In the Middle School, rigorous academics involve in-depth investigations of sophisticated content, as well as applying academic formatting and conventions to scholarly work. In addition to learning content, students are expected to make higher-level thinking connections across academic disciplines, to their own lives and to the world at large. There are a variety of curriculum components that contribute to the rigor of academics in the Middle School.
Students engage in an accelerated vocabulary building program that not only prepares them for college entrance exams, but increases the depth of their writing and reading comprehension. Middle School students read a variety of genres in Language Arts that are aligned with the Social Studies curriculum. This alignment helps students have a deeper understanding of the selected literature and related historical events.
Math instruction challenges our students not only to develop a strong foundation of skills, but to strengthen their analytical skills vital to higher level math courses and real world problem solving situations.
Science is taught with an emphasis on mastering the scientific method and utilizing scientific information as a tool for problem solving. Topics covered include earth, life and physical science.
In addition, the Middle School program focuses on effective study, time management and organizational skills. Teachers create an environment that promotes curiosity and a joyful passion for learning while transitioning students from young learners into true scholars.
Students are given the opportunity to showcase their developing academic skills by creating independent study and honors projects. Students select a topic of study, working in conjunction with their division advisor to create a proposal. Honors projects include a research and reflection component, an authentic creative element and a presentation for an audience of teachers, students and parents. The final presentation is intended to demonstrate intellectual curiosity and original thinking.
The project requires students to properly cite references and document research. Examples of past projects include, “Unknown Influential Americans,” “How to Teach Spanish,” and “Exploring the Galapagos Islands.” These projects encourage Middle School students to demonstrate creativity, organization, public speaking skills and an effective use of research and resources.
Leadership skills are fostered in a variety of ways in the Middle School, as it is especially critical for students to learn positive leadership traits during this developmental stage. Students are divided into “tribes.” Each tribe is comprised of students in various grades. “Tribe Time” takes place once a month, where students are assigned a project, task or problem they must solve together. Other leadership development activities include Pine Rock Studios and off-campus trips, such as wilderness retreats to East Troy and Lake Geneva, and a week-long 8th grade trip to Washington D.C.
Pine Rock Studios
In Middle School, students develop a greater mastery of content studied as a result of more sophisticated and in-depth hands-on learning activities. These hands-on projects integrate math, engineering, environmental science, art and organizational skills. Students use these skills in a concrete fashion that quickly leads to concept mastery.
- Designing and programming robots
- Tapping maple trees to produce maple syrup
- Creating Rube Goldberg inventions
- Building and racing CO2 cars
The ULS teachers and leadership team believe that at the core of technology in education is a model in which technology’s purpose is to enhance the learning experience rather than be the experience. Students and teachers are active participants in their own learning, choosing the best tools to accomplish their goals. Technology is used to develop strategies that allow learners to reflect on the process and make choices that will lead to improved learning outcomes.
Middle and Upper School students utilize their own portable computer as research work and academic projects need to be worked on increasingly outside of class.