"Education should therefore include the two forms of work, manual and intellectual, for the same person, and thus make it understood by practical experience that these two kinds complete each other and are equally essential to a civilized existence.”
– Maria Montessori
"The great American dream is universal education. The great American tragedy is that education is confused with schooling”
- William Graham Sumner
The Woodside Montessori Middle School courses of study reflect an integration of the Massachusetts state requirements, the newest research on the developmental needs of early adolescents, the Montessori philosophy, the state of the art in current learning theory, and the predictions of the skills needed for a productive life in the twenty-first century.
The curriculum and instruction is designed as a two-year program. The language, speech, Spanish, physical education, outdoor education, service learning, and fine arts are courses of continuous progress. The science, social studies, geography, health and math are studied by topics or concepts.
"The development of language is part of the development of the personality, for word are the natural means of expressing thoughts and stabling understanding between men.”
- Maria Montessori
Language instruction occurs in every subject area in the Middle School in addition to the formalized work in the language arts. Areas of study include:
- Study of vocabulary (presented across the curriculum)
Literature (literary elements and varied genre readings, including anthologies)
- Shakespearean study
- Grammar and mechanics
- Writing types and style
- Introduction to Latin
- Daily written response
- Publishing works
- World Language (Spanish)
"History is governed by those overarching moments that give shape and meaning to life by relating the human venture to the larger destinies… Creating such a movement might be called the great work of a people (society or individual).”
- Thomas Barry
Social Studies I
This course includes geography and history. The geography curriculum includes the study of the themes of location, place, movements, regions, and the interaction between people and their environment. The history curriculum focuses on the progress of people and the following topics: Structures (Governments and US Government), Forces (Revolutions), Power (Human Rights Movement), Changes (Industrial Revolution), and Balance (Peace Education and Future Vision). Students do personal and group work in these themes. The focus is on asking large questions and looking for patterns in history and integrating this information into all disciplines. Students develop creative projects and make presentations. In the spring of even years, students become experts in one area of United States or Massachusetts history and present their research at the history fair.
Social Studies II
This course includes geography and history. The geography curriculum includes the study of the themes of location, place, movements, regions, and interaction of people and their environment. The history curriculum focuses on the history of people and the following topics: Connections (Native Americans), Exploration and Perspectives, Identity (Immigration), Systems (Economics and Economic Systems), Interdependence (Ecology and Future Visions). Students do personal and group work in these themes. The focus is on asking large questions and looking for patterns in history and integrating this information into all disciplines. Students develop creative projects and make presentations. In the spring of even numbered years, students become experts in one area of United States or Massachusetts history and present their research at the history fair.
"Mathematics are necessary because intelligence today is no longer natural but mathematical, and without development and education in mathematics it is impossible to understand or take any part in the special forms of progress characteristics of our times. A person without mathematical training today is like an illiterate in the times when everything depended on literary culture.”
- Maria Montessori
Pre-Algebra and Pre-Geometry
Through the use of textbooks, this math course utilizes real life experiences to provide critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Students must take quizzes for feedback and master comprehensive tests with at least 80% accuracy. Parallel to the textbook work are short courses and lab activities in group problem-solving, mental math, tessellations, compass constructions, and logic. There is also math work that is related to the projects. This course may be on a one or two-year schedule.
The textbook used in this course utilizes real life experiences as well as computers and calculators to provide critical thinking and problem solving skills. Students must take quizzes for feedback and master comprehensive tests with at least 80% accuracy. Parallel to the textbook work are short courses and lab activities in group problem solving, mental math, tessellations, compass constructions, and logic. There is also math work that is related to theme projects.
“We especially need imagination in science. It is not all mathematics, nor all logic, but it is somewhat beauty and poetry.”
- Maria Montessori
The physical science curriculum includes the study of Structures (Nature of Science and the Structure of Matter), Forces (Motion and Four Fundamental Forces), Power (Power, Energy, and Waves), Changes (Work and Machines), and Balance (Chemistry and Future Technology). Students do personal work and group work in these themes. The focus is on asking large questions and looking for patterns in science and integrating this information into all disciplines. Students develop long-term creative projects and make presentations. In the spring of odd numbered years, students become experts in one area of science and present their research at the science fair. Outdoor education experiences and the use of machinery are also a part of this study.
The life science curriculum includes the study of Connections (Cells and Living Things), Exploration (Virus, Monera, Protista, and Fungi), Identity (Genetics), Systems (Animal Systems), and Interdependence (Ecosystems and Future Visions). Students do personal work and group work in these themes. The focus is on asking large questions and looking for patterns in science and integrating this information into all disciplines. Students develop long-term creative projects and make presentations. In the spring of odd numbered years, students become experts in one area of science and present their research at the science fair. Outdoor education experiences and the use of tools and machinery are also part of this study.
Opportunities for Self-Expression (Art & Music)
"The opening up of ways of expression, which through exercises and external aids will help the difficult development of the personality… For this purpose there will be all kinds of artistic occupations open to free choice as to the time and nature of the work. Some must be for the individual and some would require the cooperation of a group. They would involve artistic and linguistic ability and imagination.”
- Maria Montessori
Opportunities for self-expression are taught not as an in-depth study of the discipline but as exposure to a variety of modes which will, hopefully, allow the student to explore and convey their sense of self.
- Sculpture (mixed medium)
- Drawing (fundamentals)
- Printmaking (intaglio, woodcut, lithography, …)
- Photography (through the developing process)
- Painting (watercolor, oil, acrylic)
- Art in Nature
- Art History
- Listening to and learning about composers
- Choral singing
- Instrument instruction
- Music History
- Dramatic recitation
- Public speaking
- Debate and discussion
Speech includes a daily communications lab that focuses on grace and courtesy, listening skills, note-taking, active participation in group discussions by articulating ideas, and making formal presentations. Students learn a variety of communication skills such as acknowledging others, using “I” messages, active listening, goal setting, and group decision making. Each year the class develops a mission statement or constitution. Students are able to practice communication skills daily by working in community meetings, class committees, small group cooperative projects, and peer and cross-age teaching activities. Students individually give presentations each cycle.
Physical Education and Health I/II
The physical education portion of the curriculum is largely based on environmental/outdoor education and activities. Yoga is also an integral part of our physical education. While the physical movement and balance taught through yoga is an important benefit it is also effective in teaching students tension releasing skills, ways to increase energy, feel happy, healthy, and whole. Students also participate in cooperative games. All students are included in all activities.
Health is the study of issues pertinent to the needs of early adolescents. This program has several purposes. One is to provide information about the transition from childhood to adolescence and the journey to adulthood. Another is to provide links between generations to help young people make the journey safely. A third is to create challenging and meaningful experiences, similar to those in the initiation or rites of passage ceremonies. Students explore topics such as belonging, friendships, adolescent development, stress management, self-esteem, peer pressure, drug education, sexuality, nutrition, and balanced-living. There is a time each day in which students spend in personal reflection for development of their intrapersonal skills.
"The essential reform is this: to put the adolescent on the road to achieving economic independence. We might call it a ‘school of experience in the elements of social life.’”
- Maria Montessori
Woodside Montessori Academy provides a functioning micro-economy to which the students contribute. Through their lessons and work students create and maintain a micro-economy that is relevant to all revenues and expenses related to activities in the classroom.
Computer Literacy I
This computer literacy course includes word processing, spreadsheets, database, graphics, academic programs, and simulation games. All of these activities are integrated into all subject areas. Students also have the opportunity to work with other equipment such as scanners and to use the Internet to gather data and communicate with other schools. As an elective, students create and update the school and class web sites.
Students learn to work on and with the land. Students have the opportunity to spend time at the Outdoor Education Centers, trips to The Farm School, and a one-week adventure trip. At the school location, students plant a garden, recycle, and do various horticultural projects.
In May there is an adventure trip to continue study of one of the science areas more in-depth.
Career Education/Service Learning
Students participate in two internships throughout the school year. Students prepare a business letter stating their goals and verifying arrangements with an outfit of their choice. Students also prepare a resume to send with their letter. Students do other spontaneous service based on needs and interests.
Students will have the opportunity to exploration several elective areas. Areas of exploration vary each year with student interest and availability of outside teaching resources. Courses may include the following: computer, photography, architecture, painting, video-making, sculpture, pottery, drama, auto mechanics, music, carpentry, jewelry, and cooking.
Students will also participate in community service projects throughout the school year. Community service projects will also vary each year with student interest and community need. This year the class will be working with the Charles River Watershed Association on a water quality monitoring project.
Drug and Sexuality Education
Drug and sexuality education is an important part of the Middle School program. The significant factors in helping students make good choices for themselves are: decision-making strategies, goal setting and planning, constructive ways of having fun, stress management, good peer relations, self confidence, responsibility for their behavior, respect for others, and the deference of immediate desires. These elements are on-going skills and activities in the classroom. In addition, the health curriculum focuses on information in sexuality and drug education in workshops with experts.
Dr. Montessori felt that early adolescents have a quest for self-knowledge, which in turn helps adolescents develop their identity. In our hurried society, we want the students to learn to spend time reflecting on goals, reducing stress, and creating a personal vision. During this time, students will work by themselves on guided self-knowledge activities that are recorded in a journal as relaxing music is played, take a power nap, do yoga guided by a video tape, or do creative arts. A student must choose a balance of these activities during the cycle.