Academic challenges increase as students progress through the Middle School as we prepare students for a successful transition into the Upper School. Embracing a humanities-based approach, we develop our students’ abilities to make connections beyond the traditional curricular boundaries. Drawing upon the skills of our faculty, courses align in learning objectives, common projects, guest speakers, and cultural outings.
Students read from a variety of genres, including novels, short stories, essays, and poetry. Reading activities enforce and expand the ability to grasp both literal and interpretive meaning, while routine vocabulary study covers spelling and usage of terms relevant to students’ reading and writing. In addition, grammar study, guided reading, and writing activities strengthen students’ verbal and written expression. Many compositions go through phases of drafting, self edit, peer edit and teacher edit before they are completed. Often, assignments cross over into the social studies curriculum and, occasionally, other disciplines as well. Students are constantly reading and talking about related events and similar periods of time.
The social studies curriculum in the middle school empowers students to develop as citizens of an increasingly interconnected global society. In 6th and 7th Grades, students complete a two-year sequence of global studies. 6th Grade social studies focuses on the theme of identity through the study of units on India, the Far East, Latin America, and World Religions. 7th Grade social studies focuses more on history, politics, and economics in exploring China, Africa, and the Middle East. The 8th Grade course returns to the western tradition by devoting a year to European history, with particular attention to systems of government, revolutions, and change over time.
We value engaging, relevant, interdisciplinary experiences to support the development of number sense and reasoning skills. We emphasize a conceptual approach, focusing on making connections and developing deeper understandings rather than rote memorization, but we strive to balance that with adequate practice to allow students to be able to efficiently apply algorithms to solve problems. Our curriculum is built on national standards set by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. Through activities that include peer partnering, direct-teacher instruction and personal accountability, students develop solid computational skills, curiosity for questioning, and confidence as learners. As students progress through the curriculum, they begin using graphing calculators to handle more complex conventional algorithms, while building a visual foundation for abstract concepts.
The sixth, seventh, and eighth grade science program continues to build each student’s scientific literacy and conceptual understanding of science ideas. Guided by the Framework for K-12 Science Education and the STEM initiative, this integrated program is designed to address areas identified as essential in science instruction — the nature of science, mathematics, technology, the physical setting, the living environment, the human organism, human society, the designed world, the mathematical world, historical perspectives, common themes and habits of mind. Toward this end the curriculum provides ample opportunity to work directly with science phenomena while integrating technology as well as the nature and history of science.
Middle School Latin is grammar and reading intensive. The students learn the plethora of vocabulary and, eventually read stories in the textbook. Throughout the year, students are encouraged to write stories in Latin, translate their favorite children’s story into Latin, and respond to reading passage in Latin. Additionally, Latin students participate in an online discussion of Books 1-12 of Homer’s Odyssey and explore the rise and fall of the Roman Republic and the achievements of Augustus, Rome’s first emperor. Through the study of Latin, students become aware of the cultural legacy of the Romans and the Latin language’s importance across barriers of time and place along with its influence on science, literature, art, law, religion, and philosophy from antiquity to the present day.
The French curriculum focuses on communication as the primary goal. Receptive language (listening and reading) and expressive language (speaking and writing) are learned using the immersion approach. French C builds upon the basic comprehension and production skills acquired in French A and B and delves further into the nuances of the French language. In French C, students fine tune their listening and reading skills as well as gain a beginning mastery of speaking and writing skills. Students continue to make every effort to speak and to think only in French once the threshold of the classroom is crossed and continue to use all their senses and multiple intelligences through role-play, dialogue, poetry, song, movement, video, food, realia magazines, and books towards the goal of fluency. Eighth grade Holland Hall French students have the possibility of experiencing French culture first-hand through an exchange program with Tulsa’s sister city of Amiens, France. A select group of eighth graders undergo a ‘total’ immersion experience as they live with French host families and attend a private school in northern France. Shortly after their arrival back in the U.S., these students then welcome their French correspondents to the Holland Hall community and to the American way of life.
Students enrollment in Spanish depends on past experience with the language. Spanish instruction at Holland Hall aims to make language learning a fun and meaningful experience while instilling an awareness of, and an interest in, other cultures. A variety of teaching approaches address all learning styles while actively involving students as much as possible. There is a strong emphasis on oral communication. New vocabulary is introduced without reference to the written word using only Spanish in conjunction with movements, pictures, props, and role-play. Students discover grammatical patterns and the meanings of new words by matching visual clues with what they hear and experience. They work with written Spanish only after they have become comfortable with the spoken word. Culture, geography, and history of Spanish-speaking countries are frequently integrated into lessons. Each year there is a service learning travel opportunity available for Spanish students.
Enrichment programs are integral components of the 6th, 7th, and 8th Grade curriculums. Fine Arts programs include Band, Choir, Drama, Photography, Strings, and Visual Arts. Religious Education and Wellness programs are important elements as well. Academic Bowl, Dutch Buzz, MathCounts, Student Leadership, and other club activities are integral elements to the program. Before and after school programs are also available.
Holland Hall’s competitive sports program begins in7th Grade. In lieu of physical education, all students attend practice during the school day. There is a non-competitive option offered all three seasons. Competitive options offered include Baseball, Basketball, Cross Country, Dance, Field Hockey, Football, Soccer, Softball, Tennis, Track, and Volleyball.
Balloon Launch, Brain Dissection, Dances (7th/8th Grade), Holiday Dinner/Dance (8th Grade), MS Play/Musical, Ocean Museum, School Out of Doors (SOOD), and cultural field trips.