The academically challenging Middle School Curriculum at Fraser Woods Montessori inspires creative thinking and academic skills. A passionate team of departmental teachers creates a sense of awe as they engage students in a variety of discussions about literature, historical origins, conflict and resolutions. Students learn, practice and master a variety of writing techniques as they find their own voice. Math materials that began in the Lower School are now replaced with the use of textbooks to work with pre-algebra and algebra. An engaging sciences curriculum provides students with investigations in both the laboratory and the field.
The Middle School Adolescent
The Fraser Woods Middle School adolescent learns self-discipline and personal accountability in an evolving, non-judgmental environment of unconditional respect emphasizing a sense of membership in and responsibility to their world. We also spotlight responsibility for one’s own education and a responsibility for one’s growth in moral character. This approach prepares the Montessori student for the adaptations of high school and beyond while maintaining and building their lifelong love of learning.
To pursue the wonders of awareness and the awe of discovery
Connection and collaboration are prioritized in the Middle School Curriculum as we seek to establish in the minds of our students, a sense of unity and wonder. To that end, we have identified Five Cardinal Themes that form the infrastructure of our curriculum. They are:
In addition, we adopt a yearly theme that inspires our writing, our celebrations and performances, our scientific inquiry and our works of art. This year is the Year of Music.
The Fraser Woods Middle School History Curriculum is a three-year program supported by the ten volume, award-winning series, “A History of US” by master storyteller and historian Joy Hakim. Hakim’s humanities based narrative takes young readers on a breathtaking journey through time, from the Ice Age to the 21st Century.
The Language Arts Curriculum focuses on writing and vocabulary, and strikes a balance between language based skill sets and the young writer’s authentic voice and style. “Word Market” is an original interactive program designed to motivate students to increase vocabulary and, by extension, enhance descriptive writing. Writers Forum is an elective course for motivated writers who are interested in a deeper exploration of creative writing and in a mentoring relationship with editor/teacher and peers.
Research writing is deconstructed and practiced in stages, from basic conventions in sentence and paragraph writing to short and extended essay and report formats. A Performing Arts component completes the Language Arts Curriculum and includes "Storytelling in the Oral Tradition" and theatrical readings of dramatic masterworks spanning ages and styles from Sophocles to William Shakespeare to Mark Twain.
The Art Humanities Program was conceived several years ago as an adjunct to the current Middle School Humanities Curriculum. The intent is to provide hands-on interactive and arts-based learning that correlates with the current course of study. It provides information in ways that meet the needs of many learning styles and creates a deeper and more personal appreciation for those that lived what we are studying.
The Fraser Woods Middle School Science Program is an inquiry-based program that draws from a diverse set of curricular resources. Inquiry-based science offers students the opportunity to learn in a setting in which they feel safe to question and explore. By investigating science phenomena through active discovery, they develop deep knowledge, overcome incorrect preconceptions, and build a foundation for future learning. All 6th and 7th Year students take part in an annual Science Fair, conducting and presenting an experiment of their own design. 8th Year students conduct a long- term in-depth research project which is presented at an Expert Symposium in the spring.
The main objectives of the science program are to help students develop skills in the following key areas while acquiring content knowledge: laboratory procedures and safety, measurement, information processing and management, scientific investigation, critical thinking and data organizing. Middle School students learn these skills through active, inquiry-based lesson plans and cross-curriculum studies and projects that interact with the Art, Humanities and Mathematics Programs. In addition to regular classroom activities, students conduct laboratory investigations and research projects individually and in teams, presenting their results in a variety of formats.
The Fraser Woods Middle School Mathematics Curriculum is separated into two programs based on individual learning styles. Both math programs include distinct projects that directly relate to daily life. Each program uses different textbooks.
The Transition Math Program is more language-based. It requires strong reading ability and moves rapidly. Reading in math is essential when solving complex word problems or when trying to convey an important idea. Students in this program will complete a high school-level Algebra I course by the time they graduate Fraser Woods Montessori School.
The Singapore Math/Saxon program is less language intensive and covers more concrete math topics. Students encounter new material and are asked to demonstrate their knowledge. Learning is internalized through consistent repetition. Students in this program will complete a Algebra I course by the time they graduate from Fraser Woods Montessori School.
The Middle School French Program is divided into two classes: French One and French Two, the latter being the most advanced. The curriculum encourages realistic conversations that enable students to speak French as much as possible. The classroom environment helps students learn about different francophone cultures and students’ dialogues are placed in a variety of settings according to our themes. In doing so, critical thinking and questioning is not merely allowed; it’s encouraged.
In addition to our thematic studies, we cover the conjugation of the present, past and future tenses, the possessive adjectives, all other adjectives, adverb placement, negation, partitive and regular articles and sentence structure. This course enables students to speak French as much as possible using realistic conversations and dialogues placed in a variety of settings. Critical thinking and asking clarifying questions is encouraged.
The Middle School Spanish Program follows a method called “¡Avancemos!” which covers a variety of topics that are interactive from the start such as: greetings, food, articles of clothing, colors and numbers, telling time, traveling, house items and many more. This program also uses animated grammar explanations in each chapter.
The present, past and future tenses, possessive adjectives and all other adjectives, adverb placement, negation, articles and sentence structure are part of everyday lessons. We follow conversations and dialogues in a variety of settings. The book is online and the students can work from home or at school directly on a computer. Practice is encouraged every day and activities in the student book and workbook are helping students to learn the correct way of saying things. Matching games, hangman, word search and many other games are part of the student lessons. We also use the SMART Board to work with the online book.
The Fraser Woods Middle School Latin Program provides the students with an insight into the structure of an inflected language and encourages them to make comparisons with their own language. These same students also develop a strong basis for the study of all the romantic languages, such as French, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian.
The curriculum gives the students an opportunity to learn about the past through written evidence and archeological remains. Students explore the life of Lucius Caecillius, in the city of Pompeii during the 1st century AD. Students learn this curriculum through practice in reading different texts about the life of Caecillius and his family.
The objectives are to study Latin mythology, featuring gods and goddesses, the history of Pompeii and the Roman Empire. Students interconnect English and Latin expressions,and look for derivatives that follow the spelling.
The Middle School Health Program is divided into three separate age groups. All age groups cover the same topics, but each class has age-appropriate content and discussions. The curriculum covers physical, emotional, and social issues relevant to each age group.
Twice per week, students meet in Advisor Group and receive individual help with organization skills and plan/perform school or community service. Students also work on group problem solving, write in journals and learn what it means to be part of a community.
A salient aspect of the Fraser Woods Montessori School mission statement is the culturing of confident and civic-minded citizens of the world. To that end, the Middle School offers students weekly opportunities to serve the wider school community by assisting teachers of younger students in the classroom and on the playground, by helping with organizational tasks in the administrative offices, and by scribing for our youngest creative writing students in the Writing By Heart program. This consistent experience leads to a deep and abiding awareness of humanity’s interdependence and the benefits of reciprocity as they co-create the future.
8th Year - Leadership
The 8th Year Leadership Students take great care planning community-building events specifically within the Middle School (in addition to taking part in the larger school community). These incorporate several community service projects, including a food drive for local families and a funds drive for global projects of the students’ choosing. Other functions include art and athletic events, academic presentations, social events and field trips. A community meeting begins each day where we make important announcements, present student accolades and discuss student or faculty concerns.
The Expert Project is a sixth-month independent research course during which 8th Year students investigate a subject of heightened interest with the explicit intention of interacting with experts in that field to gather data and experience. Students prepare for the Expert Symposium, a multi-media presentation of their work to the entire school community, by documenting their research and expert interviews in an extensive term paper and by answering detailed questions posed by a faculty panel of advisors. The Expert Symposium is the culmination of the 8th Year's academic work and a celebration of their accomplishments.
Standardized tests are a gateway factor to the academic futures of our students and, as such, the Middle School offers a yearlong weekly SSAT Prep course to our 7th Years. The course uses the official, current SSAT Prep workbook so that students can take practice tests and analyze the results. Test-taking strategies and skill-based experience are emphasized so that our students feel confident and competent when they take the actual standardized test.
Taiko drumming, an ancient form of Japanese percussion, is the core of the music program for Middle School students. Our classes involve Taiko terminologies, discipline, posture, basic rhythm, traditional Taiko rhythms and Taiko choreography, developing students capability to perform on stage. This unique format provides our students not only with instruction in Taiko but also with opportunities for building creative expression, self-esteem, cultural awareness, and group cooperation.
There are four basic elements in Taiko that must come together as one unit throughout class. They are:
- KARADA: Discipline of body strength, power, and stamina
- KOKORO: Discipline of mind, self control, and spirit
- WAZA: Musical skills, physical expressions, and rhythmic expression
- REI: Communication, manners, courtesy, respect, harmony, language, and unity of spirit
Our music lessons also follow 9 guidelines of National Standards for Music Education.
The Middle School students meet twice a week for 45 minutes at a time. The focus of the Middle School Curriculum is to prepare students for team sports or activities, which they can explore further in high school. In their classes and during activities the students learn about the capabilities of their bodies and how exercise and a healthy diet can affect both performance and participation in sports. Emphasis is placed upon promoting a positive self-image and development of a healthy approach to competition. All children are able to play at a level that is comfortable for them, and because the classes are coed and multi-age, students can also improve their skills by playing with other students who may have more ability in that particular activity. Emphasis is also placed on reciprocal teaching and peer-leadership during cooperative and team-building games.
Students participate in annual fitness tests and learn about flexibility, endurance and strength exercises, which can be improved upon throughout the year.
Technology and Digital-Age Learning
The Information Technology Curriculum integrates seamlessly with classroom academics. Students routinely bring their assignments into IT class to utilize the programs and research techniques they have learned.
Students acquire a progression of skills through teacher instruction, self-directed software programs and cooperative and independent learning. Students use age-appropriate learning programs, become competent in the Microsoft Office Suite (Word, Excel, Access, PowerPoint, Publisher, FrontPage) and safely and effectively utilize the Internet.
As foundational technology skills penetrate throughout our society, students will be expected to apply the basics in authentic, integrated ways to solve problems, complete projects, and creatively extend their abilities. ISTE's NETS for Students (2007) help students prepare to work, live, and contribute to the social and civic fabric of their communities.
The new standards identify several higher-order thinking skills and digital citizenship as critical for students to learn effectively for a lifetime and live productively in our emerging global society. These areas include the ability to:
- Demonstrate creativity and innovation
- Communicate and collaborate
- Conduct research and use information
- Think critically, solve problems, and make decisions
- Use technology effectively and productively
Students make weekly visits to the art studio and experience the works of master and contemporary artists, as well as lesser-known artists from other cultures. Visual Arts students learn about techniques and styles in art through examples or reproductions. They are then encouraged to use the inspiration to create their own unique projects. This develops a true appreciation for the elements of art as well as the artists studied.
Students have countless opportunities in our art studio to explore materials, including the clay wheel, in both traditional and non-traditional ways. Students are encouraged to experiment, take risks and express their feelings, opinions and ideas visually. They encounter the concepts of balance, space, texture, form, color and line. Although the curriculum varies from year to year, it is a key component in integrating classroom and cultural studies.
The Montessori philosophy allows for individual exploration in learning. Our art classes are set up to provide experiences that follow this philosophy and the six National Standards for the Visual Arts.
Each year, the Cultural Program highlights one of the arts. Guest artists are brought in throughout the school year for both individual classroom activities and general school assemblies. The Cultural Program is interspersed with relevant academics and, conversely, academics that are drawn from the themes of the Cultural Program.
Students stage their own production—an activity many consider to be the highlight of the school year. For the annual performance, students participate in all aspects of production. Roles range from actors/singers/dancers to set/costume/lighting designers to performance directors. To help foster independence, students are encouraged to work out their own solutions as a group.
The Cultural Program cycle includes:
- Folktales, Myths and Legends
- Art and Performance
- Classical Music
- Musical Theater
- Cosmic Education
The Montessori philosophy allows for individual exploration in learning. Our art classes are set up to provide experiences that follow this philosophy. We also are mindful to follow the six National Standards for the Visual Arts.