Middle School Classes
Ages Twelve to Fourteen
|Katherine Henry, Mathematics
||Gretchen Sumbrum, Science
|Gloria Darlington, Social Studies
||Gail Tucker, Language Arts
There are links to each homeroom teacher's page under the Communities heading on the left. Please click on the courses link to find specialists and creative arts teachers.
The Middle School Curriculum
The two planes of adolescence, from twelve to eighteen years, and from eighteen to twenty-four years, comprise the remaining phases of Montessori’s comprehensive educational plan. While Dr. Montessori did not work out detailed educational designs for these last phases, she did develop a theoretical framework. She termed the personal development which occurs in this stage ”the valorization of personality”, referring to the drive to discover and develop one’s own worthiness and strength through real accomplishment. Montessori found adolescents impressive intellectually, able to discuss abstract ideas and weigh evidence, reasoning through to a conclusion, deeply interested in discussing moral and spiritual issues and the purpose of life and the meaning of death. She believed that their goals could best be achieved through active participation in society. She challenged educators at this third plane to devise a plan of education that combines intellectual study and discovery with real life situations in nature and society.
The transition to adulthood, from twelve to eighteen years is a time of great vulnerability. During this time of self-construction, adolescents are introverted and self-conscious. Yet despite doubts and discouragements, these sensitive individuals are enthusiastic explorers. They seek to understand the meaning of human experience, past, present and future. The PGCPS Montessori Middle School Program considers the student as a whole person. Academic, social, physical, and emotional needs are seen as inseparable. Effective communication, compassion for others, skill in conflict resolution, openness to new experience, and a developing a warm, loving, positive outlook on life are goals of the program. Students spend most of the school day with two Montessori teachers in an extended community of multi-aged learners. Every effort is made to create an atmosphere where students can relax and be themselves, an atmosphere that encourages inquiry, creative problem solving, cooperation, and social interaction.
The day is scheduled as much as possible in long, uninterrupted blocks of time to allow for interdisciplinary learning experiences. A broad view of the world is offered, and learning experiences are designed to help students tie the separate disciplines of the curriculum together. Time is allowed for students to delve into the interconnectedness of ideas and events. Logical reasoning skills and reflective thinking develop naturally as students research and experiment, independently and in small groups. Students are taught to value the process of learning, especially the ability to learn from their mistakes. They learn that a variety of solutions may be valid in any particular situation. Hands-on activities are still part of the learning cycle, but the emphasis is now on putting knowledge to practical application through socially relevant tasks.
Young people of this age strive ardently for independence, including financial independence. Two important means of support in achieving their expanded independence are a community of peers and adult friends. In the Middle School classroom they are offered freedom of choice in an atmosphere of social responsibility and self discipline. Adolescents have a need to make a contribution and have it recognized. They strive to explore the real world and make a contribution to it. Cooperation, not competition are valued in the Montessori Middles School classroom. Evaluation is based on clearly stated academic objectives, not on a curve. Opportunities are created to allow students to safely explore the development of interpersonal and social skills - in relationships between students and family, students and mentor adults, and with peers. They are encouraged in their quest for self understanding and personal growth through participation in the classroom community as well as the larger society. As students develop self esteem and self respect, respect for the ideas and beliefs of others also thrives.
Language Arts are taught across the curriculum. Skill development focuses on quality planning, effective writing, and evaluation of written works involving narrative, information and persuasive content. Research skills and the preparation and delivery of research projects are also emphasized. Opportunities for practical application of the writing process are provided by way of journal writing, letter writing, book reports, research projects, multi-media presentations and media reviews. Students are exposed to a multi-cultural selection of mythology, short stories, poetry and novels, both as literary classics and in connection with the study of the world cultures in social studies. Emphasis is on vocabulary development, comparisons of styles and author's point of view, and on writing original works.
Social Studies focus on understanding our country and the world we live in. Students explore historical and cultural development, geography and its influence on culture, economics, technology, religion and political systems. Themes include human interaction with the environment, conflict and cooperation, patterns of social and political interaction, civilization, cultural diffusion and innovation, and values, beliefs, political ideas and institutions.
Mathematics in Middle School include practical application of skills with whole numbers, fractions, decimals, percents, integers, and rationals, ratios and proportions. Students study the usefulness of graphing numerical relationships. They explore geometry, and apply understanding of the geometric relationships to the solution of real world problems. They learn many ways to collect, organize and display data, and write reports analyzing what information can be validly gleaned by studying different types of data. An in-depth investigation of probability theory also focuses on real life uses of mathematical concepts.
All students explore algebraic operations and algebraic concepts to some extent. Many go on to an in depth study of Algebra I and may receive high school credit for the course. Geometry is available to students who have successfully completed Algebra I.
Science provides a survey of environmental science and ecology, earth science, life science, genetics and physical science. The key focus involves understanding the relationship between the natural world and man. Writing and mathematical thinking are integrated into scientific studies, and interdisciplinary connections with Social Studies are explored through thematic units of study.