MIDDLE SCHOOL

At Our Lady of the Lake Catholic School, our Middle School provides an educational foundation of learning through rigorous, faith-filled, academic and artistic programs.  We nurture the individual gifts and talents of students, while meeting their individual needs in a Christ centered atmosphere.  Our content-rich curriculum is taught by extremely qualified professional educators, dedicated to Catholic education.

Our middle school teachers work collaboratively with students and parents to provide experiences that encourage students to develop appropriate levels of independence. Our Lady of the Lake Catholic School students develop self-monitoring skills and self-motivation through a nurturing, safe and trusting environment. 

OLL Middle School students have opportunities to experience off campus learning, including Near Wilderness Settlement at Baker Park & the Environmental Learning Center at Wolf Ridge.  The Middle School capstone experience is a four day mission trip for our eighth grade students.  Our middle school students develop organization skills, extended concentration, perseverance, creativity, abstract and critical thinking skills.  Middle School students are also encouraged to demonstrate leadership skills through peer mentoring and student representative positions.

Students are encouraged to fulfill their individual potential academically, spiritually and through their civic obligations as giving members of our community.  When students leave the walls of OLL, it is our desire for them to leave with a love of God, truth, knowledge and learning.

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RELIGION

We believe the foundation of religion is the conviction that God is always present in our daily lives.  Our Lady of the Lake Catholic School builds the student’s faith in the one loving triune God through developing an understanding of the basic truths of the Church.  In the Middle School, OLL students are taught prayers, Bible stories, the sacraments and stories of saints and holy men and women of the Bible.  Prayer and the teachings of the church are woven throughout each day.  All students attend Mass weekly.  They, along with their teachers, observe the liturgical seasons and participate in student-led prayer services during Advent, Lent and Catholic Schools week. 

Our teachers seek to inspire young students to practice the “Core Virtues” in order to develop strength of character, and to become closer to God.  Stories of virtuous men, women and children are read in classrooms.  Each month is assigned either a Saint or Theological Virtue for students to learn and to which teachers give particular attention.  Students learn that self-discipline leads to true freedom as a person of character and integrity.  Through the study and promotion of virtue, students learn to love God and neighbor and to respect one another.  Teachers try to “catch” students demonstrating qualities or acts of virtue and present students with a “virtue award”.  In positive ways, we hope to support the work of parents in building strong morals and character in their children.

LANGUAGE ARTS

We believe the goal of a Language Arts program is to create effective communicators.  Our Language Arts philosophy recognizes that educating and empowering students to develop an appreciation for literature, engaging in writing opportunities, becoming effective communicators and encouraging them to explore the many facets that construct the richness of language is vital for the development of our OLL students.  Using the integrated process of reading, writing, speaking and listening, OLL students will learn to communicate with confidence, clarity, creativity and competence.  

Our blended learning approach is used in all of the classrooms at each grade level.  Students use digital curricula to navigate through each lesson.  The digital curricula provides both student and teacher data as to where the student is exceling or has opportunities for growth.  The teacher uses this data to pinpoint their instruction on areas of growth and reinforce excellence for each individual student.   

MATHEMATICS

Our Middle School students are introduced to the online curriculum, Khan Academy, which they use through Pre-Algebra.  Both Algebra and Geometry use the Discovering Mathematics series to reinforce the concepts learned.  These content areas are taught using the flipped classroom model.  The flipped classroom approach, involves lectures with Khan’s videos, which students can watch at home.  Then, in class, they focus on working problem sets with their teacher.  The idea is to invert the normal rhythms of school, so that lectures are viewed at home and homework is done at school.  The philosophy behind this approach is to have direct instruction available to the student when they are really grappling with a subject and are most likely to need direction and support from their teacher.  Khan Academy provides teachers with a dashboard application that allows them to see the instant a student gets stuck.  Through Blended Learning, using the Flipped or Rotational classroom approaches, the teachers are able to give specific, pinpointed instruction where needed.

SCIENCE

The Middle School Science program is designed to make hands-on science engaging for all students.  Today’s students’ quality of life will be significantly influenced by science and technology.  It is important for all students to be scientifically literate throughout their life.  They should be able to make thoughtful, informed decisions appropriate to their age and experience.

We believe science should enhance each student’s curiosity and develop their ability to investigate, analyze and explain the biological, physical, chemical and technological world around them.  Our teachers balance the use of hands-on experiences and direct instruction to excite students about the life cycle of various species, weather, the solar system, light, sound and a variety of other topics. 

The scientific method is taught and practiced.  Through the course of their Middle School years, students will study biology in such units as the systems of the human body, basic cell structure, animal classifications, plant reproduction and more.  Physical science is studied through units such as simple machines, magnets and electricity.  Weather and climate are studied and connect to the study of Geography.  Students complete simple research projects, write reports, and give oral presentations on their findings.  

SOCIAL STUDIES/HISTORY/GEOGRAPHY

The Middle School Social Studies program connects our students to their place in the world as citizens of the United States and as children of God.  Our teachers help students understand significant events in history, develop citizenship skills and learn about our country.  Middle School students are rooted in an appreciation and love for their own culture and history in western civilization, while also learning about the cultures and contributions of other civilizations.  Our curriculum fosters the acceptance of cultural diversity in our global society.  Through understanding the past and present, OLL students will be able to meet the challenges of their future.  

Our Lady of the Lake Catholic School's Social Studies program focuses on guiding children to understand different interactions within the society in which they live and how these interactions affect their own lifestyle and others around them.  OLL instills the attitudes and values necessary for children to function as responsible citizens in our society.  Our Lady of the Lake's Social Studies curriculum guides students to work towards a socially just world for all people. 

SPANISH

Our Lady of the Lake Catholic School students are introduced to Spanish starting in our Pre-kindergarten program.  We believe through the study of another language and culture, OLL students will gain a better understanding of the world and the many areas of diversity throughout.  Students are guided to learn Spanish through hands-on activities, games, visuals, participation, movement/following directions (Total Physical Response, TPR), music/singing, dance, dialogues/skits, guest speakers, listening, repetition, memorization, technology, reading, writing, speaking and cultural activities to help students become familiar with basic conversational skills in Spanish.  

Everyday vocabulary and useful phrases are introduced and reinforced through listening, repetition, hands on activities, following directions (TPR) and musical and visual prompts.  Students learn to utilize the language to communicate likes/dislikes, needs, wants, greetings, introductions, descriptions and an array of questions and answers.  Students also begin to cultivate an appreciation, understanding and respect of the culture and traditions of Spanish speaking communities.  Through practice, the primary goal of learning a secondary language is to understand and be understood through meaningful communication.  

TECHNOLOGY

We believe technology is a vital component of our blended learning instructional model at Our Lady of the Lake Catholic School.  We provide our students with digital curricula in both Mathematics and Language Arts.  Technology is used to enrich and expand learning beyond the traditional textbook and classroom discussion.  Our goal is to integrate technology skills into everyday classroom academics.

Our Lady of the Lake Catholic School provides a variety of technological equipment for use in our Elementary School classroom instruction and for technology education for Elementary School students.  Wi-Fi is available throughout the building and all Elementary School classrooms have internet access through classroom computers and LCD projection system.  Elementary teachers prepare and augment lessons through the use of educationally valuable internet sites.

Our Middle School students are each assigned a Chromebook for their own use as part of our 1:1 technology initiative.  Available to all students are devices inclusive of Netbooks, Smartboards, NEO2’s, Senteo Responders, and a wide variety of software.

MUSIC

Music education affords children the opportunity for experimentation, creativity, self-expression and a genuine love of music.  Our music curriculum directly connects to core subjects and brings cultures from all over the world into the classroom.  Music education increases student appreciation of all the arts and develops skills for life-long enjoyment. 

Our Lady of the Lake Catholic School has two main music curricula, Music Connection and Theory Time, as well as a huge variety of other resources enabling students to cover in great depth and breadth many musical genres throughout the course of the year.  Music is hands-on singing and playing, creating and evaluating, games and moving.  Each year, genres from jazz to classical are introduced and studied and students learn to identify and appreciate the works of renowned composers.  Band instrument instruction is available to fourth grade students and continues into the Middle School.  All students perform in fully staged grade level concerts twice per year, at Christmas time and in the spring.  Our Liturgical Choir provides music leadership at Mass each week with many opportunities for solos.  All students have other performance opportunities including school programs, the City of Mound Tree Lighting, Catholic Schools Week, and other special events.

ART

We believe that art is a balance of creative experiences, skill development and knowledge.  Visual arts are an important way for students to communicate and express themselves.  By developing a visual literacy, students are able to express themselves in ways that transcend verbal and written expression.  This communication is a vital part of students’ personal realization and well-being.  This realization allows students to engage in the community and be connected to others through culture and history.  Our teachers deliver unique experiences comprised of these components in an environment that is student-centered, discipline based and structured.  Students are instructed in drawing, painting, clay work and other methods and media.  They are encouraged to create works of beauty and individuality.  The works of great artists, known and unknown, from many parts of the world, both ancient and modern are introduced and studied.  Our student’s artwork is the pride of the hallways at Our Lady of the Lake Catholic School and can be found displayed throughout the building.

HEALTH/PHYSICAL EDUCATION

Our Lady of the Lake Catholic School's goal is to provide students with the knowledge, skills and enthusiasm to maintain a healthy Christian lifestyle into adulthood.  These skills include but are not limited to promoting physical fitness, motor skill development, knowledge of rules and strategies and teaching students to work as a team.  Social skills such as respect, teamwork, sportsmanship and cooperation are all integral parts of our physical education curriculum.

Through our Physical Education classes, students from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade, learn different ways to enjoy being active.  A variety of team activities are taught, inclusive of football, soccer, basketball, dodgeball, among others.  All grades focus on the same units with expectations activities edified by grade level and age appropriateness.  Grades three through eight complete the requirements for the Presidential and National Physical Fitness awards.

Health is offered to OLL Middle School students.  Our goal is for students to realize that physical activity is a privilege and is an opportunity to learn sustainable healthy habits, conditioning and sportsmanship.  Our curriculum includes units on nutrition, diet, exercise, alcohol and drug abuse and body changes.  Additionally, students will study respect of family, health, friends and self.  Our health is a gift from God and it’s important for our children to understand how their choices impact themselves both spiritually and physically.