“We do not want complacent pupils, but eager ones: we seek to sow life in the child rather than theories, to help him in his natural growth, mental and emotional as well as physical, and for that we must offer grand and lofty ideas to the human mind….”
~ Dr. Maria Montessori
The middle School program for Crescent Montessori School is guided by the primary task of this important period in life, where the transformation from child to adult takes place. The universal characteristics and tendencies of adolescence, which determine the specific needs of this developmental period, provide the framework for our program.
Adolescence is a time of great social and physical development, an age of critical thinking and re-evaluation, and a period of self-concern and self-assessment. It is a transition from childhood to adulthood, with the corresponding physical and mental maturation. In early puberty the adolescent finds it hard to concentrate on academic and structured learning. Above all, adolescence is like an odyssey—an arduous yet exciting adventure, where the individual begins to find his or her place in the world.
The middle School program at CMS strives to offer rich and extensive opportunities to study the sciences through direct work and experimentation, humanities through place-based pedagogy, and mathematics through hands-on and standard text experiences. Studies are rigorous yet real.
The classroom setting provides a carefully-prepared environment where students at the center of classroom life are held in an atmosphere of dignity and respect. Their natural tendency to work is carefully balanced with intellectual development. Additional learning environments (kitchen, garden, school at large, and local community) offer the essential elements for optimal development.
Middle School Curriculum
The study of history is not only about the cultures that predate our own, but it is also a study of our culture by how we interpret our past. The goal of the history program in the middle school is to show students—through the study of local, national, and global events—how societal structures such as government, economics, high and low culture, and the family relate to one another across a wide range of historical contexts. The curriculum is designed, therefore, to be included in other subject areas such as mathematics, science, micro economy, art, and literature to give the students a greater understanding of not only the culture we are examining, but also their own culture by demonstrating how the perception of past events creates the current geopolitical framework.
A person can only learn to successfully read and write by reading and writing as much as possible. To that end, the students in the middle school class spend a significant amount of time reading and responding to texts in various academic genres. The students then spend the main portion of their English classes analyzing and evaluating their own writing. The writing curriculum is built by using the students’ own literary development as guidelines by which to create instructor-led lessons to give them the tools necessary to be a confident writer. The remainder of the English curriculum revolves around modeling how to read and respond to literature in a seminar setting, and how to create finished work for presentations, both in a group and as individuals. In a given week, the students spend 5 hours on English: 1 hour of individual reading, 1.5 hours of mini-lessons and group work, 2.5 hours to work on assignments.
The approach to our integrated mathematics program for Middle School students stems from the developmental characteristics of the age group. The mathematical mind is still forming and being strengthened throughout adolescence. The continuum of learning at CMS guides
students to not only develop the ability to solve mathematical questions, it leads them to refine a way of thinking, to order one’s mind and to understand the need for precision and exactness.
We provide our students the opportunity to study traditional topics including algebra, geometry, probability and statistics in a discovery, problem-centered, connected approach. Montessori manipulatives illustrate key concepts that lead the student to move from
inductive to deductive reasoning. Calculators and application software, are also used as technology alternatives. Students learn to describe and translate among graphic, algebraic, numeric, tabular, and verbal representations of relationships and use those representations to solve problems. Moving from the concrete to the symbolic to the abstract emphasizes the importance of the how and why process of mathematical thinking in addition to the everyday applications. Math seminar gives students a chance to gain insight into their own and other’s thinking when they present methods for solving problems to the group.
Science is a process of discovery. Our science curriculum emphasizes scientific inquiry and student-centered learning as a means of acquiring information. Scientific disciplines such as chemistry, physics, biology, ecology, evolution, human health, and conservation intersect through in-depth observational and experimental studies of topics such as carbon cycling, water, and microbiology. Students become fluent in all aspects of the scientific process through regular in-class experimentation, field studies, and participation in science fairs. The Middle School class has science seminars two days a week, for a total of 4 hours each week.
The micro-economy program is part of the life skills portion of the Montessori middle School curriculum. The program involves the students planning, preparing for, and performing events intended to raise money for student-selected programs. Some of the activities the students choose to raise money are hot lunches for the whole school, bake sales, bicycle repair and garden sales from produce harvested from their school gardens. Some of the other life skills developed in micro-economy are shopping, cooking, negotiating, budgeting, delegating, and event planning.
A native Spanish-speaking instructor conducts Spanish language lessons entirely in Spanish. The program is based on partner conversations that allow students to communicate using a large variety of structures, vocabulary and expressions from everyday language. Each conversation provides choices, so it is never static and can be repeated as many times as needed. Additionally, throughout the course of the year, the students work on developing writing, reading and listening skills. They absorb the language through songs, pieces of literature and visual aids that are presented as opportunities for the students to explore the language and culture. Field trips to stores, the farmers market and restaurants where they have the opportunity to converse entirely in Spanish are part of the program. Students are encouraged to use the language outside the classroom with friends and family. The middle School Class has Spanish seminars twice a week for total of two hours each week.
In this class students exercise, develop physical skills and play. Activities such as rock climbing, tennis, running, hiking, bicycling and other group games sports, help develop agility and strength, as well as a sense of pleasure and confidence in the meeting of physical challenges.
Music, Art and Drama
Music, art and drama are an integral part of the middle School curriculum, providing avenues for self-expression, creativity, team work and collaboration.