The Oak Meadow Middle School offers an academically challenging, interdisciplinary program that is designed to meet the academic, social and emotional needs of adolescents in grades seven and eight.
The Middle School curriculum includes humanities, math, science, Spanish, drama, art, music, nature and physical education. Students participate in numerous outside-of-the-classroom experiences and other experiential learning opportunities such as running their own businesses, and serving the Oak Meadow community as classroom volunteers.
During their time in Middle School, our students develop an understanding and confidence about their role within the school community and beyond. Students work in multi-age groups on developmentally appropriate and increasingly complex activities that promote self-reflection and self-expression, teamwork, effective communication, and most importantly, critical thinking. Our program offers students opportunities for in-depth study and for exploration of individual interests. The Middle School is founded on the belief that each individual student’s strengths and passions should be celebrated. Prior attendance at a Montessori school is not a prerequisite for admission.
Because our Middle School curriculum emphasizes critical and analytical thinking, our students are given the tools to succeed in any secondary school setting. Through cultural and practical life studies, students develop a lasting, compassionate global perspective. The learning environment in the Middle School community reflects the developmental need for social interaction, self-expression, and self-knowledge.
Secondary School Placement
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Areas of Learning
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The Middle School math curriculum includes pre-algebra, algebra I, and geometry. High school level work is available for those who are ready in eighth grade. Oak Meadow’s small class sizes allow for the teacher to work with individual students or small groups. Rather than presenting formulas to memorize, our students learn to develop and test conjectures by observing patterns, and seek an understanding of how mathematical rules are derived. Students then conjecture concepts based on repetitive models, and derive formulas on their own. Through this process of discovery, students truly understand the meaning and application of the formula. A strong emphasis is also placed on the understanding of graphs and the behavior of linear, quadratic, and exponential functions. Graphing calculators and other technologies are used to enhance understanding of the graphs of different functions, and for statistical analysis. Students also have many opportunities to work on projects that ask them to apply the many skills they developed. During the course of their middle school math experience, students are asked to continuously reflect upon their learning through journaling and many other activities that help them synthesize their learning so it is meaningful to them.
The Middle School math teacher works closely with students during STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) labs, co-taught with the Middle School science teacher to connect math with scientific concepts. Through collaborating and strategizing with their classmates, students build confidence and reinforce their knowledge of math.
In the Middle School, Spanish classes meet daily. Students are provided with a weekly syllabus that outlines the material to be covered, any anticipated assignments, and a reference of vocabulary and grammar structures that will be taught. This is in keeping with the support provided to students as they develop their organization skills. Verb tenses for regular, irregular, and stem-changing verbs include the present, imperfect, the preterit, present progressive, and future. Students learn reflexive verbs, and the formal and informal forms of the imperative. Emphasis is placed on fluency, and classes are conducted largely in the target language. Students expand their understanding of the language through authentic listening exercises and practice their speaking skills through collaborative projects, role-playing, phone conversations, interviews, buying and selling and, travel situations. Regular entries into their journals and other assignments develop their writing abilities. Cultural exploration into the Spanish-speaking world may include the study of historical figures and events, classic and contemporary literature, art and architecture, music and current events, geography and ethnic identity. Students cook traditional recipes, listen to authentic folk music, and learn about regional dances and celebrations.
The Middle School music curriculum emphasizes group singing, ear-training, development of individual confidence for performance, and critical thinking and listening with attention to musical form and structure, historical perspectives, global awareness, and sociopolitical content in music. Topical units are rotated annually with consideration for interdisciplinary connections to other areas of the Middle School curriculum. Recent units have included Native American music and dance, Balinese gamelan orchestra and puppetry, Caribbean steel pan drumming, protest songs of the Great Depression and the Civil Rights Movement, and a musical theater scenes workshop. In addition to weekly classes, Middle School students have various musical opportunities during the after school hours, including a musical theater production, Concert Band, and lessons in vocal performance and a wide variety of instruments.
At the beginning of September, there is a week-long camping trip, which allows for community building. Trips rotate annually to avoid repetition in the Middle School’s two-year program. One year, students will visit the Leadership Camp at Camp Kieve in Nobleboro, ME, while the next year they visit Camp Chewonki in Wiscasset, ME. The academic year culminates with a field trip that brings to life curricular themes and concepts. Our students participate alternately as delegates to the Montessori Model United Nations (MMUN) in New York City and with a five-day trip to Philadelphia in the spring. Travel affords students practical life experience while also allowing them to gain confidence and self-reliance as they practice new-found skills.
The Middle School science curriculum is a two-year program that focuses on both process and content under the umbrella of STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math). Through the emphasis on process, students learn how to navigate the scientific method, apply mathematics to their investigations, write formal lab reports, research and present on current science topics, and conduct community environmental impact studies. Through the emphasis on content, students participate in lessons focusing on earth science, life science, astronomy, human health and biology, chemistry, and physics. Students meet for two extended laboratory blocks each week, as well as a shorter content block. Students not only conduct and design weekly laboratory experiments, but also participate in biweekly nature work in the spring and fall with the naturalist. All students participate in the annual Oak Meadow Science Fair, with ten students continuing on to the Massachusetts Regional Science Fair and State Science Technology Engineering and Math Fairs.
Social and emotional learning includes self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, responsible decision- making and relationship skills. The development of these skills helps to promote pro-social behavior, reduce violence and bullying behaviors, and increase ability to learn and achieve in the school environment. Middle School students explore developmentally appropriate concepts of social and emotional learning. Small group sessions are often facilitated to promote group work and relationship skill development.
Drama classes at Oak Meadow allow students the opportunity to find their unique voice through the exploration of theatrical imagination. Beginning in the sixth year of the Upper Elementary program and continuing into Middle School, students participate in games, exercises, improvisations, and scripts that encourage confidence, enhance team-building skills, intellectually challenge, and heighten awareness. Through drama classes, students gain a better understanding of their emotions, and recognize their commonality with one another, instilling in them a greater empathy towards others. Middle School students also participate in an annual production that might include a modern play or Shakespeare.
Practical life experiences are prevalent in the Middle School program. Our students operate businesses in order to expose them to numerous entrepreneurial skills. Students write business plans, market the enterprise to the school community, and run all aspects of the business with the guidance of adults. Businesses include a school store, staff luncheons, coffee sales, and pizza sales. Proceeds from these endeavors enable students to research entrepreneurs in developing countries and provide micro-loans through KIVA.org. Within our Montessori community, students learn to care for their environment. They begin each year preparing and taking ownership of their environment by organizing, beautifying and making small repairs. Within this work, they handle tools while learning safety and practical life skills. Students also participate in community service programs such as Gaining Ground in Concord, MA.
The Middle School humanities curriculum is an interdisciplinary exploration of history, English, literature, philosophy, geography, and grammar. Students are exposed to classical literature and philosophies, both western and nonwestern, with the intent that students will develop knowledge-based integrity that will guide them throughout their lives. Students learn to appreciate the richness of cultures from other places in the world and other times in history, and to recognize common universal principles. Students work toward improving reading for comprehension, and writing with literary skill. Progression in grammar lessons is assured, and verbal debate and discourse are ongoing.
Middle School students begin each year with substantial community service initiatives – preparing and taking ownership of their school environment by organizing, beautifying and making restorations. Within this work, students handle tools while learning safety and practical life skills. Students also learn primitive living skills by foraging from our school community gardens to prepare meals and by discovering alternative uses for objects found in nature. Visiting local conservation areas, Middle School students explore and learn to create deep maps, journal and interpret tracks and signage.
Middle School students attend art classes once a week. Students continue to develop a deep understanding of materials and processes in order to independently pursue projects according to their own interests, as well as achieve competency while working on collaborative projects. Awareness of art history and art as an expression of culture remains a focus at this level. Several interdisciplinary projects are managed in collaboration with math, science, and humanities curriculum. Art and technology are also explored as a combined approach to problem-solving.
Middle School students attend physical education classes by grade twice a week for ninety minutes. The main focus is placed on building a greater self-image and increasing self-confidence by setting attainable goals and working individually and as a group to achieve them. Muscular strength and endurance, flexibility, and cardio-respiratory endurance are important factors for lifelong health and well-being. These factors are improved upon during team related sports and games, individual challenges, and cooperative games. Middle School students also attend health and wellness classes led by Oak Meadow’s physical education and science faculty.