Middle Upper School Courses & Descriptions

Courses & Graduation

The Middle-Upper program (grades 7-12) adheres to the course requirements of the Texas Education Agency. Most students build a transcript that leads to a 26 credit Foundation High School diploma with a multidisciplinary endorsement.


A Traditional Setting for Non-Traditional Learners”

Upper School (Grades 9-12)

  • English I, II, III, IV
  • Algebra I, II, Geometry, MMA, Financial Math, Pre-Calculus
  • World Geography, World History, U.S. History, Government/Economics
  • Integrated Physics and Chemistry (IPC), Biology, Forensic Science, Chemistry, Physics
  • Public Speaking
  • PE


Art, Athletic Management, Drama, Home Economics, Photography, Yearbook, Technology

Courses Specific to Briarwood

Research Writing, Choices, Foundations

Advanced Student Life Christina Lauritsen The Briarwood School Houston, TX Cindy Price, Instructor

Middle School (Grades 7-8)

  • English 7, English 8
  • Math 7, Math 8
  • Texas History 7, American History 8
  • Life Science 7, Earth Science 8
  • Language! by Jane Fell Greene
  • PE
  • Health 7, Health 8
  • Technology / Keyboarding


Business Computer Information Systems (BCIS), Art, Drama, Home Economics

Extra Curricular Activities

Student Council, Athletics, Theatre, Photography, Yearbook

MU Curriculum

Descriptions of Courses Specific to Briarwood

Choices (Required for all Freshmen – grade 9)

Students study the nature of learning differences, the impact on their lives, and how to advocate for themselves.

Foundations (Required for all Juniors – grade 11)

Students discover their own interests, goals, and strengths.  Post high school options are analyzed. Foundations is taught by Carole Wills, Head of School.

Achievement Testing

The Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS) is administered to students in grades 7 – 8 in the spring of each school year.  Grades 9-11 take the Iowa Test of Educational Development (ITED). The ITBS and ITED are nationally normed standardized  tests.


Reading Remediation Labs

Lab courses are designed to deliver intensive small-group intervention in specific areas of reading:  phonemic awareness, fluency, or reading comprehension.

Phonemic Awareness Lab

These students struggle with basic reading skills.  Intensive instruction is delivered in phonemic awareness, phonics, spelling, and word attack skills. Programs used include:

  • Scientific Spelling
  • Great Leaps
  • Neuhaus Basic Language Skills


These students have difficulty with word recognition and the automaticity necessary for functional reading.  Higher-level word attack instruction and guided oral reading practice are provided.    Programs used include:

  • Great Leaps
  • Newsela

Reading Comprehension

For those who need extensive practice in vocabulary, word knowledge, working memory, visualization, and metacognitive skills, we use programs designed to move students from passive to active readers.  Programs used:

  • Developing Metacognitive Skills:  Vocabulary and Comprehension
  • Newsela
  • Pauk’s Six-Way Paragraphs

Additional Research-Based Programs

Language! (Offered to all students – grades 7-12)

A comprehensive program developed by Jane Fell Greene addresses reading and language skills, including vocabulary and morphology, grammar and usage, reading and listening comprehension, speaking and writing, phonemic awareness and phonics, as well as word recognition and spelling.

Degrees of Reading Power (DRP) (Required for all students – grades 7-12)

Students are required to read aloud nightly for 20 minutes at an independent reading level. The largest gains in reading fluency occur when an individual reads orally and consistently at an independent reading level with ongoing feedback by an adult as recommended by Dr. Sally Shaywitz, Overcoming Dyslexia, 2003.  

Great Leaps (Offered to all students – grades 7-12)

This research and evidence-based reading fluency program, developed by Ken Campbell, was designed for students with significant reading and/or fluency problems.   The three sections of Great Leaps, phonics, phrases, and stories, gradually increase in number of words, the rhythm of the writing and vocabulary.

Landmark Master Notebook System (Required for all students – grades 7-12)

Through the Landmark System developed by Joan Sedita,  Briarwood emphasizes and directly teaches organizational skills to students.  The goal:

  • Organize materials, assignments, and study time
  • Apply organizational skills independently
  • Model the use of tools such as calendars, assignment books and cycle sheets
  • Treat organizational skills as part of the curriculum