Middle School Curriculum

The Henderson International School’s middle school curriculum is intentionally designed to balance rigorous academics with students’ social and emotional development. 

Students from sixth to eighth grade are encouraged to be independent learners and acquire a range of thinking skills, comprehension, interpretation, extrapolation and synthesis. In Language Arts, students learn to read for comprehension and to express themselves as writers. In Social Studies, they learn to examine history as young social scientists and to seek connections between the past and the present. Our middle school curriculum teaches concepts in math, science and problem solving that eventually translate to real-life situations. Our multi-faceted academic curriculum provides each student with a comprehensive foundation of academic skills, a rich engagement in diverse content and a clear sense of how to best advocate for him/herself as a learner. 

Core Academics 

Language Arts

Reading comprehension, writing mechanics, writing skills and concepts, verbal reasoning and vocabulary are developed throughout the middle school experience. The middle school Language Arts program focuses on developing skills that enable each student to be a successful, confident reader and writer. 

In sixth grade, the students delve into expository writing, proof-reading, editing, journalism, assigned and self-selected reading, period fiction and non-fiction, modern and ancient literature, research and essay writing and public speaking. 

By seventh and eighth grades, the middle school Language Arts curriculum turns to argumentative writing, world novels, poetry, elements of literature, analytical writing, self-selected and assigned novels, period fiction and non-fiction, monologues and speeches.

Social Studies 

The social studies program is designed to help students understand the world today through building an awareness of its history and geography. 

The sixth-grade curriculum focuses on United States history from pre-colonization to the Civil War, as well as ancient civilizations including Mesopotamia, Egypt, China, India, the Greeks and the Romans. 

In seventh and eighth grades, the curriculum highlights topics such as U.S. history from the Civil War through the late 20th Century and world history including Europe, Asia, West Africa, India, Middle East and the Americas.


The middle school math program provides a strong foundation in rich problem-solving, mathematical reasoning, and mathematical knowledge. The multi-year curriculum is organized into the following strands: numbers and number relationships, number systems and theory, geometry and spatial sense, measurement, statistics and probability, math communication and quantitative reasoning. 

Sixth graders work on advanced multiplication and division, fractions and decimal operations, properties of numbers, exponents, integers, variable expressions and equations, order of operations, percentages/ratios, prime factorization, area, volume, graphs and probability. 

Seventh and eighth graders study pre-algebra, proportions, linear equations, polynomials, Pythagorean Theorem, perimeter/circumference/volume of regular and irregular shapes, congruencies and lines of symmetry, quadratic equations, data analysis, rate problems and algebra. 


The middle school science curriculum aims to instill an awareness and understanding of the natural world and a love of scientific inquiry. Themes of cause and effect, the scientific method, and engineering and design are infused throughout the curriculum, which is informed by the standards set forth by the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). 

Sixth graders focus on earth science, including geology, volcanoes, weather, planets and the solar system, matter, motion and energy. They also learn about environmental science such as ecology; sustainability, zoology, geology and the impact of humans on these components.

By seventh and eighth grade, the program focuses on life science, which includes the study of cells, genetics, biology, adaptation and evolution and human anatomy. The students also learn about physical science such as chemistry, force and motion, simple machines, energy and evolution. 


The Spanish program is based on the Total Physical Response Storytelling method of teaching. The objective of the program is to prepare students for advanced language study in high school through a heavy emphasis on speaking, reading and understanding language in context. The program focuses on the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) standards for foreign language education: communication, cultures, connections, comparisons and communities. 

Cultural Development 

Henderson International School also makes cultural development of its students a top priority. Social skills such as teamwork and leadership are taught through lessons on communication, technology and relationship building. 

Middle School Physical Education 

All Henderson International School middle school students participate in physical education classes three times per week. 

Each year begins with baseline fitness gram tests that measure the student’s ability to perform situps, pushups, flex arm or modified pull-ups and a PACER test. From there, the student’s progress is tracked throughout the school year. Students participate in a variety of problem-solving activities such as “the human knot” and “mission impossible” to improve communication and collaboration. Students are exposed to a variety of sports, including football, basketball, floorball, soccer and volleyball and learn basic rules and skills in each of these sports. 

All HIS middle school students swim for the first month and the last month of the school year. They take a tread test in the pool and refine their skills in the breast stroke, back stroke and freestyle.

Middle School Arts Curriculum 

As part of Henderson International School’s arts curriculum, students choose visual art, musical theater or band as their art program for the year. All middle school students attend their art program four times per week.

Visual art includes various aspects of 2D and 3D art, color theory, perspective, and light sourcing. Students use our kiln for ceramics, and our 3D printer and digital tools to explore new media techniques. The 3D printer is used for STEAM-initiated projects, i.e. Drone Tech, Whale Skeletons and Maker Space inventions. They study art history through compositions of impressionism, realism and abstract art. They also create practical artwork, including recycled art projects using collected materials, and develop set designs and backdrops for the middle school musicals.

The musical theater program includes two spring musicals: one for fifth and sixth graders and another for seventh and eighth graders. All aspects of the musicals are student-led, from makeup and costuming to digital lighting and set movement. Throughout the year, students work on improvisation and oration, stage direction, playwriting and props. They perform smaller cabaret-style shows throughout the year in addition to the spring musical.

Our mission is to nurture the skills necessary for students’ success in the next generation: critical thinking, problem-solving and global understanding. The arts are an important part of our program, instilling creativity and multi-dimensional thinking in our students.

Learn More 

•    Middle School Admissions Process


HIS gave me the inspiration to excel in my weaker classes, gave me a new passion for reading, and prepared me for high school. If I didn’t go to HIS, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

Hannah Graduate, Class of 2014

Where are they now?

100% of 2016 graduates are currently on the honor roll at current schools

Graduates are attending Bishop Gorman HS, The Meadows HS, and Rancho Solano in Scottsdale, AZ

HIS graduates are typically accepted at their first choice high school



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