The X-Terms at Montessori High School at University Circle
What is an X-Term and why does the MHS student community follow these in-depth study terms? They give MHS the ability to offer a wide variety of classes with our smaller staff while allowing students to concentrate on a particular study area.
Several times each year, our students engage in X-Term programs guided by faculty members and other leaders in the subject being studied. As each academic year begins, in the middle of the year, after the winter holiday vacation, and at the end of the school year, students choose from a range of X-Term programs.
The areas chosen for study are as diverse as our student community and reach deep into the rich cultural sights and museums of University Circle.
X-Term programs include:
*short story writing workshops that in one x-term utilized the unique culture and university backdrop of University Circle, and in a following two week session that completed the academic year, the writing workshop had a broader reach, extending the program so that it included a New York City trip to heighten the appreciation of American writers and their muses. English Teacher Julie Reyers led this program.
*botany and field study, with digs at international desert sites. In the fall of 2009, ten MHS students and two faculty members joined Dr. Michael Ryan, Curator of Paleontology at the ClevelandMuseum of Natural History, on a dig in Mongolia. The two-week program began in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, and moved to dig sites at the Tomb of the Dragons, near Ultan Ula, and later the Flaming Cliffs site. The group was seeking Velociraptor bones. Here is a video about their experience:
*a three-week in depth study of our home city, ‘Inside Cleveland’. Anthropology and History teacher Dr. Regina Feldman opened the doors to this city on Lake Erie’s shores, and together with students examined the rich history of our years of industrial leadership; visiting sites that pull together the ethnic foundations in the revitalized Tremont area, the internationally known West Side Market, Little Italy, Chinatown, and the cities evolving and renewing neighborhoods; lunching at America’s oldest forum of free speech, the Cleveland City Club, touring the Cleveland Cavaliers basketball home, the Q and of course staying to watch the Cavs win another home game. The student group also toured ten of the city’s unique bridges, spent time at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, attended a Cleveland Orchestra concert, and were guests at the Maltz Museum Of Jewish History.
*an opening-of-the-school year trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where the entire school community studied geology and botany; visited the Ernest Hemingway exhibit at Central Michigan University, tracing his summer steps when he vacationed in the area and wrote several of his short stories. Hemingway spent several summers in Seney and loved that area of the state. Our students read short stories from "The Nick Adams Stories".
*When a group of students headed to Americus, Georgia, where one of their first destinations was Koinonia Farm, where Habitat for Humanity was founded. They met former President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalyn, later worked on a build in Georgetown, South Carolina. Other parts of the trip included working in a vineyard pruning grapes and studying the growing season for that crop.
Other X-Terms programs include:
*the study of computer based Gaming Theory and the opportunity for students to create their own computer games
*habitat restoration in NE Ohio, headed by Dr. Jim Bissell, Curator of Botany at the Cleveland Natural History Museum
*gourmet cooking and the menu development for sound nutrition and balanced diet, and in-depth study of different cultures and their foods
*creating and building over-sized walking puppets, and participating in one of Cleveland’s cultural spotlight events, Parade the Circle. This event brings all of Cleveland’s major cultural institutions together in a weekend program that reaches from the Cleveland Museum of Art, to the Botanical Gardens, to the Natural History Museum
Students at Montessori High School work with faculty and staff to develop a list of X-Term content options, and then a process begins that eventually votes the list into four or five study areas that students can select from. The key is to be open to each new idea, to create a living learning experience, to know that each student has reached deeply into an area of learning that they had not yet fully explored until their X-Term.