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Elective Course Descriptions and Registration Forms 2019-2020

6th Grade Registration Form     7th Grade Registration Form     8th Grade Registration Form


Murray Middle School Elective Course Descriptions 2019-2020



Beginning Art 6

Generally laboratory in nature, Art I explores and gives experience in a two-dimensional format, i.e. drawing, painting, printmaking.

Intermediate Art-Grades 7 and 8

Generally laboratory in nature, Art I explores and gives experience in a two-dimensional format, i.e. drawing, painting, printmaking. Tutorial in two and three-dimensional work, such as sculpture, clay and textiles may be offered. This course integrates art history and aesthetic criticism throughout the entire curriculum.

Media Art

This is a beginning level course in media arts that will use technology such as recording devices, computers, I-Pads, cameras and software to create original art. This course introduces students to media arts history, analyzes different types of media art, and gives students a hands on experience in video creation, basic cartooning and animation through extensive use of computer technology and I-Pads.



            Music Exploration Grades 6-8

Music Exploration 6-8 is a course where students will examine, listen to, evaluate, and/or perform music through exploration of the historical, social, economic, ethnic and political events that influenced the genre's artists and the music they wrote and performed. This course provides opportunities for students to develop their musical potential and aesthetic understanding through text and a variety of instruments.

Beginning Band Grades 6-8

This course introduces students to, or strengthens skills in woodwind, brass, percussion, and music theory and pedagogy. Students will Learn fundamental skills and knowledge required to build a foundation within music. Students also build skills for musical performance.

Intermediate Band Grades 6-8 Teacher Recommendation

Intermediate Band 6-8 is for students who have completed Beginning Band 6-8, or have some experience and skills with teacher permission. This course develops technique and musicianship through a wide variety of music in different settings.  The study of music rudiments, style and performance practice, harmony and music theory/composition and history of music will also be incorporated into the class.

Advanced Band Grades 7-8 Teacher Recommendation

This course builds on skills acquired in Intermediate Band and focuses on advanced skills, technique and musicianship through a wide variety of challenging music in areas of instrumental practice, theory, and pedagogy. Students will prepare for and participate in a variety of performances throughout the year.

Beginning Orchestra Grades 6-8

Beginning orchestra prepares students to play in the school orchestra. Orchestra develops technique and musicianship through a wide variety of music in different settings. The study of music rudiments, style and performance practice, harmony and music theory/composition, and history of music will also be incorporated into the class. This course may be repeated.

Advanced Orchestra-Grades 6-8 Teacher Recommendation

Advanced Orchestra prepares students to play in a more advanced school orchestra. Orchestra students will continue to develop technique and musicianship through a wide variety of challenging music in different settings.  The study of music rudiments, style and performance practice, harmony and music theory/composition, and history of music will also be incorporated into the class. This course may be repeated.



            Genius Squad

Genius Squads are savvy, student technology enthusiasts who are committed to leading, supporting and impacting the Personalized Learning environment of Saint Paul Public Schools.  Members participate, lead and assist technology integration in a wide variety of ways at their respective schools and at a district-level.


Creative Writing

This course will build written skills in poetry, personal narrative and short stories. Students will read anchor texts and then write their own original piece. Students are expected to keep a writer's notebook and to write in it daily.

Journalism 8

Journalism is an eighth grade elective class focusing on collecting, creating, and presenting information to our school community.  Students taking journalism will work on video projects and the school newspaper with the intent of disseminating their work to the entire school community.  Projects will be done in individual, small group and large group formats.  In addition, students complete an individual portfolio of work ranging from interviews to student opinion polls to fiction pieces. 



This course focuses on mythological creatures, gods, and goddesses from classical Greek and Roman mythology as well as a multi-cultural study of mythological beings and themes from around the world. Students will study works of others as well as create their own characters and myths.




Teen Issues Grades 7-8

Teen Issues is a course that takes a deeper look at the problems teens face everyday. Topics covered include: family expectations, bullying, body image, violence, suicide and self-harm, peer pressure, and GBLTQ, influences of the media. Students primarily learn through class discussions and project-based learning.   



Healthy Living Grade 8

This course address standards in Personal and Mental Health as well as Fitness and Nutrition, Chemical Use, Body Systems and Human Sexuality. Students will study, research, and present on how these topics impact their daily lives and decisions the make in the future.


Physical Education Grades 6 and 7

This course meets the SPPS Physical Education Standards. Students participate in various sports, working on strategies and reflecting on progress within each of the units studied. Physical Education is an essential and basic part of the total educational program. It is a process that contributes to the total development of every student through the natural medium of physical activity and recognizes the physical, mental, emotional, and social characteristics of students. The physical education program provides a variety of motor experiences to help all students develop the skills, knowledge, and attitudes necessary to maintain health and to function effectively in society.



Environmental Science

This course focuses on exploration of the local environment through scientific inquiry and field studies. Students will study ecosystems and/or employ elements of engineering.


Environmental Inquiry Immersion Grade 8

This course is an elective for 8th grade students enrolled in the Earth Science course. Students will learn about the biomes of Minnesota and how the inquiry process of science can be used to explain the relationships between the living and non-living components in these biomes. The students will meet their 9th grade chemistry standards allowing them to be successful in 10th grade biology at high school. To complete the course students must complete the 2- week summer component of the course at Wolf Ridge.


Astronomy Grades 7-8

This course covers both astronomy - the study of the universe beyond the earth - and meteorology - the study of the earth’s atmosphere and weather. Topics in astronomy include stars, galaxies, the sun, and the planets and their moons. Topics in meteorology include the earth’s atmosphere, humidity, weather fronts, climate, and the issue of global warming.


Citizen Science Grades 7-8

This is a year-long introductory, elective science course that presents concepts through models, texts, multimedia platforms, student-driven research, field study, engineering, and hand-on activities. This is a inquiry-based class, involving student-driven research. Citizen Science puts students in the role of assisting Research Scientists to answer real-world questions. Student Scientists are immersed in their own studies as they learn to collect and analyze data. In this course a student will learn how to investigate their own questions about the natural world and contribute to Citizen Science projects around the world.  Students learn how to be critical citizen scientists and conduct their own inquiry.


Science and Engineering in Action Grades 6-8

Is a 1-semester elective course that allows students to go deeper into the content standards through the lens of hands-on guided inquiry in the science and engineering processes, as well as applying technical reading and writing skills to find and communicate information. Students will be supported as they select a content area standard for investigating, and carry out research currently being done in the area, as well as designing their own inquiry into the topic, ultimately, sharing the information in a variety of formats.


Inquiry and Research Exploration Grades 7-8 Teacher Recommendation (concurrently enrolled in Magnet Science I)
Inquiry and Research Exploration is a new, year-long elective course that builds on the nature of science and engineering standards and select science standards covered in core science classes. Students will receive support with their independent inquiry-based science projects (ex: Science Fair), and they will explore current research in a variety of scientific fields.



In These Times…World Issues Grades 6-8

This course focuses on how the actions of individuals impact larger social movements and change in society in an American and world-wide context. Students will research concepts of justice and social change with an emphasis on actions and work of children. Concepts are explored with a focus on film, art, literature, and documentaries.

World Cultures

This course introduces students to the ways humans, past and present, have thrived in cultural worlds: including the interaction between people and their environments and the role of social power, the arts, languages, foods.  

History Day

This course is inquiry based and it will help student provide a deep context for their history day projects.  Students will explore various time periods to introduce students to topics not widely studied in the standard social studies curriculum.  Time and access to resources for in-depth historical research to support History Day project.

Peacemakers (D2BR)

The purpose of D2BR is to identify and affirm students who are especially effective at navigating culturally or racially diverse settings and foster the growth of interracial allies.  Students will develop and support a team of intercultural/interracial student leaders who will seek to eliminate systemic, cultural, and individual racism in their school and community.  The course is designed to empower young people as racial equity leaders with opportunities to facilitate discussion and engage in collaborative inquiry and cross-cultural learning experiences.  It will also help students develop and understand their individual and collective racial identity.



Spanish 1A Grade 7

This is the beginning course for Spanish in the St. Paul Schools.  Students learn introductory vocabulary and grammar.  The course builds both written and oral language skills. 


Spanish 1B Grade 8

This course continues the curriculum with emphasis on writing.    This course along with Spanish 1B is the equivalent of High School Spanish 1.