The 12-Acre Classroom!

Grades 7 and 8

Grades 7 and 8 at Cedar River Montessori

Cedar River Montessori School offers students rigorous, high quality academics in a community of kindness, respect, and self-advocacy. Our school is a small, close-knit community where the students experience individualized, experiential, and differentiated instruction as the students work to figure out who they are in relation to the larger world around them. It is safe to try, fail, and succeed as the students’ bodies and minds undergo hormone shifts and other developmental changes. The intent of the Montessori program for grades 7 and 8 is to facilitate this process, providing feedback and reflection while exposing the student to new ideas, concepts, people, questions, problems, solutions, and the idea that the students are parts of multiple interconnected systems. Our graduates are confident, curious learners who know how to identify and follow their passions throughout their lives.

Like the “real world” that adults experience in their work environments, middle school student learning is multimodal and occurs both individually and in small groups, through seminars, research projects, and cooperative activities.  The students practice giving and receiving constructive feedback with graciousness and resilience.  As part of a small classroom community, each student is expected to participate in group discussions and activities, and all voices are heard and valued.

Curriculum overview

Our curriculum is aligned with the Common Core Standards and is approved by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. It is designed to facilitate a smooth transition into public or other high schools. Students take the Iowa Assessments (a national standardized test) each spring.

Our seventh and eighth grade program is based on the model developed by The School of the Woods in Houston, TX, and incorporates the core elements of the Montessori philosophy as well as the latest findings in early adolescent development and learning. Students delve deeply into all subjects based on common threads that tie each subject together.  Each of these threads is called a “cycle” and lasts approximately 5-8 weeks.  The middle school curriculum has a two-year rotation for these cycles.

Year A Natural World Social World – Global Cooperation
and Interdependence
Cycle 0 Orientation – Critical Reading and Thinking Orientation –  Reading and Note-Taking Strategies
Cycle 1 Cell Structure and Forms of Life Native Americans
Cycle 2 Genetics Exploration and Immigration
Cycle 3 Evolution and Ecology Economics
Cycle 4 Ecosystems and Populations Sociology
Year B Natural World Social World – American Law,
History and Government
Cycle 0 Orientation – Critical Reading and Thinking Orientation –  Reading and Note-Taking Strategies
Introduction to the Hero’s Journey
Cycle 1 Atomic Structure and Subatomic Particles Revolutions and Forms of Government
Cycle 2 Chemistry Social Injustices
Cycle 3 Forces and Using Equations Industrial Revolution
Cycle 4 Simple and Compound Machines Peace Studies

English, Literature, and Writing

Throughout the cycles, students read fiction and nonfiction novels that correlate with their natural and social world studies, including novels such as Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Caleb’s Crossing, Red Scarf Girl, The Pearl, Lord of the Flies, A Raisin in the Sun, To Kill a Mockingbird, Silent Spring, The Things They Carried, The Road, All Quiet on the Western Front, and Guns, Germs, and Steel. Student writing encompasses both creative and formal writing, with a focus on integrating the social and natural world into their works. How to locate and differentiate first and secondary sources, and cite them appropriately, is a key part of the research writing process for the students. For all writing, students practice the components of high quality writing and use follow-up exercises in peer- and self-editing during their revision process.


The mathematics curriculum builds on the Montessori foundation from the elementary program.  As students demonstrate a solid understanding of the core mathematical concepts, they move into the SpringBoard math curriculum, where they explore algebraic expressions and equations, properties of exponents and scientific notation, linear algebra and inequalities, functions, polynomials, and quadratics.  As part of their math curriculum, students begin using scientific and graphing calculators and Desmos.  Each student moves through the SpringBoard curriculum at their own pace, with the possibility of beginning high school math during middle school.

Our graduates

Our eighth graders graduate as self-reliant problem solvers, knowing that when they have a question, they can independently seek an answer.  They are rarely frustrated when they make a mistake, instead using it as an opportunity to grow and challenge themselves. As Cedar River Montessori 7th and 8th grade students, they own their community here—they care for their classroom and outdoor environment, they practice daily grace and empathy with themselves, with their peers and with the younger students, and they understand their roles and responsibilities, recognizing the needs of others and balancing them with the needs of oneself. They graduate knowing how to advocate for themselves and, as confident young adults, they are ready to take on the new and exciting world of high school!

Our graduates go on to attend both public and private high schools in the area, such as Hazen, Lindbergh, Renton, Tahoma, Kentridge, Forest Ridge School of the Sacred Heart, Hillside Student Community, Seattle Preparatory, Kennedy Catholic, and Renton Preparatory Christian School. Many of our graduates go on to participate in Washington State’s Running Start program, taking college courses in grades 11 and 12.

In some schools it often feels like the testing and the scores trump all. And teachers are more concerned at looking at the scores and not what the individual child needs. At Cedar River Montessori, it has never felt like that. Academics are a priority, but just more balanced with learning through doing. This year, watching my daughter participate in the soap making for the school’s fundraiser to Washington, D.C. was incredible. The kids learned the science behind the soap making, they learned marketing, purchasing, and how to run a business… and my daughter was able to contribute her art for the logo. We couldn’t be happier with Cedar River Montessori and are so grateful to be a part of the community. If you are looking for a special experience for your middle school student, I highly recommend the school.
Carolyn, middle school alumni parent
My time at Cedar River has contributed to me being independent and taught me how to work in ways that benefit me and how I learn best.
CRMS alumnus
My experience at Cedar River Montessori has taught me to have an open mind about what people believe, how they look, their personalities, and so much more.
Recent alumnus
I’m able to communicate with others very well, and have many more new friends at my new school. In most of my classes, I’m advanced in my knowledge over the rest of the class because of my learning at Cedar River Montessori!
Recent alumnus
I first went to Cedar River Montessori back in 2007, when I was almost four years old. Before this [current] year, it was the only school I’d ever been to. I think going to CRMS has influenced me a lot as a person. The educators, environment and the way things are taught have influenced how I’ve grown up and the person I have become. Of course there were bumps in the road, but I was taught how to take those in stride and learn from them. My experience at Cedar River has made me more resilient, patient and determined. Though there were ups and downs, I wouldn’t want to spend my ten years at CRMS at any other school.
Recent alumnus

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