At this level, coursework becomes noticeably more complex. First-year students are introduced to geometry as well as concepts such as congruency, equality, and similarity. Students begin working with fractions and factoring. The second-year students study more complex arithmetic, such as large multiplication and long division problems. By the end of the year, students are adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing fractions as well as completing story problems. The third-year students master the complex concepts of squaring and square roots, while also exploring the formulas for area and volume.
The study of science becomes more structured at this level. Physics, where students learn about the three forms of matter and the eight forms of energy, is introduced—all while gaining a deeper understanding of the scientific method. Students then explore geology, including topics such as the earth, how it is formed, types of land and water forms, along with the classification of rocks and minerals. The third type of science taught is biology, the study of vital functions, and botany. Looking at vertebrates and invertebrates, students study the functions that sustain life: respiration, circulation, digestion, sensitivity, locomotion, and reproduction. Dissection is an important part of this year’s work.
First-year students learn to classify sentences by types and continue to work on identifying the parts of speech. Second-year students begin sophisticated grammatical analysis, breaking parts of speech down into specific subtypes, and verb conjugation. Third-year students begin identifying phrases and clauses, diagramming sentences, and working out of a grammatical textbook. All levels work on identifying parts of speech within literary excerpts.
At this level, the study of literature and history is taught in an interdisciplinary manner, with the literature books complementing and supporting what the students are currently learning in history class. Students, on average, read one literature book a month. The Timeline of Human Life is a major learning aid in this class. First year students look at other cultures throughout the world, while second and third-year students’ history studies move much closer to home, as they study American history and literature. Like their study of reading, the students’ study of geography is closely linked to the history curriculum, and students learn about physical geography, such as rivers and mountains, as well as historical geography, such as capitals and explorers.
Art is integrated into the history/geography/literature curriculum. Artistic concepts are taught using a variety of media, including drawing, painting, clay, and fiber. During the year, students have opportunities for showing their artwork. Students at the upper elementary level continue their study of foreign language (Spanish, Chinese, and Latin), and at this level, students meet four times a week. Instruction combines dialogue practice, listening, reading, writing, and cultural studies. Students are introduced to team sports, which offer great lessons in cooperation and understanding the rules of games, and students continue their studies of vocal and instrumental music, taking on larger roles in MMS’s numerous musical concerts and performances.
Through intellectual, travel, and leadership opportunities, upper elementary students are becoming invested in their own educations. At this level, students are taking on complex assignments and are moving beyond the basic foundational skills taught at the earlier levels. At the end of the three-year cycle, students are prepared for the rigorous academic standards of the Middle School program. They also have the maturity and practical life experiences to take on the extensive travel opportunities that the Middle School offers.