The Ivy School Adolescent Program
The age of early adolescence is a unique time in the life of a person. The early adolescent is neither a young child nor a mature adult. So the questions posed are: Who are adolescents? What are the needs of this particular age group? Dr. Maria Montessori saw great potential in youth between the ages of 12-15, and sought to find ways to nurture their physical, emotional, spiritual, social and intellectual capabilities through a myriad of activities and experiences, which would guide these youths to become confident, compassionate citizens in their community, and in the world. The Ivy School began an Adolescent Program in September 2012, which is thriving and continues to expand.
The Ivy School Adolescent Program consists of these key curriculum components:
School Community Life Adolescents are in a time of constant change, physically and emotionally. It is important that they have comfort in knowing they can learn in an environment that will welcome their presence and opinions. The school community fosters this at the beginning of the year with fun activities, themed around building a community of peers and staff. The orientation sets the foundation of each person’s ability to cooperate with others that are similar or different in personalities. Community building will continue to be a daily practice with activities such as community meetings, where students and staff meet to discuss school community affairs and personal reflections about different discussion topics. In all, school community life gives each student a glimpse of the “real world”—working with a larger community, other than themselves and their families. This component is essential for the success of the Adolescent Program, and will lend itself to all educational experiences throughout the year.
Humanities The Humanities curriculum focuses on the study of humanity, using topics in history, writing, philosophy, sociology, literature and art. The Humanities curriculum is based on a two-year cycle: the first year is Cycle 1: Evolution of Culture and the second year is Cycle 2: Evolution of Western Civilization. The students will explore, investigate, and experience the history of all civilization, beginning with Cycle 1: the study of hunter-gatherers, nomadic societies, Egyptian civilization, study of cities, and the study of peace in our world. In Cycle 2, students learn about ancient civilizations, such as Greece and Rome, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, history of the Americas, and ending with the study of our world in the 21st Century. Lessons are designed for students to go deeper into their knowledge about the topics that are presented to them, through oral presentations, essay writing, literature seminars, debates, and various other activities that spark interest in learning more about the subjects presented. Exploration in the topics of geography, music, and self-expression (art) are also significant areas in the humanities curriculum.
Science Scientific studies are linked to lessons presented in humanities. Students have first-hand experiential lessons in earth sciences, physical sciences, and life sciences. Some of the lessons that are applied to everyday activities are learning about early tools of man, food preservation, and studying the ever changing ecology of our community, and the earth. Students have many opportunities to experience hands-on work, through gardening, study of our rivers and streams, canning and dehydration of food. In addition, students continue to have practice in the scientific method, data collection, analysis of research findings, so that they will grasp science as an application to our everyday lives.
Math Students are evaluated in order to determine their level of ability at the beginning of the year. They are then be placed in a math curriculum that will best suit their needs and learning styles. The curricula are be based in two areas, 1) that is based on an investigative, application approach of learning math and 2) a practice-based or conventional style of learning math. Math lessons are presented on a daily basis using texts that meet the standards of the local school districts.
Writing Workshop Writing Workshop allows students to express themselves through composition of narratives, poetry, character development, and journaling. Students learn and refine skills in grammar and punctuation in forms of mini-lessons on a particular topic. Students “show and tell” their creative works through practice of reading compositions to a group of peers. This approach to writing workshop is a great way to affirm the adolescent’s ability to express him/herself through writing.
Spanish Spanish is spoken daily throughout the day. Each student has access to speaking with a Guide or Assistant that is experienced in the language. In addition to everyday conversation in the Spanish Language, the students have regular instruction on Spanish grammar and culture. These classes are a preparation for taking regularly scheduled foreign language classes in high school.
Experiential Learning The term “experiential learning” would be equivalent to a “field trip” or “extra-curricular activity,” however it is more defined in the Adolescent community. Experiential learning offers a deeper understanding of what the students learn, and how they learn it, as opposed to reading about it in a classroom assignment. Experiential learning is an integral part of the entire Adolescent Program at Ivy; it is interchangeable with the students’ studies. Students have the opportunity to live in nature by going on camping trips, they get to interview long-time Portland residents about Portland history, they participate in various community service projects, organize and produce their own talent program (e.g. drama production and/or poetry reading), and they get first-hand experience on how to start a small business. These are just a few activities that a student will be an active participant in.
(The Ivy School also includes grace and courtesy as part of the all-school curriculum.)
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