The Upper Elementary Program typically has students who are aged 9 to 12 years and who are poised to advance the studies and skills they’ve acquired in the previous two programs. In these classrooms, they will go deeper into culture, grammar and sentence analysis, language mechanics, vocabulary, writing skills, biology, zoology, botany, geography, meteorology, astronomy, chemistry, mathematics, and fine arts. In order to cover such a wide range of subjects in a manner that cultivates independent learning, the lessons are organized around research projects and small group projects in which students can teach and learn from each other. Here are a few examples of small group lessons and projects that promote learning.
Upper elementary students extend their command of foreign languages. This is done very effectively in small group learning as opposed to the traditional structure of a teacher presenting language concepts. Small group learning allows students to practice communicating in the foreign language as they learn new words and grammar. These group structures also allow students at different levels in language fluency to support others in the group. Overall, this promotes confidence in learning a language through conversation, which is often the greatest barrier to learning a new language.
Small groups can also provide students experience in how to divide work within a group to collectively reach a goal. Effective work segmentation in a group is a necessary skill that students will use throughout their careers and Upper Elementary small groups provide a strong foundation for this skill. One example is working on geography projects. A small group of students may work together to create a tour of a region or country that they can present to the class. The group can divide up this work by history, food, geography, or other elements and collaborate to integrate each student’s work into a cohesive tour of the area.
Math lessons are particularly suited to small group work. Students begin to learn more complex mathematical concepts in Upper Elementary and mastering these concepts is fostered by small groups. As there are multiple ways to conceive of and solve mathematical problems, self-guided learning allows students to develop their own approach to math. In small groups, students can help each other work through new concepts by explaining their own approach to a problem and listening to how other students approach the same problem. Additionally, small groups can support students at different mastery levels by learning from others, which in turn provides the opportunity for students to explain concepts to others. This combination of roles within the group reinforces students understanding of the material and provides opportunity for students to be exposed to different approaches to learning mathematical concepts.
In West Hills, California, Hill Point Montessori is a preparatory school for children ages 2-12. Our Upper Elementary Program consists of students ages 9-12, who are independent thinkers that work together to further expand their knowledge. Students utilize small groups and learn to exchange ideas in a collaborative manner.