THE LANG SCHOOL CURRICULUM
Our MESH™ Framework
The school’s curriculum is developed using a MESH™ framework. MESH stands for Math, Engineering, Science & Humanities. This framework is unique to Lang and focuses on integrating the two main strands of academic disciplines: the humanities and so-called STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math). MESH recognizes that technology needs to be driven by social goals and that innovation is ideally guided by lessons learned from history, philosophical study, and artistic exploration. We support, nurture, inspire, and challenge students as they journey from elementary through high school and as they become productive artists, writers, entrepreneurs, scientists, mathematicians, engineers, and all the other richly diverse roles we take on as adults in our work lives. Lang's assumption is that school is our students’ first workplace and, thus, should be an examined and values driven experience.
Lang students engage with a discrete set of Universal Questions throughout each school year — course and unit-related questions that are based on that year’s school-wide theme. Universal Questions are ageless and timeless, meaning that kindergarten and doctoral students alike can engage at their own level with inquiry as old as humanity. Along with learning foundational skills, know-how (content area-specific practical skills), and know-what (content area-specific knowledge) in each course, all students explore how the unit's Universal Questions intersect with and interrogate that course's content.
In each MESH unit’s lessons, teachers across grades then posit to students a set of developmentally appropriate Essential Questions that help them pursue thoughtful responses to the core complexities that Universal Questions expose. As an organizing curricular structure, MESH recognizes that each learner has their own launch point and journey toward mastery in each subject. MESH’s implicit assumption is that even our youngest students have intellectual lives rich with complex concepts about how and why the world works as it does.
UPPER & LOWER SCHOOLS
Core subjects in the Lower School refer to instruction in English language arts (ELA), math, social studies, science, civics, applied logic, and a foreign language. Science and social studies classes are integrated with instruction in reading and writing, and are taught by homeroom teachers. Math is co-taught by a math specialist (we have Lower and Upper School math specialists) and homeroom teachers.
ENGLISH LANGUAGE ARTS (ELA)
SOCIAL STUDIES &
In the Upper School, core subjects are ELA, math, comparative history, and science — each taken three times weekly and worth three credits each — as well as once to twice weekly classes in civics, applied & formal logic, a foreign language, and physical education, each worth one to two credits.
UPPER & LOWER SCHOOLS
Supporting subjects in the Lower School are once weekly, required classes: applied logic, engineering, music, drama/improv, and creative lab (art/makerspace).
MUSIC & DRAMA/IMPROV
CREATIVE LAB (ART/MAKERSPACE)
In the Upper School, what is considered a supporting subject depends on the specialization a student is trending towards: engineering, science, creative arts, or the humanities. High school students who take a specific set of supporting courses can have their specialization cited on their transcript.
Upper School students can choose to take one to two, once weekly electives per semester, depending on individual schedule and workload. Some electives have prerequisites; all award credits on student transcripts.
UPPER & LOWER SCHOOLS
Lang is fundamentally dedicated to helping students identify, understand, and leverage their precocious abilities and passions, then develop these into talents.
The structure of our Talent Development Program is based on the phases of one's journey toward expertise or eminence: exploration, "falling in love," commitment, followed by extensive hard work. Talent Development in the Lower School is called KidWorks and, in the Upper School, IndieStudies.
THE LANG SCHOOL CURRICULUM
All students, from K through 12th grade, are required to take a weekly class in civics. This course focuses on building responsible citizenship, understanding the purpose of rules and regulations, knowing your constitutional rights, and advocating peacefully and effectively for yourself and your community within our political and social framework.
Exposure to a second language awakens and reinforces each student’s awareness of how language shapes perceptions, insights and identity itself. The MESH framework seeks to create a deeper understanding of all languages, from Spanish to the highly formalized symbol system of math and to the less formal, more idiosyncratic vernacular of the visual arts. From K through 3rd grade, and during at least three years in high school, students receive foreign language instruction three times weekly. In 4th through 8th grade, students take a foreign language class twice weekly.
Applied & Formal Logic
The Lang School’s logic curriculum is inspired by the evidence-based proposition that formal operational thinking as described by Jean Piaget does not naturally evolve but is nurtured. As a result, we teach the basics of Boolean logic even to our very youngest students.
Between grades 8 and 12, students are expected to take two years of weekly lessons in formal logic, learning to differentiate between and effectively use inferential versus deductive reasoning. Students move from a more applied practice to a purely abstract use of logic that can be applied formally to the analysis of claims in all subject areas.
Students begin by learning basic propositional logic and gradually move to more advanced frameworks such a relational logic. Understanding how logical fallacies can be used as rhetorical devices to influence people’s opinions is an important part of the class and integrated into our academic subjects across all grades.
Students are taught to reflect on their experiments using the MRACIS sequence — Method, Results, Analysis, Conclusion, Introduction, Summary — and to report their results through the SIMRAC structure (Summary, Introduction, Result, Analysis, Conclusion). The scientific process is introduced as a wider framework of observing, making claims, and verifying claims, as well as relying on peer review, evaluation, and the leveraging of other people’s work.
Upper School students variously have one to three sessions of lab science each week. Younger students have one session weekly available to work in the lab. During lab science sessions for the youngest students, the emphasis is on familiarizing them with safety procedures and the necessary protocols for all work in the lab.
This year students will ask themselves the following universal questions: What is energy? How does energy flow? Where does energy come from? What will happen to our universe?
Students in the Upper School (grades 6-12) take one of the following classes three times weekly:
ELA in the Lower School is structured according to the Reading and Writing Workshop model developed by TCRWP (Teachers College Reading & Writing Project). Social studies are woven into much of their ELA classes according to the MESH framework; these students also receive instruction dedicated to explicit reading and writing strategies. Students with diagnosed language-based learning challenges that impact their acquisition of reading and writing skills receive 1:1 support from our learning specialist.
In grades K through 7 each student’s reading level is assessed three times each school year using the F&P Text Level Gradient developed by Irene Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. The Gradient assigns a level from A–Z to students based on their demonstrated decoding, fluency and comprehension skills. our fiction library books are all marked according to their F&P level. K–7 students are coached in sustained silent reading (SSR) daily. All students learn to select “just right,” “independent” reading material that is appropriately challenging.
Based on the interests and needs of their students, teachers in each Lower School classroom decide which specific TCRWP writing and reading units of study — persuasive writing, historical fiction, or information writing, for example they will explore and emphasize. Teachers often align student writing projects with subject matter covered in social studies and science. Past projects have included a schoolwide newspaper, poetry anthologies, and multimodal advertising (i.e., posters, videos, and other media).
Students in the Upper School take ELA three times weekly. They will start this year by asking themselves: How do we harness the power of our voices?
For students in K through 7th grade, The Lang School teaches foundational math skills using the Singapore Math program Math in Focus8. Singapore Math treats mathematics as the singular, stand-alone subject that it is, rather than as a means to an algorithmic or purely practical end.
The Singapore Math approach focuses on revealing the conceptual underpinnings of mathematics to students in three steps: concrete, pictorial, and abstract. This process follows the same development as all symbolic and conceptual systems, beginning with the observable and transitioning to abstraction. In grades K-7, Students’ math skills are normatively assessed twice yearly using “i-Ready,” a system based on the Quantile Framework for Mathematics.
Students in the Upper School use the Core Connections series from College Preparatory Mathematics (CPM). Depending on their current level of proficiency, a student in the Upper School takes one of the following math classes:
Our most advanced math students receive additional individualized instruction in mastering a wider variety of mathematics (e.g., graph theory, topology, combinatorics, etc.).
Social Studies &
The Lower School (grades K-5) have a social studies curriculum that is strongly integrated with their ELA. They are trained to think critically about claims made about a variety of subjects in order to prepare them for the comparative framework used in the Upper School.
In comparative history, the emphasis is on understanding how to study larger trends in history and to research and compare how different social conditions influenced diverging or similar outcomes. Comparative history takes a grand overarching look at human evolution from hunter / gatherers to our modern globalized society.
The four universal questions that will guide learning in social studies and comparative history this year are:
What is power?
How do we gain power?
How much power should we have?
How should we use our power?
Physical Education (P.E.)
Our P.E. program focuses on developing core strength, proprioceptive awareness, self-regulation, and mindfulness. Students in grades K through 5 receive explicit P.E. instruction twice weekly in addition to active daily outdoors recess (weather permitting). Grades 6-12 have three P.E. classes per week. Older students have the option to join Planet Fitness right next door to the school to do workouts during their P.E. class.
THE LANG SCHOOL CURRICULUM
Students in the Upper School focusing on design or engineering can take a weekly class in 3D modeling. Students learn how to model in three dimensions using Blender, a powerful open-source application used worldwide both for animation and engineering purposes. Emphasis is placed on conceptualizing what objects look like from discrete orthogonal angles (front, side, and top), and how they can be decomposed into simpler symmetrical components.
This year, students — especially those who have already taken a year of 3D modeling — will approach learning new skills through the lens of the following universal question: How can we model forces? Once they have learned the basics of vertices, edges and faces, and how to define and manipulate them in Blender, novices and beginners will focus on how to use keyframes and inter- and extrapolation to mimic gravity. Intermediate and advanced learners will explore the use of particle systems and the physics engine for simulating more complex forces such as wind and other fluids in motion.
Creative Lab (Art)
Our Creative Lab program is imbued with the spirit and approaches of the STEAM and Maker movements in education. These movements are new names for what is deeply rooted in tradition: the intricately linked and interdependent nature of art and technology. Each technological revolution has given rise to new art forms, and new art forms continuously inspire new insights into the uses and limits of technology. This renewed and strengthened awareness of the connectivity between science, technology, engineering and math is also embraced by The Lang School’s MESH framework.
Younger students use paper engineering, color dying, and other richly kinesthetic activities to express ideas and explore forms. Older students venture into the use of motors, microcontrollers, and other electronics to creatively investigate the meaning(s) of the world around them. Students learn a wide variety of integrative, industrial arts procedures, from silk screening to electroplating.
Drama & Music
Elementary schoolers are scheduled for one drama and one music class each week. Upper School students can elect to participate in a drama or music class once weekly. The drama and music work of all participating students culminates in an end-of-year performance that showcases their accomplishments.
Students in the Upper School may choose to continue with software engineering after completing the leveled sequence of applied logic courses. These students use enterprise level IDEs, such as Eclipse.They master Python and Java, as well as other object-oriented programming languages (e.g., C#). When taking Engineering, these students learn to use C to program microcontrollers.
The course is a mixture between fundamental computational and algorithmic theory, understanding system design, and implementing these ideas in code.
Exposure to engineering is an integral part of MESH. Our program emphasises that engineering is a lens and discipline for solving wider social objectives and that it applies concepts from a wide range of disciplines, from biology and agriculture, to electronics and programming. Students are trained in failure tolerance — a vital skill for all problem solving — through exposure to a continuous cycle of trial and error in engineering classes. Students of all ages taking engineering classes are exposed to the fact that all solutions leverage and are built on the foundations of other people's work.
The Lang School’s engineering protocol is encapsulated by The 3 Rules:
Rule 1: Safety First!
Rule 2: Fail, fail, fail and you will succeed.
Rule 3: It’s okay to borrow from others, just give them credit.
Students across grades learn to use both manual and power-driven tools. They explore the properties and use of various materials, from wood to plastic and metal. Older students program microcontrollers using Arduino®, starting with block-based code and eventually programming their functions in C.
The four universal questions that will guide learning in engineering during the 2019/20 school year are as follows:
How can we make a machine move?
How can we generate energy?
How can we make energy sustainable?
How can we store energy for later use?
THE LANG SCHOOL CURRICULUM
Agricultural Science & Urban Ecology will focus on understanding how agriculture began and has changed over time, specifically in the area now known as New York City (Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx, and Staten Island). Students will study indigenous farming practices, halal and kosher farming practices, and modern practices such as factory farming, monocropping, and chemical pest control. Students will also work on maintaining and cultivating the school’s urban garden plot at the Battery Urban Farm. Some additional topics covered may include things like soil chemistry, aquaponics / hydroponics, and genetically modified foods.
Lang students will have the opportunity to sing in a school chorus this year. Repertoire will vary greatly (doo-wop, classical, folk, rock / pop). Chorus will be a way for students to work on ear training and sight singing, as well as gain experience as performers / musicians. The chorus will be featured at the winter and spring showcases.
No prior singing experience is required, but before joining, students will have a singing session with the teacher. This will be used to evaluate vocal range / voice parts.
In constitutional law, students will be taking a deep dive into the Court’s current term, and review cases currently before the Court. They will profile the individual justices and discuss how justices may decide the individual issues, and try to predict the outcome of the cases reviewed. They will pull back the veil on this most elusive branch of government and look at the way the Court operates behind the scenes.
Course materials may include: briefs submitted to the Court and prior cases decided by the Court appropriately edited for content and useability; commentators on the Court, including but not limited to ScotusBlog, the National Constitution Center, Oyez.org, the Legal Information Institute at Cornell Law School, and Mara Liasson at NPR; and transcripts and audio recordings of oral arguments before the court. No prior knowledge about constitutional law is required.
Over the course of one semester, students will be briefly introduced to the three major forms of creative writing: fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction. Through exploration and analysis of mentor texts, students will become increasingly familiar with the tools of narrative craft and how they function within each distinct form.
Simultaneously, students will engage in weekly written exercises to develop their own written craft, sharing in-progress pieces with their teacher and peers, getting constructive feedback about their writing in an authentic workshop-style setting. Culmination of the course will include a reading of “completed” works created by students throughout the semester.
Students must already have taken a 6th grade English / ELA equivalent. In addition, prospective students must demonstrate a keen interest in storytelling and sufficient command of basic grammar and usage.
Students will watch some filmed performances, and film their own performances. Their in class performances will be accompanied by student created soundscapes. They will combine focused study of voice and body, with an introduction to Shakespeare whilst reading and working on scenes from “Othello”.
Students should be willing to use their voice and body to express themselves in front of an audience.
“Learning to draw is really a matter of learning to see,” wrote Kimon Nicolaïdes. This class will employ a variety of drawing materials such as pencil, charcoal and chalk to investigate the related concepts of observation, representation and expression. Emphasis will be placed on the fundamental perceptual skills involved in observational drawing: perceiving and drawing edges, spaces, relationships, lights and shadows, and envisioning the whole (the gestalt) as it emerges from the individual parts and their relationships to each other and the whole composition. Students will learn to compose with line, shape, and tone in a class designed to break them out of familiar territory in areas of technique and approach by introducing the classic discipline of drawing from life. Using still-life setups and our environment as sources of visual inspiration, students will explore perspective, positive and negative shape, and texture as they explore the use of traditional drawing materials.
This elective is intended as much for beginners who may feel that they have no ability or talent for drawing as for intermediate or advanced students. Although we will introduce and explore various specific techniques as is appropriate to each student's progress and process, the fundamental skills we will be learning are more seeing skills than drawing skills. The most important prerequisite will be the ability to patiently engage in drawing from observation.
This engineering course is a combination of theory and practical application. Students learn how to control the emission and flow of electrons to build tools that help us achieve human ends. The course includes some math and science along with actual prototyping of devices based on a well-defined goal. Amongst many other materials and components, students will use resistors, transistors and Arduinos® to build their prototypes. Since microcontrollers will be used, some coding in C will be required.
Students should have an interest in engineering, be familiar with some of the laws that govern physics — especially EM (electromagnetism) — and be comfortable solving algebraic expressions. Patience in tinkering with finicky circuitry is a big plus.
The jazz ensemble at Lang will offer students with advanced musical skills the chance to perform in a collaborative setting. Repertoire will be diverse, but rooted in jazz, and based on the group’s instrumentation. The group will record 2 EPs, and perform at the school’s two showcases.
Interested students should be prepared to perform a selected piece, or share a recording of a past performance.
Prototyping is geared at students with a focus on design. Students learn how to draw and practice professional modeling in plasticine clay based on their drawings. The models are used to make silicone molds and cast resin replicas of the initial clay model. No prior knowledge is required.
THE LANG SCHOOL CURRICULUM
Our youngest students spend the first three months of each school year exploring each of four domains in weekly two-hour sessions. At the end of this period, based on documented faculty "noticings," the student’s performance, and the student’s interest, a placement in one of our four KidWorks groups is suggested. This school year, our four groups are:
KidWorks coaches regularly conference with each student, so that students learn to identify and advocate for their preferences. Though native abilities make it easier to master some domains, commitment and hard work are required in order to achieve excellence and can compensate for difficulties in mastering many skills. If a child demonstrates both strong interest and a willingness to work hard, they will be placed in their preferred group regardless of staff observations and recommendations. From January through June, KidWorks students explore projects in their domain in greater depth and with increasing constraints.
Each Upper School school student is assigned a teacher as a coach with whom they will define and explore a domain they'll dedicate themselves to throughout the school year. Domains are wide ranging — from studying the history of surgical knots, to creating a multi-media autobiography, to learning to take apart & reconstruct a Porsche — and are individualized to the skills that a student wants to develop further.
IndieStudies students also work with their coach to identify resources and potential mentors outside of the school. A mentor is an expert in the field under investigation who devotes time to working 1:1 with the student (supervised by the coach), providing both feedback and guidance. At the end of the school year, Upper School students present their work, process, and discoveries to a round table consisting of adults with domain-specific knowledge and select peers.
Lower School students ready to pursue a passion project with discipline and supervision are also invited to participate in our IndieStudies program.