Upper Elementary: Ages (9-12)

(9-12) Philosophy Statement
The 9-12 teaching team embraces our responsibility to educate the whole child as we meet the academic, social, and emotional needs of each of our students. We provide an environment where children are engaged in their education, feel safe to learn, and are able to communicate their needs and feelings with the teaching staff and their peers. Our ultimate goal is for students to have the skills they need to be successful when they leave our environment.

The (9-12) curriculum cycle covers the following subjects: 

  • Language Arts/Grammar/Spelling
  • Literature/Poetry
  • Math/Geometry/Algebra
  • Physical & Biological Science/ Ecology
  • History/Current Events
  • Grace & Courtesy/Practical Life 
  • Technology

A Typical Day

*All students must arrive at school by 8:00 am.

7:30 – 8:30         Dropoff/Quiet Work Time.
8:30 – 10:30       Lessons and Work Time
10:30 – 11:00      Silent Work Time/Clean-up
11:00 – 11:45       Lunch
11:45 – 12:30       Recess
12:30 – 1:00        Snack/Quiet Work Time/Reading
1:00 – 2:45          Lessons and Work Time
2:45 – 3:00         Clean-up/Announcements
3:00 – 3:15          Dismissal
3:15 – 6:00          Extended-Day Option

A (9-12) Overview 

Grade-Level Lessons
Children at this age want to know why the Universe is as it is, how it came to be that way, and are ready to dig into a deeper layer of understanding. Lessons are meant to answer those questions, develop the critical-thinking habits to find their own answers, and to spark curiosity. Most lessons are taught in groups by grade level, and some have multi-age groupings. These follow a consistent weekly schedule and last approximately 45 minutes. Assignments are given that need to be completed by that lesson the next week. Teachers have lessons with all students all three years which helps build community, facilitate learning, and strengthen teaching teams.

Work Time/Assignments
When students are not in direct lessons, they have work time to choose what assignments to work on and plan their day. The consistent schedule allows children to learn how to manage their time, ask questions of teachers one-on-one, work with peers, and build strong executive functioning skills. Freedom of movement and choice are part of every day. This empowers children to take ownership of their education and build strong work habits. 

Accommodating Different Skills/Interests
Our goal is to set children up for success, challenge them to build new skills and knowledge, and to help them build confidence and competency in many areas of study. There are accommodations made on assignments for children with an individual plan. There are learning extensions that are available for students particularly interested in a subject area. Those learning extension ideas might come from the teacher, from the materials on the shelves, or from the student. We strive to challenge and foster creativity and a continued love of learning.

Concrete to Abstract
Montessori materials and curriculum are the foundation of all TNSM programs. Students work with hands-on materials to help integrate new concepts on a deep level, though they move to abstraction more quickly at this age. The (9-12) program also pulls in resources from many outside sources and introduces students to technology- typing, Microsoft Office, and Google. 

Student Board/Community Building
The (9-12) student body comes together as a whole during our Community Meetings on Friday mornings. Student Board runs the meeting where they read a poem, report the weather, give reminders, and address concerns.  Student Board also awards character strength cards to students who have helped someone in the community through kindness or leadership. Additional responsibilities of Student Board are to pick a cause that the whole community will support and fundraise for, and to plan fun Friday events where (for example) the community can dress “wacky.”   Student Board comprises one of the three teachers’ homerooms.  It is a multi-aged group in which everyone participates. Our three homerooms rotate Student Board seasonally. 

Senior Project
This is a capstone year long research project each 6th grader completes. They choose a topic, spend months researching, write a 10-35 page paper, and become experts on their topic. This work culminates in a formal presentation to a large public audience where they present their topic in a 3-7 minute speech along with their PowerPoint presentation. Some past topics: Sharks, Google, Alfred Hitchcock, Quantum Physics, Galapagos Islands, Neil deGrasse Tyson, History of Baseball, The Simpsons, and so much more! They work through this project with one-on-one editorial support from their homeroom teacher. They receive individualized writing lessons and are ready for any research writing project they will encounter in the future. It has been wonderful to hear from so many alumni who have entered professions as adults that directly relate to their Senior Project topics!

Field Trips/Classroom Visits/Camp Ernst
A goal for the (9-12) program is to have three field trips each year; one in the fall, winter, and spring.  The field trips are thematically designed to engage children in art/science/nature beyond the classroom walls.  

In addition to field trips, the (9-12) teachers bring in outside organizations to introduce children to a variety of topics: weather, animals, recycling, etc.  

At this age, going out into the world is very important. There are extended class trips that allow children to challenge themselves in many practical life ways, as well as gain independence and confidence away from home. These are wonderful learning opportunities and bonding experiences. 4th and 5th graders rotate a nature-based and a city-based trip each year, and they all go together. These trips last three days and involve at least one overnight. The 6th graders fly to Washington, D.C. as a class and stay for five days and four nights. This coincides with their study of American history and civil rights, and is a capstone experience. They learn how to navigate public transportation and so much more!

Lastly, our (9-12) students participate in an overnight at Camp Ernst. This experience involves team-building activities and personal goal-setting opportunities through rope courses, horseback riding and other fun programs. 

Homework
Homework in the (9-12) serves as an opportunity for students to practice what they’ve learned in class and develop time-management skills at home.  It is given on a weekly basis, allowing flexibility for families. Homework is divided into language arts and math. In 6th grade, a language arts writing assignment is given weekly, and math homework is due four days a week and a textbook is used. This goal is for this work to be student driven.

Special Programs

  • Spanish
  • Art
  • Music
  • Dance/P.E./Meditation
  • Appreciating Differences/Civil Rights
  • Food and Sustainability

Currently, our (9-12) specials program primarily happens on Thursday afternoons. Every Thursday from 12:30 – 2:45, students will rotate between three classes: Appreciating Difference (4th & 5th) or Civil Rights (6th) /Dance or P.E./Spanish.  

In addition to the Thursday afternoon specials, students will meet once a week for art for an hour. Art is part of much of their classwork, but in this isolated class, they have an opportunity to work on a wide variety of multimedia projects.

Standardized Testing
All (9-12) students take one standardized test each year. This serves as another type of assessment for teachers, but is primarily practical life practice with test-taking skills. We use either the TerraNova or IOWA tests which are nationally-used, standardized tests.