To complement the innate curiosity, creativity and intelligence of children, the Montessori curriculum is highly enriched and challenging to cultivate human potential, nurture spontaneous curiosity, and inspire a sense of wonder.
Upper Elementary Curriculum
To meet the growth needs of the Lower Elementary program, SNHMA added an Upper Elementary program, in the fall of 2012. Consistent with the Montessori educational philosophy, the Upper Elementary program consists of students in grades 4-6 (ages 9-12). This program growth includes a facility expansion of 3000 square feet to be complete in June 2013.
Analyzing the components and structure of the English language are the primary focus of the Upper Elementary grammar. Students use a variety of grammar materials to learn structure, sentence analysis and the function of words. Additional lessons may include punctuation, capitalization, spelling and proper usage of words. Students reinforce their understanding of the concept learned through activities and assignments with a focus on editing their own work to apply what they are learning.
Students are introduced to a wide variety of reading material in the Upper Elementary program, this may include different genre’, novels, research and history materials. Students receive reading instruction and practice comprehension skills through group reading. Learning how to become an “active reader” is a key lesson for the Upper Elementary student. They learn to question, summarize, make inferences and predictions as well as draw conclusions from what they have read.
Writing in the Upper elementary is taught through the Six Traits writing process. Focus lessons are given on ideas, organization, word choice, sentence fluency, voice and conventions. These traits help to guide the children to a variety of writing with a focus on writing research papers. Students learn techniques for researching and locating information from various sources. There are lessons on note taking, as well as organizing the information collected and understanding how to put that information into the students own words. They receive instruction in paragraph structure and the structure of reports, as well as learning how to format a bibliography.
Students receive instruction in creative writing and have many opportunities to write stories, poetry and even plays. Students work with brainstorming techniques, figurative language and editing skills. They review their knowledge of language mechanics in their writing and practice editing of others’ work.
The Upper Elementary Math and Geometry programs continue from the Lower Elementary curriculum and progress based on the individual students’ needs. Lessons are held in small groups of students working on the same material at the same pace or one-on-one as needed. While the Upper Elementary classroom includes Math “materials” that are familiar to the child from Lower Elementary, the focus moves to higher math including beginning algebra, square and cube roots, base systems and powers of numbers. Upper Elementary is the time when many students become ready for Abstraction in Math.
Traditionally, the study of Geometry is undertaken in later years as an abstract series of rules, theorems, and propositions. Maria Montessori saw Geometry as firmly rooted in reality, and built a curriculum for lower elementary students that uses concrete, sensorial experimentation, leading students to concepts through their own creative research. Although sophisticated in content, Geometry at the Upper Elementary level continues to be well grounded in concrete experiences with manipulative materials. In this way, etymology is discovered, relationships and concepts are explored and researched, and the child’s conclusions serve as a basis for theorems, proofs, and formulas.
The Upper Elementary curriculum for social and cultural studies includes the disciplines of Geography and History. Our Geography curriculum is designed to show how the physical configurations of the earth contribute to history. It includes a study of physical geography, political geography and economic geography.
Students learn, compare and contrast the themes of geography that impact societies’ growth and development, including location, place, interactions of people and environments, movements and regions. Our students expand on their knowledge of political boundaries, map skills, cultures, communities and basic human needs.
Our Upper Elementary history curriculum carries forth from the Lower Elementary foundation of the Time-line of Life to focus on the Coming of Humans and the ensuing rise of civilizations, including our own. Our history themes are presented in three year cycles, allowing students to build a foundation of knowledge for historic comparison and contrast.
The Upper Elementary Science curriculum is a hands-on approach to science that motivates and stimulates curiosity. Utilizing the Full Optic Science System (FOSS) students learn to think scientifically by investigating, experimenting, gathering data, organizing results, and drawing conclusions based on their actions and observations. Follow-up questions to weekly experiments motivate students to think about new ideas and help them realize connections to other areas of study. Recall questions get them to remember information. Integrating questions get them to process information. Open-ended questions get them to infer, create, solve problems. Thematic questions help them realize connections between scientific ideas and processes. Areas of study include:
♦ Food and nutrition
♦ Human body
♦ Physics of sound
♦ Magnetism and electricity
♦ Levers and pulleys
♦ Mixtures and solutions
♦ Solar energy
♦ Land forms
Scientific Reasoning and Technology
♦ Models and design
The Information Technology Curriculum integrates seamlessly with classroom academics. Students acquire a progression of skills through teacher instruction, self-directed software programs and cooperative and independent learning. Students use age-appropriate learning programs, growing to become competent in the Apple-based software (iWork – Pages, Keynote, Numbers) and/or Microsoft Office Suite (Work, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher, FrontPage), as well as safely and effectively utilize the Internet. Higher-order thinking skills and digital citizenship are critical for students to learn effectively for a lifetime and live productively in our emerging global society.