WHY MONTESSORI FOR SECONDARY SCHOOL?

Dr. Montessori believed adolescence was the time for “valorization of the personality,” or “a harmonious growth of all the potentialities of the child, mental and physical” (Montessori 1929). Her framework for Secondary Education honors the important developmental stage of adolescence, and we follow that belief in our instruction. We believe our adolescents are the face of our future. They are thinkers. Leaders. They are the natural embodiment of the world citizens that Dr. Montessori sought to develop through early childhood and elementary education.

How and what they learn today will shape what our society looks like tomorrow. It is in that spirit that our Secondary Program has been built, integrating student-centered, academic study with purposeful work and social-emotional development.

Our adolescents are served through:

Community-Building

  • Mixed age groupings
  • Student-led community meetings and opportunities for collaborative work
  • A focus on developing a just society for all, through building skills for compassionate and respectful interactions

Student-Driven Instruction

  • Structured freedom of choice and time-management
  • Inquiry-based, constructivist instruction to cultivate curiosity and engagement
  • Opportunities for applied scientific method to real-world problems
  • A transdisciplinary approach to learning centered around student-initiated inquiry
  • A culture that cultivates the awe and wonder of growth and learning

Confidence-Building

  • Adolescents gain the confidence to master new skills, solve difficult problems, and achieve success
  • A prepared environment that is differentiated to foster progression and support skills at all levels of development
  • Opportunities to lead projects and initiatives in small and large group settings

Global Citizenship

  • Opportunities for structured discourse that values diversity of perspectives and learning styles
  • Frequent field studies and excursions designed to promote global citizenship, capitalizing on our proximity to the many resources available through the University of Illinois
  • A culture that celebrates the potential of the human spirit

CURRICULA

Writing

Developed by the renowned Teachers College at Columbia University, writing instruction will be guided by the Units of Study. Students will write in a variety of genres: argumentative, personal narrative, fiction, and literary essays. Students will also utilize the Albanesi hands-on grammar materials. Instruction in both of these methods is individualized, with many teaching points to meet students where there are and provide concrete strategies to grow as writers, with the objective of effectively expressing themselves both clearly and creatively.

Reading

As students move into the secondary grades, reading instruction moves from strategy-based to comprehensive literature study. We will utilize a multidisciplinary approach, with texts for novel study that support concepts and themes of other core content areas.

As a special reading challenge, students will also partake in the study of a Shakespearian play each year. We will alternate years with his comedies and tragedies, culminating in a student performance of an act of their choosing.

History

Taking a critical approach to develop a broader world view, students will explore topics in both world and United States history through both primary sources and modern texts, with a specific focus on alternate and indigenous perspectives that challenge conventional narratives.

Science

Our science curriculum will emphasize a hands-on approach that encourages curiosity and appreciation for the natural world. Students will learn to think scientifically by researching, experimenting, making observations, analyzing results, and drawing conclusions. We will utilize the Pearson Interactive Science text/workbooks as a guide for our studies. Topics will be covered in a three-year cycle (years 6-8) with the proposed schedule:

Cycle 1: Astronomy and Space, Chemistry, The Diversity of Life

Cycle 2: Earth’s structure, Physics, Cells and Heredity

Cycle 3: Weather, Human Body, Ecology and the Environment

Mathematics

The focus of secondary math will be on algebra topics utilizing several resources.  Math and geometry instruction will continue to be individualized using Albanesi advanced elementary materials for upper elementary students and secondary students, as appropriate.  Additional resources for the secondary program will include: Hands-on Equations by Dr. Henry Borenson, The Art of Problem Solving: Introduction to Algebra by Richard Rusczyk, and the Key to Algebra(consumable) workbook series by Julie King and Peter Rasmussen.  Geometry topics will be integrated with algebra and explored through hands-on projects.  Data analysis and probability will be introduced via real-world applications.

Foreign Language

Students meet for Spanish instruction several times per week where they practice speaking and writing through conversation, games, and activities which reinforce the language structure and vocabulary introduced in the lessons.
Mandarin is also currently offered after school as a twice-weekly extracurricular class (at additional cost).

LEARNING STRUCTURE & GENERAL SCHEDULE

Our Secondary classes begin at 8:30 am, with an optional 7:30-8:30am early care time (additional cost applies). The class is composed of a multi-age group of 12-14 year olds. There are two Montessori Directresses/Directors in the classroom and while the American Montessori Society allows for a 1:25 teacher to student ratio, we strive to maintain a 1:12 ratio or lower.

Our Secondary students begin their mornings with group meeting time, in which the Directress/Director may do social and emotional development, introduce new academic concepts, and/or engage them in team-building and collaborative connections. They then engage in a period of extended individual work time, in which they are able to choose academic activities of interest to them and which is governed by work plans that students create themselves once they have learned the skill of budgeting time. Students bring their own snacks to school and are able to take a snack break when needed.

After individual work time, students engage in healthy outdoor activities and lunch. Lunch may either be provided by families or purchased through the school’s vendor. Afternoon classes consist of “specials” — art, music, foreign language, physical education, and more. Dismissal is at 3:00pm and students with a 3:00 pickup program may be picked up anytime between 3:00pm-3:15pm. Extracurricular classes are offered on campus for families who are interested and whose children meet the instructors’ age/skill criteria (extra cost applies).

For our Secondary students who need afterschool care (additional cost applies), the afternoons provide more opportunity to learn through exploration. Students are given time to partake of the snacks they packed from home, and have ample opportunity to enjoy more outdoor activities if the weather permits. Additional social and emotional development with peers through group activities are built in to the schedule as well. Those who choose to participate in extracurricular classes in addition to Aftercare will be picked up by the extracurricular instructor from the Aftercare program and returned to the Aftercare Program after class. Families may pick up anytime between 2:30pm-5:30pm.

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