Be Immersed in Learning
Middle school students don’t merely study a topic at Belmont Day; they dive into it and explore it from every angle. They complete a unique independent project related to human rights and share it on Freedom Night. They apply Spanish vocabulary and cultural learning to create grocery lists that could be used in Puerto Rico. They discover the inner workings of mathematical algorithms and conduct chemistry experiments. They build robots and solar cars and design objects for a 3D printer. Throughout every subject they apply critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and problem-solving skills.
The curricular program for the middle school is a cohesive extension of the lower school curriculum, joining traditional skill acquisition with creative hands-on project assignments that are authentic and meaningful. Faculty also teach students explicit strategies for writing, organizing, studying, and tackling assessments. Exploring these topics helps students understand themselves better as learners and feel supported in pursuit of excellence.
Belmont Day teachers constantly collaborate to weave subjects together, giving learning richness, context, and a pulse. Students might find themselves making art that ties in with the history they’re studying. Or they might tackle a writing project along with others in the school. Opportunities abound for connecting science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM subjects). The assignments here are varied, purposeful, challenging, and motivate students to explore new concepts in fascinating ways.
Be an Expert: Capstone
Imagine sitting in a large room full of teachers, students, and other parents when your eighth grader walks up to the front. For the next half-hour, your child gives a dynamic presentation of information and insights about an area of expertise. Your child presents with poise and gracefully answers follow-up questions posed by members of the audience. Belmont Day makes this vision a reality through the Capstone Project.
Beginning in the spring of seventh grade, each student begins to hone in on a research question that inspires them. Possibilities for topics are infinite. What is most important is that the questions ignite a curiosity that each individual will pursue with diligence, creativity, enthusiasm. Throughout their eighth grade year, students write a substantive research paper and develop an independent project to reflect their growing knowledge. Finally, students craft an oral presentation, followed by a question-and-answer session, that they deliver to an audience of peers, teachers, and parents.
Throughout this process, students are supported by regular one-on-one meetings with Capstone mentors. Depending on the project, a mentor might be a teacher, the school nurse, business manager, or chef. The role has been described as “part shepherd and part cheerleader.” It’s just one part of a support system that ensures that students meet their demanding project goals.
There is no overestimating the importance, the thrill, or the transformative powers of Capstone. Our eighth graders feel tremendous pride in knowing that they can identify a topic of intrinsic interest to themselves and develop it into a body of expertise worthy of sharing with others. Designing and implementing a Capstone provides the self-assurance and skills that will serve students the rest of their academic lives.