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Curriculum-OLD

Math

Paragon Prep’s Math program is one of the most challenging in the city. The 5thand 6th grade math classes utilize Holt Middle School Math Courses 1 and 2 to review and perfect the math skills of elementary school students and to strengthen their foundation for their upcoming studies of Algebra and Geometry. Seventh grade math begins the study of Algebra, using Key Curriculum Press’s Discovering Algebra: An Investigative Approach. Finally, Paragon’s 8th graders either continue their study of algebra or pursue the study of Geometry using the Discovering Geometry: An Inductive Approach book from the Key Curriculum Press. All students are actively engaged in both guided and open-ended mathematical explorations that help them make sense of their experiences so that they can be empowered mathematically in the world as creative, productive citizens. The appropriate use of technology is a part of instruction.

Paragon Prep has all students in grades 5th through 8th on an individualized math supplement program.  Accelerated Mathâ, from Renaissance Learning, is a computer-generated program that helps students to identify skills that may need reinforcing.  The program will also allow those who are ready for enrichment to go ahead of the taught curriculum.  Accelerated Math is a required component of all Paragon Prep math students.  More on Paragon Math

English

The English curriculum at Paragon is designed to help students foster an appreciation of literature, a firm basis in technical, analytical and creative writing, and an understanding of the mechanics and usage of written and verbal expression. The writing process, vocabulary, and grammar skills are coordinated with and applied to all aspects of the English curriculum, as the students learn to be proficient in analyzing works by various authors and in revising their own writing. Literature selections are thematically connected; students recognize literature’s influence on humanity as well as the necessity for and value of personal expression. Paragon students study a range of literature: novels, essays, poetry, short stories, and drama. Students are given the opportunity to create individual and group presentations, and to evaluate writing for audience, purpose, and tone. Through creative lesson planning and structured, purposeful, writing assignments, Paragon English teachers address and exceed standards established by the Texas Education Agency.

Paragon’s English faculty is made up of experienced, creative, and dedicated teachers who are fully committed to providing the best education to their students. Each teacher believes that English is not a course to be taught in isolation; the themes of the literature explored in each grade level are pervasive, and the skills of written and oral communication can be utilized outside of the classroom. Students are encouraged to share personal connections, but are taught to support those connections with concrete details and an understanding of audience. With a supportive team of caring adults, Paragon students are able to stretch themselves and find their own, powerful voice, a voice worthy of being heard.

5th grade Language Arts
Fifth grade Language Arts focuses on the fundamentals of literary and written expression. Student writing samples are more technical in nature, with assignments focusing on providing the reader with a concise, but detailed account. Various parts of speech are examined during the year and grammar is practiced utilizing “Daily Oral Language” lessons. Students read such works as Hatchet, A Christmas Carol, Where the Red Fern Grows, and Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. Novels are discussed chapter by chapter, and students are given comprehension questions to complete. Emphasis is placed not only on answering questions correctly, but also in doing so precisely, with enough detail to enlighten the reader. The students also read a bi-weekly news magazine, Junior Scholastic, to discuss current events. Spelling and vocabulary come from the literature and from Wordly Wise, a vocabulary workbook that requires the students to work with new words in various contextual ways.

6th grade English
The sixth grade curriculum reinforces the fifth grade foundation and immerses the students in a challenging standard of reading and writing. Students read literary selections such as Night, The Watson’s go to Birmingham, Whirligig, and The Outsiders. Novels are chosen to give insight to a variety of perspective, style, purpose and device. Critical analysis of each novel’s powerful content and memorable characters serves not only to engage students, but also allows the students to understand theme and author’s purpose. Sixth graders will develop a relationship and passion for the written word. They will write literary analysis, creative fiction, and poetry. The novels read this year will serve as a cornerstone for topics of writing. Grammar, spelling, and vocabulary, roots of the writing process, are drawn from and taught in conjunction with the sixth grade literary selections.

7th grade English
Seventh grade English curriculum focuses on appreciation of literature and introduction to analytical writing. Students read works such as To Kill a Mockingbird, Animal Farm, Lord of the Flies, Cyrano de Bergerac, and various short stories and works of poetry. Seventh grade English students utilize close reading strategies to recognize the author’s purpose through his or her use of style and device. Students hone their essay skills by first learning to write a well-developed paragraph, and, later, move into creating five-paragraph literary analysis essays. To build fluency and writing confidence, students participate in personal writing and creative self-expression. Personal poetry and prose is produced, illustrated, and shared. The writing process is an important focus and is utilized with each major writing assignment. Grammar, usage, vocabulary, and sentence style are taught in conjunction with the literature and as part of the writing process in the students’ own personal and extensive writing.

8th grade English
Eighth grade students continue to develop and sophisticate their skills in creative and extensive writing. Literary analysis is a major focus; students continue crafting well-developed, five-paragraph essays, and hone skills in adding significant details from the text, as well as insightful commentary that is rich with elaboration. Correct usage, mechanics, diction, and vocabulary building are a focus within the study of literature and through the students’ writing process. Students will read works such as All Quiet on the Western Front, Crucible, Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, various short stories and poetry, and a work by William Shakespeare. Supplemental reading will be assigned so students can begin making thematic connections between texts. Students improve speaking skills through a variety of small presentations and performances from literature. During the eighth grade year in English, students participate in a research project to understand the process of research and proper documentation. Students continue to be encouraged to write and share personal works of poetry and prose.

Science

6th Grade: Earth Science
In Grade 6, students study earth science.  In natural resources, students learn about soil, water and air.  In meteorology, they learn about the earth’s atmosphere. There is a study of weather and climate that focuses on air mass, pressure, global and local winds, fronts, precipitation, and storms. The unit on oceanography covers topics such as ocean currents and the ocean floor.  Students focus on the scientific method.  Guided lab activities and observations support the development of skills in observation, synthesis, and evaluation.  Students also complete a research project on weather where they predict the weather of five cities for the day using PowerPoint.

7th Grade:  Biology
The major science units in Grade 7 include topics such as an introduction to microscopy; the cell and its processes; classification of living organisms; an introduction to microbiology; heredity and genetics; plants and aids.  Students study important laboratory techniques including simple and differential staining techniques; preparation of culture media; the handling and examining of cultures; culturing microorganisms from the environment; the testing of anti-microbial agents; and the microbial analysis of water and milk.  The scientific method is used. Students also complete a research project on an infectious disease.

8th Grade:  Basic Chemistry and Introduction to Physics
During the first half of the year, students focus on an introduction to chemistry.  Units include matter and energy; the physical properties of matter; atomic structure; the Periodic Table; atoms and bonding; chemical reactions; mixtures, solutions, acid and base chemistry. Students then study physical science concepts including force and energy; motion; waves; light; sound; electricity; and energy sources.  The use of the scientific method is stressed.  Guided lab activities support the development of skills in observation, synthesis, and evaluation. Students also complete a yearlong project on the tissue culture of African violet.

Social Studies

U.S. History is taught in both the 5th and 8th grades. 5th graders specifically study American history from the arrival of the first colonists through the civil war. This is accompanied by an investigation of U.S. geography. The 8th grade course focuses on the relationship of citizens to their nation with emphasis on the development of the United States from the earliest times to the present. 6th graders take a World Geography and History class designed to give them an understanding of the influences of geography, history, economics, demographics, and religion on present-day conditions. In the 7th grade, Paragon Prep students are immersed in a study of the free market economic system and gain a strong understanding of the form and function of the United States government with an emphasis on the three branches of government and their interaction.

6th Grade: World Geography and History
By examining foreign cultures from a variety of perspectives, this course seeks to help students develop a world view. The course is designed to give students an understanding of the influences of geography, history, economics, demographics, and religion on present-day conditions. How these forces appear in the contemporary world is pursued through Internet research and a variety of both print and multimedia news sources. Ideally, students should emerge from the course with a thorough appreciation of cultures other than their own and the intellectual tools needed to make sense of any culture. Each student is asked to be open-minded and to appreciate cultures on their own terms rather than judge them from our own cultural perspective. This focus on the global is combined with a thorough grounding in the study of English. The course includes extensive instruction in reading, writing, vocabulary, spelling, and grammar. Daily writing assignments and periodic literary explorations play a significant role in the students’ geography studies.

7th Grade: Government and Economics – Democracy In Action
Really three courses, Democracy In Action comprises studies in economics, politics, and civics.  Taken together, this course of study explores questions especially pertinent to young people starting to think seriously about themselves and the world in which they live. Students are immersed in a study of the free market economic system with particular emphasis on stock market fundamentals and portfolio management. Students also gain a strong understanding of the form and function of the United States government with a strong emphasis on the three branches of government and their interaction.

8th Grade: United States History – Our American Heritage
This course focuses on the relationship of citizens to their nation with emphasis on the development of the United States from the earliest times to the present. The question central to this course is: “Who are we as Americans, as citizens of the United States?” This inquiry is framed by four themes: Change, Complexity, Compromise, and Conflict.

Latin 

Latin inspired all the other subjects taught at Paragon Prep. The Romans not only developed most of the subjects that we study today, but they also ardently believed in students being exposed to all subjects or having a liberal arts education. The Romans, excellent engineers, discovered and recorded many math theorems and axioms, such as the rounded arch. Scientific names are all in Latin not only because it is very specific, but because the Romans named and cataloged all of the flora and fauna found in their travels. The Romans adored physical activity and built great gymnasiums and bathing pools for public enjoyment. Most English words are derived from Latin and/or come directly from the Latin such as Alumnus/Alumna. Finally, the Romans spread their civilization across the world and recorded it for posterity, thereby creating western civilization as we know it.

In Latin class, students explore Latin through history, vocabulary, architecture, law, and grammar. Students are challenged through language studies, national tests, and extracurricular activities such as Certamen. Paragon Prep utilizes the textbook series The Cambridge Latin Course, which follows modern teaching methods for real Latin acquisition.

The Latin curriculum at Paragon Prep follows a high school program—students in Latin I or 7th Grade at Paragon are learning the same things that Latin I students in high school are learning, and students in Latin II or 8th Grade at Paragon are learning the same that Latin II students in the surrounding high schools are learning.

7th Grade Latin objectives

  • Reading – Students will evolve from simple sentences with single verbs to reading complex sentence structures and full paragraphs and pages.  They will read, in the texts, a continuous story line in Latin and learn to interpret what they read without translating into English.
  • Mythology – Students will gain familiarity with the beginning of the Greek world, the Greek and Roman gods, myths about the beginning of humanity and the heroes.  We will also read a simplified version of the Iliad and Odyssey.
  • History – Romans considered their history to begin with the Trojan Aeneas, and that is where students will begin their history lessons, too.  The Seven Kings of Rome, the Republic, the Punic Wars and Civil Wars, and the Empire will all be discussed.  If time permits, we will expand into areas of Greece and Alexander the Great.
  • Culture – The cultural centers for the seventh grade Latin class will be Pompeii and Roman Britain.  Students will learn basics of Roman daily life such as the organization of the household, religious beliefs, hygiene, medicine, education, entertainment, local government, trade, and treatment of indigenous peoples in the provinces.
  • Grammar – Beginning with pronunciation and simple word order, students will gain comfort and skill with noun cases and declensions, verb conjugations and tenses, gender, number, person, impersonal and personal pronouns, and adjectives.

8th Grade Latin Objectives

  • Reading – The continuing storyline from Latin I has evolved into a complex story with subplots and political intrigue.  Students will read for meaning, interpret metaphor and author intent, and learn to predict future plotline.
  • Mythology – Students will review through the mythologies studied previously, including the Iliad and Odyssey.  They will study the Metamorphoses of Ovid, and any remaining time will be spent on Greek tragedies such as Oedipus Rex by Sophocles.
  • History – History will focus on the Republic, especially the life and times of Julius Caesar and the events which led to the downfall of the Republic.  We will delve into the topics in more detail than in Latin I.
  • Culture – Students will study the Roman army, its legions, and camps.  They will study Roman religion and philosophy.  Lastly, they will learn more in depth about Roman entertainment and comedy.
  • Grammar – Students will review through the grammar progress they made previously in Latin I, then begin to add to their knowledge.  They will expand verbs into voice and mood; learn subtleties of idiom and usage, and finish the basics of a Latin grammar education.

Read “A Vote For Latin” from the New York Times.


Physical Education 

The Physical Education program at Paragon stresses participation and personal fitness. Students participate in a variety of activities that help develop aerobic conditioning and body coordination. Students are prepared to participate in the President’s Physical Fitness challenge and several other fitness related competitions. Another important component of the program is outdoor education. Students are introduced to elements of orienteering and outdoor training in conjunction with class trips to local and regional park areas.

Students are required to wear a standard uniform for physical education. Information regarding the uniform may be obtained from the school office.

Athletic opportunities for boys and girls are offered in basketball and cross-country. Other sports are offered depending on student interest and facility availability. Please visit our “Athletics” Page for more information.

Art

Paragon’s Art curriculum combines art production, art history, art criticism, individual assessment, and aesthetics. Art classes meet once a week, and explore 2-D and 3-D foundations in various mediums. Art classes function under the philosophy that every person is an artist and all humans are innately creative beings. People are not “born artists”. Rather, drawing, painting, and sculpting are learned, by gaining a certain set of skills and practicing them, just like music, dance, sports, and academics. All grade levels will meet and exceed art education standards set for the state of Texas.

Through analysis of different movements in art history student begin to understand how artists respond to their culture and society, and thus gain critical thinking skills about creative ways they can respond to present day issues.

Art critiques will he held after the completion of each project to exercise analysis skills, apply learned concepts, and allow time for self-assessment.

Also, students will keep a portfolio of their art work to assess their individual process and growth. Students will gain confidence in technical skills as well as their unique creative style.

The creative process of making art promotes high level critical thinking skills, communication skills, emotional intelligence, observation skills, open-mindedness, creative problem solving, eye-hand coordination, self-awareness, self-expression, self-esteem, contemplative reflection, inventiveness, flexibility just to name a few.

M.O.A.T.

Monitoring Our Assignments as a Team

At Paragon Prep, each student must cross the M.O.A.T. before going home at the end of the day. Monitoring Our Assignments as a Team assures that each student has an advisor. Students meet with their advisor twice a day to make sure that all homework and assignments are accounted for and for discussions of class and school events. Paragon Prep’s schedule is designed to help students complete their assignments and properly study for exams. In accordance with that policy, students will have no more than one major exam per day. Staff members also make a strong effort to coordinate their assigned homework load so that the students are given adequate time to finish their assignments. If you have concerns about your student’s academic or social progress at the school, the student’s advisor is available for consultation.