Curriculum

All students are enrolled in classes designed to provide academic rigor in balance with social and emotional well-being. Core courses in humanities, math, science/STEAM, and Spanish promote joy in learning by engaging students in developmentally-appropriate challenges and collaborative, hands-on activities while also preparing them for a variety of high school programs. Physical education classes and the athletics program help each student develop a positive self-image, essential decision-making skills, healthy lifetime habits. Visual arts and music classes as well as dance and theater performances foster creative expression.

List of 6 items.

  • Humanities

    The humanities classes aim to cultivate engaged learners who embrace the complexity and beauty of the human experience. Students develop their voices in a classroom that emphasizes curiosity, community, and rigor.

    How We Teach
    Starting in sixth grade, students begin honing their unique identities as readers and writers, forming a consistent reading habit, sampling from a range of genres, diving into an iterative writing process, and exploring ancient world history. In seventh grade, medieval world history is overlaid with primary works from diverse regions, as well as texts and historical fiction, which ask students to contemplate the intersection of the individual and larger society. In eighth grade, humanities branches into separate English and history classes as girls build discipline-specific skills needed for success in high school.

    After 3 years of Humanities at JMSG, a graduate will:
    • take notes from reading and lecture,
    • use a variety of resources to inform writing and prepare for assessments,
    • track and analyze plot, character, theme, imagery, and symbolism development over the course of literary works,
    • write a thesis statement and support it with evidence,
    • conduct and cite research using a variety of web-based and print resources,
    • write in many genres, including: personal narrative, fiction, poetry, and persuasive speech,
    • use an academic format, including: research paper and literary essay,
    • approach her teacher to receive personalized feedback on rough drafts,
    • plan, revise, and use peer review to enhance the quality of writing,
    • use correct, grade-appropriate sentence structure and vocabulary, and
    • develop effective personal study habits for test taking.
  • Mathematics

    The mathematics program is designed to develop a strong sense of mathematical empowerment. The curriculum emphasizes the investigative mathematical process -how students learn- as well as the mastery of skills -what they learn-. Through our project-based, spiraling curriculum, students graduate from JMSG prepared to pursue math at the highest levels. 

    How We Teach
    During all three years at JMSG, students achieve skill fluency through independent practice and extend their learning through a project-based curriculum. Instruction is differentiated providing students with opportunities to complete challenging enrichment and independent review as needed. Students collaborate on projects that span across disciplines, integrating mathematical skills into broader investigative approaches and constructing knowledge as a community of learners. Our approach is grounded in the everyday application of math, so students build enduring skills while viewing math as useful and relevant to their lives. JMSG provides a spiraled curriculum that revisits key content areas each year in further depth, so that students enter high school prepared to excel in any math course they choose.

    After 3 years of math at JMSG, a graduate will:
    • take risks and learn from mistakes,
    • be proficient in number sense,
    • attain procedural fluency in algebraic skills,
    • pursue and persevere in completing complex math challenges,
    • possess self-confidence as a mathematician and advocate for her learning,
    • utilize mathematical skills in novel real-world problems,
    • participate in collaborative group work, supporting and gaining inspiration from peers,
    • apply different methods to solve problems creatively,
    • demonstrate conceptual understanding by explaining mathematical reasoning, and 
    • be prepared to compete in high school math courses.
  • Science and STEAM

    The science & STEAM classes foster curiosity and a growth mindset so that girls can be enthusiastic lifelong learners. Through hands-on learning experiences, students are guided to ask questions, explore, and innovate. Intriduced to exciting and relevant problems to solve, students have the opportunity to design and collaborate in authentic tasks that mirror possibilities for careers in STEAM fields.

    How We Teach
    During their JMSG years, students are encouraged to envision themselves in STEAM careers. While women have made gains in the academic arenas of science, technology, engineering, art/design, and math, there has been a distressing downturn in the last decade of women entering these professions. By engaging girls in interdisciplinary project-based learning and exposing them to women working in STEAM careers successfully, the classes develop the competencies and attitudes that fortify their pursuit of male-dominated STEAM fields later in life. Students learn scientific concepts and methods, teaching principles of conservation and earth science entirely through experiential projects. They develop discipline-specific skills, such as conducting experiments and writing lab reports, to advance them in future science classes. In the spring of eighth grade, science and STEAM combine for a culminating experience called the Invention Convention. They take a design-thinking approach to assess a user’s needs, ideate and engineer a product, and build a working prototype. At the convention, girls present the scientific principles behind their inventions along with a business plan, reflecting how girls are continually challenged to align their classroom learning with real, future possibilities.

    After 3 years of Science & STEAM at JMSG, a graduate will:
    • make observations and carefully collect data, 
    • analyze data and draw logical conclusions,
    • utilize the engineering design process,
    • apply the scientific method,
    • understand environmental impact as a consumer and conserver,
    • write formal lab reports,
    • code using a variety of programming languages,
    • identify with proper names and use building tools and lab equipment, 
    • recognize failure as a normal part of the learning process,
    • honor creative originality and scientific integrity to a learning community,
    • share and accept peer feedback,
    • present both product and process in front of her peers, and
    • explore new technology tools confidently.
  • Spanish

    Spanish class is not merely about learning effective communication strategies, it is the beginning of a journey to discover the diversity of cultures within the Spanish-speaking world. Through interactive and joyful classroom experiences, students will develop the skills, confidence, and enthusiasm for continued language learning.

    How We Teach
    The Spanish program offers an immersion-based classroom with a focus on communicative competence, whether girls are native speakers, have taken a Spanish class, or are new to language study. While students get accustomed to using Spanish to communicate their thoughts, the class helps them establish skills for language learning and use what they already know to examine new Spanish grammar and vocabulary. As girls have fun with stories, songs, and dialogues, they are introduced to the diverse cultures found within the Spanish-speaking world. In preparation for advancing their learning in high school, the class emphasizes the academic study of language, linguistics, and culture. 

    After 3 years of Spanish at JMSG, a graduate will:
    • approach language learning with a growth mindset, using mistakes and feedback to improve,
    • gain self-confidence in her Spanish communication through active participation in class activities, 
    • use a variety of communication strategies to convey meaning,
    • understand speech related to areas of everyday relevance,
    • communicate in simple and routine language tasks requiring a direct exchange of information,
    • describe aspects of her background, immediate environment, and needs,
    • comprehend information in short, straightforward texts containing high frequency vocabulary, and
    • write straightforward notes, messages, and letters, using conjunctions to link basic phrases and sentences.
  • Physical Education and Athletics

    The mission of the physical education and athletics program is to inspire and challenge girls of all physical talents and interests to develop confidence, flexibility, strength, endurance, mental discipline, coordination, balance, and skill.
     
    The purpose of the physical education class is to expose students to a variety of physical activities throughout the year. Students grow into their bodies in a supportive environment that encourages participation and values fun. They build skills, while also working on core concepts such as: being a supportive member of a team, personal fitness, goal setting, balance, attitude, and leadership. 

    JMSG is a member of the Middle School Sports League of the East Bay and competes with other local middle schools in soccer, cross country, basketball, and volleyball. All 6th, 7th and 8th graders are eligible to play on any team. No previous experience is necessary, and all who tryout make a team. Our coaches for the program practice a double-goal coaching model where we strive to win while pursuing the more important goal of teaching life lessons through sports. Coaches emphasize effort, enthusiasm, and teamwork, while developing skill. 

    After 3 years of athletics at JMSG, a graduate will:
    • feel confident and comfortable in her body,
    • participate in a wide variety of physical activities from diverse cultures,
    • develop enthusiasm about some aspect of fitness, sports, or dance,
    • develop a lifelong commitment to movement, exercise, and healthy lifestyle, and
    • strive for excellence as a member of a team or in individual physical pursuits.
  • The Arts

    
    The visual and performing arts are of central importance to dynamic, innovative lives. JMSG classes aim to foster a love for both creating and experiencing the visual and performing arts. Through a multicultural lens, our classes celebrate many art forms and genres, offering opportunities to explore creative expression with ever-increasing skill and craft. 

    How We Teach
    Visual arts focus on the creative process and development of technical skills in a variety of media. Student artists have opportunities to express themselves in drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture, and textiles. Studio projects correlate with topics studied in other classes, refer to art from diverse cultures, and include exposure to contemporary artists. Other projects involve students' explorations of personal identity and societal issues through sculpture, large-scale mixed-media compositions, printmaking, and other techniques. Students broaden their perceptions of what art is, how it is created and by whom, and art's vital role in our contemporary culture and past history. By developing skills with tools and gaining a deeper understanding of the narrative aspect of artworks, students hone their ability to effectively communicate through the visual arts. 
     
    The music program is designed to allow students to explore the music they enjoy on their own in a new and rigorous way. Through listening exercises, they learn to appreciate diverse genres of music, and to recognize and discern different instruments. Students are introduced to rhythmic concepts, meter, and elements of song-structure. Students participate in creating music with Orff-instruments (xylophones) and a variety of percussion instruments, engaging at every level of individual talent, ability, and exposure. They have the opportunity to try horns such as clarinet or trumpet. Students work to develop vocal independence through singing in different song forms. They explore music history and observe how music has evolved over time. In sixth grade, music class adds drama as they rehearse for the annual class musical. In seventhh grade, students learn to read and write sheet music and understand the concept of a key as a tonal center with their composition projects. As they rehearse for the Spring Concert, seventh graders practice a variety of instruments, singing, dancing, and even creating their own choreography!
     
    After two years of broad exposure to the visual and performing arts, eighth graders choose elective courses that give a deep dive into specialized areas. Courses run half the year with offerings that allow for more focused skill development, collaboration, and creation of a polished product. 
     
    In the seventh grade modern dance, students engage and extend their creativity, awareness, and appreciation of the vibrant language of dance. In this playful, energetic class, students explore structured improvisation exercises, build skills in short combinations, and create their own choreography. The class combines imagination, personal expression, technical movement skills, varied inspiration sources, and dance vocabulary in a fun, supportive environment. Performance opportunities include flashmobs and concerts.
     
    After 3 years of Arts at JMSG, a graduate will:
    • evaluate her own and other’s work,
    • articulate her understanding of and response to artistic media,
    • celebrate failure as a launch point for innovation,
    • be aware of rich traditions, cultural diversity, and historical contexts in each field,
    • collaborate by practicing and seeking cooperation, cohesion, vulnerability, and curiosity in collective endeavors,
    • combine multiple skills and techniques to manifest an artistic vision,
    • apply craftsmanship to creative products,
    • think outside the box, and
    • balance fun and creativity with discipline and knowledge.