IMAGE: Middle School Students in classroom

The learning by Phoenix Middle School students has accelerated faster than their peers nationwide in both reading and math, data from 2015-16 national Measure of Academic Progress tests shows.

The school’s 141 eighth graders have made especially good progress with their reading and math improvement, bettering between 97 to 99 percent of the country in growth and reaching national averages on achievement scores, the data shows. This is tremendous news for a school that continues to show improvements.

“It really shows that something special is happening here at Phoenix,” said Principal Hank Schmelz. “We’re really working together to close the gap.”

Schmelz attributes the growth to having a dedicated staff that is focused on literacy. Reading and comprehension are essential for success in all subject areas and at all grade levels.

“It really comes down to our tight focus on literacy,” Schmelz said. “At Phoenix, we believe all teachers are reading teachers, regardless of subject. Literacy (instruction) in all content areas has been a strong focus. Across the grades and across the curriculum and in all content areas, we use the same literacy strategies.”

Learn more about our Phoenix Middle School Curriculum below:

Grade 6

Welcome to middle school!

Sixth grade is the first foray for students into having a schedule more similar to what they’ll have in high school. At Phoenix Middle School, we’ve designed a way to help provide all students a smooth and successful transition from elementary school.

Sixth grade at Phoenix is broken into three two-teacher “houses.” The class is split into three groups, and each group has classes with only two teachers for the core subject areas — language arts (reading and English), social studies, math and science. Allied arts classes, including art, business education, family and consumer education, music, physical education and technical education are taught by other teachers. Sixth graders are also encouraged to participate in band, orchestra, choir, the school play, forensics, the school newspaper, the Phoenix Chess Club and other extra-curricular opportunities.

Using this “house” method, students are provided an elementary school-like atmosphere in a middle school setting without being overwhelmed. Students get a feel of what they’re used to from elementary school, but they’re learning more about what to expect when they reach higher grades. Core subject teachers are also able to develop closer relationships with their students as they see only one-third of the entire class. Students enjoy the “house” concept and their group-mates and teachers develop a cohesive and stable family-like atmosphere during class time.

The core subject areas are also taught using an interdisciplinary approach, meaning subject-matter is tied together or overlapped between subjects. For example, as students learn about medieval Europe in social studies, they will discuss Arthurian legends in language arts.

Use the curriculum guide below to review what kinds of things your child will learn and do, by subject, in the sixth grade. If you have questions, please feel free to contact your child’s teacher or principal.

Language Arts

A combination of the sixth grade reading and English curricula make up Language Arts. Sixth graders receive 90 minutes of language arts instruction each day. Teachers follow a standards-based curriculum adopted by the Wisconsin Department of Education to teach vocabulary development and grammar skills.

Students receive whole group instruction, flexible grouping, guided reading, and small-group instruction.

Throughout the year, students will focus on inference, vocabulary development through context clues, various elements of plot, summarizing skills, comparing and contrasting, introduction to all literary genres (biography, autobiography, mystery, legends, realistic fiction, historical fiction and more), large and small writing assignments, focusing on narrative, persuasive writing, descriptive writing and expository writing.

Social Studies

Social Studies builds on skills learned in elementary grade levels. Students will review map skills and geography, learn about early civilizations (early humans to the Renaissance), how geography influenced the way civilizations developed, archeology, city and family life in society, how governments developed in civilizations and its effect on us today, and cultures.

The units studied include archeology, Mesopotamia, Egypt, China, Greece, Rome, the Middle Ages, Renaissance and Aztec, Mayan and Incan cultures. Students will often incorporate non-fiction literature into social studies projects to further develop their reading, writing and research skills.

Sixth graders also have a middle ages festival that includes a discussion with a knight and enjoying authentic period foods.


Sixth grade math represents a significant turning point in students’ math experience. It is the time to solidify concepts in basic operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division) in the areas of whole numbers, decimals, and fractions; and to expand their capabilities into the areas of problem solving, statistics, geometry, and algebra.

Major units of study, in addition to the basic operations, will include fraction/decimal/percent equivalencies, probability, data and statistics, number theory, geometry (basic figures, transformations, symmetry), algebraic reasoning (variables, simple expressions and equations), measurement including area and perimeter, and many different forms of problem solving.

Students in sixth grade have the opportunity to be involved in two different math competitions with students from other schools. One is the Math 24 competition (exponents and integers) and the other is a regional fifth and sixth grade competition. Both of these events take place in the spring of the year.

Math enjoys flexible grouping that allow the students to flow in and out of different arrangements as the units demand. The sixth grade teachers are committed to give their students a positive, motivating experience in math.


The sixth grade science curriculum can be broken into four areas:

  • Thinking like a scientist: Students will “think like a scientist” in the first quarter by learning the scientific method, conducting experiments and preparing for a public science fair with projects developed and made on their own.
  • Astronomy: In the second quarter, students will learn about the structure of the universe, stars and what they are, telescopes, historical thought in astronomy, the progression of astronomical thought, the history of space travel and more. Students will also have a model project about space to do during the quarter.
  • Geology: It’s back down to earth in the third quarter as students will discuss the structure of the planet, earthquakes, volcanoes and other earthly phenomena.
  • Meteorology: In the fourth quarter, students return to the skies, but stay in the atmosphere as they learn about meteorology and climate, the biomes of the earth, weather, weather patters, what causes weather and more.

Grade 7

For seventh graders, high school is not that far away, anymore. That’s why at Phoenix Middle School, we teach our students the importance of being more independent and more conscious of time management.

In addition to their core classes in language arts, math, science and social studies, students will take allied arts classes in computer education, business education, technology education, family and consumer education and world languages.

Seventh graders can also start playing sports offered at Phoenix Middle School beyond flag football (which is offered in sixth grade).

Seventh grade is more challenging, with a more rigorous curriculum. That means more responsibility and potentially more homework for our students. But, our teachers are here to help. Each core class is 72 minutes long, which allows for more direct teacher instruction and guidance. The class schedule also allows for “flexible grouping,” where students can be grouped together so they can work ahead, or so they don’t fall behind.

Seventh grade classes also apply what they’re learning in the classroom to the real world, often times through experimentation and challenged-based learning. If that’s not enough, most of the seventh grade classrooms will have interactive SmartBoards to keep learning engaging throughout the year.

See what students in seventh grade learn at Phoenix Middle School. If you have questions about the seventh grade, contact your child’s teacher.

Language Arts

  • Short stories — reviewing fiction story elements;
  • Summarizing key events in fiction stories using supporting details;
  • Comparing and contrasting texts and characters;
  • Non-fiction reading — Titanic;
  • Creative writing using the Titanic as a theme;
  • Holocaust and World War II — Reading about Anne Frank;
  • Holocaust historical fiction reading;
  • Expository writing — Holocaust child writing and Anne Frank essay;
  • The Cay — dialect;
  • The Outsiders — focus on characterization;
  • Vocabulary — 12 words for two weeks throughout the year;
  • Book credits — earned throughout the year.


Major units of study include number theory (integer and fraction computation, ratios, unit rates, proportions and percents), probability, data and statistics, geometry (basic shape relationships), algebraic reasoning (solving one- and two-step equations, graphing functions and inequalities), measurement including area, perimeter, volume and surface area, and many forms of problem solving.

Students in seventh grade have the opportunity to be involved in two different math competitions from other schools. One is the Math 24 competition (fractions and decimals) and the other is a regional seventh and eighth grade competition. Both of these events take place in the spring of the year.

Life Science

  • What is science;
  • Lab safety;
  • Scientific method/Inquiry;
  • What is life?
  • Microscopes;
  • Classification;
  • Cells;
  • Environmental education;
  • Animal kingdoms;
  • Genetics;
  • Human body;
  • Plants;
  • Animals.

Social Studies

First Quarter

  • Psychology
    • Primary Needs
    • Secondary Needs
    • Who Am I/Self-reflection
  • Physical Geography of North America
    • Landforms
    • Bodies of Water
    • Map Skills
    • Regions
    • Culture
  • Political Boundaries of North America
    • North American Countries
    • US States, Cities, Capital Cities
    • Canadian Provinces
    • Regions: ex. Central America, Caribbean
    • Movement of People

Second Quarter

  • Economics
    • Vocabulary
    • Methods of Allocation
    • Stock Market
    • Great Depression/Dirty
    • Employment Issues
  • Physical Geography of South America
    • Landforms
    • Bodies of Water
    • Map Skills
    • Regions
    • Countries and Capitals
    • Culture
  • Physical Geography and Political Divisions of Europe
    • Landforms
    • Bodies of Water
    • Countries and Capitals
    • Map Skills
    • Culture

Third Quarter

  • World War I
    • Causes/Alliances
    • Strategies
    • US Involvement/Home Front
    • Casualties/Atrocities/Genocide
    • Outcomes/Impact
  • Physical Geography and Political Boundaries of Africa
    • Landforms
    • Bodies of Water
    • Countries and Capitals
    • Map Skills
    • Culture
  • Physical Geography and Political Boundaries of Asia
    • Landforms
    • Bodies of Water
    • Countries and Capitals
    • Map Skills
    • Culture

Fourth Quarter

  • World War II
    • Causes
    • Strategies
    • US Involvement
    • Casualties/Holocaust
    • Outcomes/Impact
  • US Constitution
    • Highlight Articles of Confederation
    • Federalism vs. Antifederalists
    • Constitutional Convention
    • Read the US Constitution
    • Vocabulary/Bill to Law Process
  • Citizenship
    • Role of US Citizen
    • Building Citizenship Skills
    • Compare/Contrast Citizenship Rights under communism, dictatorships, democracies

Grade 8

As seventh grade was a small step toward gearing students for high school, eighth grade is an even bigger step to prepare students for the final four years of pre-college education.

Eighth grade is a challenging transitional year for students at Phoenix Middle School. The way the daily schedule is set up with multiple classes, in multiple rooms with multiple teachers, eighth grade bridges the gaps between a middle school and high school education.

Teachers stress student responsibility and students learn to manage their time appropriately and take personal ownership in the work they do every day. Student work will have tight deadlines for completion and it will be more challenging.

Eighth graders get 92 minutes of Language Arts (reading and English) each day and advanced math students can take high school-level algebra.

Throughout the core classes, students are subject to a rigorous and relevant curriculum, which helps them best understand and retain knowledge they gain as they can apply it in a practical setting.

Eighth graders also have a special recognition night program at the end of the year to honor students with such achievements as band awards, vocal music awards, Wisconsin State Music Association Solo and Ensemble Contest awards, recognition of athletes, student council members, Peer Helpers, American Legion essay winners, President’s Education Awards, outstanding students and more.

If you have question about the eighth grade program at Phoenix Middle School, contact an eighth grade teacher.

Language Arts

Eight grade Language Arts is designed to involve the student in applying reading, writing, listening, speaking and viewing skills in an independent manner through meaningful interdisciplinary tasks. Students will continue to develop an appreciation for literature though the study of literary elements in classic and contemporary selections. Emphasis is placed on moving from the literal to the abstract in the students’ critical thinking skills and in the use of language.

Students will be engaged in the learning process by:

  • Individual exploration and research;
  • Group lectures and discussions;
  • Small group team-oriented activities;
  • Hands-on activities such as projects and portfolio work;
  • Oral presentations;
  • Written compositions.

We have many exciting and enriching activities to look forward to in eighth grade Language Arts. Some of these will require outside preparation and the aid of a parent to be successful.

  • Essays;
  • Writing prompts or short stories;
  • Vocabulary;
  • DOL/Journals;
  • AR/Book reviews;
  • Class Novels;
  • Literature circles — Each semester students are grouped together to engage in a group novel study. Students will be able to select from a number of novels selected by the teacher. The groups will set reading goals and will hold meetings periodically to analyze and explore the novel. The teams will build a portfolio of assignments and will be charged with creating a group project and test.


Throughout the year, eighth grade math students apply math concepts in real-world situation and incorporate decision making with data as it relates to everyday life.

First Quarter

  • General Review
  • Review Rounding and Averaging
  • Order of Operations
  • Reading and Interpreting Graphs
  • Exponents and Square Roots
  • Decimals, Fractions and Percents including conversions

Second Quarter

  • Proportions and ratios
  • Prime factorization for GCF and LCM
  • Measurement in metric and customary
    • Conversions and Comparisons
    • Determine appropriate unit of measurement
    • Using approximation
  • Integers +, -, x, ÷
    • Order of operations with +, – numbers
    • Absolute value
  • Algebraic equations
    • One step equations
    • Two step equations
    • Distributive property
    • Introduction of math properties
    • Two sided variable equations
  • Rational and Irrational numbers
    • Represent as lengths and place on number line

Third Quarter

  • Coordinate graphing
    • Dilations, Rotations, Translations and Reflections
  • Graphing algebraic inequalities
  • Graphing of linear equations (slope)
  • Fractions
    • Ratios and Proportions
  • Angle measurement and displaying of data with graphs
    • Determine measures of missing angles
  • Probability

Fourth Quarter

  • Data collection and display though a variety of methods. Evaluate data as it relates to larger populations. Use data to predict and make decisions including real world settings.
  • Geometry (Area and Perimeter)
    • Two and three dimensional figures
    • Pythagorean Theorem
  • Review all topics taught throughout the year
  • Apply percent, decimals, circle graphs, budgeting, etc, in a setting to develop financial literacy and decision-making skills.


First Quarter

  • Motion
    • Speed, Velocity, Acceleration
  • Forces
    • Balanced/Unbalanced Forces
    • Friction
    • Gravity
    • Newton’s Laws
    • Circular Forces

Second Quarter

  • Forces In Fluids
    • Pressure
    • Density/Archimedes Principle
    • Pascal’s Principle
    • Bernoulli’s Principle
  • Work & Machines
    • Work
    • Power
    • Efficiency/Mechanical Advantage
    • Six Simple Machines

Third Quarter

  • Energy
    • Potential & Kinetic
    • Mechanical
    • Thermal
    • Electrical
    • Chemical
    • Nuclear
    • Electromagnetic
    • Energy Conversions
  • Heat
    • Temperature
    • Thermal Heat
    • Specific Heat
    • Heat Transfer
    • States Of Matter
  • Sound
    • Waves
    • Wave Interactions

Fourth Quarter

  • Light
    • Electromagnetic Waves
    • Visible Light
    • Colors
    • Reflection/Refraction
  • Electricity
    • Static
    • Current
    • Circuits
  • Magnetism
    • Properties
  • Chemistry
    • Atoms
    • Chemical/Atomic Bonds
    • Elements
    • Periodic Table
    • Chemical Reactions
    • Acids/Bases
    • Matter

Social Studies

First Quarter

  • Geography Handbook-Review
  • The World Before 1500
    • Societies of North America
    • Societies of Africa
    • Societies of Europe
  • European Exploration of the Americas
    • Spain Claims an Empire
    • European Competition in North America
    • The World of the Privateer
    • The Spanish and Native Americans
    • Beginnings of Slavery in the Americas
  • Test Preparation
  • Election content (every even-numbered year)
  • November, Geography Bee

Second Quarter

  • The English Establish 13 Colonies
    • Early Colonies Have Mixed Success
    • New England Colonies
    • The Southern Colonies
    • The Middle Colonies
  • The Colonies Develop
    • New England: Commerce and Religion
    • The Southern Colonies: Plantations and Slavery
    • The Middle Colonies: Farms and Cities
    • The Backcountry
  • Beginnings of an American Identity
    • Early American Culture
    • Roots of American Democracy
    • The French and Indian War

Third Quarter

  • The Road to Revolution
    • Tighter British Control
    • Colonial Resistance Grows
    • The Road to Lexington and Concord
    • Declaring Independence 1776
  • The American Revolution
    • The Early Years of the War
    • The War Expands
    • The Path to Victory
    • The Legacy of the War
  • Confederation to Constitution
    • The Confederation Era
    • Creating the Constitution
    • Rati?cation and the Bill of Rights
  • The Jefferson Era
    • The Louisiana Purchase and Exploration
  • National and Regional Growth
    • Early Industry and Inventions
    • Plantations and Slavery Spread
    • Nationalism & Sectionalism

Fourth Quarter

  • Manifest Destiny
    • Trails West
    • The Texas Revolution
    • The War with Mexico
    • The California Gold Rush
  • Growth in the West
    • Railroads Transform the Nation
    • Miners, Ranchers, and Cowhands
    • Native Americans Fight to Survive
    • Farm Economics and Populism
  • The Nation Breaking Apart
    • Growing Tensions Between North and South
    • Slavery Dominates Politics
    • Lincoln’s Election and Southern Secession
  • The Civil War Begins
    • War Erupts
    • Life in the Army
    • No End in Sight
  • The Tide of War Turns
    • The Emancipation Proclamation
    • War Affects Society
    • The North Wins
    • The Legacy of the War


Art is a chance for students to explore their creative sides. We feel that art helps keep the creative mind active. An active creative mind also means an active intelligence.

Art demands seeking solutions to problems, seeing patterns, trying new ways of expression. Art also promotes creativity, intelligence and mental health, even just when viewed. Here, they’ll be doing more than that.

All Phoenix Middle School students in sixth, seventh and eighth grade will have art class throughout the year. Art is one of the Allied Arts courses offered along with Music and Family And Consumer Education that Phoenix Middle School students experience throughout their school year.

During these units, the art program provides opportunities for students to:

  • Think critically and creatively
  • Learn to express and communicate their ideas through their art work
  • Develop multiple methods of problem solving (measurement, color, etc.)
  • Use a variety of resources in solving problems (i.e. study characteristics of an animal before starting a project)
  • Develop curiosity and open-mindedness
  • Give and receive criticism in positive ways
  • Learn to identify, understand and value visual forms in the natural and man-made environment

Parents can encourage creativity at home by:

  • Providing an area with easily accessible art materials such as crayons, markers, paper, old magazines, fabric scraps.
  • Talking with your child about what they are creating and asking questions.
  • Visiting art galleries, museums, folk festivals and artists’ studios.

Business Education

The world we live is dominated by technology and business. We feel it’s important to teach students how to use some of today’s technological tools effectively, primarily the personal computer, and teach the basics of the business world to prepare students for life’s later chapters.

By the time they’re in middle school, students in our district have already used computers. At Phoenix Middle School, they’ll start to learn to use them in a myriad of different ways, from learning proper keyboarding, to navigating the World Wide Web, to understanding today’s computer operating systems.

Business education courses also teach leadership, economics, entrepreneurship and marketing skills used in real world businesses.

Not only will these new skill sets help students with their school work, they will help students with their work in high school, college and in their careers.

By the time students leave Phoenix Middle School, our business and computer education courses will have taught them to:

  • Use computers to acquire, organize, analyze, and communicate information.
  • Learn leadership, collaboration and teamwork
  • Respect the privacy of other students’ work and copyright laws
  • Effectively navigate the internet
  • Apply economic concepts to consumer decision making, buying, saving and investing
  • Describe what entrepreneurship is, including its benefits, risks and impact on society
  • Explain functions of marketing, including promotion, types of promotional campaigns, influencing factors and distribution.

Family and Consumer Sciences

Family and Consumer Sciences (F.A.C.S.) is a school program ideally suited to preparing students for work within and outside the family.

The F.A.C.S. program aims to support families by helping students develop the intellectual and motivational skills needed to become self-directed learners. Students are given opportunities to explore topics relevant to the modern family interrelating their academic and artistic courses.

F.A.C.S. is an activity-oriented course allowing students to manipulate materials as they explore new information. Students learn first hand about the intellectual and creative processes useful in cooking, sewing, childcare, money management, health, relationships and work.

Phoenix Middle School students in sixth, seventh and eighth grade take Family and Consumer Sciences class in addition to Art, Physical Education, Business Education and Technical Education. During each year of study, students will improve their ability to:

  • Think critically;
  • Problem solve;
  • Creatively gather, organize and use information;
  • Question the world around them;
  • Practice basic reading, writing, communication and computation skills;
  • Develop group participation skills;
  • Prepare for work related to the family;
  • Prepare for careers through job and employability skills.

Parents can facilitate learning by:

  • Talking to their child about schoolwork and assignments;
  • Providing guidelines and time for the completion of homework;
  • Include children in the work of the family;
  • Provide opportunities for students to use ”hands on” experience at home;
  • Empower their child to exercise reasoned control over their own lives within the family setting.

Our students are learning in an exciting time. They will use critical thinking and practical reasoning skills to investigate significant questions of concern about family and society. It is the district’s goal to help students learn to think for themselves, use available resources to make decisions for addressing these continuing concerns and to use reflection in every day life.


The Phoenix Middle School Music program is nationally-recognized and offers students the opportunity to develop higher level thinking skills and problem solving while learning about responsibility and teamwork. Our music students learn music from a variety of cultures and perform in concerts, festivals, assemblies, parades and more.

Music Classes
• Teacher Julie Ropers-Rosendahl

Sixth Grade

Sixth grade general music focuses on vocal health and singing technique, music literacy, and beginning drumming. Students work to perform music as independent members of a team while exploring musical concepts.

Seventh and Eighth grade:

Seventh and eighth grade General Music shifts to a more exclusively instrumental curriculum. Building on knowledge acquired in 6th grade, students work on their music-reading skills and performance skills using the piano as a medium. Students who are interested in continuing their vocal music study are encouraged to sign up for the Phoenix Choir.

Orchestra Program Description
• Director Jennifer Bayerl

Phoenix Orchestra students develop skills with the violin, viola, cello and double bass. Although most students begin playing in elementary school, it’s not too late. Beginners are welcome in middle school, as well. Students are members of either the sixth grade Legato Orchestra or the seventh and eighth grade Allegro Orchestra and rehearse every other day. We are exceedingly proud to offer this option for students as many of our neighboring schools do not offer Orchestra. We live in a state with several major symphony orchestras, two nationwide leading youth symphonies and innumerable outstanding college, community and other orchestral ensembles.

Late beginners who wish to start on an instrument in sixth, seventh, or eighth grade are more than welcome to join the orchestra.

Band Program Description
• Director Mark Butzow

There are three performing bands at Phoenix Middle School — Concert Band, Wind Ensemble, and Eighth Grade Jazz Ensemble. Concert Band membership is for students who are starting or have completed one year on their instrument. Wind Ensemble membership is for seventh and eighth grade students who have completed at least two years on their instrument. Eighth Grade Jazz Ensemble is open for any eighth grade band student who successfully passes an audition. Each band meets every other day and all band students attend one small group lesson per week.

Late beginners who wish to start on an instrument in sixth, seventh or eighth grade are more than welcome to participate and start learning instrumental music.

Vocal Music Program Description
• Director Julie Ropers-Rosendahl

The Phoenix Middle School Choral Program is open to all Phoenix students, including students with no previous choral experience. If students enjoy singing, or would even just like to learn how to sing better, there is a place for them in choir. In addition to concerts, the choir sings at such events as the Phoenix Middle School holiday concert, the Veterans Day ceremony and others.

Physical Education

Phoenix Middle School students will experience a wide range of fun and heart-pounding activities between sixth and eighth grades. Many of the activities, such as fitness training, weight training, interactive dance and snow shoeing, were made possible through funding from the $1 million Physical Education Program Grant the district received in 2009.

Within the three years of middle school, each student will be exposed to each of the following activities:

  • Archery
  • Badminton
  • Bowling
  • Disc Golf
  • Fitness Training (on state-of-the art equipment in our new fitness center)
  • Fitness Testing
  • Fitness Principles
  • Flag Football
  • Health Concepts
  • In-line Skating
  • Interactive Dance
  • Kickball
  • Outdoor Games
  • Pickleball
  • Snow Shoeing
  • Soccer
  • Softball
  • Tennis
  • Volleyball

Additional activities may become available as new equipment is acquired with grant funding. Health education is taught during Physical Education and Family and Consumer Sciences courses.

The Physical Education staff at Phoenix Middle School hope to get all students “Hooked for Life” on choosing healthy activities and having a healthy lifestyle.


Check back for updated information

World Languages

World languages, including French and Spanish, are elective courses for seventh and eighth graders at Phoenix Middle School.

The two foreign language courses will be taught during the school’s “extension” period at the end of the school day. This allows for more time for core subject curriculum instruction (Language Arts Math, Science and Social Studies), while still maintaining French and Spanish language instruction for our students.

The elective courses, taught by teachers who are fluent in French and Spanish, will teach students the basics of the languages and prepare students for more rigorous foreign language courses taught at Delavan-Darien High School.