Toddler through Middle School
Ages 15 months through 8th grade
Montessori believes that children develop in planes, not in a linear sequence, and our classes are arranged to accommodate this. In mixed age classes, students and individual teachers may work together for up to three years. This creates a bond which enables trust, mutual expectations, shared joy, and increased confidence.
At every level great care is taken at Fraser Woods Montessori to allot a large uninterrupted block of time—usually two to three hours—for work each day. Students are given assignments with the freedom to pursue them in the order that best motivates them. This affords the students time for individual help if needed or to delve into subjects that have caught their interest. Students quickly learn to accept responsibility for their education and to revel in the process.
Our Primary students begin their Spanish acquisition journey through stories and songs aligned with themes in their classrooms. We explore new vocabulary through Spanish translations of stories they know and love, in addition to diving into unique Spanish titles of stories that help open their minds to embrace other cultures and traditions.
In Lower Elementary Spanish classes, students are exposed to language through songs and stories, projects, and songs. Using a combination of the No Me Digas curriculum, and a variety of stories written for novice language learners, our class is conducted with a comprehensible input approach to language acquisition. We don’t focus on memorization of vocabulary or grammar rules, nor is it a full immersion approach. Instead, a secure knowledge of grammar rules, and a large vocabulary gradually develop as language as our students receive more and more comprehensible input. Students in Lower Elementary classes also explore the culture and traditions of Spanish-speaking countries by completing projects aligned with stories, and presentations they read and hear.
The Upper Elementary class is conducted with a comprehensible input approach to language acquisition. We don’t focus on memorization of vocabulary or grammar rules, nor is it a full immersion approach. Instead, a secure knowledge of grammar rules, and a large vocabulary gradually develop as language, as our students receive more and more comprehensible input. Upper Elementary students begin each class with an independent reading exercise through our ¿Qué Tal? Magazines by Scholastic. They are activating their prior knowledge, and using cognates to uncover the meaning of short passages during this time, as they build their stamina in reading in another language. We then explore notable figures in the Latinx community, and embrace new stories and traditions from Spanish-speaking countries, as we read or listen to information about them at a novice level.
Middle School Spanish utilizes SOMOS curriculum, which is a comprehensible input-based program designed to present target structures, and cultural topics through an organic and engaging process. We don’t focus on memorization of vocabulary or grammar rules, nor is it a full immersion approach. Instead, a secure knowledge of grammar rules and a large vocabulary gradually develop as language as our students receive more and more comprehensible input. In between units, we analyze music videos to touch on LatinX pop culture. Students also participate in free voluntary reading at the start of each class, where they are choosing proficiency based novels that match their interests to read and acquire the language. In Middle School, students also work to develop their speaking and writing skills in Spanish. There are embedded assessments within each unit that allow students to use the language in an authentic context, and demonstrate proficiency in Spanish.
In the Lower Elementary Music program children expand their repertoire of songs and movement games in number, and complexity.
The Upper Elementary Music program aims to train each child’s ear in tonal recognition, and each child’s voice in rendering simple conjunct melodies unaided by accompaniment.
The Middle School Music program continues earlier vocalization, instrumentality, and literacy. Students compose on the computer, and improvise as a means of personal expression.
Primary Visual Arts
In the Primary Art program, Art is integrated into the work cycle as a fundamental pathway to learning. The Montessori philosophy encourages freedom, within limits, and Art is no different.
Each Art lesson is presented to the children with an explanation and demonstration of the materials and processes. Once a child has received an Art lesson, they are free to do the lesson on their own, when it feels right for them. The Art tray is placed on a shelf as a choice for the students to work on throughout the week.
Students are introduced to a variety of art-making tools and artistic processes at the Primary level, such as watercolor painting, stenciling, paper cutting and gluing, drawing, sewing, color mixing, and more. Each Art lesson is structured to enhance a particular classroom unit of study, as well as to introduce the Elements of Art: line, shape, texture, form, space, color and value. Emphasis is placed on exploration and imaginative play with materials: a process over product mentality is valued and encouraged.
LE Visual Arts
In the Lower Elementary Art program, children learn to think creatively and to take risks with ideas and materials. They realize that mistakes are opportunities to try something different, and that there’s more than one way to be creative. The Montessori philosophy encourages freedom, within limits, and Art is no different.
Lower Elementary artists transition from symbolic drawing to observational drawing. We offer a broad spectrum of two and three-dimensional projects: color mixing and painting, printmaking, ceramics, sculpture, self-portraiture, collage and mixed media, and more. Each lesson engages with one or more Elements of Art: line, shape, texture, form, space, color and value. Artist studies and Art historical movements are also intentionally integrated into each unit.
Children also create art in their classrooms, illustrating their writing, building models for their projects, designing scenery and props.
Students at the Lower Elementary level are introduced to and work to develop skill with a variety of artmaking tools, and artistic processes. Art Studio units include sculpture, abstraction, pottery, color mixing, environmental art, composition, drawing, collage, fiber arts, and more!
Emphasis is placed on the exploration of personal interests, questions, and curiosity, and the ability to elaborate on an imaginative idea throughout the art-making process. Throughout the year, Lower Elementary artists will gain an understanding of the safe, and proficient use of materials, tools, and equipment for a variety of artistic processes, as well as work to develop critical thinking and observational skills while interacting with works of art.
UE Visual Arts
In the Upper Elementary Art program children work with their teachers to find their natural artistic voice. The Montessori philosophy encourages freedom, within limits, and Art is no different.
Upper Elementary artists work to develop their observational drawing skills, painting techniques, and engage with form (making three-dimensional structures and clay sculpture.) We continue to offer a broad spectrum of projects, both two and three-dimensional: color mixing and painting, printmaking, ceramics, sculpture made from recyclable materials, self-portraiture, collage and mixed media, and more. Students are introduced to the potter’s wheel for ceramics, a printing press for printmaking, and a range of tools and techniques to enhance their artistic experiences.
Art lessons are structured around the Elements of Art: line, shape, texture, form, space, color, and value. Within each Art project, students are asked to consider how their composition or construction engages the Principles of Art: unity, rhythm, movement, pattern, emphasis, balance, and contrast. Artist studies and Art historical movements are also integrated into each lesson.
Students at the Upper Elementary level are encouraged to explore and invent art-making techniques, organize their own unique artistic ideas, and consider multiple approaches to a creative art or design problem. Emphasis is placed on developing skills in multiple art-making techniques and processes through practice with a range of art materials and tools. We also work to develop critical thinking, and observational skills while interacting with works of art.
MS Visual Art
At the Middle School level, students learn about advanced elements of drawing and painting, printmaking, form and sculpture in both their Art Studio and Art Humanities courses.
The Middle School artists develop artistic skill through deep explorations of work, often spending an extended period of time exploring a single theme. Students learn advanced elements of drawing (e.g. perspective, value, and composition), and reflect on their progress through group critiques, and continual self-assessments. Students keep a sketchbook where they are encouraged to practice such skills, and organize their own unique artistic ideas. We have regular opportunities for discussions during both Art Studio and Art Humanities class to foster visual literacy, and critical thinking skills.
Art Studio lessons are structured around skill practice and development, as well as constructive critique, reflecting on, revising, and refining work over time. Middle School artists work to develop quality craftsmanship through the care and use of art materials, tools, and equipment. Art Studio units include sculpture, abstraction, pottery, color theory, environmental art, composition, observational drawing, collage, fiber arts, and more. Art historical and contemporary art movements and/or artists are integrated into each lesson, along with a review of the Elements and Principles of Art.
Art Humanities is a hands-on cross-curricular course in which cultural and historical contexts act as the framework for the creation of multiple works of art. Students analyze and interpret why and how Art may influence the ideas, beliefs, and experiences of various cultures and historical movements. We study and create artworks inspired by a range of visual art practices from Ancient Egypt, Indigenous America, Mexico, China, Sub Saharan Africa, Harlem Renaissance-Civil Rights Movement, WWII Propaganda, and Environmental Art and Photography.
Students at the Middle School level are encouraged to combine concepts to generate innovative ideas for creating. Emphasis is placed on synthesizing and relating knowledge and personal experiences to make Art.
Physical activity is critical to the development and maintenance of good health. The goal of physical education is to develop physically educated individuals who have the knowledge, skills, and confidence to enjoy a lifetime of healthful physical activity.
Primary Physical Education
In the Primary PE program, the Primary students practice using gross motor movements such as walking, running, hopping, skipping, galloping, sliding, leaping, and balancing activities. They participate in activities that help develop spatial awareness in relation to self and others. They play games that involve dodging, rolling, landing and stopping. The PE games and activities focus on cardiovascular endurance, social/emotional development, body management, movement competencies, and cooperation.
LE Physical Education
In the Lower Elementary PE program, Lower Elementary students receive a basic introduction to the components of health-related fitness. Lower Elementary students practice basic locomotor and non-locomotor skills, such as walking, running, hopping, skipping, jumping, galloping, sliding, leaping, and balancing activities. They play games and activities that involve dodging, turning, swinging, rolling, landing, and stopping. They also learn selected isolated manipulative skills including a variety of tosses and throws, as well as kicking, striking, catching, dribbling, and throwing patterns. Students will use these manipulative skills during our sports units: soccer, kickball, flag football, floor hockey, basketball, pickleball, volleyball, and wiffleball.
The goal for LE is for students to learn and improve on sports skills through drills and fun games, for students to repeat an activity or game outside of school, and to use good sportsmanship in developing character and self control.
UE Physical Education
The Upper Elementary PE program refines fundamental patterns, mature motor patterns, and selected isolated manipulative skills as they learn game rules, procedures, and sportsmanship. Students use these skills in the context of performance. They learn game rules, procedures, and good sportsmanship, and they continue to develop cooperative interpersonal skills for working with a partner or small group. They begin to incorporate principles of fitness into their daily lives.
UE students practice basic locomotor and non-locomotor skills, such as running, hopping, galloping, sliding, leaping, and skipping activities. They play games that involve balancing, dodging, swinging, rolling, landing, and stopping. Students learn selected isolated manipulative skills including throwing, catching, kicking, trapping, dribbling, striking, volleying, and bouncing. They will use these manipulative skills during our sports units: soccer, kickball, flag football, floor hockey, basketball, pickleball, volleyball, ultimate frisbee, and wiffleball.
MS Physical Education/MS Sports
In the Middle School Sports program, Middle School students develop a working knowledge of rules and strategies of team sports. They participate and practice in drills employing fundamental skills (passing, shooting, dribbling, etc.) Within this growth are vital components of self-confidence, decision making, leadership, and good sportsmanship.
Students have the choice to become part of the FWM sports team or intramural team. The FWM sports team competes against other independent schools. Our Middle School Sports program includes soccer (fall), basketball (winter), and flag football (spring). The focus of the programs components are: technical, tactical, psychological, and physical.
Middle school students meet weekly for PE class where students are participating in cardiovascular exercises, conditioning and endurance activities, and cooperative games. At the Middle School level, students begin to accept responsibility for their own personal fitness lifestyle.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” ~Margaret Mead
The MakerSpace is about teaching and learning that is focused on student centered inquiry. This is not the project done at the end of a unit of learning, but the actual vehicle and purpose of the learning. Roger Wagner, a former math & science teacher, a technologist, business advisor, software designer, presenter and creator of HyperStudio, and most recently, the creator of the HyperDuino, which has pioneered new ways of interconnecting digital media and physical student-made projects, captured the voice of business leaders describing the need for students to graduate with the skills of creativity and innovation “There are essential elements of educating young people to become innovators: the value of hands-on projects where students have to solve a real world problem and demonstrate mastery; the importance of learning to draw on academic content from multiple disciplines to solve a problem; learning to work in teams” (Wagner & Compton, 2012, p. 52). This description can be found at the heart of the maker movement manifesto; imploring individuals, community centers and schools to allow people to make, share, give, learn, tool up, play, participate, support, and change (Hatch, 2013).
This is the foundation of our MakerSpace at Fraser Woods Montessori School.
Kindergarten students are the youngest group of children who have access to the MakerSpace at Fraser Woods. In many ways, the kindergarten experience is just as rich as a graduating 8th grade student. This is because our MakerSpace is an environment ripe for exploration, innovation, and collaboration that fosters determination, independence, while authentically preparing each student for a world that is yet to be defined.
Kindergarten students use hands-on tools, manipulatives, and activities to create a foundation of understanding across our learning pillars in the MakerSpace. This includes design thinking, coding and programming, robotics, media creation, and creative construction. The majority of our lessons and curriculum are screen-free. When students return from mid-winter break, Kindergarten students gain access to our digital fabrication machinery. This includes our fleet of 3D printers, digital 3D printing pens, and our laser cutting machine.
Kindergarten students flourish with the freedom to choose, create, and collaborate with their peers and teachers. Hand sewing, circuitry exploration, and programmable robots are just a few of the innovative components explored at this age.
The Fraser Woods MakerSpace brings endless opportunities of making, creating, and designing to our students.
Lower Elementary students continue to add to their maker foundation in these early years. Students participate in a variety of coding and programming applications including: MIT’s Scratch Programming, Hour of Code, and Tynker. While learning to code, young students learn to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively. Students experience the dynamics of problem solving and critical thinking, while unknowingly working on their patience, attention to detail, effective communication, and positive attitude.
As hobbies, interests, and life-long passions begin to develop, it is very powerful to give our students the gift of choice on what they want to explore in the MakerSpace. Certain classes are dedicated to open learning and experimenting, which we refer to as “Maker Choice”. This gives our director the unique opportunity to ignite new areas of interest to students on an individual basis. The power of choice also helps to encourage time management skills. Giving the students the ownership and autonomy to create their own learning presents opportunities for engagement at heightened levels to further support their joy of learning.
We carefully select the projects, activities, and materials for this group of students to allow for their storytelling and their imaginations to come alive.
At this age, prototyping is just beginning but it will be used throughout their career at FWM, and beyond. Everything in our MakerSpace is hands-on. Manipulative based activities create a foundation of problem solving, creative thinking, and it teaches children that making is possible, rewarding, and can be actually quite challenging.
Upper Elementary encompasses two pivotal years in the MakerSpace. This is the age where students begin to understand the Design Thinking Process and embark on many independent and collaborative endeavors surrounding engineering, digital fabrication, and creative thinking and implementation.
After fulfilling a toolbelt of tech-knowledge in their previous years, students now know where the materials and supplies are located and how to use the tools to harness their ideas into prototypes. It was a priority of ours to prepare our students by giving them the ability to work independently throughout this classroom. Each of their experiences will open many thoughts amongst the students for how they can continue on their journey of prototyping, inventing, and entrepreneurship within the MakerSpace.
Students use iPads and laptops to create a variety of multimedia. Students learn to use camera equipment and iPad software to shoot, record, and edit photographs, videos, stop motion animation films, green screen movies, and iMovie trailers. Script writing, storyboarding, and journalism all play a role in the upper elementary movie making classes.
Hand-sewing, introduced in our Montessori classrooms, is further explored at this age when we introduce our embroidery machines and our flock of sewing machines. The recent addition of our popular embroidery machine also allows for projects to be personalized. Textiles flow throughout our space, with students stitching and seaming to their heart’s content.
The Design Thinking Process is at the forefront as students begin to hone in on their passions and interests. Instead of consuming creations made by someone else, they have become true inventors and innovators themselves. Entrepreneurial thinking and guidance comes into play, as students invent and designs and products. This leads to rapid prototyping thanks to our fleet of 3D printers, 3D pens, vinyl cutter, and laser cutting machine. Several of our software programs allow for designs to be additive or subtractive designs, which gives students the power and the self-choice to start somewhere and then propel their ideas in different directions.
The MakerSpace is designed to provide each student with a safe and controlled environment to explore and push the boundaries. Students persevere through challenging moments, allowing them to experience the thrill of taking ownership for their own success. Instead of consuming creations made by someone else, they have become true inventors themselves..
Choice remains the hallmark of our MakerSpace and it truly takes form during the years in Upper Elementary when students embark on their passion projects. Highlights include: Using our Glowforge (laser cutter) to create jewelry, sewing fashion items, building wooden toys, creating podcasts, and more. It’s a beautiful process watching these young students learn vital work skills that accompany the ideas of entrepreneurship.
Coding and programming continue to be the highlight of our MakerSpace. Coding isn’t just about technology skills, but it has proven to be beneficial to students in the areas of reading and mathematics. In the Fall of 2020, we introduced “Aerodynamics of Quadcopter Drones” to the MakerSpace. This pillar gives our Upper Elementary students first access to coding and programming them to solve missions, master obstacles, and see their coding happen in a hands-on, real-time, process. Coding so in-depth at this age prepares this age of students for our Middle School STEAM program.
“The child, making use of all that he finds around him, shapes himself for the future.” – Maria Montessori
Middle School students at Fraser Woods Montessori MakerSpace are exposed to high school and college level opportunities. We create personalized learning opportunities for each and every student and the conditions that inspire our middle schoolers and guide them to a place of innovation, inquiry, and passion. Our classes give students endless opportunities for hands-on prototyping, crafting, and building. This classroom also promotes the solving of real-world problems through the steps of the Design Thinking Process.
As students begin to transition out of novice and into competent states of learning in the MakerSpace they learn how to go from start to finish with their ideas. In middle school, our guides choose to step back, which gives our students the opportunity to step forward. Sustainability, Cyber Security, Accessibility, Artificial Intelligence, Rapid Prototyping, Virtual and Augmented Reality are some of the topics students indulge in week after week.
While choice remains at the forefront, students were also guided through deeper levels of learning about our Laser Cutter machine. Students have access to professional-grade software including the Adobe Creative Programs. Students use these elite programs to create vector drawings that can be used as additive or subtractive manufacturing on our campus.
Empathy is fostered and executed in each MakerSpace class. Understanding what empathy is, how to design something entirely unselfishly, and why it is so important in the world of creating and making, has been the main focus of my teaching for these students. This empathy endeavor of ours has also led to big discussions about creating your own business model, possible future careers, and learning how to find and follow your passion. Empathy is reflected throughout all of their digital and physical work.
Student Support Program
The Student Support Program is designed to help two sets of students: those gifted and those with learning differences.
A team consisting of the Student Support Coordinator, the Head of School, and staff work with gifted students.
Team responsibilities include:
- Identifying those students who may be gifted and recommending the appropriate evaluation
- Working with classroom teachers to ensure a differentiated curriculum that promotes the right blend of challenge and support
- Coordinating applications for the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth and the Summer Institute for the Gifted.
- Consulting with staff at all levels to ensure the effective exchange of information within the school and with other schools, particularly for transfer and transition
A team consisting of the Student Support Coordinator, Head of School and staff work with students with learning differences.
Team responsibilities include:
- Identifying students proactively for signs of potential learning differences
- Providing referrals for diagnostic evaluations
- Developing individualized student intervention programs for students identified with different neuro-developmental profiles
- Supporting the classroom teachers and families