The Middle School math curriculum includes pre-algebra, algebra I, and geometry. High school level work is available for those who are ready in eighth grade. Oak Meadow’s small class sizes allow for the teacher to work with individual students or small groups. Rather than presenting formulas to memorize, our students learn to develop and test conjectures by observing patterns, and seek an understanding of how mathematical rules are derived. Students then conjecture concepts based on repetitive models, and derive formulas on their own. Through this process of discovery, students truly understand the meaning and application of the formula. A strong emphasis is also placed on the understanding of graphs and the behavior of linear, quadratic, and exponential functions. The graphing calculator (TI83-84) is used to enhance understanding of the graphs of different functions, and for statistical analysis. Students also have many opportunities to work on projects that connect math with art and nature, such as the symmetry found in nature and the scaling used in building projects when studying proportional reasoning. The Middle School math teacher works closely with students during STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) labs co-taught with the Middle School science teacher to connect math with scientific concepts. Through collaborating and strategizing with their classmates, students build confidence and reinforce their knowledge of math.
The Middle School science curriculum is a two-year program that focuses on both process and content under the umbrella of STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math). Through the emphasis on process, students learn how to navigate the scientific method, apply mathematics to their investigations, write formal lab reports, research and present on current science topics, and conduct community environmental impact studies. Through the emphasis on content, students participate in lessons focusing on earth science, life science, astronomy, human health and biology, chemistry, and physics. Students meet daily for science classes, and participate in a weekly STEM lab co-taught by Middle School math and science teachers. Students not only conduct and design weekly laboratory experiments, but also participate in weekly fieldwork at Prouty Woods in the spring and fall. All students participate in the annual Oak Meadow Science Fair, with ten students continuing on to the Massachusetts Regional Science Fair and State Science Technology Engineering and Math Fairs.
The Middle School humanities curriculum is an interdisciplinary exploration of history, English, literature, philosophy, geography, and grammar. Students are exposed to classical literature and philosophies, both western and non-western, with the intent that students will develop knowledge-based integrity that will guide them throughout their lives. Students learn to appreciate the richness of cultures from other places in the world and other times in history, and to recognize common universal principles. Students work toward improving reading for comprehension, and writing with literary skill. Progression in grammar lessons is assured, and verbal debate and discourse are ongoing.
In the Middle School, Spanish classes meet daily. Students are provided with a weekly syllabus that outlines the material to be covered, any anticipated assignments, and a list of vocabulary and grammar structures that will be taught. Verb tenses for regular, irregular, and stem-changing verbs include the present, imperfect, the preterit, present progressive, and future tenses. Students learn verbs in the reflexive form, and the formal and informal forms of the imperative. Emphasis is placed on fluency, and all instruction is expressed in Spanish. Students gain understanding of the language through listening exercises. Students practice their language skills through role-playing of phone conversations, interviews, purchasing and placing orders, and travel situations all in the target language. Cultural exploration into the Spanish-speaking world may include the study of historical figures and events, classic and contemporary literature, art and architecture, music and current events, geography and ethnic identity. Students cook traditional recipes, listen to authentic folk music, and learn about regional dances and celebrations.
Social and emotional learning as defined by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning includes self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, responsible decision- making and relationship skills. The development of these skills helps to promote prosocial behavior, reduce violence and bullying behaviors, and increase ability to learn and achieve in the school environment. Middle School students explore developmentally appropriate concepts of social and emotional learning. Small group sessions are often facilitated to promote group work and relationship skill development.
Middle School students attend art classes by grade level once a week. Students continue to develop a deep understanding of materials and processes in order to independently pursue projects according to their own interests, as well as achieve competency while working on collaborative projects. Awareness of art history and art as an expression of culture remains a focus at this level. Several interdisciplinary projects are managed in collaboration with math, science, and humanities curriculum.
The Middle School music curriculum emphasizes group singing, ear-training, development of individual confidence for performance, and critical thinking and listening with attention to musical form and structure, historical perspectives, global awareness, and sociopolitical content in music. Topical units are rotated annually with consideration for interdisciplinary connections to other areas of the Middle School curriculum. Recent units have included Native American music and dance, Balinese gamelan orchestra and puppetry, Caribbean steel pan drumming, protest songs of the Great Depression and the Civil Rights Movement, and a musical theater scenes workshop. In addition to weekly classes, Middle School students have various musical opportunities during the after school hours, including a musical theater production, Concert Band, and lessons in vocal performance and a wide variety of instruments.
Drama classes at Oak Meadow allow students the opportunity to find their unique voice through the exploration of theatrical imagination. Beginning in the Lower Elementary program and continuing into Middle School, students participate in games, exercises, improvisations, and scripts that encourage confidence, enhance team-building skills, intellectually challenge, and heighten awareness. Through drama classes, students gain a better understanding of their emotions, and recognize their commonality with one another instilling in them a greater empathy towards others. Middle School students also participate in an annual play such as Shakespeare’s
Middle School students attend physical education classes by grade twice a week for ninety minutes. The main focus is placed on building a greater self-image and increasing self-confidence by setting attainable goals and working hard to achieve them. Muscular strength and endurance, flexibility, and cardio-respiratory endurance are important factors for lifelong health and wellbeing. These factors are improved upon during team related sports and games, individual challenges, and cooperative games. Middle School students also attend health and wellness classes led by Oak Meadow’s physical education faculty.
At the beginning of September, there is a week-long camping trip, which allows for community building. Trips rotate annually to avoid repetition in the Middle School’s two-year program. One year students will visit the Leadership Camp at Camp Kieve in Nobleboro, ME, while the next year they visit Camp Chewonki in Wiscasset, ME. The academic year culminates with a field trip that brings to life curricular themes and concepts. Our students participate as delegates to the Montessori Model United Nations (MMUN) at the MMUN Middle School Conference in New York City in the spring. The following year, students travel to a Spanish-speaking country to practice the language and explore the culture. Travel affords students practical life experience while also allowing them to gain confidence and self-reliance as they practice new-found skills.