Our curriculum is comprised of several specialized subject areas that are integrated with one another and provide a rigorous, well-rounded approach to student learning. Please click on the headings below to learn more about each subject area.
- Language Arts
- Social Studies
- Religion and Family Life
- Spanish Language
- Art and Music
- Physical Education and Fitness
Our curriculum follows the standards of the National Council of Teachers of English, the State of Maryland International Reading Council and the Curriculum Standards for Catholic Schools of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.
Reading instruction in all grades PK-5 focuses on providing students with a range of texts of varying complexity to build foundational as well as critical thinking skills. In place of the "balanced literacy" approach that often neglects phonemic awareness and phonics, MSS adheres to the science of reading, using a research-based reading program that includes systematic and explicit instruction in phonemic awareness and phonics that has been proven to make literacy accessible to the vast majority of children. Students grow in their ability to understand key ideas and details of text, to recognize various types of writing and structure of texts, and to integrate knowledge and ideas of the text with other sources of information. Students also begin to analyze and interpret texts. Foundational skills developed include print concepts, phonological awareness, phonics and word recognition and fluency, and vocabulary acquisition and use. Public speaking opportunities are provided in the upper grades.
Heggerty Phonemic Awareness Curriculum: The Heggerty Phonemic Awareness Curriculum provides students with consistent and repeated instruction, and this transfers to developing a student's decoding and encoding skills.
Wit and Wisdom with Fundations and Geodes: Mother Seton School pairs the Wit and Wisdom program with Fundations to provide a scientifically based reading research (SBRR) program that begins with systematic and explicit phonics instruction and progresses through reading comprehension. Decades of studies have demonstrated this approach enables the highest number of students to achieve literacy proficiency.
The 5 components of SBRR are:
Phonemic Awareness - Phonemic awareness is the ability to hear and manipulate speech sounds.
Phonics - Once students have phonemic awareness, they can begin to connect the sounds (phonemes) to the letters and letter combinations (graphemes) used to spell them.
Vocabulary - Phonics instruction won’t work if students don’t recognize the words they sound out.
Fluency - Fluency is the ability to read well enough so that the student can focus on comprehending the meaning of the passage, not figuring out the words.
Comprehension - Comprehension depends on two main factors: the ability to fluently decode and background knowledge.
Wit and Wisdom - This program from Great Minds, includes opportunities to apply reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills across a variety of tasks designed to grow students’ literacy skills over the course of the year while providing options to differentiate for time where appropriate. The materials provide opportunities for students to build knowledge through content-rich, integrated reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language experiences. Students are supported in growing knowledge and vocabulary as they practice and apply skills in new texts and tasks.
Fundations - Based on the Wilson Reading System® principles, Wilson Fundations® provides research-based materials and strategies essential to a comprehensive reading, spelling, and handwriting program. Wilson Fundations makes learning to read fun while laying the groundwork for life-long literacy. Students in grades K-1 receive a systematic program in critical foundational skills, emphasizing: Phonemic awareness, Phonics/word study, High frequency word study, Reading fluency, Vocabulary, Comprehension strategies, Handwriting, and Spelling.
Geodes - Geodes reinforce students’ phonetic knowledge and help them build strong content knowledge and acquire robust vocabulary skills. Students are given the opportunity to transfer their learning while engaging with authentic texts to develop a mastery of reading. Every book is at least 80 percent decodable based on the scope and sequence of Fundations® from Wilson Language Training so all students can put their phonics skills into practice.
Zaner-Bloser Spelling Connections - Students in grades 4-6 use Zaner-Bloser for spelling instruction. Backed by years of extensive ongoing research, Spelling Connections takes a broader view of spelling as it relates to overall literacy improvement and success. This word study approach provides a structured, systematic look at spelling patterns that teaches spelling in the context of:
- expanding vocabulary.
- enhancing comprehension.
- improving writing.
Rather than taught as independent items, phonological awareness, phonics, sight word recognition, morphology, and vocabulary building are introduced as interdependent skills in each unit. Students learn how to consider words from all angles.
Voyages in English: Voyages in English for Grade 7 fully prepares students to become literate masters of the written and spoken word. The components of this program are the result of decades of research and practice by experts in the fields of grammar, writing, and communication.
Sadlier Vocabulary: Building students' vocabularies requires not only word lists, but research-based instruction and practice. Whether you are using the Interactive Edition or printed book, Vocabulary Workshop, Tools for Excellence provides:
- Explicit instruction to promote deep word knowledge, word learning strategies, word
consciousness, and critical thinking
- Multiple exposures to new vocabulary in context and through active learning using a variety of exercises and interactive games
- Engaging digital resources that meet the needs of all learners, including differentiated passages and audio support for pronunciation, meaning, and use in a sentence
Pre-Kindergarten 3 and 4
The language arts program includes exposure to a wide variety of literature and content reading materials, instruction in beginning reading skills such as letter and sound recognition, concepts of manuscript printing, writing group and individual stories, and developing story sense and comprehension skills. Pre-K 3 uses the Heggerty Phonemic Awareness Curriculum. Pre-K 4 uses Heggerty and Fundations.
Students use Heggerty and Wit and Wisdom with Fundations and Geodes.
Students use Wit and Wisdom with Fundations and Geodes
In grades 1–2, students learn handwriting, use of manuscript on ruled paper, and cursive letters, using Wilson Fundations style.
Students use Wit and Wisdom with Fundations. In grade 3, students learn handwriting, use of manuscript on ruled paper, and cursive letters, using Wilson Fundations style. Writing instruction progressively builds students’ abilities to write opinion, information/explanatory and narrative texts. Students also practice poetry and other styles of writing. Gradual introduction to shared and independent research is begun in these grades, including short research projects.
Students use Wit and Wisdom, paired with Zaner-Bloser for spelling.
The language arts program emphasizes critical reading and thinking skills, appreciation of great literature, public speaking, composition and research skills. Teachers guide students in self-directed learning, communication skills and integrated technology. Students develop their ability to work interdependently and collaboratively in conjunction with reading and writing applications for high school and college readiness. Examples of literature discussed and analyzed include To Kill a Mockingbird, Bud Not Buddy, the works of Poe and Shakespeare, and forms of poetry. Both the English teacher and literature teacher collaborate to incorporate the two disciplines into a seamless instructional program that allows students to apply their understanding of grammar and mechanics to their literary analyses. Books used in coursework are The Language of Literature (McDougal Litell) and the Voyages in English series (Grade 7) or Sadlier Vocabulary Workshop (Grade 8).
Areas of study include:
- Classic and contemporary literary genres (novels, short stories, drama, biography and other nonfiction, poetry)
- Critical reading strategies
- Literary analysis
- Literary devices
- The writing process
- Journal writing
- Narrative, persuasive, informative and interpretive writing
- Research techniques and formal reports
- Grammar, vocabulary and spelling
- Forms of public speaking
Our curriculum follows the standards of the National Council of Teachers of Math and the Curriculum Standards for Catholic Schools of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.
MSS students in Pre-K through grade 6 use the Singapore Math Method, a highly effective and internationally regarded program that instills a deep understanding of mathematics.
The Singapore math method focuses on mastery through the intentional sequencing of concepts. Students learn to think "mathematically" and rely on the depth of knowledge learned from previous leassons. Singapore math not only helps students become more successful problem solvers, it will help our MSS students gain a sense of confidence and resourcefulness because of the program's conceptual depth. This naturally prepares students to excel in more advanced math.
The math program continues to develop those concepts and skills that form the foundations for higher math, including facility in computation, critical thinking, problem solving and applications. Math at this level is differentiated based on ability.
- 7th grade: Students are differentiated according to ability and readiness into Course 1 or Course 2. Course 1 begins Pre-Algebra. Course 2 focuses on proportional relationships, equations and inequalities, geometry, and statistics and probability.
- 7th- and 8th-grade Pre-Algebra: Students study rational numbers and exponents; proportionality and linear relationships; creating, comparing and analyzing geometric figures; and sampling.
- 8th-grade Algebra I: Students demonstrating proficiency in pre-algebraic concepts move on to study linear, exponential and quadratic expressions and functions; radical functions and geometry; and statistics and probability.
- Math in Focus: Singapore Math by Cavendish
- Course 1 McGraw-Hill (gr 7)
- Course 2 McGraw-Hill (gr 7)
- Pre-Algebra McGraw -Hill: An Accelerated Pre-Algebra Program
- Algebra 1 McGraw-Hill
Science instruction includes hands-on experimental studies of apples, pumpkins, the seasons, animals, plants, insects, weather, melting and freezing, the Five Senses, and Keeping a Healthy Earth.
Science instruction includes Engineering and Technology, force and motion, plants, animals, weather, the sun, natural resources, and ecology through Next Generation Science Standards.
1st grade: Students study Engineering and Technology, sound, light, plants, animals, the Solar System, and ecology using Grade 1 Scholastic Science.
2nd grade: Students study earth science, including plant structures, animal life cycles, food chains, animal and plant classifications by type, and earth and sky.
Science instruction includes hands-on experiments, as well as opportunities for individual STEM/Science Fair projects (optional in Grades 3-4; mandatory in Grade 5).
3rd grade: Students study plant and animal life cycles, vertebrates and invertebrates, the water cycle, matter and energy, earth’s seasons, moon phases, and planets in the solar system.
- 4th grade: Students study the scientific method, ecosystems, electricity, magnetism, simple machines, weather, the Chesapeake Bay, Engineering and Design, Earth's Systems, Energy, Waves, Structure, Function, and information in animals
- 5th grade: Students study rocks and minerals, earth’s structures, forces and energy, stars and galaxies, and the human digestive, respiratory, circulatory and excretory systems.
Science is inquiry-based and dynamic as students gain the skills and knowledge they will need for high school. Our Science Club and Engineering Club provide additional opportunities.
6th grade: Students study earth sciences, including weather, the geologic time scale, continental drift and plate tectonics, as well as the scientific method.
- 7th grade: Students study life sciences, including animal classification, characteristics and behavior, as well as genetics and heredity, evolution and environmental science.
- 8th grade: Students study the physical sciences, including beginning chemistry and the periodic table, sound and light wave characteristics, the electromagnetic spectrum, speed and motion, and forces such as gravity and friction.
Our curriculum follows the Curriculum Standards for Catholic Schools of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.
The early childhood programs integrate social studies through hands-on learning, stories, music, play, art projects and special visitors to the classroom. Special social studies projects and exploration may be centered around themes related to communities, holidays, and countries and cultures around the world.
Kindergarten integrates social studies through hands-on learning, stories, music, play, art projects, and special classroom visitors. Special projects and exploration may be centered around themes related to communities, Native Americans, Pilgrims, holidays, and countries and cultures around the world.
Grades 1 and 2 integrate social studies through hands-on learning, stories, music, play, and art projects. Special projects, research, and exploration may be centered around types of communities and their relationships with each other, the significance of holidays and national days of honor, geography, and countries and cultures around the world. Beginning map skills are taught. Grades 1 and 2 are also introduced to early American history and government, and citizenship.
Book used: McGraw-Hill IMPACT Social Studies
The social studies curriculum includes progressive development of themes related to culture; sense of historical time; people, places and environments; groups and institutions; power, authority and governance; economics; global connections; and citizenship. Each grade level develops these themes in units.
Grades 3 and 4 subscribe to Scholastic News to discuss current events.
In grades 3–5, students explore Maryland state history and government, states and capitals, and American government and U.S. Presidents. U.S. history is studied in greater depth, beginning with the first Americans, the early explorers and colonization and continuing through the westward expansion. Trips to educational sites such as the Mud College Schoolhouse and the Renfrew Institute for Cultural & Environmental Studies expand upon the curriculum.
Book used: McGraw-Hill IMPACT Social Studies (3-5); Gibbs-Smith Maryland: An American Adventure
Students continue to develop competencies in social studies with a much more in-depth study of ancient, American and world history. Curricula over these years also provide a greater emphasis on processes and reasoning. Students develop the ability to recognize connections among academic disciplines and apply new skills and ideas to new situations.
6th grade: Students study ancient civilizations. Beginning with the early cultures in the Indus and Tigris/Euphrates river valleys and finishing in feudal Europe, they learn about Egypt, China, Greece and Rome.
- 7th grade: Students study world cultures. They discuss various regions, delving into how geography, history and culture have shaped residents and life in those regions today. Students also discuss the organizations and characteristics that bring all of us together, no matter which region we call home.
- 8th grade: Students study American history. They begin with the arrival of European colonists in the Americas and the foundation of the 13 American colonies. Students learn about the American Revolution, the creation of the Constitution and American Government, further development of the American nation and culture, westward expansion, sectional division, and end with the Civil War and Reconstruction.
Book: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Social Studies (Ancient Civilizations, gr 6; World Geography, gr 7; US History, gr 8)
Religion and Family Life Instruction
As our religion and family life programs progress through each grade, they encourage students to personally embrace the faith of their childhood, prepare them to move into high school with sound Catholic values and convictions, and motivate them to become actively involved in their church community. We strive to build a community of faith in word and action through the formal religious instruction that takes place each day as well as through learning about and modeling gospel values in word and action.
Topics of instruction from the program God Made Everything (Loyola Press) include basic prayers, God Made People, Holy Things, Earth, Living Things, Surprises, and all major religious holidays. The God Made Everything series, comprised of God Made Me (Age 3) and God Made the World (Age 4), is a comprehensive early childhood program designed to nurture and enrich the faith and spiritual lives of God’s youngest disciples. This program is carefully planned so that upon completion children are ready to continue their faith journey with either the Finding God or Christ Our Life programs.
Kindergarten - Grade 8
All students have the advantage of participating in daily formal religious instruction. The curriculum follows the Curriculum Standards for Catholic Schools of the Archdiocese of Baltimore and includes Catholic faith tradition, scripture, Church doctrine, prayer, sacramental life, morality and community/service appropriate for students’ age and grade level.
Christ Our Life, 2016 (Loyola Press) is the primary textbook used. Each level of study focuses on learning about an aspect of the Catholic faith and our journey with God. Grades for religious instruction are included on the trimester progress reports.
Daily instruction in Catholic faith and opportunities to celebrate faith through prayer, liturgy and service are integral to Mother Seton School’s educational program. In addition, teachers integrate Gospel values and Catholic teaching into content areas, and integrate faith and values formation into students’ daily experiences. Students are introduced to our Vincentian Family Saints—St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, St. Vincent de Paul, St. Louise de Marillac and St. Catherine Laboure--from their first days at Mother Seton School. They are encouraged to model their lives on the virtues of humility, simplicity, charity, love of the Eucharist and love of Mary as exemplified by the saints in the Vincentian Family. Student activities such as Prayer Partners, seasonal outreach projects, charitable fund drives and service learning provide opportunities to put faith into action.
Following Archdiocese of Baltimore guidelines, immediate preparation for reception of the sacraments of Reconciliation, Eucharist, and Confirmation is conducted at the child’s home parish. Eucharist and Reconciliation preparation usually takes place in second grade, and Confirmation in middle or high school. Parents should contact their parish’s religious education coordinator for information about the parish sacramental preparation program.
Family Life & Safe Child Education
The Archdiocese of Baltimore is committed to providing holistic catechesis for family life and child protection to children and their parents. This catechesis blends moral and values-based formation with clear and factual information. We use the Growing with God program through Loyola Press.
Developed to meet the needs of dioceses, parishes, schools, parents, and children, Growing with GOD: Safe and Sacred™ is a multi-faceted, innovative child safety and family life program that is solidly grounded through Church teachings and the Catholic faith. This practical and systematic approach to child safety and social and emotional development is based on the belief that protecting children from abuse is the shared mission of families, churches, and communities. Children are empowered to respond to troubling and potentially dangerous situations using the strategies and techniques they are taught as part of the program and to see themselves as children of God, inherently deserving of respect and care.
Growing with GOD is comprised of seven modular lessons for each grade which can be taught in the order that makes the most sense for your program. The content of these lesson reflects the best practices criteria for safe environment training as described in the report on program effectiveness made to the USCCB. The seven lessons are:
- God Creates Us: Building confidence, growing spiritually and physically
- Boundaries: Abuse Prevention
- Friendship and Bullying: Fostering healthy relationships
- Safety Awareness: Abduction prevention
- Digital Discipleship: Safe and healthy habits in online environments
- My Sacred Self: Catholic family living
Trust and Secrets: Combatting child sexual abuse
Contents and materials of the Family Life and Child Protection program are made available to parents upon request. All teaching materials have been approved for use by the Archdiocese of Baltimore.
Spanish is taught by trained, native-fluent instructors using the Berlitz Method. This method presents language learning in the context of real-life situations, with extra, targeted practice of grammar and vocabulary. Students learn through listening and speaking, supported by reading and writing.
Once students walk into the Spanish classroom, they speak and are spoken to in Spanish. This immersive approach has been proven to help increase achievement and overall language acquisition success. Berlitz requires the constant active exchange between student and teacher, and even true beginners speak a minimum of 50% of their lessons (compared to teacher talking time), with students in levels 5 and up speaking a minimum of 70%.
Depending upon entrance requirements of various high schools, students may be eligible to enter Spanish II.
Children learn to express themselves and think creatively through our visual and performing arts program that includes music classes, art classes, band, choir and theater productions.
MUSIC EDUCATION (K-8)
Students in grades K–8 participate in weekly music instruction. Students learn music history, music theory, and how to read, sing and play music on a variety of instruments. Instruction helps build music appreciation in the student. The music program for third grade integrates a recorder program, introducing students to instrumental music in preparation for their opportunity to join extracurricular chorus or instrumental band in fourth grade.
VISUAL ARTS EDUCATION (1-8)
Student creativity is emphasized in our visual art program, which encompasses everything from animation to stoneware clay. The study of famous artists, culture, art history, various media, color theory, and basic elements and principles of design assists the development of each student’s talent. A variety of subject matter is integrated from an enriched academic curriculum.
Through our smART Masters Art Club, middle school students have the opportunity to work closely with the art teacher on service projects.
Obstacle courses, fitness competitions, family fun and fitness programs—we take a creative approach to building physical skills and keeping children active. Once a week students from grades K–8 participate in physical education classes. PE helps students develop coordination, strength, agility and endurance. The PE curriculum also helps teach students about various sports, health and fitness, and teamwork.
- PE Sports and Skills
- Exercise with Music
- Hoop Games
- Baton Relays
- Track and Field
- Bocce Ball
- Floor Hockey
- Badminton, Wallball, Tetherball