Academics: Curriculum Vision, Performance Assessments

Du Bois Regional Middle School

Program of Studies:  Curriculum by Grade 2016-2017

Curriculum Vision

Monument Valley Middle school facilitates learning through a balanced and varied curriculum which stimulates intellectual interests, requires active participation, and enables positive contribution to society and  employs curriculum and instructional methods which: 

  •    Reflect specific, clearly stated, rigorous goals for each grade level and course which smoothly transition between grade levels. 
  •    Incorporate advancements in technology to ensure mastery of academic content and acquisition of essential life skills.
  •    Strategically integrate differentiated instruction and Response to Intervention (RTI) to meet the needs and interests of students at all stages of learning in each subject.    Result from collaborative efforts among teachers to connect and integrate curriculum as well as assess data and address gaps in students’ knowledge.
  •    Utilize the full range of time and school resources provided during each period of instruction throughout the academic year.
  •  Allow for creative and non-traditional approaches to instructional delivery within the boundaries of professionalism and safe, appropriate conduct which serves as a foundation for rigorous and engaging
  • curriculum and instruction.

See full documents below, or follow links for specific Academics documents:


Academics Overview

Program of Studies Performance Assessments

ELA Common Writing Assessment Rubric 5-6

ELA Common Assessment Rubric 7-8

Math Common Assessment Rubric


 Fifth Grade Curriculum Overview

 Fifth grade represents an important transition year for students.  In order to prepare students for the middle school experience, the fifth grade program is departmental in design in which students experience working with more than one teacher in curriculum areas.  Teachers provide a safe and structured learning environment to help students develop the social, emotional, and academic skills necessary for middle school success.  Our goal is for students to feel confident and capable in their abilities, build important organizational skills, and accept more responsibility for their own learning.

Language Arts

Fifth grade students read both literature and informational text on a variety of subjects. They continue to practice the foundational reading skills learned in previous grades, but the emphasis in fifth grade is on students’ comprehension of narrative and informational texts. Students read texts and use comprehension strategies to compare, contrast, and integrate information from the texts. They analyze how structure, point of view, visual elements, and figurative language contribute to the meaning or tone of texts. As their skills deepen, students identify main themes of text, determine how evidence and reasons support the theme, and draw inferences or conclusions supported by details from the text. In their writing, students group related information logically and use narrative techniques to develop the story line or characters. They revise, edit, and rewrite compositions and try new approaches to improve their writing. Students conduct research projects that provide them with practice in gathering information, using print and digital sources, and summarizing information in notes.

Social Studies

In fifth grade social studies, students will explore early human beginnings. They will learn about the capabilities each species developed which improved their chances of survival. Students also learn about primary sources, timelines and the relative distance between events, and they will create a personal timeline. These skills are embedded in the study of early civilizations of Mesopotamia and Egypt. We will learn to identify the traits of civilizations and how these civilizations developed. We will explore the political, religious, and social characteristics of each. We will also explore the influence these civilizations had on our present day world. Students will be conducting research and writing simple research papers on one facet of a civilization. This will culminate in an exhibition of their hard work!

Current events will also be part of the curriculum through the use of Time for Kids and other periodical texts. Students will be asked to gather information about people and places that connect to the curriculum. This information will be compiled and used by the students to write paragraphs which answer basic questions about that topic.


Science in the 5th grade is a very hands on inquiry based program. We begin with the scientific process and explore the steps that scientist go through to problem solve. The first major unit is animal behavior and classification. During this unit we use meal worms to discover how animals use their senses to survive in their natural environment. Students also learn to write lab reports and come up with good thinking questions about the data they have recorded. They will create their own defining questions and then test their ideas. This unit then culminates in creating a field guide about a local animal that they have researched.

We will also be doing a plant unit where we learn the major functions of a plant and how changing one variable can affect how it thrives and grows.

Simple machines are also a major focus. The students learn about the six simple machines and then create a machine that helps them do work .This unit also has a technology component.

The final unit is the MCAS review unit. In this unit we do a variety of activities that include magnetism, weather, solar system, light, sound and rocks.


Instructional time in grade five focuses on developing fluency to add, subtract, multiply and divide with fractions, extending division to 2-digit divisors and integrating decimal fractions so students understand decimal operations to hundredths, and the development of an understanding of volume.   Grade five students practice making sense of math problems and persevere in solving them.  At the beginning of the year, classroom expectations are established to encourage all students to share their math knowledge through conjectures regarding mathematical procedures.  Students use concrete models and illustrations to solve real world problems and use clear and accurate representations of their strategies.


Units of Study:

·     Multiplication and Volume with Whole Numbers

·     Division with Whole Numbers/Order of Operations

·     Place Value System/Addition and Subtraction with Decimals

·     Addition and Subtraction with Fractions

·     Multiplication and Division with Decimals

·     Multiplication and Division with Fractions

·     2-D Shapes and Coordinate Geometry

Differentiation and Support

     Fifth grade classes are differentiated to help each student achieve their potential.  All classroom teachers provide multiple opportunities for different learning styles.   Fifth grade is committed to success and engagement for all students, which comes from a strong curriculum, solid instructional methods, a focus on community and authentic relationships with each student.

Sixth Grade Curriculum Overview

 Sixth grade is an exciting year for students at Monument Valley.  Students are a year into middle school and are learning to be independent thinkers and learners.  Teachers strive to help students make connections across curricular areas to provide experiences that stimulate learning in all developmental areas – physical, social, emotional and intellectual – through an integrated approach to learning.  Our goal for their sixth grade experience is to have them take responsibility as for their own learning and ask important questions about the world.

Language Arts

Students read and analyze a wide range of literature from different times and cultures, with an increasing emphasis on analyzing informational text on grade level topics in all sixth-grade subject areas.  The emphasis in sixth grade is on students’ comprehension of complex narrative and informational texts.  Students read two or more texts on a topic and use a variety of comprehension strategies to compare, contrast, and integrate information from the texts.  They analyze how structure, point of view, visual elements, and figurative language contribute to the meaning or tone of texts.  As their analysis skills deepen, students can identify key individual events and details and use them as evidence to support their analysis and to distinguish claims that are supported by and author from those that are not.  Additional analysis skills call for students to compare and contrast one author’s presentation of events with another interpretation.  They learn academic language and domain-specific vocabulary through their reading and use it in their writing and speaking.

In their writing, students in sixth grade develop more sophisticated skills, such as using evidence form a variety of sources to support their purpose or conclusion.  They revise, edit, and rewrite their compositions and learn to try new approaches and use technology to improve their writing product.  Students conduct research projects that provide them with practice in gathering information, using print and digital sources, and paraphrasing and summarizing information.  Integrating reading and writing across the different content areas is emphasized through the addition of the standards for literacy in social studies and science.

Social Studies

Sixth graders study the political and physical geography and embed five major concepts: location, place, human interaction with the environment, movement, and regions.  Students study the major pre-Columbian civilizations in the New World; the 15th and 16th century European explorations around the world, in the western hemisphere, and in North America in particular; the earliest settlements in North America; and the political, economic, and social development of the English colonies in the 17th and 18th centuries.


Science students in the sixth grade will continue their exploration and discovery of the world without and the world within.  Recognizing that science is a way of thinking about the world, we lead students to sharpen their powers of observation, to re-awaken their curiosity, and to forge new skills of analysis.  The course is oriented toward experiencing phenomena in the fields of earth and space science, biology, physical science and some technology/engineering.


In grade 6, instructional time should focus on four critical areas: (1) connecting ratio and rate to whole number multiplication and division, and using concepts of ratio and rate to solve problems; (2) completing understanding of division of fractions and extending the notion of number to the system of rational numbers, which includes negative numbers; (3) writing, interpreting, and using expressions and equations; and (4) developing understanding of statistical thinking.

Differentiation and Support

The sixth grade curriculum is differentiated for students so they can get the most out of each unit. Each classroom teacher has their own unique approach to teaching which provides multiple opportunities for different learning styles.  As a team we are committed to success and engagement for all students, which comes from a strong curriculum, solid instructional methods, a focus on community and authentic relationships with each student.

 Seventh Grade Curriculum Overview

Seventh grade is an opportunity for students to mature and take on challenges that they have not experienced in previous years. Responsibility and organization are important themes in middle school. In the seventh grade teachers help students develop these qualities both socially and academically. Seventh grade continues to help develop an integrated approach to learning through a variety of interdisciplinary units. Our goal for an amazing seventh grade experience is to help students build the skills they need to become confident and success life-long learners.

Language Arts

In seventh grade, students learn how to become better readers and writers through the study of literature. They understand that they are both readers and writers who interpret what they read and control what they write. Students become increasingly able to recognize excellence in the literature that they read and utilize authors’ differing styles and approach to writing to enhance their own craft. Through the use of writer’s notebook, students are able to try a new approach to writing and understand their individual strengths and the aspects of their writing that require improvement.

Through theme based units and independent reading, students focus on an integration of three main areas: oral communication, the meaning and structure of literature, and writing. Students are asked to explore a variety of genres both inside and outside of the classroom and often times are delighted to discover a new genre that appeals to them. As a result, the sense of discovery and excitement for reading powerful literature encourages them to improve their own writing, reading and independence towards learning.

Social Studies

Social Studies in seventh grade builds on the knowledge and skills of a student’s previous years. American History is taught in both seventh and eighth grade so there is a unique opportunity to expand learning. Ongoing communication within the department ensures that students will begin their study at the appropriate place in history. The goal of social studies in seventh grade is to not only learn about the past but to become aware as global citizens of the events that are going on around us today. We start our year with a brief review of map and geography skills and then move into a unit on archaeology. This unit provides students the “tools” to continue to research historical events that have changed over the years due to the discovery of new evidence. Topics that will be investigated include Colonial America, The French and Indian War, Causes of the American Revolution and Revolutionary America.


We continue with our spiral curriculum philosophy. The start of the year is a review of measurement (metrics) with a focus on inter-unit conversions and use of measuring tools. There is a progression in introducing the Scientific Method with an emphasis on independent, dependent, control and constant variables. This unit will take us into the first of our four main units.

The four main units are Inside Earth (Geology), Chemical Building Blocks (Chemistry), Astronomy (Earth and Space Science) and Cells and Heredity (Meiosis, DNA, Cell Organelles and Respiration). During these units we will incurporate seven Pre-AP labs during the year. These labs will help in differentiating instruction, critical thinking and to meet each of our students learning styles. There are also long-term projects (earthquake proof buildings and balloon-powered cars) that students will also be assigned.  

There will also be an emphasis on more writing components throughout the year. This emphasis will directed with a persuasive essay directed toward the Space Race, an Astronomy research project and detailed conclusion writing from different lab reports. The Space Race and Astronomy research project will be in collaboration with the Seventh Grade English department and our Librarian.


Seventh grade math is taught by a team of teachers comprised of a regular education teacher, a special education teacher, title I teachers, and paraprofessionals.  The curriculum uses the Common Core seventh grade math standards as a guide and is supported by Pre-AP math ideology, the Connected Math Program, and other professional resources.  There is an emphasis on learning and applying skills, writing using rubrics, and developing and enhancing abstract thinking skills.  Curriculum is differentiated based on student need.

Units of Study:

·     Data Distributions

·     Accentuate the Negative

·     Stretching & Shrinking

·     Shapes & Designs

·     Filling & Wrapping

·     Comparing & Scaling

·     Moving Straight Ahead

·     Comparisons & Predictions

 Foreign Language

Monument Valley offers a two-year, honors elective foreign language experience for eligible students in either French or Spanish in Grades 7 and 8.  Upon successful completion of the sequential two-year program, students are awarded one high school credit, and normally move on to level II in Grade 9.  Highly proficient students may be recommended for level III.  Foreign language students at the middle school are immersed in an environment conducive to natural language acquisition. In contrast to grammar-based language programs, communication is at the core of every lesson.

Listening and speaking are the major focus in the beginning. Structure and support are given to students as they are immersed in the Spanish or French culture and language.  As students become more proficient with oral skills, increasingly challenging reading and writing activities are introduced as students read and write stories and skits in the target language.

French and Spanish at Monument Valley are not text-book based courses.  Teachers are trained in and practice the methodology of TPRS (Teaching Proficiency Through Reading and Storytelling) based on the research of Stephen Krashen and his Natural Approach to second language acquisition.   DBM foreign language teachers incorporate hands-on and multimedia activities into their lessons.  The classes are media-rich, highly interactive, and are taught in the target language from day one.

By the end of the 8th grade, most students reach Novice-High or Intermediate-Low levels of proficiency according to the ACTFL (American Council of Foreign Language Teachers) proficiency guidelines.

Differentiation and Support

The seventh grade curriculum is differentiated for students so they can get the most out of their learning experience. Each classroom teacher has a unique teaching style which provides opportunities for different learning styles. As a team we are committed to success and engagement for all students, which comes from a strong curriculum, solid instructional methods, and an awareness and appreciation for each other.

 Eighth Grade Curriculum Overview


Congratulations, your student has reached the top of the heap! This is a pivotal year for your student; Eighth grade is the bridge between the middle and high school, between childhood and young adulthood.

Students will be expected to take responsibility for their learning, and to see that their educational journey is not just a completion of a list of tasks, but an experience in which they will broaden their understanding of the content material and themselves as learners.

Language Arts

The eighth grade language arts experience this year will be founded upon thinking.Students will be challenged to think while they read. Not just about what is written, but why it is written. Author’s message and purpose will be examined closely in everything we read from The Diary of Anne Frank to the OP-ED page of the New York Times. Students will be challenged to showcase their thinking both orally and, perhaps more importantly, through their writing. They will make declarative statements about their analyses of literature, and they will bolster their stance with textual evidence.

Students will also write, edit, and revise their work and the work of their peers. They will write narrative pieces, opinion pieces, memoirs, poems, and informational pieces. They will demonstrate their thinking while they experiment with voice, style, and punctuation. Students will be required to provide feedback to their peers’ writing. And, finally, the students will be putting their writing out into the open to be read.

Social Studies

The eighth grade history curriculum is the continuation of the previous year’s work in early American History.  Students will open the year with a review of the consequences of  the American Revolution.  Considerable time will be spent investigating the origins and design of our federal system of government.  We will use that knowledge to evaluate the policies of our early presidents.  Students will then research the rapid social, economic, and physical growth of our nation, closing the year with the Civil War and Reconstruction unit.


Science in eighth grade is the culmination of a three year spiral in our curriculum.  The focus of our studies will be on applying knowledge gained in previous years to more complex natural phenomena, while finalizing a student’s understanding of some core concepts, including:

·     Physical Science – energy transfer in systems (chemical and physical) and motion

·     Life Science – heredity, evolution, and anatomy

·     Earth Science – volcanic activity and earth mapping

·     Space Science – solar system and stars

Significant time will be spent on labs and activities that challenge students to think critically about both concepts and process, educates them on how to be good investigators and make inferences, and strengthens their abilities to make decisions about science, technology and society.

Time will also be spent developing a student’s ability to use and apply the scientific method through the use of writing assignments, formal written lab reports, and participation in science fair activities.  These activities will help to hone a student’s ability to perform science in preparation for more formal lab sciences in high school.


Instructional time will focus on three critical areas: (1) formulating and reasoning about expressions and equations, including modeling data with a linear equation, and solving linear equations and systems of linear equations; (2) grasping the concept of a function and using functions to describe quantitative relationships; (3) analyzing two- and three-dimensional space and figures using distance, angle, similarity, and congruence, and understanding and applying the Pythagorean Theorem.

Foreign Language

Monument Valley offers a two-year, honors elective foreign language experience for eligible students in either French or Spanish in Grades 7 and 8.  Upon successful completion of the sequential two-year program, students are awarded one high school credit, and normally move on to level II in Grade 9.  Highly proficient students may be recommended for level III.  Foreign language students at the middle school are immersed in an environment conducive to natural language acquisition. In contrast to grammar-based language programs, communication is at the core of every lesson.

Listening and speaking are the major focus in the beginning. Structure and support are given to students as they are immersed in the Spanish or French culture and language.  As students become more proficient with oral skills, increasingly challenging reading and writing activities are introduced as students read and write stories and skits in the target language.

French and Spanish at Monument Valley are not text-book based courses.  Teachers are trained in and practice the methodology of TPRS (Teaching Proficiency Through Reading and Storytelling) based on the research of Stephen Krashen and his Natural Approach to second language acquisition.   DBM foreign language teachers incorporate hands-on and multimedia activities into their lessons.  The classes are media-rich, highly interactive, and are taught in the target language from day one.

By the end of the 8th grade, most students reach Novice-High or Intermediate-Low levels of proficiency according to the ACTFL (American Council of Foreign Language Teachers) proficiency guidelines.

Differentiation and Support

The eighth grade curriculum is differentiated for students so they can get the most out of each unit. We will assess students’ understanding of the curriculum frequently both formally and informally (this could be as simple as overhearing two students discuss the procedures in which the solved a math problem).

Each classroom teacher is dedicated to moving students forward. We consider the growth potential for each individual student and are dedicated to seeing each individual student achieve growth across the curriculum.  

We are committed to creating a community for the 8th grade team. We are proud of our rigorous yet differentiated curriculum. We are excited to facilitate positive connections not only between our students and their eighth grade community but also the community of the school as a whole.

Exploratory Curriculum Overview


Fifth 5th Grade Art encompasses an exploration of art methods and materials. Art Elements and principles of design are emphasized in units.  In sixth grade students increase their technical skills, while thinking critically and creatively about their work.   Seventh graders will develop an understanding of communication through art, art response, and art exploration.   In the eighth grade students will develop their capacity for imaginative and reflective thinking. Rigor in technical skill and creativity will be encouraged.


The Design program is a new sequence of learning experiences at Monument Valley.  The program seeks to introduce students to a way of thinking that is becoming the way to think in the 21st century.  Students work in traditional media such as wood, paper and cardboard to learn about the design process.  They move to visual representations of their ideas and plans on paper and on the computer.  The sequence of learning activities culminates in contemporary applications of coding and exporting of ideas.  Older students work on synthesizing all of this technology into integrated projects.  An example is the Future Cities project which shows students how to envision a future where humanity lives primarily in megalopolises and needs to figure out how to feed itself.  The program compliments the visual arts curriculum, but also connects to science and other disciplines.  The vision for the program is open up the learning environment to develop a MakerSpace that can be used by students when they need to solve problems, design solutions and have an open workshop to try out ideas using a variety of technologies.

Foreign Language

The fifth and sixth grade Foreign Language Program provides all students with language learning opportunities in French and Spanish as part of the Exploratory Program.  Students in both grades study French for one quarter and Spanish for one quarter.  Classes are highly interactive with a focus on the culture of the target language. The goal of the fifth and sixth grade Foreign Language experience is to provide students with a positive experience in a nurturing environment where students feel comfortable learning a second (or third) language in anticipation of more formal language study in grades seven and eight.  Research studies indicate that early study of a second language results in cognitive benefits, gains in academic achievement, and increases self-esteem, creativity, and positive attitudes toward diversity. Fifth and sixth grade Foreign Language classes prepare students to begin developing functional skills in listening and speaking in French and Spanish.  The grade five and six classes also allow the Foreign Language teachers to get to know the students so that they are better able to assess which students will be eligible for formal language study in seventh grade.   By the end the grade six experience, most students have decided whether or not they are ready to sign up for French or Spanish as an honors elective in seventh grade.


In grades five and six, students have health for a quarter of the year.  In grade 5 we discuss Self-Esteem, Decision making, Tobacco Information, Media Influences, Refusal Skills and Communication skills. A curriculum called Life Skills is used.  In grade 6 we discuss, First Aid, Tobacco, Alcohol and Drug prevention using a curriculum from Project Northland called Slick Tracy and finally Puberty.

In grade 7 we discuss Stress, Nutrition, Drug Prevention using a curriculum from Project Northland called Amazing Alternatives and the Reproductive Systems.  In grade 8 we discuss Addictions, Relationships, Flirting, Sexual Harassment, Dating, that includes information on Pregnancy and Prevention of Pregnancy and STI’s.


The mission of the Monument Valley Library is to develop student researchers who will be competent in the key skills of selecting, evaluating, and processing information, and to provide access to a rich collection of information resources in all formats.   Our 5th graders take Library class for one marking period as part of the exploratory rotation.  Students learn about library organization and explore the content and effective use of magazines, non-fiction books, online encyclopedias, and the online catalog.  Through our collaborative, integrated instructional program, our librarian and our teaching staff deliver engaging projects in which our students investigate and create using a wide variety of print, electronic, and audio-visual resources.  Our 8th graders will graduate from DBM with the information skills they will need for high school. Our library supports curriculum-based and recreational reading with many selections of popular and classic novels, biographies and non-fiction titles, an annual bookfair, and two student bookclubs.

Physical Education

In fifth and sixth grade, physical education class meets every other day for the entire school year and students earn a Pass/Fail grade.  Students will continue to learn to analyze their performances in order to learn or improve a movement skill in a variety of sports and games. Students will also learn fitness concepts, participate in a variety of fitness development exercises, assess their personal fitness, compare their scores to a health related standard, and set goals for improvement or maintenance.  Working in small groups, students will learn to accept personal differences (maturity levels, physical differences, physical abilities, cultures, and gender differences).  Units of instruction include playground rules and games, fitness pre- and post-testing, jump rope, create-a-game, soccer, volleyball, and  basketball; cooperative games; dance.

In Seventh and Eighth grade, the students continue to development movement skill combinations and an understanding of game strategy; the assessment and maintenance of physical fitness to improve health and performance, the requisite knowledge of physical fitness concepts, principles and strategies; and the application of psychological and sociological concepts, including self-responsibility, positive social interaction, and group dynamics, in the learning and performance of physical activity. Units of activity include: physical fitness (activities and assessment, concepts, development and maintenance); cooperative activities, team sports such as team handball, ultimate frisbee, basketball, volleyball and flag football; racket sports such as badminton or tennis; dance and gymnastics. Students attend PE for 90 of the 180 school days and earn a numerical grade that is factored into their overall GPA.


Fifth grade students will use the instruments of the Orchestra as a basis for their 10 week study.  They will learn about the families of the orchestra, the similarities and the differences.  They will study famous compositions to determine how composers use instruments in their work.   In collaboration with the librarian, they will use technology to research questions about their chosen composer and create a culminating project to show what they have learned. 

Sixth Grade music students will integrate language arts and social studies with the music curriculum and develop a thorough understanding of pitch, rhythm and beat.   In seventh grade, students will work to obtain optimum performance skills on keyboards and guitars which is individualized and adjusted to appropriate skill levels of each student.  The eighth grade music classes will identify and apply rhythmic notation, pitch, meter, dynamics, form, tempo, timbre, and harmony to their original compositions. Students will develop a thorough understanding of the effect and influence of music from the United States to the world. Students will continue to be introduced to the many opportunities open in the music business.

 Academic Intervention and Support overview

Reading Intervention and Support program

Individualized programs are created for each student receiving a reading intervention based on the student’s performance in the areas of comprehension, fluency, and accuracy.  All students read text at their instructional level. New academic vocabulary is pre-taught and students are encouraged to use context clues to learn new words on their own.   Students apply word-solving strategies learned through weekly word-study lessons. Comprehension is measured with follow-up higher-level thinking questions to ensure understanding of the text.   Students are encouraged to employ metacognitive strategies like visualizing, connecting, inferring and questioning. Writing and oral discussion are integrated into lessons as well. Graphic organizers are often used to scaffold comprehension and to provide structure for writing about reading.  Students are assessed regularly to ensure progress and measure growth.

Mathematics Intervention and Support Program

Our goal for a student’s intervention experience is to fill the gaps and to build the pre-requisite skills and confidence necessary to achieve in the regular mathematics classroom.  We are committed to success and engagement for all students through a differentiated curriculum for each student so they can receive the appropriate instructional skill level and to provide independent practice so each student grows.   The intervention teachers are dedicated to providing a safe environment and teaching skills and concepts in multiple ways to support students learning styles.  Our goal is for students in fifth and sixth grade to develop number concept, number sense, and place value by the end of sixth grade so they are ready for the study of Pre-Algebra in seventh grade.  Students in seventh and eighth grade are working on developing their conceptual knowledge and problem solving skills to enhance their ability to effectively apply their knowledge of mathematical tools.

Academic Support Class

Academic Support Class is designed to provide seventh and eighth grade students with a positive environment for the development of personal academic success. In addition to providing time for students to organize and complete schoolwork, it also provides instructional strategies in time management, goal setting, studying effectively and viewing Edline to monitor academic progress. Students are expected to complete work, use time well during class, be prepared for class, keep track of academic progress and fill in an agenda (paper or electronic device) for all assignments.

Enrichment Program

Working within the data supported intervention and support framework, academically advanced students needs are addressed through appropriate programming, resources, and special programs.  Individual students, groups of students, as well as whole grade levels are the targeted groups for delivery of this facet of the intervention model.  Students are provided with opportunities for advanced academic work and alternate programming that best meets their needs. Support for classroom teachers is also provided through implementation of differentiated instruction strategies, accessing advanced resources for classroom use, and arranging for alternative individual or group work through co-teaching and parallel teaching models.

English Language Learner program

The fifth, sixth, and seventh grade English Language Learner (ELL) students at DBM get varied ELL services/support according to their needs.  For students who are nearing exit status from the ELL program the work is focused in texts like Writer’s Express Skills Book – Editing and Proofreading Practice.  The goal of using this book is to further refine and advance the student’s ability in written English while at the same time challenging him or her as a reader of well written examples of text.  This book, by its nature, teaches language structures which are academic and higher level and which will build up the student’s English language facility.  For students who are still in an intermediate range as English Language Learners, ELL specific instruction is focused on building up their academic language and vocabulary using the text Newcomers.    Upper intermediate students also receive instruction in writing and reading using the text Writer’s Express Skills Book as described above.  In addition to specific ELL focused work; ELL students are also given additional classroom support in particular academic areas like math, ELA, Social Studies, or reading.  In that case, the ELL teacher focuses on enhancing and in some cases clarifying the instruction that the student is receiving in his or her regular classroom setting.

 The Therapeutic Learning Center

The Therapeutic Learning Center (TLC) provides direct academic instruction, academic and social skills support, life skills instruction, and inclusion support to learning disabled students. It is also a homeroom for some students.  The TLC, staffed with educators specializing in a wide range of learning disabilities, is a dynamic and flexible program that welcomes those students for whom full inclusion is not currently feasible and those for whom a significantly separate classroom is too restrictive, and those in between. Most of our students participate in a number of general education classes and specials, such as P.E., art, computer, foreign language, and music, and come to the TLC for additional support or a “home base.” Some spend more time with the program’s educators in direct one-on-one or small group instruction. Some students come in for one period to learn important and practical life skills.  Because each of our students is different we customize the educational experience for each student. We have a flexible space that allows us to re-configure as necessary to meet student needs. Our overriding goal is to guide each of our students to the most independent, inclusive and successful school and life experience possible.

Program of Studies: Performance Assessments

June 2016

At Monument Valley Middle School, performance assessments frame our curriculum and define our courses, merging cognitive skill development with the most important content knowledge that students need to be prepared for college and career. Our performance assessments enable students to demonstrate their ability to integrate and use the knowledge, skills, and strategies learned from a unit of study in meaningful, real world activities.

When students are engaged in meaningful work connected to their lives, they exceed our expectations.  Assessments are most valuable when they are not simply measures of what we have done, but of what more we have to do. Quality assessments give us insights that help us better understand learning and teaching. We use those insights to shift and improve our approaches. We never depend on just one form assessment to understand a student. Instead, we use multiple data points, ranging from tests to one-on-one conversations, to get a complete picture of each student’s holistic needs.

Performance Assessment Features:

Real-World Scenario: Students assume roles in a scenario that is based in the “real world” and contains the types of problems they might need to solve in the future. The more the students can imagine themselves in the scenario, the more engaged they are likely to be.

Authentic, Complex Process: The task reflects the complexity and ambiguity of real-world challenges, where there might not be a right or wrong answer, where solutions might not be obvious or given, where information might be conflicting or partial, and where there might be competing frameworks or positions from which to view the situation.

Higher-Order Thinking: The task requires students to engage in critical thinking, analytic reasoning, and problem solving in order to arrive at a judgement or decision.

Authentic Performance: The product or process the students create reflects what someone assuming that role would produce.

Transparent Evaluation Criteria: The learning outcomes drive the creation of the task. They and the evaluation criteria and rubrics are made clear to students, in part so they can evaluate their own work and in part so they can get diagnostic feedback on their strengths and weaknesses.


Grade Five Performance Assessments


Persuasive Essay on Animal Rights – Students will read widely about animal rights issues and choose a topic of interest to write about persuasively.

Ancient Civilization Exhibit – Students will choose an ancient civilization studied during the year and then will research a general category (ie. religion, architecture) for that culture. Students write a brief research paper, create a display and a physical representation of that topic. During the exhibition students will answer questions and articulate their knowledge of that topic.


Simple Machine Final Challenge – Students think about how one or more simple machines are used in daily life and then create a physical project and written component that show how it makes a job easier. This can be in a variety of forms including models, videos, diorama poster, etc.… Students will also do an oral presentation to show what they’ve learned.

Improving a Factory Sub-System – Students need to know about the Engineering Design process that includes, Ask, Imagine, Plan, Create, and Improve, as well as have knowledge of simple machines.  Students will create a loading dock sub-system that includes at least two simple machines by going through all the above steps. Students work in groups and then present their final project to the class.

Lab Report on Animal Behavior – Students will complete a variety of stimulus and response labs on how animals respond to certain stimuli and why it is important to their survival.  Students will share the information gathered in a well thought out and organized lab report that includes:  A defining Question, the hypothesis, materials, procedure, results and conclusion.

Design Your Own Mealworm Experiment  – Students design and plan an experiment that tests a single variable using questions and data that demonstrates how response to stimuli can effect an animal’s survival.  Students will present their findings on a poster that demonstrates their design, their new discoveries, and what they learned from the process.

Creation of a Field Guide – Students will create a field guide specific to a vertebrate that live in Western Massachusetts. This guide, which can be done electronically or freehand, should include the animal’s name, description, food, habitat and adaptations.


What’s the Better Buy? – Students will respond to the following:  A new amusement park has just opened in Great Barrington and you want to make sure you get as many rides as possible for your money. The park has two cost plans for visitors. Each plan includes a fee for admission and an additional charge for each ride. It’s up to you to decide which plan works best for you.

Check This – Students will respond to the following real life problem which reinforces the concepts of decimals taught throughout the unit:  You are hoping that you will be able to purchase an Xbox One for @499.50, so you are taking over managing your family’s checkbook for two weeks. During this time period you will make deposits, make withdrawals, and write checks in order to pay various bills. Your family account will begin with a balance of $600.00.

The King’s Floor Plan – Students will be given the task of designing a house for the King. The King has a specific budget and requests that must be met. Specific rules will need to be followed in order to please the King.

Grade Six Performance Assessments

Language Arts

Flash Fiction Writing Piece – After studying the elements of fiction and flash fiction, students will create their own work of fiction that is under five hundred words.

Two-Voice Poem – This performance task gives students a chance to demonstrate their understanding of the characters and issues of survival presented in A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park. Students will be crafting and presenting a two-voice poem incorporating the views and experiences of the two main characters, Nya and Salva, as well as factual information about Southern Sudan and the environmental and political challenges facing the people of Sudan during and after the Second Sudanese Civil War. Students will have read the novel and various informational texts to gather a rich collection of textual details from which they can select to incorporate into their poems.

Overcoming Adversity Informational Pamphlet – After reading Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper, students will research a particular type of adversity to determine what it is, what causes it, what the symptoms are, and what the treatment is, and adopt the role of a health professional informing middle school students about the subject of their research.  Students will be presenting their pamphlets to their peers as well as teachers. The goal of the presentation will be to inform the audience and make them aware of this type of adversity through an informative pamphlet as well as an oral presentation.

Civil Rights Boycott – After learning about the many types of non-violence that were used to create change during the Civil Rights Movement, students will choose a product or service they feel strongly should be boycotted and create a persuasive writing piece on that topic.  In addition, students will present an oral speech as well as a multi-media presentation to their classmates to convince them to join their cause.

Utopian Community – After reading The Giver by Lois Lowry, students will create and outline their own utopian societies, focusing on the areas of people (culture), government, economy, and climate, and will adopt the role of a founding member of their own utopian community whose job it is to persuade their classmates to join their community.  Students will create a visual representation (poster, powerpoint, trifold, etc.) for each of the four main areas of their utopias. The representation should contain no words (other than any incidental words that are found within the images they choose) The students will also create a detailed outline for each section of the collage explaining the significance of every image and what it represents with regard to its place in the utopia. They will then present their utopias to the class and give a three to four minute presentation explaining the main tenets and fundamental make-up of their community, highlighting what makes it a utopia.

Social Studies

Maya Culture – students will create a Maya Culture Project.  Options are open for students

Tenochtitlan – Students will research and compose an informative writing piece on the takeover of Tenochtitlan

Columbian Exchange – Students will participate in a class debate on the consequences of the Columbian Exchange

Explorers – Students will research an explorer and write a biography on their findings.


Bio Blitz – Students learn about the concept of biodiversity, and each class chooses a 10×10 meter plot around the school yard, which they think will have the most biodiversity. Specialists in plant and fungi groups collect, sort and describe samples from their plot. The entire class contributes to the collection of animal observations and evidence. Students create a mural sized infographic to visually represent the difference species and explain the process. Select students will present their findings to the 5th grade classes.

Cell Analogy Project – After researching and observing plant and animal cells, students work in teams of 2 or 4, depending on the class, to create a model or poster of a cell. Students must know about the function, appearance and placement of cell organelles so they can accurately compare them to a dissimilar system of their choice (e.g. a cell is like a kingdom). Final products will be presented for display our room and the library.

Pendulum Labs – Students will complete two labs based on the motion of pendulums. The first lab will be structured for maximum support, so that students know what is required for a 6th grade lab report. The second lab changes one variable of the students’ choice and allows for practice with the lab report format. Students need to know how to perform and record each step of a lab report: heading, question, hypothesis, procedure, data and analysis, and conclusion.

Engineering Challenge – After experimenting and learning about forces and bridges, students either work on building a model of a tower or bridge depending on the class.  Tower projects work in teams of 4 (architect, engineer, CEO, and accountant) to design, budget for and build a scale model of a sports tower.  Students need to know how to build a structure to withstand the maximum weight and wind, as well as how to keep their job under budget. Towers are tested and reviewed by the class.  Bridge projects work in teams of 2 following the E.I.E. Bridge challenge to build a stable, cost effective bridge that a barge can sail under.

Layers of the Earth – Students research the layers of the earth and movement of heat energy through reading, videos and labs. Working alone, students create a model of the earth’s layers that reflects the correct proportions. Each model must also demonstrate an understanding of the properties of each layer.

Non-Fiction Books – Students research a science topic of their choice. Using their notes and science specific vocabulary, students write and illustrate their own non-fiction book to share with younger Muddy Brook students. They need to know the format and elements of non-fiction writing and how to put their research into an understandable and engaging format.



Adoption Kits – Students will us Greatest Common Factors and Least Common Multiples and the related vocabulary to realize which Greatest Common Factor or Least Common Multiple is needed.

Pick a Number, Any Number – Students will create a story for numbers for division, need for common multiples, decimal places, etc.

Sweet Tooth – Students will write expressions that record operations with numbers and letters and apply properties of operations.

Want Ads – Students will measure unit rates, write equations, substitute for variables, and create and use graphs and tables.

What’s My Area – Students will measure length, area of triangles, and area of rectangles.


Grade Seven Performance Assessments

Language Arts

Flash Fiction – After studying the elements of fiction, and flash fiction students are asked to create their own piece of flash fiction (under 500 words).

Memoir – After reading Dahl’s memoir Boy, students write their own memoir. OR Write a persuasive essay/letter – Should corporal punishment have a place in education?

Socratic Seminar – After reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma, students will have a Socratic seminar in where they discuss which food system is best for our country.

Slam Poetry – Students will study slam poetry, write their own poem, and perform it for the class.

Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian – After reading Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, students will complete a project of their choice in groups.  Projects can include:  Reader’s Theater, Lost Scene, Socratic Seminar, Puppet Show, Song, Newspaper, Board Game, or News Broadcast.

Artifact Essay – While reading Chains, students will collect information for their final project, an artifact essay. Students will choose a character, and 3 artifacts to represent the character’s relationships, problems the character encountered, and significant event that affected the character.

Published Writing Pieces – Throughout the year, every other month. Students will create and publish a writing piece in a different genre.  By the end of the year, “At the end of the year, student’s portfolio must contain the following: 1 narrative piece the purpose of which is to entertain the reader, 1 expository piece the purpose of which is to present factual information, 1 persuasive piece the purpose of which is to examine a controversy, and 1 choice piece which can be any purpose.


Social Studies

Salem Witch Journals – Students research elements of the Salem witch trials, and then write their findings in the form of Journals from the time period. Students must have content knowledge of the Salem Witch trials and demonstrate reflective writing.

Colonial Brochures – Students research elements regarding the founding of the 13 original colonies, and ten create travel brochures for their colony. These brochures are then presented out in a Gallery Walk.

Boston Massacre Performance – Students will recreate the Boston Massacre Trials.

Tory/Patriot Newspaper Article – Students create a Newspaper article in response to the Declaration of Independence from a Tory/ Patriot Point of View.

Revolutionary War Battle Project – Students create a 3D project of a Revolutionary War battle.

Founding Fathers Biography – Write a Biography of a founding father/ mother.



Persuasive Essay – Students will create a research based essay in which they decide if the Space Race had a positive influence on the United States.

Variable Lab – Students will participate in two MMSI Labs regarding IV and DV with examples of control groups.

Earthquake Proof Building Project – Student will construct an earthquake-proof Building out of restricted materials with special emphasis on base-Isolation.

Solar System Lab Report – Students participate in a MMSI Lab on the planet sizes and distances.

Balloon Powered Car Project and Lab – Students will build a prototype based on a list of restricted materials the goal of which it to have the car travel at least five meters. When completed, students will complete a lab that will emphasize quantitative vs. qualitative analysis, graphing, acceleration, speed, velocity, IV, DV and control variables with a detailed version of their conclusion.



Ball Bounce Experiment – In this experiment, students will investigate how the height from which a ball is dropped is related to the height it bounces.

Debits and Credits – Students will use a check register to record debits and credits and calculate a running total balance.

Detective Activity – Students will record the name, height, and stride length of their classmates in meters.

Take the Ancient Greek Challenge – In this task, students will draw geometric shapes using a ruler and a protractor. The focus of this task is constructing triangles.

Plant Growing Experiment – In this experiment, students will investigate how the height a plant grows is related to the number of days the plant has been growing.

Probability – Is it Fair? – Students analyze the fairness of certain games by examining the probabilities of the outcomes. The explorations provide opportunities to predict results, play the games, and calculated probabilities.

What is a Unit Rate? – Students will develop an understanding of the unit rates associated with a proportional relationship. Students will also develop the ability to determine the appropriate rate to us in solving a problem and to use the corresponding unit rate to solve missing-value problems.

Shakespeare vs. Harry Potter – Students will analyze text from two periods of time to determine which author used longer words. Students will randomly sample given text from two pieces of literature.


French Grade 7

Lia et Babar Final Story Reading/Presentation – Students first read the story “Lia et Babar” out loud. Then, without referring to the text, students tell the story out loud in their own words.  Finally, students write out the story and create an alternate ending.

Dialogues/Skits – Students write and perform two versions of the same skit – one using familiar forms of address and one using formal forms of address.

Café Project – Students have a choice of writing a story, writing and performing a skit or creating a video based in a Café Setting.

School Schedule – Students write and orally present orally their daily schedule at DBM commenting on likes and dislikes as well as on one topic they learn about or one activity they do in each class.

Family Project – Students have a choice of creating a family tree that includes descriptive sentences, writing an essay, creating a slide presentation or making a video. In this project, student describe family members, real or imaginary.


Spanish Grade 7

El Muchacho Pastor Students read the “El Muchacho Pastor” story out loud, in Spanish, and translate each sentence to English. The next day, without referring to the text, students write the same story in their own words.  Finally, students write out a different story, using the same set of vocabulary words.

School Schedules – Students write and orally present their daily schedule at DBMS.  They tell what classes they have and at what time, comment on their likes and dislikes, and tell why they like or dislike each thing.

Coyote y Cuervo – Students write and perform skits using the target vocabulary.  They then write a different version of the story with an alternate ending.

Giving Directions – Students guide a blindfolded partner through an obstacle course, giving directions entirely in Spanish.

Family Project – Students create and present a family tree.  It may be either a slide presentation, a video, or a chart. They describe each family member, real or imaginary, and include descriptive sentences.


Grade Eight Performance Assessments


Language Arts

Personal Narrative (Memoir) – Students need to utilize their skills of writing with sensory details, authentic dialogue, and thought shots to effectively engage their readers in their memoirs.

Unit Test on Thinking About Literature – The test will require students to explicate a variety of samples of literature (short stories, non-fiction, and poetry) in order to find themes, symbolism, and irony.  Students will write their analyses of the literature in fully developed open responses.

Poetry Portfolio – Students will create three original works of poetry, demonstrating their ability to create iambic meter, assonance, consonance, alliteration, rhyme scheme, and onomatopoeia. Students will also write an in-depth analysis of a work of poetry, discussing the sound devices listed above and their impact on the poem’s message.

Literary Analysis Essay – Students will write a literary analysis essay on a novel based on the Holocaust

Newspaper Portfolio – Students will read newspaper articles (primarily from the NY Times) extensively. While reading, students will also hone skills at interviewing sources, recognizing bias in writing, parenthetical phrases (and proper punctuation), and research. With those skills, students will write a newspaper article about an issue at school.  Students will also be reading Op-Ed articles on a variety of topics (school starting times, homework debate, current political issues, bullying). While reading, students will focus on the importance of relevant and verifiable evidence for claims, including a counterclaim, and engaging tone and style, and a thoughtful and provocative conclusion/ending. The students will then write an Op-Ed piece on a school issue.

The Pearl – Students will analyze The Pearl with a focus on Greed and its impact and/or contribution to the subjugation of groups of people. The students will be combining art and literary analyses to create an astrological sign fitting for both Kino and Juana. Students will also create a visual presentation of two symbols for the novel as a whole.

Valley Notes Fahrenheit 451 – Students will create their own Sparknotes (Character Analysis, Major Themes, Notable Quotes, Plot Summary, Major Examples of Symbolism) for the novel Fahrenheit 451.


Social Studies

Presidential Research Project (Fakebook Page or Magazine Issue) – Students will pick a President from a predetermined list Will use a structured research template to record the classic research W’s for a law, foreign issue and domestic issue handled during this President’s term Classes will have a walkabout and create a timeline of significant events from each other’s assignments.

Jackson Report Card or Open Response – Students may pick assessment. Report card involves assessing Jackson’s actions as President and how he managed foreign, domestic, and ethical issues in office. The open response option requires students to defend whether Jackson deserves to be on the $20 bill based on his management of foreign, domestic, and ethical issues in office.
Go West Presentation – Students are placed in skill based groups and assigned one of seven topic areas based on the stakeholders of westward expansion. Focus in on the research W’s but with more depth than the previous assessment. Groups divide up the research tasks and conduct their research at home and at school. Groups create a visual display and present their information to the class orally. All students take notes on the presentations using a teacher generated graphic organizer.

Living History Museum – Students are assigned a theme; need to gather three primary sources on the theme that tells the story of slavery in Antebellum America. Students write detailed captions that include reference to the research W’s Students in similar themes will gather and organize their primary sources into a museum display Classes will have a gallery walk where they will complete a teacher generated walkabout page to capture the essentials of each of the slavery related themes.

Research Paper – Students will pick from a list of topics related to social, political and economic developments in Antebellum America Students will research independently at school and home, using the teacher taught note card method Peer evaluation will be incorporated to assess quality of information on note cards, the outline, and first draft Students will present an oral synopsis of their topic to the class.


Air Quality Experiment – Students will work independently or with a partner to research in-depth one or more of the six criteria pollutants in air (source, effects, and possible solutions for improvement), and create two products from a choice board to display their results. They will know the molecular formula/structure of their pollutant(s), any physical and/or chemical properties and physical and/or chemical changes caused by the pollutant. They will create their products to educate their peers about the pollutant(s) on which they have become an expert.
Model Roller-Coaster – Students will work in small groups to design, build, and test a model roller coaster. Their design and test data will be reported in a modified lab report format. They will know about potential and kinetic energy, balanced/unbalanced forces, Newton’s Laws of Motion, and calculations for speed/velocity and acceleration.

GMO Research Paper – Students will work independently to research and write a persuasive essay on the benefits or drawbacks of genetically modified food. They will know about inheritance of traits and the impact of genetically modified organisms.

Climate Change Research and Debate – Students will use their weather observations, data they’ve collected, and hypotheses from weather experiments as a launching point for research and writing that evaluates the impact of human activities on global climates over the past century. As a culminating activity, the students will stage a debate regarding the causes and potential solutions for global climate change. Students will know about basic weather data, the role of oceans in weather and climate change, and the impact of human activities on climate change.


Container Project – Students will use practical application of formulas of surface area and volume.

Race for Equality – Students use the concepts of slope and y-intercept to design a “race” where racers of different speeds finish a race in a 3-way tie.

Investment Project – Students will be comparing linear investment with exponential investment, using three methods for listing patterns(table, graph, equation) and compare the two functions.


French Grade 8

Kindergarten Story Reading – Students have a choice of creating a family tree that includes descriptive sentences, writing an essay, creating a slide presentation or making a video. In this project, student describe family members, real or imaginary.

Mini markets – Students create authentic products and then buy/sell the products at two “Mini Marchés.” Students are vendors on one day and clients the other day. On the day that the students are selling products, they set up a stand with signs.

Conjugation Lesson – Students create a 10 minute lesson plan in which they teach the conjugation of a verb of their choice (regular or irregular) to a group. Each student teaches a different verb. (Note: the goal of the lesson is to teach the concept of a conjugation – there is not an expectation that all of the students will learn all of the verb that are presented).

Response to Text/Book Report – Students read a short novel in French and then have a choice or writing a traditional book report, a response to the text or an alternate ending to the text.

Final Project – Students prepare a 15 minute Final Project which they present to the whole class. The presentation may be interactive, may include video/audio, may be a performance, may be a reading of a text written by the student followed by a Q&A session or a discussion.


Spanish Grade 8


Ratoncito del CampoStudents read the “Ratoncito del Campo” story out loud, in Spanish, and translate each sentence to English. The next day, students write the same story in their own words.  Finally, students write out a different story, using the same set of vocabulary words.

Novel Reading – Students read the short novel, Patricia Va a California, in Spanish and then have a choice or writing a traditional book report, a response to the text or an alternate ending to the text.

Mis Vacaciones – Students create a presentation (Powerpoint or video) in which they talk about ten things they did (in past tense) during vacation. During the presentation, they must answer at least 2 questions per slide, in past tense.

Novel Reading – Students read the short novel, Piratas del Caribe, in Spanish and then have a choice or writing a traditional book report, a response to the text or an alternate ending to the text.

Final Culture Project – Students prepare a 15 minute Culture Project which they present to the whole class.  The presentation may include video/audio, may be a performance, may be a reading of a text written by the student followed by a Q&A session or a discussion.

Mercadillo Project – Students create culturally authentic products and then buy/sell the products at two Mercadillos.  Students are vendors on one day, and clients the other. On the day they are selling products, they set up a “market stand” with signs, and converse with customers entirely in Spanish.




State Exams

This year, the MA DESE will introduce the new, next generation version of MCAS.

More information can be found here:

Massachusetts Department of Education Website.