Themed Curriculum

Monarch's thematic curriculum is Science and Social Studies based. We cycle through the thematic units over a period of years, making use of the concept of "spiraling curriculum" in which students study themes in depth (and at the student's appropriate developmental level) at various times as they progress through their tenure at the school. The themes are integrated into the other subjects (math, art, and language arts, e.g.) whenever possible. Attention is paid to the state frameworks when planning curriculum. For a more detailed explanation of themed curriculum, please talk to the teachers.

Four Year Theme Cycle

2020-21 2021-22 2022-23 2023-24
Math Number Sense

Geometry & Measurement

Algebra & Functions

Statistics, Data Analysis & Probability
Geometry & Measurement

Number Sense

Algebra & Functions

Statistics, Data Analysis & Probability
Science &
Social Studies
Economic Justice

Earth Science: Geology
Force & Motion

Schools Now & Then/Here & Now
Monterey Bay:  An Ocean Ecosystem


Social Activism/Justice


Five Habits of Mind
(Adapted from The Mission Hill School, Boston)

Habits of Mind are an important part of the Monarch curriculum. Many of you might feel very comfortable with them but here is some background for new families or those who would like to know more. The Habits of Mind are an approach to both the traditional academic disciplines (math, science, literature and history) and the interdisciplinary stuff of ordinary life. They are what lead us to ask good questions and seek solid answers. They are our definition of a well-educated person.

  1. Evidence: How do we know what's true and false? What evidence counts? How sure can we be? What makes it credible to us? This includes using the scientific method, and more.
  2. Viewpoint/Perspective: How else might this look like if we stepped into other shoes? If we were looking at it from a different direction? If we had a different history or expectation? This requires the exercise of informed "empathy" and imagination. It requires flexibility of mind.
  3. Connection/Cause and Effect: Is there a pattern? Have we seen something like this before? What are the possible consequences?
  4. Supposition: Could it have been otherwise? Supposing that? What if...? This habit requires use of the imagination as well as knowledge of alternative possibilities. It includes the habits described above.
  5. Relevance/Significance: Does it matter? Who cares?

None of these five habits stand separately. And the way we use such habits differ if we are studying a mathematical proof, a scientific hypothesis, an historical dispute, a debate over economics, the appreciation of a piece of art, a critique of a novel, the telling of a myth or narrative, or the settling of a playground dispute.

The Monarch Habits of Mind are supplemented by the Monarch Bill of Rights—all students have the right: to a peaceful learning place, to feel safe and secure, to be heard and respected, to be included and to learn at their own pace. The Bill of Rights are the guidelines for how we use our hearts well. The Habits of Mind are our guiding questions for how we use our minds well.

Both sets of "habits" are developed in the process of gathering appropriate knowledge and skill in school and out. The best test is whether students use such habits in the course of their work and life. And again, not just in school. Knowing "how-to" is no substitute for having good habits. Who cares if you could drive well, if you're not in the habit of doing so? Who cares if you could be on time, if you never are?

The Habits of Mind are interwoven into our themes, assessments and the exit criteria. The Bill of Rights is part of every interaction at Monarch. Hopefully you will notice these words posted around school and hear them used by teachers and students alike. You may even find yourself using them!

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