At West Side Montessori teachers value the development and growth of the whole child. We all believe drama, music, art, physical education and technology are critical to a child’s growth. Experienced teachers provide engaging lessons to students, which contributes to a solid co-curricular program. There is often strain between the time classroom teachers want students to have for uninterrupted classroom work and the desire to provide enriched programs by scheduling co-curriculars. West Side Montessori has chosen to offer a number of scheduled co-curriculars. The increase of time in the school day beginning in the 2012-2013 school year provided more time for uninterrupted work and a smoother schedule for co-curricular programs with more scheduling flexibility.
The co-curricular programs begin in Children’s House and continue throughout middle school. Children’s House students participate in Music/Literacy. The Music/Literacy co-curricular teacher goes to each Children’s House classroom once a week and leads Music and Movement Circle Time to the whole class for 30 minutes. In the whole group lesson we sing to guitar accompaniment, dance, move, play rhythm instruments, and use patschen to learn rhythm. We end with Shared Reading. One of the songs is written in large print on chart paper and we read the text. Then during work time, Literacy lessons are given in small groups using one or more of the songs as a text for the lesson. Children have personal folders of printed songs they can read independently. Since most of the songs are memorized, many of the children are using recognition and recitation to read their folders; they see the picture and recite the song from memory. Other children are learning left-to-right directionality, tracking print, sight words, phonics, comprehension, and fluency, depending on their reading levels.
Kindergarten students also have an additional 30 minutes of music lessons once a week. All Kindergarten children from both campuses take part in Spring Sing, a much anticipated themed event where students perform songs in English, French, Spanish and sign language for parents and friends. The theme for the 2014-2015 school year is “Building A Better World.”
Toledo Campus Kindergarten children also have a physical education class for 30 minutes once a week. Perrysburg Campus Kindergarten do not have a structured physical education program taught by a specialist due to space constraints. Students learn movement skills, how to follow directions, and respect for themselves and others through age-appropriate games and activities such as parachute games, exploring with scooters, hula hoop adventures and animal walks. Locomotor skills such as skipping, hopping, galloping, walking backwards and leaping are practiced. Hand-eye coordination activities are also practiced using scarves, balloons, bean bags and balls.
In the Lower Elementary program the students participate in scheduled music, art, physical education and technology classes once a week for 45 minutes each. In addition, each level meets as a whole in music once a week for 30 minutes for performance rehearsal time.
The art program offers the opportunity for students to work with varied mediums. Two and three dimensional work is explored as well as the study of art history. The art studio has a comprehensive ceramics program and is equipped with pottery wheels, a slab roller, an extruder and a pug mill for recycling clay.
The greatest identified need is the lack of a gymnasium at the Toledo Campus. To compensate the physical education teacher plans indoor activities that provide movement when cold and snowy weather prevent outdoor physical education class. Outdoor activities include practicing skills for games in volleyball, soccer, softball, hockey and basketball. At times, professional instructors from the community are hired to teach a variety of lessons such as bike and water safety. Students at times are taken off site for a variety of lessons such as swimming at St. James Health Club, a five minute walk from the school, and ice skating lessons at Sylvania Tam-o-Shanter for third level students.
Every year our Lower Elementary students participate in either an Orff Music Festival (based on the music methodology of German composer Carl Orff) or a Songfest performance for families and friends. The Orff Festival is a production incorporating speech, singing, movement, and instrumental playing in a creative environment. Songfest is child-centered production where singing English, Spanish and French songs and creative movement are celebrated.
The Lower Elementary students have Technology class for 45 minutes once a week. It is a practical life opportunity offered to enhance and support our strong Montessori curriculum. The technology lab is open throughout the week at various times for students to complete assignments and use the Internet. In Lower Elementary, student learning is focused on general vocabulary, basic computer function, typing lessons, introduction to Microsoft Office, LEGO Education and a strong emphasis on Digital Citizenship. The Common Sense Media Curriculum is used to teach the students how to become strong Digital Citizens for levels first through eighth.
The Upper Elementary program is provided the same co-curricular programs. Music, art, technology, physical education and/or health occur twice a week for 45 minutes. In physical education students gain an appreciation for sports and the unique skills needed. Volleyball, soccer, basketball, and flag football are a few examples of sports explored. Students also focus on learning games and dance from other countries during the winter.
In health, students learn the importance of healthy eating and maintaining a healthy body image. They participate in a bully free program with the assistance of our school counselor. Students also participate in a Human Growth and Development program once a year.
Every other year the Upper Elementary showcases a music and art program for the parents. Each program is centered on a theme that the co-curricular teachers choose. The program is mainly music. It is a purchased musical that is dissected by the music teacher who adds additional songs. The music teacher then works with the students to add choreography, where appropriate, allowing for a unique touch on the show. The students create their props, a simple set, and simple costumes in art class. In the end, the final product is much more interesting than what we purchased!
In the Art Room students have more opportunities to explore and create with art materials. There is an emphasis on fiber and textile work. We clean, card and learn to use hand held spindles. Students have the opportunity to work on the spinning wheel and weave on table looms. They are also instructed in knitting.
Ensemble is a beginning group of students playing wind, percussion, mallet and keyboard instruments. They meet twice a week; once before school and once during the day. This group consists of students in 5th and 6th levels. Beginning in the second half of the school year Ensemble is also open to 4th level students. The older students help mentor the younger members. An evening concert is performed in the spring to showcase their music.
The Upper Elementary Technology curriculum includes LEGO Education, researching skills, typing, introduction into Google Apps for Education, and Digital Citizenship. This year iPads have been added to our Technology program. Students will be using iPads at various times throughout the year to create and edit videos, and present research creatively. The technology lab is open throughout the week at various times for students to complete assignments and use the Internet.
The Middle School students attend music, art, physical education and/or health classes twice a week for 45 minutes. In physical education class students gain an appreciation for many sports such as volleyball, soccer, archery, basketball, and lacrosse. Students also focus on learning games and dances from other countries during the winter.
In health class, students focus on topics such as nutrition, positive self-image, and the dangers of tobacco, drugs, and alcohol. They also participate in a Human Growth and Development Program once a year lead by a local physician.
The Middle School students create, write and choreograph an arts performance every other year. The 2013-2014 program was based on the life and work of Vincent van Gogh. The middle school students studied and presented their research through the use of drama, music and visual art. Students are involved in each step of the production. The spring performance is always a display of talent, teamwork and hard work!
Middle School students have the opportunity to join band. Band is for more advanced players and includes wind, percussion, mallet and keyboard instruments. They meet twice a week; once before school and once during the day and perform at least two concerts a year. Traditionally they perform the last morning of school prior to winter break before the Upper Elementary and Middle School students go ice skating and also in the spring at an evening concert.
Middle School students have Technology class once a week working on a PC desktop. The curriculum focuses on Digital Citizenship, proficiency in Microsoft Office programs, typing practice in Mavis Beacon, proficiency in Google Apps for Education, LEGO Robotics, and blogging. Each student is assigned a Macbook that they use daily in their classroom. The Macbooks stay at school and are connected to the wireless Internet. Students complete assignments and present information using the Macbooks. The students also have access to four iPads in their classroom for classroom presentations.