Upper School Programs & Courses

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A Rigorous Upper School Curriculum

Our Upper School curriculum offers challenges to every student and satisfies a broad range of interests.

The Upper School curriculum offers a rigorous academic program to challenge every student and satisfy a broad range of interests. MBS students can also participate in an array of co-curricular options to gain a deeper understanding of themselves while contributing to the community beyond.

We encourage our students to take risks, to engage deeply in learning, and to become independent thinkers. At MBS, we teach the values and habits of mind that we believe will prepare young people not only for success in college, but also for lives of meaning and fulfillment.

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Academic Guidelines and Requirements

The school year consists of two 16-week semesters. Students are required to take a minimum of six courses per semester. Seniors must pass all of their courses to graduate. Exceptions to any of the academic requirements listed below must be approved by the Head of Upper School and Dean of Faculty.

English 4 years
Math 3 years (Integrated Math 1, 2, 3)
History 3 years
Science 3 years laboratory sciences with no repeat
Arts

1 year, fulfilled through the Design Arts and Sciences or Performing Arts Program

World Language 3 consecutive years of the same language
Wellness

Wellness 9 (full year); Wellness 10, 11 (one semester each)

Learn More about Required Academics

Students generally go beyond these minimum requirements in pursuit of their academic interests,
and we encourage them to do so.

Design Arts and Sciences

Mission Statement: Design Arts and Sciences is a multi-disciplinary program, providing students the technology, resources and mind-set to creatively move from abstract to artifact.

Upper School Design Arts and Sciences is a multi-disciplinary program. The field and study of Design Science comprises the core of the program, and the pedagogical focus stresses personal creativity, collaboration, team building, problem solving, storytelling and media authorship. Using computers as fundamental tools, moving from “abstract” through “artifact,” students are encouraged to adopt a “design” mentality and see hands-on project work as a unified, connected activity held together by some form of "narrative" or story-theme structure. Students are encouraged to develop and discover new skills, take pride in their creations and acquire a respect and appreciation for the work of their peers and other designers and artists.

FULL YEAR COURSES

Art 1 (9, 10, 11, 12)
Art 2 (10, 11, 12)
Art 3 (11, 12)
Art 4 (12)
AP Studio Art (12)
Video Broadcast Journalism (10, 11, 12)
Computer Arts and Sciences 1: Introduction to Design and Problem Solving (9, 10, 11, 12)
Computer Arts and Sciences 2: Object Oriented Design
(9, 10, 11, 12)
Computer Arts and Sciences 3: Data Structures and Algorithm Design (10, 11, 12)
Computer Arts and Sciences 4: Special Topics (11,12)
Advanced iOS Programming (9, 10, 11, 12)
Space Flight Engineering and Design (H) (11,12)

SEMESTER COURSES—DIGITAL AND STUDIO

Advanced Graphic Design (9, 10, 11, 12)
Ceramics (9, 10, 11, 12)
The Design of Everyday Things (9, 10, 11, 12)
Designing the Future (9, 10, 11, 12)
Digital Arts (9, 10, 11, 12)
Digital Graphic Design (9, 10, 11, 12)
Digital Video Storytelling (9, 10, 11, 12)
Glass Design (9, 10, 11, 12)

SEMESTER COURSES—PHOTOGRAPHY

Photography 1 (9, 10, 11, 12)
Photography 2 (10, 11, 12)
Advanced Photography (10, 11, 12)
Digital Photography (9, 10, 11, 12)

English

Mission Statement: As students travel their own unique paths through our curriculum, they develop the skills to navigate challenging texts, think critically, and express themselves confidently in both written and spoken word. Students also learn to appreciate and tell their own stories by exploring those of others, and in doing so, they develop awareness of themselves, their communities, and the human condition.

English promotes an integrated seven-year sequence of studies that teaches skills from Grade Six to Twelve. In proportion to cognitive and intellectual opportunities at each level, students learn to read and write critically, with increasing sophistication, as they discover how to ask appropriate questions of texts in all the genres and write with an analytical clarity that promotes creatively 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. In the Upper School, the Humanities program in grades 9, 10, and 11 facilitates the study of common themes as they arise in English and History. Grade 12 provides a rich selection of electives that anticipates the thematic and structural orientation of courses students can expect to encounter in college.

HUMANITIES PROGRAM

A model of cross-disciplinary collaboration, the Humanities Program in Grades 9, 10, and 11 merges the traditional subject areas of English and History to create a rich and engaging experience of both literature and history. An integrated Humanities curriculum, organized thematically and global in perspective, encourages students to discover significant connections among diverse cultures, works of literature, and time periods while promoting skills in close reading, analytical writing, critical and creative thinking, and oral presentation. Robust techniques of differentiated instruction in discussion-driven classes lead to increasing levels of sophistication of skills at all levels.Technology (including iPads) is fully integrated into classrooms for purposes of reading, writing and revising, and enriching work in progress.

HONORS PLACEMENT IN ENGLISH COURSES

All English Humanities Grade 9 and 10 sections will employ the earned honors model, which allows any student to earn honors status for the course by meeting a set of clearly defined criteria. (Please refer to the MBS website for a full description of the earned honors process.) For Grade 11, students who have earned honors in Humanities Grade 10 will maintain their honors status for Humanities Grade 11. Junior-Senior elective courses will employ the earned honors model as described above. Enrollment in Advanced Placement Courses is by teacher recommendation.

Humanities English 9
Humanities English 10
Humanities English 11 Fall
Humanities English 11 Honors Fall
Humanities English 11 Spring
Humanities English 11 Honors Spring

ADVANCED COURSES

Advanced Studies: Literature of the Modern Period (11, 12)
AP Literature (12)

SEMESTER ELECTIVES

Advanced Creative Writing (11, 12)
Debate Matters (11, 12)
Deconstructing Gender in Literature and Life (11, 12)
Design Through Writing (12)
Eating, Reading: Literature and Food (11, 12)
Elements of Style (11, 12)
The Iliad and The Odyssey (11, 12)
Introduction to Creative Writing (11, 12)
Journalism (10, 11, 12)
The Language of Leadership (11, 12)
Literature of the American Civil War (11, 12)
Love, Myth, and Murder: Five Greek Plays (11, 12)
The Power of Stories (11, 12)
They Say / I Say: Truth and Perspective (11, 12)
Savage Satire (11, 12)
Shakespeare and Film (11, 12)
Villains (11, 12)
Voices From Abroad (11, 12)
Word and Image (11,12)
Writing our Lives (11,12)

History

Mission Statement: By linking the past and present, the Morristown-Beard History Department fosters skills essential to the understanding of the human experience, while guiding students on their individual paths to becoming engaged and empathetic global citizens.

The Upper School history program features classroom activities designed to bring history to life, link the past with the present, promote critical thinking and build academic skills. We offer a rigorous and global curriculum of year-long courses and semester electives. Our enthusiastic faculty use a range of teaching materials and methods not only to impart knowledge and understanding, but also to tap into student creativity and encourage active, participatory citizenship. Students learn to value questioning and to be decision-makers; they learn how to conduct research, apply knowledge and express themselves. Teachers emphasize critical thinking and writing, and believe that history can be made rich with drama, triumph, and tragedy, full-blooded characters and lessons learned for the 21st century.

HUMANITIES PROGRAM

The Humanities approach to the study of English and History merges the traditional subject areas of these departments to create a richer and more engaging experience of both literature and history. An integrated Humanities curriculum, organized thematically and global in perspective, allows students to make new and surprising connections among different cultures, works of literature and time periods, while enhancing a common set of critical skills. The Program relies heavily on analytical writing, critical and creative thinking, discussion-driven classes, close reading and oral presentation. It is also a model of cross-disciplinary collaboration for both students and faculty.

HONORS PLACEMENT IN HISTORY COURSES

All Humanities Grade 9 and 10 sections will employ the earned honors model, which allows any student to earn honors status for the course by meeting a set of clearly defined criteria. For the Humanities Grade 11 course, students who have earned honors in Humanities Grade 10 will maintain their honors status for Humanities Grade 11. Junior-Senior elective courses will employ the earned honors model as described above. Enrollment in Advanced Placement Courses and Constitutional Law is by teacher recommendation.

Humanities History 9
Humanities History 10
Humanities History 11
Humanities History 11H

ADVANCED COURSES

Note on Advanced Placement and Advanced Studies courses: Traditional AP as well as faculty-designed Advanced Studies courses are equivalent in rigor and commitment to a course usually taken during the first year of college. Students may be expected to complete pre-course summer work, and should expect additional time commitments throughout the year. All AP students are required to take the Advanced Placement exam in May; no standardized test is required of Advanced Studies courses. Enrollment in all Advanced courses requires permission of the department chair.

AP United States History (11, 12)
AP European History (11, 12)
Advanced Studies: A History of Western Ideas (11, 12)

SEMESTER ELECTIVES FOR JUNIORS AND SENIORS

All of the following courses will employ the Earned Honors model unless designated with “Honors” which signifies a traditional teacher recommended honors level course. (Please refer to the MBS website for a full description of the earned honors process.)

African History (11, 12)
The American College Experience (11, 12)
China Under Mao Zedong (11, 12)
Composers in Context: from Beethoven to "Bang on a Can" (10, 11, 12)
Constitutional Law (H) (11, 12)
Criminology Studies (11, 12)
Diversity and Public Policy (11,12)
Economics (12)
Literature of the American Civil War (cross-listed with English) (11,12)
The Living Constitution (11, 12)
Mass Migration (11, 12)
Microeconomics (H) (11, 12)
The Psychology and Philosophy of Religion (11, 12)
Religion and Society (11, 12)
Social Psychology (12)
The Sociology of Diversity (11, 12)
US Politics: Beyond 2016 (11, 12)

 

Mathematics

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Mission Statement: The Mathematics Department produces students fluent in quantitative and abstract reasoning. We emphasize the importance of constructing and evaluating sound arguments while focusing on connections within and beyond mathematics. Within this framework, we aim to cultivate resilience, critical thinking, creativity, and intellectual curiosity.

Morristown-Beard School’s Mathematics Department strives to produce students fluent in quantitative reasoning who can both do and communicate mathematics. We emphasize connections within and beyond mathematics, while ensuring that students develop the mathematical tools and problem solving skills they will need in the future.

INTEGRATED MATH PROGRAM

The Integrated Math Program consists of three full year courses: Integrated Math 1, 2 and 3. Combining both traditional and con- temporary approaches and content, this structure represents an evolution in math curriculum design and allows students a much greater opportunity for growth and development in mathematical thinking. In adopting this new program design, MBS puts itself squarely in line with state-of-the-art math programs that reflect the professional consensus of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Principles and Standards. While the program will cover all of the traditional areas (Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2 and Pre-Calculus), Integrated Math blends these different strands of mathematics through each of its three levels and focuses on connections among formerly isolated topics, such as algebra, geometry and trigonometry. This approach reveals a more organic picture of the field of mathematics and fosters deeper insight into its intricacies and beauty. It allows different types of learners to grasp foundational concepts (such as equations, functions and trigonometry) through different modes of representation, including graphical, hands-on, technological, geometric, numerical and symbolic. Integrated Math employs the technique of "spiraling" so that each level of the curriculum brings students back through these essential concepts at deeper levels of mastery.

Integrated Math 1 (9) 
Integrated Math 2 (9,10)
Integrated Math 3 (9, 10, 11)
Function Analysis and Trigonometry (11, 12)
Mathematical Analysis (Honors) (10, 11, 12)
Calculus (12)
AP Calculus AB (11, 12)
AP Calculus BC (12)
AP Statistics (12)
Statistics and Probability Honors (12)

SEMESTER ELECTIVES

Math and Art (11,12)
World Making (10, 11, 12)
Probability Theory (10, 11, 12)
Statistics and Data Analysis (10, 11, 12)
Quantitative Business Analysis (12)

Performing Arts

Mission Statement: The Performing Arts program fosters critical thinking, discipline, and a sense of community, all in a creative and rigorous environment. Through a variety of performance and learning opportunities, students discover and cultivate an enduring connection to the intrinsic value of the performing arts in the human experience.

Morristown-Beard's Performing Arts curriculum features both performance-based and arts literacy classes. This allows students with previous experience to enhance existing skills, while also encouraging students without training to explore the world through the unique prism of the performing arts. Independent Study opportunities in all aspects of the performing arts can also be arranged. Co- and extra- curricular offerings include annual vocal, instrumental, and dance concerts, as well as a fall play, a winter musical, a theater lab performance, an a cappella singing group, field trips to professional performances and the participation in various off-campus festivals and performance opportunities.

THEATER COURSE OFFERINGS

Acting (9, 10, 11, 12)
Improv and Sketch Comedy (9, 10, 11, 12)
Stagecraft (9, 10, 11, 12)
Stagecraft Mini-Session (9, 10, 11, 12)

VOCAL AND INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC COURSE OFFERINGS
Chorus (9, 10, 11, 12)
Chorus Mini Session (9, 10, 11, 12)
Jazz Ensemble (9, 10, 11, 12)
Percussion Ensemble (9, 10, 11, 12)
String Ensemble (9, 10, 11, 12)
Fundamentals of Music (9, 10, 11, 12)
Composers in Context: from Beethoven to "Bang on a Can" (11, 12)
Music Theory (9, 10, 11, 12)
DANCE

Dance (9, 10, 11, 12)
Intermediate Dance (9, 10, 11, 12)
Advanced Dance (9, 10, 11, 12)
Morristown-Beard Dance Ensemble (9, 10, 11, 12)
Tap (9, 10, 11, 12)
Tap Mini Session (9, 10, 11, 12)
Theater Dance (9, 10, 11, 12)
Theater Dance Mini Session (9, 10, 11, 12)

PERFORMING ARTS IN THE CENTER FOR INNOVATION AND DESIGN
Music Composition for Film and Visual Media (9, 10, 11, 12) Fundamentals of Studio Recording (9, 10, 11, 12)
Synthesizer Programming and Sound Design (9, 10, 11, 12) Soundscapes Music Composition (9, 10, 11, 12)

Science

Mission Statement: Science education prepares students for a future that includes college, career, civic responsibility, and global stewardship. Students will be inspired by the wonders of science and engaged by experiential learning as they progress towards deep understanding. Students will develop critical and innovative thinking, while acquiring quantitative and qualitative analytical skills so that they can make responsible, informed decisions as empathetic world citizens. We provide our students with the background that they will need to tackle the rigors of science and engineering courses in college if they choose to pursue them.

The science faculty believes that science education should prepare students for a future that includes college, career, civic responsibility, and global guardianship. It is our goal to provide our students with the science background they will need to tackle the rigors of science courses in college; to develop a work ethic that will serve them well in the workspace; to learn to think critically and to analyze data in such a way that they will make responsible, informed decisions as young adults; and to develop an awareness that they are world citizens responsible for making decisions regarding natural resources, global warming, energy production, soil erosion, pollution and issues related to new technologies and their ethical implications.

The science curriculum includes a three-year sequence of courses designed to introduce students to the broad, basic areas and elements of science. They are offered in different, equally rigorous versions in order to enhance opportunities for student success (see course descriptions below). In addition to the core subjects of physics, chemistry and biology, qualified students may also take Environmental Science, science electives, and/or Advanced Placement courses.

EARNED HONORS IN SCIENCE COURSES

Students in Physics (ninth grade), Chemistry or Biology may work to achieve Honors credit for the course by meeting a set of clearly defined criteria; please refer to the MBS website for a full description of the process.

Physics (9)
Chemistry (10)
Quantitative Chemistry (10) Biology (10, 11, 12)
Experimental Biology (10, 11, 12)

ADVANCED COURSES AND FULL-YEAR ELECTIVES

Note on Advanced Placement and Advanced Studies courses: Traditional AP as well as faculty-designed Advanced Studies courses are equivalent in rigor and commitment to a course usually taken during the first year of college. Students may be expected to complete pre-course summer work, and should expect additional time commitments throughout the year. All AP students are required to take the Advanced Placement exam in May; no standardized test is required of Advanced Studies courses. Enrollment in all Advanced courses requires permission of the department chair.

Advanced Studies: Organic Chemistry (11, 12)
AP Biology (11, 12)
AP Chemistry (11, 12)
AP Physics C Mechanics/Electricity and Magnetism (11, 12) Environmental Science (11, 12)

SEMESTER ELECTIVES

Anatomy and Physiology Honors (11, 12)
Advanced Physics Honors (11, 12)
Forensic Science (11, 12)
Genetics and Biotechnology Honors (11, 12)
Sports Medicine (also listed under Wellness) (11, 12)

Wellness

Mission Statement: Wellness education aims to produce a positive attitude toward lifelong wellness addressing biological, social and psychological dimensions of health, through developing the skills needed to promote overall well-being.

Wellness 9
Wellness 10
Wellness 11
Senior Transitions Program (12)
Introduction to Hatha Yoga (10, 11, 12)
Peer Group (11, 12)
Sports Medicine (also listed under Science) (11, 12)
Nutrition (10, 11, 12)
Driver Education Theory (10)

World Languages

Mission Statement: The World Language Department believes meaningful communication is fundamental to all language learning. We practice the language in context, developing cultural awareness as well as linguistic competencies. Students learn about what can be said in a world language as well as how to say it. Our program embraces progress while acknowledging that learning a language involves cycles of acceleration and adjustment.

LANGUAGE STUDY AT MBS

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The World Language Department offers beginner to advanced classes in French, Latin and Spanish as well as an Advanced Studies Italian course. Freshmen coming from the MBS middle school are placed through a combination of testing and teacher recommendation. New MBS students take a placement test and typically enroll in levels 1, 2 or 2H. The graduation requirement is three consecutive years of the same language (French, Latin or Spanish) in the Upper School. Please refer to the MBS website for more detailed information about the Upper School language requirement.

FRENCH AND SPANISH

The ultimate goal of second language study is the ability to communicate effectively in a variety of situations. This requires that students develop oral, aural, written, grammatical, lexical and cultural forms of linguistic competency. We endeavor to develop all forms of competency through use of a variety of approaches, with special emphasis on appropriate use of the target language in various contexts. As students reach upper level courses, increased emphasis is placed on higher order thinking carried out in the language being studied. A variety of assessment practices (oral, aural, written, project-based, formative and summative) measures student progress across the range of required abilities. While mastery of vocabulary and basic structural elements of language is required, the MBS language program endeavors to maintain a vibrant and stimulating atmosphere of learning in which student engagement and active participation in class activities are strongly promoted.

LATIN

In addition to the ability to comprehend ancient Latin texts, the study of Latin develops a host of skills that are applicable in all disciplines. It trains the mind to observe text carefully and analytically and to reach appropriate conclusions based on both detail and context. It promotes analytical and synthetic thinking, intellectual and linguistic rigor, and effective, clear communication. It also contributes to gaining self-knowledge through learning about the origins of Western Civilization. Beginning with the study of the elementary components of Latin, students progressively acquire more complex decoding abilities which lead to the development of read- ing proficiency. Latin students will also delve into various aspects of Roman literature and history, culture and mythology, thereby observing connections that demonstrate the continued relevance of the classical legacy to contemporary civilization.

ADVANCED STUDIES: ITALIAN LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

This advanced course is for students who have fulfilled the language requirement and wish to continue their study with a new language. Students successfully completing this course should be able to place into intermediate Italian in their first year of college. Complete course description below.

TRAVEL AND IMMERSION PROGRAMS

In coordination with the Global Studies Program, the World Language Department participates in the School’s global outreach efforts by participating in trips to Francophone and Hispanophone regions of the world as well as to those countries important to the study of the classical world and its languages. Recent trips have visited Montreal, Rome, Costa Rica, Cuba and Panama (financial aid is available for eligible participants). In addition, the department offers a French exchange with a partner school in Nantes, France.

OVERVIEW OF COURSE OFFERINGS

Introductory - Building French, French 3-5, AP (Honors designation possible at levels 3 and above)
Introductory - Building Spanish, Spanish 3-4, AP (Honors designation possible at level 3 and above)
Introductory - Advanced Latin (Honors determined by the Earned Honors process at level 4)


Upper School Signature Programs

The Upper School at MBS features an ever-evolving group of Signature Programs built upon forward-thinking academic research. As educators, we know that your child will benefit most from innovative classes that provide academic rigor and the opportunity for meaningful intellectual challenge. The majority of these courses feature small class sizes, allowing for true student-teacher engagement, and collaborative, team-based assignments and assessments.

We continually seek to push the boundaries of our teaching and learning, and our Signature Programs reflect this commitment. Our Signature Programs are an important reason why our students report extremely high levels of preparedness (and consequently, achievement) through college and beyond. We’re confident that your child will enjoy the intellectual journey through these classes – and the rest of the Upper School curriculum, too.

 

Upper School Signature Programs

Independent Studies

Our Independent Study program encourages Upper School students to explore areas of interest that fall outside the traditional course catalog.

Read More about Independent Studies
Humanities Program

This integrated Upper School curriculum, global in perspective, will allow your student to make new and surprising connections among different cultures.

Read More about Humanities Program
Earned Honors Model

Upper School has created a model in many classes whereby students are given the opportunity to earn honors on the basis of the work they produce.

Read More about Earned Honors Model
Writing Across the Curriculum

In this Upper School program, students are given frequent opportunities to write and think more critically and creatively and engage more deeply in their learning.

Read More about Writing Across the Curriculum