The Academy at Laurel Springs
As part of the Academy enrollment, each Academy student will take part in grade-level specific college and life planning Seminars which span students’ enrollments each school year. Through Seminar, students will have the option to engage in live activities and events with their peers and assigned Academy Counselors.
The Academy Middle School Seminar courses introduce the topics presented in the Upper School Seminar at a level appropriate for Middle School learners, while the Academy Upper School Seminar courses build on the topics presented. In addition, the Academy Seminars include a series of self-assessments, goal setting exercises, career inventories, and related course projects and assignments through which students will identify and attain the skills, knowledge, and resources necessary to follow their selected college and career paths. Upper School Academy students earn 0.50 Elective credits per Seminar.
As a part of the Academy enrollment, students may also participate in live Upper School-level world language instruction. Our partner, LanguageBird, is a leader in world language education offering a model of highly personalized, flexible, 1-on-1 live instruction in more than a dozen different languages. Like Laurel Springs’ World Language course offerings, the LanguageBird courses are WASC and Cognia accredited, as well as NCAA and UC a-g approved. This is a wonderful option for students who enjoy live instruction and want to accelerate their learning.
The Academy Symposium course is a required discussion-based course where students have the opportunity to hear from guest speakers who are experts in their fields. Students extend their understanding of our speakers’ presentations by completing learning activities in conjunction with optional live Symposium Soapbox meetings with like-minded peers and their teacher. The Academy Symposium is designed to facilitate discussion, to build collaboration skills, to foster the ability to support ideas with facts, and to practice civil dialogue techniques with individuals who may share opposing viewpoints. Upper School Students earn 0.25 credits for the full-year Symposium course.
Advanced Ancient Civilizations MS (6th Grade)
This Academy Ancient Civilizations course will focus on many places around the world where some of the first groups of people settled into stable communities and developed complex societies, cities, governments, and empires. Students will discover how geography influenced early cultures and how early cultures have helped shape the world today. By studying the people and events that ushered in the dawn of major Western and non-Western civilizations, students will expand their understanding of history, civics and government, geography, and economics. Ancient civilizations are a necessary building block for all future historical studies.
Advanced 6th Grade English
The Academy Advanced 6th Grade English serves as an introduction to and enhancement of the writing process that many students entering middle school are familiar with.In the first semester of this year-long course, students read and analyze a science fiction novel to explore themes of individual strengths, and the power of community. Reflection is regularly integrated into writing to help students process their own thoughts about the themes, characters, and plot points of the novel. Classic writing patterns like The Hero's Journey are discussed, paired with meaningful excerpts from literature to enhance a student's understanding of the journeys we all take as we mature into adulthood. Finally, students learn and apply the basics of research writing, identifying credible sources, and broadening their worldview with a culture study.
In the second semester, students dive into fables and folklore, digging into ideas that discuss why we use stories to teach morals and lessons in different cultures. Students dive into non-fiction writing with informational and narrative essays to explore their own culture and understanding of their place in the world. The second semester of this course gives students a chance to practice the responsibility and accountability of reading their novel and completing a novel guide throughout the entire semester. A chance to try their hand at different forms of media to plan and tell stories finishes out the year for a comprehensive foundation for the skills that will be built on as learners progress through their academic journeys.
Advanced World Cultures & History MS (7th Grade)
The Academy Advanced World History focuses on many regions around the world through a thematic approach. A combination of contemporary human behavior heightens students' understanding of modern social issues and promotes a greater understanding of geography, religions, cultures, and much more.
Advanced 7th Grade English
The Academy Advanced 7th Grade English reinforces foundational skills and makes room for students to develop their voice, tone, and style in their writing all while continuing to develop the critical analysis lens alongside classic and contemporary literature. Students will read and analyze fiction, drama, YA literature, and informational texts representing a wide range of topics. Critical reading and analysis, the writing process, vocabulary, grammar, and mechanics are woven into learning practiced in collaborative discussions as well as informal journal entries, presentations, and speeches. Writing assignments include a personal narrative, persuasive essays, poetry, myths, and an original one-act play.
Advanced Middle School U.S. History (8th Grade)
Through an inquiry-based approach to historical exploration combined with the study of contemporary human behavior, the Academy Middle School U.S History course heightens students’ understandings of modern social issues, increases their ability to relate history to their own lives, and promotes greater understanding of their roles and responsibilities as members of society.
Advanced 8th Grade English
In this Academy critical thinking course, students will read and analyze various kinds of written texts, using them as both examples and sources of ideas for reflection, analysis, and argument. Students will learn better ways to discuss their thoughts and perceptions with others by spending some time thinking critically about news and media sources. Students will also examine the role of autobiographies and diaries in their understanding of history, allowing them an opportunity to examine the impact of point of view on nonfiction texts. Students will have a chance to write autobiographical narratives of their own and connect their experiences to universal themes or philosophical positions.
Additionally, through the study of poetic expression and its relationship with language conventions, students will hone their understanding and use of syntax, voice, sentence types, and punctuation. Finally, students will consider what high school will ask of them and how they might fulfill those expectations, having gained a better understanding of their strengths and reflecting on their own development throughout the year via the portfolio they will have compiled during this course.
MS Problem Solving - Semester
Problem Solving is an Academy-only elective where students learn about growth mindset and the steps followed by strong problem solvers. Students will learn how to identify a problem, break it down into simpler parts, analyze and synthesize, communicate with their peers about possible solutions, and present their final product. The use of logic trees and heuristics will be presented along with other tools that the students will find useful. As the class learns these problem-solving skills throughout the semester, they will be completing a project, which requires them to create their own Start-Up Business Plan. Students will have the opportunity during their workshops to fine tune their problem-solving skills, collaborate and brainstorm with their peers, receive guidance from their teacher, and finalize their final product.
Prerequisite: Successful completion of 6th Grade Math
MS World of Computing - Semester
World of Computing course is an Academy-only first-year computer science course introducing the basics of programming with Karel the Dog, and the history and impact of computing. Students will learn to code using blocks to drag and drop, but they can switch between blocks and text as desired. With a unique focus on creativity, problem-solving and project-based learning, World of Computing gives students the opportunity to explore several important topics of computing using their own ideas and creativity to develop an interest in computer science that will foster further endeavors in the field.
MS Programming with Tracy and Micro:Bit - Semester
MS Web Design
In today's world, web pages are the most common medium for sharing ideas and information. Learning to design websites is an incredibly useful skill for any career path. Web Design is an Academy-only, project-based course that teaches students how to build their own web pages. Students will learn the languages HTML and CSS, and will create their own live homepages to serve as portfolios of their creations. By the end of this course, students will be able to explain how web pages are developed and viewed on the Internet, analyze and fix errors in existing websites, and create their very own multi page websites.
Courses with Workshop
The following courses are available in 2023–2024 with an optional synchronous course component meeting once per week per course.
- Advanced 6th Grade English with Workshop
- Advanced 7th Grade English with Workshop
- Advanced 8th Grade English with Workshop
- Advanced Middle School Ancient Civilizations (6th Grade) with Workshop
- Advanced Middle School World Cultures & History (7th Grade) with Workshop
- Advanced Middle School U.S. History (8th Grade) with Workshop
- 6th Grade Science with Workshop
- 7th Grade Science with Workshop
- 8th Grade Science with Workshop
- MS Problem Solving with Workshop