Top Bar

Lower Merion School District

Off-Canvas

Curriculum Overview

English/Language Arts

Reading and writing skills serve as the conduit for all learning and provide a foundation for achievement across the curriculum. LMSD teachers of English/Language Arts embrace their responsibility to ensure that students master the skills of close reading and meaningful writing. They are also passionate about the role that literature can and should play in their students' lives as a vehicle for cultural appreciation and intellectual growth.

English/Language Arts classes are student-centered and interactive opportunities for students to read, write, talk, ask questions, listen, research, and think critically. The focus is on how students can become better readers and writers. Students read from a wide range of genres, including classics and contemporary works, and they write in a variety of modes for various purposes and audiences. They explore topics of individual interest as well as those which will provide them with a context for understanding the literary canon.

Social Studies

A deep understanding of the historical, political and cultural aspects of our world is integral to sustaining our democracy and ensuring that students become informed, responsible citizens. Curriculum centered in the core areas of civics, economics, geography and history provides the content for the critical thinking and inquiry-based learning that occurs in social studies classrooms.

Teachers guide students to examine issues, past and present, from a variety of perspectives beyond those presented in textbooks. They model and encourage the close reading of authentic primary documents. They model and teach research and writing skills for a variety of purposes and audiences and strategies for effective speaking and debate. Social studies teachers seek to guide students to become critical thinkers who can ask the right questions, find the information to answer those questions, and present their thinking in meaningful ways.

Music

The study of music allows students to blossom in many diverse ways: creative expression, teamwork, critical thinking, tolerance, and performance to name a few.

Our music teachers - each one a talented musician - emphasize all aspects of the music experience, rather than focus primarily on performance. Students become critical listeners as they refine their appreciation of music and critical thinkers as they examine the socio-cultural context of the music they hear and play. They learn the discipline of practice and experience the rewards of contributing to a collaborative effort. Our students are given and wide range of opportunities to participate in musical performances and activities and are encouraged to push their limits and grow as musicians.

Art

The study of art provides students with new ways of seeing themselves and the world. In the supportive, respectful environment of our art classes, students are encouraged to express their ideas and come to understand the visions of their classmates and of professional artists. They are taught the language of aesthetics and how to think critically about the art that surrounds them. They also learn and practice the process of creation and engage in the many decisions that lead to a work of art.

A team of experienced and dedicated art teachers deliver a rich and varied art curriculum. Students acquire technical skills, a broad knowledge of materials and media and the discipline and dedication necessary to complete complex projects. Students have the opportunity to explore their interests and continue their studies by taking a sequenced series of art courses in the media that appeal to them.

Math

Every student has mathematical potential, but it often takes a rich instructional experience to convert it to mathematical power. The District's secondary mathematics program encourages students to explore a world of mathematical thinking and communicating that will help them grow into mathematically-literate decision-makers. The District's mathematics program is guided by the rigorous Standards for Mathematical Practice. These standards, aligned with the National Common Core, ensure that students will be well-prepared for 21st century problem-solving.

The LMSD middle school curriculum is designed to use a problem-based approach with concrete models. Courses help students to develop multiple strategies to solve problems and to recognize the connections between concepts. The pre-algebra and Algebra 1 curricula deliver traditionally rigorous algebraic content using a problem-based approach. Materials are aligned to exceed expectations set forth by the state to ensure student success on the Keystone Exam. There are strong threads woven throughout the courses on multiple representations and the meaning of a solution.

Science

Science education provides an orientation to the world that invites learners to make meaning of what is known and to explore what is unknown in order to become engaged in responsible citizenship and personal decision-making. The District's science education program exposes students to rich scientific content through engaging, inquiry-based experiences that allow for the practice of scientific "habit of mind."

The middle school science program builds on an excellent elementary foundation in which students develop strong questioning, reasoning, and scientific literacy skills. The curricular program goes beyond the coverage of academic standards and taps into student strengths in technology, creative expression, and communication to ensure that the whole student is engaged in the learning process. When students enter the rigors of the high school science program, they are well-positioned to deeply explore core offerings in biology, chemistry and physics.

The vitality and breadth of the District's science programs is evidenced by the extraordinary levels of student participation and success in science-focused academic clubs and competitions.

Health Science/Physical Education

The foundation for healthy living begins with accessing the tools and knowledge to make healthy choices. Health and physical education are necessary components of a well-rounded educational program, providing students with factual, evidence-based information to guide a lifetime of well-being.

The middle school health programs provide a continuum of experiences in both health and physical education that are based on state and national standards and incorporate best practices in instruction. The physical education curriculum emphasizes healthy living through movement (kinesthetic) and fitness. Our instructors model activities that students can incorporate into their daily lives while teaching them the principles that make the activities effective for maintaining healthy bodies. The health curriculum guides students in healthy, personal decision making with a focus on nutrition, interpersonal relationships, sexuality, mental health and drugs and alcohol.

Technology/Engineering

A student who has a deep understanding of technology sees possibilities where others see problems. This kind of thinking is developed though hands-on, experiential learning where students make broader meaning of knowledge gained through mathematics and science courses. The District's robust technology education program engages students in solving complex problems that help them to discover how to extend human potential. Technology education goes well beyond the use of computers; students engage in the world of design around them. They are encouraged to explore solutions in areas where questions have yet to be asked.

The comprehensive middle school program is designed to build on the PA Standards for Science, Technology, and Engineering Education and the National Educational Technology Standards and covers the principles concerning understanding, applying, and evaluating technology use in a variety of settings including medical, communication, transportation, and construction applications. Through independent and team projects, students use written and verbal communication to present ideas and projects and make use of the most relevant software packages and hardware systems.

Many of our students at the secondary level demonstrate a further commitment to exploring technology through co-curricular technology programs. The Technology Student Association (TSA) clubs at the four schools are the most popular clubs in the District. Students compete in statewide and national contests and consistently return with numerous individual and team awards. In recent years, LMSD students have been elected to lead the national TSA organization.

Family & Consumer Science

The middle school Family & Consumer Science experience creates a foundation of practical skills for all students by giving them exposure to curricular programming in textiles, culinary arts, family and financial education. Issues of preparation, safety and short-term and long-range planning are woven throughout the curriculum. One of the most rewarding experiences in Family and Consumer Sciences is sharing one's creations for the enjoyment of others. On a regular basis, the culinary classes create set-up venues in which others can come in and share in their creative experiences.

World Languages

LMSD World Language Program Overview:
World language is an essential component of the student experience in Lower Merion. The study of languages and cultures provides important preparation for living, leading, and achieving in a global community.

The World Language program focuses on communication within the cultural context of the language being studied. The LMSD World Language program seeks to help students:

  • Communicate in the target language through speaking, writing, listening, reading
  • Gain knowledge and understanding of other cultures
  • Connect with other disciplines to acquire a deeper insight into one's own language and culture
  • Participate in multilingual communities and global societies

LMSD World Language classes focus on communication-based learning. The four skills of listening, reading, writing and speaking have been repackaged into language modes. These three modes place the primary emphasis on the purpose of communication and the context in which it happens, rather than on any one skill in isolation and consist of: Interpersonal, Interpretive and Presentational. Instruction and assessment will, to the greatest extent possible, reflect real world, authentic communication in the target language and will use as many authentic materials as possible.

LMSD World Language Program Specifics:
World Language instruction begins in 1st grade and continues in an articulated sequence until graduation.

  • Foreign Language in the Elementary School (FLES): Students learn French or Spanish starting in first grade. Students are engaged in second language instruction for 20-30 minutes two to three times per week. In FLES, the main focus is on understanding and speaking. Visuals, manipulatives, and integration of cultural topics are a crucial part of the FLES classroom. A typical class includes songs, rhymes, games, play-acting, and other physical activities.
  • Middle School World Language: Students continue with their elementary language studies of French or Spanish in sixth grade. In 7th grade, they may change languages or they may elect to study Latin. French, Spanish and Latin Instruction occur on a daily basis in 7th and 8th grade. Students who study Middle School language for a two year sequence will have completed the equivalent of a Level 1 course at the High School. The middle school world language program is designed to provide students with a supportive learning environment focused on communication with an increased focus on reading and writing skills in the second language.
  • High School World Language: Students have the opportunity to study French, Japanese, Latin, and Spanish. French, Latin, and Spanish offer college preparatory and honors level courses through Level 5 or Advanced Placement. Students can elect to study Japanese in 11th & 12th grade (honors only.) All students use the target language to perform real world tasks, demonstrate growth in their communicative proficiency through formative and summative performance assessments, and acquire increased levels of proficiency. Teachers work to utilize the three modes of communication for instruction, assessment and grading practices.