The upper grade curriculum is the capstone of
Valley Academy’s nine-year program of study.
After completing our course of study, our
students are well prepared for high school. Many
students go on to accelerated programs, including
the academically-stimulating International
By the time Valley Academy students are in the
upper grades, they have reached an academic level
that requires teachers with expertise in specific
curricular areas. As a result, Valley Academy hires upper grade teachers certified in specific core areas, and students change classrooms through the school day. This modification exposes students to different teacher personalities and to the need for managing time in order to meet varying requirements of different teachers. This is good training for high school.
Students in the upper grades read, analyze, and discuss classic literature. Exposure to great writers of today and yesterday helps students recognize the components of literature. They also read from books of their choice; however, these books must represent a wide variety of genres, ensuring exposure to many types of literature. Students continue memorization and recitation of classic poetry.
Using the textbook Vocabulary From Classical Roots, students study Greek and Latin word origins to increase vocabulary skills. Students are also taught research and study skills that will benefit them in future academic endeavors and throughout their lives.
Separate from other Language Arts, a dedicated Writing class emphasizes the importance of critical thinking and hones students’ ability to put their thoughts onto paper. The essentials of grammar and sentence structure continue to be stressed throughout the upper grades in all composition assignments. Students learn to diagram a sentence, a skill that will help them succeed on the AIMS tests and in higher education. Students transition from learning about grammar, sentence structure, and the elements of literature to using this knowledge effectively to read, write, speak, and think.
Utilizing Six Traits Writing, students compose many different types of papers, such as literature analysis, research, and creative writing passages. They gain confidence by reading their own compositions to the class, giving speeches, and debating. The art of debate, including thinking logically and expressing ideas clearly, is then integrated into the writing process.
The Saxon math curriculum builds on the accelerated studies of previous grades, providing students with a firm foundation in algebra for success in high school. Previous lessons are reinforced by regular review, and students learn algebraic concepts such as operations with signed numbers, uses of formulas, inequalities, linear and quadratic equations and graphing, complex algebraic fractions, and algebraic word problems involving uniform motion and mixtures.
Upper grade students enjoy high school level instruction in world history, American history, Arizona history, civics, and world geography. Students learn in a dynamic classroom environment that places emphasis on higher-level cognitive development. They have the opportunity to test their knowledge in the annual National Geographic Geography Bee, where Valley Academy students routinely compete at the state level.
The science curriculum includes life science in seventh grade and physical science in eighth grade. Students use the scientific method to identify and understand key concepts in botany, zoology, chemistry, and physics.
Experiments in the science laboratory enhance classroom lessons, providing visual, hands-on reinforcement of science concepts. These experiments have included performing a ball-drop exercise to demonstrate friction and building and racing pinewood derby cars to show momentum and acceleration. Students apply the knowledge gained in the laboratory to draw conclusions based on their personal experimental data and then present their observations and conclusions in written lab reports.
The curriculum is rounded out with Special Area Classes.
Students may participate in an optional Before and After School Program.