A Montessori middle school program values its students’ natural sense of wonder. As they learn to ask questions, our teachers provide students with the tools and confidence to find answers. At AMS, our students become independent lifelong learners.
In the classroom, our teachers provide the following elements of a Montessori middle school classroom:
- individualized instruction
- interdisciplinary courses that tie in social, political and environmental topics
- experiential learning opportunities that foster emotional connections
- mixed age classes
- individual and group work
- free time to to pursue art, music, engineering and business projects
- prepared spaces for specialized activities like art and theater
AMS students see their education in action. Educator Grundtvig believed that education must be related to everyday life, by combining our academics with the meaningful work of the school, our program helps students recognize the real world connections of their studies. They feel empowered as they encounter actual problems and become a part of discovering solutions.
Internships are offered in the garden, kitchen, outdoor program, and maintenance of the school. Examples of internships include:
- care, harvest and anatomy of poultry
- food traditions of different cultures
- beneficial insects and their ecological role on the farm
- history of tools
- environmental science of “leave no trace”
Settlers of AMS
During the September unit, 7th and 8th grade students will participate in a program we call “Settlers of AMS,” in reference to the popular board game, “Settlers of Cataan.” Students collect resources by spending time in the garden (wheat), ceramics studio (clay), wood shop (wood), forge (ore) and fiber arts studio (sheep). We teach basic proficiency with tools and techniques, which facilitates the students then using those spaces for personal creative projects throughout the year.
The Montessori middle school program believes that students learn best when they are excited about a topic. Therefore, we give our students choices in determining the classes we teach and the classes they take. Although some courses like math and Spanish are determined by skill level, students express their preferences for language arts, internships, art classes, electives, committees, and trips.
Small Hands-on Classes
Learning is a lot more than just an accumulation of facts and techniques. It’s also about exploration and critical thinking. Our Montessori middle school mixed-age classes of 4-10 students create safe spaces where students can feel confident asking questions and voicing their opinions. Teachers can focus on individual needs and offer a variety of experiences that cater to each student’s sense of curiosity and interests.
Education should inspire both curiosity and discipline, laying the foundations for a life of inquiry and creative problem solving. As our students grow to understand who they are as learners, our academic advisors help them identify their strengths and develop strategies for success. Advisors advocate for their students’ academic needs and facilitate communication between parents and teachers. The academic advisors strengthen the Montessori middle school ideas of interdisciplinary studies and mastery of subject matter by encouraging them to make connections between their classes and demonstrate their knowledge through portfolios.
Every student is assigned an academic advisor who helps students:
- organize their time and stay on track with schoolwork
- addresses challenges to learning as they arise
- collect their best work to present at academic open houses and in portfolios
- prepare for student led conferences
- choose classes that provide a challenging and well-rounded experiences
Academic Open Houses and Student-Led Conferences
Middle schoolers crave acknowledgment for all the hard work they do. Our academic open houses and student-led conferences provide our students with an opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge and share their academic achievements. As they present what they have learned in their classes to their peers and parents, students reflect on their successes, reinforce the material within themselves, and receive recognition from their community.
In keeping with the Montessori middle school’s philosophy that education is a process and not a product, our students receive detailed evaluations in place of grades. Because of the strong relationships teachers form with their students, they are able to evaluate and encourage each student based on extensive knowledge of their specific interests, challenges, and goals. As a result, our students are a part of a dialogue where their growth matters just as much as their achievement.