We offer a unique hybrid of on-site and off-site learning, with three days each week on-site, and two days off-site.

On their on-site days, students will be dropped off and will receive lessons (we call them presentations) from teachers (we call them guides), work collaboratively with other students, and use our classroom learning materials.

On their off-site days, students will follow an individualized instructional plan independently and/or with their caregivers.

Elementary Student Learning

What does on-site elementary instruction look like?

On-site instruction for elementary students is Montessori based, and includes morning meetings with a story and a three-hour work cycle. Our lower and upper elementary classes are separate, with ages 5-9 in lower elementary (grades K-3) and ages 9-12 in our upper elementary (grades 4-6).

Mornings begin with a group circle time, which is part of our strategy to build a strong classroom community. We always read or tell a story as part of this time, so that students can process ideas together. Our stories are intentionally very diverse, representing a broad range of experiences. We also focus on socio-emotional learning during this time.

During the work cycle, students follow their customized work plan, which has some work on it chosen by our guides, and other work on it chosen by the student. The child decides in what order to complete the work, and whether they prefer to do each work individually or collaboratively with another student.

Guides also present new work and concepts to students during this work cycle, with individual or small groups of students receiving presentations. This is how new skills are taught. This method allows students to receive new lessons as they are ready for them. It is particularly effective as we can watch for student interest in a certain topic, and then present related material. When students are interested in the topic, they learn more and retain it longer. Students are continuously engaged in chosen work, practice of previously introduced concepts, and presentations of new material.

Students work through progressions in math, science, ELA, and history. In 2022-23 lower elementary has focused on world geography while upper elementary focused on an introduction to ancient world history. In 2023-24, lower elementary will focus on an introduction to ancient world history while upper elementary examines world history from approximately 200-1200 CE. Our science curriculum integrates all strands of science and moves students forward in a logical progression, building on previously learned concepts each time. The same is true for our math and our language progressions.

An elementary student works with the moveable alphabet to form words

What does off-site elementary instruction look like?

Elementary off-site instruction varies by family, because we view caregivers as an integral part of their student’s education. It is most important to us that our elementary students have time on off-site days for extensive reading, playing and exploring outside, and building strong relationships with caregivers.

We encourage all families to use the public library, making weekly trips to allow students to choose any books they like for weekly free reading. One of the strongest predictors of academic success is a love of reading, so we want to work hard to develop that in our students. We ask all students to use their reading journals on off-site days to record titles/authors of books they are reading and write reading responses.

We meet with families to get to know them, and suggest curriculum resources they may want to use at home on off-site days. We work together to guide the child in their learning. Some families form small co-ops for off-site days to allow them to have child care as needed as well.

What curriculum do you use?

Junior High Student Learning

What does on-site junior high instruction look like?

Our 7th-9th grade students are in our junior high classroom, and begin each day with a three-hour work cycle. During this time they have a variety of work both assigned by guides and self-chosen, generally consisting of projects. Students are able to choose the order in which they want to do their work, and if they want to complete it on their own or with another student. Small group and some whole group lessons and discussions are also held during this time. Students are expected to record their work in their work journals each day.

Students work through progressions of math and ELA skills at their own pace, similar to the way they work in the elementary classrooms. Our Montessori math progression takes them through pre-algebra, and then they are ready to begin Algebra I. Science continues to be integrated, connecting physics, chemistry, and biology in a solid foundation for more advanced study in high school. Our ELA work focuses on fluent reading, introductions to engaging and globally important texts, and scientific word study that integrates vocabulary expansion and spelling work while studying word morphology and etymology.

For history in 2022-23 students have focused on global ancient history. In 2023-24, they will begin a two-year focus on the history of the Americas (North and South, and including the United States). In class, we work together on learning the skills of historical thinking and writing, participate in group discussions, and do learning activities such as historical simulations.

We link literature to our historical studies, and in spring 2023 students will be reading versions of The Epic of Gilgamesh, The Ramayana, and The Odyssey. With these texts we focus on processing the texts such that we understand their meaning in its context, and pull out the universal themes that have made these texts popular well beyond their initial time and place. We integrate writing activities with our literature and historical studies, and also across the curriculum.

Junior high students examine rock and mineral collections during a science exploration

What does off-site junior high instruction look like?

High School Student Learning

What does on-site high school instruction look like?

Our 2022-2023 secondary students have learning blocks for world history, world literature and composition, conceptual physics, math, project seminar, art, and practical life. Most of our learning blocks (except math) are 90-120 minutes long to allow students to fully engage in learning activities. We are also able to flex our schedule to accommodate activities that need extra time to complete.

For history in 2022-2023, students are studying world history from 500-1700 CE. In class, we work together on learning the skills of historical thinking and writing, participate in group discussions, and do learning activities such as historical simulations. This semester students will be working to understand cause and effect relationships in world events during that time period; making historical comparisons between events and states in various areas of the world; identifying continuity and change in areas studied; contextualizing primary sources; and learning to write academic essays. We also make frequent links between our studies and current events.

In world literature and composition, we are studying a variety of texts and producing related writing. We integrate this with our historical studies, and so far in spring 2023 we have read Jataka tales, Ci poetry, ghazal poetry, portions of the Shahnameh, Dante’s Inferno, selected Canterbury Tales, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Japanese waka poetry, and excerpts from The Tale of Genji and The Tale of Heike. We make connections between these pieces of literature and poetry and that which is being written in modern times, showing the continued relevance of these forms of writing.

We also ask all students to keep a reading journal to track their independent reading. We want independent reading to make up half of their off-site lit and comp work. They create individual reading goals that challenge them in some way, and choose books that will meet those goals. This allows students to read at a comfortable level for them, and cultivate a love of reading. Students share book recommendations with one another each week as well!

We have two physics blocks per week. One is lab- and project-focused, and the other is conceptually driven. Both are as hands-on as possible, to make learning both fun and durable! We use Paul Hewitt’s Conceptual Physics in a physics-first science sequence, which will be followed by chemistry, biology, and advanced courses.

During each on-site day, we have a math block as well. Each student works on the math curriculum that best fits them, and guides provide introductions to new concepts and assign problem sets for students to complete. Students work on those sets and get help as needed, checking their answers as they go. They then complete an additional problem that guides check to see if the student is ready to move on to a new section or if we need to reteach the concept and complete additional practice first. We teach all concepts to mastery.

We also have a longer math block once a week in which we introduce a math project to students that allows them to use their math skills in intensive problem solving relevant to a current context. Students’ first project this year was an exploration of solar panel systems, determining how much energy the average Missourian uses, how many solar panels would be required to produce that energy, and how much an all-grid, an all-solar-power, and a hybrid solar/grid system would cost. They found equations for and graphed these lines to compare costs and see when a solar panel system would pay for itself. They finished the project by comparing their graphs to those of New Mexico students who completed the same project. They have also completed projects on topics including texting while driving, speeding, mass incarceration, natural disasters, and the basics of using a bank account.

Students have one project seminar block per week in which they work on a variety of self-chosen projects, based on their own interests. They work independently or in small groups, according to their preferences. Last year student projects included organizing bake sales, doing behavioral research on mice, writing and performing a murder mystery, and writing and directing a school play that was performed in the spring. Projects this year so far have included a study on bats and making paintings of several bats, experimenting with a solar car, analyzing Fortnite playing, and planning a community run/walk to raise awareness about mental health struggles.

Writing is taught in all subject areas. We work on both academic and creative writing. We give our writing context so that assignments are meaningful to students. We share our writing with one another as well as beyond our classroom so that we are always accomplishing the primary purpose of writing: communication with others.

High school physics students participate in an egg toss lab demonstrating the effects of momentum and impact time

What does off-site high school instruction look like?

%d bloggers like this: