Discovery: Alto’s teachers aim to give students the thrill of independent discovery. The spirit of inquiry guides the curricula across subjects, and students are encouraged to actively generate their own knowledge. Students engage in research, determine their own direction of learning, and apply knowledge to real-world problems. They work collaboratively on projects that synthesize and showcase their learning.
Holistic approach: The Middle Years Program (MYP) provides a holistic learning environment through an interdisciplinary approach and integrated inquiry-based learning. It offers a rigorous international math and science curriculum that inspires confidence and a growth mindset. Our humanities and language courses promote critical and reflective thinking, writing, and communication skills. Consideration is given to the needs of students beyond the academic realm, where social and emotional development are also a priority.
Global connections: Our international community provides a shared starting point for internationally-minded inquiry, framing a curriculum that promotes multilingualism and global engagement. Students at Alto are offered the choice of Spanish, French, or German in the language acquisition program. No prior knowledge is required. Students who are fluent in German can choose the language of instruction for a number of classes, allowing them to continue their education in two languages.
Experienced, Caring Teachers: Educators at the Alto Middle School hold advanced degrees and have international teaching experience. Teachers and staff know students on an individual basis and provide frequent and personalized feedback to help students reach their fullest potential. They support students in meeting the demands of this crucial period of personal, social, and intellectual development.
Language & Literature – English
The English department encourages and enables students to develop the skills involved in speaking, listening, reading, writing, viewing, and presenting in a variety of contexts through the study of a wide range of texts and media from different cultures, genres, and historical periods. Students develop critical and creative approaches to analysis, an appreciation of reading, and oral and written communication skills.
Language & Literature – German
As part of Alto’s multilingual program, in addition to English, we offer German Language & Literature for fluent speakers. Our aim is to prepare students to become global citizens fluent not only in different languages but also aware of different cultures and perspectives.
Language Acquisition – Spanish, French, or German
Students have the opportunity to choose French, German, or Spanish as an acquisition language.
Mathematics (offered in English and German)
Students at Alto are guided towards their own discovery of mathematical properties and creation of mathematical rules. They are encouraged to apply their learning to unfamiliar situations, investigate patterns, communicate mathematically, and reflect logically on the meaning and validity of their solutions.
Science in middle school is a hands-on program that allows students to make their own scientific discoveries. The program takes an integrated approach to the scientific method in 6th grade. In 7th grade, an emphasis is placed on biology and physics, and the 8th grade continues with a deeper study of physics and chemistry.
Individuals & Societies (offered in English and German)
The Individuals and Societies (IAS) course is a combination of social studies, history, and geography. Students begin with a focus on early civilizations in their first year, studying through modern history by the time they complete the Middle Years Program.
The Visual Arts course is designed as an introduction to fine arts. In exploring concepts, media, and techniques, students learn about their artistic processes as a means of visual communication.
Design and Media
The design team supports students in creating projects that showcase their creativity, technical skills, and the ability to work collaboratively. Students are encouraged to explore a variety of materials in the creation of products and solutions to complete a task or meet a need.
Physical & Health Education
The P.E. program’s goals are to encourage active participation in sports and to encourage an understanding of the importance of a balanced, healthy lifestyle. PE not only helps with the development of physical skills but encourages positive group dynamics and fair play.
Performing Arts – Drama
Students learn about theatre as well as the duties and responsibilities of a drama group and are guided through the process of preparing a school-wide performance. Drama classes promote self-confidence and alternative forms of expression for students.
Performing Arts – Music
The music department aims to give students a well-rounded education in music theory, history, and performance. The range of units allows students to learn about music through various lenses, giving them a breadth of knowledge that can be transferred into any aspect of music.
Service in Action
Service in Action is integrated into the IB MYP Program each school year. The goal is for students to learn to be active, empathetic members of society by volunteering their time and exploring other realms of service within their community.
Local and International Trips
Field trips to museums, parks, corporations, and science and technology facilities, as well as overnight trips to local sites like Yosemite National Park and international locations such as Central America, are a valued part of the inquiry-based real-world education.
Information for new families:
The middle school uses a block schedule that provides an ideal environment for inquiry-based learning, allowing students and teachers to work on projects and research in groups as well as individually.