Middle School Curriculum

Middle School Curriculum

Bais Menachem’s Middle School is housed in the new educational wing and social hall of Congregation Chevra Thilim, two blocks from the 28th Avenue campus. In addition to their Judaic studies, students in grades 6,7, and 8 take advantage of a setting that allows for the concentrated study of Language Arts, History, Science, Math, and Speech/Drama.  Challenging academic days comprise labs, PowerPoint presentations, lectures, student-led oral presentations, intra- and inter-class debates, dramatic performances, and group work.

Our respectful and talented students enjoy a learning environment in which they often lead the discussion, cooperate with their peers, engage their mentors, and realize their potential for becoming leaders and spokespeople for their classes, school, community, and nation.

It is a great privilege to teach scholars who appreciate the value of a traditionally rigorous curriculum, and, with the support of their parents, who instill a great respect for learning in their children, our school produces graduates of the highest caliber, both intellectually and morally.

Language Arts Syllabus

Course Descriptions

These courses will help prepare students for future high-school work by increasing their knowledge of and appreciation for literature, language, and composition, and improving their skills in reading, writing, listening, and speaking.

Student Outcomes

  • Increase vocabulary, use/understanding in context, etymology
  • Develop grammatical skills and their real-world application, including self-editing
  • Evaluate literary works through analysis, including comparison and contrast of texts
  • Compose a variety of writing assignments, including narration, exposition, and research
  • Deliver information through oral recitations and presentations, both individual and group

Sample Readings

William Golding’s “Lord of the Flies”
John Knowles’ “A Separate Peace”
George Orwell’s “Animal Farm”
Ernest Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea”
William Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar”
Tennessee Williams’s “The Glass Menagerie”
selected poetry of Robert Frost and Emily Dickinson


Semester grades are not a strict average, but rather an assessment of the student’s consistent performance and improvement on tests, writing assignments, homework, and participation — which includes active listening as well as vocal participation.

Speech/Drama Syllabus

Course Description

This course will enable students to understand, appreciate, develop, and deliver effective speeches through solo presentations and group debates. Additionally, students will comprehend, memorize, rehearse, and present theatrical scenes, some of their own creation.

Student Outcomes

  • Comprehend and appreciate the art of persuasion and public performance
  • Compose/develop individual speeches and assigned dramatic characters
  • Work with peers on debate preparation, improvisation, voice/movement exercises, and scene rehearsal
  • Increase knowledge of specialized vocabulary/history
  • Deliver information through monologues, dialogues, and theatrical presentations

Sample Readings

Charles Boyle, “Speak Out With Clout”
Joseph Stein and Sheldon Harnick, “Fiddler on the Roof”


Students write and deliver persuasive speeches, monologues, dialogues, and short plays, which are either performed or directed by the writer. Students participate in formal debates, judged by teachers and administrators, and participate in theatrical productions presented before audiences.

Mathematics Syllabuses

The mathematics program enables students to develop critical thinking skills, to be active problem solvers, and, most importantly, to foster an appreciation for mathematical thinking and inquiry. Students meet in small groups at all grade levels and get plenty of individual attention.  In grades 6-7, Singapore Math is used as the primary curriculum. In 8th grade, the text is McDougal Little, Algebra I – Concepts and Skills. Other materials are used to supplement the textbook, and manipulatives are incorporated when appropriate.  Tests, projects, homework, and class participation are all used to assess students’ knowledge.

6th Grade Math

  • Prime factorization
  • Common Factors and Multiples
  • Squares and square Roots
  • Cubes and Cube Roots
  • Negative Numbers
  • Absolute Value
  • Fractions
    • Addition and Subtraction of
    • Multiplication and Division of
  • Ratios
    • Comparing Two Quantities
    • Equivalent Ratios
    • Real-World Ratio Problems
  • Rates and Unit Rates
  • Percent
    • Understanding Percent
    • Fractions, Decimals, and Percent
    • Real-World Percent Problems
  • Algebraic Expressions
    • Writing Algebraic Expressions
    • Evaluating Algebraic Expressions
    • Simplifying Algebraic Expressions
    • Expanding and factoring Algebraic Expressions
  • Solving Algebraic Expression
    • Writing Linear Equations
    • Solving simple Inequalities
  • The Coordinate Plane
    • Points on the Coordinate Plane
    • Length of Line Segments
    • Graphing
  • Area of Polygons
    • Areas of Triangles
    • Area of Parallelograms and Trapezoids
  • Circumference and Area of a Circle
  • Surface Area and Volume of Solids
  • Introduction to Statistics

7th Grade Pre-Algebra

  • Rational Number Operations
    • Adding, Subtracting, Dividing, Multiplying Positive and Negative Numbers
    • Decimals and Percent
  • Algebraic Expressions
    • Adding and Subtracting Algebraic Terms
    • Simplifying Algebraic Expressions
    • Expanding Algebraic Expressions
    • Forming Algebraic Expressions
    • Writing Algebraic Expressions
  • Algebraic Equations and Inequalities
    • Understanding Equivalent Equations
    • Solving Algebraic Equations
    • Solving Algebraic Inequalities
  • Direct and Inverse Proportions
    • Understanding Proportions
    • Representing and Solving Direct Proportions Problems
    • Understanding Inverse Proportions
  •  Angle Properties and Straight Lines
    • Complementary, Supplementary, and Adjacent Angles
    • Alternate Interior, Alternate Exterior, and Corresponding Angles
    • Interior and Exterior Angles
  • Understanding Scale Drawing
  • Volume and Surface Area of Solids
    • Volume and Surface Area of Cubes, Prisms, Cones, Spheres, and Pyramids
    • Real-World Composite Solids
  • Statistics
    • Interesting Quartiles and Interquartile range
    • Stem-and-Leaf Plots
    • Box Plots and Mean Absolute Deviation
    • Understanding Random sampling methods
    • Making Inferences and Populations
  • Probability
    • Defining Outcomes, Events, and sample Space
    • Finding Probability Events
    • Approximating Probability and Relative Frequency
      Developing probability Models

8th Grade Algebra I

  • Properties of Real Numbers
    • Adding, Subtraction, Multiplying, Dividing Positive and Negative Numbers
    • The Distributive Property
    • Combining Like Terms
  • Solving Linear Equations
    • Ratios and Rates
  • Graphing Linear Equations and Functions
    • Graphing Lines Using Intercepts
    • Slope of a Line
    • Graphing Lines Using Slope-Intercept Form
  • Writing Linear Equations
    • Point-Slope Form
    • Perpendicular and Parallel Lines
  • Solving and Graphing Linear Inequalities
    • Solving Absolute-Value Equations
    • Graphing Linear Inequalities in Two Variables
  • Systems of Linear Equations and Inequalities
    • Solving Systems by Graphing, Substitution, and Subtraction
  • Exponents and Exponential Functions
    • Properties of Exponents
    • Graphs of Exponential Functions
    • Scientific Notation Exponential Growth Functions
  • Quadratic Equations and Functions
    • Square Roots
    • Simplifying Radicals
    • Graphing Quadratic Functions
    • Quadratic Formula
    • Quadratic Inequalities
  • Polynomials and Factoring
    • Adding, Subtracting, Multiplying polynomials
    • Factoring Polynomials
      Solving the Quadratic Equations in Factored Form
  • Rational Expressions and Equations
  • Radicals
  • Connections to Geometry
    • The Pythagorean Theorem
  • Probability and Statistics

Life Science Syllabus

The Life Science curriculum is presented through a series of PowerPoint lectures.  Students also participate in projects, activities, and labs that attempt to engage students and bring science to life. Students learn about their own body and the natural world around them. An attempt is constantly made to keep the information relevant to the students’ lives.  Tests, projects, homework, and class participation are all used to assess students’ knowledge.

  • Cell Structure and Function
    • Cellular Organelles
    • Plasma Membrane
  • Cellular Processes
    • Cellular Respirations
    • Photosynthesis
    • Fermentation
  • DNA
    • Cell Division
    • DNA Structure and Function
    • DNA Transcription and Protein Synthesis
    • Biotechnology
  • Genetics
    • Gregor Mendel and his Pea Plants
    • Punnett Squares
    • DNA Mutations
    • Recessive Genetic Disorders
    • Beyond Mendelian Genetics
  • The Nervous System
    • Peripheral nervous System
    • The Central nervous System
    • Neurotransmitters
    • Somatosensory Awareness
  • Plants
    • Photosynthesis
    • Diversity of Plants
    • Structure and Organization of Plants
    • Transport in Plants
    • Plant Life Cycles
  • Invertebrates
  • Vertebrates
    • Fish
    • Amphibians
    • Reptiles
    • Birds
    • Mammals


Mr. Cahen received his B.A. in American History at the University of British Columbia. He then attended The University of San Francisco where he attained his California State Teaching Credential. After teaching for 15 years in the San Francisco Public Schools, he taught at the Lisa Kampner Hebrew Academy for nine years. In 2016, he came to Bais Menachem where he teaches 7th and 8th grade history. In addition to working with his students on the core academic subjects, he likes discussing with them the history of San Francisco, political events in the United States and Israel, and our great local sports teams, especially The Giants! In 2013, he won the Herbst Award for Excellence in Teaching.

7th Grade History-Ancient Civilizations Syllabus

In this course, we begin by studying ancient man, the Stone Age,  and early cultures. Our studies then take us on a tour of the ancient world. We study ancient China, India, Greece, Rome, and a host of other civilizations. The curriculum involves readings and discussion. Students compare and contrast the different societies. Students also participate in hands-on, project- based learning. We also explore:
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Kush
The Hebrews and Judaism
The Early Americas


8th Grade. United States History Syllabus

Our course begins with the arrival of the first Europeans to the New World in 1607. From there, we study the formation of the original 13 colonies. After studying the Revolutionary War, we explore the details of our country’s founding and the writing of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. After that, we study the following:
Launching a New Nation
The Era of Jefferson
The Age of Reform
The Civil War
Industry and Urban Growth
Political Reform and the Progressive Era