Middle School Program 12 - 14 Years

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Middle School Program

Cambridge Montessori Middle School addresses the needs of young adults and creates a safe community in which they can extend themselves and take risks.

Connecting with Themselves and the World

The Middle School curriculum emphasizes the relevance of its subject matter and provides a framework through which the students will see connections between themselves and the world they will soon enter as adults. The questions we help our adolescent students address are: Who am I? Who am I in relation to and where do I fit into human society? How can I serve other members of this society?


During the second trimester of 8th grade, our students attend NuVu, a design studio in Cambridge. Students work in small groups for 2-3 week studios in which a coach guides the students in “hands-on problem-solving to solve complex, comprehensive problems.” NuVu is essentially an innovation lab.  With the guidance of a network of coaches, who come from MIT, Harvard University, and a variety of other industry experts, students are guided through real world issues and challenges.

During these ten weeks, CMS students are also expected to continue their studies in math, Spanish, and language arts.  They also continue working on their capstone projects and return weekly to campus to check in with their teachers.

Montessori Model United Nations

CMS’s Middle School students participate in the Montessori Model United Nations (MMUN) program. This program is designed to introduce students to formal global consensus-style cooperation and to inform them of real-world problems that will impact their futures. MMUN offers our students a rare hands-on and real life understanding of the need for peace and conflict resolution throughout the world while furthering developing their own skills and widening their perspectives.

Dr. Montessori recognized the hope for peace in the world lay in the education of children. She supported the work of the League of Nations and its successor the United Nations as a forum where peace could be created.

The Montessori Model United Nations and the United Nations partnered to create this program for Montessori students. These students, while at a developmental age that is a sensitive period for reason, morality, and justice, participate in a life-changing experience. This experience seeks to empower young leaders through research, cultural studies, critical thinking, and problem solving. MMUN works directly with the United Nations and implements elements of the Montessori Method to create this enriching experience.

The MMUN program is a year long work for our students and culminates with a multi-day global education simulation experience at the United Nations in New York City. There our students join thousands of Montessori students from around the world for this incredible opportunity

Middle School Curriculum

The Cambridge Montessori Middle School curriculum is a two-year process that occurs over the Seventh and Eighth Grades. The work of the older students in any cycle is more sophisticated and more challenging than that of the younger students. Each unit of study culminates in major projects and presentations of work done by the students and presented to the community, demonstrating their mastery, including a Capstone Project at the end of their eighth grade, senior year.

The Middle School Language and Literacy Program is integrated across the academic curriculum with a particular link to the sciences and social sciences. Students explore their understanding of the writing process—prewriting, drafting, editing, conferencing, revising, and publishing. A variety of writing applications, conventions, and research techniques are emphasized, and vocabulary and grammar lessons build on what they already know. Direct instruction is given in narrative, informational, and persuasive writing. Criteria for assessing writing skills are used in both science and cultural studies. Reading reflection and discussion skills are developed through weekly class book groups. Students complete a Capstone Project in their 8th grade year. This project is organized through an intense year-long research study based upon their developing identity.

Humanities and Science loosely follow overarching themes of Beginnings, Revolutions, and The Future (Year A), and Foundations, Division, and Reactions (Year B).

Science in the middle school is a time of discovery and skill building. Information is compiled from a variety of sources including scientific journals, textbooks, interviews with scientists, and popular writing. Throughout the two-year curricular cycle, students build competencies in working with lab equipment, measurement, observation, analysis, and communication.  Each new concept presented, is accompanied by a hands-on lab activity and write up. We devote a longer period of time once a week to accommodate lab activities and discussions. Topics of study include astronomy, biology, earth system science, wave and energy science, and chemistry.

The 8th grade students spend 10 weeks each year at NuVu Studio, an innovative and highly regarded project-based program, in Cambridge. At NuVu, our students are introduced to design thinking and challenged to apply their knowledge of science, technology and mathematics in new and imaginative ways, thus equipping our students with essential 21st Century skills.

Math begins by reviewing basic operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, decimals, positive and negative numbers, and percent). Having mastered basic arithmetic concepts, they are ready to apply these basic operations to the abstract concept of variables in Algebra. Over the two years, students move through an elementary Algebra curriculum covering the standard topics listed below.

Students practice different methods of acquiring new information, including direct instruction, peer learning, and individual reading. Large concepts are organized into chapters and subdivided into smaller segments; each of these segments is presented as a lesson.

Geometry is explored with students who complete the Algebra curriculum.

The social needs and development of adolescents are intentionally addressed in the design of the math program. Students advance at their own pace which means that at times they may be working in a group of students and at other times they may be working alone. Students of all levels work in one room at the same time, allowing spontaneous math conversations to occur. Students are encouraged to seek help from, or offer help to, peers when needed.

Humanities and Science loosely follow overarching themes of Beginnings, Revolutions, and The Future (Year A), and Foundations, Division, and Reactions (Year B).

Humanities blends the study of Language Arts and History. In this student-centered class, discussions emanate from student curiosity and energy. Throughout the two-year curricular cycle, students build competencies in a variety of writing as their brain develops from concrete to more abstract thinking. Students explore their understanding of the writing process – prewriting, drafting, editing, conferencing, revising and publishing – and learn a variety of writing applications, conventions, and research techniques. In addition to the more traditional skills, emphasis is put on critical thinking, collaboration, and communication. Topics of study include: philosophy, revolutions, ideal cities and societies, as well as the foundations of America, from the genocide of indigenous peoples through the Civil War and Reconstruction; the Civil Rights Movement, and the Black Lives Matter movement. Students familiarize themselves with primary source documents, understanding the context surrounding these documents, analyzing and making connections to the modern day. Possible texts that students will read include but are not limited to: Maus, The Hunger Games, The Outsiders, Chains, Riot, Warriors Don’t Cry, The Hate U Give. In addition to fiction and non-fiction texts, students analyze new-media, study vocabulary and grammatical structures, while working collaboratively to create a series of podcasts.

The Montessori focus on peace education and conflict resolution continue in our Middle School Program. At the beginning of the year, students identify the pillars of a positive Middle School community, and as the year continues, they actively work to uphold these. With a voracious appetite for social justice, adolescents are able to sink their teeth into service learning and our Middle School Program allows students to do just that while fundraising for trips, volunteering at local organizations, or leading a STEM project for kindergarten students.

Practical Life lessons are held regularly in the Middle School and address issues of particular concern to adolescents: standardized testing, community, conflict resolution, brain development, personal finance education, sex/health education, trip planning, and a variety of basic life skills. The Middle School Micro-economy curriculum allows students to create, plan, and run school businesses such as cocoa or pizza sales, or movie nights. The funds raised support Middle School activities and future micro-economy ventures.

Travel outside of CMS is a critical part of our program. We celebrate our urban campus by exploring it regularly, from the ICA to the Lowell Mills. Middle School students begin each year with a two-day community-building and leadership trip to an outdoor education center. Every other year, students travel to Washington, DC as part of their study of the Civil Rights Movement. 8th-grade students travel to Puerto Rico as part of their Spanish studies. At year’s end, the class organizes their Farms and Cities trip, where the students apply their experience and knowledge from their lessons to real-life work on a farm and an exploration of Cambridge and Boston.

Students in the Middle School have individual access to computers and the Internet throughout the school day and year to do much of their work. They have a weekly information literacy and library class, focusing primarily on both literacy and research. Students become familiar with various software and programs that address particular needs (e.g., educational planning and organization systems, bibliography creation, film editing, simulation programs, email, graphing, videos, spreadsheets, plagiarism detection, word processing, etc.).

Having almost unlimited access to information, Middle School students need to discern reputable forms of information and to be socially aware and responsible, and so direct lessons are given to develop critical abilities to evaluate information, data, images and sources. Privacy issues, social media awareness and appropriate uses of technology are also specifically addressed. Eighth graders attend a 10-week session at NuVu, a design-thinking innovation studio in order to develop hands-on, problem-solving skills using state of the art technologies. The eight graders’ Capstone Project is heavily informed by technology, media, and library skills.

The Middle School Spanish program reviews those concepts introduced in Upper Elementary and broadens them to develop greater student confidence in the language. Verb tenses, grammar rules and an expanded vocabulary are practiced through creative, collaborative and individual projects and activities. The text, REALIDADES is a resource supported by workbooks, online exercises and audio-visual sources. The curriculum is complemented by authentic literary, historical and ethnic materials. Cooking, dancing and singing round out the traditional experience. As a culminating event, eighth grade students travel for a week to Puerto Rico. This trip combines biodiversity study, language and cultural immersion, and relationship building with Montessori student counterparts.

Creative expression is essential in a Montessori education, and being able to choose one’s own classes is very meaningful to an adolescent. To that end, the CMS Middle School arts program is set up as a series of Arts Electives where students can choose from a variety of offerings in Studio Arts, Musical Arts, and Theater Arts. Students showcase their work throughout the year.

A quintessential CMS Middle School class, Film School brings together Studio Arts, Musical Arts, and Theater Arts. Students learn the skills of film creation, from planning to writing to directing to editing. Throughout the year, students will produce a variety of films of various genres including documentaries, animations, and short films, and they showcase their work in Community Meeting and the springtime Middle School Film Festival.

We believe that health and physical fitness are important issues for Middle School students. While the structure of the Montessori classroom inherently provides students with an active environment, there are many additional opportunities for activity, including recess four times per week, “Phys Act” classes on Wednesdays, and skiing and snowboarding at a local ski area in the wintertime. Optional athletic teams allow Middle-Schoolers to compete interscholastically in the fall, winter, and spring.