Middle Upper School Courses & Descriptions

Courses & Graduation

The Middle-Upper program (grades 7-12) adheres to the course requirements of the Texas Education Agency. Students build a transcript that leads to a 26 credit recommended high school diploma.


A Traditional Setting for Non-Traditional Learners”

Upper School (Grades 9-12)

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


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

Courses Specific to Briarwood

Business Computer Information Systems (BCIS), 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


Athletic Management, Art, Drama, Home Economics

Extra Curricular Activities

Student Council/Link Crew, Athletics

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.

Research Tools of Technology (RTOT) (Required for all Seniors – grade 12)

Students learn how technology can enhance post high school planning.  Resumes and college applications/essays are written.  On-line applications are explored.

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 a specific area 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:

  • LiPS – Lindamood Phoneme Sequencing Program for Reading, Spelling, and Speech
  • Great Leaps

Fluency Lab

This lab is designed for students who 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:

  • LiPS – Lindamood Phoneme Sequencing Program for Reading, Spelling, and Speech
  • Great Leaps
  • Seeing Stars

Reading Comprehension Lab

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

  • Visualizing and Verbalizing for Language Comprehension and Thinking
  • Developing Metacognitive Skills:  Vocabulary and Comprehension

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