Course and Curriculum Guide

Dear Students, Family, and Friends,

We are happy to share a detailed 2016-17 course catalog with you in an attempt to convey the scope of academic and nonacademic offerings at Endeavour Middle School.  What cannot be conveyed in a document such as this is the delivery of the curriculum.  The course descriptions do not capture the enthusiasm of our faculty, the subsequent level of engagement among the students, and the differentiation and delivery of academic content in small classes through a variety of hands-on activities.  Our school’s intangibles are what make students ready to learn: feeling socially and emotionally at ease as they tackle life skills and academics.

Students at our middle school often report that they feel challenged and supported.  Some reasons for this include the relationship among advisors, teachers, and students; a differentiated curriculum that is designed to help students reach their potential; and a school ethos that encourages students to be respectful of themselves, each other, and their community.

Beyond the outstanding core academic classes at the Endeavour Middle School, there are programs that focus on character development, life skills, and physical development.  Whether developing digital literacy and citizenship skills or gauging physical fitness and setting personal goals, our students learn that success outside of the classroom impacts our lives in meaningful ways; these successes can help to energize and organize us.

The environment at Endeavour invites students to be innovative and to pursue their interests.  But more importantly, students learn to care about each other and the world around them.  From testifying at the Vermont Statehouse to preserve elephants in Africa to winning prizes at the statewide history fair by exploring the lives of female test pilots during WWII, students often champion those who do not have a voice.  In addition, they spend time on Friday afternoons developing relationships and serving their local communities in a successful outreach program.

Our academic program aligns and exceeds the national standards, including the Next Generation Science Standards, with classes that challenge students to think independently and work collaboratively.   We are proud of our curriculum at Endeavour Middle School.  However, we are more proud of the young adults we are graduating from our program, prepared to take on the challenges of high school, academically, socially and emotionally, and with life skills to help them wherever their paths may lead.  We hope you enjoy reading about what our school has to offer.


Cara Simone, Director of Endeavour, and the Endeavour Faculty

For more details about our course offerings, click on the links below. 

Awards and Accolades:


General Math 

In General Math, students build a strong foundation for Algebra and develop clear and accurate habits of mathematical expression through a variety of fun classroom activities, daily work, and projects.  Over the course of the year, students cover topics such as numeration, variable expressions, order of operations, decimal operations, fractions, basic geometry and measurement, ratios, rates and proportions, percentages, data and graphs.  Students develop helpful mental math strategies and use their computational and problem solving skills for real-life application, which we present to our classmates.  Highlights include a “Start Your Own Business” project, where students write business plans, profit and loss statements and form conclusions on the profitability of their businesses.   


Pre-Algebra is a continuation of many of the skills presented in lower school mathematics, as well as an expansion of students' mathematical abilities.  We review and build upon students' foundations in computation, order of operations, basic geometry, measurement, and data and probability and patterns.  Algebraic methods, solving one and two-step equations and inequalities, graphing, operations with fractions and decimals, and a more detailed look at Geometry will all be explored in-depth.  All the while, students will be encouraged to always show their work, defend their reasoning and develop clear and accurate habits of mathematical expression.  Whenever possible, we apply our skills to real-life problem solving.  Highlights include an exploration of ciphers, and encryption as well as an oral presentation where students take a detailed look at data they have collected to explain trends and correlation in their classmates behaviors.  


In Algebra, students solve real-life problems using variables to represent unknown quantities and then solve for those quantities by writing equations and inequalities. Course topics include a review of pre-algebra skills, with an emphasis on solving one and two-step variable equations, and simplifying expressions. Students work extensively on solving and graphing linear equations and inequalities, and systems of equations.  The class works to understand the concept of a function, and uses functions to describe quantitative relationships.  Additional topics will include polynomials and factoring, exponents and exponential functions, and radical expressions and equations. Students will use a variety of formats, including the online textbook companion site and an array of practical projects to implement their skills and show every-day connections to mathematical concepts. Our goal is to establish an excellent foundation in Algebra and develop higher-level critical thinking skills as students prepare for the rigors of high school math. 


Life Science

The Life Science curriculum is an in-depth exploration of the living world and a student’s place within it, starting with an investigation into systems and the characteristics shared by all living things. Students are able to see how these shared characteristics apply to all kingdoms of life, including an exploration of how students themselves fit into and affect the living world as human beings. Some of the topics covered are the classification of living things, cells and bacteria, genetics, plants, animals, evolution, and human body systems.  Highlights include strengthening microscope skills, designing field guides for the habitat around the school campus, and studying the adaptations of local species, with a focus on the issues of local endangered species.

Physical Science

The Physical Science curriculum is an exploration of basic physics and chemistry, as students take a closer look at how the world works in terms of matter, energy, and force.  By looking more closely at the building block of life science, the cell, students explore what constitutes a cell at the atomic level. Topics include the periodic table, chemical and physical changes, characteristic properties of matter such as boiling and freezing point, the Laws of Conservation of Mass and Energy, forces, and motion. Through a systems-thinking approach, students investigate and apply the Laws of Conservation of Mass and Energy, e.g., in our waste and recycling systems, and renewable and nonrenewable energy sources. Highlights include studying the energy efficiency of our school building and designing a plan to increase efficiency, exploring the physical and chemical changes involved in cooking and baking, and building a roller coaster to study kinetic and potential energy.

Earth and Space Science

The eighth-grade Earth and Space Science (ESS) curriculum at Endeavor Middle School focuses on four general themes: Geologic Time / The History of Our Universe, The Mechanics of Earth & Space Cycles / Systems, How Humans Explore Space, and Human Impact.  Students study meteorology, looking at global and local weather patterns, including ocean, water, and element cycles.  They also delve into renewable and nonrenewable resources and conduct investigations to determine trends in order to predict future atmospheric conditions.  Students explore rocks and minerals in and out of the classroom, using their imagination to explain rock patterns, layers, and locations.  Observation, note-taking, and inquiry skills are fostered as students collect data, formulate questions, and develop physical and mental models of Earth and Space Systems and how they came to be.  Students learn various constellations, their historic role in navigation and anthropology,  and how they relate to the orbits of our solar system’s planets, Earth’s seasons, and law of interstellar gravitational attraction.  Lastly, students examine how humans have impacted planet Earth, what evidence exists for or against the theory of Global Warming and Climate Change, and what our role might be to ensure our Earth continues to support human life for generations to come.


At Endeavour Middle School, students attend two blocks of a stand-alone STEAM course each week. The goal of STEAM is to foster a learning environment in which students are guided to produce original ideas, objects, and structures according within the parameters of a design challenge using concepts and skills from science, technology, engineering, art, and math.

The mission of the course is to grow students' capacity for inquiry, creativity, fun, with back-loaded learning in a STEAM context. Students focus on process not product, and encourage learning from “failing fast” using a growth-mindset.  Some highlights of the course will include preparation for science expositions, as well as engaging group projects, such as bridge building and designing and creating lip balm to sell.


Humanities I

Humanities I encourages students to use history and literature as tools to examine global cultures and the human experience from the pyramids of Ancient Egypt to the castles of Medieval Europe and beyond. Language Arts is integrated with the social sciences as students study the geography, history and literature of a variety cultures from Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas. Since 2016 is an election year, a significant amount of time in the fall semester will be allocated to studying the democratic process in the United States. The second half of the year focuses on completing projects for Vermont History Day.

The multidisciplinary nature of Humanities I provides students with opportunities to make connections across the curriculum as they identify and analyze common themes. A number of fun and creative hands-on projects for each unit are implemented to reinforce course content. Vocabulary, grammar, spelling, mechanics and usage are taught in short instructional units and reinforced in daily assignments. Students learn to organize and express ideas as they write informative, narrative and persuasive pieces. Conversely, students are also encouraged to harness their imaginations as they write creatively. Literature Circles and novel discussions are held during class, and students are responsible for turning in one book report each quarter.

Global Studies in the Middle Ages

This course focuses on the dynamic geopolitical landscape in Europe from the rise of Rome through the Middles Ages and the Renaissance. Students begin the year learning about the differences between Rome as a republic and as an empire, focusing primarily on the social, political and economic trends of each. Students then turn their attention to the feudal system that emerged during the Middle Ages before finally focusing on the many achievements of the Renaissance. They interpret maps, construct timelines, role play, and work with the STEAM teachers to create models of historical technology, landscapes and events. Since 2016 is an election year, a significant amount of time in the fall semester will be allocated to studying the democratic process in the United States, providing students with an opportunity to make connections between the Rome as a republic and the modern American political system. A major focus during the second half of the year is on completing projects for Vermont History Day.

A number of interdisciplinary lessons between this course and Language Arts provide students with opportunities to make connections across the curriculum as they identify and analyze common themes.  Fun and creative hands-on projects for each unit will be implemented to reinforce course content.

Modern American History

Modern American History introduces students to the foundational skills and methods used to study history with a focus on the American experience from the Reconstruction Era to present day. Students learn to analyze events through comparisons, cause and effect relations and group simulations as they strengthen their political, social, and economic understanding of the time period.  Students focus on study skills, note-taking of historical documents, constructing maps and timelines, and developing research skills for a culminating project each quarter. They interpret maps, construct timelines, role play, and work with the STEAM teachers to create models of historical technology, landscapes and events. Writing skills are developed through a variety of objective, subjective and historical fiction pieces. Since 2016 is an election year, a significant amount of time in the fall semester is allocated to studying the democratic process in the United States. A major focus during the second half of the year is on completing projects for Vermont History Day.

A number of interdisciplinary lessons between this course and Language Arts provide students with opportunities to make connections across the curriculum as they identify and analyze common themes.  Fun and creative hands-on projects for each unit are implemented to reinforce course content.


Spanish IA

In Spanish IA, students develop five core skills when learning the language: understanding theme vocabulary, speaking in front of peers by recognizing speech patterns, reading beginner text, writing simple words or phrases and learning about Hispanic culture. Our focus will be to feel comfortable and confident speaking the language during class as we build vocabulary and engage in grammar concepts. We will play games, use skits to practice conversation, celebrate special holidays and work on classroom projects. Highlights for the year include being the meteorologist of the day, designing a room project and creating a menu for a restaurant. Students supplement class activities with the Glencoe Buen Viaje Textbook 1A and Writing Workbook.

Spanish IB

In Spanish IB, students build upon their IA foundation. They enhance the five core skills when learning the language by understanding more theme vocabulary, speaking in front of peers with fluency, reading more complex text, writing words or phrases with reasonable accuracy and learning more about the culture. Our focus will continue to be feeling comfortable speaking the language and collaborating with each other through games, skits, celebrating holidays and working on special projects. Students will further investigate and compare cultures of Hispanic countries and present a recipe project. Students supplement class activities with the Glencoe Buen Viaje Textbook 1B and Writing Workbook.

French IA

In French IA, students are exposed to the language, culture, cuisine, music and geography of the francophone world. They begin to develop their skills the five core areas of world language study by understanding simple instructions and sentences, building confidence to speak in front of their peers, reading simple texts, writing basic sentences with reasonable accuracy to practice new grammatical concepts and using regular verbs in the present tense, and experiencing cultural exposure and understanding.

Using games, skits, class projects and films, the course has a strong emphasis on conversation and basic grammar. The students’ cultural awareness of the diversity of the francophone world continues to develop through oral presentations on French speaking countries. Highlights include a dream house project, a café role-play, and storefront dioramas.

Our goal as a class is to speak in the target language as much as possible and to foster a love of language learning. Students use the Glencoe Bon Voyage, Level IA textbook and Writing Workbook to supplement in-class activities.

French IB

In French IB, students build upon their French IA foundation. They further develop their skills in five core areas of world language study through understanding the spoken language, speaking with fluency and faster vocabulary recall, reading more complex texts and short stories, writing with accuracy with expanded mastery of verb conjugation and tenses, and experiencing cultural exposure and understanding.

Students play games, perform in skits, and create class projects and films to facilitate conversational fluency and listening skills. Students develop their interpretation skills and cultural awareness while reading a short novel, Un Été pas comme les Autres (A Summer Unlike Any Other, a short story which follows the adventure of a young American student who travels to Paris on a French Exchange Program.) Students also develop a good understanding of the francophone world, as well as confident speaking skills through numerous role-plays, a French recipe swap and a simulated trip to Paris.


Visual Arts

In Endeavour Middle School Art classes, students are introduced to the elements of art while learning a variety of techniques and media. Students focus on developing their drawing skills, art vocabulary, creativity, and concepts of design. Two-dimensional lessons include painting, mixed media, drawing with a variety of tools, and printmaking. Three-dimensional art will include the use of paper, clay, cardboard/recycled materials. Art history, art appreciation, and art criticism are integrated into the lessons as a framework of the curriculum.  

Music and Drama

The goals of the Endeavour Middle School music and drama class is to identify and define a vocabulary of elements common to music, poetry, dance, theatre, and the visual arts.  The purpose of music class in particular is to provide students an overall understanding of music through the practical application of performance.  Performances are generally held in mid December and mid April, but the genre and dates are yet to be determined.  


At Endeavour, sixth-grade students take one class a week dedicated to learning typing, research skills, and presentation skills on the computer.  In addition, all students take a Life Skills class, which supplements the core classes by offering foundational skills such as time management, organizational skills, note taking, digital literacy, and typing. It also covers “real-life” topics like online safety, financial literacy, stock market economics, and middle school health.  Life Skills meets weekly for two blocks, and provides an opportunity to delve into topics that emerge in a quickly changing cultural landscape.


Every other Friday students spend the afternoon participating in our Community Outreach program.  The program is designed to allow each grade level to develop year-long partnerships with an outside organization. By designing an ongoing partnership that meets weekly, students create meaningful relationships with outside organizations and produce tangible products that benefit the partner, the community and the world.

Listed below are partnerships for the 2016-17 school year:

  • Sixth Grade - Documenting Lives: Bridging the Generation Gap  

In this Outreach course, students work with the residents of Wake Robin. Students are partnered with a similar size group of elders who host us some weeks and visit  Endeavour on other weeks. We work in teams to produce written works, as well as videos and foster intergenerational connections.  With much to learn from another generation, students are encouraged to document the conversations and history that they experience.

  • Seventh Grade and Eighth Grade - Out of the Museum, Onto the Web: The Art of Creativity at Shelburne Museum

While working at Shelburne Museum, students work with museum staff and curators, as they learn about the history, buildings, and exhibits.  Working on group and individual projects, students explore the different mediums and culture represented at the museum. Output of those projects will include video and other material for the Museum Website.  As a culminating project, students host an art show at the end of the year of individual projects.

Wednesday Speaker Series/ Field Excursions

In addition to the Endeavour Outreach program, students take many field trips that are related to the curriculum.  This year promises to be just as exciting.  Endeavour is also hosting a speaker series throughout the year; we have a dedicated an hour at the end of each Wednesday to host speakers or visit community resources.  In the past, trips and speakers have reflected a variety of local educational, business, and cultural topics.  Here are a few:

  • Middlebury College Museum
  • COTS - Committee on Temporary Shelter

  • Middlebury College Solar Houses

  • UVM Medical Center Microscopy Lab

  • Green Mountain Credit Union

  • Visiting Authors

  • UVM Computational Story Lab Co-Director Chris Danforth

  • Shelburne Museum

  • Shelburne Farms

  • Local Motion

  • Hunger-Free Vermont

  • The Howard Center

  • Green Mountain Compost

  • Vermont State House

By developing deep bonds with our partner organizations, students can help create real-world deliverables, while also gaining exposure to complex issues and local organizations who are working to improve the world around us.


Physical Education

The physical education program at Endeavour is focused on both basic fitness and the development of basic skills in a variety of team sports.  Students take a periodic fitness test to set a fall baseline and monitor progress throughout the year.  This year, we’ll pick up on the theme of the Summer Olympics as we introduce students to skills and concepts for team sports such as soccer, ultimate frisbee, basketball, floor hockey, volleyball, baseball.  Our goal is for students to understand the importance of perseverance, sportsmanship, and lifelong fitness.  

Team Sports

Through a joint agreement by the Vermont Principals’ Association, our students may participate on the Shelburne Community School team sports in the fall and spring, as space allows. This has included and soccer, field hockey, track & field, and baseball.  Endeavour fields a co-ed basketball team in the winter.  Other opportunities and ideas are welcome.  



Elective classes may run for a quarter or a full semester, and they are driven by both faculty and student interest. Classes meet every other week on the Friday afternoon. Students are graded using our Habits of Work rubric, but students typically end with a final project, activity or performance.  Elective classes are a way for students and faculty to pursue an interest that falls outside of traditional academic courses.  

Electives at Endeavour have included

  • Chorus with a Winter Performance

  • Nature Writing

  • Cooking

  • Baking

  • Pre-K Teaching STEAM at Heartworks Preschool

  • Rock Band

  • Gardening

  • Geography

  • Geocaching


True to the spirit of the original Endeavour sailing vessel, the Endeavour Middle is committed to exploring the world in order to discover new ideas, engage and observe ancient and modern cultures, and chart new territory.  Highlights of the inaugural trip to Boston included a visit to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Harvard University, and the John F. Kennedy Museum.  Last year students split up into two groups: one group hiked, camped, and swam at Jay Peak, while the other group traveled to New York City to see Aladdin on Broadway as well taking in the Museum of Natural History, MOMA, Central Park, and shopping.  This year’s trips could take Endeavour students even further abroad!