Middle School Programs & Courses
Our Private Middle School program is designed to cultivate a culture of learning while engaging and challenging our students in grades 6 through 8.
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.
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 & Design
- General Electives
- History and Social Sciences
- Performing Arts
- Sports & Fitness
- World Languages
Art & Design
Mission Statement: Art & Design is a multi-disciplinary program, providing students the technology, resources and mind-set to creatively move from abstraction to artifact.
Art & Design–Required Courses
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 paint, draw, use mixed media and create collages. They will learn how they can trick the eye of the viewer by studying Op-art, Pointillism and Trompe-l’oeil realism. The course will also focus on the artists M.C. Escher, Victor Vasarely, Georges Seurat, amongst others.
Makerspace: Creative Problem Solving
Students in this course will work through design challenges and solve problems by prototyping and making in any number of materials. They will be encouraged to ask repeatedly, “What else could this be?” and “What else could this do?” Along the way, they will expand their imaginations, sharpen their observation skills, and learn to critique with positivity and focus.
Art & Design–Electives
- Middle School Photography and Filmmaking
- Digital Sketch and Draw
- Jewelry Fabrication and Design
- Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain
Middle School Photography and Filmmaking
Middle School Photography and Filmmaking 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 and Draw
Digital Sketch and 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 and Design
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.
Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain
Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain is designed for students to learn about, and begin to master the skill of observational drawing. The course is designed for the student who wants to be able to draw objects and make them look “real”. Using various dry media (graphite, charcoal, pastels), students will master looking at three-dimensional subjects placed in front of them and replicating them on a page.
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.
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 longer texts, such as The Bread Winner, A Long Walk to Water, The Outsiders, and Look Both Ways.
Media & Literary Investigation
Media & Literary Investigation is a quarter class that introduces sixth grade students to a variety of learning 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 those strategies to everyday practice. As reading comprehension is an integral part of all coursework at MBS across disciplines, students will also reinforce critical comprehension skills such as: preview, visualize, monitor, identify the main idea, summarize, inference, and make connections to self and beyond. Activities will focus on understanding readings and evaluation prompts within Math, Science, Social Studies, and Literature.
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 longer texts, such as The Alchemist, Fahrenheit 451, To Kill a Mockingbird, and New Kid.
English Workshop 7
In addition to their Grade 7 English class, 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 Work- shop 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.
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 longer texts, such as Animal Farm, Orbiting Jupiter, Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You, and Night.
English Workshop 8
In addition to the Grade 8 English class, all students rotate through English Workshop 8, a semester-long class designed to enhance skills in reading, writing and public speaking. Areas of focus in the first half of the course include note-taking and annotation, essay and paragraph planning, and the incorporation and analysis of textual evidence. Students also practice the key skills of proofreading and revision for clarity and precision. Focus in the second half of the course shifts to public speaking. Through analyzing a range of famous speeches, students learn the elements of successful persuasive speaking, paying keen attention to what speakers say and how they say it. Students then build skills and confidence by creating and delivering a series of their own speeches of varying lengths and styles.
The Art of Storytelling
Students will be introduced to beneficial life skills, including self-awareness, through the practice of mindfulness. Students will develop and strengthen their ability to focus, recognize and manage their emotions, and empathize in their relationship with themselves and others. The course will include mindful coping skills such as deep breathing exercises, journaling, guided and self-guided meditation, meditative walking and drawing.
History and Social Sciences
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.
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.
History, Society, and Civics 7
Students in seventh grade History, Society, and Civics focus on decoding artifacts from the past to make sense of the world they live in. Moving from the personal to the global, and from the Ancient World to recent American history, they learn how the past lives on in the present. The year culminates with an investigation of the US constitution as a living artifact, undergoing amendment and reinterpretation since its inception, shaped by and actively giving shape to American society.
The year includes a field trip to Philadelphia and draws on local history.
The US in 20th Century World History 8
Students in eighth grade “The US in 20th century World History” asks students to consider American history in relation to 20th century conflicts and social movements around the globe. Relating the national to the international, students will learn to understand history from a global perspective. Over the year, students will focus on pivotal 20th century conflicts and social movements, while sharpening their abilities to ask questions, conduct research, and analyze forces of change in the world.
Mission Statement: The Morristown Beard School 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.
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
- Introductory Integrated Math Part A
- Introductory Integrated Math Part B
- Integrated Math 1
- Integrated Math 2H
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
Introductory Integrated Math Part A 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
Introductory Integrated Math Part B 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
Integrated Math 2H
Integrated Math 2H continues the Integrated Math sequence by building on the foundational concepts acquired in Math 1. Stu- dents 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–Required Courses
Vocal Ensemble allows students the opportunity to participate in a vocal music program focusing both on developing ensem- ble 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.
Music Foundations aims to grow students as young musicians, focusing on music literacy in service of introducing students to composition and improvisation. Students will study rhythm and pitches and create music in class and on their own. The course will focus on different genres and different mediums, as students deepen their relationship with an art form they encounter daily, and feel empowered to create music of their own.
- Middle School Band
- Middle School Dance
- Middle School Tap Attack
- MBS Strings Ensemble
- Middle School Theater Class
- Piano Basics
Middle School Band
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 concerts on stage in Founders Hall. One year of being in an instrumental program or private instruction is the prerequisite for this course.
Middle School Dance
Middle School Tap Attack
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 in the Winter or Spring Middle School Performing Arts Showcase.
MBS Strings Ensemble
Middle School Strings Ensemble offers 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 various concerts on stage in Founders Hall.
Middle School Theater Class
The Middle School Musical Theater Class gives students the opportunity to learn about the rich history of the American musical theater, while pursuing specialized performance training in acting, singing, and dancing. Through the production of an hour-long musical, they will develop musicality, spatial awareness, and collaborative skills, and also learn to create sustainable and motivated characters for the stage. The musical will be chosen specifically for the students in the class to help them cultivate these skills, and will be performed at the end of the semester.
Piano Basics gives students the opportunity to learn about the rich history of the American musical theater, while pursuing specialized performance training in acting, singing, and dancing. Through the production of an hour-long musical, they will develop musicality, spatial awareness, and collaborative skills, and also learn to create sustainable and motivated characters for the stage. The musical will be chosen specifically for the students in the class to help them cultivate these skills, and will be performed at the end of the semester.
Mission Statement: The MBS 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.
From Grades 6 through 12, the MBS Science Curriculum asks students to approach science as a process of active, hands-on inquiry, requiring close observation, the elaboration of theories, the design and construction of experiments, analysis of data, and an ongoing, revisionary pursuit of the truth. The Middle School Science program introduces students to science as an open-ended, self-critical process, laying the foundations for success in Upper School science classes and providing them immediate gratification as they begin to see the complexity and mystery of the world around them.
Science 6 introduces students to the fundamentals of the laboratory, experimentation, and the stages of scientific inquiry through a series of hands-on tasks and projects. As the year progresses, students are introduced to the fundamental units of biology, and then to an understanding of biological and environmental systems. Students pay special attention to the ecology of water and the environmental impact of water use, forging close connections with their work in Geography 6.
Science 8 introduces students to botany, challenging them to think through problems of form and function of cells and organisms from a new perspective, with opportunities for local fieldwork. Students build on their knowledge of plant life to gain new understanding of environmental crisis and resilience. During the year, students are also introduced to the fundamental principles of physics. As in previous years, strong emphasis is placed on the experimental process, observation, and the analysis of data.
Sports & Fitness
The primary goal of the MBS Middle School Athletics 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 value and 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. This includes but is not limited to teammates, coaches, officials, opponents, and fans.
The fitness program includes speed and agility training as ways to improve running/sprinting form and technique. Students learn to improve their first step and gain stride length. Agility drills are also utilized develop overall quickness. Strength and flexibility exercises help students become stronger while keeping a focus on building and maintaining flexibility. Planks, squats, push-ups, and sit-ups are used to gain strength without using weights while flexibility is achieved through exercises such as static stretching and dynamic stretching and yoga.
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. A unit of study is on puberty, the physical and emotional changes that occur as well as dealing with stress during this time. Through participation and various digital presentations students synthesize and demonstrate their learning.
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.
The Middle School World Language Program is designed to develop students’ communicative abilities while cultivating cultural awareness and an appreciation of diverse perspectives. Student-centered classroom practices promote engagement while introducing students to various inter- woven aspects of linguistic competency (oral, aural, grammatical, lexical and cultural). Students are exposed to basic lexical and structural features of French, Spanish or Latin while learning about Francophone, Hispanophone, and ancient cultures and practices, respectively. 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. Students of Latin are exposed to the basic structure of the language via many of the same practices as students of French and Spanish, relying upon level-appropriate Latin readings as the primary centerpiece for communication.
- Sixth Grade Language Exploration
- French, Latin, or Spanish A
- French, Latin, or Spanish B
- Heritage Spanish Language
Sixth Grade Language Exploration
Sixth Grade Language Exploration introduces students to their study of language at Morristown Beard with an interdisciplinary examination of language and culture through the lenses of French, Latin and Spanish as well as geography, art, history and other disciplines. Students spend time studying French, Latin and Spanish in a manner befitting the pedagogical values of the MBS World Language Department, focusing on a theme in the context of each language. The themes are:
French: How does the food you eat shape who you are and your community?
Latin: How are resources important in the building of community?
Spanish: How do identity and communication help create community?
Students also engage in several integrated units in which they grapple with the intersection of language, culture, identity, and community.
French, Latin, or Spanish A
French, Latin, or Spanish B
Heritage Spanish Language
MBS Centers for Learning
Decades of academic research highlight the importance of both meaningful teacher-student engagement and highly experiential learning in the intellectual growth of young people. Accordingly, Morristown Beard School has thoughtfully created three Centers for Learning to best engender the high-level development of several essential skills in your child.
The Center for
The Center for Academic Writing (CAW) acts as a support system for students, and, in concert with our philosophy, allows the students, themselves, to take on an important leadership role on campus as writing tutors in the center.
The Center for
Teaching & Learning
The Center for Teaching & Learning (CTL) empowers all students to better understand themselves and their own learning stories while, at the same time, developing students’ self-advocacy and self-efficacy.
The Center for
Innovation & Design
Opened in 2019, the Center for Innovation & Design (CID) provides more than 8,000 square feet of flexible and innovative space where students design, build, and problem solve as they engage in multidisciplinary projects.
Middle School Programs
The advisor system at Morristown Beard is one of the foundations on which the unique relationship between students and teachers is built. Developing a close connection with students is the cornerstone of our program and is based upon the mutual respect that the advisor and advisee have for each other within the naturally occurring boundaries that exist in a school setting. It is important that the advisor is seen as someone who advocate for their advisees and come to know them as a whole person. The connection between the advisor and the student they advise will help the student reach their full potential during their time here at Morristown Beard.
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 conversations relevant to the topics of character formation and values. Collaborative 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 Middle School 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 (Girls Leading Our World).
SGA (Middle School Student Government Association) collaborates with our Dean of Students to run the weekly Middle School Meeting, plan student events, and represent the student body.
Crimson Ambassadors host and tour prospective students.
The Crimson Leadership Groups are composed of students from our clubs that support DEIB efforts (GLOW, Kaleidoscope, Mental Health Matters, and Spectrum) and our SGA class leaders. The Crimson Leadership Groups endeavor to make every middle school student feel like they are a valued member of the community. The committee thinks about what makes a community, identifies areas for improvement, and applies a step-by-step process to implement ideas. A primary objective of the committee is to give students practice in using their voices to effect positive change.
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)
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)
Grade Class Trips
The April field trip is designed to enhance and solidify learning and to close the academic year collaboratively. Teachers work to select a destination that promotes learning experiences that are hands-on, collaborative, and enjoyable. The field trip is generally tied to the
7th & 8th Grade
Field trips are an opportunity for students to bond together as a class and further their understanding of a course of study. Past field trips have included visits to National Constitution Center in Philadelphia and memorials and museums in Washington D.C.
Middle School Signature Programs
As educators, we know that the intellectual development and emotional growth of our students in grades 6 through 8 is essential to their search for their identities as they define themselves in terms of new relationships and roles with peers and adults.
Both in and beyond our Middle School classrooms, learning for our students includes a strong social and emotional foundation as we deepen their awareness of self and others, and help them form a sense of how they might contribute to and flourish in the world. Our Signature Programs promote that development in ways that reinforce and build on traditional learning models. Through our Signature Programs, your child will be inspired to explore, discover, and act.
Current Middle School Signature Programs:
Middle School Signature Programs
MBS provides students in 7th and 8th grade with intensive writing workshop periods that supplement their regular English classes.
Each year, the Middle School provides students with formally and informally structured occasions to reflect upon their personal and interpersonal growth.
In this Middle School program, students confront the constraints of technological learning tools as well as the remarkable horizons they can open.
This Middle School program fosters an awareness that classroom learnings have a place in the world at large.