Middle School

In grades six through eight, Triangle Day School’s Middle School students benefit from small classes, supportive teachers, and a dynamic academic experience. Students receive solid instruction in the areas of language arts, math, science, social studies, Spanish, physical education, Arts, and electives. Combining time-tested methods with innovative techniques, lessons focus on critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, written and oral communication, and creativity.

In addition, every Middle School student has an advisor. Advisory in Middle School at TDS comprises small, mixed grade-level groups that meet in homerooms, conduct school-based community service, and engage in bi-weekly discussions about the school’s Core Values of respect, responsibility, compassion, resilience, and integrity.  The advisor is one of the student’s academic teachers and plays an additional role of liaison between home and school. The advisor is a strong advocate for his/her advisees throughout the year.

The rigorous academic program in the Middle School prepares students to meet the challenges of any high school setting. Daily study halls where every teacher is available for questions and enrichment teach students about time management, self-advocacy, and to see their teachers as allies. Students graduate from Triangle Day School as confident, lifelong learners, equipped with a sound academic foundation and the life skills necessary for success.

CLICK HERE to check out a current newsletter and see what’s going on in Middle School!

Language Arts


Students read, analyze, appreciate, and enjoy high-level texts representing a variety of genres. Through discussions, independent and group projects, writing, and presentations, students explore literature, grammar, the mechanics of writing, and vocabulary. They exercise critical thinking skills as they respond to quality literature and to differing viewpoints.

Here are some of the titles students at TDS are reading:

6th Grade
Wonder (R.J. Palacio), Mockingbird (Kathryn Erskine), A Wrinkle in Time (Madeleine L’Engle), The Crossover (Kwame Alexander), Brown Girl Dreaming (Jacqueline Woodson), Under the Mesquite (Gaudalupe Garcia McCall)

7th Grade
Lord of the Flies (William Golding), The Giver (Lois Lowry), Red Scarf Girl (Ji-li Jiang), Inside Out and Back Again (Thanha Lai), Home of the Brave (Katherine Applegate), A Long Walk to Water (Linda Sue Park)

8th Grade
To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee), The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton), House on Mango Street (Sandra Cisneros), Night (Elie Wiesel), March (John Lewis)



Middle School math focuses on providing a strong algebraic foundation for students. Students participate in group discussions, independent activities, traditional presentations and skills practice, small group exploration, writing out solutions with logical reasoning, projects, and problem-solving activities with a real-world focus.  All of these methods combine to ensure that students are learning concepts and applications in a challenging yet supportive atmosphere.  Students begin Middle School in a 6th Grade Math or Pre-Algebra course and progress through Algebra or Geometry by the end of 8th grade.  Students typically follow one of these two pathways:

6th grade Math → 7th grade Pre-Algebra → 8th grade Algebra

6th grade Pre-Algebra → 7th grade Algebra → 8th grade Geometry*

*Students who complete the Geometry course in 8th grade will receive Geometry or Common Core II credit for high school.



Science invites students to take an active role in their learning and to refine their investigative skills as they examine a range of scientific concepts and understandings. Using hands-on activities, inquiry-based labs, scientific readings, research, and discussions, teachers encourage students to apply their knowledge of science to real-life situations and events. The integration of math and technology helps students analyze and present scientific data and findings. As students work, they are encouraged to apply the skills and problem solving strategies employed by people working in scientific fields.

6th Grade: Earth Science
Geology, Hydrology, Meteorology, Mapping, Climate and Resources, Astronomy
Examples of Labs:

Earthquake Resistant Structures: Students work in teams to research earthquakes, build a structure from Popsicle sticks/straws, then test the structure for strength and durability on the shake table.

The Amazing Race: Students use their mapping skills to race around the school answering questions about mapping.

Water Quality Testing: Students use Venier probes and equipment to test the quality of water in Durham’s watershed from the TDS field.

Energy Conservation: Students choose a solar oven or wind turbine to build, then test and observe the energy outputs of alternative sources of energy.

7th Grade: Life Science
Cells and Cells Processes, Genetics and Heredity, Biotechnology, Evolution and Classification, Ecology, Human Anatomy and Physiology
Examples of Labs:

Cell Model: Students create a 3-D scale model of a plant or animal cell.

Gummy Bear Osmosis: Students explore the effects of water and salt water on gummy bears, carrots, and aquatic plants

Strawberry DNA: Students extract DNA from a strawberry and make a slide to view under the microscope.

Tragedy of the Commons: Students use straws to “fish” cereal from a “pond” to test how ecosystems and resources are allocated.

8th Grade: Physical Science
Scientific Method, Properties of Matter and changes to them, Motion and Forces, Transfer of Energy
Examples of Labs:

Atomic Cookies: Students make a Bohr model of an element using a cookie.

Chemical Reactions Labs: Students test different types of chemical reactions to determine endo/exothermic, synthesis, decomposition, or replacement reactions, then balance the chemical equation.

Graphing Motion: Students use the Venier Lab equipment to graph motion of a person, velocity and acceleration of a car and determine rate of gravity.

Marble Run/Mission Possible: Students choose and engineering design challenge to apply concepts in physics and simple machines to create a track that takes exactly 30 seconds for a marble to travel or a Rube Goldberg type project involving 6 types of physical science tasks.

Social Studies


Social Studies focuses on the history and geography of civilizations and societies around the world from prehistoric times to the present. Students interact with a variety of primary and secondary sources in order to assist them in their inquiry into topics such as the roles of tolerance and intolerance in civilizations around the world, causes of inequality, and methods used by groups and individuals to enact change. Throughout their coursework students engage in research activities designed to help them ask thoughtful questions and seek and evaluate answers.

6th Grade: Ancient World Cultures
Prehistory, Mesopotamia, India, China, Egypt, Greece, Rome, The Umayyad and Abbasid Caliphates, Medieval Europe, and World Religions
Examples of Projects and Activities:

A Time Traveler’s Guide to Ancient China: Students create a guided tour for a time traveller visiting Ancient China.

Ancient Egypt Museum Display: Students identify, research, and create a museum display for an artifact from Ancient Egypt.

Greece and Sparta Debate: Students debate whether Athens or Sparta was a more successful city-state using sources from Ancient Greece and Rome to support their arguments.

7th Grade: Global Studies
The Columbian Exchange, Colonialism, Industrialization, World War I and II, Communism, Decolonization, and Environmental Issues
Examples of Projects and Activities:

Industrialization Research Project: Students investigate why the Industrial Revolution began in Britain, develop a thesis supported by primary source evidence, and present their findings to the class.

Mock Trial: In this simulation, students put various revolutionary leaders on trial and act out the roles of leaders, witnesses, and prosecutors.

8th Grade: United States History (1900 to Present)
The Constitution, Immigration, Civil Rights, Gender Equality, Military Conflicts, and Economic Issues
Examples of Projects and Activities:

Political Campaign: Students use their knowledge of US history and the constitution to develop a political platform for a mock election.

Advice Columns: Students write an advice column for civil rights activists in other countries citing examples from civil rights movements in the US.



Coursework becomes increasingly academic to promote fluency in Spanish speaking, reading, and writing.  Students also gain exposure to Spanish cultures and traditions around the world.  Gateways to effective communication and world citizenship are opened as students prepare for more intense foreign language study in high school.  By the end of eighth grade, most students have completed the Spanish II course and should be ready to take Spanish III in high school.

6th Grade
Topics include an understanding of Spanish speaking countries and their capitals, present tense regular verb conjugations, possessive adjectives, noun/adjective agreement, intterogation words, basic vocabulary, some irregular verbs, cultures of España, Puerto Rico, México and Estados Unidos

7th Grade
Topics include negative and affirmative commands and words, ser vs. estar, reflexive verbs, preterit of irregular verbs, present progressive, indirect object pronouns, demonstrative adjectives, cultures of Costa Rica, Argentina, Ecuador, and República Dominicana

8th Grade
Topics include direct and indirect object pronouns, regular and irregular preterit verbs, demonstrative adjectives and pronouns, reflexive verbs, present progressive, the imperfect tense, formal commands, double object pronouns, the subjunctive, por and para, the future tense, details of the cultures and Spanish dialect of Ecuador, República Dominicana, España, México, Puerto Rico, Argentina, Costa Rica, y mucho mas!

Physical Education


PE promotes fitness and healthy lifestyles. Students participate in a movement based curriculum as they are challenged to understand the relationships involving self, space, equipment and others around them.  Group activities, cooperative games, and problem solving are integrated into more physically demanding situations, allowing students to challenge their skills while building their concept of self.  They are taught to lead their own warm-up exercises, and they learn advanced skills and strategies for team games like badminton, soccer, and basketball.

Students also participate in health classes.  6th graders take an Emotional Health class as they enter their adolescent years. 7th and 8th graders address a variety of health topics including nutrition, alcohol and drug use, CPR & first aid, sex education, and fitness.


Arts courses include choices of visual, performing or musical arts.  6th graders participate in Studio Art and one Musical Art.  7th and 8th graders choose one or two art classes for the full year.

Visual Arts

One semester for 6th grade, full year for 7th/8th grades(2x/week)

Students in 6th grade take Studio Art.  They focus on using the elements of design and various media to create pieces of self-expression, as well as works that weave into their academic subjects.  For example, students attempt Chinese brush painting as they learn about Ancient China in Social Studies. In order to foster an appreciation for art, artworks are connected to artists and art history movements.

Students in 7th and 8th grades may choose to work with clay, glazes, and learn more advanced drawing and painting techniques that can culminate in creating a memorable 8th grade painting.  

Musical Arts

Full year for 6th/7th/8th grades (2x/week)

Musical arts courses include beginning and advanced hand chime choirs and a chorus.  Students learn to read music, work together to create harmonies and melodies, and perform multiple times throughout the year.  Performance venues off campus include Durham Bulls Athletic Stadium, Shopping Mall stages, and more!

Watch this video of parents and alumni performing “Chariots of Fire” directed by Ali Carnes, our Chimes instructor.

Performing Arts

Full year for 7th/8th grades (2x/week)

Students in performing arts begin with an introduction to the acting process and lead up to participation in multiple plays throughout the year.  Students are exposed to many different types of acting techniques through games and practice.

Complements and Electives

7th and 8th graders have a choice of various elective classes that each run for a semester (2x/week). Some electives that have been offered include:

ForensicsStudents explore how chemistry, physics, and biology concepts are used to collect evidence and help solve crimes while developing observational and critical thinking skills.

ClassicsClassics focuses on learning some of the foundational myths of Greek and Roman culture, all of which are still referenced today. Some of the basics of Latin will be taught and examined in the ways that it influences our own language.

Coding – Students are introduced to coding using the programming language Python. Students will explore the fundamentals of coding including variables, strings, input and output, conditional statements, and loops. Having mastered these basics, our young programmers will put their new skills to use in a graphics environment using Python’s built-in drawing module, called turtle.

Digital Storytelling – This class uses computer-based tools to tell stories. These include digital documentaries, digital essays, electronic memoirs, interactive stories and others.  Using graphics, audio, video and web publishing, this class concentrates on the art of telling stories through a variety of multimedia

Yearbook – Students work to create the school’s yearbook for the academic year.  They learn skills in formatting, editing, time management, teamwork, photography, and creative thinking.

Competition Math – Students work individually and in teams to solve challenging math problems in preparation for Math Counts, a local, regional and national annual math competition.


TDS is a member of Google Apps for Education and every student has his/her own school email address.  Each student is equipped with an individual Chromebook for use in all classes.

6th grade class for one quarter (2x/week)
Intro to Technology with a focus on Digital Citizenship: Technology in Middle School focuses on responsible use, digital citizenship, plagiarism awareness, and acquiring research skills.  We use common sense media as a framework for our Digital Citizenship curriculum.

7th/8th grade Electives:
Introduction to Coding/Programming
3D Modeling and Printing