Grades 7 and 8

Cedar River Montessori School offers students rigorous, high quality academics in a community of kindness, respect, and self-advocacy.

Our school is a small, close-knit community where the students experience individualized, experiential, and differentiated instruction as the students work to figure out who they are in relation to the larger world around them. It is safe to try, fail, and succeed as the students’ bodies and minds undergo hormone shifts and other developmental changes. The intent of the Montessori program for grades 7 and 8 is to facilitate this process, providing feedback and reflection while exposing the student to new ideas, concepts, people, questions, problems, solutions, and the idea that the students are parts of multiple interconnected systems. Our graduates are confident, curious learners who know how to identify and follow their passions throughout their lives and respectfully challenge the status quo.
Like the “real world” that adults experience in their work environments, middle school student learning is multimodal and occurs both individually and in small groups, through seminars, research projects, and cooperative activities. The students practice giving and receiving constructive feedback with graciousness and resilience. As part of a small classroom community, each student is expected to participate in group discussions and activities, and all voices are heard and valued.

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  • Curriculum Overview

    Our curriculum is aligned with the Common Core Standards and is approved by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. It is designed to facilitate a smooth transition into public or other high schools. Students take the Iowa Assessments (a national standardized test) each spring.

    Our seventh and eighth grade program is based on the model developed by Cincinnati Secondary Teacher Education Program (CMSTEP) and incorporates the core elements of the Montessori philosophy as well as the latest findings in early adolescent development and learning. 
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  • English, Literature, and Writing

    Throughout the cycles, students read fiction and nonfiction novels that correlate with their natural and social world studies, including novels such as Persepolis, Caleb’s Crossing, Brainstorm, Brown Girl Dreaming, Animal Far, The Pearl, Lord of the Flies, A Raisin in the Sun, To Kill a Mockingbird, Silent Spring, The Things They Carried, The Road, and All Quiet on the Western Front. Learning how and why to annotate while reading for understanding is a key part of the language arts curriculum and these competencies extend into student research and study skills in all subjects.

    Student writing encompasses both creative and formal writing, with a focus on integrating the social and natural world into their works. How to locate and differentiate first and secondary sources, and cite them appropriately, is a key part of the research writing process for the students. For all writing, students practice the components of high quality writing and use follow-up exercises in peer- and self-editing during their revision process.
  • Extensions of the Classroom

    Applying their knowledge to real-world experiences makes learning come to life and gives purpose to the adolescent student. Each year, the students either create anew or continue a classroom business from the previous year. This experience gives practical application of how to work together for a common goal, dividing up labor and responsibilities in an equitable manner, and learning the economics behind a business – income, expenses, profit, and forecasting. Business profits pay for the majority of the annual student trip in the spring, which has taken the students to Washington, DC for a social world focus and Maui, HI for a natural world focus.

    Students are also expected to volunteer on campus (7th grade year) or off campus (8th grade year) as “interns” in a field of their choosing, with the goal of establishing meaningful connections within their community. They are supported as they learn how to reach out to adults, how to set realistic expectations for themselves, and how to advocate for what they want and need out of their intern experience.
  • Mathematics

    The mathematics curriculum builds on the Montessori foundation from the elementary program. As students demonstrate a solid understanding of the core mathematical concepts, they move into the Wallace math curriculum, where they explore algebraic expressions and equations, properties of exponents and scientific notation, linear algebra and inequalities, functions, polynomials, and quadratics. Each student moves through the Wallace math curriculum at their own pace, with the possibility of beginning algebra 2 or geometry in high school.

    Logical thinking and extensions of the math curriculum are also part of the student math experience, as students apply their learning in creative, team-based situations that present problems in unique ways to help students see math from different perspectives. Exploring math as group work helps students see that there are multiple ways to solve problems, which promotes strong and equitable participation by students in the group.
  • Social World and Natural World

    Social world studies guide students to develop their historical analysis skills while making connections on a global scale. Patterns of history, such as development of civilizations, revolutions, wars, and political and social resolutions underscore all studies. Using literature and primary and secondary sources, the students practice their critical thinking skills and apply historical context to current events. The social world curriculum combines lessons, research, readings, seminars, interactive simulations, and projects to teach the material. Skills include: critical analysis of primary and secondary sources; document-based questioning; interpreting visual and audio sources; understanding timelines and cause and effect relationships; comparing and contrasting skills; recognizing cultural bias; understanding diverse, multicultural perspectives; map and geography skills; and using knowledge of history, government, and law to find solutions to lingering and emerging challenges in our community, our nation, and our world. Washington State History is included in the two-year social world rotation.

    Natural world studies cover scientific subjects including geology, environmental science, and biology. Science investigations are based on the Full Option Science System (FOSS), and combine lessons, research, and labs to teach the material. Skills include: asking questions and defining problems; developing and using models; planning and carrying out investigations; analyzing and interpreting data; using mathematics and computational thinking; constructing explanations and designing solutions; engaging in argument from evidence; and obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information. Whenever possible, natural world experiences are taken outdoors.

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  • Our Graduates

    Our eighth graders graduate as self-reliant problem solvers, knowing that when they have a question, they can independently seek an answer. They are rarely frustrated when they make a mistake, instead using it as an opportunity to grow and challenge themselves. As Cedar River Montessori 7th and 8th grade students, they own their community here—they care for their classroom and outdoor environment, they practice daily grace and empathy with themselves, with their peers and with the younger students, and they understand their roles and responsibilities, recognizing the needs of others and balancing them with the needs of oneself. They graduate knowing how to advocate for themselves and, as confident young adults, they are ready to take on the new and exciting world of high school!
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