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Ricks Center for Gifted Children

Ricks Center Upper School Students

Curriculum and Beyond

Middle School - Fifth through Eighth Grades

Students in fifth through eighth grade are taught by content specialists in the core subjects areas of math, language arts, science, and social studies. This team works together to deliver a rigorous, integrated curriculum that builds on the Primary regimen and connects across all academic disciplines. Middle School students participate in small group and whole class instruction, allowing for passionate discussions, high-level thinking, and in-depth exploration of relevant topics.

Humanities - English Language Arts and Social Studies

Social studies and language arts teachers work closely together to integrate their content. The reading in Language Arts classes reflects the areas of study in social studies. For example, students study the Age of Enlightenment while reading Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities set around the French Revolution. Curriculum for these courses are designed using National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) and English Language Arts Common Core standards, with an emphasis on overarching themes such as Conflict, Discovery, and Power. Students have the opportunity to develop projects based upon areas of personal interest during these classes.

Students in 8th grade recently read "Farhrenheit 451".  To see a sample Structural Analysis by one of our current 8th graders, click here.


Ricks has adopted the Big Ideas Math curriculum for students working between 6th grade and geometry. This curriculum balances discovery with targeted instruction and aligns with Bridges to Mathematics which is used in the Primary level classes. Students are grouped by ability level, and pre- and post- unit assessments are used to accurately determine appropriate placement and differentiation. The curriculum is regularly compacted and extended; students may be accelerated by grade or by unit as needed. Students working beyond Geometry may work independently or may audit classes through DU.


The science curriculum at Ricks is vertically aligned and meets the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Because of our relationship with the University of Denver, middle school science students have the opportunity to visit the planetarium, undergraduate science labs, and can use other DU resources. Within individual units, students have opportunities to expand and explore topics of interest such as astronomy, biochemistry, and DNA markers.

Foreign Language

Students at Ricks in grades 5 – 8 will receive foreign language instruction in Spanish or Latin. Our goal is to develop proficiency in the chosen language rather than mere exposure. There is emphasis upon both oral and written language in Spanish, and emphasis upon grammatical construction, vocabulary development and reading in Latin. Our expectation is that students leaving Ricks after 8th grade will place into upper level high school Spanish or Latin classes as freshmen.


As a part of our well-rounded curriculum, all middle school students' schedules will include art, music, and physical education. Our Connections teachers meet and plan regularly with the middle school team to develop interdisciplinary content.


Beginning in the 2017-2018 academic year, all 7th and 8th grade students will be participating in mentorships based up individual student interests and passions. Students will be partnered with an expert to delve a topic, be it Energy and Art, French Resistance during WWII, or applied mathematics. At the end of the mentorship, students will present to their classmates. Students who are in 8th grade in 2018-19 will have the option of working on their mentorship all year, if desired.


Electives are designed with the eclectic interests and passions of high achieving, older students and the talents and interests of our teachers in mind. Classes are multi-aged and instruction is tailored to class interests and abilities. Electives may include options such as yearbook, Student Council, Student Store, communications, and photography.

Field Trips

Field trips are scheduled throughout the year to complement course content. Students visit sites throughout the metro Denver area as well as on the University of Denver campus. Additionally, middle school students spend one week in May on extended field trips which align with our curriculum. This year, different groups will tour Washington, DC, explore Yellowstone National Park, or go camping in the Rockies.