Category Archives: Field Studies

Inly 8th Graders Attend NuVu

Last month, we wrote about a new, experiential program that Inly 8th graders would be taking on later in the spring at NuVu studio in Cambridge, MA (you can read the previous article here).

Our students have since attended NuVu and had an amazing, enriching experience. They were each tasked with designing a prosthetic hand for a child that would assist him or her in something playful. For example, a prosthetic hand that would help the child throw a ball, or play an instrument.

To watch a video recap of our student’s experience, please watch the video below.

To read about each student’s project and see sketches and animations of their prosthetics, click on the following link: DIY Prosthetics.

8th Grade Students Get Crash Course in Solving Real-World Problems at NuVu


NuVu is a magnet innovation center for middle and high school students.

Eighth graders from Inly Middle School will be attending NuVu this month, a full-time magnet innovation studio in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Amazingly, Inly is the first middle school that NuVu has ever worked with. Prior to this partnership, NuVu worked exclusively with high schools.

NuVu’s founder and Chief Excitement Officer is Saeed Arida. When asked about the partnership with Inly, Arida said, “We are excited to be working with Inly students who already have a solid base in creative, hands-on learning. NuVu’s unique studio based pedagogy coupled with its emphasis on technology will enable the Inly students to utilize their Montessori background to create innovative projects.” Prior to founding NuVu, Arida worked as an architect and designer working on projects for MIT, LG, Samsung, and Microsoft. He received his bachelor of architecture from Damascus University and then studied design computation at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he received a SMarchS and PhD. His doctoral research examined the intricacies of the creative process to understand what creativity is and how an educational environment can nurture creative learning. The architectural studio pedagogy informed this research that eventually evolved into NuVu Studio where students learn in a hands-on environment with coaches who help students create projects and move through many, many iterations.

NuVu’s pedagogy is based on the architectural Studio model and geared around multi-disciplinary, collaborative projects. With the assistance of “coaches,” NuVu teaches students how to navigate the messiness of the creative process, from inception to completion. Inly students will be given a real-world, open-ended problem and asked to device a solution in two weeks.

“Students get the chance to really show off the skills that they’ve built over their time at Inly in a very authentic and real world situation,” Tschol Slade, director of Inly Middle School, remarks. “As teachers, we know that our students are building next-century skills all the time. Their work at NuVu will make this learning really tangible for them in a really challenging, authentic and fun way.”

Donna Milani Luther, Inly’s Head of School, states, “Inly prides itself in creating partners in innovation to prepare our students for the ever-changing century that they live in. This partnership with NuVu will be a hallmark of the kind of excellence in education that we continue to provide for our Inly students.”

Inly International – Where Learning Intersects with Service

Inly Assistant Head of School, Julie Kelly-Detwiler is participating in a service learning program in Guatemala June 23-July 6 with recent Inly graduates Nick Bartlett and Cole Vaillancourt through the program Los Ojos Abiertos.  This experience is intended to be the first step towards Inly School developing an Alumni Service Learning Program which we plan to offer to our alumni next summer.  While on her travels, Julie will be checking in with us to let us know about the work and the learning that the group is doing.

Tuesday morning, June 25, 2013

This is our group – already beginning to form as a community-  as we leave our Hostel for Guatemala after two days of team building and educational activities in Boston. The group participating in the  2013 “Los Ojos Abiertos” which means “With Eyes Open” program, consists of two Inly graduating 8th graders, Nick Bartlett and Cole Vaillancourt,  Inly Assistant Head of School, Julie Kelly-Detwiler , 6  high school students from Sharon and Millford, Lauren Monroe, the Founder and Director of Worcester Think Tank, and the group leader, Roger Bourassa, founder and Director of Perduco and the Los Ojos Abiertos program.


This two-week experience is equal parts service and learning.  The first week in country will be spent introducing the students to various ongoing development work in Guatemala to help them develop a more comprehensive understanding of the history, and current economic/political situation here.   The second week will follow a set schedule and our time will be split between Antigua and Jocotenengo. We will spend our mornings improving our Spanish language skills at Proyecto Linguistico Maya in Antigua, and, in the afternoons, we will travel the short distance by local bus to Jocotenango, were our students will spend their afternoons at La Escuela Esperanza.  Here, students will help with lunch and recess, teach English classes to kindergarteners, and work in pairs with a Guatemalan teen in an after school program to create an artistic project, or to solve an engineering challenge.

Our home base during our time in Guatemala is The Black Cat Inn in Antigua, Guatemala.  The accommodations are modest but comfortable and our group  occupies most rooms in the inn which lends a real community feel.


We eat most meals here together and use our meal times to bond more closely and to process the many experiences of the day.


This is the little courtyard where we spend our down time.




Read more:

Day One:

Day Two:

Day Three:

Inly’s philosophy on Experiential Learning

Experiential Learning at Inly: Learning By Doing

“Education is a natural process spontaneously carried out by the human individual, and is acquired not by listening to words but by experiences upon the environment.” – Dr. Maria Montessori

Experiential learning (“learning by doing” or “hands-on learning”) permeates every part of the Inly curriculum at all levels. It is an approach to education that actively engages students in relevant, authentic experiences that reinforce academic lessons or teach life skills. These hands-on experiences deepen a student’s understanding and have a lasting impact. Through experiential learning, students make discoveries and experiment with knowledge on their own instead of relying solely on the experiences of others.

At Inly, we refer to experiential learning that happens outside of the classroom as “Field Studies,” and this is exactly how we approach and think about them. Our Field Studies are integrated thoughtfully into what our students are learning in the classrooms and naturally extends their learning out into the world. Ultimately, venturing out into the world is at the heart of experiential learning. Our field studies give students the chance to explore in distinctive steps that have been thoughtfully created to support each student’s development and the curriculum in which they are currently immersed.

The 3rd years at Inly, for example, spend one night away at Camp Wing in Duxbury, Massachusetts. Inly’s 4th and 5th years venture farther, and spend two nights at Ferry Beach Ecology Program in Sacco, Maine. Our sixth grade students spend two nights sleeping outside in tents at Camp Chewonki in Wiscasset, Maine, and raise funds for and plan their own sixth grade trip. By 7th and 8th grade, our students begin and end the year with off-sites that involve rowing to and camping on the Boston Harbor Islands, sailing on a schooner with Ocean Classroom or living in global village with Heifer International at Overlook Farm in Rutland, Massachusetts. During their middle school years at Inly, students also have the opportunity to host students from Guatemala, travel to New York City to participate in Montessori programs at the United Nations, and participate in three, one-week long internships in a place of business in the community.

There is a natural and carefully considered progression to these experiences as our students mature. But each experience, from the very beginning, requires responsibility and independence. It requires each of our students to build self-confidence and to recognize, “I am an individual and I am away from my family right now but I’m in a supportive environment and surrounded by people I love and who love me. I’m going to figure out who I am in this experience and I will be OK.” This realization allows our students to grow and succeed. In this stretching of themselves, they become more independent, more self-reliant, more confident, and more capable. This learning carries back into the classroom and into their lives.

Montessori Education and Nature: What's the connection?

“When the child goes out, it is the world itself that offers itself to him. Let us take the child out to show him real things instead of making objects which represent ideas and closing them up in cupboards.”
- Dr. Maria Montessori

We hope that you will all able to join us for our April 3 Omran Speaker Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods and The Nature Principle. This presentation has led us all at Inly to reflect on the close match between Richard Louv’s message and our mission at Inly as Montessori educators.

Montessori Philosophy: Combining indoor and outdoor classrooms

The Outdoor Classroom, nearly one year old, is already an integral part of the Inly curriculum at all levels—from Toddler through Middle School. It’s easy to think of this addition to our campus as a progressive new idea, but it’s actually rooted in a 100-year-old philosophy. Dr. Montessori was an early proponent of experiential learning and considered the outdoor environment a natural extension of the classroom. The Montessori connection makes sense: Contact with nature affords opportunities for rich sensorial experiences, a vital element of Montessori learning. It also supports the whole child—body, mind and soul—and promotes respect for all living things.

Dr. Montessori’s vision for schools was always a combination of indoor and outdoor classrooms. This was a way to study the interconnectedness of all things, a way for children to be able to study math and science, nature and the universe.

Montessori had deep reverence for the natural world, and her cosmic education curriculum, which runs from Toddler through Middle School at Inly, stresses the importance of grounding children in an understanding of themselves as a part of the greater universe.  She believed that we best develop an understanding of self when we understand the interconnectedness of all things— that true respect for self grows together with deep respect for others and for nature.

The Outdoor Classroom at Inly School: Integrating science, language arts, music and more

Our Outdoor Classroom is used extensively at all levels for many subjects—for science, language arts, music, art, practical life. We have a low ropes course for our upper grades to engage in leadership and trust activities, and outdoor music elements to enhance listening and creativity. Students are currently constructing a “secret garden” of their own as they read The Secret Garden with our school librarian and literature teacher. Each level at Inly now has its own garden. Even the toddlers have a garden of their own.

Students in Kindergarten and Lower Elementary (grades 1—3) have classes with Ellyn, an experienced and inspired naturalist, and our Upper Elementary and Middle School programs each have a trained natural scientist to weave scientific exploration and habits of mind into the all aspects of the curriculum for grades 4–8.

Outdoor Service Learning

In addition, in Upper Elementary, students begin participating in a service learning curriculum that includes partnerships with The North and South Rivers Watershed Association and Holly Hill Farm, and Middle School students leave campus for immersion experiences with the Hull Lifesaving Museum, Ocean Classroom and Heifer International’s Overlook Farm.

Integrating nature into the Inly curriculum

“Sit spots” are a good specific example of how we integrate nature into the curriculum. In Upper Elementary (grades 4, 5 and 6) students choose a spot on campus to visit each week throughout the school year.  From this vantage point they repeatedly observe their surroundings and watch how things change with the seasons. They sit with a journal and have been taught how to observe and then how to record those observations through writing, sketching, poetry. In this way, they are developing an essential scientific habit of mind – observation, but they are also being invited to do something even more rare in this age—to be still and to be present.

In Middle School (grades 7 and 8), this training continues with formal labs and lab reports;  with involvement in The Green Committee, dedicated to student initiated and implemented activities on campus to enhance Inly’s authentic commitment to green initiatives; and with “solo time,” a common component of Montessori middle school programs that deepens the practice of stillness—which is so essential, but so difficult for teens, and for us all.

To learn more…

Watch a video of outdoor experiential learning and Montessori “sit spots” here:  A Typical Day in an Upper Elementary Science Class Means Going Outside to Learn

Read an excerpt from Richard Louv’s bestseller Last Child in the Woods here:

Parting thoughts

“The land is where our roots are. The children must be taught to feel and live in harmony with the Earth.” – Dr. Maria Montessori

“The future will belong to the nature-smart—those individuals, families, businesses, and political leaders who develop a deeper understanding of the transformative power of the natural world and who balance the virtual with the real. The more high-tech we become, the more nature we need.” – Richard Louv

Middle School Internship Program: Authentic experiential learning in action

As we visited students at their internships the last week in April, we were yet again struck by the poise and maturity that comes through so strongly in these situations. The students’ hosts were so impressed with their work ethic and professionalism. We hope that this sense of accomplishment carried over at home, although we also know that fatigue may have stood in the way! (Who knew that 25 hours of work could be that exhausting?!?!)

A key component of the Inly Middle School curriculum, internships a great reminder to all of us about how important it is for adolescents to be authentically exposed to the larger society they will enter. Amid all the tumult, inconsistency and insecurity, we need to remember that they can do much more than we typically expect when given the chance and proper support.

The rationale behind Inly internships

Why do we do internships in 7th and 8th grade?

Middle school aged children are fascinated with their potential roles in the larger society and eager to explore these roles through their own participation. Authentic work experiences are an important part of their exploration of the world. At Inly we’ve designed our Internship Program to give students the opportunity to experience this key aspect of adolescent development and exploration.

The Montessori connection

The Montessori educational program leads each student naturally to the world of work. From the youngest age, the child’s activities in the classroom are referred to as “work,” and students are given substantial independence in how they approach this work in school and out of school. While their independence and initiative is encouraged, they are also taught that they are accountable for thorough completion of what they set out to do.

The connection with adults

At school they have developed many productive relationships with adults, including their teachers, the school administrators, and many parents, most of whom they are comfortable addressing by their first names. The Internship Program is designated to give our Middle School students further experience being supervised by adults, accomplishing important work, and meeting adults’ expectations.

What is a typical internship like?

There is no such thing as a typical internship. While each internship experience is different, all are valuable for the intern.  There is no “right” way to host an intern and no “rules” for the experience. The goal is that middle school students participate in authentic, productive, necessary work.

That being said, there are some uniform guidelines:

Inly interns work for at least 25 hours over the course of their week-long internship.

During internships, all students are required to keep a daily journal to help process the experience and prepare for their follow-up presentation. Specifically, they are asked to reflect on the questions below:

  • What did you learn about the organization you chose for your internship?
  • What was a typical day like?
  • What did you learn about yourself and your work habits?
  • What skills did you use or observe others using to be successful in this job?
  • Are you interested in this field of work?  Why or why not?
  • In hindsight, how was the process of securing your internship?  What did you do well?  What would you do differently?  What advice would you give to someone who hasn’t gone through the process before?

When students return from internships, they give oral presentations to faculty, family and other students. For seventh graders, this often sparks new ideas for next year’s internship!

Where do Inly students intern?

All over the place! Here’s a short sample of organizations and businesses that have hosted Inly interns over the past few years:

Advanced Food Systems Inc., Babycakes Bakery, Bayside Runner, Booth Hill Horse Barn, Company Theatre, Gary Land Photography, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Holly Hill Farm, Music Unlimited, NephCure Foundation, South Shore Art Center, South Shore Natural Science Center, Ventress Library, Weir River Farm

In addition, we’ve been fortunate to host talented interns in several departments at Inly School, including: Communications, Marketing, Events, Development and Alumni Relations. Those interested in early childhood education have also served as interns in the Toddler House and Children’s House preschool and kindergarten programs.

For more information, see the Middle School page on the Inly School website.

Cultural Exchange Trip with Sweden: Day 5

Six 8th grade students from Inly Middle School are abroad on a cultural exchange trip with Alvkullen Montessori School in Kungalv, Sweden. Inly’s Assistant Head of School, Julie Kelly-Detwiler, is chaperoning the trip and sends this update:


We hope that a picture is worth a thousand words—if so, we’re sending thousands so you can see some happy, engaged, and probably very tired at this point, travelers.

Day 5 was spent at Marstrand—the Swedish equivalent to Nantucket or Martha’s Vineyard—but with a castle from the 1600s perched on top of the hill overlooking the town and the surrounding ocean.  It was a treat of a day that ended with a goodbye party at school hosted by the parents. Lots of eating, dancing, and bonding.

Below are pictures of each student with their host student—all of whom (with the exceptions of Jan’s who is in 8th grade) will be traveling to see us soon.

We begin our final day now as we head into Gothenburg. We’ll try for one more update before leaving for the plane tomorrow!

Have fun at the auction tonight. Bid up that middle school project!

Julie and Melissa

Read Cultural Exchange Trip with Sweden: Days 1& 2 and Cultural Exchange Trip with Sweden: Days 3&4.

Cultural Exchange Trip with Sweden: Days 3 & 4

Six 8th grade students from Inly Middle School are abroad on a cultural exchange trip with Alvkullen Montessori School in Kungalv, Sweden. Inly’s Assistant Head of School, Julie Kelly-Detwiler, is chaperoning the trip and sends this update:


Good Morning All,
We had a cold, wet, long, but very successful visit to Stockholm yesterday.  We saw Parliament, the royal castle, a royal museum, a ship museum and SNOW IN MAY.  Our Stockholm visiting day always starts early (4:30 am alarm) and ends late (home by 9:30 pm), and is packed with sights and experiences.  We walk a great deal, and even though the weather did not cooperate, our day gave us a good feel for the beautiful, antiquated, cosmopolitan port city of Stockholm.

We have completed the planes, trains, and automobile portion of our exchange and stayed close to home today with a full day in Kungalv – the beautiful cobble stoned city where our exchange school, Alvkullen, is housed.  We spent the morning with the Alvkullen 6th years who took us on a guided tour of their old village, complete with some time spent in the beautiful terraced garden park that lines a main street, a stop at one of the oldest churches in Sweden, and a history lesson of the struggles between Sweden, Norway and Denmark which was given to us outside a castle built in the 1100s.   For the 6th years, this was a great accomplishment as they conducted and delivered all of their research in English.

The morning ended with our students doing some research of their own, interviewing students and teachers to add to the work they have been doing on Sweden that will culminate in their Swedish presentations.  Our students had a traditional Swedish lunch (salmon and potatoes, with meat for those fish averse among us) and an outdoor recess before returning inside to spend time in the Children’s House and Lower Elementary Classrooms.

Melissa and I had a chance to spend some time in reflection with our students and are impressed with what they have absorbed in their time here, and the connections they are making.  They can quickly point out the similarities and the differences, and they are extending themselves to approach this as an exchange and not a vacation.  The ancient history of this area is inescapable and reminds American visitors of our relative youth. The ecological habits that are so common and universal have made an impression, as has the beauty and cleanliness of the area.  Everyone feels welcomed and comfortable with their host families, and all of our host families have remarked on how much they are enjoying our students.

After school today, students are all joining together for a traditional Swedish field game and then will transition to one of the host family’s homes for dinner and a movie.  This is the time our students seem to most enjoy—teenagers being teenagers while learning about a different culture from the inside out.

We return to, as Jan would point out, our transportation rich visit, with bus and ferry trips to a coastal island, Marstrand, where we will take a tour of a very old and relatively intact castle.  More on that later….

I don’t have pictures with me to send, but will send those along when the opportunity allows.

Hope that all is going well on the home front!

Julie and Melissa

Read Cultural Exchange Trip with Sweden: Days 1& 2.

Cultural Exchange Trip with Sweden: Days 1 & 2

Six 8th grade students from Inly Middle School are abroad on a cultural exchange trip with Alvkullen Montessori School in Kungalv, Sweden. Inly’s Assistant Head of School, Julie Kelly-Detwiler, is chaperoning the trip and sends this update:


We have safely arrived!

After two uneventful flights, and a relatively short layover in the Frankfurt airport, we arrived on time, as did our luggage. All of our students were greeted on arrival by their host families and, we hope, have had a chance to rest before meeting up again for a welcome dinner hosted by Tucker D.’s host family.

The kids were great on the flights—Tucker M. and Ali Z. get the prize for the most sleep—and we’re sure the others are feeling the lack of sleep (as we are!) right about now. So many of the host families have hosted before and it was nice to be greeted by such warm and familiar faces. This exchange program is well supported and heralded in Sweden, and we are always made to feel special on our arrival.

Melissa and I are setting off to do some exploring and to meet the Middle School Director, Malin, and her family for dinner. We will try to send pictures when we return.

We will be checking e-mail regularly, so if you have any specific questions or would like us to pass on any messages, please let us know.

Enjoy the day. Hejdå!
Julie and Melissa


We’re in the middle of our second day in Sweden. Just returned from a UN World Heritage Site, about a 90 minute drive from school, which is famous for rock carvings and artifacts from the bronze age. We had a wonderful tour guide, plenty of time to explore the area, and a nice picnic on the grounds of the museum before returning to school. The weather is cooperating so far—much colder than we had hoped, but the sun is shining and no rain is in sight.

It is 3:00 in Sweden, and the Inly students are all returning home with their host families to regroup (and sleep, I’m sure) before meeting again at 6:30 this evening for bowling. Our excursion today was with the Alvkullen 8th graders and our MMUN students already knew their 8th grade MMUN students which made for easy integration. Skyping throughout the year also helps, it seems. Each year the transition time shortens and the distinction between Swedish/American students fades more quickly.

The reports from yesterday are all positive so far. Most of this year’s host families have hosted in the past and our students are well matched. Tomorrow is our day in Stockholm which means a 5:10 am departure and an 11:00 pm return, so there will be no chance to e-mail tomorrow, but we’ll be sure to catch up again on Wednesday.

Wishing you all the best at home.
Julie and Melissa

[The eighth grade students have been preparing over the last few months for their cultural exchange with the students from Sweden. In small groups they have researched and created presentations that explore various aspects of Swedish culture such as the government, social programs, the environment, popular culture, etc. The work of the students over the last weeks is now being supported and extended by the first-hand experiences of the six eighth graders who are in Sweden now.]

Inly Middle School Team Heads to NYC for Montessori Model United Nations

Ten seventh- and eighth-grade students from Inly Middle School will travel to New York City on Wednesday to represent China and the United States in a three-day Montessori Model United Nations program. While playing their roles as ambassadors, student delegates make speeches, prepare draft resolutions, negotiate with allies and adversaries, resolve conflicts, and navigate the Model UN conference rules of procedure—all in the interest of mobilizing “international cooperation” to resolve problems that affect countries all over the world.

Front row, from left, Gabby J., Ali Z., Aoife M.; middle row, Daphne C., Lucy K., Zachary S., Ali N.; back row, Jan K., Tucker M., Mac M.