The ’21–’22 school year begins August 16. Read an update from the Head of School here.
The goal in the Middle School (MS) at RIS is to develop students who are creative, compassionate, problem solvers. With a focus on skill-building and project-based learning, students study a range of topics from effective communication and digital citizenship to empathy and stress management. This approach supports students’ academic development, social-emotional needs, and global-mindedness, as well as draws connections between their world at school and the world at large. The MS also emphasizes the importance of students building genuine, positive relationships with their peers and teachers.
All middle school courses are enriched by a 1:1 laptop program that ensures every student is engaged with Internet-ready technology in each class. Core content teachers use resources from a broad spectrum of curricula to craft learning opportunities while ensuring they cover the required standards. Many teachers collaborate with other departments to design cross-curricular projects to merge and expand students’ content, depth of knowledge, and application of skills.
The core MS curriculum centers around language arts, social studies, math, and science, guided by the American Education Reaches Out (AERO) standards. The language arts department applies elements of the workshop model and uses the 6+1® Traits of Writing framework to guide students toward English usage proficiency. Math and science modules are based on the Next Generation Science Standards and the AERO standards.
Health, wellness, and values are also integral subjects in the MS curriculum. In a stand-alone health class, students learn about physical, mental, social, and digital health, while the MS Advisory program focuses on social and emotional well-being, as well as on interpersonal skills, digital literacy, and college- and career-readiness. The MS also offers students a Focus Block each day—a 45-minute period during which students are encouraged to direct their own learning. Students use this time to work with content-area teachers to clarify their understanding of a particular topic, to attend classes designed to apply and extend their learning, or to participate in intervention classes to close gaps in certain proficiencies.
Clubs and extracurricular activities are also an integral part of the MS experience at RIS. Students are offered a wealth of elective choices for exploration including modern languages (Mandarin, Spanish, and Thai), culinary arts, design technology, industrial design and woodwork, computer science, and visual arts, among others. As the middle school years are a time of significant change for young people, the MS curriculum follows a philosophy of “exposure, exploration, and experimentation,” with a broad range of learning opportunities across a variety of content areas. MS students have the opportunity to explore an abundance of interesting and challenging courses that develop the critical-thinking skills necessary for success in the IB and AP programs in high school.
A hallmark of the RIS Middle School experience is the annual Explore the Kingdom trip. This three-day, two-night field trip includes team-building activities, outdoor education, and plenty of opportunities to bond with friends and classmates. Each grade level embarks on a separate trip within the beautiful Kingdom of Thailand. Prior to these field trips, RIS teachers partner with the outdoor education providers to ensure that students’ classroom learning connects to their experiences in the outdoors.
On past trips, students have collected and analyzed water samples, built dams, identified wildlife, and recorded data, among other things. Additional outdoor activities typically include rock climbing, exploring caves, and hiking. Students also enjoy time with friends and peers in a setting other than school, which is often recalled as some of their favorite memories of the trips.