Courses of Academic Study

Courses Overview

Bella Mente Middle School courses of study reflect an integration of the Common Core requirements, the newest research on the developmental needs of early adolescents the state of the art in current learning theory, and the predictions of the skills needed for a productive life in
the twenty-first century.

The curriculum and instruction are designed as a two-year program which cover all of the standards necessary to complete middle school. The language, speech, physical education, outdoor education, service learning, and fine arts are courses of continuous progress. Science, social studies, geography, health and math are studied by topics or concepts.

English Language Arts Courses of Study

  • 7th Grade Honors English- ENGL 702
  • 7th Grade English- ENGL 701

The language curriculum follows the reading and writing workshop model established by the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project of Columbia University. It encompasses an integrated study of vocabulary, literature, grammar and mechanics, and writing.

The curriculum seeks to teach students to value reading and writing, to self-initiate reading and writing in their own lives, and to see reading and writing as tools to change themselves and the world around them. Students read and write in a wide range of genres for a variety of authentic purposes and learn to communicate with a variety of audiences. Grammar is studied daily within the context of literature and writing. With special emphasis on critical analysis, students practice daily a variety of types of writing in response to literature.

  • 8th Grade English- ENGL 801
  • 7th Grade {Foundational English}- ENGL 700

This an accelerated intervention program that addresses the needs of the students in grades 7 an 8 who have demonstrated delayed reading in the areas of decoding, encoding, fluency and comprehension. Middle school students use ___________ as the curriculum for students who are performing 60% or below. The instruction will focus on the explicit teaching of these major components: phonemic awareness, decoding, fluency, comprehension, encoding (spelling), vocabulary building, grammar usage, speaking and listening, writing, and wide reading of fiction and non-fiction.

  • 8th Grade {Foundational English}- ENGL 800
  • 8th Grade English- ENGL 801
  • 8th Grade Honors English- ENGL 802

Mathematics Courses of Study

  • 7th Grade {Foundational Math}- MATH 700

The purpose of middle-level math intervention is to allow all students access to the regular curriculum with the support they need to be successful. Math Intervention is an extension of the regular grade-level course that provides students who need it additional focused instruction and support at the needed level of intensity. No student should be placed in math intervention if she/he is not also enrolled in the corresponding grade level math course. That is, no student should be enrolled in math intervention as his/her sole math course.

  • 7th Grade Mathematics- MATH 701

7th Grade Go Math! focuses on four critical areas: (1) developing understanding of and applying proportional relationships; (2) developing understanding of operations with rational numbers and working with expressions and linear equations; (3) solving problems involving scale drawings and informal geometric constructions, and working with two- and three-dimensional shapes to solve problems involving area, surface area, and volume; and (4) drawing inferences about populations based on samples.

  • 8th Grade {Foundational Math}- Math 800
  • 8th Grade Pre-Algebra- MATH 802

This math course uses a curriculum designed by Stephanie Romero that utilizes the Montessori materials to introduce concepts before practicing them abstractly. The students will have two guiding questions per cycle. Students must take quizzes for feedback and master comprehensive tests. Each year’s curriculum contains units of Pre-Algebra and Algebra.

  • 8th Grade Mathematics- MATH 801

In Grade 8, instructional time focuses on three critical areas: (1) formulating and reasoning about expressions and equations, including modeling an association in bivariate data with a linear equation, and solving linear equations and systems of linear equations; (2) grasping the concept of a function and using functions to describe quantitative relationships; (3) analyzing two- and three-dimensional space and figures using distance, angle, similarity, and congruence, and understanding and applying the Pythagorean Theorem.

Social Studies/History Courses of Study

  • 7th Grade Social Studies- SS 701

This course includes geography and history. The geography curriculum includes the study of the themes of location, place, movement, regions, and interaction of people and their environment. The history curriculum focuses on the history of people and the following topics: Connections (Native Americans), Exploration and Perspectives, Identity (Immigration), Systems (Economics and Economic Systems), Interdependence (Ecology and Future Visions). Students do personal and group work in these themes. The focus is on asking large questions and looking for patterns in history and integrating this information into all disciplines. Students develop creative projects and make presentations.

  • 8th Grade Social Studies- SS 801

This course includes geography and history. The history curriculum focuses on the progress of people and the following topics: Structures (Governments and US Government), Forces (Revolutions), Power (Human Rights Movement), Changes (Industrial Revolution), and Balance (Peace Education and Future Vision). Students do personal and group work in these themes. The focus is on asking large questions and looking for patterns in history and integrating this information into all disciplines. Students develop creative projects and make presentations.

Science Courses of Study

  • 7th Grade Science- SCI 701

The physical science curriculum includes the study of Structures (Nature of Science and the Structure of Matter), Forces (Motion and Four Fundamental Forces), Power (Power, Energy, and Waves), Changes (Work and Machines), and Balance (Chemistry and Future Technology). Students do personal work and group work in these themes. The focus is on asking large questions and looking for patterns in science and integrating this information into all disciplines. Students develop long-term creative projects and make presentations. In the spring of odd-numbered years, students become experts in one area of science and present their research at the
science fair. Outdoor education experiences and the use of machinery are also a part of this study.

  • 8th Grade Science- SCI 801

The life science curriculum includes the study of Connections (Cells and Living Things), Exploration (Prokaryote & Eukaryote; Virus, Bacteria and Fungi), Identity (Genetics), Systems (Animal Systems), and Interdependence (Ecosystems and Future Visions). Students do personal work and group work in these themes. The focus is on asking large questions and looking for patterns in science and integrating this information into all disciplines. Students develop long-term creative projects and make presentations. Outdoor education experiences and the use of tools and machinery are also part of this study.


Electives Courses of Study

  • Physical Education and Health

The physical education classes focus on team sports, individual sports, and aerobic activities. The two-fold purpose of these classes is to teach skills and to instill the importance of physical fitness. Students also participate in cooperative games. All students are included in all activities. Health is the study of issues pertinent to the needs of early adolescents. Students focus on the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Adolescents and The Leader In Me Program. This program has several purposes. One is to provide information about the transition from childhood to adolescence and the journey to adulthood. Another is to provide links between generations to help young people make the journey safely. A third is to create challenging and meaningful experiences, similar to those in the initiation or rites of passage ceremonies. Students explore topics such as belonging, friendships, adolescent development, stress management, self-esteem, peer pressure, drug education, sexuality, nutrition, and balanced-living. There is a time each day which students spend in personal reflection for development of their intrapersonal skills.

  • Associated Student Body (ASB)

The primary goals of ASB are to create a memorable experience for all students on campus, to promote Bella Mente unity and spirit, and to grow as student leaders. ASB actively works to ensure that student activities and campus life are alive and well. ASB is constantly making contributions to the community, school, and their fellow students. Students in ASB plan, organize and participate in such activities as formal and informal dances, Spirit Week, grade-level competitions, community awareness projects, cultural events, and Staff Recognition throughout the year.

  • High School, College, and Career Readiness and Life Economics

High School, College and Career Readiness is a technology-integrated course designed to lead students through investigating and planning for their high school, post-secondary education, and career success. Students will create a personalized high school plan and acquire essential skills to be fully prepared for the transition to high school. Students will use their interests and talents to explore future career opportunities and post-secondary education options and requirements. Overall, students will obtain the knowledge and skills necessary to enhance their education and future success.

  • Garden and Nutrition

The Bella Garden Project (TBGP) generates a learning experience empowering a student’s effective global environmental awareness and education through the support of a full project-based curriculum. Utilizing quality Montessori philosophies, we strive to foster forward-thinking students prepared with 21st Century skills while enriching and nurturing the whole child.

  • Spanish

This fun, interactive course for middle school students is filled with diverse, multimedia language activities. Students begin their introduction to Spanish by focusing on the four key areas of foreign language study: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. There is a strong emphasis on providing context and conversational examples for the language concepts presented in each unit. Students should expect to be actively engaged in their own language learning, become familiar with common vocabulary terms and phrases, comprehend a wide range of grammar patterns, participate in simple conversations and respond appropriately to basic conversational prompts.


STEAM elective classes integrate science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics. These courses offer students the language and skills to question, communicate, and manipulate the physical world they experience every day, along with the virtual world that is at their fingertips.

  • Fine Arts/Electives

Students will have the opportunity to select four areas of exploration. Areas of exploration vary each year with student interest and availability of outside teaching resources. Courses may include the following: computer, photography, art, crafts, gardening, economics, drama, creative writing, and cooking.

  • Community Service Elective

Students will have the opportunity to serve the Bella Mente community in various ways. Community Service Elective is individualized to address student interest. Examples may include the following: 

        • Supporting younger students by assisting in classrooms
        • Peer mentoring
        • Office assistant
        • PE assistant
        • Gardening assistant.

These are a few examples of ways students may support the community and will focus on responsibility and the art of giving. Students must demonstrate the behavior expectations of Bella Mente in order to participate in this elective. Students who practice RRSP will have the qualities to serve the Bella Mente community successfully.

Off-Campus Education

Off-campus excursions are essential in an adolescent program and all students are expected to participate in these learning experiences. At the school location, students plant a garden, compost, and do various horticultural projects. During our educational excursions, students work
together on building projects, which integrates academic work into real-life activities, economic projects, and instruction in learning how to be stewards of the land. 

There is an adventure trip at the end of the year which is paid for through the middle school business, fundraising, and student
and parent contribution. Year A: Students will attend 2 nights and 3 days of marine-biology camp at Catalina Island
Marine Institute. Year B: Students will attend 2 nights and 3 days of excursions at the Pali Outdoor Education Science Leadership Institute.