Mercersburg’s curriculum offers 170 courses from its eight academic departments and more than 40 AP, post-AP, and Honors courses. Students may also create their own course with an independent or directed study in a special area of interest.
Every faculty member at Mercersburg is completely focused on what he or she wants the students to walk away with at the end of the course. This is the end goal – not what the teacher tells the students that they can repeat back, but what they can do with the knowledge that they acquire over the course of the year. Knowing and learning are not mutually exclusive. We have to provide opportunities for the students to take what they learn, make sense of that knowledge, and build on it.
The concept of building a course with the end goals of the student in mind is called “backward design.” Planning begins—regardless of whether the subject is chemistry, history, Spanish, or multivariable calculus—with the essential question: what are the ideas and concepts students should understand and master after successfully completing a particular course? Start from there and build a strategy and a plan around these goals.
Curriculum Focus: 9th and 10th grades
Ninth and 10th grades now focus on skill development so that these students receive a significant foundation in all disciplines, which will prepare them for more independent and in-depth work in the 11th- and 12th-grade years. We have also reduced the amount of homework for 9th and 10th graders to no more than 20 minutes per class each night, because research shows that more homework does not result in better performance by students.
Curriculum Focus: 11th and 12th grades
In the 11th and 12th grades we have students do more independent, in-depth, project-based, and experiential work. With graduation requirements finished at the end of the 11th grade year, we want students to explore their interests and passions in their senior year. All students will be required to successfully complete one of Mercersburg’s two capstone experiences for upperclass students: MAPS or Springboard
Free iPad Textbooks… Created by Faculty
With the iPad as the school’s digital platform, increasing numbers of Mercersburg faculty have jettisoned the need for students to purchase expensive traditional textbooks in favor of writing and designing their own for the iPad. These include iPad textbooks for robotics, American studies, tropical biology, world religions, personal fitness, U.S. history, algebra II, and English grammar. And the list keeps growing!