Summary of Secondary Program

The secondary design is an integration of the current research in human development, research based education practices, and the Montessori philosophy. The mission of the program is to provide opportunities for adolescents to be self-confident and gain self-knowledge, to belong to a community, to learn to be adaptable, to be challenged personally and academically, and to construct a vision for their personal future; thus, to empower and educate early adolescents.

The adolescent is:

  • an active, self-directed learner
  • a vital member of his or her class, school, city and global community
  • a vital member of the teacher-student-parent team
  • responsible for keeping commitments, being honest, and respectful

The teachers are:

  • facilitators and guides for learning
  • advisors for the students
  • facilitators of a positive climate conducive to learning
  • communicators with parents and community
  • role models to the students

The school structure offers:

  • a learner-centered environment
  • a developmentally-responsive curriculum
  • a teaching team of Montessori teachers with additional adults as resources
  • a collaborative partnership between parents, teachers, and the student
  • multi-aged groupings of 12-15 year olds
  • large blocks of uninterrupted learning time
  • peer and cross-age teaching

The curriculum and instruction includes:

  • trans-disciplinary themes
  • strategies on learning how to learn and metacognition
  • personal learning plans
  • mastery, coaching and exploratory activities
  • long-term, student-driven, cooperative learning projects
  • a strong sense of community and social interaction with peers
  • meaningful and challenging work
  • activities for self-expression, self-knowledge, and self-reflection
  • activities that value all nine intelligences and a variety of learning styles
  • activities to foster interdependence and integrity
  • activities for learning economic independence
  • school and community service projects
  • activities that allow work on and with the land and nature

Courses of Academic Study – Middle School

ArborCreek Montessori Academy courses of study reflect an integration of the Texas requirements of essential elements, the newest research on the developmental needs of early adolescents, the Montessori philosophy, the state of the art in current learning theory, and the predictions of the skills needed for a productive life in the twenty-first century. The language, speech, foreign languages, physical education, outdoor education, service learning, and fine arts are courses of continuous progress. The science, social studies, geography, health and math are studied by topics or concepts.

Language I/II (1 unit each year)

The language curriculum follows the reading and writing workshop model established by the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project of Columbia University. It encompasses an integrated study of vocabulary, literature, grammar and mechanics, and writing.  The curriculum seeks to teach students to value reading and writing well, to self-initiate reading and writing in their own lives, and to see reading and writing as tools to change themselves and the world around them.  Students read and write in a wide range of genres for a variety of authentic purposes and learn to communicate with a variety of audiences.  Vocabulary and etymology are presented across the curriculum and tested each cycle.  Grammar is studied daily within the context of literature and writing.  With special emphasis on critical analysis, students practice daily a variety of types of writing in response to literature. Eighth graders write two research papers and seventh graders write one research paper during the year as part of their independent study.

Speech I/II (1/2 unit each year)

Speech includes a daily communications lab that focuses on grace and courtesy, listening skills, note-taking, active participation in group discussions by articulating ideas, and making formal presentations. Students learn a variety of communication skills such as acknowledging others, using “I” messages, active listening, goal setting, and group decision making. Students also participate in activities developed from Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens. Each year the class develops a mission statement or constitution. Students are able to practice communication skills daily by working in community meetings, class committees, small group cooperative projects, and peer and cross-age teaching activities. Students individually give presentations each cycle.

Social Studies I (1 unit)

This course includes geography and history. The history curriculum focuses on the progress of people and the following topics: Structures (Governments and US Government), Forces (Revolutions), Power (Human Rights Movements), Changes (Industrial Revolution), and Balance (Peace Education and Future Vision). Students do personal and group work in these themes. The focus is on asking large questions and looking for patterns in history and integrating this information into all disciplines. Students develop creative projects and make presentations.

Social Studies II (1 unit)

This course includes geography and history. The geography curriculum includes the study of the themes of location, place, movements, regions, and interaction of people and their environment. The history curriculum focuses on the history of people and the following topics: Connections (Native Americans), Exploration and Perspectives, Identity (Immigration), Systems (Economics and Economic Systems), Interdependence (Ecology and Future Visions). Students do personal and group work in these themes. The focus is on asking large questions and looking for patterns in history and integrating this information into all disciplines. Students develop creative projects and make presentations.

Pre-Algebra and Algebra (1 unit each year)

This math course uses a curriculum designed by Stephanie Romero that utilizes the Montessori materials to introduce concepts before practicing them abstractly. The students will have two guiding questions per cycle. Students must take quizzes for feedback and master comprehensive tests. Each year’s curriculum contains units of Pre-Algebra and Algebra. Concepts covered include: grouping symbols, exponents and roots, properties, solving for x, simplifying equations, representing and comparing data, probability and relative frequency, perimeter, area, and volume, polynomials, factoring and solving quadratics.

Physical Science (1 unit)

The physical science curriculum includes the study of Structures (Nature of Science and the Structure of Matter), Forces (Motion and Four Fundamental Forces), Power (Power, Energy, and Waves), Changes (Work and Machines), and Balance (Chemistry and Future Technology). Students do personal work and group work in these themes. The focus is on asking large questions and looking for patterns in science and integrating this information into all disciplines. Students develop long-term creative projects and make presentations.

Life Sciences (1 unit)

The life science curriculum includes the study of Connections (Cells and Living Things), Exploration (Prokaryote & Eukaryote; Virus, Bacteria and Fungi), Identity (Genetics), Systems (Animal Systems), and Interdependence (Ecosystems and Future Visions). Botany is part of the curriculum at the Land Lab. Students do personal work and group work in these themes. The focus is on asking large questions and looking for patterns in science and integrating this information into all disciplines. Students develop long-term creative projects and make presentations.

Gardening, Physical Education and Health I/II (1 unit each year)

The two-fold purpose of these classes is to teach skills and to instill the importance of physical fitness. Students also participate in cooperative games. All students are included in all activities. Health is the study of issues pertinent to the needs of early adolescents. This program has several purposes. One is to provide information about the transition from childhood to adolescence and the journey to adulthood. Another is to provide links between generations to help young people make the journey safely. A third is to create challenging and meaningful experiences, similar to those in the initiation or rites of passage ceremonies. Students explore topics such as belonging, friendships, adolescent development, stress management, self-esteem, peer pressure, drug education, sexuality, nutrition, and balanced-living. There is a time each day which students spend in personal reflection for development of their intrapersonal skills. Students engage in working with the land each day. Students learn about soil quality, botany, and planning and implementing a garden. Students conceptualize and create projects within the garden.

Computer Literacy I (1/2 unit each year)

This computer literacy course includes word processing, spreadsheets, graphics, and academic programs. All of these activities are integrated into all subject areas. Students also have the opportunity to use the Internet to gather data and communicate with other schools.

Service Learning (1/2 unit each year)

Students engage in weekly service learning projects within their community. Students assess the needs of the community they are working within, plan and implement activities, and reflect upon their experiences. During the second half of the academic year, students participate in a career shadowing opportunity as interns in a Montessori classroom or working in a local business of their choice. The supervising teachers or adults complete an evaluation form. Students prepare a business letter stating their goals and verifying arrangements. In economics, students operate a few class businesses. For these businesses, students keep records, buy supplies, and prepare and sell their product.

Fine Arts/Electives (1/2 unit each year)

Students will have the opportunity to explore different artistic modalities guided by local artists. Areas of exploration vary each year depending on student interest and availability of outside teaching resources. Courses may include the following: etching, photography, painting, sculpture, sketching, pottery, carpentry, economics, and cooking.