Middle School (Grades 5 - 8)
You need only step into the north wing to sense the bustling energy of budding scientists, artists, writers and thinkers diving deep into their learning. The Middle School experience at Laurel is inspired by the work of our Center for Research on Girls on how girls learn best. Experiential learning balances time-honored traditions, and strategies are tailored to each girl as she finds and develops her voice.
Girls learn by doing. They create and conduct experiments in science, they build and draw models to visualize concepts in math, they memorize and act out scenes from Shakespearean plays, and they investigate and debate constitutional issues. Research about the power of authentic, project-based learning has led us to teach design thinking; in our new Collaboratory for hands-on prototyping girls combine habits of mind from each STEAM discipline: Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Math.
We know girls love choice, so programs in the Middle School are individualized. Each girl advances at her own pace in math, some accelerating to Geometry or Algebra II by Eighth Grade. Girls elect Spanish, Chinese or French, speaking in the target language during class and reaching Level III by Upper School. In Seventh Grade, girls ready for more intellectual rigor add Latin, too. Our One-to-One Technology Program supports each girl’s learning, and girls intrigued by programming tinker with computer game design during electives or in their free time.
Laurel girls rise to creative challenges. Many girls represent Laurel in off-campus competitions in science, global issues, math and writing. Girls choreograph and perform dances; they compose and sing songs; they strive on the fields and courts. Girls dream, dare and do every day in Laurel’s Middle School!
We would love to share more of our interdisciplinary program built on Laurel’s longstanding traditions of excellence and innovation. We hope you will visit soon to see for yourself all that Laurel has to offer each girl!
Leslie K Segal ‘95
Director of the Middle School
Through a comprehensive, integrated language arts program, Laurel girls become independent, fluent readers and writers. Students read a variety of genres and learn vocabulary, reading strategies and new perspectives. Laurel girls grow from seeing their own experiences reflected in the material they read. Through a context-rich approach in which they learn to identify patterns, they develop language skills for oral and written communication. They learn to communicate effectively and to practice the research process while making connections with other coursework. Students assess their writing through self-evaluation and peer and teacher feedback.
Laurel’s social studies program prepares students to become responsible and productive citizens. Through our integrated, engaging curriculum, girls deepen their understanding of the world and apply their knowledge and skills to make effective personal and public decisions. They learn to think independently, conduct research, write effectively and express themselves orally through dynamic lessons that address students’ learning styles.
Mathematics is integral to functioning efficiently and effectively in today’s society. We value the purposeful use of mathematical resources in decision-making and celebrate the beauty of thoughtful mathematical procedures. Laurel teachers facilitate individual and collaborative investigations in which they require students to construct their own mathematical knowledge. Participation in this journey refines students’ computational, manipulative, problem-solving and criticalthinking skills.
The Laurel School science department seeks to provide every girl with the tools to courageously explore the physical world and to become an ethical, compassionate contributor to it. We believe that hands-on experimentation and teamwork are essential to girls studying science. Our students achieve success in thinking critically, solving problems creatively and articulating their ideas and findings to others. Studies in Fifth and Sixth Grade are thoughtfully integrated with units in other disciplines such as English, math, and social studies while Seventh and Eighth Grade courses serve as introductions to the fields of earth science, chemistry and physics.
Studying languages in Grades K through 8 creates a solid foundation for children to become lifelong language learners. Teaching is done almost entirely in the target language to provide students with an immersion-style experience. Our goal is for students to develop a sense of confidence in their own abilities, to function in the target language and to genuinely enjoy language learning. Exposure to different languages and cultures broadens girls’ worldviews, enhances their sense of empathy and promotes curiosity about the world.
Art is a language of expression and communication. It involves discovering ideas and transforming them into visual form. This process is nurtured through exposure to diverse examples of art (in our own and in other cultures) and through repeated opportunities to work with a variety of art media and techniques. The visual arts involve developing the ability to look analytically, while offering an exploration of varied materials and processes. Working in the visual arts engenders the development of many positive habits of mind, not the least of which are perseverance, taking risks, and willingness to explore options and embrace revision as a part of the process.
In a classroom community, students learn to take risks as they explore their creativity. They engage in exercises that develop basic skills in each art form. As girls move through the performing arts curriculum, they grow from practicing the skills to using the skills in varying forms of self-expression. A cumulative curriculum allows students to build on previously mastered skills and to take each art form to the next level. Emphasis is placed on a creative, engaging process that leads directly to a final product.
The P.E. program is designed to help girls attain a basic understanding about the body and its capabilities and limitations in movement. Through a variety of activities, students explore movement and develop spatial awareness. Girls are encouraged to understand their personal strength and to cooperate with others. As the girls progress through Middle School, basic skills, knowledge of sports, physical activities, fitness and game play are emphasized.