Middle school is a time of transition and tremendous growth for children. And at Moses Brown, it’s when they discover that the ‘awkward years’ might be some of the best years ever.
The school year begins with an immersive four-day, three-night trip that brings students and teachers together, forming and nurturing lasting bonds of friendship and respect. From there, they dive into academic challenges and new levels of freedom and responsibility. Throughout the year, students come to understand and advocate for their true selves with integrity in an environment that is both supportive and challenging.
Whether they’re tackling economics, slam poetry, racial justice, or runoff ecology, every lesson draws on multiple skills and strengths, ensuring all children get the right blend of challenge and support to make the most of their unique gifts. And with a collaborative and dynamic corps of seasoned, innovative educators, students reap tremendous benefits from multiple integrated learning units that cross academic disciplines, allowing students to learn with breadth and depth.
Students enjoy new social opportunities, expanded after-school offerings, competitive and recreational athletics, inclusive arts ensembles, and high-quality performing arts offerings. They learn to take responsibility for themselves, while still having the strong support of a group of teachers who know them well.
A Typical Day
Every middle schooler’s day begins with advisory, in which students nurture positive relationships with peers and a trusted adult. Classes are frequently woven together in a blend of literature, mathematics, science, and social studies. They probe the technical and societal opportunities and challenges posed by the internet and learn how to be safe, responsible citizens online.
Fifth graders are leaders. As writers, they are constantly generating and revising new work. As readers, they tackle more complex, longer works of literature and non-fiction.
As scientists, they use their observational powers, deductive reasoning, and knowledge of scientific principles to explore the impact of weather-related environmental issues during their global climate change unit. The student investigations culminate in a formal debate to determine which environmental issue should be addressed immediately by lawmakers and citizens.
As mathematicians, they advance beyond whole-number calculations to perform operations with fractions and decimals, and to convert seamlessly between the two. They devise research projects and conduct statistical analysis to connect math with real life applications
And to cap off their year of study in civil rights, they take a four-day capstone trip to Washington, D.C. and see civil rights landmarks with their own eyes, which brings their learning alive.
Sixth grade at Moses Brown is a dynamic and exciting year. Beginning with a four-day trip to the woods with classmates and teachers, students quickly learn that they are capable of far more than they ever dreamed.
In dynamic and interdisciplinary classes, books come alive as they stage their own criminal trial (complete with rules of evidence) and living-history exhibits. Math and science push them to explore, experiment, and analyze data to understand soil erosion and cell biology. They probe the technical and societal opportunities and challenges posed by the internet, and how to be safe, responsible citizens online.
In clubs and after-school activities, they can extend their learning, exercise their musical chops, and discover a new sport that nourishes their body as well as their mind.
Through it all, they’ll have daily coaching in a morning advisory that builds powerful, lasting relationships with caring adults and classmates, engendering a sense of community that lasts a lifetime. Advisors partner with students and parents to support and develop the unique talents of each learner.
“I wish I could do that.” That’s what many parents say about seventh grade at Moses Brown. Beginning with a four-day trip to the woods with classmates and teachers, students quickly develop lasting friendships with peers and adults that sustain them throughout the year.
Their classes are frequently bound together in interdisciplinary bundles that blend literature, mathematics, science, and social studies in nuanced and multi-faceted explorations of complex issues. Whether reading To Kill A Mockingbird while learning about economics and the Great Depression (and running their own speakeasy) or exploring the tundra of Journey: The Amazing Story of OR-7 while studying ecological and political issues (complete with a zoom visit from a real live rancher), they are getting a taste of immersive scholarship that may be more reminiscent of graduate school than it is of middle school.
Of course, they’re just beginning their teen years, so their social and emotional development is of paramount importance. In daily advisory, they learn from (and lean on) trusted grownups and peers to build a lasting sense of community, and a sense of belonging that helps them grow through the social challenges of early adolescence. That (and a fresh pack of gum) is generally enough to get them through a Friday night dance.
Eighth graders are on the cusp of high school, and they grapple with accordingly big subjects and challenges in preparation for that big step. They are honing their self-advocacy skills, self-awareness. Their personal identities are emerging as they find their voice and their confidence in themselves builds.
Every day, they begin by refreshing these relationships in advisory, learning from (and leaning on) other students and trusted adults as they navigate the challenges of growing up.
Whether working with the nationally-syndicated program StoryCorps to beta-test a new app, or applying mathematical principles to real-world questions of physics and entrepreneurship, they are frequently reminded that their studies are not just academic exercises, but rather a growing empowerment to affect and improve the world around them.