- Successful and Exciting Transitions
- Hebrew Immersion
- Chidon HaTanach
- Bet Midrash
- Parashat Hashavua
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.
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.
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.
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.
HistoryThe Hillel History 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.
The Ivrit immersion program is driven by the belief that mastery of Hebrew promotes students’ understanding of their history, culture, and tradition. It also excites them about lifelong Jewish learning, fosters a sense of belonging to the Jewish people and cultivates strong ties with Medinat Yisrael (the State of Israel) and Am Yisrael (the Jewish people). We seek to create a community of Hebrew speakers who can participate in a casual or sophisticated discussion in Hebrew or read an article in an Israeli newspaper using a critical lens.
In order to achieve these goals, we use Bishvil Ha-Ivrit, rooted in the communicative approach, which offers students multiple opportunities to develop their communicative skills – listening, reading, speaking, writing, and viewing, and critical thinking skills through sequential linguistic progression (vocabulary and grammar) embedded in socially relevant themes, resources, and learning experiences.
The Ivrit department uses the frameworks for learning, teaching, and assessing foreign language skills named the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) Proficiency Guidelines. Students are assessed yearly through the “Avant Assessment”, which is the leading language proficiency assessment provider giving students a true picture of their language proficiency skills. All Avant proficiency tests are aligned to the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines.
Students in the Chidon HaTanach Track participate in the US National Chidon HaTanach (Bible Contest). Our students join more than 500 students from across the country in learning the Chidon’s annual syllabus, which covers all of Chumash and Nevi’im Rishonim and parts of Nevi’im Achronim and Ketuvim in a four-year cycle. In this shiur, students work towards full mastery of the text and content, including the ability to quote and text accurately in discussion or assessment. This detailed knowledge of the text enables nuanced analytical questioning and texting comparisons. Rashi is studied as an additional layer to the Chidon’s syllabus with emphasis placed on mastering the same skills covered in the Rashi Intensive Track. Through a series of preliminary exams, students can qualify to participate in the national competition in New York City each spring. Winners of this competition represent America at the international Chidon HaTanach, which is held annually in Israel.
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.
TalmudThe 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.
Our mixed 7th and 8th grade Mikra classes allow for a unique opportunity to provide leveled and specifically focused courses, enabling every student to grow and be challenged appropriately. Spiraling benchmarks for 7th and 8th grade students in each track encourage continued growth throughout Middle School. Each of our shiurim focuses on different aspects of text study and mastery at varying levels of independence and skill development. We also offer a mechinah course to support students who are new to our system. In a two-year cycle, 7th and 8th grade students explore the narrative sections of Chumash again in more depth, along with Rashi’s commentary. They also complete the remaining books of the Early Prophets through our Navi Bekiut Program. Students graduating from Hillel have learned all of Chumash and the entirety of Nevi’im Rishonim.
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.
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.