Safety Harbor Montessori Academy Curriculum Guide
Middle School Level: The Third Plane of Development
Language Arts includes the study of vocabulary, literature, grammar, mechanics, writing, and oral communication. To increase students’ word variety and power, this course utilizes Vocabulary Workshop, a vocabulary development program. The study of genres and thematic development are at the core of the literature curriculum. Novels, short stories, and poetry are used to teach students to analyze and discuss the characteristics of genre, learn literary terms, and reinforce skills in decoding, comprehension, and reading fluency.
Instruction in English grammar usage and mechanics is emphasized. Notes are taken in class to strengthen skills and are to be applied in all writing assignments.
Writing instruction focuses on paragraph development, as well as how to write a variety of assignments such as journals, short stories, newspaper article, business letters, and research papers. Oral communication includes listening skills, actively participating in group discussions, articulating ideas, and making formal presentations to the group. Students learn a variety of communication skills such as acknowledging others, “I” messages, active listening, goal setting, and group decision-making.
The mathematics curriculum is designed to develop mathematical thinking and enhance computational and problem-solving abilities. Students are provided instructional and enrichment opportunities which enable them to explore and discover concepts for themselves.
Courses may include General Math, Pre-Algebra, Honors Pre-Algebra, Introductory Algebra, Honors Algebra, and Honors Geometry. Ability grouping provides the flexibility necessary to meet individual developmental differences. Texts are selected based on the students' needs in each group. Group sizes range from five to ten students, allowing for individualized attention. Students are encouraged to present their mathematical thinking to the group.
The honors courses use a “flip the classroom” approach, making use of Sophia and Kahn Academy for introductory lessons. Each course of study emphasizes real-life connections and utilizes computers, calculators, and other math tools to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
The Social Studies curriculum integrates history, geography, economics, and government in thematic units. Social Studies is centered around U.S. history, physical and cultural geography, and ancient world history. Every other year, students participate in an in-depth study of economics, culminating in a visit to Finance Park. Concepts are reinforced through short lectures, individual and group work/research, dramatic role play, strategic game simulations, and student led presentations. We follow an alternating two-year cycle of study:
Year A - World History
Year B - United States History
Classroom instruction and labs utilizing hands-on activities develop the students’ understanding of the world around them and the joy of discovery. With the use of the scientific method, math, technology, and research skills, students develop critical thinking skills. To clarify and understand key ideas and concepts, students develop creative projects. Upon completion, they present their research, diagrams, demonstrations, and experiments to the class. In addition, outdoor and off-campus educational experiences reinforce concepts studied in the classroom. As in Social Studies, we follow a two-year alternating cycle.
Year A - Life Science
Year B - Physical Science
Each month, students are taught art history lessons or they will work on individual projects to strengthen skills they have learned previously. One project combines interior one-point perspective with art history. An art elective is taught every Friday afternoon. The focus of the art elective is student, driven and this focus changes each cycle. Different ideas are presented, and they choose an art project and medium to pursue for the elective. The principles of design: balance, emphasis, unity, rhythm, and proportion are reinforced. Two of the cycles are dedicated to producing the school’s yearbook. The yearbook staff learns to use an online site to design pages and spreads, while learning to incorporate the theme throughout the book.
Once a month, a music appreciation lesson is presented to the entire class, which focuses on different styles of music. Students learn about and perform the music and dance which is native to the areas of the world they are studying for the Spring Festival. Music electives are offered based on student interest. They have included guitar, rock band, drumming, song writing, and chorus.
When possible, a drama specialist works with the students every other week in areas that include improvisational skills, dramatic writing, stage presentation, and expressing emotions theatrically.
Online research using primary and secondary sources is conducted on a daily basis, and many writing assignments are required to be typed. Students are allowed to present projects in a format of their choosing, including slide show presentations (PowerPoint/Keynote), videos that are recorded and edited by students, writing and recording songs, and other creative formats. Online typing lessons are completed weekly, and personal goals are set to increase speed and accuracy. Additional typing, document creation, and proper formatting are taught and integrated throughout many assignments across all subjects. Online video lessons and tutorials are used in a variety of ways to reinforce what has been taught in class. Additionally, students use a web-based application to plan and manage the school lunch program.
Personal-best fitness is more of a focus at this level and is practiced twice weekly. Students continue to play sports and other active games, often set to music. Sports practice at this level focuses more on advanced strategies. Written assessments are given at this level to check for understanding of sports rules and exercise concepts. The students have the opportunity to participate in a co-educational athletic league, competing against other schools in flag football, soccer, and basketball. Off-campus electives, such as bowling, gymnastics, kayaking, rock-climbing, ice-skating, and volleyball allow students to explore additional interests.
Spanish lessons are structured to facilitate the transition to a traditional high school. The curriculum is designed to help students attain a desirable level of proficiency in speaking, listening, reading, and writing. More advanced vocabulary and verb conjugations are taught. Conversational skills are practiced daily to encourage practical usage. Hispanic cultures are explored more extensively, including samples of music, dancing, and food. Active learning games are incorporated to hold student interest. Students are able to earn high school credit for Spanish 1, and those willing to take on an additional challenge level are able to earn credit for Spanish 2 as well. Students use the text, Spanish is Fun, Levels 1 and 2.
Media focuses on internet safety, reliability, validating sources, and citing sources properly.
A review of library skills is revisited at the beginning of the semester through games, scavenger hunts, and internet activities. An author study or novel is shared with the students. The first lesson of each month is dedicated to silent reading for pleasure (either a novel, newspaper, or magazine). Lively discussions are encouraged, focusing on netiquette, novels read, research techniques, bias found in media, and technological advancements. Students are allowed to check out books and/or Kindles during media hours all week