Curriculum Information

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Lauren Gemmill

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Niskayuna Schools > Academics > Curriculum Information

Middle School Curriculum overview

Iroquois and Van Antwerp Middle Schools follow a consistent program of studies and curriculum, aligned with the New York State Common Core Learning Standards. Scroll down, or use the links below to access information by subject area.

Art | English Language Arts (ELA) | Health | Home and Careers (Family & Consumer Sciences) |

Mathematics | Music - General Music & Middle School Ensembles | Physical Education | Science |

Social Studies | Technology | World Languages



The Middle School Art Program offers a sequential curriculum that builds essential skills. Students maintain sketchbooks throughout the program, practicing skills, problem solving and techniques. Students are exposed to a variety of artists, cultures, and media. Our goal is to prepare students for the High School art program and instill a lifelong appreciation of and interest in the arts.

Students in grade 6 meet for art daily for one semester.
Students in grade 7 meet for art every other day for one semester.
Students in grade 8 meet for art daily for one quarter.


English Language Arts (ELA)

The ELA curriculum is guided by the Common Core Learning Standards, and includes instruction in reading, writing, speaking, and listening. In reading, teachers focus on supporting students with comprehension and fluency through a balance of genres and a balance between instructional level and rigorous texts. In writing, teachers focus on supporting students with the writing process, writing across a variety of genres, using textual evidence in writing and discovering their voice as writers. For speaking/listening, teachers focus on supporting students with speaking in front of groups, formally and informally; listening to speakers, listening for comprehension. In addition to ELA instruction at all grade levels, students in sixth grade have a daily reading class.


Family & Consumer Sciences

Home and Careers is offered for ten weeks in 6th, 7th and 8th grades. As a student progresses through middle school home and careers courses, each new course builds on the experiences of the previous year. Units of study include skills for adolescence, food preparation and nutrition, financial management, and career exploration.



Students in grades 6 and 8 receive a sequential, age-appropriate Health curriculum that covers emotional health, nutrition, substance abuse prevention, diseases and disorders, and family life. Students in grades 6 and 8 have 10 weeks of Health instruction. Seventh grade students receive instruction guided by the Project Alert substance abuse prevention curriculum. Detailed middle school health curriculum information



The Niskayuna middle school math curriculum is based on the New York State Mathematics Standards that have been aligned with the Common Core Learning Standards. The Common Core Learning Standards provide a consistent and clear understanding of what students are expected to learn. The standards are robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills needed for success in college and careers.

Key Areas of Focus for Grade 6: Ratios and proportional reasoning; early expressions and equations. Key Areas of Focus for Grade 7: Ratios and proportional reasoning; arithmetic of rational numbers. Key Areas of Focus for Grade 8: Linear algebra


Music - General Music & Middle School Ensembles

All students in grades 6 and 7 receive instruction in general music. All classes utilize elements of the Music Learning Theory based on the research of Dr. Edwin Gordon. This curriculum is combined with the Yamaha "Music In Education" program, which allows students to participate in class 'hands-on' through the use of individual keyboards/synthesizers and focuses on concepts such as melody, harmony, texture, range and tempo, as well as the creation of original compositions. Students in the 6th grade meet daily for 20 weeks for 45 minutes per class. Students in the 7th grade meet daily for 10 weeks for 45 minutes per class.

In addition to general music, all students in 6th, 7th and 8th grades have the opportunity to participate in choirs, bands, and orchestras. Our Middle School Music Department offers three 'core' ensembles- band, choir, and orchestra. All ensembles meet outside of the regular school day before school begins. Band and orchestra students are required to attend weekly 30-minute lessons on a rotating schedule during the school day. Each middle school - Iroquois and Van Antwerp - has their own choral program. Each school has a 6th grade chorus and a 7th/8th grade chorus.

More detailed information about the middle school music program


Physical Education

The middle school Physical Education (P.E.) program is aligned to the New York State Learning Standards of maintaining personal health and fitness; maintaining a safe and healthy environment; and accessing personal and community resources. Middle school students have P.E. every other day all year.



Students study earth & atmospheric science (6th grade), life science (7th grade) and physical science & chemistry (8th grade).


Social Studies

The Social Studies curriculum meets the NYS Social Studies Framework and five learning standards. Students study world civilizations & the Eastern Hemisphere (6th grade), U.S. history I (7th grade) and U.S. history II (8th grade).


Middle school technology education is an investigative, activity-based program. Students are asked to solve technical problems through the gathering of information, the development of solutions, and the creation of a plan to solve the problem. Seventh grade technology is a foundation course that develops student's technical literacy through design, invention, and innovation. Through the study of how technological solutions impact society and the environment. Eighth grade technology revolves around a systems approach to the creation, monitoring and modification of technical systems.


World Languages

Students can choose to study French or Spanish beginning in sixth grade. Grade 6 foreign language is a semester class (20 weeks) and 7th and 8th grade students take a full year of foreign language. Eighth grade language is the Level I high school course, and at the end of the year, students take a local proficiency exam that fulfills their high school language requirement. At the end of eighth grade instruction, teachers will recommend students for Language I, II or II H in high school.