The Upper Division years provide students with a comprehensive, balanced curriculum that fosters spiritual, social, and emotional development for sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students.
The Academy emphasizes core academic competence with a focus on study, project, and time management skills in preparation for the rigors of high school. Students are given access to a personalized learning environment that provides them with all the tools they need to succeed.
As part of the educational process, faculty members require students to take accountability for their academic careers, and guide them through this transition with advice and support.
Instruction is offered in Honors Math (Pre-Algebra and Algebra I) as well as Honors English/Language Arts. Upper Division students meet with content-area specialists who structure lessons based on current trends in education, such as blended learning, project-based learning, and differentiated instruction.
Students assume leadership roles within the school community through elected positions in school governing bodies, participation in prayer services, attendance at leadership conferences, and work on joint projects with the residents of D'Youville Manor.
The Academy’s Upper Division program is designed to motivate students to achieve at the highest levels, and prepare them for success in high school, college, and beyond through a rigorous academic curriculum and a balanced emphasis on the spiritual, social, and emotional development of each individual.
Sixth grade math is a transition year from reinforcing and building on basic skills to entering the world of "unknowns" in Pre-Algebra. Students are placed into either Honors or College Prep Math. Problem solving skills are practiced extensively in the Honors Math class, and are applied to everyday situations. Accuracy and speed are stressed in computation. Students take notes on each lesson and recommendations are made regarding how to show work, check completed work, and study for assessments.
Students explore the relationships between fractions, decimals, and percents; they study geometric concepts and are introduced to basic concepts of probability and statistics. Solving equations and working with integers help develop Algebra skills.
By seventh grade, students enter Pre-Algebra and begin to solve more complex equations and inequalities. They practice computation with rational numbers, while their knowledge of probability, statistics, and geometric concepts are expanded. Students in Honors Math begin their study of linear functions as a precursor to Algebra I.
Eighth grade students in both Honors and College Prep complete a traditional full-year Algebra I course in preparation for more advanced math in high school. Students expand their knowledge of linear functions including systems of equations and inequalities. They spend the academic year studying different functions and graphs including quadratic, absolute value, and exponential functions. Topics in the Honors class also include the study of rational and radical functions as they complete their study of Algebra I.
Upper Division Social Studies courses are “designed to help middle school students of all abilities master history content. The mission of the program is to forge a clear path for students to master the content through a comprehensive program of core skills.” This supports the development of citizens with the skills and knowledge they need to become reflective participants of the country and the world.
In sixth grade, students investigate the Beginnings of Human Society, the Fertile Crescent, Ancient Egypt, Nubia, India, and China continuing through to the classical societies of Greece and Rome.
In seventh grade, students begin their studies after the fall of the classical societies with the emergence of the Byzantine and Muslim civilizations. Students continue with an investigation of Africa civilizations, Early America, Europe in the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and Reformation, and European Exploration.
The eighth grade returns to a study of American History with the Antebellum Period, Civil War, Reconstruction, the Progressive Era, Isolationism and Expansion through to the end World War I. Upper Division Social Studies students also study current events, political cartoons, and geography.
Grade 6 Grade Science
Sixth grade students fine-tune their skills in making observations, practicing critical thinking, and working cooperatively with peers in this inquiry-based course. They discuss ways in which to view the natural world on a scientific level. Discussion and experimentation include a variety of topics in the fields of earth science, environmental science, and technology.
Students use the engineering design process to build a weight-bearing bridge, apply principles of geology, chemistry, and physics to identify components of rocks and minerals, discover the forces which drive plate tectonics, strive to understand the impact of the atmosphere as it relates to climate changes, and research the motions of the Earth in its path within the solar system.
Furthermore, a study of current technology utilized in the fields of geology, meteorology, oceanography and astronomy help students gain insight regarding how scientists collect and analyze data.
Grade 7 Science
Seventh grade students focus on both content and skills fundamental to the study of life science.Ecological concepts provide a basis for an appreciation and an enduring understanding of our impact on the natural world. Topics include cell biology, DNA and genetics, classification of organisms, and an examination of representatives of each of the animal phyla.
A study of embryology in the form of a chick-hatching program is presented as well. This lab-based program provides opportunities for students to prepare for high school biology courses.
Grade 8 Science
The eighth grade students survey a range of physical science topics from aspects of chemistry, including the properties and changes of matter, atomic theory and the periodic table, to fundamentals in physics including forces and motion, work and machines, and forms of energy.
Students are engaged in lab activities to gain skills in measurement, observation and manipulating lab equipment, in addition to utilizing technology to analyze data and report results of their investigations. This program provides opportunities for students to prepare for their high school chemistry and physics courses.
STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math
Not only are STEM topics incorporated into the science curriculum at GNA, but a dedicated class period per week for each grade in the Upper Division is scheduled as well. Students work in teams and are challenged to create solutions to problems such as engineering a vehicle, designing a pipeline with the ability to transport materials, and creating structures that meet specific engineering criteria.
This project-based learning is extended by student participation in various regional competitions, notably the Philadelphia Regional Future City Competition and the STEM K’Nex Design Challenge of Bucks County.
Grade 6 English/Language Arts (ELA) - Honors
The honors sixth grade English/Language Arts course is a literature-based program where reading, writing, speaking and listening are present in all units of study. Through the use of novels, the anthology, and a variety of pieces which include short stories, poetry, drama and non-fiction, students have constant exposure to differing genres. Instructional text, newspapers, periodicals, and non-print media are also used. Specific literary terms and vocabulary are addressed within the context of their reading. Students are taught to be strategic readers and encouraged to read and for different purposes and write for multiple audiences. Lessons include whole class and peer discussion, effectively responding to information, and finding textual evidence to support discussion and writing. Regularly, students engage in the writing process and are prompted to write on a daily basis. Much of the writing focuses on classroom readings, and students write several types of essays in response to the literature. Grammar, usage, mechanics and spelling are taught in connection with the writing. Additionally, students complete various collaborative projects using various forms of technology, including iPads, Microsoft Chromebooks, and the GNA Mac Lab. This course is a continuation of the grade 5 program. It provides structure, a community learning experience, and support for all students - students work towards becoming independent learners.
Grade 6 English/Language Arts – College Prep
The sixth grade English/Language Arts course is a clear, spiraled continuation of the fifth grade and middle division ELA curriculum. Reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills are integrated into weekly lessons, with constant expose to various genres and texts. The course anthology, various age appropriate and engaging novels, multiple grade level short stories, poetry, and non-fiction texts are introduced and examined through whole class and group instruction. Various figurative language terms and sound devices are introduced and used within the examination and understanding of literature. Additionally, students regularly identify text-based vocabulary terms and definitions. Culminating activities are completed for further understanding of the vocabulary sets. Through weekly writing, and the formal writing process, students are taught to write with a purpose and in various styles and genres. These styles include, narrative, descriptive, research-based, comparative, and text-based writing assignments with an emphasis on learning to properly evaluate one’s own work and peer’s work. Grammar units are also completed to ensure all writing is mechanically and structurally effective. As seen at all grade levels, students complete various collaborative projects using various forms of technology, including iPads, Microsoft Chromebooks, and the GNA Mac Lab.
Grade 7 English/Language Arts - Honors
The seventh grade honors English/Language Arts course is designed to meet the needs of all students. Students read various challenging novels with topics that appeal to the 21st Century adolescent, while simultaneously addressing universal themes. Additionally, students are exposed to thought-provoking classical and contemporary pieces in an anthology which include short stories, poetry, drama, and nonfiction. Specific literary terms are taught, and vocabulary is addressed within the context of their reading. Sound and language devices are also integrated into daily lessons. Since seventh grade students should not be hindered by problems in reading or basic comprehension, the curriculum often centers on independent assignments requiring original, logical thinking and an inquiring mind. Students regularly engage in the writing process and area challenged through a variety of writing genres and styles. Spelling and grammar are taught in connection with the students’ writing and the text being read. Collaborative projects are planned, researched, and presented for every unit completed. Technology is used in conjunction with these projects and in many other areas of the classroom. Speaking skills are addressed through recitation of poetry, reading original writing pieces, and participating in literature circle discussions. Moreover, students should expect homework several times per week to ensure understanding of the days’ activity or lesson. Due to the type and amount of work covered, students must exhibit maturity and self-discipline in order to succeed. It is important to note that students need to maintain high grades and meet several other criteria to be placed in the eighth grade English/Language Arts Honors program.
Grade 7 English/Language Arts – College Prep
The seventh grade English/Language Arts program is a seamless transition and continuation of the sixth grade ELA curriculum. Through the reading of rich, diverse literature, and enticing 21st Century relevant novels, students are engaged and active learners. Widespread, pertinent themes are evident in the various short stories, poetry, non-fiction, and dramatic pieces chosen from the curriculum anthology. Additionally, students focus on multiple grammar topics and regularly integrate these lessons into the completion of weekly writing assignments. Students are also exposed to numerous genres of writing which include, research-based writing, descriptive, compare and contrast, argumentative, and poetry pieces. Literary terms, specifically figurative language and sound devices, are infused into daily lessons and examination of literature. Within this program, students are also pushed to further delve into the text and examine its themes, characters, and plot lines. Vocabulary is frequently explored and developed in context with the text being read. Moreover, an emphasis on collaborative learning is seen within the seventh grade curriculum. Chromebooks, iPads, and the innovative Mac lab are all utilized to enhance collaboration and the overall learning experience. The design of this program is meant to challenge, engage, and prepare students for the rigorous eighth grade curriculum, and to aid in the overall growth and maturity of the learner.
Grade 8 English/Language Arts - Honors
The eighth grade English/Language Arts honors program is designed for the highly motivated student who has mastered the basic skills of grammar, composition, and text evaluation. Students within the honors program will be reading texts that are often above grade level and should possess a vocabulary reflective of this acceleration. Since students should have already developed their basic comprehension skills in literature, class time is regularly devoted to analysis of literary works and written responses and activities to these works. Students engage in the writing process and special emphasis is given to answering open response questions, analytical writing, and the literary analysis, all in preparation for high school level ELA. The honors level moves quickly, deals with more demanding works, and delves more deeply into the writing process, especially research based writing. Homework is to be expected regularly. It is common for students to be balancing both long and short range assignments at the same time. Therefore, students in this class need to be organized and willing to devote the extra time needed to be successful in this course. Criteria for entrance will include such items as the student's language arts portfolio, teacher recommendation, seventh grade performance, Terra Nova scores, and a writing assignment completed in a controlled setting.
Grade 8 English/Language Arts – College Prep
The eighth grade English/Language Arts course continues student development in curriculum areas from grade 7. Students should exhibit an inquiring mind, think logically and creatively, and work well on their own, producing well organized work that is punctual and accurate. Students read many stimulating classical and contemporary pieces in an anthology which include short stories, poetry, drama, and nonfiction. Relevant and thematically appropriate novels are read each unit, and students regularly complete text analysis and quote integration when writing responses to these novels. Specific literary terms, language and sound devices are taught, and vocabulary is addressed within the context of their reading and writing. Students engage in the writing process with emphasis on informative and research-based writing. Spelling and grammar are taught in connection with the students’ writing. Student skills are tested through creation recitation of poetry, reading original writing pieces, participating in literature circle and classroom discussions, and presenting collaborative and individual projects to the class. Teachers employ a variety of assessments to monitor student growth and development. Students must exhibit maturity and self-discipline in order to keep up with classroom discussions and the pacing of assignments and activities.
The sixth grade Spanish curriculum provides students with a solid foundation for Upper Division level Spanish, particularly in vocabulary and grammar. Throughout the year, students build on foundational skills in order to develop their comprehension of proficiency focused in the areas of speaking, listening, reading, and writing. In addition, students study the cultures of Spain and Latin America through various reading and writing comprehension activities.
Seventh grade Spanish curriculum is a continuation of the skills learned concretely in sixth grade, which include an in-depth study of vocabulary, grammar, and the development of communicative skills of speaking, listening, and reading and cultural studies. There is an increased emphasis placed upon the refinement of real-world application of grammar through written and oral communication.
The eighth grade Spanish curriculum continues to develop and strengthen the four language skills (listening, speaking, reading, and writing). Students are expected to refine their skills through class participation, cultural readings, a novel, and written assignments.
Advanced grammar and vocabulary are included within the contents of each unit. Students continue to build their vocabulary and expand their knowledge of culture and verb tenses in order to increase the number of diverse situations in which they can function using the language. The accelerated pace of eighth grade Spanish is to ensure that the students are able to apply the knowledge acquired within the classroom into a functional practice that can be used effectively within the Spanish-speaking world. The eighth grade Spanish class is conducted 100% in the target language.
Sixth, seventh, and eighth grades focuses on six important tasks in Catechesis: to learn, celebrate, choose, pray, share, and live. These six tasks of catechesis constitute a unified whole by which catechesis seeks to achieve its objective: the formation of disciples of Jesus Christ.
The sixth grade program focuses on two primary objectives: the first trimester instruction supports preparation for students receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation, which is administered at their home parish. During the second and third trimesters, students learn how the love of God for his people is woven throughout history and in our world today.
Students deepen their understanding of the Liturgical Year and holiday celebrations through their participation in liturgical and Para-liturgical events that include the Bible. They reflect on the Ten Commandments as the laws of God’s covenant to remain faithful disciples of Jesus Christ. Students study different ways that people of the Old and New Testaments gave witness to their faith and reflect on ways they will be witnesses to Jesus.
Seventh grade students continue to use the Bible in class and at home, focusing on New Testament scriptures. Students live their faith as disciples of Jesus centering on His life, His teachings, and the sacraments He instituted. This presents the ways in which the teachings of Jesus Christ specific to the sacraments, and Church nourish people for discipleship. Students cover the Creed, Divine Revelation, and Catholic Social Doctrine, follow the Liturgical Calendar and participate in liturgical and para liturgical events throughout the school year.
Eighth grade students cover Catholic Church history and its present role in our world, as well as the Church’s teachings about issues of morality, especially regarding social justice and respect for life. They continue to follow the Liturgical Calendar and participate in liturgical and para liturgical events throughout the school year.
All Grey Nun Academy students from PreK to eighth are involved in outreach/service projects within the school and/or outside of school. Students in Upper Division travel outside of school for community service, in addition to many in-school outreach projects.