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Academics & Special Programs

The Minisink Valley Middle School has approximately 850 students in grades 6 through 8.  The school is divided into teams: 3 teams at 6th grade, 3 teams at 7th grade, and 3 teams at 8th grade.  Special education services are delivered in both self-contained and inclusion classrooms.  In addition, academic intervention services are included for English Language Arts and mathematics.  Filtered Internet access is available in each classroom, two computer labs, and library media center through the district technology network.  Additionally, students have access to Chromebooks in their classes to help them develop their technology skills.

Please know that we administer InView testing to 6th Grade students each year to assist with assessing student cognitive abilities.  Below is a brief overview of the test.

  • An accurate and reliable measure of inductive and deductive reasoning processes—abilities crucial for academic success
  • A valuable measure of quantitative reasoning, not reliant on math questions and free of gender bias
  • Insightful information about student skills that are valid predictors of student academic success
  • The ability to identify students for placement in the most appropriate learning programs

Course Descriptions

English/Language Arts

English/Language Arts 6

This course develops reading, writing, listening and speaking, as well as critical thinking skills. Spelling, vocabulary, composition, grammar, and literature units based on novels and stories are emphasized. This course meets the current requirements of the New York State Learning Standards and prepares students for success on the 6th grade NYS English/Language Arts exam.

English 7

This course is designed to develop skills in reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Seventh grade students are encouraged to think critically and analytically. Writing is emphasized, and the curriculum integrates grammar and language mechanics into all aspects of the writing process. This course meets the current requirements of the New York State Learning Standards and prepares students for success on the 7th grade NYS English/Language Arts exam.

English 8

This course involves reading, discussing, interpreting, analyzing, and writing about a variety of genres. Additionally, the curriculum covers the correct grammar and mechanics necessary for effective writing and prepares students for success on the 8th grade NYS English/Language Arts exam.


The art program in our Middle School is designed to help students communicate their own ideas through works of art.  By creating artwork, exploring materials and resources, analyzing works of art and understanding cultural contributions of art to our society, students will develop an understanding and appreciation for the arts.  Throughout the middle school each student is exposed to the following mediums with a progression to more advanced techniques. 

  • Drawing-pencil, charcoal, colored pencils
  • Painting-watercolor, acrylics, tempera, cray pas, pastels
  • Printmaking-lino
  • Sculpture-clay, paper mache
  • animation and graphics on computers
  • Stained glass

Computer Technology

Throughout their time at the middle school, students will learn to use Microsoft Word, Publisher and Powerpoint. Students will have a review of the Internet and how to properly cite sources in the MLA format. Students will then learn the fundamentals of good web page design and how to create a web page with Microsoft Frontpage. They will then build on their PowerPoint skills by creating an autobiography using PowerPoint, a scanner, and a digital camera.

Health Education

The unique year-to-year continuity of the health education program benefits adolescents during the developmental years when we see profound cognitive, emotional and social changes. Though passage through this stage is not uniform from child to child, the consistency of students' progression through the middle school health course introduces and reinforces concepts at stages that are developmentally appropriate.

Students explore emotional changes that they may be experiencing and learn techniques to cope with stress, handle anger and take actions to maintain successful friendships. We identify and reinforce behavioral skills that foster a of well being at school, with peers and at home. Students are given an introduction to the effects of drug substances on the human body. A biological view of basic brain chemistry forms the groundwork for future instruction of substance abuse and mental-wellness topics. Tobacco resistance education is a major unit in sixth grade. The changes of puberty, communicable diseases and HIV-AIDS topics are also presented.

We explore topics of eating disorders, depression, and other effects of distress.  Discussion of substance abuse topics emphasizes gateway drugs, with a major focus on alcohol. As students in this age level continue to achieve greater levels of emotional I.Q., we present and develop the changes of puberty once again, as well as mandated HIV-AIDS prevention.

 During their final year in middle school, the concepts presented in earlier years are harnessed and integrated to reinforce skills for a healthy lifestyle through all the years ahead.

Family & Consumer Science

Students explore and develop skills related to home, school, community and their future work environment.

Our program focuses on effective decision-making.  This skill increases the awareness of the many decisions students make and their consequences.  They apply these life-long skills to the areas of foods and nutrition, conflict resolution, and the development of self-confidence.  Students will also participate in a variety of individual and group projects with an emphasis on safe and healthy food preparation.  Students learn about the influences of culture in our daily food choices and celebrations.  The program concludes with an international food festival.

Human development is the first of two main components of FACS.  Since babysitting is one of the first jobs for many of our students, techniques in developing and maintaining a safe and health environment are introduced.  Safety measures, first aid, nutritional needs and the changing social, physical, emotional and intellectual stages of development are addressed.  Students build on their food preparation skills by creating healthy snacks. 

The second component of the program is consumer education.  In this unit students gain an understanding of our economic system, recognize factors that influence their spending, learn how to protect themselves in the marketplace, and analyze the influences of advertising. Since teenagers make up a large part of our purchasing population, instruction is given on how to make wise consumer choices through the use of Consumer Reports.

Self-awareness is a focus within Family and Consumer Science.  An emphasis is placed on identifying each student's own skills, abilities, educational goals, interests, and work values.  High school students and a representative of the C-Tech Center are guest speakers in order to make students more aware of the transition to high school and explain curricular options.  Possible career choices are then matched and researched.  In this program, students learn about child labor laws and working papers, complete job applications, practice-interviewing skills, and examine those work habits that make employees valuable. Volunteerism is explored by participating in fund raising activities which help support two Minisink Care Families.

General and Performing Music

General Music is a required course for all students that are not taking band/chorus.   Requirements include performance evaluation and skills testing as well as retention of basic information.  Music examples and information on the Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic and Twentieth Century are presented. Other requirements include performance evaluation and skills testing as well as retention of information at a more advanced level.  Music examples and information focus on the various styles of popular music of America and around the world.


Music Performing Groups

6th Grade Band

The 6th Grade Band is available to all sixth grade students who enjoy playing an instrument, have had previous experience and wish to further their knowledge and experience as a musician.  The band performs music in a variety of styles.  Attendance at both the Winter and Spring performances is required.

7th Grade Band

The 7th Grade Band is available to all seventh grade students who enjoy playing an instrument, have had previous experience and wish to further their knowledge and experience as a musician.  The band performs music in a variety of styles.  Attendance at both the Winter and Spring performances is required.

8th Grade Band

The 8th Grade Band is available to all eighth grade students who enjoy playing an instrument, have had previous experience and wish to further their knowledge and experience as a musician.  The band performs music in a variety of styles.  Attendance at both the Winter and Spring performances is required.

6th Grade Chorus

The 6th Grade Chorus is available to all sixth grade students who enjoy singing and wish to further their knowledge and experience as a singer.  The chorus performs treble music in a variety of styles and voicings.  Attendance at both the Winter and Spring performances is required.

7th Grade Chorus

The 7th Grade Chorus is available to all seventh grade students who enjoy singing and wish to further their knowledge and experience as a singer.  The chorus performs three-part music in a variety of styles.  Attendance at both the Winter and Spring performances is required.

8th Grade Chorus

The 8th Grade Chorus is available to all eighth grade students who enjoy singing and wish to further their knowledge and experience as a singer.  The chorus performs three-part music in a variety of styles.  Attendance at both the Winter and Spring performances is required.

Physical Education

Our program is based on the strong belief that children need opportunities to become healthy, fit, and confident people.  Here at our middle school, our program is success oriented, with an emphasis on fun and safety.  Over the course of the three years that children take physical education they will receive fitness instruction; they will learn about personal training in such activities as running and walking; they will learn about many team and individual sports; and they will learn about a variety of lifetime sports.  In addition, the program will also expose children to Project Adventure, an approach to physical education that emphasizes teamwork and personal growth.

Technology Education

Students will learn the importance and impact that technology has in our world.  The main element of our program is problem solving through hands-on learning experiences.  Our objective is to introduce your child to the following areas of Technology.  Please click the link to go to the new Technology web page

  • The history of aviation
  • Bridge design and construction
  • Computer aided drafting
  • Video productions
  • CO2 race car production

Our goal is to have all students realize the relationship between technology and real life applications.

Foreign Language

Spanish 7/French 7

This is an interactive introductory course teaching the foundations of language in the form of basic conversational vocabulary and simple grammar. In addition, we emphasize communicative-based listening, speaking, reading, and writing in a foreign language at the “proficiency” level as well as introduce our students to the cultures and geography of the Spanish/French-speaking world.  

Students will work on pronunciation, listening skills, vocabulary, conversational skills and learn various aspects of the Hispanic culture. This course is the first half of the NYS Checkpoint A curriculum.

Spanish 1/French 1

The primary aim of the course is to begin to develop the four skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing. Students will be able to understand simple spoken Spanish and engage in conversations in which they may talk about themselves, persuade someone to take a course of action, provide information or seek information about a variety of everyday topics. Reading skills at this level involve the interpretation of a variety of basic authentic materials (advertisements, tickets) and simple narratives. In writing, students learn to meet the purpose of a task (e.g., to provide or seek information) with appropriate vocabulary and structure at a reasonable length. In addition, students acquire understanding and develop an appreciation of cultures other than their own. As an “accelerated” high-school level course, Spanish 1 requires passing the course and the Checkpoint A Examination given in June in order to receive 1 high school LOTE credit.


Science 6

Sixth Grade Earth Science is a comprehensive course detailing students in the complexity of our Earth. Throughout the year, students will discover topics such as: Plate Tectonics, Earthquakes, Volcanoes, Astronomy, Moon, Sun, and the Solar System. Students will participate in laboratory activities which enhance the learning experience.   Along with the many traditional learning tools provided to them, students will have access to Chromebooks and technology in the classroom.


Science 7

Seventh Grade Life Science is a yearlong class.  Students will be learning about concepts and ideas that are somewhat different from those which they learned about in the 6th grade. Specifically, some of our topics will be scientific measurement, cells, heredity, genetics, evolution, bacteria, plants, and environmental studies. Projects and laboratory experiences are more traditional in their approach in order to develop key understanding of this course.

Science 8

Eighth Grade Physical Science combines the Earth and Physical Science into a one year course.  Science 8 students will be introduced to lab skills and techniques while studying the following topics: Organisms, Ecosystems, Biological Diversity, Heredity, Human Systems, Earth's Surface, Earth's Forces, Weather, Climate, Astronomy, Matter, Motion, Machines, Energy, and Technology.  In May, students will take the Eighth Grade Science Performance Exam and in June, students will take the Eighth Grade Science Written Exam.  Successful completion will result in the student taking Living Environment in 9th Grade.

Living Environment

The middle school's Living Environment course involves the study of life processes and cells, introductory biochemistry, human and body systems, immunity, reproduction and development, genetics, evolution, ecology, and other topics.  Projects, laboratory experiences, as well as more traditional instructional approaches are used to develop the concepts of this course. The course emphasizes writing and laboratory design skills.  The course meets daily with the required lab time built into the period. This is a high school course and students earn 1 credit with successful passage of the Regents Living Environment test.


Math 6

In this course, basic arithmetic skills for whole numbers, fractions, decimals and percents are taught and students practice the application of these skills in various problem-solving situations.  Students are also introduced to the concepts of order of operations, evaluating expressions, solving proportions and using proportional reasoning to solve problems, perimeter, area, volume, coordinate geometry, and the concept of an integer.  Manipulative and calculator use is ongoing throughout the year.

Math 7

Math 7 expands upon the concepts begun in sixth grade.  Students explore both the concept of an integer and operations with integers throughout the school year.  Solving equations algebraically and using equations to solve problems, application problems involving proportional reasoning and percent, geometry, graphing equations and probability are other topics taught during this year of math.  Manipulative use continues and use of the scientific calculator is begun.

Math 8

Math 8 continues to build the algebra skills of the students.  Here they learn to solve more complicated equations and inequalities involving combining like terms, variables on both sides of the equation and use of the distributive property.  Work also continues in geometry, including such topics as surface area and transformational geometry.  Students graph equations and use graphs to solve problems.  Trigonometric ratios are introduced, as well as the Pythagorean Theorem, permutations and combinations, the counting principle, frequency distributions and histograms.  Manipulatives continue to be used when appropriate.  The scientific calculator is used throughout the year.

Accelerated Math 7

This course is designed to prepare students to begin the Math A high school course a year early, in eighth grade, earning high school credit.  It teaches the topics from both Math 7 and Math 8 in one year.  Students who enter Accelerated Math 7 must achieve at a very high level in sixth grade math and on standardized tests administered in sixth grade.

Math 9R

This high school credit bearing course is offered to our most capable eighth grade math students, enabling them to begin their high school math sequence a year early.  This will allow these students time in their high school schedule to take AP Calculus in their senior year.  In this course, students will explore further the topics of square roots and operations with radicals, operations with polynomials, solving literal equations and formulas for a particular variable, solving quadratic equations using a variety of strategies, and coordinate geometry, which includes the graphs of linear and quadratic equations, slope, midpoint, and distance. 

Social Studies

Social Studies 6

In this course, students will learn about the history, geography, and economics of some of the world's early civilizations. Emphasis is placed on Ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome and Europe of the Middle Ages

Social Studies 7

This survey course introduces students to the history, geography, and economics of North and South America. Some of the topics covered in depth are Native Americans, Exploration and Colonization, The American Revolution, The Constitution, Western Expansion, The Civil War and Reconstruction.

Social Studies 8

In this course students examine American History from the Civil War to the present. Emphasis is placed on The Great Depression, Immigration, the Two World Wars, and the Cold War. Students get an in depth view of the history, geography, and economics of the United States from 1865 to the present.