Subjects & Electives


The McAuliffe math department places a robust emphasis on building mathematical foundational skills as well as providing all students with diverse opportunities to excel.

All 6th grade students take an honors math class that focuses on endowing every student with the skills and concepts that they need to be successful in math for the rest of middle school and high school.  Occasionally, a 6th grade student will be placed in a 7th grade math class if they meet the following criteria:

  • Pass the Denver Public Schools’  End-of-Year 6th Grade Math Assessment (at the end of 5th grade) with a score of 80% or higher.
  • Score in the top 2-3% of all McAuliffe students on the CMAS math test in the spring of their 5th grade year.

Please see below for the progressions for a student through middle school math at McAuliffe into their first year of high school.

Math progression chart
Math progression chart
Language & Literature

Our efforts in the Language and Literature Department are guided by the Common Core State Standards.

Through literature, we hope to empower students with close reading skills that enable them to tackle any text in any subject with confidence. Our lessons require understanding of reading on the literal level, but also encourage deep thematic thinking about texts as well as careful analysis of any author’s craft. Our anchor texts include short fiction, poems, novels, narrative nonfiction, and argumentative texts from a range of historical periods and cultures.

Through writing, we develop skills in narrative, expository, and argumentative writing genres by facilitating a mastery of the writing process through a writers’ workshop approach. We study exemplar texts, looking closely at how skilled writers use language, and then practice those skills for mastery in order to produce our own texts.

As readers and writers ourselves, we seek to do all this while fostering a deep appreciation and love of reading and writing and an enduring understanding that language is an essential tool for communication. We know that with hard work and perseverance, our students will develop the literacy skills that will enable them to succeed in school and contribute to the world as a global citizen.


In science class at McAuliffe, we use inquiry-based instruction so that students are doing science and developing content knowledge alongside the experimental design, investigation, problem solving, and reasoning and reflection skills necessary to be strong scientists.

In 6th Grade Earth Science, students work as teams to conduct experiments, explore questions, solve problems, evaluate their progress, share solutions and debate scientific issues. Students start the year with an exploration of what it means to be a scientist and do science. Next, we delve into Earth’s geology, the rock cycle, and plate tectonics. Students study Earth’s closest celestial neighbors in our third unit on the sun, moon, and planets in our solar system. We return to Earth with a look at the features that make Earth distinct from its planetary compatriots, including the atmosphere and presence of water. Students then study how water and atmosphere combine to make weather and how long-term weather patterns form the climates of Earth.

In 7th grade Life Science, we begin the year by learning how scientists study people and how we can use knowledge of body systems to make healthy lifestyle choices. Then we zoom in to microbiology and study cells, viruses, and genetics before heading back out to larger scale ecosystems, evolution, and bioengineering. Throughout the year, students work in teams and independently to find their unique strengths and interests in science as we design our own projects and labs and work on challenges that appeal to multiple learning styles.

In 8th Grade Physical Science, we will continue to develop students’ scientific inquiry skills through creating and developing models, designing scientific investigations, and constructing explanations based on evidence. We will cover physics and chemistry standards with topics such as energy, force and motion, waves and technology, and matter and interactions. Long-term projects that embed engineering practices such as solar ovens, electric cars, water filters, and bottle rockets will be incorporated throughout the units. Students will engage in independent and group work activities and will finish the year with a student-designed capstone experiment. Students will be expected to participate in scientific argumentation verbally and in writing and be able to base their arguments off evidence collected in class or by other scientists. Eighth grade science students will also take the Science Colorado Measure of Academic Success in the spring, which covers science from all three disciplines (Earth, Life, and Physical).

Social Studies

Social Studies classes at McAuliffe International School challenge students to look beyond their understanding of their immediate time, place and culture. Our lens is the four key subjects within the social studies strand: geography, history, government, and economics, including personal financial literacy. Within this lens, our objectives are grouped into four primary categories: knowledge and understanding, investigation, thinking critically, and communicating.

In 6th grade, we explore the complex history, geography, economics, civics, and cultural interaction of the Western Hemisphere (except the United States). Students will gain an understanding of the importance of maps and other geographic tools and the connections that can be made by both physical and human geography. Students will also investigate the interaction of unique cultures like the Maya, Inca and Aztec and look at historic and modern conflicts over land, resources and governmental control. Students will become historians and critical thinkers, including the ability to utilize historical documents while writing argumentative historical essays.

In 7th grade, we build on students’ knowledge gained in 6th grade, continuing to focus on history, geography, civics and economics, and move into the Eastern Hemisphere. Topics covered range from the origins of civilization in Mesopotamia, China and India, to the great empires of Egypt, Greece, and Rome. We will investigate modern issues such as the Middle East Conflict, and continue to use historical documents to write argumentative essays. We also take part in the “History Day in Colorado” event, which invites students to research and present one of a wide-range of historical topics.

In 8th grade, we again focus on history, geography, civics and economics, this time through the lens of United States history from the Revolutionary time period through Reconstruction. Students will engage in debates and other real life learning experiences (mock congressional hearings, public policy portfolios, etc.) to show their mastery of the standards. Students will continually develop their own questions, research possible answers, and share their learning through both argumentative and informational/explanatory writing.


Students at McAuliffe explore different areas in the arts and enroll in their full-year arts elective at the time of course selections. In each course, students develop skills in order to create and present art while deepening their understanding of art in the world. Students must be proficient in literacy and math to participate.

Course options include:

  • Theatre/Drama – Students are introduced to the basic concepts of theatre arts by using creative drama techniques that build confidence and trust, stimulate imagination, movement, and role-play. Through theatre games and activities students learn to lose inhibitions and gain trust in themselves as well as others in the ensemble. Students demonstrate and reinforce their skills through individual and group presentations and through major theatrical productions.
  • Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced Band – These courses may require instrument rental or purchase; scholarships available
  • Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced Orchestra – These courses may require instrument rental or purchase; scholarships available
  • Visual Arts – The Visual Arts classes allow for student-artists to explore and discover different perspectives and perceptions of themselves and the world at large through different art mediums (drawing, painting, sculpture, mixed media). In 6th grade classes, we investigate, create, and analyze symbolism across different cultures and eras of artworks. In 7th grade classes, artists are presented a variety of opportunities to see the world around them differently and develop in skill. In 8th grade classes, students build and apply a range of skills to create artworks that speak out as they reflect on who they are and what role they play in the world today.
  • Journalism – Journalism incorporates writing, photography, design, and layout to publish several school newspapers and a yearbook throughout the year. Students investigate and brainstorm article ideas and learn to use photography to enhance stories.
Engineering & Technology

All middle school students at McAuliffe study engineering and technology and engage with IB Middle Years Program design cycle through our Project Lead the Way (PLTW) program. PLTW’s Gateway to Technology curriculum includes foundation courses in Design & Modeling and Automation & Robotics during 6th grade, and specialty courses that build upon this foundation during 7th and 8th grades. This project-based curriculum allows students to envision, design, and test their ideas with the same advanced modeling software used by leading technology and engineering companies.

6th Grade

  • Design & Modeling
    Students are introduced to and use the design process to solve problems and understand the influence that creative and innovative design has on our lives.

7th Grade

  • Medical Detectives
    Students play the role of real-life medical detectives as they collect and analyze medical data to diagnose disease. They solve medical mysteries through hands-on projects and labs, measure and interpret vital signs, examine nervous system structure and function, investigate disease outbreaks, and explore how a breakdown within the human body can lead to dysfunction.

8th Grade

In 8th grade, students engage in a Capstone Design Course to demonstrate their accumulated knowledge in the areas of design and engineering. Through extensive use of the International Baccalaureate design cycle, students in this course will work to create an in-depth project in an area of specialization from the choices listed below and document an iterative design.

  • Construction Arts
    This hands-on course will develop student’s understanding and mastery in the materials, methods and processes of construction and carpentry. During the course we will develop the techniques and understanding to build projects such as tool boxes, bird houses, and furniture. There will be an emphasis placed on safety and craftsmanship of finished projects. Students will learn to identify materials and their characteristics, measure and lay out parts, identify and use common hand tools, and to bring a project to a finished state. Projects will be graded according to rubrics that emphasize quality control for the finished product.
  • Computer Science, Design, and Robotics
    • Advanced Robotics – This unit will build upon the student’s knowledge of robotics gained in their introductory course. It will focus on the automation of the control of a robot through the use of input sensors. Students will start with a standard platform and integrate the input sensors with advanced programming to autonomously complete task of increasing complexity.
    • Introduction to Computer Science – In this unit, students focus on creativity and using an iterative design process as they create their own basic apps using MIT App Inventor. As students create their apps, they will be introduced to the computer science concepts of variables, iterations, functions and methods, and problem decomposition.
    • Advanced Design – This project-based unit will give students the opportunity to demonstrate their understanding of the design cycle through multiple iterations of prototyping. This unit is hands-on and requires students to work as a team and collaborate with others. Students will have the opportunity to create and design physical as well as virtual 3D prototypes.
World Languages

McAuliffe International School offers Spanish, French and Mandarin in our World Languages program. Students choose their preferred language of study during our course selection process once they are enrolled and must be proficient in literacy and math to participate. In addition to gaining proficiency in another language, the courses aim to develop respect for other cultures and a lifelong interest in and enjoyment of language.

Levels of study are as follows:

  • Beginner French 1a – students have never studied French before
  • Intermediate French 1b – students have studied French for 1 or 2 years
  • Advanced French 2a – students have studied French for 2 or 3 years
  • Fluent French 2b – students speak French fluently
  • Beginner Spanish 1a – students have never studied Spanish before
  • Intermediate Spanish 1b – students studied Spanish for 1 or 2 years
  • Advanced Spanish 2a – students studied Spanish for 2 or 3 years
  • Fluent Spanish 2b – students speak Spanish fluently
  • Beginner Mandarin 1a – students have never studied Mandarin
  • Intermediate Mandarin 1b – students studied Mandarin for 1 year
  • Advanced Mandarin 2a – students studied Mandarin for 2 years
  • Fluent Mandarin 2b – students speak Mandarin fluently
Physical Education

Students at McAuliffe participate in a Physical Education program as part of our curriculum, and we believe regular physical activity is not only part of a balanced and healthy lifestyle but also supports academic work and social interactions during the school day. Our PE program runs the full school year and provides students with 3.5 hours of physical education a week, while the average middle school student in Colorado only receives 52 minutes of PE per week.

We offer competitive PE for boys and girls as well as a non-competitive PE program for students who prefer less competitive sports and activities.

PE Uniform Expectations

For PE classes, we are expecting all students to wear a

  • McAuliffe shirt with the word “Athletics” on it
  • McAuliffe athletic shorts with the “M” on them
  • Sneakers WITH LACES

Each day, your child’s PE teacher checks PE uniforms at the beginning of each class to make sure that our students are prepared for class. The PE uniform is to be worn during PE classes and not during other academic classes. The administration teams will be making sure that students are not wearing this PE uniform throughout the rest of the school day. Working together with this, we can ensure that our students are practicing good hygiene by physically changing in and changing out of their PE uniforms for each PE class.

If your child needs assistance getting a uniform, please see MaryBeth Valentine or Kurt Fogleman.

If your child needs assistance getting a lock, please see Kristiann Kassay. We highly suggest your child uses a lock every day in the PE locker rooms to safeguard their personal belongings. The HPE department & McAuliffe are not responsible for any lost or stolen items.

If you have any questions or concerns about PE uniforms, please contact your child’s specific PE teacher, email addresses can be found on our website.