Safety Harbor Montessori Academy Curriculum Guide
Elementary Level: The Second Plane of Development
Upper Elementary: Ages 9-12
Nine to twelve year olds are becoming more socially centered, exploring the wider society outside of their family. It is in these wider relationships that they see and build a strong sense of morality, exploring what society deems to be right and wrong. Fairness and justice are hugely important. Abstract thought is well-developed so students work less frequently with concrete materials, although they still make use of them to aid their understanding of complex concepts.
Students develop life skills through sharing the care and maintenance of their environment. Some examples include washing tables, preparing the daily snack, caring for class plants and animals, and raising and lowering the flag. Students help develop and implement community service and philanthropic projects.
Cultural based group projects provide opportunities to explore public speaking, presentation development, and working collaboratively with a group. Students are encouraged to develop a system of organization to aid in time management.
Practical life work at the upper elementary level provides students with life skills that will be useful as they grow into adulthood.
The language areas of study include guided and independent reading, advanced comprehension strategies, spelling, vocabulary, the writing process and mechanics, as well as advanced grammar work, sentence study, and the development of oral language skills.
Students learn about the diversity of language through the study of the parts of speech. Each part of speech is introduced with a concrete symbol, and students move through an advanced, in-depth study of each part of speech. Sentence analysis work follows, which helps students learn to structure sentences and analyze them to ensure grammatical correctness.
Spelling instruction is based on learning common rules and patterns, word origins, and Greek and Latin roots. Students proceed at their own pace through the programs Spelling Power and Words Their Way.
Vocabulary development occurs through the use of the vocabulary program, Vocabulary Workshop. Short stories, poetry, and nonfiction passages are studied through the Daybook of Critical Reading and Writing.
Students explore literary analysis in small groups using high interest novels. They are encouraged to use higher level critical thinking skills to analyze text. These critical thinking skills include: questioning, clarifying, predicting, summarizing, and inferencing. Reading for information is also a significant part of the curriculum and is woven throughout language and cultural studies. Reading comprehension is supplemented through the use of the SRA Reading Lab.
The writing process is taught in a writing workshop setting. Students focus on writing for an audience through the study of narrative, nonfiction, realistic fiction, poetry, persuasive, and opinion writing.
Research and expository writing is interwoven throughout the cultural curriculum. Students learn the steps of the research process from forming questions through writing a research paper. Prewriting, outlining, and editing are emphasized as part of the writing process.
Collaborative group projects help to develop interpersonal communication skills. These projects are presented to the class, providing frequent opportunities for public speaking. Students also participate in the Tropicana Public Speaking Competition each year.
The mathematics program introduces all new concepts in a hands-on, concrete manner before moving to abstraction. Students work at a pace and level appropriate for their individual development.
The curriculum typically includes multiplication and division, multiples and factors, fraction concepts and operations, decimal concepts and operations, ratio and percent, pre-algebra concepts, estimation, probability, and data analysis. Students also study geometry, including polygons, geometric solids, area, volume, lines, angles, congruence, similarity, and symmetry.
Students are presented with both application and computational problems. Logical reasoning, creativity, and problem solving are emphasized. There are several opportunities to apply mathematical knowledge across curriculum areas.
Students follow the Montessori mathematics curriculum in fourth and fifth grade and transition to a more traditional, text based program for sixth grade. Math classes for sixth graders are held in the middle school, and classes are mixed-age with the middle school students. This ensures a good fit between students’ ability and level of challenge.
Sixth grade math courses offered may include General Math, Pre-Algebra, Honors Pre-Algebra, and occasionally Honors Algebra 1. Texts are chosen for each group of between five and ten students, depending on their needs. For homework, students use Daily Math Practice.
By exploring our shared history and culture, we present opportunities for students to engage in meaningful dialogues about other cultures and environmentally different regions. We strive to show how interconnected we are as part of the larger community.
Physical, cultural, and economic geography is studied both independently and in relation to history. Students continue the study of the fundamental needs of humans and explore how different groups of people have met those needs throughout history. We explore topics on a three year cycle, including world and American history, and governments.
Concepts from lower elementary are reexamined and revisited. Activities like drum circles help internalize concepts like rhythm and tempo, while singing and playing pitched instruments puts into practice the students’ knowledge of melody, harmony and notation. Students learn from the lives and music of composers of the past and also explore more recent trends in music like recording and film music.
Creativity is greatly encouraged through activities like composing and visualizing music through art or movement.
Using the timeline of art as a starting point, students are introduced to famous artists and their works. Students also work on their own fundamentals.
During hour lessons each week, students start off with a drawing warm-up exercise designed to teach them to really look at their world. A sketchbook is kept with these warm-ups and sketches of plans for projects for the entire year as a “diary” of their art journey.
Cultural studies are the heart of the upper elementary curriculum. We emphasize the interconnections between the social and natural sciences, mathematics, and language arts, as they are all expressions of the human struggle to understand the world around us.
Scientific studies begin with a review of the great lessons, followed by an introduction to the different branches of scientific study. The chemical foundations of the universe and the fundamentals of physics are introduced. Students learn about the organization of our biosphere through the Timeline of Life. Over the course of a three year cycle, students study biology, chemistry, physics and earth/space science. Through the use of the scientific method and hands-on experiments, they answer questions about our world.
Students’ are encouraged to use the internet as a research tool and for word processing. Students work daily with typing programs to build accuracy. Educational and skill-building computer games are used to enhance the class work. Presentation programs such as Keynote and Powerpoint are introduced, and students are encouraged to use digital videos and photos to present information. Computers are used on a daily basis and are an integral part of the classroom and curriculum.
Sportsmanship and teamwork are stressed at this level. Students participate in gym and outdoor games, which are often set to music. Students are introduced to team sports, such as flag football, basketball, soccer, wiffle ball, and volleyball.
For football, they practice catching, throwing, flag pulling, hand-offs, offense and defense, receiver routes, rules, and game strategies. In basketball, students practice dribbling, shooting, passing, offense and defense, pivoting, rebounding, lay-ups, and rules. Students learn the basics of soccer. They learn dribbling, proper throw-ins, headers, corner kicks, offense and defense, how to play different positions, and rules. During our wiffle ball unit, students learn to throw, catch, how to play various positions, batting, proper grip, proper stance, fielding, and rules. For volleyball, students learn to say the score correctly, to rotate so that they may play different positions, proper volleying techniques, serving, setting, and rules. Students also learn square dancing. Along with dance moves, square dancing helps students practice social graces.The students have the opportunity to participate in after-school co-ed intramural sports, including flag football, basketball, soccer, and wiffle ball. Students participate in field day activities at the end of each school year.
Conversational and writing skills are emphasized at this level. Grammatical concepts are introduced, such as verb conjugation. Conversational situations promote understanding and appreciation of the language and culture, and allow students to engage in activities that make use of their newly acquired language skills. Music and food are incorporated into the lessons to add practical interest. The text, Spanish is Fun, Level 1, is used at this level.
Media lessons consist of activities focused on navigating the library, genres, nonfiction organization, and utilizing reference materials for research. Using the “Big 6” research steps, the students begin to become more independent and problem-solve their queries. Internet safety and reliability is studied and discussed. Students actively participate through scavenger hunts, center activities, shelving, internet activities, and games. Book talks play an important part in the media curriculum throughout the year. Students come to the library to read silently and relax for the first session of each month. Students are allowed to check out books and/or Kindles during media hours all week.