Course Offerings

Middle School Math

Middle school mathematics emphasizes problem solving and assists the student in finding mathematical solutions. In addition to problem solving this course reviews and enhances the student’s understanding of basic mathematical concepts. This class looks further into the order of operations, decimals, the metric system, basic geometry, data analysis, factors, proportions, ratio, integers, and algebraic equations.

Algebra

Algebra is the study of numerical patterns and their abstract representations.  Students represent and analyze these patterns using functions, operations, tables, and graphs. Students learn these concepts and skills in a cognitively rich context of problem solving and critical reading and thinking.  Advanced algebra concepts involve more complex reasoning and functions, conic sections and modeling.

Geometry

Geometry is the study of spatial reasoning.  Students learn properties of two-dimensional and three-dimensional figures, classical reasoning, geometric construction, and Cartesian geometry. Students learn these concepts and skills in a cognitively rich context of problem solving and critical reading and thinking.  Advanced studies in geometry can lead to trigonometry, the study of right triangles and their applications.

Natural Science

This course uses problem solving to introduce students to the scientific method and to assist their growth in an understanding of the nature of science. This course includes hands-on experiments and explorations to discover the physical and biological properties of earth systems, atmospheric systems, and natural systems. Through explorations of the natural areas around the school—the ponds, pastures, gardens, forests and sky—we will come to understand natural communities and to see human beings as integral and indispensable participants. Activities include field trips, scientific experiments and ecosystem studies.

Biology

This course uses problem-solving techniques to explore living systems. This course includes a variety of hands-on experiments and challenges students to explore basic life processes, cellular organization, mechanisms of inheritance, the dynamic relationship between organisms, and the change in organisms through time. As students explore these concepts they will be challenged to grow in their understanding of the scientific method and they will develop a greater sense of belonging to the community of life.

Chemistry

This course uses problem solving to introduce students to the interaction between matter and energy. This course includes many hands-on experiments and investigations involving laboratory equipment, basic elements, compounds, and mixtures. In this class students explore chemical reactions, writing chemical formulas, analyzing chemical equations, the gas laws, phase changes, and types of matter. The nature of this course requires significant understanding of basic mathematics principles and a good understanding of the scientific method.

Physics

Students will cooperatively investigate and understand the interrelationships among mass, distance, force, and time through mathematical and experimental processes utilizing experimental design techniques. Through analysis and interpretation of data, students will determine that quantities including mass, energy, momentum, and charge are conserved, but that energy can be transferred and transformed to provide usable work. Additionally, students will study wave phenomena including an understanding that different frequencies and wavelengths in the electromagnetic spectrum range from radio waves through visible light to gamma radiation. Students will be able to use the field concept to describe the effects of gravitational, electric, and magnetic forces, and to diagram, construct, and analyze basic electrical circuits and explain the function of various circuit components.

English

Middle school English classes strengthen students' reading ability and comprehension, composition skills, English usage, memory, critical and analytical thinking, and cultural awareness.  As they study literature, students will focus on understanding and analyzing short prose passages and poetry using guided discussion and writing.  Students will also complete independent reading of lengthier works, both classic and contemporary.  Writing instruction emphasizes student achievement in style, organization, thinking, and usage through frequent informal and formal exercises in crafting sentences, paragraphs, essays, articles, letters, stories, and poems.  Students will revise certain written assignments to further develop these skills.  English grammar and usage are taught as tools for clear communication of meaning, both spoken and written.

In high school English, students will read more challenging passages, poems, and lengthier works. Literature instruction will continue to develop each student's ability to comprehend, recall, analyze, and enjoy prose, drama, and poetry.  Composition assignments become more formal as stud organization, style, and usage.  Students will often compose written reflections on assignments, discussions, and topics of interest.  Improvement in content, style, and correct usage will be emphasized through required revision of certain long-term writing projects. Grammar instruction will focus on learning to identify and correct errors in English usage.

Latin I

This class emphasizes the study of Latin as a conduit for vocabulary and grammar skills building in English, Spanish, and other language studies. Study of Latin also provides a scaffold for further study of history, culture, science, and literature. Students will learn to analyze the structure of words and sentences as they attempt to translate and analyze meaning; from the first lesson, students will explore Roman culture and classical mythology while learning to read Latin.

Spanish Introduction and Spanish I

Introduction to Spanish focuses on teaching conversational Spanish and includes grammar, vocabulary and written Spanish. This class also introduces the student to Spanish and Latin-American culture. In Spanish I students begin to develop communicative competence in speaking, writing, comprehending and reading Spanish and expand their understanding of the culture of Spanish speaking countries. Our main goal in the class is to provide a context for everything we study. We give attention to grammar and vocabulary in a context of real-life situations, Latino cultures, and the language as a whole. The idea is to acquire a feel for the language, an appreciation of its beauty, and a degree of comfort and confidence in speaking it. Along the way, we learn a lot about the English language as well as Spanish.

Spanish II

The study of reading, writing, speaking, and listening continues as more complex grammatical structures are introduced.  With more communicative competence come deeper discussions in Spanish about Latino culture and students’ own experiences.  Immersion in the language continues as students learn circumlocution in order to hold conversations entirely in Spanish.

Spanish III

The third year of Spanish continues development of listening, reading, writing, speaking, interpersonal communication and cultural awareness. Complexity and comprehension increase as students learn more vocabulary and grammar. Discussion in Spanish of Latino literature, culture, history and contemporary events is emphasized.

World Geography

World Geography class teaches students how to use maps, globes, atlases, satellite images, photographs, graphs, and other geographic tools to study and understand the world’s populations, national identities and geographic environments. Students will look to history for understanding of how geological factors affect civilizations and cultures and economic, political, and social development. By the end of the class students will be able to identify all the continents, oceans, many islands and nations, and understand that the world’s population is a single community divided by geographic location.

World History

The World History Part I course covers ancient civilizations. From the beginning of man’s existence on the planet, through the evolution of villages into city-states and the cradle of civilization in the Fertile Crescent, we explore how man has interacted with his environment, set-up communities, built structures, and established governments. This course takes us around the globe to sites like the Roman walls throughout Europe, the Great Wall of China, and the sacred rivers of India. Students will gain comprehension of the history which led to governments, religions and wars, and which established the foundation of the Old World.

The World History Part II course is the second year of a survey of world history. Students will engage in a study of the political, cultural, social, and economic conditions from 1500 to modern times. Students will engage in study and analysis of important world events such as the Reformation, the Age of Discovery, the Industrial Revolution, World War I, World War II, the Cold War, and the independence movements of the 20th century. We will study the impact of these events on global trade, science, politics, economics and religion around the world.

U.S. History & Government

We will study the original American’s habitat and civilizations before the arrival of Europeans. Students will explore the early history of the United States to understand the ideas and hard work that built the union. They will also study documents, speeches and the constitution that laid the foundation of American ideals and institutions. The study of history emphasizes the intellectual skills required for responsible citizenship. The student must demonstrate understanding of the essential knowledge of the history of the United States of America.

Art

Using traditional techniques and emerging technologies, this class emphasizes exploration, analysis, and investigation of the creative process. Students develop technical skills that empower them to communicate ideas visually, developing an understanding of and appreciation for the visual arts. Students explore various two-dimensional and three-dimensional art media, using different expressive and technical approaches. Students study the factors that distinguish artistic styles and that clarify the role of art in culture.

Instrumental Music

The instrumental music program emphasizes basic musical skills for band and orchestra. Students study the elements of music, and how to create and to enjoy music.

Physical Education

The physical education curriculum includes sports such as softball and kickball, which are played during the physical education class period, as well as hiking, swimming, canoeing, and skiing, which are done as group outings. Students can choose to participate in horseback riding lessons during the physical education class period.

Farm Chores

Our daily chores sustain our farm, our school and our community. We all take part in this work twice a day: in the morning and again in the afternoon. General farm chores, gardening, keeping our building clean, kitchen duty, and harvesting from the farm and garden are among the activities at these times. In the process of doing this work, we learn about the needs of animals, about health and nutrition, how to care for trees and vegetable plants, how to maintain a household, and many other skills that we will rely on throughout our lives whatever our living situation. Students should come prepared to work outside every day in all weather conditions. A hat, good work gloves and boots are essential items that are kept at school.

Belle Meade School