The junior high mathematics curriculum creates students who are logical thinkers and problem-solvers. Students learn to use symbols and notation, perform specific mathematical operations, make comparisons and define, describe, and use important principles. As part of creating real-world situations, computers and calculators are integrated into the curriculum.
The language arts program is the foundation of academic instruction in the school. Success in all areas of learning relies on competency in the four areas of language: reading, writing, speaking, and listening. In working toward this goal, recognition of varying learning styles, developmental levels, and teaching methods is essential.
Language mastery best develops when a program provides systematic and sequential skills instruction along with the opportunity to interact with a variety of literary genres. Familiarity with the scope and sequence of skills as well as with an assortment of materials is a requirement for successful instruction.
A strong language arts program must be carefully integrated into each content area of the curriculum. This approach will provide students with the essential skills needed to ensure success.
Kindergarten marks the beginning of the reading and writing program. The student will engage in a variety of activities which will introduce and extend emergent literacy skills. First- and second-grade students will be taught reading and writing together. When young children perceive a purpose for reading and writing, they achieve greater success. Therefore, integration of listening, speaking, reading and writing activities occur daily. Third-grade students will utilize strategies to read, write, and apply knowledge of the use of conventions in grammar.
In the middle school grades, fourth- and fifth-grade students will be immersed in an integrated language arts curriculum. Listening, speaking, reading, and writing will occur daily. Skills will be modeled by the teacher and practiced by the student. Moving into junior high, students will recognize and apply the integration of language arts daily as they continue the formal study of the elements of literature.
The mission of the science curriculum at Overbrook School is to provide students with a quality science education in the context of a Christian perspective. Overbrook students will have an understanding of science which, when viewed in connection with their faith, will help them as citizens to make sound judgments when considering scientific activities and their impact on our society.
Overbrook students begin their scientific journey of exploration and discovery in kindergarten studying how plants and animals live together symbiotically. They then expand their scope to study the earth and its place in the universe. Students are also introduced to health and wellness, as well as matter, energy, and motion. Each grade level expounds upon these same themes and delves deeper into the scientific facts and theories. For example, third-graders enjoy an in-depth unit on the rainforest as well as several activities related to this unit, which even includes the performance of a rainforest play.
Fifth-graders begin a study of the earth that continues in sixth-grade as students explore the layers of the earth below its surface and high above in several units about space. Seventh-graders begin to look deep inside life sciences beginning with bacteria and ending with an early look at human biology. Finally, as eighth-graders, Overbrook scientists discover the world of chemistry and beginning physics as they start to combine math and science.
At Overbrook School, the students learn that their faith is an essential part of their daily lives. The foundational principle of the religion program is the truth that each person is made in God’s image and likeness with inestimable dignity. The students strive to live this truth in an environment that fosters the growth of virtue in each individual. Through the study of Sacred Scripture, church history, the sacraments, and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the students examine the richness of their living faith and gain new insights about themselves.
Through their Catholic education, the students receive the moral foundation necessary to face the challenges and difficulties that life brings. By establishing a solid moral foundation, the students will be prepared to make important decisions and to formulate an educated and faith-filled opinion on the controversial issues that they will face in the future.
This faith journey begins in prekindergarten in the Atrium with the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, Montessori-based religion curriculum that allows children to experience their faith in a hands-on way. Students continue the Catechesis through fifth grade. As students grow in their faith, they will begin to learn more about Jesus’ life, Catholic prayers, the saints and the Holy Sacraments.
The second-grade year is a memorable one, as students experience the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the Sacrament of the Eucharist for the first time. The students are grounded in a simple but deep understanding of God’s personal love for each of them. A special emphasis is placed on learning the external and internal elements of the Mass, including the vessels, vestments, ritual words and actions, and devotional practices relating to the Eucharist.
During middle school and junior high years, students deepen the knowledge and practice of the Faith. Students will also develop an understanding of the dignity of the human person as they live their faith and form a moral conscience living out their call to justice and service by imitating the life of Jesus. As students grow older and deeper in their faith, the goal is to have the student come to a more thorough understanding of the Church and the Sacraments as well as to develop their life of prayer and virtue.
In junior high, students study the Scriptures (both New and Old Testaments), church history and the Sacrament of Confirmation. The greatest emphasis for the eighth-grade year of study is placed on preparing for Confirmation, fundamental moral principles, and their application and lastly, developing a relationship with the Holy Spirit and recognizing His action in one’s life.
History & Geography
The Overbrook social studies program includes the study of American history and geography and world history and geography at each grade level.
Beginning in kindergarten students rotate through categories of history and geography building each year in terms of depth of knowledge and skills learn. These categories include geography, the seven continents, Native Americans, early exploration, historical figures, and economics. For example, in kindergarten students are introduced to the American presidents, past and present, as well as other historical topics. In second grade, students study American government and in third grade the earliest Americans and the Colonies. Students continue this linear study through eighth-grade when students look deep into the foundations of our nation and follow it through to modern times.
Along the way, grade levels focus on different areas of history and geography such as fourth-grade social studies, which centers on Tennessee history and the geography of the states, while seventh-grade social studies focus on the five themes of geography and civics.
Social studies offer students at all grade levels the chance to:
- complete small research projects
- learn map skills
- Learn note-taking and outlining skills in junior high
- Write more effective answers to discussion questions
- Learn life lessons from both the successes and failures of past civilizations
The study of history provides an important context for the discussion and understanding of current events.
Overbrook School’s primary goal for physical education is to help students understand that their bodies and health are a gift from God and it is their responsibility to nurture and develop their body to promote good health throughout their life.
Participation in sports and athletics encourages health, fitness, sportsmanship, appreciation of rules and care for equipment.
Overbrook’s PE department uses SPARK, a heavily researched PE curriculum, in all grades. SPARK was originally launched by the National Institutes of Health to create, implement, and evaluate new and innovative approaches to physical education content and instruction, then test them in “real world” settings. SPARK PE was designed to be more inclusive, active, and fun than traditional PE classes. It the most researched and field-tested Physical Education program in the world, providing an important emphasis on physical fitness.
The link between nutrition, physical activity, and learning is well documented. Healthy eating and activity patterns are essential for students to achieve their full academic potential, full physical and mental growth, and lifelong health and well-being. In light of these facts, Overbrook School abides by a health and wellness policy.
Students use computers and technology in the classroom beginning with prekindergarten, where students use a variety of media and technology resources for directed and independent learning activities. Prekindergarten students also use technology resources (e.g., puzzles, logical thinking programs, writing tools, digital cameras, drawing tools) for problem-solving, communication, and illustration of thoughts, ideas, and stories. As students move through the primary grades, they learn basic computer operations and concepts; they develop proper keyboarding and word processing skills and begin to learn about technology research tools. Third- and fourth-graders begin to create multimedia presentations learning presentation skills as well. Middle school students study desktop publishing and begin to learn about spreadsheets, databases and operating system functions. As students move into junior high they begin to use technology research tools for projects and assignments in other classes. Students learn advanced skills in searching, locating, and evaluating sites and information. They begin to recognize strategies for searching use refined search strategies and understand streaming audio/video as well as gathering and comparing the information.
Students at all grade levels learn about the social, ethical and human issues related to today’s use of and the pervasiveness of technology.
Overbrook is implementing the study of Latin beginning in third grade through fifth grade for all students. Using the Prima Christiana text in the first year of implementation and moving up the curriculum each year will give a solid introduction to the language. The study of Latin strengthens the understanding of our own English structure of words and grammar as well as gives a foundation for the study of other world languages as well. At Overbrook there is an additional benefit to the introduction of Latin to our students: it is the official language of the Catholic Church used in liturgies and official documents of the Church from which translations are made. Students will experience the rich heritage of Christianity in a new way through this program.
Junior High World Language Electives
Overbrook bases its Spanish curriculum on the Standards for Foreign Language Learning: Preparing for the 21st Century. This document defines the role of foreign language education through “content standards,” what students should know and be able to do. Spanish classes focus on listening, speaking, reading, writing, and culture, all of which are necessary to understand and communicate in Spanish. In junior high, each Spanish class will meet four times per week for a 50-minute period. With this greater exposure to the language, students will be able to explore more in terms of the grammar of the language, writing, reading, and conversation. Students will enjoy more time to develop their skills and conversation through skits, the creation of videos, writing, reading stories in Spanish, and learning the custom and cultures of various Spanish-speaking nations. With this expanded classroom time, there is more time for Spanish-speaking guests, enriching projects, and opportunities for your child to grow in knowledge, understanding, and confidence in using the language.
Like Spanish, Latin will meet four times per week for a 50-minute period. The students will be using the First Form Latin series published by Memoria Press and based on Church Latin. This series emphasizes grammar and vocabulary first in order to equip students adequately for syntax and translation. Latin is the language of the law, theology, science, medicine, and government. It is also the language of the Church. It is a language that not only forms the basis for half of our English vocabulary, but it is also the foundation of all romance languages. Latin forms the mind by the very discipline and logic of the language itself. Much of our past culture and history has been passed down through the Latin language and Roman culture. Latin, because it touches on such a wide range of subject areas, has great potential for connecting all subjects together.