Ligonier Valley Middle School » Course Descriptions for Learning

Course Descriptions for Learning

Learners at the middle school follow academic progressions. As a learner moves through the middle level band the rigor and challenge increase.  
Reading Workshop - Learners continue to master reading strategies including visualization, questioning, making inferences, synthesizing and summarizing.  They implement these strategies to comprehend a variety of genre.  As learners move further through the ELA progression, they develop skills essential for analyzing, and interpreting complex literary works. Learners read short stories, articles, novels, and poetry to help develop these skills.  More specifically, learners examine the structure and purpose of literary works with emphasis on close reading strategies.
Writing Workshop - ELA writing is aligned to the PA Common Core Standards and encompasses the following genres of writing: narrative, descriptive, argumentative, and informational.  The progression is designed to enhance the learner’s ability to communicate through writing, as well as speaking and listening.  
Mathematics - The mathematics progression is aligned to the PA Common Core Standards. Topics include statistics, data analysis, ratios, rates, and proportions.  Introductory algebraic skills are emphasized as well and incorporated into geometry concepts.  Learners engage in problem-solving applications and integration of skills and concepts.
The progression of the mathematics courses at the middle school level is as follows: 
1. Math 6
2. Math 7
3. Algebra Prep
**Learners who successfully complete Algebra Prep will automatically transition to Algebra 1.
Algebra - Prior to starting the algebra progression, each learner has a solid foundation of computation skills with whole numbers, integers, and real numbers.  In the algebra progression, learners work towards  mastery of skills included in the real numbers and expressions, linear equations and graphs, polynomials, linear inequalities and graphs, and properties of functions measurement topics.  Learners take the Algebra Keystone Exam upon completion of the progression.  
The progression of the Algebra courses at the middle school level is as follows: 
1. Algebra Readiness
2. Algebra 1A (first half of Algebra Progression)  OR   Algebra 1
*Learners take the Algebra Keystone Exam upon completion of the Algebra 1 course (completion of the Algebra progression).  
**Learners may be scheduled into Algebra 1B at the high school level and will take the Keystone Exam after completing the second half of the progression. 
Science - Learners engage in inquiry-based learning in the general science progression.  They investigate the nature of science, chemistry, Earth's place in the Universe, force and motion, heredity, organisms and cells.   
Social Studies - In order to promote civic competence, learners participate in an integrated approach to social studies. The strands in the social studies progression include economic interdependence, historical analysis, how government works, international relationships, documents of government, rights and responsibility of citizenship, themes of geography, United States history, Pennsylvania history, and world history.  
Art - Learners in the visual arts progression are introduced to a variety of media through the production of art. Using a discipline-based approach, learners consider aesthetics, arts heritage, and criticism to develop their visual literacy skills. 
Music - Learners interact with music composition components in order to appreciate and create works across different media genres.
Health and Physical Education - Learners examine how healthy living improves the quality of life.  The health and physical education targets are aligned to state and national standards. Instead of the traditional game approach to physical education, the strand concentrates on personal fitness. Physical education at LVMS includes learning about how our movements affect other connections in our body, using our body movements to make connections to other content areas, making healthy choices, teamwork and structured socialization, and learning about ways to take physical activity and healthy choices outside of the middle school walls with gardening, exploring, and community service. In the health strand, learners investigate body systems,  growth and development, personal safety, and emergency procedures, and disease prevention. 
Family and Consumer Sciences - Learners study basic cooking techniques along with guidelines for healthy eating.  An introduction to child development as well as pointers on balancing family, and community responsibility is included in the Family and Consumer Sciences progression. As learners move further into the progression, they discuss character building and the importance of personal finance and resource management.
STEAM - This exploratory introduces learners to basic electrical components and how they function in a circuit.  The engineering design process is taught and utilized throughout projects that are completed in small groups.  Learners also explore STEM-related fields and beyond through various career exploration activities and career interest inventories. Learners will problem solve, ask questions about real-world applications, and design or discuss solutions to how technology can create innovations in all things small or large within the work force or daily life. 
Tech Ed - The middle level band of the technology education progression contains three strands: introduction to technology education, manufacturing technology, and introduction to engineering.  In introduction to technology education, learners study systems of architecture and robotics through hands-on activities. In manufacturing technology, learners create small projects using woodworking machinery and hand tools.  In introduction to engineering, learners explore the different methods of mechanical and CAD engineering drawing and design.
Study Skills/Career Portfolio (Study Hall/Mentoring) - Learners investigate a variety of study skills and strategies that help them identify the best way they can locate and process information.  The learners also explore career pathways aligned to their interests as they develop personal career portfolios.  
Seminars- A seminar brings together a small group of learners to study a topic of common interest. This can be done as a discussion or debate, through inquiry or project-based learning, or by other means. The Ligonier Valley Middle School offers a variety of seminars throughout the year. Topics vary and groups are assembled by interests rather than by grade-levels. Every Wednesday, the schedule is adjusted to offer additional electives to LVMS learners. Teachers will provide a catalog of options for seminars and learners will select one option per quarter. They will meet every Wednesday at 1:45p.m. for this additional elective. If offered all year, learners can choose to remain in the same seminar all year. 
Some options for seminars are as follows:
  • Outdoors Club
  • Food2Go 
  • Student Council (elected position)
  • Engineering Club
  • Reading Team
  • LVMS Newspaper
  • Law & Order LVMS
  • Rams Café
  • Craft Club
Band and Chorus will also be scheduled during this time. They will also have 30-minute lessons throughout the week in addition to the group meeting every other Wednesday. 
Band (elective) - Learners learn necessary components for instrumental musicianship development: scales, key signatures, rhythms, and expanded technical items.  Each learner participates in a weekly 30-minute lesson.  Learners may participate in small ensembles, which meet during scheduled lesson periods.  Beyond study and performance skills, band members work collaboratively in order to perform in concerts during the year.
Chorus (elective) - Learners strengthen ear training and music-reading skills through composition study and practice.  Chorus members may take group vocal lessons, which are scheduled during the lesson periods.