16 Tishri 5779 — טז תשרי התשעט
בס”ד

Middle School

Successful and Exciting Transitions

Hillel's Middle School team of administrators and faculty create a dynamic academic environment that fosters student success in all areas of school life. The sixth, seventh and eighth grades are unique and exciting years in a young person's life. We encourage students to focus, work diligently, and to respect all work done in this spirit. Overall, the middle school program enhances our students' curiosity, integrity, and confidence.

We value the whole child, and we encourage students to participate in extracurricular and elective programs such as Hillel's student government, robotics, chorus, strings and wind orchestra, athletics, drama and service learning opportunities, to name just a few.

Hillel's nurturing, inclusive community is an ideal learning environment rich with tradition, values, and innovation. We prepare students for the 21st century, linking every learning space to the world using the best technological tools available.

Our middle school program provides a challenging, stimulating learning environment. Because we understand that young adolescents learn best when they engage actively with material, our faculty plan exciting and innovative learning activities that suit the needs of every student, no matter her or his learning style. We are committed to providing excellence in every class and every program to best prepare our students for future learning and success in high school.


General Studies


Mathematics

Middle school mathematics develops each student's analytical skills, conceptual understanding, and confidence in her or his ability as a problem solver. Our core belief is that every student should be challenged at her or his level and every student should graduate as a well-prepared math student. Students focus primarily on computational skills and numerical relationships, and they develop a basic understanding of variable expressions, equations, and graphs.


Science

Hillel uses an inquiry-based approach to study science. Using a variety of tools and programs, students are able to experiment, build, hypothesize, test, and communicate with one another in class. Earth science, chemistry and biology studies are at the core of our program with attention paid to making science exploratory and student-driven through project-based learning. Robotics and coding are both incorporated into the program in sixth through eighth grades.


Humanities

The cornerstones of the Humanities department at Hillel are engaged, critical reading, clear, evidence-based writing, and strong critical thinking skills. In English and History classes throughout the integrated middle school program, students are introduced to and practice these core competencies that are fully sequenced from sixth through eighth grade. Students delve into literature and nonfiction content in both English and History, learning to close-read, analyze, interpret, ask questions, and formulate persuasive arguments verbally and in writing. Through the differentiated system of tiered paragraph writing, the middle school Humanities faculty is able to individually target students' writing skills and support each student at her or his specific ability level. Faculty also guide students as they build critical academic skills, including note-taking, organizational skills, as well as vocabulary acquisition strategies and grammatical fluency across disciplines. Students collaborate with one another and develop critical digital literacy skills as they construct knowledge and products of learning using technology.


History & World Studies

The Hillel History and World Studies department's core belief is that all students need a strong foundation of culture, history, and world events in order to learn and be an active, responsible citizen in the present world. Students are immersed in their learning using simulations and technology to make history come alive. With today's concerns as a motivating force, our program takes students on a journey around the United States and across the globe. The primary goal is to develop students' national and global literacy, giving special attention to the geographic, historical, economical, political, and cultural forces that produce harmony and conflict across national and international borders.


Judaic Studies


Hebrew Immersion

Immersion is practiced in Hebrew language classes to enable students to master the language and its use in everyday modern life. At the middle school level, Hillel uses the NETA program to guide the curriculum. NETA was created based on modern research in best practices and innovative methods in acquiring language. The program focuses heavily on conversational Hebrew and makes extensive use of audio-visual, interactive and computer research tools. Students are grouped by levels according to ability and administered objective testing throughout the year. Learning the modern, living language of Medinat Yisrael is also a method of connecting our students to our homeland and its people and culture. Trained Hebrew language teachers are certified through the NETA program. 


Mishmar

Torah learning extends beyond school hours at Hillel. Students have participated in large numbers in this intimate and engaging opportunity to explore the texts outside of the classroom. Middle school students attend voluntary, after-school text-based learning sessions offered by the Rebbeim throughout the week and on Shabbat.


Talmud

The objectives of the Talmud program are to teach all students to develop critical thinking and analysis skills, as well as to gain a deeper appreciation of the rich material of the Talmud. Hatchalat Gemarah begins in seventh grade for boys and girls. The curriculum takes into account age-appropriate, thematic interests of the students and focuses on the scope and sequence of skills necessary to read and understand the workings of the discussion in any given Gemara text.

Bet Midrash

Hillel's Bet Midrash program for eighth grade gives both boys and girls the opportunity to explore the fundamental texts of our written and oral law in a mature and interactive way. Rebbeim and facilitators weave lectures, small group and chavruta learning together to effectively provide students with an environment in which they can develop the basic skills to become independent learners. This unique middle school set-up immerses students in the mindset of "learning to learn." Success is measured by the students' demonstrated acquisition of skills seen, the exceptional level of interest and participation, and through feedback from the high schools to which students are admitted. 


Parashat Hashavua

Hillel has completed its first year of an exciting and ground-breaking new initiative: to create and implement a unified, school-wide, Parashat Hashavua curriculum. This expansive undertaking is led by a group of dedicated parents, educators and rabbis. Each teacher presents a new component of the parasha at a more advanced level than the previous, making an efficient progression in the student's growth from year to year and a logical scope and sequence. Our new parasha curriculum concentrates on the mastery of knowledge of the pshat of the Chumash text, and distinguishes between this, and stories or lessons advanced by Rashi and Midrashei Chazal. Students learn to think critically about the pesukim in Chumash. Every week's parasha sheet brings thought-provoking issues home to the family Shabbat table for further discussion and investigation. Last year, the curriculum was successfully implemented in grades 1-5. This year, it will be expanded to cover grades 6-8. 


Halacha

At Harkham Hillel Hebrew Academy we seek to provide an opportunity for our students to learn and appreciate what it means to live as a Torah Jew. With this in mind, we developed a new Halacha curriculum with the mission of creating knowledgeable Halachic Jews who are familiar with the standard halachic terms and customs. The Halacha syllabus focuses on teaching and exposing the students to practical halacha as well as the theory of halacha. The students are able to then relate and apply this halachic theory into their daily lives. Students study the basic halachot of how to live as a Torah Jew, the halachot pertaining to the holidays, the life-cycle, as well as the halachot of bein adam l'chavero, between man and his fellow man. During the middle school years, halacha is learned from the primary source text. An important focus is given to developing textual skills in the Shulchan Aruch and Mishna Brura.

To avoid repetition and to maximize the time available, the scope and sequence of the Halacha program is built in a spiral, with an emphasis on different topics each year. Certain units are integrated with other subjects, while other items are covered within the scope of the Chumash or Gemara curriculum.