What: Our Curriculum
Millennium’s curriculum is built on developmental research, which outlines three core motivators for middle school students. Students at this age engage with learning when it is personal – teaching them about themselves, challenging them where they are – social – offering interaction with peers and building social intelligence – and relevant – connected to real-life problems and applications where the value of their work is clear. For full details on our Academic Philosophy, click here.
Our aim in mathematics is to balance the development of technical skill with a creative, real-world-oriented approach. We believe that math is far more than a purely logical, abstract line of study. It's equally about building cognitive flexibility, recognizing and appreciating patterns, generating multiple solutions to complex problems, and accessing one's creativity.
To do this, we've designed a math program that combines "pure math" and project-based math. Project-based math embeds concepts in real-world, interdisciplinary projects, like designing a seismically-sound building or a robot that can navigate through a room. This approach develops problem-solving ability, subject-matter understanding and collaboration skills, and increases student motivation by making math problems more relevant. To complement this, the "pure math" element of our program aims to help students hone core skills and computational ability in math, building their number sense and their appreciation for math as a language of patterns.
For a full description of our approach to math, visit Millennium's Hybrid Approach to Math Education.
The essence of this work is two-fold: to develop means of skillful communication, and to appreciate the essential stories, patterns, and trajectories of human experience in past and present. Our humanities track, called "People and Societies," integrates history, social science, and English language arts. As middle school students are evolving rapidly, this track will help them explore the evolution of individuals and of societies and cultures. In every project or seminar, we aim for this content to shed light on the world around them and the world within each student, seeing their motivations and experiences reflected in characters from fiction and reality. Developing excellence in written and oral communication is a core goal, woven not only into this curriculum but also into expectations in every other academic discipline, with frequent oral presentations and written material required.
We offer two approaches for learning foreign language: structured courses and personal language learning plans. Students are welcome to try either or both. Across these methods, our aim is to use language to access cultural understanding, and to develop the skills and mindset of global citizenship. Middle school is a pivotal time for the formation of worldview, and the opportunity exists for students to evolve from seeing the world through only one lens, with its stark “right and wrong” perspectives, to the worldview and intellectual practice of seeing many cultural perspectives.
Our first approach applies to our core foreign language, Spanish. We offer a core sequence of Spanish classes designed to reach conversational fluency by the end of middle school. These courses are designed around the Comprehensible Input model of language-learning, which aims to teach language in the way that a new learner immersed in a foreign country would learn. Instead of focusing early on grammatical structure, students begin with a small set of real-world, frequently repeated situations and words, often offered slightly above their current language level. Students develop comfort speaking earlier, relative to traditional instruction, and build grammatical understanding after developing an innate sense of what "sounds right," in ways similar to how we acquire our native language.
The second approach to foreign language uses personal language learning plans, solo or in small groups. The goals are more open here - students can pursue fluency, or primarily cultural exposure. In this approach, students, parents, and advisors design a language learning plan, using fluent speakers, often an online tool, and a real-world project. Students can choose any language for which these resources can be identified. A student might choose to learn Amharic, the official language of Ethiopia, by studying Ethiopian cuisine and interviewing chefs at Ethiopian restaurants, documenting what they learn as they develop language skill in a cultural context. A group learning Spanish might plan a trip to study Mexican history in Mexico, interacting with native speakers before and during the trip, integrating their language study with real conversations and cultural study.
We believe strongly that the Arts are not a "nice to have" - they are an essential means of human expression, as important to us as any of the traditional academic subjects. For many students, creative expression will be where they speak most clearly from the heart. Like other subjects, we explore the arts with a balance of developing technical skill and supporting creativity expression; our aim is for students to learn how to express authentic truths about themselves and their perspective, in a way that resonates with other people, and to learn to receive and appreciate the same. We will make particular use of theatre and improv, as essential strategies for middle schoolers to try on different identities and perspectives in a safe and playful way. Beyond these, we will offer a range of arts options, with the aim of exposing students to many media, and then challenging them to choose one area each year for a deeper project.
We engage with science through the lenses of engineering and of the natural world, as both provide highly relevant contexts in which to learn. Our aim is always to connect the theoretical study of science with real-life applications. A project may begin with building a robot, or studying an intricate ecosystem, and from there broaden to include the theoretical study of relevant branches of science. Our aim is to develop empirical thinking, a spirit of inquiry and investigation, and savvy use of data. We place emphasis on the development of systems thinking, a fundamental “habit of mind” which appreciates the interconnectedness of systems as varied as a forest, a city water system, or a cell within our bodies.