Language Arts


Curriculum Overview

Our academic curriculum is based on the Common Core Standards for English Language Arts and Mathematics, and the North Carolina Essential Standards for all other subject domains. However, we view these curriculum standards as the “floor” from which we foster challenge and integration with our outdoor curriculum, rather than the ceiling at which a minimum standard is met. Our teachers bring passion for their subject area and a hands-on, engaging approach to the academic content and skills.


Language Arts

All three grade levels feature direct reading instruction with classical and modern literature and literary nonfiction, as instructors strike a balance between studying challenging higher-leveled texts in the classroom, and managing independent student reading for homework.

Writing instruction begins with rudimentary grammar and progresses through the composition of literary analysis essays and persuasive arguments which include textual citations. Students build their online research skills as they learn to analyze nonfiction, summarize main ideas, and recognize bias in their readings about current issues in the daily news.Vocabulary instruction is woven into all reading and writing tasks. Students create detailed field journals chronicling their Wednesday field lessons, giving them weekly practice in composing personal narratives, and providing the Language Arts teachers with an ongoing way to gauge developing mastery.

Speaking and presentation skills are honed through regular class presentations, dramatic performances, and Paideia seminars, culminating in each student’s poignant graduation speech before the FBRA community.


6th grade math combines the practice of foundational math skills and Pre-Algebra concepts. The core text resource for this course is the Saxon 3rd Edition 8/7 with Pre-Algebra, which is closely aligned with the Common Core Standards.

In the 7th and 8th grades, a comprehensive “Math I” course is taught over a two-year period. Content from Algebra I as well as Geometry, Probability and Statistics, and Discrete Math is practiced and mastered. Primary resources include the Saxon 3rd Edition Algebra I and Core-Plus Mathematics I.


Our science courses are designed to prepare students for success in high school and college science courses as well as help bring about more individual appreciation and understanding of the natural world.

Along with traditional classroom study, our students also participate in experiential lessons, project based learning, hands-on analysis, and activities about careers in science, technology engineering, and mathematics. The French Broad watershed is emphasized throughout as a unifying thread.

In the 6th grade, major units include a plant study, matter and energy, an earth study emphasizing tectonics, rocks, and minerals, and astronomy.

In the 7th grade, key units include weather/meteorology, single and multi-cellular organisms, Newton’s laws in action, and the human body and reproduction. All 7th graders fully experience the scientific process by exploring a question and presenting their findings in a science fair.

Our 8th grade curriculum is a high-school level Biology I course, emphasizing these four strands: cell biology, genetics, evolution, and ecology.


The goal of Spanish class is to create a fun and safe environment that encourages students to speak in the language as much as possible, while also preparing them for a Spanish immersion experience in Costa Rica.

Students learn to use vocabulary, expressions, and grammar to reinforce listening, reading, and writing skills in Spanish. Multiple strategies are used to encourage, inspire, and enable students to acquire advanced language skills. By the end of 8th grade, students have sufficient language skills to navigate a rural Costa Rican village on their capstone international trip while also entering area high schools with the proficiency to place into higher-level Spanish courses.

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