Curriculum - Middle School - McDonogh School


The Middle School program ensures a smooth transition from Lower School to Upper School by offering a comprehensive program designed to meet the needs of early adolescents. Each grade level is structured to accommodate the developmental differences of students by offering them a wide range of intellectual, social, creative, and physical experiences. The academic program provides opportunities for exploration and promotes the development of fundamental skills in fifth through eighth grades. 

English/English Language Arts

The Middle School English program develops students’ abilities to read carefully and critically, unlocking the value of language and literature as tools of self-expression. A variety of literary genres and a diverse array of writers, characters, and themes offer students windows into worlds they might not otherwise experience. Composition, literature, grammar, spelling, vocabulary, oratory, and discussions all play a vital role in the development of an articulate and well-read individual.

Insight Into Identity

This eighth grade course encourages students to discuss current events and social situations, as well as examine the decision-making process and the nature of civil discourse.


Students in fifth, sixth, and seventh grades study basic operations of different number systems, number theory, geometry, problem-solving strategies, probability, and statistics, while eighth graders study algebra. The goal is to enable students to become effective problem solvers who can relate math to their everyday experiences. An accelerated program (by teacher recommendation only) starting in the sixth grade allows seventh graders to take Algebra I and eighth graders to take geometry.

Performing Arts

This program is designed to release the creative potential in students who are offered many opportunities to explore and develop abilities in dance, instrumental music, vocal music, and theatre. Students perform on and off campus on numerous occasions.

Physical Education/Athletics

Cooperation in a group and respect for individuals are universal themes within McDonogh's Middle School physical education program. In fifth and sixth grade, students learn the skills and fundamentals of both team and lifetime sports. Interscholastic teams and individual sports are offered in all three seasons to seventh and eighth grade students who participate in athletics.


Students use essential questions to explore scientific concepts and to find answers about the nature of their world. In the science program, students develop skills of observation, data-collection, interpretation, and verification of results. Basic principles of earth science, environmental science, physics, chemistry, and biology are included at each grade level. McDonogh's campus is utilized for instruction in environmental studies in the fifth through eighth grades in conjunction with studies of the Gwynns Falls watershed, trout restoration, and the Chesapeake Bay.

Social Studies

Social studies courses include cultural geography courses in fifth and sixth grades and survey courses in United States history in seventh and eighth grades. Teachers emphasize primary source interpretation, note taking, map skills, research, and persuasive writing skills at each grade level. The social studies/history program strives to teach students that history is personal and relevant and prepare them to be engaged and responsible citizens of the world.

Visual Art

Through imaginative problem solving and divergent thinking, students are challenged to express themselves in their artwork. Projects selected from the fine and applied arts enable them to develop cognitive skills that can be utilized in creative problem-solving. Students are exposed to a wide variety of tools and techniques and are encouraged to take risks. Through practice and purposeful introspection, every student experiences personal growth as an artist.


The Wellness Program addresses issues that arise in early adolescence while supporting the social, emotional, and physical development of Middle School students. The course is focused on self-awareness and responsible decision-making and addresses issues that confront adolescents: bullying, acceptance of self and others, sex education, puberty, peer relationships, internet safety, media education, drug, alcohol, and tobacco use.

World Languages

Instruction is offered in Chinese, French, and Spanish, drawing on students’ natural desire to communicate with other people and to learn about the larger world. Lessons emphasize good language-learning habits and practical conversation skills.