One of the many things about the Academy that makes it unique is the fact that it houses both elementary and nursery programs at the same site.
In addition to assisting in our nursery classrooms, elementary students help younger colleagues during the morning "car line" and work with our facilities manager on fixing any problem spots on campus as part of our Green Team.
Our authentic Montessori elementary classrooms both challenge, and also allow for, our students to become successful, independent learners. Progressing from 1st through 6th grades, elementary students are expected to learn by doing, and do by learning, through exploration of the Prepared Environment and the use of unique Montessori materials. Our students excel in the traditional reading, writing, and arithmetic skills via hands-on, experiential learning.
With each year, lessons on subjects as rich and diverse as zoology, cultural studies, the history of math, and the evolution of ancient life are coupled with practical experiences in the classroom like preparing lunch and caring for plants. This combination of modalities, and the leadership traits they develop, produces students who are independent thinkers and self-assured problem-solvers. Students progress from simple, concrete experiences to mastery of complex, abstract studies.
Our Elementary program is divided into two mixed-aged, 3-year cycles: Lower Elementary (1st – 3rd grades) and Upper Elementary 4th – 6th grades). In the Montessori tradition, our elementary curriculum centers around the idea of a Cosmic Education – an integrated, thematic approach to education that develops a student’s sense of community and love of learning, driven by their innate desire to understand and explain the world around them. Traditional skills and subjects are integrated with, and learned through, presentation of the 5 Great Lessons.
Our students excel in the traditional reading, writing, and arithmetic skills via hands-on, experiential learning. Students progress from simple, concrete experiences to mastery of complex, abstract studies.
The Great Lessons of Montessori are engaging oral stories that paint a broad, interconnected picture of knowledge and provide a framework for further, independent study for students. The Great Lessons give Elementary children the universe and invite them to wonder about it.
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ALL ELEMENTARY LEVELS
From kindergarten through 6th grade, the Academy has implemented Lucy Calkins’ Units of Study Reading & Writing program, developed at Columbia University’s Teachers College. It’s a program based on over 30 years of research and has been successful in thousands of schools in the country and throughout the world. The Units of Study program enhances our literacy goals by ensuring our students are armed with strategies and skills that will aid them towards becoming strong readers that find joy in connecting to the world around them through written language.
Elementary students at the Academy take the NWEA MAP test twice per year. MAP is used by Chicago Public Schools for student assessment and placement. The Academy never “teaches to” the test or places great emphasis on high test scores. However, we recognize that standardized testing is a reality of today’s educational system, and it would be doing our students a disservice to leave them unprepared for succeeding in a standardized test-taking environment. MAP scores provide us one more tool to help parents understand how their children are learning in relation to state and national standards, and provide indicators to teachers regarding areas of success and future growth. Our goal is to facilitate students’ test-taking skills while also demystifying the process for children and parents alike. Scores are discussed at parent-teacher conferences along with other, more qualitative, forms of student assessment.