Middle & Upper School
Our Middle and Upper School curriculum and instruction dovetails with and expands the Lower Schools’s focus on classroom-based individualized instruction, so students are empowered to take ownership of their learning process and goals. Students continue to access a menu of empirically validated pull-out and push-in supports to advance their learning and specialization. Beyond taking college entry requirements, students choose electives, develop a portfolio, acquire mentors, apply for competitive internships, and choose their college majors — generally by their junior year.
A multi-disciplinary plan is created targeting each child's unique needs in the context of a classroom, where extensive enrichment options complement our robust academic curriculum. We employ evidence-based best practices — Zones of Regulation, Positive Behavior Supports, Collaborative & Proactive Solutions, and more — in order to grow awareness and skills in social-emotional, behavioral, and sensory self-regulation.
THE UPPER SCHOOL CURRICULUM
We prepare 6th to 12th-grade students for college by incorporating their unique needs and passions into each school day, offering early opportunities for the development of individual talents that become the foundation for a college major and keep motivation at the heart of each school day. Our integrated, empirically validated interventions include DBT, OTMP (to develop executive functions), and more. In BASIS classes at the end of the school day, students receive academic acceleration or support from content-area specialists.
At the heart of everything we do is student talent development, which surfaces and stokes passions, provides structure and viability for big ideas, instills a sense of purpose and commitment, and, ultimately, develops gifts. Lang is an independent school that supportively seeds, sows, and grows the inspiration of tomorrow's innovators and thought leaders.
Academics at The Lang School are based on our integrated curriculum, a paradigm shifting, cross-curricular framework that propels education beyond STEM- and STEAM-based programs. It posits the equal importance of these four major knowledge domains; that they are best explored in an integrated way; and that the skill sets emphasized by each exponentiate learning and discovery in the others. Perhaps most critically, our integrated curriculum restores at its core what STEM and STEAM have left behind: a critical, speculative lens 2,500 years in the making that brings values and ethics back into focus through the humanities, a domain defined not only by art (and the arts), but by history, philosophy, literature, language and linguistics. Our integrated curriculum is engineered by STEM, inspired by the arts, and driven by the humanities.
Our Middle and Upper School Talent Development Program draws on and develops student passions daily. Each student is assigned a teacher/coach who helps define and organize the exploration of a specific year-long "IndieStudies" project of the student's choosing. Domains are wide ranging — from studying the history of surgical knots, to creating an multi-media autobiography, to learning to take apart & reconstruct a Porsche — and are individualized to the skills that a student wants to develop further. At the end of the year, students present their work to a round table of staff and select peers.
It is possible to integrate aspects of a student's IndieStudies project into their core and elective courses (see below).
Typical 12th grade math students take calculus. Calculus is open to advanced and very advanced math students in the Upper School who show exceptional mastery and understanding of Algebra and Geometry.
Typical 8th grade math students take Algebra. Advanced 7th grade students take Algebra with the 8th graders.
Typical 11th grade math students take Precalculus. Advanced Upper School math students can be accelerated if they have demonstrated mastery of Algebra and Geometry.
Seventh and 8th grade math students not yet ready for Algebra complete the Math in Focus (Singapore math) program used in the Lower School.
Typical 9th grade math students take Geometry. Advanced 8th grade and very advanced 7th grade math students who have demonstrated solid algebraic thinking skills take Geometry.
Half of our math students complete Calculus before 12th grade and move on to a more open-ended exploration of mathematics across multiple domains, including advanced Calculus II integration, topology, graph theory, combinatorics, statistics, and the like.
Seventh to 12th grade students with a focus on either engineering or creative design learn to virtually model 3D shapes using Blender, an advanced, open-source 3D modeling application.
Prototyping is intended for 7th to 12th grade students with a focus on creative and industrial design. Students learn traditional modeling and prototyping skills, such as how to work with plasticine clay and casting molds in silicone.
Applied Logic (Programming)
The Upper School Engineering classes focus on both the practical aspects of modern engineering (including electronics) and the principles of physics behind technology (in EM kinematics). Students are introduced to and practice how to apply Ohm's Law. They work with Arduinos to create products with a distinct human objective. The interdisciplinary and core humanistic concepts of our integrated curriculum are emphasized. The course is offered at two levels, for middle school and for high school.
Students in the Upper School with an engineering focus take weekly classes in Programming alongside a required course in Formal Logic. Typically, these students continue to learn the basics of object-oriented, Java programming using Greenfoot. Advanced students start working in either NetBeans or Eclipse IDE (Integrated Development Environment).
Computer Science Computer Science is for 10th to 12th graders who intend to pursue a software engineering career and who are already (near) fluent in at least one programming language. Students learn how to implement efficient algorithms for sorting, searching, and other common programmatic tasks.
Seventh to 12th grade students with an interest in and advanced understanding of social sciences or dynamic organisms take Biology. The course is offered at two levels and begins with an emphasis on biological systems as a whole. Students then consider the preeminent principle of the field: the biological survival instinct. They investigate how the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics dictates many of the behaviors of organisms, as well as how energy flows through the environment and forces organisms to constantly be on the hunt for good energy sources. Students who have demonstrated an understanding of organic systems move on to Biology II.
In Biology II, students focus on genetics and biochemistry. Students learn to use trionocular microscopes and practice DNA/RNA sequencing using our thermocycler.
Eighth to 12th grade students with an interest in the elements of the periodic table (and how the elements react under different circumstances) can take Chemistry I or II. Students in Chemistry I learn to understand the underlying periodicity of elements, the structure of atoms, and their valency properties that cause substances to react with each other. They practice stochiometry and use algebra to predict interactions between substances. Students have access to a fumehood for safely performing potentially volatile experiments. Students in Chemistry II move on to study more complex organic reactions.
Eighth to 12th grade students with a focus on engineering and fundamental science study Physics. This course places a heavy emphasis on making physics problems solvable using mathematics, logic, and heuristic methods (such as Fermi estimation). Students consider problems in the domains of kinematics and EM. Precalculus is a prerequisite for this course.
Arts & Humanities
ELA (English Language Arts)
Advanced 7th to 8th grade writers can be accelerated into our 9th grade ELA class. Ninth to 12th grade students are placed in an ELA class appropriate for their proficiency level and focus in other areas of study. Students accelerated in Comparative History are similarly accelerated in ELA.
Our Comparative History courses focus on understanding the wider causative movements in human history and what has driven dramatic changes in society since prehistoric times. Students compare and contrast periods and regions throughout world history from early Mesopotamian and Indus Valley history to modern upheavals. Students examine how recent societal trends may be analogous to past historical transformations.
Our Upper School art program is suitable for both visual artists and young engineers. The courses includes basic drawing skills and more highly conceptual work that incorporates a wide variety of materials, electronics, and digital media as forms of expression.
Eighth and 9th grade students are required to take this weekly course, which is also open to 6th and 7th graders with advanced abstraction skills.
Students committed to learning an instrument are provided 1:1 and/or small group training in composition and technique by one of our music teachers. Students are provided opportunities to practice their skills throughout the week and to perform for our parent community. We also offer chorus, jazz and rock ensembles, and music production courses in our stand-alone music studio.
Our drama courses focus on the art of writing and expressing stories, incorporating a wide variety of techniques in acting, improvisation, choreography, and both stagecraft and stage management. More traditional drama practice is complemented by theatre performance field trips and theatre troupe visits to the school. Improvisation coursework emphasizes saying "Yes, and...." to being to peers in the moment in order to achieve a desired effect: laughter. Improv is taught by our drama teacher, a Second City-trained comedian, and our speech therapist (with an eye toward social pragmatics and social development).
Our performing arts courses focus on the intersection of music, drama, collaboration, and movement. These classes are co-taught by drama and music teaching teams. In partnership with other disciplines and the Lower School, the performing arts students organize two performances each school year.