Middle School


MS Girls-01bed4d7f0

Prepared for, and ultimately accepted to, the college preparatory high schools of choice, OHDS graduates have the tools to master academic challenges, think critically, creatively, and logically.

The dual-curricular middle school program exposes students to more independent, self-reliant and social experiences, offering numerous opportunities to reflect, discuss, create, and explore in areas of literature and Talmud, Jewish history and social studies, science, writing and Hebrew, math and Chumash. Students develop their academic and critical thinking skills daily, as well as hone their talents and skills in technology, fine arts, music and physical education. Through guided weekly mentoring groups, the students also know that their teachers are there to support them emotionally in a safe, nurturing environment.

As students begin their own personal Bar or Bat Mitzvah preparation at home, they simultaneously strengthen their Jewish identity, their relationship to the land and people of Israel, and their connection to the Jewish culture and the Hebrew language in school. Culminating their years at OHDS, the eighth grade travels to Israel for ten days, where they visit historically relevant sites and have opportunities to act in a spirit of courage and selflessness for social justice and betterment of Israel. Read more about our Israel trip here.

Middle School English Language Arts Program

Middle school English students delve into the world of literature as both readers and writers. Rich literature selections from novels and short stories to poetry and personal essays, provide opportunities for close reading, textual analysis and inquiry-based discussion. Literature also becomes the launch pad for student writing as students support their textual interpretations through thesis driven essays or write their own creative writing as inspired by the techniques of authors they have studied.

Middle School Math Program

In grades 6-8, math students are placed in the math class that best meets their learning needs. Math classes are taught at the same time and course options include 6th grade Singapore Math, Pre-Algebra, Algebra or Geometry.  Math instruction focuses on both mastery of essential skills, as well as opportunities to apply mathematical thinking to real world problems. Teachers use a blend of learning modalities including small group instruction, blended learning using online resources, discussion-based learning and project-based learning.  

Middle School Science Program

Building on the foundation of the Next Generation Science Standards, the middle school science program builds scientific learning skills through reading, writing, discussion and by engaging students in hands-on demonstrations and labs that help make conceptual understanding more concrete. The emphasis in science instruction is to leverage students’ curiosity through the inquiry process, generating excitement and questions and helping students develop a solid understanding and ability to articulate and apply what they know.

Middle School Social Studies

Middle school social studies students learn to think like historians, working with primary and secondary sources to understand multiple interpretations of historical events and time periods. Students build skills in reading, writing, critical thinking and evidence-based argumentation, exploring overarching questions about resources, geography, culture and power to understand how changing circumstances have impacted human history.

Middle School Judaic Studies

The Workshop-Based Beit Midrash (WBBM) is an educational approach and a learning environment where students take ownership of their Jewish learning through self-directed study and individualized learning portfolios. In the WBBM, our middle school students learn collaboratively, across grades, in small groups, and in chevruta in one open room, from 8:15 a.m. – 11:50 a.m. every day. Students, with the guidance of Mechanchim (advisers), construct daily, weekly and long-term learning goals that build Hebrew and text skills and address student-driven inquiry. This approach requires integration of an array of communication and presentation modalities, with strong emphasis on collaboration and self-reflection.

Sixth Grade

Sixth Grade Language Arts

Through poetry, novels, short stories, writing, and discussion students:

  • Engage critically with the world of literature, poetry and informational text
  • Analyze complex themes through close reading of novels including Skellig, The Little Prince and Esperanza Rising
  • Cite textual evidence to support analysis of poems, short stories and novels through both discussion and writing
  • Write literary essays that contrast or compare two texts, poems or stories
  • Conduct in-depth research and write a thorough explanatory report on a pressing environmental issue
  • Conduct in-depth research and write a thorough explanatory report on an aspect of ancient Greek culture
  • Write powerful descriptive narratives, such as fictional vignettes in response to the novel Esperanza Rising
  • Apply acquired grammar and vocabulary skills to write with precision, clarity and coherence

 

Sixth Grade Math Program

Using a hands-on approach through the Singapore Math curriculum, students:

  • Explore the world of numbers with curiosity and perseverance
  • Understand ratio concepts and use ratio reasoning, both visually and in numeric form, to solve problems
  • Apply and extend previous understandings of multiplication and division to divide fractions by fractions
  • Compute fluently with multi-digit numbers and find common factors and multiples
  • Apply and extend previous understandings of numbers to the system of rational numbers
  • Write and interpret arithmetic and algebraic expressions
  • Reason about and solve one-variable equations
  • Represent and analyze quantitative relationships between dependent and independent variables
  • Solve real-world and mathematical problems involving area, surface area and volume
  • Develop understanding of statistical variability

 

Sixth Grade Science

Through experiments, data collection, projects, reading, writing and discussion, students:

  • Build scientific information and thinking skills through the exploration of chemistry
  • Learn about matter, chemical change, bonding, density and more
  • Participate in hands-on demonstrations and chemistry labs
  • Demonstrate in-depth understanding of the changes of state
  • Read informational scientific text to collect information, learn processes and understand new concepts
  • Write about scientific processes, observations and information using precise vocabulary and specific evidence to support conclusions

 

Sixth Grade Social Studies

Through reading, writing, simulations, discussions, hands-on activities and field trips, students:

  • Learn about our world with respect and thoughtfulness.
  • Study the history and cultures of ancient civilizations, including Mesopotamia, India, Egypt, Greece and Rome
  • Build an understanding of the relationship between geography and ancient civilizations
  • Learn about the unique features of ancient Egyptian civilization and visit the Rosicrucian Museum
  • Understand the relationship between ancient Greece and ancient Rome and their impacts on Western civilization
  • Research and write a thorough report on a feature of Roman culture

Seventh Grade

Seventh Grade Language Arts

Through poetry, novels, short stories, writing, and discussion, students:

  • Engage critically with the world of literature, poetry and informational text
  • Analyze complex themes through close reading of novels including The Outsiders, House on Mango Street, Of Mice and Men and The Pearl
  • Cite textual evidence to support analysis of poems, short stories and novels through both discussion and writing
  • Write literary essays that contrast or compare two texts, poems or stories
  • Conduct in-depth research and write a thorough compare/contrast research paper on a topic in Jewish history
  • Conduct in-depth research and write a thorough cause-and-effect research paper related to nutrition and the human body
  • Write powerful descriptive narratives in response to creative prompts
  • Apply acquired grammar and vocabulary skills to write with precision, clarity and coherence

 

Seventh Grade Math Program

Using the College Preparatory Math Pre-Algebra Curriculum, students:

  • Build mastery and perseverance in problem solving
  • Analyze proportional relationships and use them to solve real world and mathematical problems
  • Apply and extend previous understandings of operations with fractions to add, subtract, multiply and divide rational numbers
  • Use properties of operations to generate equivalent expressions
  • Solve real-life and mathematical problems using numerical and algebraic expressions and equations
  • Draw, construct and describe geometrical figures and describe the relationship between them
  • Solve real-life and mathematical problems involving area, surface area, volume, cylinders, rectangular prisms
  • Graph data on scatter plots and determine line of best fit
  • Investigate chance processes and develop, use and evaluate probability models

 

Seventh Grade Science

Through hands-on dissections, projects, reading, writing and discussion, students:

  • Build scientific information and thinking skills through the exploration of biology and human anatomy
  • Learn about cells, animal classification, heredity, human anatomy, nutrition and more
  • Create detailed models of animal and plant cells
  • Dissect earthworms, frogs, and other invertebrates
  • Discuss the impact of poor nutrition on the human body
  • Read scientific text to collect information, learn processes and understand new concepts
  • Write about scientific processes, observations and information using precise vocabulary and specific evidence to support conclusions

 

Seventh Grade Social Studies

Through reading, writing, simulations, discussions, hands-on activities and field trips, students:

  • Learn about our world with respect and thoughtfulness
  • Examine different theories regarding the fall of the Roman Empire
  • Study the geography, history, culture and contributions of the Islamic empire
  • Explore issues of power in societal organization by learning about the structure of life in medieval Europe including feudalism, the manor system and the role of the Catholic church
  • Study the impact of the European Renaissance period on art, science and society
  • Conduct in-depth research on the history and contributions of the Renaissance period
  • Study different pieces of art from the Classical Period, the Middle Ages, and the Renaissance, comparing and contrasting key characteristics of these pieces
  • Examine the key features of China during the period of the Middle Ages

Eighth Grade

Eighth Grade Language Arts

Through poetry, novels, short stories, writing, and discussion, students:

  • Engage critically with the world of literature, poetry and informational text
  • Analyze complex themes through close reading of novels including The Chosen, To Kill a Mockingbird and Night
  • Cite textual evidence to support analysis of poems, short stories and novels through both discussion and writing
  • Write literary essays that contrast or compare two texts, poems or stories, for example comparing themes and character development in two short works by John Steinbeck
  • Conduct in-depth research and write a thorough research paper detailing the influences of Puritanism on early colonial life
  • Conduct in-depth research and write a thorough “I-Search” research paper in which the student researches a topic of personal interest
  • Write powerful descriptive narratives in response to creative prompts
  • Apply acquired grammar and vocabulary skills to write with precision, clarity and coherence

 

Eighth Grade Math Program

Using the College Preparatory Math Algebra curriculum, students:

  • Build mastery and perseverance in problem solving
  • Extend the properties of exponents to rational exponents
  • Use properties of rational and irrational numbers
  • Work with radicals and integer exponents
  • Understand the connections between proportional relationships, lines and linear equations
  • Analyze and solve linear equations and pairs of simultaneous linear equations
  • Interpret the structure of expressions
  • Write expressions in equivalent forms to solve problems
  • Perform arithmetic operations on polynomials
  • Create equations that describe numbers or relationships
  • Solve equations and inequalities in one variable
  • Solve systems of equations
  • Represent and solve equations and inequalities graphically
  • Define, evaluate, compare functions and use functions to model relationships between quantities
  • Understand and apply the Pythagorean theorem
  • Use coordinates to prove simple geometric theorems algebraically

 

Eighth Grade Science

Through hands-on experiments, projects, field trips, reading, writing and discussion, students:

  • Build scientific information and thinking skills through the exploration of physics
  • Learn about motion, forces, acceleration, momentum, simple machines, rockets and more
  • Build complex Rube Goldberg machines to demonstrate laws of motion
  • Integrate math and science learning by designing and building a roller coaster
  • Conduct physics labs, collecting data and producing written result summaries
  • Work in collaborative teams to solve challenging design problems
  • Read informational scientific text to collect information, learn processes and understand new concepts
  • Write about scientific processes, observations and information using precise vocabulary and specific evidence to support conclusions

 

Eighth Grade Social Studies

Through reading, writing, simulations, discussions, hands-on activities and field trips, students:

  • Learn about our world with respect and thoughtfulness
  • Study the impact of Native American and European contact
  • Conduct thorough research and write a thesis-driven paper on an important figure from the American Revolution
  • Examine the American constitution, Bill of Rights and the American system of government
  • Understand the inherent tension in the American Constitution between the states and the federal government
  • Study the causes and impact of the American Civil War
  • Participate in a simulation of the Underground Railroad

 

6-8 Grade Judaic Studies

In 2014, our school was awarded a generous grant by the Mayberg Foundation to implement the Workshop-Based Beit Midrash (WBBM). The WBBM was inspired by a deeply shared desire among our educational leadership team members to find innovative ways to inspire genuine love of learning, personally meaningful student connections to Torah and to reach diverse learning needs through student-centered learning. The WBBM reclaims the strengths of the traditional approach to Jewish learning, combining contemporary technological resources and inter-disciplinary collaboration, with the revolutionary goal of returning ownership and love of learning to the students. Students have the flexibility to sign up for classes that are of particular interest, in addition to those considered “core requirements”.

Students are offered classes in Tanakh, Toshba, Hebrew, and Jewish history.
Students experience the opportunity to learn in a variety of different ways, both independently and with other students.

  • Chavruta-style: Students work with a partner, developing a deep learner-to-learner relationship, building on each other’s strengths, and furthering the student’s inquiry skills.
  • Independent Study: Each student chooses an area of interest to delve into. Students become “experts” on a topic, developing a research plan, exploring resources, and presenting their “findings” to the whole middle school.
  • Language Stations: Students develop their language skills according to their particular level, from beginning parallel-entry level to advanced students who might choose to conduct most of their day in Hebrew. Language stations may blend teacher-led instruction, technology and independent work.
  • Guest Speakers: Every week we hold an Open Beit Midrash where community members teach a series of sessions. Students join groups according to interest; international guest speakers can be “brought in” through conference calls or Skype.

Through deep text study, ongoing collaboration and a problem-solving approach, students develop important skills at a variety of levels.
Text and Language Skills

  • Advanced students have the opportunity to work within an immersion Hebrew environment, access breadth of mefarshim, and hold chavruta in Hebrew.
  • Those in need of support are able to work with English sources within an English speaking environment, navigate texts with greater ease, access mefarshim in translation.
  • All students focus on enjoyment of Hebrew language.
  • All students learn how to develop their own questions and take steps, at their level, to access commentaries that address those questions.

Collaboration Skills

  • Students build strong working relationships with other students.
  • Partners share responsibility for learning, ask each other probing questions related to interpretations of text, and reflect on their chevruta relationship.

Affective Learning

  • Students reflect on the challenges of increased ownership of learning.
  • Students express a positive attitude about learning, resulting in self-direction.
  • Students learn how to manage their time and materials.

2015-16 FIRST SEMESTER COURSES:

Tanakh

 

  • Matan Torah x2 (required 6th and 7th grade) — close look at the story of Matan Torah and 10 Dibrot
  • Mitzvot Eretz Yisrael
  • Kedushah –Vayikra
  • Sefer Shmuel

 

Jewish History

 

  • Survey class in fall (in English/Hebrew)
  • Israel Studies (in Hebrew)
  • Family History (in English)

 

Toshba

 

  • Mitzvot Bein Adam L’Makom (Hebrew)
  • Mitzvot Bein Adam L’Chavero (English)
  • Mishna
  • Hilchot Shabbat

 

Hebrew

Hebrew is offered as a year-long class at different student levels.

2015-16 SECOND SEMESTER COURSES:

Tanakh

  • Elijah (Excerpts from sefer Melachim I and II)
  • Decisions of the people — Golden Calf, Korach
  • Once more with feeling — Sefer Devarim
  • Sefer Shmuel Bet

 

Jewish History

  • Shoah — continues through the mini-mester
  • Israel part II
  • Medieval History – Jews in Spain – from the Golden Age to the Inquisition

 

Toshba

  • 6th grade – Mishna
  • 7th/8th grade – Mishna and Gemara – Mitzvot Bein Adam L’Makom (Hebrew/English)
  • 7th/8th grade – Mitzvot Bein Adam L’Chavero (Hebrew/English)
  • Halakhot – Bein Adam L’Chavero

 

Hebrew

Hebrew is offered as a year-long class at different student levels.

Examples of independent study courses

  • Learning Trope for Torah reading
  • Book of the Maccabees
  • Chidon HaTanach
  • Birkat HaMazon – creating a new bencher

 

What People Say

  • The essence of the education OHDS provides is brilliantly reflected in the character and values of its students and graduates. I can't imagine a better foundation from which to grow and succeed.

    Rochelle Shapell, Parent of two OHDS graduates and OHDS Founding Board Member

  • The OHDS dream unfolds daily through the lives of the school's students and teachers. Every moment at the school is an opportunity to connect, learn, and grow.

    Rabbi Yonatan Cohen, OHDS parent and Spiritual leader of Congregation Beth Israel

  • OHDS has become more than a school, it’s our community and neighborhood. The focus on educating the whole child carries over to an investment in the health and welfare of each child, family and staff member.

    Catherine Shachat, OHDS alumni parent and former OHDS Board of Directors President

  • I love the fact that my children begin each day with prayer, engage in deep Torah study, speak Hebrew like an Israeli, and receive an excellent secular education. We appreciate how OHDS embraces every child.

    Elissa Kittner, OHDS parent and President of the Board

  • More than just a school, OHDS is a family, where each student is seen as our crown jewel - each cultivating a personal, passionate and serious Jewish identity and a commitment to join the Jewish journey as life long learners.

    Rabbi Yonatan Cohen, OHDS parent and Spiritual leader of Congregation Beth Israel

  • Our children are learning their Judaism from the ground up. There is no ambivalence.

    Judy Chun, OHDS Parent

  • OHDS has already given my children a strong sense of themselves as Jews living Jewish lives. This is no small thing in the modern world.

    Jodi Tharan, former OHDS Parent

  • OHDS students are constantly exposed to the new ways of approaching a variety of subject matters. They are encouraged to think critically and really explore and understand the material that they are learning and the world around them.

    Leslie Edelman, Past President and current Board Member, OHDS parent

  • It's not just about love of Israel and learning Hebrew. Our Kindergartner now sings "G-d bless America" with the same enthusiasm as she does songs about "Apples and Honey" and is recognizing letters and words in both languages.

    Dan Cohen, Former President of the Board of Directors and parent of two OHDS students

  • OHDS is more than a school and more than a community to me. It is really a family. The teachers are so loving and caring. They want each child to succeed with a deep thought of benefiting the whole Jewish community.

    Adi Yaron Schaker, former OHDS Parent

Connect with OHDS