The intentionality of our curriculum consists of a carefully structured, classical Christian course of study which advances the “intentionality or logic of learning.” Central to our curriculum are six core academic subjects: Christian studies, English, history, Latin, math, and science. A variety of electives provides students additional curricular breadth and exploration. Each subject at Bear Creek is taught from a Christian worldview which builds a critical framework to help each student become the individual God intends.
The curriculum is mapped out from kindergarten through grade 12 to ensure that the students follow a logical sequence of learning from one grade to the next. In the classical tradition, the program is designed to be foundational; students continue to build on information and skills they have learned the previous years. Teachers work together to augment and develop cross-disciplinary connections in the curriculum to make it challenging and interesting for students.
Our math acceleration program is unique and distinctive. Students are not placed in math class solely by age; instead, each is assessed and allowed to advance to an appropriate class which matches his or her individual aptitude and development. Math classes are offered simultaneously in grades 5 and 6 so that students move to their ability-level classes for that instructional period. Based on ability and motivation, many students take advanced-level math courses and enter high school ready to enroll in a strong pre-collegiate advanced math course sequence.
Grades 5 and 6: GO Math! from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt as well as above grade level courses listed below.
Grades 7 and 8: Pre-Algebra, Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2 from McDougal Littell and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Students receive a lab-based, classical science education, inspiring them to greater reverence for God, passion for science, and responsibility in life’s decisions. Students learn design-thinking fundamentals, engage in traditional laboratory experiments; design investigations; participate in field studies; and learn to use science tools, materials, media, and technological resources to research and discuss relevant topics. Mathematical skills are strengthened through data analysis and modeling.
Grade 5: Energy and engines, the brain, geology, and electricity, Science Immersion Week and demonstration of the scientific method culminating in a Science Fair presentation
Grade 6: Invertebrates, chemistry, immune system, plants, volcanoes, and earthquakes. This year culminates with a field trip to Mount St. Helens.
Grade 7: Introductory Biology and Epidemiology
Grade 8: Earth Science and Engineering Design
The study of history undergirds a liberal arts education by providing students an understanding of their own and others’ cultures and the development of wisdom over time. Students gain perspective and insights into the issues of our current day by examining the concerns and solutions of both ancient and modern civilizations and comparing them to present day.
Middle School students read historical surveys of events and biographical sketches of key historical figures as well as primary source materials. Class discussions in grades 7 and 8 utilize the Socratic seminar method which requires careful reading, logical thinking, and rhetorical skills as students engage one another.
Curriculum: Holt McDougal
Grade 5: Geography, including locations of countries in North America, South America, Asia, Europe, Australia, Africa, and Antarctica
Grade 6: Ancient civilizations through the Renaissance, including Mesopotamia, ancient Egypt, ancient Israel, ancient India, ancient China, ancient Greece, and ancient Rome; Shakespeare Immersion Week and performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Grade 7: Medieval Western Civilization including Feudalism, Monasticism, and Hundred Years’ War
Grade 8: Modern Western Civilization including Renaissance, Scientific Revolution, Enlightenment, and French Revolution
Christian worldview and biblical knowledge are fully integrated throughout the Bear Creek curriculum. In Middle School, students expand their knowledge of the Bible and the development of the Christian faith and begin to explore their understanding of Jesus and their own relationships with God.
Grade 5: Judges, Prophecy of the Christ, Samuel, David and the Psalms, and Solomon
Grade 6: Armor of God; heroes of the Faith: Esther, Ruth, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; Book of James; and names of God
Grade 7: Logic, including how to define terms and compose accurate statements, construct arguments by example, analogy, and authority, and how to detect fallacies in an argument. Introduction to the Old Testament including tracing the narrative of salvation; history from creation to the establishment, judgment, and restoration of Israel; themes in the Old Testament
Grade 8: Introduction to the New Testament including examination of the Gospels; discussion of growth in the Church in Acts; examination of basic Christian belief and practice as presented in the Epistles
Latin is key to a classical Christian education. Early exposure to Latin prepares students for advanced study of foreign language in Upper School, improves English grammar and vocabulary, and increases understanding of history, language, and culture.
Curriculum: Lingua Latina
Grades 5 and 6: Grammar and vocabulary, songs, games, and listening comprehension activities.
Grade 7: Grammar and vocabulary, proper pronunciation, composition, listening, and reading comprehension.
Grade 8: Careful listening and reading, grammar and comprehension, written compositions and speaking, Greek and Roman mythology, literature, history, and connections between modern and ancient languages.
Students who complete the grades 7 and 8 course of study will satisfy the Latin I equivalency prerequisite for Latin II.
Language Arts skills play a foundational role in a liberal arts education. Students progress from the grammar stage (knowledge such as spelling and parts of speech) through dialectic (the ability to analyze and synthesize information) and into rhetoric (sharing original ideas through oral or written communication). The curriculum spirals through each stage, increasing in depth while building on previous skills.
Grade 5: Notetaking, summarizing, predicting, literary evidence, pacing, metacognition, and literature including The Phantom Tollbooth, Where the Red Fern Grows, and Banner in the Sky.
Grade 6: Decoding, vocabulary, main ideas, summarizing, identifying theme, connecting, predicting, identifying the author’s craft, and literature including The Golden Goblet, The Bronze Bow, The Trumpeter of Krakow, and Red Scarf Girl.
In grades 5 – 6, we use a multi-sensory approach through which students learn to spell by saying, hearing, writing, and seeing, thereby using all avenues to the brain.
Grade 5: Eight parts of speech nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjective adverbs, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, and interjections.
Grade 6: Eight parts of speech nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjective adverbs, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, and interjections.
Grade 7: Sentence structure, advanced punctuation, and easily confused words.
Grade 8: Grammar and vocabulary are integrated into the writing program.
Grade 5: Daily journaling, research writing, creative writing, perspective writing, editing, and publishing
Grade 6: Writing notebook, five-paragraph essay, expository writing, creative writing, research writing, poetry writing, editing, and publishing
Grade 7: Formative writing exercises, summative assignments related to particular modes like narration and argument, grammar, and the study of literary terms. Using the six traits writing model, writing assignments emphasize sentence fluency and word choice.
Grade 8: Students learn literature-based analysis, the six traits writing model, as well as creative expression.
The English curriculum for grades 7 and 8 is literature based. Students learn advanced reading and writing skills using a variety of books from different authors, perspectives, and eras. Students use the seminar method to discuss and share ideas.
Grade 7: Class texts span Late Antiquity, the Middle Ages, and the early Renaissance periods. Themes explored throughout the year include identifying what is virtuous and how virtue relates to chivalry, categorizing sins and their effects within a culture dominated by the Church, and analyzing how medieval culture functioned within hierarchies. Literature read includes Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Much Ado About Nothing, and others.
Grade 8: Students read and analyze primary sources, novels, short stories, and poetry, in order to explore the idea of identity as American citizens or residents of the United States as well as believers in Christ. Students read American literature covering the time period of Native American legend all the way to Postmodernism. Books include To Kill a Mockingbird, Animal Farm, and others.
Field trips play an important role in extending the curriculum beyond the walls of campus and are eagerly anticipated by our students.
Grades 5 and 6 students participate in regular field trips tied to the curriculum. In the spring, grade 5 students enjoy an overnight Outdoor Education experience while grade 6 students travel to Mt. St. Helens as part of their study of volcanos.
Grades 7 and 8 take three field trips each year. During fall semester, our field trip is focused on service and community building. In the morning, students get their hands dirty working on a project to improve the greater Eastside community and then get the afternoon to play and connect. In the spring, students first focus on Washington State history, either taking a civic tour of the Capitol building in Olympia or journeying through an early historical era at Tacoma's Ft. Nisqually Living History Museum. Later in the spring semester, students take science-based field trips. Grade 7 travels to Bell Harbor Marina for a marine biology experience, while grade 8 travels to Mukilteo for Boeing's Future of Flight tour and then stops by DigiPen on the way home for robotics and digital gaming classes.
Office Hours and Study Skills
During Middle School, students transition from much of their life being managed by adults to a time of more self-management. However, most Middle School students need tools and strategies to successfully self-manage. Our study skills program is designed to teach students important keys to success in both school and life while modeling and providing support as skills are applied and practiced. Students learn organization, self-advocacy, note-taking, study strategies, exam preparation, and dealing with stress and anxiety.
Students in grades 5 and 6 begin learning these important skills in their homeroom. Grades 7 and 8 attend office hours three or four days each week. This is a time when they can get help from teachers, make up missed work or exams, study, and complete homework. Students are taught important study skills needed for success now and in the future.
In grades 5 and 6, classes meet regularly with specialist teachers:
- Choir (grade 6)
- Computer Programming
- General Music (grade 5)
- Lab Science
* All grade 5 students learn an instrument in Beginning Band. In grade 6, students may choose between band or choir.
To enrich the core curricula, the Middle School offers a variety of elective classes which students in grades 7 – 8 may choose to study. Each student will be enrolled in one or two electives each semester (depending on when he/she is enrolled in P.E.) for a total of three electives each year. Elective courses may be mixed gender classes. Courses include:
- Introduction to Computer Programming
- Intermediate Computer Programming
- Advanced Computer Programming
- Creation Lab
- Creative Writing Lab
- Digital Storytelling
- Strength Training
Please see the Course Catalog for more details about core and elective courses for grades 7 and 8 students: