Sunday, June 8, 2014

June means...

June is here! That means a few things:

*last month of school; we don't finish, officially, until the last Thursday
*I'm already thinking about next year and doing some planning.

There are some things to decide still for my 16yo's classes next year, but she is still working toward the provincial diploma and has decided to switch from the online program she was doing to the basic homeschooling we had been doing. I think it will work much better for her, to be honest! There will be some work required in the planning, but course selections have to be made first. One thing that's nice is that she will be able to give input into the types of work she would like to do to meet the provincial outcomes.

For my son, while he's definitely made progress this year, it was, naturally, not anywhere near what I had planned on. But, without a plan, he probably would not have made as much progress, so I'm okay with that. He will be grade 9, which is the last year of junior high here. It really hit me how I have to do more "transitioning" next year, more adding in things that will be like the high school courses (I've decided to have him do the provincial high school credits because of just his general nature and approach to life! lol) he will have to do in grade 10. Writing will be a huge focus for next year and we've already picked Writing Strands 4 as a starting point. I may have him work through it faster than the book says to just so we can get to other writing sooner.

It hit me, though, that grade 9 is high school in the USA and that perhaps the Montessori High School at University Circle might have some good ideas for me. They do! I'm copying and pasting exactly below from their page Younger Level Elements of Study. I won't have two years to cover topics the way they do for history and such and besides, I would like to continue with Canadian and American history as planned (even though we didn't finish French and British history this year; we could do a month of super quick overview). I do, however, feel that I need to move beyond just the CM-inspired literature and narration (which I barely had him do, to be honest; we did more discussion of things than narration) and back into Montessori-style projects and such. There's something about the CM-style that doesn't feel... modern enough... if that makes sense. In any case, I have this vision of having portfolios and/or notebooks collecting their notes, work, pictures, etc., related to the outcomes they are covering. I've had this vision before and it keeps coming back, but I've somehow never properly implemented it. And both my kids can take this approach next year, which will, I think, bring a better unity to our little group. (Oh my, it just hit me that if everything goes as planned, it will be my daughter's last year of high school!!! WHAT?!)

From the Montessori High School at University Circle's site:

Younger Level Elements of Study

In the first two years of their high school career, students’ understanding of the world is developed through introductions to the distinct perspectives of the following disciplines and integrated work across the disciplines in application to real-life problems.
History and the Humanities are focused on exploring the evolution of human civilizations throughout time through the lens of the question “How have we come to the here and now?” The unifying central value of humanities work is the quest for peace through constructive human endeavor.


History is the study of human civilizations through time with the intent to find patterns of cause and effect and to create narratives that make sense of the human story. History gives insight into the human condition by identifying human universals and hopes in order to create awareness of opportunities for positive change in the student. In 9th and 10th grade, students are focusing on important episodes in world and American history, and they develop a strong understanding of the roots and methods of the discipline. Students conduct original research, discuss primary and secondary sources in seminar, and develop clear and coherent writing. Students learn to orient themselves in space and time, assisted by the use and creation of maps and timelines. The overarching theme is the human tendency for migration, as identified by Maria Montessori, and its effects and consequences. The study of history is enriched by work with the following social science disciplines or lenses which provide an emerging social justice perspective appropriate to the adolescent:

Social and Cultural Anthropology

Social and Cultural Anthropology is the comparative study of cultures and human societies. The study of the particularities of social and cultural life and emerging appreciation of general principles that govern human societies fuel the students’ understanding of self and other, empathy, and a drive to be engaged citizens of the world. 


Psychology is the study of human experience through thought and feelings and how they inform behavior. The introduction to psychology focuses on developmental and social psychology as a reflection of what it means to grow and become an adult in 21st Century society. It explicitly explores the role of motivation in exploration throughout history.


Geography is the interdisciplinary study of place in relation to economics, health, climate, plants/animals, and human populations. At MHS, geography orients to the study of place and human migration in close connection to orientation in time through the study of history. Students study both physical and human geography and build their understanding of how human population impacts the planet through the building of civilization, thus connect to the unifying central value of sustainability in the study of the sciences.


Philosophy is the critical, systematic study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence. Students are introduced to both Western and Eastern philosophical traditions, with an explicit focus in 9th and 10th grade on the Enlightenment in relation to the study of revolutions and nationalism. Chinese philosophy in the context of European exploration and the evolution of global trade is also a focus.


Sociology is study of society through empirical investigation and critical analysis to apply for betterment of society. Students are introduced to the discipline when they study the Industrial Revolution and socialist challenge to capitalism. They continue their study of migration, urbanization, and demographics in application to the history of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries.

Political Science

Political Science is the study of theory and practice of politics and analysis of political systems and behavior. Students are introduced to the discipline in the context of studying the revolutionary political, social, and economic changes associated with Enlightenment thought and industrialization of the 18th and 19th Centuries.


Economics at MHS is the holistic study of humans’ production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services with the understanding that market exchange has ecological, ethical, social, political, and social-psychological dimensions. In 9th and 10th grade, students are introduced to the discipline in the context of exploring the history of colonialism and imperialism.

Current Events and Ethical Thought

Current Events and Ethical Thought (CEET) class challenges students to think through current events by employing ethical theory as a tool of both critical reflection and discussion as well as moral self-construction. CEET engages students to see themselves in relation to others and in service to society. The course engages students by moving through concentric rings from a virtue-focused individual ethics towards the ethics of human relationships, society as a whole, and the environment considering the ethics of distributive justice, distribution of resources, human rights from the perspective of the modern adolescent.

Integrated Science

MHS offers an integrated science approach that allows students to understand natural phenomena from the perspective of biology, chemistry, biochemistry, physics, and the earth sciences. The course’s integrative character is enhanced by unifying themes such as energy, or the interconnectedness of all life. The course also addresses the ethical implications of scientific discovery and incorporates the use of manipulatives, formal lab work, seminar, written assignments, and cumulative projects. The arch of discovery reaches from understanding the origins of the universe and of life to the central unifying value of sustainability.

Mathematics: Geometry and Algebra

The mathematics curriculum at MHS is unique in that students not only learn mathematical skills, but actively explore and come to understand the why of mathematical operations. The study of geometry, for example, includes direct work with Euclid’s The Elements to understand proofs as they were historically developed. Math class also includes seminar and lab time, which allows for open-ended exploration of mathematical concepts and individualized attention and progress in skills. 

Foreign Language: Spanish and French

Foreign language instruction at MHS gives equal attention to speaking, reading, and writing in another language. Both Spanish and French classes immerse students into the lived culture of places where these languages are spoken and include many opportunities to speak the language, project work, written assignments, and opportunities to go out, including optional trips to Spanish and French speaking countries. 

English Language Arts

English Language Arts works in close cooperation with the History class and focuses on the exploration of literature through studies of genres and forms, evolution of grammar and writing skills, as well as creative expression and other project work. The course opens venues for students to try out identities and create utopias to broaden their understanding of possibility. In addition, writer’s workshops, a popular elective course, offer opportunities to explore particular forms of writing such as poetry, dramatic writing, or the short story in a focused, two-week intensive.

The Arts: Visual Art, Theatre, and Music

All three areas of the arts are introduced to 9th and 10th graders, one semester at a time, with a choice of deeper exploration for a second semester in one of the arts. In all three courses, students are given the opportunity to develop their understanding of the theory and history of the arts, and develop their own skills through creative processes. Students are also given the opportunity to visit the institutions of University Circle and the city of Cleveland in order to experience the arts. Art is happening at MHS all year round, in theatre productions, music performances, including coffeehouses in the evenings, art exhibits, in electives such as Parade the Circle, and in the annual Arts on Magnolia event.

Physical Education and Health

Physical education, in coordination with the study of health, is focused on promoting the physical, mental, and social health of our students. Students may choose different PE activities each quarter. Options include work-outs at 1 to 1 Fitness, basketball, swimming, urban hiking, soccer, yoga, dance, and seasonal activities such as skiing or tennis. The health course holistically explores human health through lessons and project work on human development, nutrition with a hands-on component in the kitchen under the guidance of our culinary artist, and the impact of drugs and medicine on human health.

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