Our Middle School Community (Grades 6, 7, and 8)
Stonecreek Montessori offers middle school students learner-centered instruction and an environment that nurtures them actively developing from one stage of independence to a higher one. This is accomplished through observation, one-on-one conferencing, and a deep respect for each young adult. Our middle school community provides large blocks of uninterrupted learning time to engage students in meaningful, exploratory, and challenging work. Each student participates in individual, small group, and whole class lessons that match the student’s learning goals, abilities and interests.
A large part of their instruction includes hands-on interaction with materials so that students can solidify their understanding of abstract ideas. For example, in science, to enhance their sense of place in the natural world, students created an individual and collaborative museum of the local area’s plants, invertebrates, soils, rocks, water, landforms, and wildlife with both collections and working models. By focusing on systems, cause and effect, structure and function, and other ways of organizing their understanding, students were able to carry their learning across all content areas and to a variety of contexts.
The curriculum in middle school is consistent for all students in terms of topical study. Students in the middle school are required to take math, science, English, and social studies every year. However, each student may progress or be working at different levels in these subjects, in line with the Stonecreek emphasis on student-tailored instruction. The math curriculum is aimed primarily at students being prepared for algebra or having begun algebra before moving out of middle school. However, students in advance of this progression arc will move at their pace while students not yet to this learning stage will be given the attention to help them develop their strengths in math. All students should have progressed through at least pre-algebra by the end of middle school to be prepared to have success in high school.
For science, social studies, and English, the curriculum rotates every year. While students are required to take the courses, the content shifts so that within any two-year period, students are guaranteed to cover both sets of topics. In the even number years at the start of the school year (e.g., 2014 – 2015), students focus on physical science, world literature, and world history. In the odd number years at the start of school year, the focus shifts to life science, US history, and US literature. Every year students consider current events worldwide and domestically.
Montessori Model U.N.
All students in the middle school participate in Montessori Model United Nations. Each year students work on papers and speeches to represent countries for the MMUN challenge. If students choose, they travel to New York City for five days to participate in the MMUN each spring.
One way we seek to help our students to understand not only the inherent connections in curricular concepts, but their practical use in the real world, is by providing them the opportunities to go out into the community. Students are encouraged to take their learning outside of the walls of the classroom community and explore their real life applications. Imagine not only the learning, but the independence and confidence that can be fostered by allowing students to plan their own lesson extensions, from planning travel time, coordinating with outside resources, calculating costs, developing self-directed research, engaging in meaningful learning, and then presenting this information to their peers!
Through their community meetings, students gain daily practice in determining how their learning community is going to function. Intentional reflection on how they have worked together develops ownership and a healthy pride in how they constructively learn to make things happen.
Service Learning Projects
Stonecreek students create service learning projects that teach them the value and joy of helping others. For example, 12 students and three faculty spent a spring break working on organic farms and building a garden at a local school in Puerto Rico. Before going on this trip, they raised $800.00 that they gave the students to buy supplies for their joint garden. Middle school students have also worked weekly at Red Barn or the East Lake Initiative. Such self-directed, work, driven by intrinsic motivation, helps shape the adults they will become, and gives us hope for the future.