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Designing and Implementing a Montessori Secondary Program at the High School Level A Step-By-step Guide. Overview A Step-by-Step guide successes but wait… there is morE. Overview.

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Designing and Implementing a Montessori Secondary Program at the High School Level

A Step-By-step Guide

slide2

Overview

A Step-by-Step guide

successes

but wait…

there is morE

slide3

Overview

Who are Montessori High School students? What are their needs? How do you design an ideal community that meets the needs of students and parents and takes into account the expectations of society at large while holding true to the teaching and philosophy of Maria Montessori?

These are tough questions. But they are the questions faced everyday by teachers in a Montessori high school environment. I have been a teacher in a Montessori high school for the last seven years. I have spent countless hours asking those I work with and myself these questions. Some of the answers have come through reading and dialoging. This is the easy way. Most of the answers have come through complex and demanding everyday experiences. This is the hard way. While the easy way was not very meaningful, it is the answers that I gained the hard way that are the most valuable.

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Overview

The design and implementation of a Montessori program at the high school level requires an in-depth study of the needs of middle adolescents (15-18 years), Montessori’s idea of Cosmic Education, sustainable learning communities, the needs of parents, and current societal expectations.

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A Step-by-Step guide

Setting Goals

Designing

Implementing

Receiving Feedback

slide6

Setting Goals

  • A program that follows Montessori Philosophy
  • A program that meets the physical, cognitive, psychosocial, and moral needs of students
  • A sustainable learning community
  • A college preparatory program
slide7

Setting Goals

A program that follows Montessori Philosophy

  • Montessori credentialed (12-18) teachers
  • Master of Montessori Integrated Learning
slide8

Setting Goals

a program that

Meets the Physical, Cognitive, Psychosocial, and Moral Needs of Students

  • Adolescent Psychology
  • Current Trends and Issues
  • Communications and Counseling Skills
  • Teaching Strategies
  • Classroom Leadership
  • Observation, Record-keeping, and Assessment
  • Curriculum Development
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Setting Goals

A Sustainable Learning Community

  • Cosmic Education: Using the wonder of the universe and story telling as the central element of the Montessori high school curriculum.
  • Embracing Chaos: Learning to embrace the chaos of life and harness the energy of disorder for creativity and innovations.
  • Practice of Dialogue: Creating common meaning through discussion.
  • The Learning Environment: Preparing an environment where learning can occur.
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Setting Goals

A College Preparatory program

  • State Graduation Plan Requirements
  • Minimum Graduation
  • (22 credit hours)
  • Recommended High School Program
  • (24 credit hours)
  • Distinguished Achievement Program
  • (24 credit hours + advanced)
  • College Application Process
  • Time Management Skills
  • Study Skills
  • Problem Solving Skills
  • Personal Finance Information
  • Interpersonal Relationships Skills
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Designing a program that follows

Montessori Philosophy

Teachers Credentialed in Secondary I and II

Meet with administration to design a hiring plan that requires the Secondary I and II teacher education program within the first five years of employment.

Master of Montessori Integrated Learning

Meet with administration to design a continuing education program that allows teachers to take advantage of the on-line masters program.

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Designing a program that

Meets the Physical, Cognitive, Psychosocial, and Moral Needs of Students

Adolescent Psychology

Before designing a program that meets the psychological needs of students, teachers must first come to terms with their own adolescent issues. This prevents teachers from getting involved in daily ups and downs of adolescent issues and allows them to be an objective member of the classroom.

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Designing a program that

Meets the Physical, Cognitive, Psychosocial, and Moral Needs of Students

  • Current Trends and Issues
  • Essential to the Montessori secondary classroom are some main practices and elements. These practices and elements are in harmony with Montessori philosophy and current trends in education. They are:
      • 1. Community Building
      • 2. Master Learning
      • 3. Meaningful Work
      • 4. Cooperative Learning Groups
      • 5. Erdkinder: Land Laboratory
      • 6. Cosmic, Global and Peace Education
      • 7. Interdisciplinary/Transdisciplinary Curriculum
      • 8. Student led Family Conferences
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Designing a program that

Meets the Physical, Cognitive, Psychosocial, and Moral Needs of Students

  • 9. Service Learning
  • 10. Appropriate Assessment
  • 11. Personal Reflection
  • 12. Career Education/Internships
  • 13. Economic Experiences
  • 14. Exploration Classes/Experiential Learning
  • 15. Multi-age grouping
  • 16. Block Scheduling
  • 17. Rites of Passage
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Designing a program that

Meets the Physical, Cognitive, Psychosocial, and Moral Needs of Students

Communications and Counseling Skills

A secondary program must provide a wide variety of intrapersonal, interpersonal and community building activities. Teachers must learn how to incorporate community meeting, personal reflection, community building cooperative games and ROPES courses, counseling strategies, Socratic dialogue, and NLP (neurolinguistic programming) into the high school program.

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Designing a program that

Meets the Physical, Cognitive, Psychosocial, and Moral Needs of Students

  • Teaching Strategies
  • Creating responsive middle and high school environment includes focusing on learning how to learn, learning styles, thinking skills and lesson planning.
  • Understanding the way in which each student learns is a key to a responsive high school environment. The three modes of learning are:
      • 1. Auditory
      • 2. Visual
      • 3. Kinesthetic
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Designing a program that

Meets the Physical, Cognitive, Psychosocial, and Moral Needs of Students

Howard Gardner’s nine intelligences are another aspect of learning styles. Gardner believes that people have all nine intelligences but different people have different unique combinations of those intelligences. This unique combination affects the way each person views the world. Gardner currently lists the nine intelligences as:

Linguistic Intelligence

Logical/Mathematical Intelligence

3. Musical Rhythmic Intelligence

4. Bodily/Kinesthetic Intelligence

5. Spatial Intelligence

6. Naturalist Intelligence

7. Intrapersonal Intelligence

Interpersonal Intelligence

Existential Intelligence

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Designing a program that

Meets the Physical, Cognitive, Psychosocial, and Moral Needs of Students

  • Classroom Leadership
    • “It is necessary for the teacher to guide the child without letting him feel her presence too much, so that she may always be ready to supply the desired help, but may never be the obstacle between the child and his experience.” (Montessori, Dr. Montessori\'s Own Handbook, p. 55)
  • The teacher is responsible for coordinating and facilitating the day-to-day operation of the classroom. This means that the teacher must empower the students to participate in this operation. It also means that the teacher must give control of some activities to the students. When students work with a clearly defined daily and weekly schedule they feel able to participate in maintaining the day-to-day operations.
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Designing a program that

Meets the Physical, Cognitive, Psychosocial, and Moral Needs of Students

  • Observation, Record-keeping, and Assessment
    • The secondary program needs to include a variety of forms for appropriate student and teacher record-keeping and long-term assessment systems. The use of study guides, homework and behavior notices, transcripts, and self-assessments are a few ways to keep accurate records while communicating the student’s progress with parents.
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Designing a program that

Meets the Physical, Cognitive, Psychosocial, and Moral Needs of Students

Curriculum Development

Creating a curriculum where one subject area is linked or connected to other areas contributes to a student’s ability to view knowledge as being interconnected and not isolated into prescribed areas of study. Montessori middle school environments create this connection by use of a theme. The same theme is used in all subject areas for the entire learning cycle. At the high school level, themes are not explicitly given; rather, students are asked to discover themes as they move through the curriculum.

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Designing a Sustainable Learning Community

Cosmic Education

Maria Montessori believed that giving students a vision of the whole universe would allow them to discover relationships and inspire them to find answers to their questions. She called the introducing of students to this vision “Cosmic Education”. In most Montessori schools cosmic education is approached through the telling of stories. These stories are an introduction to each of the five main areas of study. They are commonly known as “The Great Lessons”. Once these “strike the imagination” stories are told, the teacher presents choices of work to the students that are extensions of the story.

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Designing a Sustainable Learning Community

Embracing Chaos

The study of chaos theory as applied to systems, human or otherwise, has recently become a topic of many books and articles. Experts in business, science, management and education are just now beginning to understand what Maria Montessori accepted many years ago: systems that embrace chaos can reorganized, respond, and be resilient.

At first glance a Montessori classroom may appear to be mass confusion, but a close observer notices the patterns or order in the chaos. Freedom of choice and self-correcting materials are two ways that “organized chaos” is integrated into the Montessori classroom. Students who are freed from rigid schedules and direct instruction learn to self-organize and be flexible.

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Designing a Sustainable Learning Community

Students are traditionally taught that chaos is not a desirable state and schools spend time and money trying to maintain order and control in their classrooms. While this is the accepted way of educating our young people, it is not the best way. There is no way to avoid chaos. Nor should we want to avoid it. From chaos and disorder comes creativity and innovation, those things that are necessary for a sustainable learning community.

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Designing a Sustainable Learning Community

Practice of Dialogue

The ability for people to communicate effectively with one another will have a significant impact on the future of human society. Few people would argue with this statement. But what do we mean by communicate? Many educators believe that teaching students about communication involves refining and practicing speaking. They give very little thought or time to the practice of listening. Dialogue is not easy. It takes practice. But the process of dialogue can be just as rewarding as the outcome. Educators who want to prepare their students to be positively contributing members of human society must engage in the practice of dialogue.

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Designing a Sustainable Learning Community

The Learning Environment

  • Establishing a healthy and dynamic learning community where cosmic education, embracing chaos and practicing dialogue can occur is the major responsibility of the teaching staff. Three key parts of a healthy learning community are:
      • 1. Education Philosophy
      • 2. Teacher-Student Relationships
      • 3. Individual Learning Styles
  • Each of these parts provides the space for students to move beyond themselves and into the world of community.
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Designing a Sustainable Learning Community

When school districts dictate which concepts should be taught when, and teachers must adhere to this strict schedule or fear losing their job. The teachable moment is lost and spontaneity disappears. Each teacher specializes in teaching one specific class in one subject area.

Another key part to a healthy learning community is the teacher-student relationship. An environment where students are afraid of or cannot respect teachers is not the kind of environment that fosters community.

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Designing a Sustainable Learning Community

Learning is the goal of all education. Each student learns at his or her own pace and own way. Learning communities should work to discover each student’s individual learning style and trust that in time they will acquire the education they need

slide28

Designing a

College Preparatory program

State Graduation Plan Requirements

Minimum Graduation Requirements

slide29

Designing a

College Preparatory program

State Graduation Plan Requirements

Recommended High School Program

slide30

Designing a

College Preparatory program

State Graduation Plan Requirements

Distinguished Achievement Program

slide31

Designing a

College Preparatory program

College Application Process

College Placement Intensive

Application Process

Interview Skills

Essay Writing

Financial Aid Awareness

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Designing a

College Preparatory program

Time Management, Study, Interpersonal Relationships and Problem Solving Skills

All of these skills need to be integrated into multiple classes across all areas of study. In addition to integrating these skills into the curriculum it is also helpful to give lessons and have activities to practice each of the skills you are expecting the students to master before graduation.

Personal Finance Information

With the number of credit cards and financing options that are available to college students these days it is vital to have a class that specifically addresses the financial opportunities and challenges that are available at the college level.

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Implementing A program that follows Montessori Philosophy

Teachers Credentialed in Secondary I and II

Implement the designed hiring plan. Support the teachers in their training activities including mid-year seminars and research.

Encourage faculty and staff that have not yet completed their credential to audit the Montessori Philosophy component of the teacher education.

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Implementing a program that

Meets the Physical, Cognitive, Psychosocial, and Moral Needs of Students

Adolescent Psychology

After spending many hours considering our options, our faculty has established a few age-appropriate academic and social markers. Some of our academic markers are grades, honor roll, and study hall. The high school level is the first level where students are given grades in class. Some of our social markers are graduation, sports, and dances. While most schools have a graduation for each grade level, our school has a moving-up ceremony for everyone with graduation only for high school seniors.

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Implementing a program that

Meets the Physical, Cognitive, Psychosocial, and Moral Needs of Students

Our school does not start organized sport until the middle school level. The middle school students have a casual dance while the high school students have a formal dance or prom. Each year, there is always pressure from parents to change some of our markers. They mention what is done at other schools as a way to persuade us to change. We always listen, and then we explain that we do things to meet the developmental needs of the student.

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Implementing a program that

Meets the Physical, Cognitive, Psychosocial, and Moral Needs of Students

  • Meeting students’ needs touches every part of a Montessori classroom, including building design, classroom set up, curriculum, and scheduling.
  • The physical needs of high school students include:
  • 1. Large sturdy furniture
  • 2. Open Spaces
  • 3. Real work

The cognitive needs of students in the third plane include:

1. Creative expression

2. Academic choices

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Implementing a program that

Meets the Physical, Cognitive, Psychosocial, and Moral Needs of Students

The psychosocial needs of students in the third plane include:

1. Independence

2. Consistent Adults

The moral needs of students in the third plane include:

1. Problem Solving

2. Causes

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Implementing a program that

Meets the Physical, Cognitive, Psychosocial, and Moral Needs of Students

  • Current Trends and Issues
      • Community Building - A trusting, caring community doesn’t just happen. The staff and students must spend time and energy building the community. Cooperative games, trust building activities and physical and mental challenges all support a healthy, caring and nurturing classroom and school community.
      • 2. Master Learning - Mastery learning holds that everyone can learn, given the right circumstances and environment. The secondary environment is designed to give each student the time needed to master the objectives. The teacher’s job is to design clear objectives for each area of study and to break the area into small learning units. At the end of learning unit the student is assessed and may only proceed to the next unit when he/she has demonstrated understanding of the previous unit.
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Implementing a program that

Meets the Physical, Cognitive, Psychosocial, and Moral Needs of Students

  • 3. Meaningful Work - Adolescents crave the opportunity to do meaningful and valuable work. Meaningful work is work that has an impact on the school, local or global community. Projects that incorporate designing and building, or problem solving and implementing solutions, are particular engaging for students. Being able to see the results of their projects make them feel that the work done was valuable. When students author school policies, plan social events and build structures used by the school, they feel important and valued by their community.
  • 4. Cooperative Learning Groups - Cooperative learning is an instructional method in which students work together to solve problems and complete projects. Clear guidelines and learning objectives are established in order to assure group interdependence and individual accountability. Students plan and accomplish each activity together. Cooperative learning allows students the experience of working with peers of different abilities and leadership styles.
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Implementing a program that

Meets the Physical, Cognitive, Psychosocial, and Moral Needs of Students

  • 5. Erdkinder: Land Laboratory - Provide required and optional opportunities for work on the land. Places that are ideal for high school students are small farms, horse farms, ranches, city gardens or communes.
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Implementing a program that

Meets the Physical, Cognitive, Psychosocial, and Moral Needs of Students

  • 6. Cosmic, Global and Peace Education - Montessori believed that the fundamental goal of cosmic and global education was peace. She had a vision of children growing up in a world of peace and respect. The peace education curriculum can be introduced at all levels of Montessori; the important part is to match the activities with the needs of the students. Activities that are appropriate for early childhood age children will not necessarily be meaningful to middle or high school students. At the high school level, students participate in a variety of centering, community and cultural awareness activities. Centering activities include journaling and meditation. Community awareness practices consist of participation in daily community meeting, trust building exercises and classes which emphasize positive ways to contribute to the school community. Some cultural awareness activities available are classes in world cultures and religions, cultural celebrations and opportunities to experience other cultures first hand through travel.
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Implementing a program that

Meets the Physical, Cognitive, Psychosocial, and Moral Needs of Students

  • 7. Interdisciplinary/Transdisciplinary Curriculum - A key to engaging adolescent cognitively is to show the interconnectedness of things. Interdisciplinary/Transdisciplinary curriculum that integrates subjects and focuses on themes, is one way to emphasize the interconnectedness of all areas of study. It is not, however, as simple as bringing literature or creative writing into a science curriculum. Transdisciplinary curriculum must have overarching themes that touch every subject area.
  • 8. Student led Family Conferences - Family conferences are held multiple times throughout the year for students to develop and update their educational plan. The teachers’ and parents\' roles are to guide each student in setting realistic goals, and then support the student to meet his/her commitments. Students are asked to evaluate their progress in academic work, personal responsibility and group responsibility. Students then request their parents’ and teachers’ points of view in each area.
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Implementing a program that

Meets the Physical, Cognitive, Psychosocial, and Moral Needs of Students

  • 9. Service Learning - Service learning goes beyond community service. It is an approach by which young people learn through active participation in thoughtfully organized service experiences that meet an actual community need and are coordinated in collaboration with the school and community. Service learning provides students with opportunities to use newly gained academic skills and knowledge in real life situations in their community. It broadens student learning beyond the classroom and helps to promote the development of a sense of caring for others. Reflection, thinking, talking, or writing about the experience, is also necessary. Students in the high school program spend 200 hours volunteering at a variety of organization in the community. During the volunteering experience, students keep a daily journal. After the volunteering, students give brief presentations to their peers about their experience.
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Implementing a program that

Meets the Physical, Cognitive, Psychosocial, and Moral Needs of Students

  • 10. Appropriate Assessment - To assess a student authentically, the teacher must provide assessment to the student that is developmentally appropriate. Assessment techniques used in the Montessori secondary classroom include portfolios, presentations, and written and oral examinations.
  • 11. Personal Reflection - In our hurried society, students need to learn to spend time reflecting on goals, reducing stress and creating a personal vision. Activities for personal reflection include guided self-knowledge activities that are recorded in a journal, power naps (short 20-30 minutes naps meant to refresh), creative arts (drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry) and group discussions.
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Implementing a program that

Meets the Physical, Cognitive, Psychosocial, and Moral Needs of Students

12. Career Education/Internships - Career education and internships are opportunities for students to explore their interests and talents, to contribute to society and to improve critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Students in the high school, participate in 250 hours of career education and business internships. High school students spend 100 hours as apprentices in businesses of their choice. Before interning, students write a resume and a business letter explaining the goals of the experience. During their internship, students create a portfolio of projects completed and write daily in their journals. Afterwards, students share their experiences with their peers and write a thank-you note to the business. Students spend 100 hours in college placement/career education during their junior year. During the two-week session, students create a portfolio of their high school honors and extracurricular activities, write college admission essays, participate in mock interviews, and compile a list of six to eight colleges and universities to which they plan to apply.

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Implementing a program that

Meets the Physical, Cognitive, Psychosocial, and Moral Needs of Students

13. Economic Experiences - The opportunity to earn money is one of the most important activities in which an adolescent can participate. Students feel empowered by working hard and getting paid for that work. At the middle school level, all students work in businesses run by the middle school class. At the high school level, each student is required to take one semester of business entrepreneurship. The goal of this class is to coach students through planning and implementing a small business. Students can work individually or with a team. In addition to establishing their own business, students also participate in a stock market project and learn personal finance.

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Implementing a program that

Meets the Physical, Cognitive, Psychosocial, and Moral Needs of Students

14. Exploration Classes/Experiential Learning - As in all levels of Montessori education, there are opportunities for discovery and experiential learning in which participation is the goal. Experiential learning is the goal for career education, internships, service learning, and field study trips. These activities are one- or two-week intensive experiences that include visual or performing art classes, local community service, global community service, language immersion, business internships and Erdkinder experience. Students are required to participate and keep a daily journal or log of their activities. After completing the experience, students give a short presentation to their peers. This presentation includes what they gain from the experiences and how they can apply this new knowledge to their lives.

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Implementing a program that

Meets the Physical, Cognitive, Psychosocial, and Moral Needs of Students

15. Multi-age grouping - The ideal Montessori classroom includes a three-year age span of students. This multi-age group promotes peer teaching, students learn that all members of the class are teachers and students. The middle school level incorporates multi-age grouping in all classes. Multi-age grouping is utilized at the high school level in math, social studies, science, additional language, electives, health education, and experiential learning. Students are placed in classes not by age but by academic level or interest.

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Implementing a program that

Meets the Physical, Cognitive, Psychosocial, and Moral Needs of Students

  • 16. Block Scheduling - Allowing students to have time to plan, work, present, and evaluate their work all in one block gives students the opportunity to increase their skills in concentration, problem-solving, and time management. Blocks of time are of different lengths and occur at different frequencies depending on the goal of the class. In classes in which skill building and practice are important, such as math or additional language, the blocks are shorter (one and one-half hours) and occur every other day for the entire year. Classes in which studying material by concept or topic is the goal have longer blocks (two or three hours) and occur every other day for half of the year. In all classes, students are responsible for choosing their work, planning their time, deciding on due dates, presenting, and evaluating the finished products.
  • 17. Rites of Passage - “There seems to be a built-in human need for some kind of process to mark the shift from childhood to adulthood” (Bruetsch, p. 3). It is important that the school acknowledge this process by implementing a challenging and unforgettable experience that marks the physical, social and emotional transition the adolescent makes from childhood to adulthood.
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Implementing a program that

Meets the Physical, Cognitive, Psychosocial, and Moral Needs of Students

Communications and Counseling Skills

Community meeting is a secondary school version of early childhood and elementary community circle. This is a student-led activity in which students have the chance to share, acknowledge their peers, and problem-solve with the community. This meeting usually begins or ends the day. At the high school level, a group of three students leads community meeting.

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Implementing a program that

Meets the Physical, Cognitive, Psychosocial, and Moral Needs of Students

Teaching students to reflect on their own thoughts and experiences is the goal of personal reflection. This is a time of day set aside for journaling and relaxation. Students are asked to refine their intrapersonal communication skills as they progress through the secondary program. At the high school level, students participate in daily personal reflection activities.

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Implementing a program that

Meets the Physical, Cognitive, Psychosocial, and Moral Needs of Students

Community building activities are a part of a healthy classroom community. Cooperative games and ROPES courses are two ways by which teachers are encouraged to build community in their classrooms. Cooperative games can be employed any time of the year. ROPES courses are more intense community-building experiences and a group of professional instructors is usually needed to facilitate these activities.

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Implementing a program that

Meets the Physical, Cognitive, Psychosocial, and Moral Needs of Students

In order to help students discuss and resolve typical adolescent issues, teachers are educated in individual and group counseling strategies. These strategies include active listening, role-playing, conflict resolution, brainstorming, individual and group problem solving, goal setting, and acknowledgments. Resources regarding depression, drug and alcohol abuse, Internet safety, sexuality awareness, nutrition, eating disorders, suicide, and physical abuse are particularly useful to high school faculty and staff.

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Implementing a program that

Meets the Physical, Cognitive, Psychosocial, and Moral Needs of Students

Teaching Strategies

Montessori secondary education addresses each of the three modes of learning in presentation and assessment of material, giving each student an opportunity to experience and demonstrate knowledge of the information in the way that works best. But it is not enough for the teachers to be aware of learning styles; at the secondary level it is imperative that the students themselves be aware of their own learning style as well as the learning styles of their peers. This allows students to design presentations that will inform and meet the needs of all classmates.

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Implementing a program that

Meets the Physical, Cognitive, Psychosocial, and Moral Needs of Students

Before presenting their one-hour end of semester projects, students in each class meet together to brainstorm ways to incorporate the three modes of learning and the nine intelligences into their presentations. Once a student gives his or her presentation, the class members and the teacher complete an evaluation on the presentation. The evaluation includes questions about quality of content and leadership ability. The evaluation also includes a section in which students identify which of the three modes and nine intelligences were used during the presentation.

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Implementing a program that

Meets the Physical, Cognitive, Psychosocial, and Moral Needs of Students

Students quickly learn the importance of addressing learning styles because the larger variety of activities they incorporate, the easier it is to keep their classmates engaged for the entire hour.

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Implementing a program that

Meets the Physical, Cognitive, Psychosocial, and Moral Needs of Students

Classroom Leadership

Allow students to facilitate community meetings, organize socials, initiate problem-solving discussions, and create and enforce school policies and guidelines.

Create a clear and predictable daily, weekly, and semester schedule. Have as few interruptions to as possible.

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Implementing a program that

Meets the Physical, Cognitive, Psychosocial, and Moral Needs of Students

The design of the secondary environment can make the job of a secondary teacher easier. When a teacher takes into consideration how the space will be used and the specific needs of his/her students while designing a classroom, the environment becomes a partner in classroom leadership. When a teacher disregards the use of the space or the needs of his/her students, then the design, no matter how attractive will make the classroom leadership job of the teacher more difficult.

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Implementing a program that

Meets the Physical, Cognitive, Psychosocial, and Moral Needs of Students

  • Observation, Record-keeping, and Assessment
    • The study guide is a written record for the student and the teacher of all lessons and activities that will be taking place in a learning cycle. The student uses the study guide as a reference to plan individual and group work as well as a place to record completion of work. Each area of study has a study guide that is colored-coded for easy reference.
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Implementing a program that

Meets the Physical, Cognitive, Psychosocial, and Moral Needs of Students

Curriculum Development

The high school language arts program is divided into two areas: English Language and Additional Language. The English Language program, while continuing to have the five strands used in middle school, focuses on three main areas of study: World Literature, United States Literature, and Literary Tradition Overview. World Literature is studied over a course of two years and is made up of English I and English II. United States Literature, studied the third year, is titled English III. Literary Tradition Overview, studied the final year, is titled English IV and includes a great deal of English Literature.

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Implementing a program that

Meets the Physical, Cognitive, Psychosocial, and Moral Needs of Students

  • The Additional Language program offers Spanish, French, and American Sign Language and includes an intensive study of vocabulary, literature, speaking, grammar, and writing. Courses offered are Spanish Level I-V, French Level I-IV and ASL Level I-V.
    • The focus of the math curriculum is to match each student’s particular ability and allow him or her to work at the best individual pace. Students find math more enjoyable when they are allowed to make it a social occasion. The high school level offers six level of math: Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, Pre-Calculus, Calculus AB, and Calculus BC. At all levels, students take quizzes for feedback and master comprehensive tests with at least 80%.
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Implementing a program that

Meets the Physical, Cognitive, Psychosocial, and Moral Needs of Students

Health education, which is taken by student all four years, is the study of issues pertinent to the needs of today’s adolescents. Students explore topics such as communicating with family and friends, stress management, self-esteem, peer pressure, drug awareness, sexuality, nutrition, and balanced-living. Each grade level has a specific area in which they work. There is a time each day that students spend in personal reflection for development of their intrapersonal skills. Once a week, students participate in a group discussion or cooperative game. Students complete a yearlong project focused on issues that affect teens.

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Implementing a program that

Meets the Physical, Cognitive, Psychosocial, and Moral Needs of Students

Social studies or social sciences at the high school level are comprised of four classes: World Cultures and Geography, World History, United States History, and Economics/United States Government. Students complete all four classes. Natural science class are semester-long (16 week) classes. The focus of the social sciences curriculum is the thoughtful and systematic examination of ideas. Students focus on group dialogue and presentation.

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Implementing a program that

Meets the Physical, Cognitive, Psychosocial, and Moral Needs of Students

Natural sciences at the high school level are comprised of four classes: Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Environmental Science. Students complete all four classes. Natural science class are semester-long (16 week) classes. The focus of the natural science curriculum is on using great ideas to look for patterns in science and integrating this information into all disciplines. In all classes students conduct laboratory experiments and make presentations.

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Implementing a program that

Meets the Physical, Cognitive, Psychosocial, and Moral Needs of Students

Integration classes are specifically designed to help students integrate all areas of the high school curriculum. The three integration classes offered are Personal and Social Responsibility, Theories of Knowledge and Senior Thesis.

Personal and Social Responsibility is taken the first two years and focuses on study skills and speech communication. Personal responsibility is addressed with the teaching of a variety of communication skills such as acknowledging others, active listening and goal-setting as well as organization skills. Social responsibility is addressed with the teaching of conflict resolution, peer mediation skills and basic speech communication. Emphasis is also placed on basic etiquette skills.

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Implementing a program that

Meets the Physical, Cognitive, Psychosocial, and Moral Needs of Students

Theories of Knowledge is taken the third year and is designed to introduce students to the area of philosophy called epistemology. The course examines the foundations underlying the various disciplines encountered throughout one’s educational career—history, language, mathematics, physics, etc. –and asks fundamental questions which show the interdisciplinary nature of all human knowledge. The course also introduces logic. In addition to elements of formal deductive logic, students learn methods of classification and definition, recognizing fallacies, basic argument analysis, inductive generalization, analogies, statistical reasoning, and explanation. Emphasis is given to analytical reasoning, writing, and speaking. Course work includes a year-end analytical essay on the foundations of knowledge.

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Implementing a program that

Meets the Physical, Cognitive, Psychosocial, and Moral Needs of Students

Senior Thesis focuses on the researching, writing and presentation of the senior thesis. The thesis will be researched and written in steps throughout the year and the information will be shared at the end of the year in a 15-20 minute presentation. The paper must be original research, movie/literature analysis, or design project in an area of interest.

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Implementing a program that

Meets the Physical, Cognitive, Psychosocial, and Moral Needs of Students

Experiential Learning classes are offered during semester electives and three intersession periods. Electives offered include classes such as health fitness, fine arts, and performing arts. Intersession periods include opportunities for field study programs, language immersion, land lab experience and community service.

Electives are semester-long classes offered during the school day. Students choose these classes based on interest and are expected to participate fully. Grading for these classes is based on class participation and completion of assigned projects.

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Implementing a program that

Meets the Physical, Cognitive, Psychosocial, and Moral Needs of Students

Intersession periods are short (one to two week) breaks between learning cycles. During intersession periods students can choose from a group of service opportunities or find their own service project, travel to other countries for language immersion, travel for a field study experience, and participate in an intensive fine or performing art class. All students are required to keep a journal during their intersession period and share their experiences with their classmates upon returning to school.

During their third year, high school students are required to participate in the intensive college placement program.

During their fourth year, high school students are required to find and work in a job of their choice during one of their intersession periods.

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Implementing A Sustainable Learning Community

Cosmic Education

The cosmic education at the high school is unique in that it allows the five stories to unfold over a four-year period. The stories are not always told by the teachers but are experienced and told by the students as they move through the curriculum.

The Story of the Universe - Students investigate chemistry and physics in-depth with experiments, textbooks, and science literature such as The Universe Story by Thomas Berry and Brian Swimme.

The Story of Life - Students investigate biology and environmental science in depth with experiments, textbooks, and science literature such as The Double Helix by James Watson.

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Implementing A Sustainable Learning Community

The Story of Humans - Students investigate early civilizations and follow these early cultures as they expand and change over time. Students complete an in-depth study in the social sciences including world cultures, world religions, government, economics, and thematic world history.

The Story of Math - Students participate in an in-depth study in of algebra, geometry, trigonometry, calculus, and computer technology.

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Implementing A Sustainable Learning Community

The Story of Language – Students conduct an in-depth English language study of world literature, United States literature, and literature traditions, thematic writing, grammar, world literature, and vocabulary; an in-depth additional language study of literature, vocabulary, and grammar; and an in-depth curriculum integration study of speech communication, study skills, organizational skill, epistemology, logic, and research skills.

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Implementing A Sustainable Learning Community

  • Embracing Chaos
  • Teaching students to embrace chaos and to recognize opportunities to reorganize and respond is an important part of any Montessori high school environment.
  • Two areas that educators can address to help students adopt a positive and beneficial view of chaos are:
      • 1. Flow
      • Paradoxes

Students who experience flow have a deep understanding of the benefit of chaotic creative power. Since the concept of flow applies not only to individual activities, but also to the activities of groups and societies, students are then able to transfer their individual experiences to a group situation.

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Implementing A Sustainable Learning Community

Cooperation not competition becomes the focus in the classroom. Students realize that diversity is the key to optimal flow: the more diversity, the more creative potential; the more creative potential, the more flexible and resilient the group will be. Helping students discover those activities in which they experience individual flow and encouraging them to participate in them benefits the entire learning community.

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Implementing A Sustainable Learning Community

The paradoxes of the universe are everywhere. Teaching students to recognize and accept these paradoxes is another key to helping them embrace chaos. They need to know that life is not “either/or” it is “and”. It is simple and complex, pleasant and unpleasant, it is serene and turbulent. To embrace the in-between is to embrace life with all of its chaos and calm.

Teaching students to embrace, not fear, the chaos of everyday life will help them to thrive in our ever-changing world.

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Implementing A Sustainable Learning Community

Practicing Dialogue

Introducing dialogue in a high school classroom can be a difficult and painful experience. But it is important to work through the difficulty and pain. Resistance from high school students is common. When dialogue is first introduced, many students try to cover their discomfort with humor, making jokes and laughing. After deciding on the standards for dialogue (integrity, honesty, etc.) students sometimes become defensive or angry when others try to enforce the standards during discussions. Allowing students to express their anger and frustration with the process helps to establish group trust and many times is the basis for the dialogue guidelines. After much practice students finally learn to speak honestly, critique ideas not people, and receive feedback gracefully.

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Implementing A Sustainable Learning Community

It is then that the objectives of dialogue have been achieved. Once the process and guidelines of dialogue are established, maintaining the practice of dialogue is much easier. While dialogue may seem to fit more naturally into a language arts or social studies curriculum, it is an important part of all subjects and should be part of the students’ everyday experience. This practice inevitably extends beyond the classroom into the students’ routine interactions with peers and parents. They soon enjoy it. They learn how to speak, listen, learn, and most importantly participate.

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Implementing A Sustainable Learning Community

Once students incorporate dialogue into their everyday life, they become more involved in their family, learning, and local communities. They feel confident that they can make a difference. They become connected. The feel empowered to make a difference. They can communicate with anyone about anything and do so effectively.

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Implementing A Sustainable Learning Community

The Learning Environment

      • Education Philosophy
      • In order to have a real learning community, teachers and schools must give up concerns about state exams and instead focus on their school’s educational philosophy.
      • Teacher-Student Relationships
  • The ideal learning centered environment focuses on students and teachers as individuals. There is an acknowledgement that everyone is an equal. When students view their teachers as colleagues in the educational process rather than authority figures, trust and respect develops between the students and teachers.
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Implementing A Sustainable Learning Community

      • Individual Learning Styles
  • Providing curriculum activities that address different learning styles and intelligence allow for different students to experience the same knowledge in a variety of ways as well as exposing them to the learning styles of their peers.
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Implementing A College Preparatory program

Graduation Requirements

When a student begins at the high school a four year plan is created to track the credits earned. The individual four-year plan is kept in the student’s records and reviewed every semester by counselors and teachers. This plan allows students to see the “big picture” of classes they must take in order to complete the graduation plan of their choice. It particularly helps students organize and plan their electives and intersessions.

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Implementing A College Preparatory program

Time Management, Study, Interpersonal Relationships and Problem Solving Skills

Personal and Social Responsibility is taken the first two years and focuses on study skills, problem-solving and speech communication. Students are given the opportunity (as a class) to name the class whatever they want. These year’s class is called Island of Responsibility.

Personal Finance Information

The high school needs to offer a class that addresses the issues of personal finance for college and life. This class can include information on credit, financing, account management and investments.

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Implementing A College Preparatory program

College Placement Intensive

The two-week program gives students the practical life experience of living on their own at college and prepares them for completing their college application the following term.

The first week students live on campus at the high school while attending classes on the college application process, interviewing, essay writing and financial aid.

The second week students visit at least four colleges and universities either with their parents or on a school sponsored trip.

Career Education

The grading period before beginning their internship students write resumes and cover letters and apply and interview for jobs. Students are encouraged to choose jobs related to the areas of study that they are interested in pursuing in college.

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Receiving Feedback

One of the best ways to make sure the needs of the students are being met is through feedback. The use of feedback to improve a program is a common technique employed by schools. Most schools survey teachers, staff, and parents. These surveys usually address the teachers’, staffs’ or parents’ experiences with the program. The data collected from these surveys help the school administration make changes to programs to meet the needs of the school population.

I believe students can be an excellent source of information regarding a high school program. Feedback from former students can be especially useful because they have had an opportunity to reflect on their entire high school experience.

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Receiving Feedback

Male, 16 years-old, 10th grade, 5-10 years experience in Montessori

It is my first day in high school. I just moved here from New York City and I have been here only three weeks. I really don’t know anybody here. Everyone knows everyone and people are bustling to classrooms. And even though I don’t really talk to anyone today, I still feel right that I am here.

Female, 17 years-old, 12th grade, 10+ years experience in Montessori

“When my mother and I leave I tell her that is the most I have laughed in a year.”

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Female, 18 years-old, 12th grade, 5-10 years experience in Montessori

      • I am sitting upon a futon. It is blue, dark blue as the cold oceanic night. A girl sits next to me. We’re about to do physics word problems. By myself, I’m certain I would have trouble doing these problems, but with the group and my teacher I’m confident that they pose no threat. The futon is comfy. It’s a little cool in the room but I do have a sweatshirt keeping me warm. I quite like it here. It’s quiet and I’m very comfortable and confident that my work will be ok! In fact, I have no shoes on and my feet feel most nice tucked under my Indian-style seating arrangement. There is a fish tank off to the left and the filter makes two nice sounds; trickling water and a gentle motor hum. It smells a bit like oatmeal because I just ate an oatmeal bar. All-in-all it is most pleasant. I feel safe and loved, not as good as being in the womb again but as close as I’d like it for school.

Successes

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but wait there is more…

Complete Step-by-Step Guide to be published in july 2006

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