed Sukkah Hop and Day Trip

    • Students connect with the local Riverdale community by “hopping” to four of their classmates’ sukkot. At each sukkah they experience an innovative educational activity or celebration related to the holiday. They also go on an exciting day trip, typically to hike in nature at one of our beautiful state parks.
  • Yachad Shabbaton

    • Our seventh graders experience a meaningful and inspiring Shabbat as they join together with Yachad members for a Shabbaton in one of our local communities. It is a highlight of the year for our students, and an opportunity for them to meet, befriend, and learn from some very special people.
  • Maccabiah

    • Every year during Chanukah, the seventh and eighth graders have a joint color war competition built around the school-wide theme of the year. Competitions include singing, stomp, chidon (trivia), banner, iMovies, divrei Torah, physical challenges and sports. Maccabiah helps foster camaraderie, learning, and leadership.
  • Boston Trip

    • The seventh grade tours the hot spots of Beantown with a focus on enhancing their American History curriculum. Sites include Salem, Lexington and Concord, Boston Tea Party, the Freedom Trail, Fenway Park, and Duck Tours. This offers students an opportunity to see history come alive and unite together as a grade.

Eighth Grade

Eighth Grade

Our eighth grade students have reached the culminating year of their SAR Academy experience. These maturing young adults, our student leaders and role models for the school community, are given the opportunity to choose enrichment learning experiences across much of the Limudei Kodesh curriculum. We work to further strengthen our students’ Jewish identities, love of learning, and appreciation for Torah. The value of academic integrity, a continuing emphasis on analysis and critical thinking, and the importance of making thoughtful choices in our social interactions are hallmarks of the graduation year. Our students spend significant time preparing for their future high school experiences as we guide them through the JEP /ACT Exam, open houses, application/visitation/interview season, and acceptances. Highlighting our philosophy of student individuality, each student selects a component of the graduation ceremony to design, create and/or perform, thus reflecting the grade as a whole, their experiences within our walls, and the values that they have internalized.

Ivrit

In eighth grade, students continue to expand their Hebrew vocabulary. Classes focus on enriching students’ speech, reading, listening comprehension and writing skills. In addition, students learn to identify all binyanim and to properly use the verb “to be” in all tenses. They explore the conjugation of construct prepositions and the infinitive form of unique verbs. We begin the year with a unit on leadership and study different leaders in modern history. The unit culminates in a project entitled “My Leader,” in which students research and present a figure to the class, and then we compile a booklet of all of the presentations. We also study many topics such as the environment, the future and The Israel Trail. In addition, students explore the concepts of time and literature and read the novels, Chana Senesh and Uri. We also mark special events on the Hebrew calendar with readings, projects, and celebrations.

Chumash

In eighth grade Chumash we learn Sefer Devarim. We study various topics in order to emphasize the unique and special structure of the sefer, which ultimately encompasses the time when Moshe separates from Bnei Yisrael. In Devarim we learn about what Moshe tells Bnei Yisrael before they enter Eretz Yisrael. We also study the different ways in which the Nation needed to prepare as they transitioned from life in the desert to life in the Land of Israel. We analyze the mitzvot that focus on faith and the connection between the Nation and G-d as well as mitzvot related to leadership and social order. In addition, we study the laws of war on the eve of entering the Land of Israel, and finally, we conclude with the story of the death of Moshe.

As our graduates continue on from the SAR Academy community, our main goals are for them to relate mitzvot and Torah values to their own lives. In addition, we aim to strengthen our students’ Jewish identities by providing ways in which to learn and love Torah.

Skills:

  • Identifying problems or difficulties that are syntactic, linguistic or context-based in the pesukim (changes in numbers, gender, tense, etc.)
  • Explaining a pasuk or concept, identifying the structure of pesukim and titling the pesukim
  • Translating words using context or grammar tools (shoresh, syntactic structure, etc.)
  • Understanding the pattern of a group of pesukim and stories written as well as the structure of the Chumash
  • Recognizing fundamental elements of the Chumash such as parallelism, fables and metaphors
  • Explaining and differentiating between pshat and drash
  • Differentiating between various parshanim explanations and recognizing the unique nature of each parshan.

Navi

Eighth grade is similar to seventh grade in the approach and philosophy in learning Navi, but in eighth grade, we learn Shmuel II and move more quickly as the students are more mature and well-trained in the system.

We introduce the idea of extensive learning to supplement intensive learning. The students engage in creative projects and write papers to learn and retain the material. For example, one project and one paper provide an opportunity to review Shaul's reign analytically through an obituary or eulogy and symbolically through a Coat of Arms.

Much emphasis is placed on the formation of government, on the one hand, and on civil war, or tearing down of government, on the other. We compare and contrast Avner and Yoav in regard to leadership qualities, on the one hand, and loyalty and ability to follow orders on the other. We explore the philosophy of practical decision making, weighing the individual versus the group. The overarching theme is Malchut David--at its early days, at its height, and its troubles. Most specifically, we study Avshalom's rebellion towards the end of David's reign.

Skills:

  • Reading text carefully, particularly focusing on word selection, nuance, etc.
  • Analyzing text using critical thinking skills
  • Taking notes during class while learning new material in chevruta or independently

Gemara

This year, we aim for students to achieve a level of independence within the study of Talmudic text and commentary in preparation for the transition to high school learning. Students learn the third chapter of Masekhet Baba Metzia: Perek HaMafkid. Continuing with the goals from sixth and seventh grade Gemara study, our eighth grade curriculum reviews and reinforces the history of Torah She b’Al Peh. As such, the students are responsible for understanding the way in which the Tanaim and Amoraim contribute to the text of the Talmud. Students also improve in their navigation of a page of Gemara with the Tzurat Hadaf (printed format). By focusing on vocabulary building and a close reading of multiple sugyot including various Rishonim, eighth grade Gemara students gain increased fluency in their ability to analyze and understand a page of Gemara. In addition, students are introduced to new halakhic concepts such as the laws of guardianship, ownership and transactions through Seder Nezikin.

Skills:

  • Building Aramaic vocabulary
  • Comprehending and analyzing a page of Gemara
  • Learning a page of Gemara in chevruta with little teacher support

Language Arts

In eighth grade, students focus on developing their expository writing skills and on reading sophisticated literature. As writers, students master the process of constructing longer essays, which includes brainstorming, outlining, drafting, responding to feedback and editing. They learn to construct a thesis statement, support it through five-paragraph essay, and ultimately write a term paper. In personal journals, students also complete creative assignments.

The books read vary year to year, but the staples include a short story unit, George Orwell’s Animal Farm, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird and John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men. While reading, students use guided homework questions and vocabulary to aid comprehension. Students continue to build analytical thinking skills by identifying and examining the various literary elements in a novel and short story. Each unit generally culminates with a project and test. In addition, students complete outside reading projects with grade-appropriate literature so that students continue to read at home and utilize skills taught in class.

Skills:

  • Mastering grade-appropriate conventions and punctuation, including comma and semicolon usage
  • Varying sentence structure and utilizing new vocabulary in writing
  • Constructing a thesis statement with supporting details
  • Developing inference skills with sophisticated literature

Every seventh and eighth grade student also participates in a creative writing class that meets once a week. This class focuses on further developing writing skills and gives students the opportunity to explore different genres not covered in their language arts classes. Students learn to write memoirs, dialogue, descriptive pieces, short fiction, and poetry, among other genres. They also engage in peer editing and are given strategies to further develop their independent editing and proofreading skills. At the end of the year, each student chooses one or two pieces of their writing to edit and submit to an anthology of works that is published and shared with other students, faculty, and parents.

Social Studies

Continuing from, and building upon the early history of America that was introduced in seventh grade, eighth grade social studies further examines the social, political and economic developments in the U.S. during the eighteen and nineteen hundreds. We begin by reviewing the structure of U.S. government as laid out in the Constitution. Our focus then shifts to how this system performed under the incredible social, political and economic upheavals unleashed by Manifest Destiny and America’s entry onto the world stage.

The medium through which students are required to present their mastery of this material builds on the formal, thesis-based, research-supported writing assignments introduced in seventh grade. Through a step-by-step writing process, beginning with short paragraphs and culminating in an independent research paper, students are again shown how to build a coherent argument through research and then how to present that argument in a well- developed essay. In eighth grade social studies writing, the depth and length of analysis seeks to build upon and expand on what was required in seventh grade.

Skills:

  • Note-taking: Outlining, summarizing, describing, categorizing and sequencing events and ideas
  • Writing well-developed paragraphs, essays, and papers using correct writing structure with attention to mechanics and phrasing
  • Determining cause and effect in historic events and trends
  • Interpreting and analyzing primary document

Math

In eighth grade math, students focus on concept development and problem-solving. Students complete units on decimals, fractions, percents, signed numbers, measurement, geometry, and algebra. The algebra unit includes solving simple equations and inequalities, graphing equations of the line and algebraic problem-solving.

The advanced eighth grade math class completes the ninth grade algebra course. Students study units on properties of real numbers, linear equations and inequalities, relations and functions, operations with and factoring polynomials, radical expressions and equations and quadratic functions and equations.

Science

The eighth grade science curriculum covers the physical world. It is split into two major topics: Chemistry and Physics. The year starts with Chemistry, beginning with a study of matter, its chemical and physical properties, and its atomic structure (including the periodic table and chemical bonding). Students are engaged in full and partial inquiry as they learn about the nature of matter. During the second half of the year, we focus on Physics and how matter and energy interact. Students learn about speed, acceleration and velocity through an exploration of motion, including an analysis of roller coasters and cars. The construction of bridges, boats, airplanes and race cars engages students in a study of forces and motion, including buoyancy, friction, gravity and Newton’s laws.

Skills:

  • Designing experiments
  • Collecting, analyzing, and presenting data
  • Making accurate measurements with scientific instruments
  • Problem-solving
  • Creating and analyzing graphs
  • Communicating and working collaboratively

Israel Curriculum

Beginning in first grade, students study the history and landscape of Israel through a new and innovative curriculum, Eretz Yisrael Throughout the Year, developed by the Lookstein Center. Structured around the themes of Asara B'Tevet, Tu BiShvat, Yom Ha’Atzmaut, and Yom Yerushalayim, the curriculum provides four comprehensive lessons to be taught on or around each of these dates. The lessons bring the miracle of Israel to life and feature diaries, simulations, time-machines, moral dilemmas and debates.

Eighth Grade Israel Curriculum

  • Book #1: Israel and the Diaspora
    • Examining the relationship between Israel and Jewish communities all over the world
    • The question of aliyah is openly explored as well as the importance of the people of the world communities
  • Book #2: Zionism and the Holy Land
    • Defining Zionism and exploring its many interpretations, including the practical, revisionist, cultural and religious ideologies
    • Learning about personalities including Herzl, Ahad Ha'am, Jabotinsky, Rav Kook, the Netziv and many others
    • Discussing the challenges faced by religious Zionism in the modern State of Israel, focusing particularly on issues related to chareidim, hesder army programs, democracy and religion, political involvement and anti-Zionists
  • Book #3: The Arab-Israeli Conflict
    • Learning about both Jewish and Arab claims to the promised land and the attempts to resolve the conflict
    • Examining the PLO, the peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, and the Oslo Accords
  • Book #4: The United City
    • Studying why Jerusalem is important to the Jews, Muslims, and Christians
    • Learning about Yitzchak Rabin, Israel’s Chief of Staff who united the city, and Teddy Kollek, the modern Herod, and his efforts to keep the city united
    • Debating whether Jerusalem truly is a united city and what lies ahead in the future for this ancient/modern city.

Eighth Grade Highlights

  • Chol HaMoed Learning Program with Seniors

    • Eighth graders spend a day learning and connecting with local Riverdale seniors at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale. Students prepare Torah lessons that they then teach to the seniors, followed by lively discussions and a beautiful intergenerational holiday celebration filled with song and dance.
  • Chol HaMoed Trip

    • Each year the eighth grade visits one of the beautiful sites in the New York City area.
  • Tikkun Leil Hoshanah Rabbah all night learning

    • Eighth grade has its own Tikkun Leil Hoshana Rabbah, when the students stay awake all night with their teachers to study Torah. This inspiring evening of learning is interspersed with fun activities, music, and great food throughout the night.
  • Washington, D.C. trip

    • Each year the eighth grade students tour the D.C. area for two days, with an emphasis on exploring sites that bring to life and supplement their American History curriculum. Some of the sites they usually visit are the Capitol, Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, Newseum, and the National Holocaust Museum.
  • Maccabiah

    • Every year during Chanukah the seventh and eightth grade have a joint color war competition built around the school-wide theme of the year. Competitions include singing, stomp, chidon (trivia), banner, iMovies, divrei Torah, physical challenges and sports. Maccabiah helps foster camaraderie, excitement, learning, and leadership.
  • Purim Topsy Turvy Carnival

    • Each year around Purim time, the school has carnival on Topsy Turvy Day. The eighth graders step into their leadership roles and work together with their peers to host this amazing carnival that entertains students in grades one through seven.
  • Grade-Wide Shabbaton

    • Every year the eighth grade takes a trip to an exciting city where they can take in the sites and sounds, learn about the place, and experience a meaningful Shabbat with the local Jewish community.

Student Learning Center (SLC)

Student Learning Center (SLC)

The SLC is a daily period for students who require and would benefit from additional support in a small group setting with more individualized attention to maximize his/her learning potential. The program is designed to address all children’s learning needs while helping them become more independent learners.