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Did you know that Maria Montessori thought the adolescent years, in the third plane of development, are the most important of all? Most people associate Montessori with early childhood and elementary years, but we have programs for middle schoolers too!
In our adolescent classroom, students learn about their world in a way that teaches practical life skills too—like how to care for a vehicle, as well as broader life skills like cooperation, responsibility, self-directed learning, and an increasing independence in all areas of life.
Why Montessori middle school?
The middle school years are like a second toddlerhood, and most traditional middle schools don’t support students in the way they need during these years. Children are focused on independence, but still need close supervision, want to learn practical skills, but need a supportive environment for it. Our middle school will meet the unique needs of this age group in a way that prepares them for high school and beyond.
How will this be different from typical middle school?
This middle school is holistic, combining classic academics with real-life skills in a self-directed learning environment.
Middle school years are hard for everyone–and most of us remember it as the most awkward years of our life. This new school will give children a safe place to navigate through these difficult years, and end up on the other side confident, capable, and ready for the challenges of high school.
We believe that teenagers should have opportunities to explore real-life experiences in a safe way. So that’s exactly what we’re creating.
Maria Montessori said that middle school children should be sent off to “farm school” to learn real-life on the farm. We’re not going quite to that extreme, but we’re adapting the principle to our modern day needs.
A holistic curriculum.
- Group outings to places of interest: historical sites, places of natural beauty, interactive educational museums, and more.
- Caring for our class vehicle: doing maintenance checks before each outing, checking the oil, and regular washes.
- Micro-economies: our class will soon have its own micro-economy of raising hens and selling the eggs so our students can learn business, finance, economics, and responsibility.
- A mainstream middle school education, Montessori style: Although children have scheduled lessons and due dates for assignments, students are an essential part of the planning process of how that curriculum is executed.
- State-approved academic curriculum: we’ll still follow the state academic curriculum, to keep students on track for any high school they choose. The “how” of completing this curriculum is what makes it Montessori.
- NO homework! Students are responsible for completing work during the school day, and what’s leftover goes home.
- Expert teaching faculty and staff: Ms. Clark, our lead teacher, is both state-certified and Montessori-certified.
- Experiential Learning: less deskwork, more interactive work, visiting workplaces of interest, and local field trips based on students’ interests.
Advanced academics in a comfortable and supportive environment.
While learning real-life skills they’ll also be completing a more traditional high school curriculum, earning credits for their high school years. This gives students the freedom to use their high school years exploring areas of special interest and expanding their academics in a way that fits their goals and desires.
Let's let our students describe the program in their own words.
"This year in civics we’ve covered many things about the United States’ history and many other topics, such as: the government, Congress, amendments, rights, citizenship, the Framers, and the Constitution. To further understand what we learn, we fill and complete handouts and cutouts, as well as doing card layouts. After each chapter in our civics book, We the People, we answer questions in the lesson review, and have done some activities from the chapters earlier in the year.
"Also, earlier in the year, we did a couple of seminars/group discussions about a previously completed chapter.
"After our morning meeting each day, we do 60-second civics, where we listen to a topic about civics for one minute, and then answer a question having to do with what was covered in that minute.
"For most of the year, we’d fill up our civics board with important terms to remember. We’d write down the term on a notecard, along with its definition, and a drawn picture further describing the term.
"We’ve learned much about our country’s history this year."
Work of the Hands
"We’ve done many things on Thursday mornings, all of these things are hands-on things. We sometimes go on outings, we often go to a farm. We constructed a wildlife garden, we outlined the perimeter and layed down cardboard, newspaper, and pine straw to suffocate the weeds and excess grass. Once that was done, we went to Tri-City Materials and ordered a truckload full of topsoil and compost sifted together. The soil got dumped in one pile and we proceeded to spread it out over the surface of the whole garden. Later, we went to Walmart and got seeds for sunflowers of varying sizes. We planted and watered the seeds and now we continue to care for it. Another memorable thing we’ve done is creating a mosaic table. We bought the table at a thrift store and disassembled it, sanded it down to take off the current stain, put a paint thinner on restained it a lighter color, and then designed the mosaic and inserted it where the table top would typically go. We reassembled it and it turned into a really good looking table. We’ve had fun with these Thursday mornings and I’m looking forward to more."
"This year in pre-algebra we’ve had lessons everyday, with those lessons we’ve used whiteboards and dry erase markers. Unlike previous years, we now have our own textbooks. Before our lesson, we have a “warm-up” that will prepare us for our lesson. Some of the things we have learned about this year are: variables, equations, fractions, exponents, ratios, proportions, percents, graphing, area, volume, triangles, and lastly, probability. After our lesson, we are to do a workbook page in which we are usually allowed to do evens or odds. Then we are supposed to check it. After each section we sometimes do a card review in the library. Each section has about nine lessons and after a section we have our test. We have learned a lot in pre algebra but we ready for algebra next year."
"Additional to our regular work we have also had many fun on campus activities. Something we did earlier in the year is that we cleaned up the RAD van which was graciously donated to us my Ms. Shanna (thank you!). We washed the windows and swept the dirt out of the car. Ms. Shanna’s dad, Dr. Slater, also came in to teach us how to check the oil in the car. Another thing we did in the beginning of the year was that we taught Lower El. the Great Lesson. When Lower El. went on field trips on Wednesdays we also helped out by preparing the hot dogs for them. Something we do every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at around 9:30 A.M. is that we go into Ms. Betsy and Ms. Jeannie’s classrooms and help with the kids. We listen to them read and help with Pink Reading. We have had so much fun with all of these things and we love to help out!"
"Throughout each week this year, we have specials classes with special teachers as well. On Tuesdays, we have art class with Ms. Donna in the morning, where last year we’d have art for 45 minutes, we now have art for 2 hours and 45 minutes. We’ve done many exciting art projects, such as: printing on shirts, photography, and building and decorating a mosaic table. Art has been lots of fun. On Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, we have Spanish with Ms. Susie, which was 30 minutes long last year, but now one hour. Within that one hour of Spanish, we do yoga, sing songs in Spanish, do dancing, or something similar. On Wednesdays and Thursdays, we have PE with Coach Bill. We’ve learned many new sports including: tennis, golf, basketball, baseball, bowling, tee ball, and lacrosse with Ms. Aiofe. On Fridays, we have music class with Ms. Amy. We’ve learned to play ukuleles, write songs, and prepare for concerts and performances. We’ve enjoyed this year of specials classes."
"We’ve studied many things in science this year, everything from the biomes of the earth to human body systems. We typically watch a few YouTube videos to help us better understand the chapter, the Amoeba Sisters and Crash Course are our usual resources. In the beginning of the year, we did card layouts for the vocabulary. Along with the chapter we also do investigations, fun activities that are related to the chapter we are currently studying. For past investigations, we have launched marbles, built DNA replicas, looked at the phases of a cell under a microscope, and many other fun things. We also do a lot of handouts to help us better understand the chapter. Once all studying is said and done we take our tests, they are multiple choice and are usually 30-35 questions. We have learned many things in science this year, it was great fun. "
"This year we have had many RAD-ventures and we call them RAD-ventures because the first three letters of the license plate are RAD. This year we have gone to the farm in which we have visited Mr. and Mrs. Goodwin, Chuck, the donkeys, the kitties, the pigs, and many more animals. In our last visit this year we got to visit while the ferrier was there and she taught us about the horses' hooves. Toward the begging of the year, we had to get the pigs in their house which proved to be a hassle but hilarious. Our most memorable visit this year was when it was snowy outside and we had a mini sleigh ride on a mattress.
"We have also gone to a Mexican restaurant and after we went to the Hickory High School with the high school student to interact with them in their Spanish. We have gone to the Environmental Awards with Ms. Donna to represent our school. We’ve done golf, tennis, and bowling with coach Bill, the Foodbank to help our community. The library at the beginning of the year for our search the stacks activity, and most recently to view the Chesapeake Public Schools’ art. We have gone to Home Depot for pricing of the materials of the corn hole game. We have had many RAD-ventures this year and we have enjoyed them all."