Their work frequently involves research, discussion, and large-scale projects. The teacher introduces an area of study with a presentation of key information or material and then guides the children in individual or small-groups that explore varied facets of the subject.
Upper Elementary Curriculum
By the Upper Elementary level, social interaction has become an important of the student’s school experience. The Upper Elementary curriculum recognizes that social cooperation is an important part of the learning process and the students are encouraged to work together.
Students at this stage of development are extremely curious and full of wonder and the curriculum supports that high enthusiasm. The curriculum allows for open-ended exploration so that the student gains a purposeful and meaningful appreciation and understanding of a subject.
The Upper Elementary Classroom is a three-year program consisting of a combined class of fourth, fifth, and sixth grade students. For most students this class is a continuation of the work they have been doing in the lower elementary classroom. One of the many benefits of working in a small school setting is that the communication between the teachers as well as the everyday contact with the students gives both the teacher and the students a sense of family and consequently a great starting point in the class.
The class is a small group of students that come together as a community of learners to work within a fully prepared Montessori environment.
There is a strong focus on forming quality working relationships in the class. As it is natural for students of this age to find security within a group setting, Dr. Montessori accounted for this natural tendency by keeping the group a crucial part of the design of the upper elementary curriculum. Students work both in groups and independently. This work develops qualities like honesty, responsibility, friendship, a joy of work, and compassion.
Also, as the children get older, they are ready for the development of quality social relationships within the community.
The goal of Montessori education is to cultivate the child’s own desire to learn. Montessori believed that no human being is educated by another person. Rather, the child experiences intense periods of learning based on the prepared environment and the child’s interest combined with a capacity to learn. “The hand is the chief teacher of the child,” and so learning is driven by hands-on, conceptual activity. Further, concepts are presented from the “whole to part” perspective, working with natural order
In the upper elementary classroom (fourth through sixth grade, or ages nine to 12), content is not presented in “course subject” form; instead, ideas and concepts are explored across the breadth and to the depth demanded by the child. Thus, education is more about experiencing and relationships than dissemination of isolated facts from a pre-selected course of study.
Social development takes on a more prominent development at this age. Individual morals and values are further established, particularly within the framework of peers. The sense of self is expanded beyond personal experience. Abstract experiencing through literature, arts, etc. further develops and can modify the child’s sense of self. Decision-making skills and problem-solving skills are self-tested, and success is qualified as learning from both the positive and negative experiences of life.
Areas of learning include Religion, reading, mathematics, language, science, foreign language, cultural studies, music, art, physical education, technology and library skills. Annual projects include a science fair, book writing, drama productions, and interactive learning experiences.
- Ibadah, Aqidah, akhlaq, fiqih, Al Qur’an, Hadits
- Instruction in different media is offered and available on a daily basis.
- Art activities are also integrated in the curriculum as a part of cultural studies.
Foreign Language and language curriculum
- Instruction is English vocabulary building, simple conversations skills and beginning reading lessons are offered on a twice a week.
- Supporting materials are available to students on a daily basis.
Oral language skills:
- Students are expected to read aloud with animation and make clear, articulate, oral presentations to their classmates and community groups.Debating skills and public speaking are an integral part of the curriculum.Students learn to articulate, project and modulate their voices effectively.Vocabulary enrichment and complex sentence structure are encouraged. Exercises in summarizing, relating and critiquing information are practiced routinely.
- Library science lessons are offered in the library once a week. During this time students may check out books.
- Instruction includes building on Lower Elementary skills, introduction of styles and periods of music, and ensemble experience with instruments.
- Organized physical education classes are conducted on a weekly basis.
- Computers are available in class .
SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITIES AND LIFE SKILLS
- Children at the Upper Elementary age demonstrate an intense desire to develop strong connections with their peers. They take increasing responsibility for their own conduct in personal relationships as well as in caring for the environment. The 9 – 12 years are a time when the child is developing and establishing a sense of justice and moral reasoning. As a member of our classroom community, our students play an active role in decision making and conflict resolution. Questions of right and wrong are considered as a group in their daily community meetings which serve as arenas to express issues and feelings. These discussions also allow rules and procedures to be developed in order to recognize and respect others. These class meetings encourage co-operative effort and allow the students the opportunity to acknowledge one another, expressing gratitude for their support and friendships.
Over the three-year period children will:
- Work with the four operations; addition, multiplication, subtraction and division using whole numbers, decimals and fractions.
- Explore the rules for factors and multiples.
- Build square numbers on bases 1 to 10.
- Memorize number facts by skip counting by 2,3,4, up to 10.
- Read data in pictograph, bar graph and circle graph forms.
- Use one-to-many correspondence, e.g. one tree represents 1,000 trees.
- Estimate length, capacity and mass using non-standard and standard units of measurement.
- Measure time and temperature using standard units of measurement.
- Investigate and identify all geometric solids.
- Identify, measure and construct (using appropriate geometric instruments) angles, triangles, quadrilaterals, polygons and circles.
- Demonstrate equivalency, congruency, symmetry and similarity.
- Read, write and spell all mathematical vocabulary used in the Lower Elementary curriculum.
- Read and write mathematical symbols for concepts, e.g. <, >,=, +, etc.
Apply Math skills to daily activities, e.g. baking, weather charts, woodwork, map-making, budgeting.
Geography in the Upper Elementary level encourages the student to explore the creation of the Universe, the Solar System, the Earth and the scientific laws that govern them.
- They investigate Earth’s rivers, lakes, mountains, deserts and wealth of natural resources, and their significance in the lives of people. They investigate land, air and water phenomena: volcanoes, earthquakes, avalanches, typhoons, tornadoes, and tidal waves. They are interested in how, why and where these phenomena occur and want to know the methods used to forecast and measure them and what services are available to support people whose lives are affected by them.
- They record weather conditions, wind currents, monsoons and precipitation, and study their impact on people and their environment.
- Pollution, endangered species, global warming, deforestation, over- harvesting and erosion, are all possible subjects for study at the Upper Elementary level.
- The students learn to read and make maps using conventional forms for scale and location.
- They understand time zones and the International Date Line.
Project work crosses several subject areas, and students strive to achieve their own personal best while cooperating with others.
History in an Upper Elementary Montessori classroom does not follow any particular curriculum. The students use an interdisciplinary knowledge base in order to research topics of particular interest.
- Early civilizations, their political structure, justice system, laws of ownership, culture, religion, tradition, commerce and rural and urban lifestyles will be a source of exploration for some students.
- Others will choose to look at the first people around the world and how they met their fundamental needs for shelter, food, clothing and defence.
- A group may examine world religions, political structures and migration of people.
- Famous people and their contribution to humanity, significant social and political events, customs, celebrations and traditions are all topics of historical interest to Upper Elementary students and will be researched in an interdisciplinary fashion by drawing on relevant information and skills from other subject areas.
Science in the Upper Elementary curriculum encompasses Physics, Chemistry, Botany, Biology and Zoology. Students learn how to collect and analyze data, observe systematically and carry out experiments using appropriate scientific methods. They study:
- Magnetism, Gravity, Energy, Light, Sound
- States of matter, Periodic Table, Identification of plants, Fundamental needs
- Health and safety, Nutrition
- Classification of animals, Habitat
- Solutions and suspensions, Molecules and atoms
- Parts and functions, Cultivation
- Systems of the body, Body functions
- Life cycles, Fundamental needs, Compounds, Chemical formulae
- Classification of plants
- Fundamental needs, Developmental stages
- Systems; They recognise the trees, flowers, birds and wildlife that inhabit the local area.
- They gain experience of the affects of weather conditions on growth.
- Birds, reptiles, insects and mammals are discussed and can be observed in their natural habitat.
- Trees and shrubs are watched as they respond to seasonal changes.
- They collect flowers and leaves and examine their parts and symmetry.
- They may bring caterpillars and tadpoles into the classroom and observe their development into butterflies and frogs.
Social skills are very important in the Upper Elementary level. Students at this age are working hard to understand and be a part of the greater community outside their family and school.
- They learn appropriate strategies for working harmoniously with others.
- Collaborating, cooperating, negotiating successfully are all learned social skills that challenge the pre-adolescent student.
- Social groups, their rules and hierarchies are important and influential at this age.
- Exercises in conflict resolution are practiced.
- Courtesy and consideration for others are behaviours that are positively and consistently supported.
- This is a time when students raise powerful moral and ethical issues for debate. Their sense of social justice develops and they are concerned about poverty, homelessness, frailty, threats to people and the environment.
- Upper Elementary students are avid participants in community service, fund-raising events and social awareness groups.
- They learn that they can make a difference to such challenges as world peace, conservation of resources and wildlife preservation.
- They willingly participate in social action, e.g. fostering a third world-child, supporting food drives and raising funds to protect an endangered species.
- Field trips and visits to places of interest are an integral part of the Upper Elementary program.
- Students experience empowerment and respect when they identify the places they wish to visit, make the bookings, plan a budget, arrange transportation and complete a follow-up report.
- They share their concerns with politicians, journalists, and social activists, and are quick to write letters, make phone calls, send e-mails, and organize petitions, to support their cause or relate their concerns and objections.
Through all of this work, Upper Elementary students develop strong interpersonal skills. They come to understand who they are and why and how they are valuable beings. They construct themselves as individuals and contributing members of human race.
Drama is integrated into the curriculum. For example, the children can performskits and re-enact moments in history through dramatic expression.They solve problems in different kinds of dramatic situations through role playingmovement. The children create their own short dramatic pieces and perform themand/or put on a large production to perform to their parents either before the holidays or at the end of the year. The children create dramatic works to communicate the meaning of poems, stories, paintings, myths and other source material drawn from a wide range of cultures.
Dance is integrated through the Phys-Ed program. The children are encouraged to communicate, through movement, their thoughts and feelings about selected topics. Children are introduced to dance as a part of the Phys-Ed curriculum. At the end, the children are expected to recognize and choose appropriate elements of movement for dramatizing their responses to different stimuli or ideas. The older children have supervised dances through out the year.