What’s Happening in Middle School?
The Middle School program at Quest provides an academically-challenging learning community where students navigate the early adolescent years in a nurturing, respectful, and inspiring educational setting. Students benefit from an outstanding Montessori tradition, an appropriately challenging academic course load, rich and kind social environment, complete with curriculum-based outings, and guest speakers. Here is what our students have been working on this year:
This year, humanities work is based on United States history topics. Students began with a unit called Road to Revolution, which examined the lead up to the American Revolution. Next they studied Abolitionism in the United States including forms of resistance of enslaved people as well as the work done by free African Americans and others. As part of this work, students created digital projects highlighting an aspect of this movement. The next humanities study will be civics and government, examining the purpose and structure of government on the local, state and federal levels. We plan to travel to the Rhode Island State House as part of this unit.
Writing-Reading Workshop continues with guided and self-chosen study. Eighth years are currently working on essays for the URI Center for Nonviolence and Peace Studies 8th Grade Gandhi Essay Contest, while seventh years are studying mentor texts in preparation for writing Important Issue Letters. Reading work will include short stories studied as a class and self-selected independent reading. In both formats, students are working on understanding and communicating how a text works and what a text means. Class discussions and seminars are a crucial part of this work, as student-driven discourse always deepens the shared understanding of a text.
The Middle School Microbusiness program provides learning opportunities across many disciplines. The student-run enterprise, operating as Narrow River Naturals, was pleased to participate in the Coastal Growers Winter Market over the course of the first semester. Students chose to make beeswax wraps, lotion bars, and essential oil soy candles this fall, determining that these products would suit that market well, be relatively easy to make and store, and appeal to a wide variety of customers. Narrow River Naturals sold out of these products at each market, so it seems the students made good decisions for the fall. Looking ahead, the Microbusiness Managers have decided to focus on working within our own Quest community. The class plans to make pumpkin bread and grow microgreens, with both products available for sale here at school. Students will order supplies, organize student orders, manage budgets, market the product, manage customer relations, and, of course, make bread and grow microgreens. Look for more information in upcoming Middle School Newsletters!
In science, we began the year with a study of the human body. We looked at three systems in depth, including the skeletal, muscular, and digestive systems. For each system, there was an experiential component, including a comparative anatomy lab, a chicken wing dissection, a creative project to demonstrate the path of digestion, and an earthworm dissection. To culminate the unit, we visited Body Worlds at the Boston Museum of Science.
In this next unit, we are delving into astronomy, moon phases, tides, and seasons. We have begun by creating a cosmic calendar to get a sense for the history of the universe. Students are excited about their Moon Observation Projects where they will go out nightly to observe the moon, log their data, and make a sketch to see how the moon shifts in the sky over time. Students will also be doing a research project about Astronomy of Ancient Cultures. We will be visiting the planetarium at Roger Williams Park and the observatory at Frosty Drew. Our final units will include chemistry, biology and physics where we will study the periodic table, molecules, cells, forces, and motion.
After gaining inspiration from Dude Perfect, a group who has dominated Youtube by performing statistically impossible tasks, the 7th grade pre-algebra class delved into an exploration of theoretical and experimental probability. They calculated the probability and odds of different tricks performed in the classroom. The newly gained understanding will be applied to Powerball and Mega Millions. This will not only help to gain a better understanding of the risks involved in playing the lottery and games at casinos but also give students a framework to evaluate future opportunities and risks that they may face in the future.