Dodd Program of Studies

General Information

This guide offers a description of each course at Dodd Middle School and also attempts to answer some frequently asked questions. We hope you find it a valuable resource.

In addition to this information, you may obtain a copy of the Dodd Middle School Course of Study brochure for more detailed information on curriculum. Copies are available in the school’s main office. The Dodd website is another source of valuable information. It may be accessed at

Many thanks to the Division Leaders, school counselors, teachers and secretaries who helped in the preparation of this guide.

PLEASE NOTE: During the late spring, some changes may be made to the Dodd schedule. Therefore, information is subject to change.


The Dodd Middle School core curriculum centers on the four basic subjects of Language Arts, Math, Science and Social Studies, and a program of Unified Arts, which includes Career and Technical Education, Physical Education, Art, Health, Counseling, Reading and World Languages. Band, Orchestra and Chorus are available to students who qualify. Remedial and extension programs are also available to qualified students.


One of the purposes of middle school teaming is to break down a large school population into smaller units and thus work more effectively with young adolescents. This school-within-a-school concept (teaming) offers a setting where teachers get to know and effectively plan for their smaller groups of students.

Students at Dodd are members of four teacher teams of 90-105. All teams are intentionally selected to be made up with students of all ability levels. These teams are equalized academically, socially and behaviorally to the greatest extent possible. All classes are heterogeneously grouped except for accelerated math classes.

Basic Subjects

Language Arts

Division Leader: Kristen Shanley
Grades 7 & 8

The Language Arts curriculum is based on the Common Core State Standards. These standards include grade specific goals for reading, speaking, listening, writing, research, vocabulary, grammar and most importantly, logical and creative thinking. The curriculum also includes opportunities for students to distinguish effective evidence, use technology and digital media strategically and capably, and come to understand other perspectives and cultures.

At Dodd Middle School, students have the opportunity to create and contribute their voice through experiences in reading, writing, speaking, listening and viewing. In Language Arts classes, students read actively using strategies to interact with text and deepen their understanding through personal connections and reactions. Students select some of their reading materials based on their independent reading level and personal interest, and they write often to express ideas. Through these sustained efforts and progressive skill development in the Language Arts, your child will gain a greater awareness of self, the ability to communicate with others, opportunities to provide and utilize teacher and peer feedback, appreciation of their literary heritage, and an awareness of the contributions of others through diverse cultural experiences. These experiences include independent thinking and cooperative group interaction.

7th Grade Contemporary Fiction Book Club

Text Complexity Rubric

Questions to ask when you finish a book

Ct State Standards for this unit

Presentation to Curriculum Committee of the Board of Education 1/10/22


Division Leader: Thomas Tuscano
Grades 7 & 8

The mathematics curriculum develops student’s knowledge, skills, and proficiency in numerous mathematical areas and topics, including problem solving, applications, algebra, and geometry. The curriculum embodies the learning goals required by Common Core State Standards. Students investigate multi-faceted, real world math applications and problems in order to develop a deep understanding of the underlying math concepts and principles. Assignments that require students to explain, justify, and communicate their strategies and solutions also reinforce these concepts and procedures.

All Dodd math courses teach grade level Common Core math standards. Grade 7 students who are developmentally ready may be selected to pursue an accelerated curriculum. The math course is faster-paced and covers both 7th and 8th grade CCSS. Students that successfully complete this accelerated course in 7th grade will be placed in Algebra 1 in 8th grade. If Grade 7 students come to Dodd with their elementary school acknowledging that they have mastered both 7th and 8th grade standards, they may be placed in Algebra 1 in 7th grade. Students that successfully complete this course in 7th grade will be placed in Geometry in 8th grade.

Grade 8 grade-level students taking Intro to Algebra in 8th grade will be placed in Algebra 1 in 9th grade. Students on the accelerated track (taking Algebra I in 8th grade) will be enrolled in Geometry in 9th grade upon successful completion of the previous course. Geometry students who successfully complete the course will be placed in Cheshire High School’s Algebra II.


Initial placement in 7th grade is based on various scores, including but not limited to: OLSAT, Sopris, SBA, Math Inventory, and classroom recommendations. If a student is recommended for an accelerated track, parents and students will be notified in August with a letter inviting them to participate. At that point, parents may choose to decline the offer of participating in the accelerated class. Inquiries should be made to the Math Division Leader, Thomas Tuscano, by email prior to the start of the school year. Once the school year begins, contact your child’s math teacher.

Be positive about math regardless of your ability or feelings. Reinforce basic math facts, assist with organization, and encourage your child to try the problem no matter the level of difficulty. Good questions and good listening will help children make sense of math and build self-confidence. Online resources can be found on websites such as or

High school placement is based upon classroom and standardized test performance. Once the placement process has been completed, inquiries may be directed to the Dodd Guidance Department. Changes, however, can only be made by high school personnel, not the 8th grade teacher.


Division Leader: Brian Lopez
Grades 7 & 8

The science curriculum will focus on the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) which were developed by the National Academy of Sciences, Achieve, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the National Science Teachers Association in 2010. NGSS are broken down into three dimensions within the Framework: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Disciplinary Core Ideas. Dimension 1: Practices centers around the major practices that scientists employ as they investigate and build models and theories about the world, as well as a key set of engineering practices that engineers use as they design and build systems. Dimension 2: Crosscutting Concepts are the concepts that have applications across all domains of science (i.e., Patterns, Cause and Effect, Energy and Matter, Scale, Proportion, and Quantity). Dimension 3: Disciplinary Core Ideas emphasize four main domains: the physical sciences, the life sciences, the earth and space sciences, and engineering, technology and applications of science. Instruction will focus on the relationships among these domains as students explore scientific phenomena.

Grade 7 NGSS – Life/Earth

    • Molecules to Organisms
    • Heredity
    • Biological Evolution
    • Earth’s Place in the Universe
    • Earth’s Systems
    • Earth and Humanity Activity

Grade 8 NGSS – Physical/Earth

    • Matter
    • Motion and Stability
    • Energy
    • Earth’s Systems
    • Earth and Human Activity

As we continue throughout the 21st century, society needs scientifically literate citizens who can be effective and informed decision makers. The Dodd Middle School Science Department enjoys helping students learn how to become successful learners and critical thinkers with a sense of responsibility to our global community. These skills will be evaluated and linked to the Cheshire Public Schools Performance Standards.


A variety of activities, projects, research, and experimentation using laboratory equipment and various types of technology are key components of the middle school child’s science experience. Learning content and how it applies to key scientific concepts and principles is emphasized.

In the 7th and 8th grade curriculum, the skills students learn are: observing, interpreting, comparing and contrasting, collecting data, analyzing, presenting data in various formats, writing scientifically, reading for understanding science concepts, and applying concepts to real world experiences.

Social Studies

Division Leader: Kristen Giuliano

The Dodd social studies curriculum is based on the Connecticut State Department of Education student learning standards and frameworks. The framework uses a common set of questions that focus student research and analytic thinking.

Grade 7

This curriculum utilizes the geography, economy, history and civic standards presented in the Connecticut Elementary and Secondary Social Studies Frameworks. Unit design was modeled after the National Council for Social Studies (NCSS) College, Career and Civic Life Framework (C3). Each unit fosters students’ developing questions, planning inquiries, applying concepts and tools, choosing sources and using evidence to communicate conclusions and take informed actions. There is an emphasis on geography in the curriculum. Unit themes include: Environmental Changes, Human Population, Movements of People and Cultural Diffusion. Global regional focus includes East Asia, Western Europe, and the Middle East and North Africa. Each unit embraces personalized learning by the inclusion of inquiries, case studies and opportunities for students to communicate conclusions and take informed action. In addition, curriculum design incorporates student complex thinking and meets the social-emotional needs of all learners.

Grade 8

This curriculum prioritizes United States history beginning with the fight for U.S. independence through the end of the 19th Century. Eighth grade students study the American Revolution, the Constitution and Bill of Rights, various themes regarding expansion in the 1800s, the Civil War, and Reconstruction. At the end of each unit, students complete a performance based assessment which requires them to take a position on a topic, gather and utilize evidence to create an effective argument, and creatively communicate their learning.


Students are asked to include work beyond the scope of tests. These could be intensive and long-range assignments or brief perusals into other types of information. The emphasis here is to develop the concept of point of view and the relative nature of the validity of various sources.

Extension of learning beyond the classroom is a major initiative of the social studies program at Dodd. Curriculum is being designed with opportunities for students to take informed action and/or communicate conclusions.

The social studies department is also committed to exposing students to current events and creating lessons and activities that acknowledge key dates in our country’s modern history.

One of the overall goals of the social studies department is to develop citizenship and civic awareness in our students.