Montessori Middle
School Programs

Grades 7 – 8

Full Day: 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Program Detail Middle School

Middle school is a unique and critical time in an adolescent’s development. With one foot in childhood and the other in adulthood, they are contemplating who they are, where they fit in, and what contributions they can make.

We center our curriculum on helping them successfully navigate the transitions from middle school, to high school, to college and into adulthood. Instilling the character traits respect, responsibility and resourcefulness — traits they need to grow and develop to ultimately become independent and contributing adults. We offer an experience where students learn to respect themselves, others, and their environment. We encourage, and expect, students to take ownership of their actions in both academic and social interactions and to understand how their decisions affect themselves and their community and act accordingly.

Students learn responsibility for themselves by managing their time independently, building habits, and developing organizational skills. They learn responsibility to others through community meetings, collaborative projects, and authentic social exchanges. Students learn responsibility of the environment through caring for the school, supporting each other, and having direct interactions and experiences with our local neighborhood.

Our faculty also creates opportunities to help students learn resourcefulness, understand and strengthen their natural abilities while developing abilities in areas they find more challenging. Students are encouraged to take risks and practice problem solving, learning to troubleshoot by themselves, and seeking help from peers and trusted adults when needed.

The end result is a dynamic and engaging school experience that combines strong academic content with practical activities which students truly love and never forget.

Curriculum Detail

In addition to the curriculum areas articulated below, the students participate in several other formative activities that challenge their organizational skills, collaborative work skills, communication skills, and executive functioning. The activities include but are not limited to:

Community Lunch

  • Students plan menus, purchase ingredients, prepare and serve meals made prepared in Countryside’s state of the art kitchen twice weekly.


  • Students write proposals for ideas for small businesses which include the full business cycle starting from a business plan and ending with a product or service which they offer for sale.

Community Meetings

  • Students run daily meetings in which they discuss events, challenges, successes, plans, and community responsibilities.

Environment Maintenance

  • The Middle School building does not receive custodial care from the CDS facilities team. The Middle School students complete all aspects of the upkeep of the building, from daily cleaning to touch up painting to care of the outdoor environment. Student job managers oversee completion of jobs and quality control.


Studies in the sciences offer content from the physical, life, and earth sciences as well as first hand experiences using the scientific method. Students engage in science by being scientists. Inquiry and experimentation is central to the curriculum. Students will learn to contextualize their inquiries in real world problems, and collaborate with community partners. Additionally, the course will help students build skills needed to communicate effectively in science, use science for critical decision-making, and carefully examine attitudes and issues related to the sciences. Students explore scientific concepts through laboratory experiences, projects, experimentation, and outdoor activities.

Studies in the sciences are presented in a two-year cycle format.

Life Science

  • Cell biology
  • Human anatomy and physiology
  • Human health and wellness
  • Reproduction
  • Variation
  • Biological evolution
  • Scientific Method
  • Photosynthesis
  • Cell structure and function
  • Cell division
  • DNA and heredity
  • Evolution and genetic variation
  • Classification
  • Ecology

Physical Science

  • Motion
  • Forces
  • Energy
  • Newton’s Laws
  • Simple machines
  • Bicycle studies (experimentation, maintenance, design)


  • Matter
  • Substances
  • Characteristics of matter
  • Atoms & atomic theory
  • Periodic Table
  • Changes in matter
  • States and forms of energy
  • Heat and heat transfer
  • Sound and light
  • Work, force and motion
  • Electricity
  • Magnetism

Earth Science

  • Global ecosystems
  • Earth’s surface
  • Rock sequences
  • Earth history
  • Weather
  • Climate
  • Earth energy sources and transfer
  • School ground ecology
  • Local ecology (cycles, change, interrelationships, energy flow)
  • Producers and consumers
  • Population density
  • Universe and solar system

The six science process skills for use with middle school students which are central to our teaching of science:

Formulating Hypotheses

  • Stating the expected outcome of an experiment

Making Operational Definition

  • Stating how to measure a variable in an experiment

Controlling and Manipulating Variables

  • Being able to identify variables that can affect an experimental outcome, keeping most constant while manipulating only the independent variable


  • Being able to conduct an experiment, including asking an appropriate question, stating a hypothesis, identifying and controlling variables, operationally defining those variables, designing a “fair” experiment, conducting the experiment, and interpreting the results of the experiment

Interpreting Data

  • Organizing data and drawing conclusions from them

Formulating Models

  • Creating a mental or physical model of a process or event


The math curriculum at CDS MS is an integrated program that offers Pre-Algebra, Algebra and Geometry. Students are placed in classes according to their ability. In addition to traditional math content in these subjects, students use higher-order thinking skills to solve problems in relation to a variety of challenges, from practical money transactions to logic problems from the American Math Contest. Students learn through teacher lead small group instruction as well as being teachers to one another. The majority of in-class work is collaborative in nature.

ALEKS (Assessment and Learning in Knowledge Spaces) is a Web-based, artificially intelligent assessment and learning system that is used to support in class learning. It is used as an assessment tool in the class, allows students to work in particular areas of the curriculum with unlimited problems, and allows them immediate feedback on their progress. It uses adaptive questioning to quickly and accurately determine exactly what a student knows and doesn’t know in a particular content area. The CDS Middle School math teachers also use “Montessori Algebra for Adolescents” (curriculum for teaching designed by a Montessori math expert), and Art of Problem Solving textbooks. This diverse set of instructional material allows the teachers to present math in interesting and challenging ways for students who are learning quickly as well as help students who may be struggling truly understand math concepts without just memorizing formulas.


  • Operations with whole numbers
  • Operations with fractions
  • Operations with decimals
  • Operations with integers
  • Order of operations
  • Solving one step equations
  • Solving multi-step equations
  • Ratios and proportion
  • Measurement and conversion
  • Percent
  • Personal financial literacy
  • Equations and inequalities
  • Simplifying expressions
  • Writing and graphing inequalities
  • Solving inequalities
  • Coordinate plane
  • Functions
  • Product, power and quotient rules
  • Square root
  • Pythagorean Theorem
  • Lines, angles and polygons
  • Angles of triangles
  • Perimeter, area and volume
  • Circle
  • Surface area
  • Data analysis
  • Counting and probability

Algebra I

  • Operations with integers
  • Properties of numbers
  • Order of operations
  • Exponents
  • Linear equations
  • Linear inequalities

Algebra I contd

  • Proportions
  • Percents
  • Measurement and unit conversion
  • Graphing on a coordinate plane
    – Ordered pairs
    – Functions and lines
    – Graphing lines
    – Graphing inequalities
    – Equations of lines
    – Systems of lines
  • Polynomials
  • Quadratics


  • Points, lines, planes
  • Similarity, congruence, equivalence
  • Angles
  • Lines and transversals
  • Triangles
  • Pythagorean Theorem
  • Quadrilaterals
  • Polygons
  • Circles
  • Perimeter/circumference
  • Area
  • Solid figures
  • Prisms
  • Cylinders
  • Cones
  • Pyramids
  • Surface area
  • Volume
  • Parallel lines
  • Perpendicular lines


In Cycle One of the Humanities program, students study United States history. Throughout this cycle, students are asked to analyze the cause and effects of significant turning points. They begin with study of native peoples and come to understand the effect of the Age of Exploration on Native American culture. Embedded in the unit that explores the birth of our nation, students examine the U.S. Constitution and other essential documents, as required by the state of Illinois. After learning about the growth of the United States through westward expansion, students investigate slavery, the Civil War and the Era of Reconstruction. Students examine the formative events of the 20th Century through study of the Great Depression and Immigration. They research and discuss the effects of broken peace and world war.

In Cycle Two of the Humanities program, students will study World History and learn how peoples and histories are various and ever changing, not singular and static. This approach will help students investigate human adaptations and the effect they had on human relationships, shifts in community building, and the engineering of power structures. Additionally, students will learn about what lens(es) they are wearing as they examine historical texts and artifacts (ex: female, American, modern, young, etc). Our class covers the human story from the beginning with early humans and early civilizations, and then moving by the end of the second semester to early empires and early global powers. Students will analyze how different groups of people organized and constructed societies, and also study the effects those power structures had on human relations. Conversely, this course will study how individuals and communities have affected societal change, and we will regularly be examining current and contemporary social issues and connecting them to the past. This study will allow students to examine the past for patterns to inform their understanding and agency for today.

Language Arts

Students read a variety of genres and authors in order to improve their critical thinking and analytical skills. Adolescents are required to be active readers who engage with the text, form opinions, and offer evidence to support their thinking. Through literary circles and Socratic seminar, students become proficient at verbalizing their ideas with clarity and confidence. This course requires regular reading and writing in and out of the classroom.

Throughout the two-year cycle, adolescents express themselves through many types of writing: expository, persuasive, narrative, research, and creative. Writing assignments are both formal, such as structured essays and poems, and informal, such as journal entries and short articles. Students come to a greater appreciation of the power of language and learn how to use language effectively in their writing. Peer editing and group sharing play a central role in the Montessori-inspired traditions of student evaluation and oral presentation. Students improve their vocabulary, grammar, and writing mechanics through targeted lessons and essay revisions.


As citizens of an ever-changing future and inhabitants of a multilingual world, our students will participate in rigorous studies of a second language. Building on experiences during the early childhood and elementary years the goal is for students to become conversational speakers through our Spanish immersion program. At CDS, our second language program teaches the Spanish language and will be offered as a differentiated curriculum, challenging students based on their individual skills, experience, and knowledge of Spanish. Curriculum components include:

Listening and Speaking

  • Comprehension
  • Grammar


  • Comprehension


  • Vocabulary
  • Grammar

Cultural Awareness

  • Perspective
  • Interaction skills
  • Cultural products


Students meet for music class twice weekly for forty-five minutes. Topics include a wide variety of musical genres — folk, classical, contemporary, world music, musical theater, and other popular musical styles over the last century. Also covered is the role this music plays in the context of history and society. Whenever possible, students participate in creative group projects, which provide important opportunities for self-expression. Additionally, this allows for students to gain a better understanding of the creative process by assuming the roles of songwriter, movie director, performer, etc. When relevant, our music director coordinates with teachers of other subjects for interdisciplinary work between music and humanities topics such as history and literature.


The opportunity for self-expression is an essential experience in the development of the adolescent. Students work with a professional art teacher who provides instruction in various media. Student work is often integrated with learning in the areas of math and history. Students also learn about a variety of art techniques and art history. Student work can be seen displayed throughout the Middle School environment.

Where Learning Meets Life

Students learn the form of persuasive writing by choosing a company at which they could actually apply for a job as an adolescent and writing a cover letter.

Students learn how to troubleshoot problems of all varieties when they have their morning meetings run by a different student each week.

Students learn about biology, ecology, scientific testing, and water quality by actually going to the north branch of the Chicago River and conducting a series of tests and then presenting their area of expertise to their fellow students.

Countryside Programs

We offer a continuous program from 16 months through 8th grade — inculding an all year program option for Pre-K/K and elementary school. LEARN MORE

TODDLER — Ages 16 mos.-3yrs

PRE-K/K — Ages 3-6

LOWER ELEMENTARY — Ages 6-9, Grades 1-3

UPPER ELEMENTARY — Ages 9-12, Grades 4-6

MIDDLE SCHOOL — Ages 12-14, Grades 7-8

SUMMER PROGRAMS — Ages 16 mos.-12 yrs., Toddler-Grade 6

ALL YEAR FULL DAY — Ages 3-12, Grades Pre-K/K-Grade 6