Adolescence is a time of great change for children as they move from childhood toward their teenage years. Sometimes adolescents are very independent, mature and seem older than their age. At other times the same person can behave much younger than their years. Montessori curriculum and methods support this variability in growth and independence with individualized instruction, a flexible learning pace, emphasis on both academic and social development, and time and resources for students to pursue their unique academic interests.

The Middle School Learning Community’s three year age grouping from grades 7 to 9, allows girls the opportunity to Reach Ahead and take Ontario Secondary credits in grade 8. It provides an supportive, safe environment for students in grade nine. Instead of being new students in a big school, they are leaders in a community that they have been in for two years. For the younger girls in grades 7 and 8, being able to see the older girls work on credit courses prepares them for the transition to more independent learning and for studying for final exams.

Flexible Online Ontario Credit Courses

Starting in 2019, all Ontario Secondary School credit courses, as well as grades 7 & 8 language, math, and science will be offered via online courses. Work will be completed in school with Odyssey Heights teachers coaching each student. Students can work at their own pace - including working though a course at the same pace as one or more of their friends. We have found that our students need a high degree of flexibility in both attendance and pace of courses. For example, gifted girls with anxiety and depression need enrichment and the option to work at a faster pace in their courses, but they miss a significant number of school days due to mental health and medical/therapy appointments.

Grades 7 & 8 Language, Math & Science courses are provided by Virtual Elementary School (VES). Grades 9-12 credit courses are provided by The Independent Learning Centre (ILC). Both VES and ILC courses adhere to Ontario Ministry of Education requirements with ILC courses covering all pathways to graduation with the OSSD. ILC courses are offered in English or French immersion, through an independent distance education model.  Student work in ILC courses are marked by ILC teachers with Odyssey Heights teachers as each student’s learning coach. Girls take two Ontario courses at at time which decreases anxiety, and allows for accelerated pacing for gifted students. This delivery model also allows grade 9s who have holes in their math education to take a grade 8 review course before starting grade 9 math.

OSSD: Ontario Secondary School Diploma

Each Odyssey Heights School for Girls student is guided by her learning coach in wisely choosing and planning courses and completing the other requirements for her Ontario Secondary School Diploma.

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Montessori Secondary I Curriculum 

“It is the education of adolescents that is important, because adolescence is the time when the child enters on the state of adulthood and becomes a member of society.” ~ Dr. Maria Montessori

Each Montessori Secondary I and Montessori Secondary II course spans three years. The three year time span allows students to choose to work on multi-year projects, and/or to work on many related projects that build on each other. Students of different ages, interests, and abilities are able to work together on projects that interest them by taking on different roles and responsibilities. The interrelatedness and hands-on real world connections of Montessori education helps answer the common questions "Why do I need this?" and "When will I use this anyway?"

Each year students complete a group peace project. In grade 9 each student chooses one Montessori subject that she has great interest in and completes a special Secondary I project either independently or with a friend. The Secondary I project includes: a variety of research types, a written product of 750 words/student (essay, article, children’s book, script, or book chapter), French vocabulary 3-part cards, and a presentation or performance.

Montessori Secondary I (Grades 7-9) Courses at Odyssey Heights:

Big History:

Big History is the history of the universe from The Big Bang until the present. We use the research proven Big History Project (BHP) curriculum - which has many links to the IB middle years curriculum. “BHP delivers a big picture look at the world, and helps students develop a framework to organize what they’re learning both in and out of school. After they finish the course, students will have a better understanding of how we got here, where we’re going, and how they fit in. It’s a place that was 13.8 billion years in the making.”

Peace Education (grades 7-9)

Peace Education is “the process of promoting the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values needed to bring about behaviour changes that will enable children, youth and adults to prevent conflict and violence, both overt and structural; to resolve conflict peacefully; and to create the conditions conducive to peace, whether at an intrapersonal, interpersonal, intergroup, national or international level.”  ~ UNICEF Peace Education Working Group

Agriculture & the Environment - All our overnight OE3 trips include hands-on learning about our natural environment; horseback riding, visits to farms, and our future community garden give hands-on experience in agricultural ecosystems.

Creative Expression (Visual & Performing Arts) - All Odyssey Heights students learn how to knit, crochet, felt, weave, spin and dye yarn, hand and/or machine sew, quilt, paint, sculpt, and more. The student council can use their budget so all students can see performing arts productions, attend arts workshops, and even plan a custom workshop or workshop series.

Physical Expression (Fitness, Sports, and Outdoor Recreation)

When do students do their Montessori courses?

1) Montessori seminar is held once a week. During Montessori Seminars students focus on one interdisciplinary topic that typically covers curriculum expectations in their Montessori courses, and frequently provides enrichment above what our students experience in their required Ontario Credit courses.

2) Most of our Project Or Going Out (POGO) Days and overnight OE3 trips cover Montessori courses. For example:

  • Peace Education/Peace & Conflict Studies: Students learn about Indigenous peoples by visiting the Iroquoian Village at Crawford Lake, visiting the First Peoples Gallery at the ROM, and attending workshops and lectures. They learn communication skills, conflict resolution, and teamwork on overnight trips, and through their rotating roles on the student council. Mindfulness is learned though daily mediation, yoga, walking the labyrinth by the Eaton Centre, and in mindful arts.

  • Big History - Niagara Escarpment hikes (geologic record), weekly trips to the ROM, hiking and xc skiing in Killarney

  • Agriculture & the Environment - All our overnight OE3 trips include hands-on learning about our natural environment; horseback riding, visits to farms, and our future community garden give hands-on experience in agricultural ecosystems.

  • Creative Expression (Visual & Performing Arts) - All Odyssey Heights students learn how to knit, crochet, felt, weave, spin and dye yarn, hand and/or machine sew, quilt, paint, sculpt, and more. The student council can use their budget so all students can see performing arts productions, attend arts workshops, and even plan a custom workshop or workshop series.

  • Physical Expression (Fitness, Sports, and Outdoor Recreation) - We have a very active program at Odyssey Heights with daily physical activity, many full days spent being active (eg day hiking on the Bruce Trail, horseback riding, trail riding, xc skiing, snowshoeing, canoeing), plus our active overnight OE3 trips (eg, skating the 1.3km skate trail at Arrowhead Provincial Park, The Canadian Ski Marathon in Quebec (February 2020), backpacking, snowshoeing, canoeing)