The Montessori focus on peace education and conflict resolution continues in our Middle School Program. In the beginning of the year, students identify the pillars of a positive Middle School community, and as the year continues, they actively work to uphold these. With a voracious appetite for social justice, adolescents are able to sink their teeth into service learning, and our Middle School Program allows students to do just that, fundraising for Heifer International and volunteering at Cradles to Crayons, for example.
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Middle School Curriculum
The Cambridge Montessori Middle School curriculum is a two-year process that occurs over the Seventh and Eighth Grades. The work of the older students in any cycle is more sophisticated and more challenging than that of the younger students. Each unit of study culminates in major projects and presentations of work by the students to the community to demonstrate their mastery, including a capstone project each year: Social Activism or Ideal Cities.
Practical Life lessons are held regularly in the Middle School and address issues of particular concern to adolescents: standardized testing, community, conflict resolution, family and peer relations, smoking, alcohol and drug awareness, dating, sexual education, and a variety of basic life skills (e.g. - folding clothes, wrapping gifts, audience etiquette, etc.). The Middle School Micro-economy curriculum allows students to create, plan, and run a business. The funds raised support Middle School activities, chosen charities, and future micro-economy ventures.
The Middle School Language Arts program is integrated across the academic curriculum with a particular link to the sciences and social sciences (S3). Students continue their development of individual skills and the crafting of language through vocabulary and word study; the reading process with a focus on comprehension and self-monitoring strategies; and reading applications with informational, technical, persuasive, and literary text. Students explore their understanding of the writing process – prewriting, drafting, editing, conferencing, revising and publishing – and learn a variety of writing applications, conventions, and research techniques. They develop oral and visual communication through unique individual and group projects and deliver informational and persuasive presentations.
Math is taught in small group lessons, where each course of study is matched with individual developmental needs. The math curriculum focuses on projects integrated with the sciences and social sciences (S3) curriculum. By the end of Eighth Grade, students complete Algebra 1.
S3 is the driving force in our Middle School curriculum. The program continues to develop and refine research and inquiry skills learned in the Elementary cultural lessons while emphasizing individual research and modern history. The S3 curriculum is an integrated study of geography, history, social studies, and science for Seventh- and Eighth-Graders. Because adolescents learn best when given real-world, personal, hands-on learning opportunities, S3 studies are taught through impressionistic lessons, primary and secondary source readings, independent research, experiments, and class discussions. The curriculum follows a two-year cycle with Year A focusing on earth science and physics through the lens of history of astronomy, US Westward Expansion, the US Industrial Revolution, and the global sustainability/green movement; Year B focuses on earth science and biology through the lens of ancient Mesopotamia, ancient Rome, the US Civil War, US Reconstruction, the US Civil Rights Movement, and global peace movements.
Library and technology lessons support the Middle School curriculum, teaching students research skills, internet safety, email usage, and all things Google.
In the Middle School, the four basic skills – aural, oral, reading, and writing – are well integrated in the Spanish curriculum, with the goal of fostering both understanding and communication. Students are exposed to Spanish in many forms and through the different senses and are actively engaged in real-life experiences to emphasize relevance and to develop competency. Middle School native Spanish-speakers have separate, level-appropriate activities. For their culminating Spanish work, Eighth Grade students travel to Puerto Rico.
Creative expression is essential in a Montessori education, and being able to choose one’s own classes is very meaningful to an adolescent. To that end, the CMS Middle School arts program is set up as a series of Arts Electives where students can choose from a variety of offerings in Studio Arts, Musical Arts, and Theater Arts. Students showcase their work throughout the year.
A quintessential CMS Middle School class, Film School brings together Studio Arts, Musical Arts, and Theater Arts. Students learn the skills of film creation, from planning to writing to directing to editing. Throughout the year, students will produce a variety of films of various genres including documentaries, animations, and short films, and they showcase their work in Community Meeting and the springtime Middle School Film Festival.
We believe that health and physical fitness are important issues for Middle School students. While the structure of the Montessori classroom inherently provides students with an active environment, there are many additional opportunities for activity, including recess four times per week, “Phys Act” classes on Wednesdays, and skiing and snowboarding at a local ski area in the wintertime. Optional athletic teams allow Middle-Schoolers to compete interscholastically in the fall, winter, and spring.
Walls do not hold Cambridge Montessori’s Middle School in! We celebrate our urban campus by exploring it regularly, from the ICA to the Lowell Mills. Middle School students begin each year with a two-day community-building and leadership trip to Thompson Island Outward Bound in Boston Harbor. Every other year, students travel to Washington, DC to study the Civil Rights Movement. All of the Middle School learning comes together at year’s end with an annual Farms and Cities trip where the students apply their experience and knowledge from their lessons to real-life work on a farm and an exploration of Cambridge and Boston.