Middle School (6-8)
Our Middle School program is designed to cultivate a culture of learning while engaging and challenging our students. As a student-centered, child-centered institution, we value the natural attributes each child brings to the School, and wherever a student might be developmentally upon entering our Middle School, at MBS there is a pathway to academic success and personal enrichment.
The Middle School schedule is designed to meet the needs of growing adolescent children.
Our students begin and end their day in homeroom with their advisors. Our advisors are dedicated, grade specific, teachers committed to mentoring and supporting their advisees throughout their years at MBS. During Advisory period our students and advisors engage in relevant conversations aimed to address character formation and values. Extra-Help period is a designated time to work with teachers, collaborate with classmates and begin homework. The end-of-day homeroom is dedicated to organizing materials and preparing for home. We close the school day with sports and activities. We are committed to offering our students ample opportunities on the playing field and believe that good sportsmanship is an integral part of cultivating character.
As part of our efforts to educate for good citizenship, our students participate in community service throughout their Middle School experience. Our advisory program and Morning Meetings raise awareness and provide a forum for discussion and learning about the role of service in our community. Our program aims to help our students become participatory citizens and effective members of our School community through service.
Leadership as service:
We believe that serving in a voluntary leadership capacity is service to the School.
- Girls’ Leadership Group is dedicated to supporting girls and inspiring them. They work with our Upper School girls’ leadership group, GLOW.
- Middle School Leadership collaborates with our Dean of Students to run the weekly Morning Meeting, plan student events, and represent the student body.
- Tech Leadership works with our Tech Coordinator to support tech needs in the Middle School by way of creating video tutorials, running mini-workshops, and testing new apps and hardware.
Yearly fundraising efforts:
- Thanksgiving Food Drive (Food Pantry, Morristown)
- Winter Holiday Toy Drive (Morris Country Park Commission, Morristown)
- Pennies for Puppies (The Seeing Eye, Morristown)
- Math-a-thon (Memphis, Tennessee)
6th The Seeing Eye / Pennies for Puppies (Morristown)/ MBS Recycling Initiative
St. Jude's Children’s Research Hospital / Math-a-thon (Memphis, Tennessee)
7th Morristown Neighborhood House / Advisory visits (Morristown)
8th The Interfaith Food Pantry / Advisory visits (Morristown)
At MBS, we recognize that growing up in the Digital Age is a complex process – a process that both demands and elicits creativity. We understand the role and significance that technology presents to living in the 21st century. Technology has become indispensable in our lives and is a powerful learning tool in the classroom.
Teachers integrate technology as a learning tool to help students develop their skills and cognitive abilities. The iPad is an organizational tool that gives students enhanced access to resources. It allows students to create documents and spreadsheets, present material, and interact with content in unprecedented ways. Our teachers are committed to using the new technologies in ways that ensure they are meeting genuine academic needs and goals, rather than just employing technology for its own sake.
Our sixth grade students travel to a sustainable farm in the fall. This is an opportunity to develop an understanding of sustainability while mingling with farm animals. The first part of the day is spent learning about some of the workings of farm life, while in the afternoon students enjoy a hayride and pumpkin picking.
The sixth grade capstone experience is designed to enhance and solidify learning and close out the academic year collaboratively. The capstone project is an interdisciplinary unit that is experiential in nature and meant to give students the opportunity to interact with a topic in a variety of ways. Teachers create learning experiences that are hands-on, collaborative and creative. Students attend multi-discipline workshops and visit relevant places designed to further their understanding of the topic studied.
In October, our seventh grade students travel together on a field trip. Although the destinations may vary, the annual field trip is designed to be a bonding experience for the class. For our students, it is also another opportunity to travel and work together as a grade, enhancing the sense of community among this group of peers.
As part of the history curriculum, seventh grade students travel to Philadelphia for an overnight trip in the spring, providing students with an opportunity to further their understanding of American history. Potential activities include: the Franklin Institute, Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell and the National Constitution Center.
In October, our eighth grade students travel together on a field trip. Although the destinations may vary, the annual field trip is designed to be a bonding experience for the class.
In the spring, eighth grade students travel to Washington, D.C. to explore important facets of our nation's capital and history. To supplement some of the lessons from history class, students usually visit the war memorials (WW II, Korea, and Vietnam), Arlington National Cemetery, and memorials of FDR, Martin Luther King Jr., Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln. Students supplement their discussions of the Holocaust in both history and English by visiting the National Holocaust Museum. Also, they usually visit the Newseum (which supports discussion of current events and issues of the modern world) and one of the Smithsonian museums, such as Air and Space.
MBS Middle School offers an array of Signature Programs designed to achieve our goal of making the middle school a “place of possibilities.” The years from sixth through eighth grade are essential as students search for identities, defining themselves in terms of new relationships and roles with peers and adults. In whatever classroom, and beyond the classroom, learning in middle school is fundamentally social and emotional: deepening their awareness of self and others, students form a sense of how they might contribute to and flourish in the world. Our Signature Programs foster that development in ways that reinforce and build on traditional learning models. Through our signature programs, students will be inspired to explore, discover, and act.
Even as students in Middle School are figuring out who they are in the world, they are asked to communicate their ideas, express themselves, and discover who they are on the page. Middle School writing demands students gain rapid familiarity with a range of modes, audiences, and occasions. At MBS, we recognize the intensity of the challenge, and the social and emotional learning that is intertwined with it, providing students in seventh and eighth grade with intensive writing workshop periods that supplement their regular English classes. In “Possibilities of Writing” workshops, students are given space to nurture their reading interests, and encouraged to explore a range of writing styles and occasions with space for self-reflection.
Each year, the Middle School at MBS provides students with formally and informally structured occasions to reflect on their personal and interpersonal growth. Through regularly-scheduled discussions, lectures, and activities in classes and workshops, students gain an understanding of how their nascent identities are defined by increasingly complex relationships in their lives. Students consider topics ranging from navigating social media to gender norms and pressures. They cultivate strategies for speaking up on behalf of themselves and others, and they learn how to productively engage friends and peers over differences of opinion and disagreements. Of central importance to the MBS Middle School experience is the advisory program, which facilitates communication between teachers and attentiveness to students’ individual needs, as well as anchoring the daily middle school experience in a space of social understanding.
Extra-Mural Education: Learning Beyond the Classroom Walls
MBS encourages Middle School students to foster an awareness that their learning in the classroom and activities on campus have a place in the world at large. In each year of the Middle School program, students and teachers extend their learning through regular and purposeful off-campus visits, trips, and outreach programs. Each year includes national trips to Philadelphia and Washington, DC as well as international trips to Quebec and Costa Rica. Recent local contexts for student learning have included visits to Morristown community service initiatives and the neighboring Frelinghuysen Arboretum and Whippany River. In all of these, students discover how their learning depends on and contributes to larger contexts, and they deepen their awareness of the numerous communities to which they belong and contribute.
Technology for Collaborative Learning
MBS recognizes that technology permeates the lives of adolescents. But MBS also recognizes that adolescents are susceptible to taking technology for granted, using it without purpose, and too-readily accepting the ways in which it shapes daily experience. Technology in the MBS classroom is a social endeavor, working against the isolating potential of many features of adolescent technological life. At MBS Middle School, you will find math classes where students coordinate learning via Google drive, science classes where students work together to achieve and expand understanding through collaborative video projects, and music classes where students harmonize voice and electronic programs. Making technology the center of a social experience, students confront the constraints of technology as well as the horizons they open, for understanding not only the world, but how they can shape the world together.
Center for Teaching and Learning
Students throughout the Middle School receive support and instruction from the Center for Teaching and Learning. As students enter middle school, they can face more challenging schoolwork and, often, more deeply involving extracurricular commitments. Providing students with a dedicated work space and specialized faculty, the Center for Teaching and Learning helps students to cultivate the skills they need to steer their learning trajectories, managing their time and cultivating study-strategies for reading, math, projects, and problem solving. Guided by the recognition that learning differences characterizes the educational experience in all classrooms, the Center for Teaching and Learning is an invaluable resource for all students at MBS.
Middle School Courses
The mission of the Middle School curriculum is to respond to the wide diversity and multiple developmental tasks of Grade 6-8 students. The Middle School curriculum is the major component of a culture of learning which provides a sound academic background while challenging students to be actively engaged in their own academic growth. Our courses are based on the conviction that middle school students need to construct knowledge and the context for that knowledge by moving from what they already know to what they want and need to know. The objectives of the curriculum include mastering concepts and skills specific to each area of study, reasoning logically, experimenting with new ideas, making judgments, using imagination, and attaching meaning to what is learned.
- Art Rotation
- Digital & Visual Arts
- Performing Arts
- Study Skills
- World Languages
Semester 6th grade class--Sixth Grade Chorus Sixth Grade Chorus allows students the opportunity to participate in a vocal music program focusing both on developing ensemble singing skills, as well as improving general musicianship. The group sings music of various styles, ranging from pop to American folk music, as well as more traditional choral pieces. The Sixth Grade Chorus performs in both the Winter and Spring Vocal/Instrumental Concerts.
Quarterly 7th grade class--Metalsmithing: Kinetic Sculpture Students will be introduced to the amazing world of metalsmithing & design, while working with copper, brass, aluminum and found objects. They will learn how to work with wire and to cut, hammer, drill and file metal. Students will develop a plan, taking into consideration design elements such as composition, movement, balance and aesthetics.
Projects include a mobile and wind chimes.
Quarterly 8th grade class--MS Stagecraft The Middle School Stagecraft class takes students through the creative and practical process of building sets for theater productions. Students learn the safe and proper use of hand tools in order to build scenery for the stage. They also learn the appropriate materials and joinery techniques necessary for building basic platforms and flats. Once scenery is built, students learn proper painting techniques such as cutting in, and rolling. The stagecraft class is very hands-on and runs for one quarter.
Middle School Photography & Film Making is designed to equip students with the skills necessary to develop and then create a film. Beginning with a study of photography and photoshop, students progress to project-based experiences that help them to write, critique, film, edit, and produce cinema rooted in a story that they develop. Assessment will consist of photography presentation and critiquing, individual and group presentations (both traditional and media-based), and use of digital technologies.
Digital Sketch & Draw Explores digital drawing and art using Wacom drawing tablets, Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. Students will be encouraged to seek creative ways of using technology to prepare projects and assignments. Color Psychology, character design and drawing techniques will be the main focus of this class. Design for blogging, portfolio setup and logo design will be studied. The core software for this class will be Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator, though the exploration of other software and how to use design and art software will be a focus.
Jewelry Fabrication & Design is an introductory course in which students learn basic principles of design and jewelry fabrication, while working with copper, brass, and silver filled wire & sheet. Students will also be encouraged to incorporate nonmetal objects into their work. They can expect to learn how to cut, drill, file and hammer metal. Wire work, Chain Maille, and installing manufactured rivets will also be covered. Students will develop a plan, taking into consideration design elements such as composition, movement, balance, aesthetics, and wearability.
Composition and Design: What Your Eye Sees and How to Change It In this art class, students will begin by learning how an artist uses the principles of design to arrange their images on the page. Students will continue by learning how they can trick the eye of the viewer by studying Op-art, Pointilism and Trompe-l’oeil realism. The course will also focus on the artists, M.C. Escher, Victor Vasarely, Georges Seurat, Fillip Brunelleschi, amongst others.
English promotes an integrated seven-year sequence of literary study. At each level, In proportion to cognitive and intellectual development, students learn to read critically and with increasing sophistication, learn to ask appropriate questions of texts in all the genres and learn to write with an analytical clarity that promotes developed ideas. Works are chosen both for their literary merit and global awareness of the human condition. As students progress through the program, they deepen their understanding of the dynamic relationship between readers and texts. Class discussion progressively nurtures skills in higher order thinking with an emphasis on articulate self-expression. Teachers create opportunities for project-based learning that augments the emphasis on traditional means of analytical communication. Interdisciplinary work is cardinal in the Department. In the Middle School, interdisciplinary work arises from teachers’ intentional collaboration with their colleagues in social studies, math, science, languages, and fine arts. At all levels, study of vocabulary and grammar occurs within the context of reading and writing along with the use of appropriate exercises in these areas. The use of terms in literary analysis is sequenced through seven years so that students progressively acquire mastery of the discipline. Technology (including the iPad) is progressively integrated in age-appropriate ways as a means of annotating electronic texts, of writing and revising, of note-taking, and of using media to discover connections that enrich the understanding of work in progress.
English 6 In addition to developing skills in reading, writing, vocabulary, and grammar, students in English 6 learn how to annotate effectively, identifying themes and symbols as they discuss plot and character development. Students learn to use a writing process (planning, drafting, revising, publishing) with respect to the construction of individual sentences that are then linked to create cohesive, well-organized paragraphs. By mid-year, students begin to write analytical responses and use rubrics for revision that facilitate a growing sense of autonomy and confidence as writers. Use of iPads is carefully introduced so that students learn techniques of working with paper as well as electronic texts in both their reading and writing. Texts include short stories, poems and such titles as The Outsiders, A Long Walk to Water, Our Town, and The Bread Winner.
English in Grade 7 English in Grade 7 continues to deepen and broaden habits of critical thinking introduced in Grade 6. Literature is used both to enhance student understanding of the world in which they live and to understand the complexity of life through effective study of characterization. As students begin to understand the ways in which authors create, they respond to such close reading through regular annotation, writing, and class discussion. Study of vocabulary and grammar continues to occur within the context of reading and writing along with the use of specific exercises. Ongoing use of writing and revision rubrics reinforces the understanding of writing as a process, particularly with respect to the creation of analytical essays. Independent thinking is encouraged through the use of expository and creative journaling. Texts include short stories, poetry, and such titles as Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, My Brother Sam is Dead, and A Midsummer Night's Dream.
English Workshop 7 In addition to their Grade 7 English class, all students rotate through English Workshop 7, a semester-long course designed to enhance writing and reading skills. After analyzing expository, descriptive, and persuasive writing from a number of academic disciplines, students will develop a portfolio of their own writing in each rhetorical mode. A major new component of Workshop 7 this year is the student reading club. Under the guidance of their teacher, small groups of students will select texts, create reading assignments, and establish weekly discussion topics.
English students in Grade 8 students in Grade 8 deepen their skills in literary criticism with continuing emphasis on the decisions authors make when creating theme, character, and plot. The emphasis on authorial intent is further promoted through the creation and revision of analytical essays that require strong thesis statements, appropriate use of evidence, and the discovery of subtextual levels of literary meaning. Shorter writing assignments promote robust patterns of thinking that are both critical and creative. Study of vocabulary and grammar continues within the context of reading and writing along with the use of specific exercises. Students are encouraged to work autonomously and with confidence as a means of prefiguring expectations in the Upper School. Texts include short stories, poetry, and such titles as To Kill a Mockingbird, Animal Farm, The Martian Chronicles, and Julius Caesar.
English Workshop 8 In addition to their Grade 8 English class, all students rotate through English Workshop 8, a semester-long class designed to enhance analytical writing, critical reading across the disciplines, as well as grammatical and mechanical accuracy. Key areas of focus include note-taking and annotation, essay and paragraph planning, and the incorporation and analysis of textual evidence. Students will also practice the key skills of proofreading and revision for clarity and precision. Under the guidance of their teacher, students in the workshop will spend significant time each week engaged in silent, individualized reading.
History/Social Science courses balance the development of skills and core competencies related to the field of history with information content, student confidence in expression of ideas (both orally and written), and hands-on experiential learning geared toward helping develop the mind of the adolescent. Projects have included the Grade 6 monitoring a four-foot ocean-going model boat equipped with a GPS tracking device, the Grade 7 “adopting” a school in Central America to which we sent school supplies, and the Grade 8 creating documentary films on bullying and how teenagers have changed from the 1950s to today. Students in each grade work to build skills such as reading for understanding, researching using credible sources, and delivering oral and written projects that are based on best practices in research, writing, and history. Field trips are also included to support the curriculum.
Geography 6 introduces some of the basic concepts and skills that are expanded upon in Grades 7 and 8. The course is designed to help students better understand themselves and the world in which they live as they examine the physical and human aspects of the Eastern and Western Hemispheres. Students learn about the world’s people, places and environments through hands-on activities, mapping labs, oral presentations, cross-curricular real world simulations, and using technology to communicate with others around the globe. There is a strong emphasis on the writing process.
Early American History focuses on American history from the first Native American inhabitants, European exploration and settlement to the civil war. Students examine citizenship and democracy as they study the development of the "American" identity. Students engage with course material through inquiry-based study, while developing skills related to critical thinking, writing, research, organization, oral presentations and group work. Curriculum is linked to our visits to the National Constitution Center and Independence Hall during the class trip to Philadelphia, and Washington's Headquarters Museum in Morristown. With a continued strong emphasis on the writing process, students begin to explore the use of technology tools and the MBS Library and Media Center to support research on a Founding Fathers biography project. The culmination of the year's work is a research project on a topic related to the Western Expansion.
U.S. in the 21st Century students learn about the rapid development of the United States in the 20th century through a series of topically focused units. The course begins where the Early American History course left off, with the study of the Reconstruction Era. Students will move through a series of units on World War I, the Great Depression, the Harlem Renaissance, World War II and the Holocaust, and the Cold War before finishing the year with a capstone independent research project. The class coordinates with the English curriculum through shared readings and vocabulary work. Curriculum is also linked to our spring trip to Washington D.C. Students deepen their critical reading and writing skills through a variety of research projects and thesis papers...
Middle School Mathematics courses stress an understanding of mathematics as fundamental to making reasonable interpretations of human and scientific affairs. The math program reinforces the skills and concepts necessary for future study as well as for integration with other content areas. Beginning with a real-world approach, students are taught to use math skills for data analysis, to understand basic algebraic and geometric concepts, to use statistical analysis across topics, and to think critically. A placement test is used to determine which level of mathematics is appropriate for our incoming students. A strong foundation in basic skills is critical to success, and students should be fluent with basic addition, subtraction, multiplication and division of whole numbers, fractions and decimals.
Math Foundations is a study of basic mathematical skills while challenging students with some abstract algebraic concepts. The course introduces students to number properties and integer operations, integrating negative numbers with a study of other rational numbers. Through a mix of problem solving, logic challenges, and word problems, Math Foundations emphasizes critical thinking in preparation for more advanced courses. The course challenges students to show and explain work, demonstrating that process and end-product are equally important.
Introductory Integrated Math Part A course is part one of a two-year introductory course that concludes with Part B. In Part A, students work with rational numbers to ensure that they can apply all operations fluently and begin to create a bridge between concrete operations and more abstract algebraic expressions and equations. Students work with the coordinate plane to make the connection between concrete operations and graphing. Students continue to use rational number operations in application with ratio, rate, unit rate, percent and probability. A study of data allows students to make sense of information from the real world and how to express that information to others graphically, numerically and in written form. Students use a variety of means of expression to justify, explain and model mathematics as they make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.
Introductory Integrated Math Part B course is part two of a two-year introductory course that begins with Part A. In Part B, students continue their work with rational numbers by synthesizing them with an in depth study of expressions, equations, exponents and radicals. Students apply those skills and concepts in a study of geometry including angle relationships, the pythagorean theorem, and two and three dimensional measurement. Finally, to prepare for the subsequent course work, students learn to solve, write and graph multi-step equations and inequalities. Students use a variety of means of expression to justify, explain and model mathematics as they make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.
Integrated Math 1 initiates the Integrated Math sequence by engaging students in foundational concepts, skills and habits of thought. Pedagogical techniques are eclectic and diverse to allow for different ways of learning math. With a focus on the algebraic, the course also employs geometric, numeric and verbal approaches. Physical manipulatives play a large role in helping students make visual connections to arithmetic and algebraic concepts. Principal topics covered through problem solving and exploration include number sense (large and small numbers, estimation, opposites, reciprocals), data analysis with linear and quadratic equations, and polynomials. Students also begin to learn foundational geometric concepts such as triangle relationships, transformations, and congruence.
Integrated Math 2 continues the Integrated Math sequence by building on the foundational concepts acquired in Math 1. Students will encounter thought-provoking problems in a variety of contexts that require strong connections between algebra and geometry. Principle topics covered through problem solving and exploration include right triangle trigonometry, quadratic functions, methods of proof, polygons, transformations, and rational expressions. Each topic requires an added level of sophistication and abstraction as students obtain a higher level of mathematical fluency.
Performing Arts offers students the opportunity to explore a number of artistic disciplines. Students may choose to perform vocally, on instruments, through dance or in theater activities and projects. Media Studies is also offered as part of the program. The goals of all performing arts classes include developing proficiency in a particular area of the arts, increasing creativity and problem-solving skills through the arts, and helping students develop a lifelong relationship with the arts, both as practioners and audience members.
Middle School Band students engage with music in a wide variety of styles. This class provides young musicians with the opportunity to increase their individual musical ability while also working as the member of a playing ensemble. Through classes and performances, they develop knowledge of the elements of music, the proper technique required for each individual instrument, and music reading skills. Students perform in Middle School Showcases or Vocal/Instrumental Concerts.
One year of being in an instrumental program or private instruction is the prerequisite for this course.
Middle School Chorus is a vocal program geared for seventh and eighth grade singers, as well as any interested sixth graders, focusing on singing music of various styles, improving musicianship, and exploring twentieth century popular music history. The group will primarily sing two and three-part music, with particular care given to developing the skill of singing in harmony. The Chorus performs in both the Winter and Spring Vocal/Instrumental Concerts, and at other school events.
Middle School Dance is for students interested in modern dance technique and performance. Students will gain an increased understanding of their individual range of movement, and develop balance and coordination. Students perform in both the Winter and Spring Dance Concerts.
Middle School Tap Attack combines traditional tap dance technique found in 42nd Street and "Singing in the Rain" with the energetic contemporary style of STOMP and TAP DOGS, to provide students with the opportunity to raise the roof and make some noise! They develop focus and rhythmic intelligence, while also increasing physical stamina and coordination. Students will perform at the end of semester Middle School Performing Arts Showcase.
Middle School Strings Ensemble offers beginning students an introduction to basic string technique. Students will gain dexterity and develop tone as they study and perform music of varying periods. Ideal for students with previous string experience, as well as those who play other instruments and desire an introduction to the world of strings. The ensemble performs in Middle School Showcases or Vocal/Instrumental Concerts.
Middle School Players introduces students to theater through creative drama and improvisational exercises, along with monologue and scene work and an introduction to the technical elements of theater. Each semester of the class culminates with the a performance in the Winter or Spring Middle School Showcase, of a script selected specifically for the talents and ability level of the students enrolled in the course.
Morristown-Beard Middle School Athletic Program is to provide a sports program that emphasizes the development of the student athlete academically, emotionally, socially and physically. Coaches stress the virtues of sportsmanship, commitment, integrity and teamwork in a supportive and empathic environment.
Student athletes learn the values of participating in sports and physical activities. In the Morristown-Beard Middle School athletics program students will learn to appreciate honest competition based on the rules of the game. Student athletes will learn to respect the sport they play and all who grant that opportunity to play.
Fitness is offered to students as an option to participating in team sports; it is offered all three athletic seasons. The Fitness class is designed to address speed, agility, strength and flexibility.
Speed and Agility include ways to improve running/sprinting form and technique. Students improve their first step and gain stride length. Agility drills are also be added to help overall quickness. Strength and Flexibility help students become stronger while keeping a focus on staying flexible. Climbing, tug-of-war, push-ups, and sit-ups are great ways to gain strength without using weights. Flexibility is achieved through exercises such as static stretching, dynamic stretching, and yoga.
Science in the Middle School foregrounds an experiential approach, a joy in learning, and deep student engagement. As part of a coherent Grade 6-12 science sequence, the middle school years not only prepare students for high school, but provide a meaningful science experience on their own terms. We help students develop independence and skill in solving problems at increasingly higher difficulty levels. Students learn the key questions to ask in an investigation and how to chart a path to achieve a solution. One overarching goal of the Middle School science program is to help students acquire both inductive and deductive reasoning skills: in inductive reasoning, students learn how to make inferences from several particular instances to hypothesize about a general principle that might apply; conversely in deduction, they learn how to work with a general principle and infer a specific instance of behavior. Both modes of reasoning are essential to science as well as most other areas of human inquiry.
Science 6 provides a foundation for scientific study by introducing students to both physical and abstract tools scientists use to study the world around them. Our young scientists carry out labs designed to strengthen their understanding of the scientific method. Students study different systems of measurement and learn to use lab equipment to collect data. They learn how to control variables, choosing an appropriate type of data for collection. During their experimentation, students write hypotheses, procedures, and data-supported conclusions. They reflectively evaluate to improve on experimental design. The fall semester also focuses on basic chemistry. The semester concludes with a project where students hone their scientific measurement skills and apply, synthesize, and evaluate their knowledge. Spring semester focuses on life science. Students study living organisms (including humans) and their taxonomy. They use the classification and observation skills they develop to compare life processes, adaptations, structure, and function in various organisms. Activities include observing living specimens in the classroom, studying the fossil record, and doing dissections (optional). The semester concludes with a capstone project on the relationships between organisms of various kingdoms.
Science 7 highlights discovery as students address problems of increasing challenge. Students participate in a range of exercises grounded in basic science, physics, and chemistry enabling them also to develop age-appropriate skills such as organization and planning. The hands-on labs throughout the year follow a progression of discovery—each successive experiment builds on the foundation laid by the previous experiment. Small class sizes and the assistive technology of the iPad allow the teacher to monitor closely each student’s progress. Students reflect on their results to gaining knowledge no matter if their experiment turned out as expected or not. In addition to their experiments, students are frequently writing, honing these skills as applied to science. They might “interview” the last member of a now-extinct species or have a breakfast conversation with a now-famous scientist. Students also participate in “tech challenges”—cooperative, open-ended, learning opportunities. Many fun activities are grounded in experiential learning, such as sculpting parasites out of clay or building mini-catapults.
Science 8 explores the world around them. By placing emphasis on the learning process, the following skills are honed: thinking, writing, and creative problem solving. The curriculum uses inquiry based, hands-on, constructivist-learning techniques. There is a mixture of cooperative learning activities and intrapersonal learning projects. The outdoors is used frequently as a basis for scientific exploration. The students develop skills in observation, asking questions, and testing hypotheses. Each student learns to design a controlled experiment, analyze results, and present their experiment to their peers. Eighth grade science uses an integrated approach by weaving together chemistry, physics, and biology throughout the year. The inherent focus of the year is on process over product. The course culminates with an authentic, interdisciplinary project where students address a real-world global problem, applying science concepts they have been developing through the year.
Focus on Learning and Tech is a quarter class that introduces sixth grade students to a variety of learning, memory and study strategies that enhance and optimize the potential for school success across the curriculum. When provided with frequent opportunities to identify strategies and understand why they work, students are better able to transfer productive strategies to everyday practice. As technology is an integral part of life at MBS, students also learn about iPad apps that can be useful including apps for presentation, learning and skill development, stress reduction, time management and organization.
Wellness is a comprehensive, progressive program stressing a holistic approach to wellness. It is designed to produce desirable attitudes and practices in the social, emotional, mental and physical lives of students. Among the goals is the acquisition of the knowledge and decision-making skills necessary for a high level of health and well being.
Wellness 6 Sixth grade Wellness addresses three key topics: how we stay healthy, how we stay safe in the real and virtual worlds, and what happens to our body during puberty. The healthy living discussions include learning about nutrition, exercise, and hygiene. Students explore personal safety by reading and discussing the concepts of Internet safety, peer pressure, bullying, teasing, and friendship. The last unit of study is on puberty, the physical and emotional changes that occur as well as dealing with stress during this time. The Girl’s Body Book and The Boy’s Body Book will provide class readings, and outline course topics in an age-appropriate manner. Through participation and various digital presentations students synthesize and demonstrate their learning.
Wellness 7 In Health class this year, Seventh Graders will focus on a variety of topics centered on personal safety, decision-making, and adolescent development. Our personal safety discussions will include discussions on "street smarts" and online safety, including understanding our digital footprints and preventing and dealing with cyber-bullying. Students will examine and refine their decision making with units on ethics and stress management. In the unit on adolescent development, our sessions will emphasize hygiene and the physical changes associated with adolescence including puberty and brain development.
Wellness 8 In eighth grade Wellness students will deepen their understanding of many of the concepts explored in seventh grade, focusing on personal safety, decision-making, and adolescent development. In addition, we will delve into new areas, including communication skills, managing relationships, resolving conflicts and developing a growth mindset that is resilient and seeks challenges. We will also spend time considering the students' impending move to the Upper School, discussing the changes they can anticipate, and ways to prepare.
The World Language Program is designed to develop a strong foundation in communication abilities while profiting from the young learner's developmental aptitude for language acquisition. A variety of student-centered classroom practices promotes engagement, in-class participation, age-appropriate levels of intellectual stimulation and introduces students to various forms of linguistic competency (oral, aural, written, grammatical, lexical and cultural). Students are taught to master basic structural features of French, Spanish or Latin. In the case of French and Spanish, making use of the language in communicative settings is emphasized. This includes acquisition of vocabulary in context, development of good pronunciation and active use of the target language to successfully communicate in a variety of common situations. The incorporation of a reading and discussion sequence in grades 7 and 8 develops student ability to make connections and learn language as a whole, rather than as a set of isolated vocabulary words. The integration of the iPad, a 1:1 portable language lab, further enhances the MBS language program through ready access to authentic materials and novel ways of learning and practicing.
Students of Latin are exposed to the basic structure of the language via many of the same practices as students of French and Spanish, using skill-appropriate Latin readings as the primary centerpiece for communication.
Introduction to World Language in Grade 6 gives students a sense of confidence and competence in a second language. Consistent use of the target language with minimal reliance on English helps students explore meaningful contexts of communication such as social and cultural interactions. A variety of motivational and student-centered techniques are used to inspire young language learners. Games, songs, stories as well as iPad-based activities are used to leverage learning. Throughout the Middle School language program, hands-on learning experiences are integral components of instruction. A range of assessment practices, both formative and summative, measures progress in the targeted areas. Students rotate through three languages: French, Latin and Spanish. At the end of the year, students choose which language they will continue to study through 7th and 8th grades.
French, Spanish or Latin 7 begin a two-year study which, upon successful completion, is equivalent to one year of high school study. The key objective of the Grade 7 program is to develop the student's listening, reading, speaking, and writing skills in the target language. Through a collaborative, interactive environment students are immersed in the target language. In French and Spanish, a variety of authentic sources, including music, film, audio recordings, video resources and the Internet brings the cultural and linguistic aspects of the French and Spanish speaking world into the classroom. In Latin, content such as stories from Greek and Roman mythology as well as Latin phrases and proverbs that have entered common parlance provide a bridge from the ancient to the modern world. Materials in all classes range from the digital to paper and pencil. The presence of iPads in the classroom facilitates creativity and promotes student engagement by providing convenient access to authentic materials and innovative practice applications. Integration of student-generated resources into learning sequences fosters collaboration and helps to keep the focus of classroom activities on the learner. Differentiated assessment practices, both formative and summative, provide feedback and measure progress in the targeted areas.
French, Spanish or Latin 8 continue to develop linguistic ability by surrounding students with the target language. The course aims to promote acquisition and fluency through a variety of activities in all four-language skill areas: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Students learn to communicate meaningfully through cooperative learning and interactive language tasks that range from conversation to paper and pencil to iPad-based. Students encounter a variety of in-class materials including audio, video, and on-line resources. Creative student-use of the iPad fosters engagement and collaboration, provides convenient access to authentic materials and allows easy integration of student-generated resources into learning sequences. The iPad additionally facilitates active student-intervention through more dynamic presentations, digital stories and the use of various applications to promote novel ways of practicing and learning. Authentic materials are used to enhance and develop cultural understanding of the countries where the language is spoken.
Successful completion of levels 7 and 8 is equivalent to one year of High School study.