The 9-12 class at Bloomington Montessori School is based primarily on inquiry, research and discovery, and writing. The class calendar is divided into four quarters, and students are given multiple opportunities to select and research topics each quarter, choosing from subjects enumerated below. Using quarterly goal-sheets, students set up individual work plans containing regular check points.
The writing process begins very simply in fourth grade with an emphasis on seeking quality sources and fact gathering. By sixth grade this has gradually evolved into a more sophisticated writing style with an emphasis on developing and supporting thesis statements. For the teachers to guarantee the effectiveness of the writing process, we ask students to paraphrase information in their own words and document their sources accurately, through all three years of the program. This relies on an editing process where students explain their own work in daily dialogue with the teachers.
Every quarter, all members of the class observe and conduct classical physical science experiments, then write them in their notebooks for replication. This introduces special challenges of note taking, measurement, causality and accurate communication.
Among the successes of this classroom are its versatility and adaptability, which allow teachers to tap into the interests of families and into the current events of our ever-changing world. The following list is not meant to be a static list of curriculum; instead, it should be seen as a roadmap to the general structure of the classroom, and like any roadmap, one that undergoes continual refinements, upgrades and new byways.
- early Indiana
- prehistory of Indiana
- classic Indiana architecture
- pioneer crafts
- Indiana state government
- living Indiana legends
- famous Hoosiers of yesterday
- Indiana atlas
- Bloomington businesses
- Indiana state parks
- orders of mammals
- human nutrients
- Indiana arthropods
- native Indiana wildflowers
- formulating a working hypothesis
- charting functional relationships
- kinetic theory of heat
- convection, radiation and conduction
- colonial America
- young America: Revolution and Constitution
- American Expansion
- Civil War, including pre-War and Reconstruction
- 20th century reformers and activists
- 20th century issues/argumentation and debate
- Bradford Woods related topics
- native American tribes
- federal departments
- plan and budget a three day trip
- environmental issues
- human body
- cell parts and functions
- drug education
- properties of light; reflection and refraction
- prehistoric humans
- river valley civilizations
- ancient Greece and Rome
- reason and revolution
- Chicago trip topic related to Field Museum subjects and an artist represented at the Art Institute
- world rivers
- colonialism, invasion and territorial struggles
- humanitarian organizations
- comparison of most developed and less developed
- plants and microscopic animals
- environmental success stories
- Chicago trip topics related to Shedd Aquarium, Field Museum and/or Adler planetarium
- calculating gram calories
- static electricity
- current electricity
- read two fiction books per quarter and write book reports on those books.
- participate in quarterly literature groups, where a book is read and discussed in weekly meetings.
- participate in weekly creative writing and/or art lessons.
- create two posters per quarter with original artwork based on completed research papers.
- participate in a large group drama production each winter, usually a Shakespeare comedy.
- practice interviewing and public speaking skills as part of December holiday program.
- participate in weekly physical education activities.
- practice handwriting in daily spelling lessons.
- write one or two creative writing short stories per quarter.
- participate in daily “Headproblems,” where poetry, geography, mapping skills, current events and math concepts are explored in a cooperative, large group setting.
The basis of math instruction in the 9-12 classroom is two pronged. First, students receive advanced lessons with both familiar (from the 3-6 and 6-9 classrooms) and unfamiliar Montessori materials. This continues the longstanding Montessori tradition of teaching new mathematical concepts with concrete materials. The other “hemisphere” of our program utilizes concepts presented in Marcy’s MathImagination series. This text is used for several reasons. It is a very logical follow-up to the traditional Montessori instruction that our students have received in the 6-9 class, as it fosters continued independent work and the ability to self-correct. It also creates a systematic transition from concrete examples into abstract mathematical reasoning.
Math concepts are applied to real world issues in our daily Headproblems meetings (small and large groups), where sets of word problems are organized around current events, math being treated as a language or means of communication. A short computational math quiz is also given every Wednesday throughout most of the school year, to assess where students may need more individualized instruction.
- 4th graders go to the MCCSC Honey Creek one-room school house for one day (not overnight), usually in the spring.
- 5th graders go to Bradford Woods for three days, usually in the fall, to experience outdoor education and team building.
- 6th graders camp out at the beginning of the school year for three days at Turkey Run State Park.
- 6th graders also go to Chicago for three days in December to do research at the museums and to tour the Chicago architecture.
- There are also assorted fieldtrips, related to intersession and the curriculum, throughout the year.
At the end of each quarter, as students complete their work, they participate in a large group educational activity that is originated, selected and voted on by the whole class. The second quarter intersession is traditionally dedicated to drama and theater activities and to our yearly Shakespeare play. The fourth quarter intersession is traditionally dedicated to “Montessori TV,” where students prepare for and record short video productions, after which they edit and manipulate video footage using computer software.