Middle School Curriculum Overview

English Language Arts


In grades 5-8 students study literacy through Close Reading, ThinkCERCA, and Keyboarding Without Tears. The Close Reading for Meaning approach gives students the tools to distill both the literal and deeper meaning of any text, examine craft and structure, and develop evidence-based ideas. Students also engage in novel study. During group time students work on Compass Learning, a web-based individualized curriculum that generates a personalized learning path tailored to each student and differentiates below and above grade level based on the student’s individual needs. Students practice argumentative writing through ThinkCERCA’s, online platform. Students read differentiated passages, analyze the text and then respond to a critical thinking prompt using a writing framework. Students also practice typing skills through Keyboarding Without Tears, which covers typing fluency and speed and digital citizenship. All literacy instruction is aligned to Common Core Standards.

Middle School Math

In 5th grade, students culminate the Eureka Math, (Engage NY), A Story of Units curriculum through the development of fluency with addition and subtraction of fractions, understanding multiplication and division of fractions and developing an understanding of operations with decimals in preparation for the 6-8 curriculum.

In grades 6-8, students study Math through Eureka Math A Story of Ratios curriculum.  The course of study begins with 6th-grade connecting ratios and rates to whole number multiplication and division and using concepts of ratio and rate to solve problems; as well as Pre-Algebra through writing, interpreting, and using expressions and equations. In 7th grade, students further explore and develop an understanding of proportional relationships and continue development of Pre-Algebra through operations with rational numbers and working with expressions and linear equations. Eighth grade focuses on formulating and reasoning about expressions and equations, solving linear equations and systems of linear equations, and grasping the concept of functions.

Students also use Compass Learning, a web-based individualized curriculum that generates a personalized learning path tailored to each student and differentiates below and above grade level based on the student’s individual mathematics needs.


Science Dimensions is the program used for K-8 science at HLA. This program is aligned to the transition of the New York State science learning standards to the Next Generation Science Standards. The Next Generation Science Standards consist of three distinct and equally important dimensions to learning science that build a cohesive understanding of the subject. The three dimensions are:

  • Practices which describe behaviors that scientists engage in as they investigate and build models and theories about the natural world and the key set of engineering practices that engineers use as they design and build models and systems.
  • Crosscutting Concepts have application across all domains of science, linking the different domains of the subject. They include: patterns, similarity, and diversity; cause and effect; scale, proportion and quantity; systems and system models; energy and matter; structure and function; stability and change.
  • Disciplinary Core Ideas focuses on K-12 science curriculum, instruction and assessments on the most important aspects of science.

Science Dimensions was created with a “digital-first” mentality. This program provides an authentic approach to increasing student achievement in science and preparing teachers for engineering instruction using technology.

Social Studies

The American History social studies curriculum is designed to unlock the exciting story of our nation’s history with engaging stories, activities, and opportunities for drawing connections from the content to students’ own lives, expanding their understanding of American history and why it remains important today. The program bridges time-tested best practices, curriculum standard expectations, and technology to help prepare students to be college and career ready all while unlocking the exciting story of our nation’s history. The program is aligned with the New York standards for social studies and the common core.


In the performing arts areas students follow the four New York State Learning Standards for the arts. The standards aim to actively engage students in the creation, performance and participation of the arts; instill knowledge in students to participate in the arts in various roles; be able to analyze and discuss works of art; and develop an understanding of the cultural contributions of the arts.

HLA students put on annual performances, fusing together their knowledge of Hebrew, performing arts and music.

Hebrew Instruction

In the middle school, we continue our model of providing differentiated, small group instruction in Hebrew to advance the individual student’s proficiency levels in all four language skills: speaking, listening, reading, and writing. Returning students who reach or are advancing towards the intermediate level, for example, can: speak/write about people, activities, events, and experiences, express preferences on topics of interest, make/prepare presentations on issues they have researched and communicate through journaling. They can understand basic information in ads and announcements and identify the main idea in a variety of texts, including magazine articles and short novelettes.

For newer Hebrew learners, we focus on building foundational skills, advancing students through the novice levels. Examples of novice tasks include: being able to communicate basic information about oneself or others, tell about one’s daily routine, ask and answer simple questions, and interact with others in everyday situations. At this level of proficiency, students can present basic information about their lives and immediate environment using phrases and simple sentences. They can also understand the main idea of a conversation that they may overhear.

All curricular units focus on topics that are of interest to middle school students and emerge from their daily, real life experiences. Topics include but are not limited to family roots, daily schedules and hobbies, social issues, and transitions. 

Middle school students also enjoy ongoing opportunities to participate in music, drama, and dance within the context of Hebrew language and culture.

Physical Education

Physical education instruction is aligned to the three New York Learning Standards. They are:

  • Personal Health and Fitness where students gain knowledge and skills to establish and maintain physical fitness, participate in physical activity, and maintain personal health.
  • A Safe and Healthy Environment which focuses on the knowledge and skills to establish and maintain physical fitness, participate in physical activity, and maintain personal health.
  • Resource Management where students develop an understanding and be able to manage their personal and community resources


In 8th grade, students have the opportunity to follow an accelerated course of study through placement in 9th grade Algebra I Regents class.  Students will follow this course of study and have the opportunity to take NYS Regents Exam. This will allow graduating 8th grade students to enter high school with an advantage of high school credits.

Progress Monitoring

We use MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) three times per year to identify areas of strength and growth opportunities for all students.  The MAP assessments are also aligned with the content and skills measured on the New York State annual tests.

Israel Capstone Trip

Every HLA 8th grader is eligible to participate in a generously subsidized capstone trip to Israel. The trip itinerary, designed by top notch educators, aims to bring Israel to life for our students and solidify their understanding of the country and the language that they study at HLA. Learn more about the trip.