Middle School Experience

Grades 6 – 8 Academics


Art is required in grades 6 and 7, and offered as an elective in grade 8. Instruction is offered each cycle for one trimester each in grades 6, 7 and 8.

The art curriculum deals with elements and principles of design. These concepts are taught through a variety of media including paint, clay, fibers and printmaking.

The students are challenged with an art “problem” or art idea, then each student creates his or her own “solution” to the “problem.” As the art concepts and materials become more complex, each student develops at his or her own rate.


The English program in grades 6 – 8 integrates the study of literature, composition and language to improve the student’s skills in reading, writing, speaking and listening.

The goal of reading widely and with increasing satisfaction is pursued through individual conferences and group discussion. In grade 6, the focus is on people, events, ideas and relationships. In grades 7 and 8, techniques, form and literary devices receive more attention, and emphasis is placed on interpretation and critical evaluation. Classroom study covers poetry, short stories, drama, myths and legends. The novel, introduced as a literary form in grade 6, is given increasing attention in grades 7 and 8, according to the particular interests of the students and the particular specialties and talents of the individual teacher. Emphasis is placed on studying different themes in literature and choosing material that is personally challenging to the individual student.

In English composition, teachers seek to develop the student’s ability to think critically, to search for deeper meanings in literature, and to strengthen the oral and written skills needed for such expression. Students also use writing as a thinking tool in a process approach. Revision of papers is aimed at deeper thinking while mechanics and spelling are refined in later drafts for wider audiences. Cooperative ventures in learning help students focus on clear communication. Written work includes programmed materials, worksheets, expository writing, essay tests, writing clinics, individual research projects and creative writing. Oral composition includes storytelling, role-playing, poetry presentations, dramatic improvisation, demonstration speeches, and preparation for the Damon Speech contest. Many students also write and produce classroom plays.

In grade 6, an inductive approach is used to guide the student in the development of language concepts. Through a workshop approach the student explores word formation, sentence structure and paragraph development. Grammar and correct usage are emphasized in conjunction with spelling, capitalization and punctuation. In grades 7 and 8, these concepts are systematically reinforced and developed through textbook work and class exercises, through studying elements of style and rhetoric, through work-play, and through peer critique.

Students in grade 6 meet regularly with Bishop Learning Center librarians for book talks, reading enrichment and instruction, which enables them to use the facility with increasing independence.

Home Economics

Homeroom classes of sixth graders have home economics for two hours per cycle for one trimester.

In grade 7, seven double-period classes are offered for one trimester. The program centers on food study, including nutrition, simple meal preparation and serving.

In grade 8, home economics is an elective and deals with food and nutrition, including meal planning, meal preparation and consumer problems. In addition, there is a class on textiles and clothing, with emphasis on textile selection and construction.


Languages, whether classical or modern, have ever been the endowment of a truly cultured person and an integral part of a sound education. It is not necessary to achieve complete mastery (hopefully some students will), to avail oneself of the innumerable benefits inherent to the study of another language, not the least of which is a better grasp of one’s own mother tongue, and a more objective appreciation of one’s culture when it is held up to the light of a second or third culture. Furthermore, language reflects the traditions, values and inbred beliefs of the people who developed it and who speak it. To suit the needs of all Punahou students, Punahou provides a broad spectrum of language choices: classical (Latin, two years in the Junior School only), modern European (French and Spanish), Asian (Japanese and Chinese) and Hawaiian.

It is hoped that students beginning the foreign language of their choice will continue it for as long a sequence as possible – preferably until graduation. In the first two years of the modern language the general objectives are to understand utterances of high frequency, speak with acceptable pronunciation on topics concerned with daily life, read and write material of simple content, and begin to gain an appreciation of foreign language culture. Classes are often taught by the audiovisual method and conducted almost entirely in the target language.


The Case Middle School mathematics program is designed to integrate, facilitate, and advocate for each child’s mathematics learning. Specific emphasis is placed on understanding why a mathematical principle works, as opposed to simply how it works. This is done through the use of a variety of teaching techniques such as large and small group instruction, hands-on and other manipulative activities, investigations that are integrated across curricular strands, and appropriate technological tools and software. Keeping in mind the needs of the whole child and his/her unique learning style, the department strives to develop competent, confident, thoughtful students who are willing to take mathematical risks, make connections with the larger community in which they live, and be an active consumer of mathematics.

In grade 6, a transition is made from basic arithmetic to more complex operations with fractions, decimals, and percents. Rates, ratios and proportions, as well as number theory are taught in context. Recognizing, describing, and using patterns – both in words and algebraically – is emphasized throughout. Coordinate graphing and solving linear equations are also introduced.

In grade 7, Pre-Algebra is designed to aid students in making the transition from elementary mathematics to algebra. While continuous skills practice is provided, critical thinking and problem solving are the main emphases of the course. Topics covered include simplifying variable expressions, exponents, operations with rational numbers, and solving linear equations. The course also includes an introduction to geometric concepts in two and three dimensions.

Algebra 1 is a two-year sequence that begins in grade 8 and concludes in a student’s freshman year in the Academy. The majority of students are enrolled in this course, which provides the building blocks necessary for all future mathematics courses. Particular emphasis is placed on students’ ability to reason their way through a problem as well as provide written and mathematical support for their answers.

For students in grade 8 who are both academically and developmentally ready, we offer Algebra 1 Honors, a one-year, accelerated course in algebra. Placement in this course is based on the recommendation of a student’s current mathematics teacher, the Case Middle School Mathematics Curricular Chair, and the Supervisor, to ensure that the student’s best interest is met.


In addition to general participation in choral music, several elective programs are offered. The opportunity is available to take beginning group instruction in all wind, string and percussion instruments, as well as to sing in the choir. In grade 6, the choirs are select groups, for which students audition. Each group presents two programs a year.

In grades 7 and 8, choir, orchestra* and band* are open to interested students of beginning, intermediate or advanced musical ability. This is the first concentrated study of music literature of various periods and styles. Several concerts are presented during the school year.

For seventh and eighth graders not involved with one of the above musical groups, a class in music exploration is required.

*Instrument Rental Fee $60 per semester.

Physical Education

In grades 6, 7 and 8, classes meet two times per cycle for 75 minutes and once for 60 minutes throughout the year. Instruction centers on developing basic skills that may be applied to a variety of physical activities. Activities include individual and team sports, dance, gymnastics, and aquatics. As student progress through the grades, fitness development, specific sport skills and knowledge of game rules is also introduced. In conjunction with the Character Education Program students are encouraged to demonstrate respect, responsibility, cooperation, compassion and good sportsmanship.

Opportunities for participation in sports outside of PE include ILH athletic teams, which are offered seasonally on a voluntary basis for grades 7 and 8.


In grade 6, there is a strong lab orientation with emphasis on student investigation, experimental planning, orderly data keeping, use of graphs and pictures in reporting and drawing conclusions based on the data collected. Investigations from the FOSS Black Box and Variables units are explored as well as topics in botany.

In grades 7 and 8, making observations, collecting and organizing data, and supporting a conclusion based on evidence are an integral part of the course. The seventh and eighth grade programs provide a survey of four major branches of science: chemistry, physics, biology and earth science.

Specifically, in grade 7, topics in Astronomy; Forces, Motion Energy; and Earth Science: Rocks/Minerals/Plate Tectonics are studied. All students participate in Project Green where students are asked to apply scientific methodology to conduct an experiment with an environmental focus.

In grade 8, the year begins with the study of the properties of matter and then moves to the study the structure of atoms and the periodic table. Students learn about how atoms combine to form ionic and covalent compounds. The study of photosynthesis and respiration is used as a link from chemistry to the study of cells. The study of the human organism and the various health issues associated with different human body systems rounds out the year.


Woodshop is required for all 6th graders and is an elective for 7th and 8th grade students. Principles of Technology is also offered as an 8th grade shop elective. All shop students currently attend shop once a cycle for an hour and a half, for one trimester. Grade level projects are chosen with age appropriateness and course length in mind. Safety and attention to detail are emphasized. All students are required to wear covered shoes and follow an important set of safety rules and guidelines in the use of tools and machines.

Social Studies

Grade 6 continues the study of American History from the time of the Civil War. We look at the period of westward expansion and the twentieth century. Emphasis is on social and political thought as well as culture, religion, and geography. The use of historical fiction adds much in understanding and appreciating people of a different time and place.

Seventh grade Social Studies is a comparative culture and geography course, with one trimester of Hawaiian Studies, one trimester with a focus on the Middle East, and one focusing on sub-Saharan Africa. The course also emphasizes organizational, study and test-taking skills.

Eighth grade social studies is a year-long course whose goals are to develop students’ intrapersonal intelligence (understanding oneself), interpersonal intelligence (understanding others), and to cultivate an understanding of the foundation, form, and function of our government and democratic system.

Current events are discussed frequently throughout the week. Geography is covered as it relates to those events. Skill areas that are emphasized include critical thinking, argumentation in speaking and writing, research skills, note-taking, and paraphrasing.

Camp Mokuleia is a three-day, two-night outdoor education experience that builds on the intra- and interpersonal elements of the course. The program focuses on respect, trust, cooperation, and courage.


Technology is an integral part of learning for 6th – 8th grade students. All students will receive a personal laptop as part of the One-to-One Computing Program. Students will also have access to resources in the Kelley Technology Lab.